Tuesday, January 16, 2018


You know the jerks who say that
for entry and exit, they've always
burned me up. What's wrong with
just being simple, for pity's sake.
Anyway, they've always sounded
like artists to me, those two names.
And what a pity that should be : to
shoulder that cavern of stupidity and
re-mark everything wrongly. There's
a place out here called the Appalachian
Trail. Naming things, as they do, in 
such a fashion, would get it all wrong:
the Apellation Trail. Naming. There's
a......Tree, Brook, River, Hill, Meadow,
Stone Trail, Ridge. And on from there.

Monday, January 15, 2018


There we go around the bend again and
you've scrambled my eggs instead : the
charcoal man wants to come back but I
tell him once, 'It's Winter,' and he leaves.
Over where Thomas Edison lived, there 
was a dig, in late fall, of the outlines of his 
house, to see what could be found.  didn't
go because I thought it was bogus.
They're all supposed to tell us what was 
found but to date no one said a word : I 
take it that means nothing. Had they found 
something they would have been crowing.
I can't go home again in this condition. My
Indian friend Patel says I look like a waste. 
I tell him his best friend Bhat says the same 
about him. You know those foreign types by 
now, right? Incidental wayfarers are coming
about, and I don't mean sunglasses. There's
nothing but onions left.

10,408. RUDIMENTS, pt. 196

Making Cars
There are golden roads and
there are really crummy paths
and byways. I remember sometime
about 1967 or so, the early Grateful
Dead  -  back when they were still
a bit more hard and electric than
they ended up being known for -
had a tune called something about
'The Golden Road To Unlimited
Devotion.' Boy that phrase caught
me up good; I really loved it. The
rest of the album too  -  it ended
up representing something for me
that I could never really put my
finger on; a sort of hip reciprocity
of the times with San Francisco
psychedelia, and Hell's Angels
too, unwittingly. (They were
early on the 'house band' for
the Oakland or San Francisco
Hell's Angels, and, once
established, stayed that way,
previously having been Mother
McCree's Jug Band or something,
and then, just previous to being the
Dead, they were the Warlocks). I
didn't know any of that stuff at first,
and it wouldn't have mattered to me
anyway. Years later, when they hit
the big time really big, their music
changed to a sort of feminine version
of that whole scene  -  nothing I ever
really cared about, except for any of
20 bar bands that stayed with the
Dead tunes in all their incarnations.
I hung onto that album for a long
time, and listened. Running a close
second to that for me was Country
Joe and the Fish, and their really
cool debut album  -  'Electric Music
For the Mind and Body.' They had 
some grand music on there too. My
problem mostly was in only have
the most meager audio equipment 
to play it on  -  something akin to
a car radio but not in a car. All that
treble and high scratchiness, no 
depth, and little resonance. Oh 
well. Audio listening equipment 
back then was really pathetic  -  
these little 12 dollar (maybe) things 
with one speaker probably about 
the size of a silver dollar, built
into a plastic-crap body that folded
down on itself, kind of suitcase like, 
when not in use, and which was 
activated by picking up the toner 
arm, or needle arm, whatever it is. 
That was what started and stopped
things, and at the end of the LP
I don't think it returned automatically
either. A real mess. But that was my
introduction to this stuff. The stuff I
liked at the time. In that sort of 'rock' 
music nothing has to matter anyway  -
a sot of non-specific theme-ocray rules.
Road? Golden Road? Devotion?
Unlimited Devotion? What any of all
that was really supposed to mean I
never knew. It's still a lot like that
even in regular writing (or maybe
'irregular') writing; the idea being
suggestion more than specificity. It
was all bundled together in that time
with the entire alternative-culture
thing : swirls and swoosh, feeling
good and touching, and nothing
very specific at all. If you wanted
to be a right-winger and shoot these
people down all you had to do was
ask any one of them to 'specify' what
in the world it was that they were
trying to do or change. Pretty weird.
I spent some time thinking about work.
Not that I ever wanted to do it  -  (I did,
within  a few years, end up as a Monday
to Friday nine-to-fiver for a long time).
