Thursday, July 27, 2017

9780. RUDIMENTS, pt. 26

Making Cars
On most every corner along the
lower east side, back then, that Summer
of '67, there was some sort of bus or
truck or caravan-looking vehicle. The
plates were usually, if not New York
(only sometimes), than California, or
Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico. A lot
of weird places for old downtown NYC.
Vermont was also often represented; that
was sort of a national east-coast 'Free State'
that carried a lot of respect. If you were
running with Vermont plates, locally, it
meant something. I remember my first
trip to Vermont. I was awed; I mean
knocked over as soon as, the instant as,
we crossed the border. I can still vividly
remember the transformation. Somewhere
from the Northway into the area of
Bennington, there was an entry point
 along some pine woods, and hillsides.
I swore, and still do, that at that simple
border crossing everything changed instantly.
The sky went to an immaculate, deep, clean
blue. The hills and mountains instantly went
to 'majesty' mode as well. Everything was
clean and crisp and clear. It was just different.
We were in some rickety, 1962 VW, a red
one. That model year, 1962, had that little
badge on the front at the front hood opening
handle, with the Wolfsburg logo, showing it
had been built there. It was a prestigious, VW
thing, back then  -  though it made no difference
of course for the running of the car. Getting to
Vermont for that car had been a real struggle.
Once we got there it seemed all anyone drove
in that north country were these little, hump-backed
looking Saabs. A Swedish car supposed to have
been masterly in the snow. Maybe so; very many
people drove one. Ten or twelve years later they
became more mainstream cars, changed their
body styles and went 'regular.' The same with
Volvos, in fact, back then. They too were big
up in Vermont  - real sedate-looking 1950's
sedan things. Very business-like and dated.
Way farther up north one day, I stopped at a gas
station at some far-out mountain-top gas place.
It was January, totally cold, dead cold, and the
guy came out to do my fill and take the money.
He simply asked 'how ya' paying?' I had no idea
what he meant. It turned out that way up there
some people paid with American money, and
others paid with Canadian money, and he had
to be ready for and with the difference. I'd never
given it a thought but, Canada being right there,
people just crossed over to do their chores and
shopping, and everything was fluid, no one cared.
It was a funny way of living, very 'international'
at that level. They thought nothing off it, your
sister Mary might have married Jake, the
Canadian, and they lived over there, across
the bridge and over that road. Very natural. In
that high north country, there were no rules and
whatever rules there were were quite different.
In fact, for me, it was sometimes difficult to
even imagine what people did up there to
survive. Cold s cold, and money was scarce.
It was sure different.
One time, at the Bennington Hotel, there was
a guy there, the desk clerk  -  nicest guy in the
world, back then, when rooms were like $12.95
a night  -  he had a softball-size indentation right
in the middle of his forehead, the bones and all
just looked like maybe he'd once been normal and
had been at a softball game or something and got
clobbered right in the middle of that forehead by
a 10,000 mile an hour batted softball that just
left its speeding indentation there. In all other
other respects he seemed normal and functioning
well. A little skinny perhaps. A little eerie too.
Trying to talk to him was weird because your
eyes, you know, just kept going to the forehead
indent while they should have been making
eye-contact and listening (well, eyes can't listen,