I hated work. I had a friend once whose
mission it was was to go through life
and not work. He detested it worse
than I did. It wasn't the work that I
disliked, it was all the stuff you had
to do along the way  -  all that talking
and bonding and pretending to care
and pretending to wish to advance. It
was all a crock, and whoever invented
that treadmill, and money too, I hope
they got shot dead real soon after. In
my way, I made it work, doing what 
I had to and keeping ahead of the 
boulder always ready to run me over
from behind. Some of the work I
got involved with was real dog-ass 
stupid stuff. Business printing and
deadline stuff, running back and
forth with things I had to get or 
bring or do to people I know 
admit to really detesting. I honestly
don't know how I did it; it was
painful for me, and quite dishonest 
too. It doesn't come until later in
life that you can tell other to go
schuck it and get lost.
Dancing and singing, if it occurs,
is supposed to come from within  -
singing joyfully maybe to oneself
about the sense of one's worth and
happiness. It requires no  concern
for others. Work is just the opposite
of that  -  singing and dancing FOR
others, in duress, as a form of wage
slavery. Valuing oneself with no
comparison to others, for the simple
sake of living freely, now becomes the
drudgery of doing what's told to you,
following order and routine and, lastly,
pretending. Singing and dancing FOR
others, and against your own better 
judgment. We find ourselves miserable
in ruthless competition, with contempt
and inequality of situations killing us.
Once I began writing, I became quite
conservative in my ways, for the love
of the familiar ordinariness of civilized
life and the hope of enjoying it longer.
I ended up figuring that if the world is
really in all the trouble it's said to be in,
with warming and pollution and poisons 
and toxins, we should all be allowed to
voluntarily do our part by being paid to
not work, somehow. To NOT be adding
to the general over-production mess. 
Who really needs 50 kinds of paper 
towels, and 70 different, and redundant, 
kinds of toothpaste and the rest. You 
tell me? Who needs stores 40 acres 
large from which to buy all this 
over-produced crap and then yell 
about, or be yelled at for, the waste 
and overproduction and consumption 
WE are then accused of? How twisted 
for profit is any of that? Gross National
Product is just that.
So I figured people should get paid
for volunteering out of the mess. And
then I found some philosopher or some
contemporary social critic or something, 
named Bernard Suits (yeah, real name).
His point was why should we all get so
engaged in doing evil? Some people are
just driven to that garbage, the making
of money, possessions, supposed prestige.
OK then, let them have it. The rest of us
should be allowed to opt out for the good
of the planet, if nothing else, and be lauded
for it. And then, he says, suppose material
abundance is achieved  - it can be stopped
at some point. We don't simply have to
continue doing more and more. Once 
there, even more people can opt out. And
then what? He says  -  'Worry, labor and
trouble form the lot of most men's life, but
if all their wishes got fulfilled, how would
men occupy their lives? What would the do
with their time?' His answer was astounding.
'Play. Games and sport. Play for its own sake.
If some people intrinsically valued doing the
things regarded as trades, such as house
building,they could do that, but done as sport,
for reasons of the game of the building
craft. In addition to hockey, baseball, tennis
and the rest, there would be the sports, also,
of business administration, jurisprudence,
philosophy, construction, science, motor
mechanics, and the rest, ad infinitum.'
The very fact that we can approvingly (or
at least I can) imagine this form of society
shows that the idea of a Utopia is still
intelligible to us. Forge on! Work at it!

10,407. LET IT GO

There's a noose around my noose.
The double hanging takes place
tomorrow noon. I wonder, should
I get rigid, or just loosen up as they
finally put the rope around my neck?
I heard them test the platform today.
I daresay, it seemed to function quite 
well, and they were very satisfied.
(I heard their voices across the yard).
Then I got to thinking about how the
clank of the movement seemed harsh
and loud  -  but realized at that point
the hearing of it all, then, in any way, 
will already seem lame and immaterial.
So I guess I'll just have to let it go.


We have nothing and are in arrears.
The sky nonetheless is calling, and that
we'd like to have. Is there perhaps a way?
The lone voice of some man is sounding,
and I hear the distant approach of his words
I do not recognize. Men have died for less.
For privilege and the rain-swept street.
For snow, falling into banklets headed
with wind-blown swirls. For everything
at once; for all and nothing at all.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


'A'ya, if yer'gonn'a move I'm gonn'a have to
shoot you. And Porter, take a charge of his
horse. Go through his bags too.' With that
there was a roar across the dirt road and
a large wagon careened into view, four
horses huffing. 'Stop, stop, he's not your
man! I jes' seen him, down by the Lounder
Creek, he was waterin' his horse and eatin'
some grub  -  darndest thing I ever seen.
You can prob'ly still get him, if'n ya' leave
right now!' With that, the 5 men jumped on
their own horses, and rode off, leaving behind
the guy they had just wrestled and threatened 
to shoot. 'Holy Hell, Clever, you done so good!
I can't believe they fell for that  story. Here,
untie me and get me the hell away from here.'

10,404. RUDIMENTS, pt. 195

RUDIMENTS, pt. 195
Making Cars
I got myself pretty far afield
in that previous chapter. It was
supposed to have been about
'efficiency' and somehow I
drifted from human paths to
suicide to finding dollars in
the snow. Oh well. Let's get
back to efficiency.
Nature always comes across,
and is portrayed as, super
efficient; no wasted morsels,
no extra effort. No right angles;
everything on a nice arc and
curve. The curve of a nice tree
branch, the slow wide wind of
a stream, the roundness of a
wet rock. (That's 'wind' like
curvy, not the wind that blows).
Nature is beyond doubt soft and
supple. Our designs, by contrast,
are edgings on glass. That's the
quotient of efficiency making
the difference. When I began
the previous write, I intended to
comment on the efficiency of the
entire life-to-death process, and 
how pushing it along or advancing
it just causes difficulties and alters
the entire process. Interference
like that is never an efficient means
or reaching a desired result, no
matter what. I can remember when
shoes first began coming out with
plastic bottoms  -  molded, glued, 
etc.  -  and how a guy I new started
saying right off, about them, that
it spelled, to him, the end of the
civilization we'd known until 
then. He was a shoemaker, with 
a shoe-shop at 7th ave and about 
27th street, near what later became
a fancied-up Fashion Institute of 
Technology, known as "FIT.' It's a
high-fashion  designer school sort
of vocational in essence, and it
produces yearly bunches of those
odd clothing-designer and fashion
runway types  -  guys and girls and
most completely indeterminate sexuality,
I mean nearly impossible to tell most
of the time. They've got barricades
and dividers and entry gates right
there on the plain old city street  -
a row of dormitories (there was a
student suicide a decade or so back,
right there too  -  a leap to the 
sidewalk. I guess the hems didn't 
meet, or some other major designer 
problem. Too bad, isn't how one's
perspective changes everything.
I guess there's no telling for what
came out of God's toolkit of the
emotions). Anyway, this guy, Carl,
was a serious shoe-repairman. I
don't know if anyone has ever really
studied a shoemaker's shop, but they
were (I don't know about 'are') 
completely of a kind  -  serious, 
leathery smells, polishes, shoes,
thread, soles, buffers and stitching