but I hope you know what I mean). He was there
every time I went there, always the same. Skinny
dark suit, like a funeral director or something,
running this old-style hotel  -  the key hooks
with the numbers, the mail-slots behind the
desk, the little bell, the polished, dark wood. It
was a big, rambling place, right in the middle of
the town (its gone now), and it had a few grand
staircases, all quiet and carpeted with these
bucolic Vermont-country scene painting at
each landing. Maybe five floors high. I can't
remember an elevator but there probably was
one  -  there were a lot of lame people up there
in Vermont, crusty, old veteran farmers all bent
over an crinkly, walking slow and lame, sometimes
missing a limb or some fingers or something (farming
s a dangerous pastime and for these guys, past it all
now, it had been a lifelong ton of work. The place
itself wasn't mansion-like or anything  -  you knew
it was a hotel, with hallways and alcoves and things.
It was always quiet, quieter than any library, and had
a big, crackling fire going all the time (Winter, I said)
and big arm chairs and stuff  -  a real nice big center
room. I'd bet it's in at least 20 old movies, somewhere;
1930's or 40's. Right across the street and over a little
too was a W. T. Grant's 'Dining Room'. Pretty weird.
A regular, old Grant's store, like a Woolworth's but
instead of just a lunch counter there was this big,
serious, carpeted. kind of bizarre, with deer heads
and game-animals on the walls and some kind of
ersatz Vermont-country national decor. But people
actually went here to 'dine' like it was the Ritz or
something. All these oddball specials, alliterative
too  -  Tuesday Turkey Platter, all you can eat,
for $3.00  -  vegetables, potatoes, coffee and pie
included. Stuff like that. Monday Meatloaf Special.
You could pig out with a week's worth of food in
your gut and feel good for it too.
Bennington is way down to the bottom of the state,
not so near to Canada like at the top. I'm pretty
sure W. T. Grant's only wanted American money.
One time, in the middle of the same January, and
with the same red VW, I went out early one morning
to get started. It had to be 14 below, just still and
bright and icy cold. There wasn't any warm outside
air to be had. I got to the VW and it was totally
frozen up, like solid. I couldn't even get in it until
about 10am, when whatever sun there started to be
made whatever little difference it could have been
to let at least the doors open. But it didn't matter.
The engine oil must have turned to solid matter  -
nothing would turn over, no starting no how. It
was incredible how cold it got, and stayed.
Everything did eventually thaw enough to get
me started, the next day anyway, and I for some
reason just started driving east, on some roadway
that runs across the bottom of the state. The next
thing I knew I was in New Hampshire, maybe
an hour later at most. Totally took me by surprise.
That was some real traveling for me.
Back at the lower east side, all these other vehicles
were from faraway states, having crossed the country
mostly in these hippie caravan sorts of crawls. There
were people everywhere, serious hippie types, I
mean serious they did it for a living. Trying to get
all that sun and happiness transplanted to east-coast
New York City was a tall order, but they tried. There
were times when it maybe seemed to wok, but it
never lasted  -  too much rancor here, it just never
mixed well. Like trying to mix, say, (dated references 
here), Richard Simmons with Darth Vader. Whoever
said opposites attract? This was war between the
states all over again; except one was the state of
California bliss and one was the state of New
York City homegrown attitude and ire.

9779. THAT GUY

Stupified and forlorn, over by the lake.
1. He who saved that baby from the
burning building, is eating  a sandwich.
Does that make it a hero sandwich?
2. Oh, Jill, where are you now?
I could really use a hug. Jack.


Someone once asked me if I was born here;
all I could say was yes. I preferred to think
he was thinking of Earth, as he said it.
Yet, I don't know why I answered as I did.
(My wife wants me to take Viagra.
My doctor wants me to die, so
he can get on with his life).


There is a gas-light on, under the books.
I wouldn't wonder about that.
These is a shard of glass beneath the shattered
window. Other than being careful for you hands,
I wouldn't pay it any mind.
Yesterday at four PM, the wind came through
and just took. Everything. Away.
I've been insulted before. By the guy on
Avenel Street, who lived by Cameo's.
Nothing. New. There. At. All.

9776. RUDIMENTS, pt. 25

Making Cars
Running cars, and motorcycles too,
with well-pressed, highly-tuned engines,
there's a lot in balance. Especially in earlier
models where the variables run higher.
Cars of the pre-computer era had a different
tuning factor, the mixture points and accesses
were different -  carburetor, jets, etc. But, no
matter, that's not my point. Rather, I wanted 
to point out how I found a similarity to that
with the world of ideas.
Running a hot car is all about efficient cooling.
The same thing goes with a motorcycle  -  those
of my experience have always been air-cooled.
The temperature and cooling factor, the idea of
heat build-up and fighting that, was important.
You wanted air-flow, air hitting the engine, and
in a water-cooled situation (where a coolant
'jacket', as it were, of liquid flows around the
engine), you needed a sort-of fan-controlled
air flow directed at the radiator, etc. All well
and good. BUT, in important factor as well,
and mostly nothing you had control over, was
called 'heat-set'  -  which is the short period of
time immediately after the engine is turned off.
Running a hot engine, fast, hard, really pounding,
for a few minutes after shut-down, all that heat
produced is still produced, in a quickly-diminishing
way, yes, but all the metal components are still
under that growth as the behemoth, turned off, 
still sheds heat. Heat that just stays there, with
no blowing or shedding except the outward
radiance of. You have, essentially, a huge pile 
of non-aspirated raging metal still producing,
and shedding, or trying to shed, its rage of
heat. It's called, as I said, heat-set. It could be
called, just as well, 'aftermath.' The dynamics
of metal expansion, that minuscule growth
of the physical plant, all those tolerances and
tight fits, mean that the unit itself is still glowing,
still perhaps expanding, still raging for its finish.
No real danger, it diminishes and does shut itself
down - but conceptually it's a happening idea. No
matter how carefully controlled the factors of
heat and its cast-off, while running, were, once
the engine-plant was turned off, it was still raging,
still producing its heat of fury, for a bit.
Drunk guys used to dwell on this.
Among the biker crowd, I'd sit there smirking.
All their talk of physical realities and post-running
occurrences used to bring me immediately to the
meta-physical places where all these things
constantly occurred to me too. It was very much
the same, this engine stuff, as with an idea, a
sudden flash.  Creatively, heat is generated,
fiercely; it has to be channeled, directed, and
a means found for its production to be cast
outward, before a crashing, rambling mess of
overheat destroys it all. And then, afterward,
the idea, the spark, is still setting off sparks
and idea-collisions, brandishing its possibilities
into the other hardened chunks of fixed reality
which oftentimes resisted such expansion.
Psychological resistance, conflict within ideas,
a crazed, crash-land of inert stuff which refused
to fit, or sit still, or cool down.
No big deal, of course, and nothing to really be
concerned over except to the nut-case (in this case,
me), generating these ideas  -  oh maker of heat,
oh divine fire-producer, oh caveman on the plains
of a mental Abraham  -  but someday I dare you to
walk with ideas akin to this amongst a group of
people who bear no awareness of this sort of
thinking  -  and see how far you get. Even better,
see how difficult it is to function; which is why
there have always been 'artists' communities,
those odd enclaves you read of and hear about,
over all these years  -  the writer' colonies, the
eccentric small art-towns, the Chautauqua's and old 
Woodstocks of the world. This kind of thinking,
this sort of 'heat-set', yes, has to be isolated, put
away, moved aside, for the coals and fires to
kindle and burn, run-down, settle....and burn out.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Well, about now I expected much more but,
no, nothing came. I think maybe I should
just chuck my welter of charm and head
underground. Things are far better where
you cannot see. I spent today on 7th Street.
I walked on 'round to 8th, and later, passing
Tompkins Square, where I did not enter,
I stopped for a moment at some place
called 'Miss Lily.' They were selling
pound cake by the pound, which I had
never see before. It all worked out. Yet,
then , as I was leaving, on the nearby 
wall my breath was taken by the
strangest painted sign of all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