machines and leather cutting saws
for the heaviness of soles and shoe
sides, etc. They somehow always
had a 'Cats-Paw' sign in place, some
sort of sole or shoe leather things.
There were always a few shoe-shine
chairs in place along his side wall,
really nice step-up seats, almost regal,
and a pedestal for one's foot while the
buffing and shining went on. Shoelaces
in a rack; leather twine and strips; None
of this can be recreated in just words  -
the sounds and the colors and tones are
better than any I could aspire to putting 
across. Carl's place was exceptional in 
that the worn-out old wood of the floor
itself wore a sheen of polish from the
years  -  foot traffic having worn and
rounded the boards, here and there a 
high knot still sticking up, polished 
by shoe traffic. The thick, old glass 
counter-top was worn and almost 
fog-glazed by use; years of coins 
and change and transactions. The
most ancient pawn-shop you'd ever
see would only run neck-in-neck with 
Carl's Shoe Shop. 'Carl Can! He's the
Shoe-Shop Man!' (That was his pretty
dumb slogan, probably from the 1940's).
All of that depended on leather and the
old ways of shoes. Uppers and lowers
of quality and craft. Once he saw the
entry of plastic creeping in to his
'craft,' he was immediately able to
sense what inevitably did occur. People
coming in with plastic shoes, of which
the glued bottoms had separated from
the glued tops. They'd still want repairs.
He'd start forthwith telling them how
the shoe wasn't worth the repair, the 
plastic was doomed, the shoe was shot.
Only later did it dawn on him to go with
the tawdry arc of degradation  -  so, with 
his flat-faced vice, for $8.95 he shut up
and actually began gluing people's shoes
for them and getting them back to use
for the next day. He said it was an
act of desperation, hopefully his last,
before the entire industry closed
around him. That shop, some thirty
years later now, is still there, close to
the same, though smaller somehow 
and more cluttered, it seems, with
crummy stuff. No longer does it have 
the regal bearing of leather, spit, and 
polish as it once did. A Spanish guy
owns it now  -  I still stop in, just to see.
Some used shoes are always for sale
on a small rack  - nice, old, leather-style
shoes. He's expanded a lot now, into
watch repair, watch batteries and any 
of those other small-battery replacement
jobs. A watch replacement is 6 dollars,
though once it was 8  -  maybe a larger
battery, I never asked. And his shoe-shine
person now is a Spanish woman  -  maybe
it's his wife  - I don't know. My point is,
the action and end results are pretty much
the same  -  shoes, shoe-repair, and some
profit  -  yet the efficiency factor is now
totally different. I'd have to say that I'm
not sure in which direction : Carl's was, in
its way, possessed of a completely different
time and feel, and thus an efficiency that 
was completely at variance. He got things
done but it was all dark and smoky somehow,
and though 'efficient' in the old sense, 
everything was slow and took time  - a
thick and slow time that maybe it was
harder to slog through. This Spanish
guy's version of same seems lighter,
more airy, Things get done, and that's
it. The one thing I notice, and it irks me,
is the lack now of that 'Cat's-Paw' clock
that was on the wall. All of that old
logo-ideology is now gone  -  there was
always a bespectacled cobbler guy, in
a leather apron, on some sort of sign
back then, for something. That too is
now sadly missing. Let's just say it
was efficiently removed somewhere
along the line.