9774. RUDIMENTS, pt. 24

Making Cars
A lot of things are few and far between :
funny phrase, that always was. I can't say
I ever heard it much until once I myself,
here and there, began using it  -  and then,
as usually occurs, it seemed to be everywhere.
Some things are just like that. My mother,
for instance, she was always saying this
curious phrase 'ten to one.' Like she was a
betting betting veteran or some street-running
numbers racket, horse-race girl. The illicit
Queen of Bayonne, always mouthing some
race-track phrase I could never figure out.
'Go to the supermarket, get me a jar of Clover
Honey. Ten to one they'll be out of it, then
just get the Shop-Rite brand.' Huh? (Clover
Honey was a brand name, as I recall). Or,
she'd say, 'Oh, they said they'd be going,
but ten to one they'll never show.' Curious
as all get out. To me, ten to one was like the
time lunch was over, that was it.
After I got hit by that train, and mostly came
through recovery OK, I'd get headaches, major,
killer headaches. I mean, blitz headaches, the
kind that would break my head in two, split my
eyeballs right apart, tear my forehead with
some infernal fire I couldn't put out. OK, that's
one thing, but the weird part of it  -  and you
could set your weekly calendar by it  -  was
that it was on Friday, at about 11 in the morning.
Without fail. Every Friday, on schedule. I'd
come slogging home from school, already gone,
already wasted, already with a split head. They
used to just let me out on Fridays, whenever I
needed. We just lived down the street, and I'd
just walk home. My mother had this plastic
mask thing, lie a Zorro mask, except of 1950's
clear plastic, filled with a blue water. She kept
it in the freezer, and brought it out on Fridays.
I'd slip it on over my ears, like a Halloween mask.
The biting, crazy cold brought some relief, and
then I'd just fall asleep, or pass out, more like it.
Usually about 6pm I'd wake up, and all would be
over and well again. The mask, back into the
freezer, and, I suppose, back into a regular life.
At 9 years old, a kid doesn't make much sense
out of things like this. What did anyone know
anyway? Certainly not my parents; they were
just glad I was alive, I suppose. Or I hope anyway.
Eventually one of the doctors sent me away for
tests  -  'brain-wave tests' they were called  -  that
in itself was eerie, Twilight Zone stuff too  -  and
the prognosis was that I had spinal fluid leaking
out my ears. What? Excuse me Mr. Doctor, but
what did I just hear? To my recollection, no one
ever did anything more about any of that, and
in a year or so it was all over. The headaches just
stopped. Thank the Lord for that. (I did have a
bunch of ears growing out my spine, but  -  OK,
not really).
Life lessons? Yeah man, I've got plenty of those.
The main one, I guess, is don't get in front of a
moving train. They're unforgiving. But, larger than
all that, one of the things I took with me was how
there are so many useless people who can't keep
out of other people's business. Even as a newly-
ripened kid I noticed that. Then those people
usually become the political types who take over
all the positions from which their own neurotic
impulses get empowered so as to be able to
screw everything else for other people. Don't
do this; can't do that. The first 8 tears of school,
pretty much, elementary stuff  -  all that's
banged into your heads, outside of numbers
and letters, and how to write a freaking 'business
letter' heading (?), which are different from the
kind of junk you're supposed to write to your 
Aunt Jane and Uncle Harry with. That's the 
'social heading.' Yeah, this stuff really once 
used to matter. Those 8 years, as well are spent
drilling into your head the usual social-science
propaganda about how great this country is,
how important those documents are  -  the
Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, 
the Bill of Rights. It's all a bunch of tired
horse-crap but the teachers' organizations 
and the sorts of dolts they hire as teachers are
all too willing to promote this junk, while they
fleece the public. While the politicians they,
in turn, promote with their skilled propaganda,
take office to rob and filch, all the while restricting
others by stupid-ass laws, right down to the
most simple of personal matters. They never
tell you that just about every third person in 
this stupid country works for some level of 
Government, state, local, municipal, legal, 
enforcement, rules and regulations, enforcement
or policing. Everyone taking home big, fat
paychecks from the public tax dollar, living off
the public good, milking the bones of the
milk-cows in the pasture dry. You see, that's 
called State Socialism  -  and it's the complete
opposite of what those documents just mentioned 
are about. This entire country is a huge farce,
but they'll never tell you that in school. No
wonder I had Friday headaches. Ten to one
it was all caused by this lame crap I had to 
ingest. Life lesson #2, beware of he mouthing
forked-tongue bullshit platitudes. Or she, 
now that it's all equal.


We've found some new information; we're taking it back.
We have you on camera stealing a Jesus from the manger,
parking in overtime-only spots, and skateboarding right
past a No Skateboarding sign. This banking committee
has to ask : Just who do you think you are? Was anything
you told us about yourself on that loan-app true at all?
When we began this operation, as committee, en masse,
we went to the Wishing Well Commerce School of Good
Banking, just to learn our trade, be able to pick out and
spot situations just like this one. We've had out last 
meeting over you. As of right now, you're through.
 SYNOPSIS: Really weak piece; well, as I can see, a guy
has gone to a bank, some time back, and gotten a loan,
evidently on some false premises and misrepresentations
he'd put on the loan application  -  which this group of
bankers didn't catch until they, somehow, saw him in 
the act on security cameras, somewhere. Now, due to
the varied infractions, they're calling the loan in and
want their money back  -  while softly criticizing him
and calling him out, they, as a 'committee,' seem more
intent here on telling him the things they'd done in the
past so that this sort of thing wouldn't happen. Which it 
did, happen, anyway, through their negligence as a
screening committee. So, what's the point, really?

9772. RUDIMENTS, PT. 23

Making Cars
When I learned  -  whatever I learned  -
about writing was about the same as I
learned about theater and acting. Just
by the doing. Back in the seminary days,
as foolish as it all sounds, the whole
ex-cathedra religion thing, for me,
had gotten taken over by the greater
rush and good-feeling of the drama
department stuff that went on there.
Guys, teen boys really, with a gay
teen-boy acting coach who also had
a Roman Collar on, doing all sorts of
weird plays and recitations on a fairly
nice  -  and not at all makeshift  -  stage.
Overhead light brackets, pulls and lifts,
curtains and scrims and all that scenery
stuff going up and down, controlled
lighting, and real audiences too. It may
have been nothing or it may have been
a lot, but I know it wrecked me up some
good. Bus-loads of screaming crazy south
Jersey high school and junior high school
girls coming in on Saturdays and Sundays
to scream at us, and our performances, as
if we were some jerky form of boy Beatles,
to them, in those very same years. Any
time I spent there was soon overrun with
all that instead of holiness and revival.
The only thing I ever gave up for Lent
was the idea of NOT having such adulation.
That was all some real cracker-barrel
dreaming, but it sure took the cake for a
year or two, and, by the time I knew what
had hit me, I was out of that place for sure.
In fact, I was on  my way back to little old
Avenel, NJ to finish off a most-miserable
slicing of a last year of high school in the
local town dump. Boy, I hated that.
Darkness and bleakness became my
categorical friends. I couldn't believe
I'd gotten dumped unceremoniously back
into a place like that. Nor could I believe
how so many of my once-kid-friends had
by then just turned into regular gung-ho
guys, doing the happy high-school shuffle,
buying into all that career and college crud,
walking about as if the days to come were
all going to be magic for them. Somehow, I
managed to remain completely unknown and
unseen to any of them. I don't know how I
managed that, but it happened. A few of
my friends from then, old guys like myself,
now, have told me, against my memory, of
course, that it had not been them ignoring
me, rather the other way around. I had become
unapproachable, walking right past them; in
a complete tunnel-vision of self, I'd suppose.
Perhaps there was more than a touch of
idiosyncratic behavior, an early form of
OCD on my part, obsessively separating
those wild, eye-high useless weeds in
front of me so as to pass through un-fettered.
I tried saying I was sorry for all that to
one or two guys, but I don't think they
ever thought my apology was genuine.
Whatever. On another note, one of the
girls from those days, seen since a few
times around, always regales me with
her stories of those days too  -  never
mentioning me at all, she just says,
'What do I remember? All I remember
is I was having sex with every  boy on
the block at that time, in all of Avenel,
and then my father threw me out.' So,
I guess it's all a matter of degrees. I
do suppose my enforced solitude made
me miss that one.
It was all for a lot of reasons, and once
I got to new York it was all forgotten
anyway. I tried washing Avenel, and
those seminary days, out of my
plastic-like skull with a steel-wool
brush. I figured every third person
I'd see walking past me had probably
come out of the same sort of situation
-  people in the city all seemed twisted
over something or other. Compensatory
behavior takes many forms  -  some sell
wishes and securities, some bet on markets
and try to buy the future, and others,
like myself, just fume and try to be
artists, or writers. Or even rioters.
It's a very disproportionate place, this
bruised, sick city : disproportionate anger,
or rage, disproportionate wishing or wanting.
So, back to writing, and what I learned,
and all. I learned the feint. It's a fake
move in one direction, and then a sudden
dart into another. A real roller-coaster
ride for the reader, who's just assumed
to be able and willing to make those
terms and jumps with you. Last chapter,
by the way (that was a feint; I'm pulling
you right now in another direction with
a head fake still towards the place we
just were), I made a quick mention
of the NY guy who came to the
Barron Arts center with that poem
'Rasta man, Rasta.' I realized only later
that it might have made no sense
to you. In the context of 1982, a Rasta
was shorthand for a Rastafarian, that
quasi-religious sect within radical
Jamaican politics, and religion too, I
suppose, which used marijuana (referred
to as 'Ganja'), as a component of the
religious tactic or rite. Very difficult
to precisely set down, but they too were
all part of that Michael Manley era's
political trouble. (Maybe in the same was
as a feint, does a theater person use, from
the stage, the uttered aside, to secreted
speech or cluing-off to the audience
(that fourth-wall breach). Monologues
and soliloquies are too formal for that,
and they consume too much of the
playwright's effort and time to be just
cast off like that). And that's another
thing, I never understood why the
person who writes a play becomes
the playwright and not just the
playwrite, or even the playright,
since, after all, it's he or she then
who has the rights to the play.
Sure is something to think about.
One last thing here, one final feint.
still in a way having to do with what 
I learned of both drama, and of writing.
I've known 2 or three people, over time,
who have killed themselves by blowing
their brains out. The first one shocks, I 
guess, and then after that it all just
becomes old hat, and pretty ordinary.
For, in the course of a life, a drama 
always gets enacted and from such 
does always come a dissolution of 
one form or another. Or, in the 
formulation of Chekov's Rule, as 
it's put, in writing a play : 'The gun 
which is introduced in Act One must 
go off in (or by) Act Three.'