Sometimes to me it seems the world
has moved a bit  -  an inch or two, or
maybe a foot. Things out of place, and
swampy. Like blind men describing
that elephant, everyone's got something
different to say about the same old thing.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

10,402. RUDIMENTS, pt. 194

RUDIMENTS, pt. 194
Making Cars
I've always figured shortcuts to be
pretty useless -   not the walking 
kind, those I liked. They are the
ones that you see where countless
footsteps have cut the angle of a
corner, paved or sidewalk, and
gone across through the junk and
scrub-land anyway and forged their
own path. Those I've always loved;
they're very human, very warming,
and bespeak in me a good feel for 
for the human predicament we always
find ourselves in. As 'Mankind' the
doer. Some primitive and ancient
tribal drive pushes us to do that,
cut that square and cross it with an
angle, path-worn and bare, and to
heck with the township or the county.
All those silly walkways.
No, the shortcuts I refer to are of 
some other nature, of another realm. 
Like suicide, for instance. I always 
wondered what is anyone thinking 
with that. It's the end of the same 
path we're all on, and it always 
beckons, but why the need for the 
shortcut? How to answer for that?
Nothing can really be so peculiarly
depressing as to accelerate the normal
drift of things to that extent. Maybe 
some extraneous exceptions can be 
argued - some horrible diagnosis, 
some wasting  disease, an incurable 
prognosis of death in 8 months. I 
guess, but even then who knows.
That's a shortcut I've to date easily
avoided, so I'm entitled to talk big;
but it exemplifies what I'm saying.
One thing I'm noticing now, at my
own advancing age  -  (get it, the
numbers no longer make me to be
of a celebratory nature)  -   is how,
at the least, I don't have to give a hoot
about anything really. I'm gone enough,
off the curve, out of the picture, that I
can acceptably just grumble, patter on
about my own past, reel off any of
a hundred enticing stories that can 
better what's around  -  things I've 
done or seen  -  and say to Hell with
the rest. I'm finally unexceptionable;
and if I get any older (I'm hoping to)
I'll be so disgusting as to also be an
'unmentionable.' That's a new club 
of which I'm President. The Loyal 
Order of the Unmentionables. People 
too out of the loop or crotchety or 
curmudgeonly, about any of the 
present that it's easier to just square 
off and punch out some 30 year old
know-it-all punk who knows nothing
anyway and prefers emo-rap. Be gone!
I don't expect much anymore from 
anybody. The whole stupid fiction 
of their living has got me down. Just 
the other day  -  a real  story  -  (this 
is how crazy life is) I'm driving my
wife around. She needed something
for next week. First we go to one store;
they don't have it, she doesn't like the 
way the store is kept anyway. So we 
go to the same store, by name, in 
another location about 6 miles off 
(yeah, pretty redundant I'd think), 
and we get there and some crazy 
lady is out front sending all the cars 
away. She had a manager tag on, 
from one of the stupid mall stores, 
and as it turned out the mall was 
closed because they'd lost power 
in the entire place, all the stores.
None of it mattered to me; I don't 
frequent malls in any way, unless 
maybe I can bring in an M16  or an
Uzi and get a good shot-vantage point.
So we leave, and, yes, there's a third 
one of these stores in another mall, 
in East Brunswick, some 10 or 12 
miles off. We get there, all is well, 
she goes in. While I'm waiting, I 
walk the dog, hang around the
perimeter, of the main lot. There's 
snow on the ground, and plowed 
snow in piles. People occasionally 
walk about, but pay no heed, looking 
at phones or daydreaming. I'm looking
at the snow piles and, believe this or
not but it's true, in the snowed and
weedy shrubs I start seeing dollar
bills  -  clinging to things, snow and
branches at the ground level. The
previous day had been windy. It's 
a mall, a bunch of stores, and there's 
a bank-drive-in nearby too. So be it.
By the time I was (carefully) done,
I'd amassed 12 singles. That's 12
dollars I didn't have 10 minutes
previous. I muttered curses at the
lame-brain who would lose only
singles and not fives or tens, but,
whatever. So, I'm thinking, where 
to go with this money? Turn it 
into the bank? No. Go into the 
nearest store and tell them? Nah. 
Wait for the little rent-a-cop guy 
to come around again with his 
silly amber light blinking on the 
car-roof. No, again. I took the 
(wet) money and folded it into 
my coat pocket. I looked at it 
today, and it's now quite dry 
and the bills seem quite crisp, 
thank you. Not a rich-man's 
fortune, don't get me wrong, 
and I know that, but a cool 
stash to find.
So, where was my shortcut there?
What well-worn path should have 
brought me to that pass? None. And
sometimes it's just much better to
slowly finish even the dumbest task,
the most routine and idiotic goal, like
leather gloves at Macy's, to find the
surprising nugget at the base of that
slimy tree. People ask me if I would
ever kill myself. I answer no. And 
why? 'Because I want to see how 
this thing ends up.'

10,401. CHARMING

Like the snake that uncoils at the
sound of its flute, I awake from my
profusion of wrongs. I slowly rise,
myself enraptured by some secret
songs. Men have whittled both
grape and ash wood into better
shapes than this, but here I am.
People there are who charm ghosts
and invite them in. Who tell stories
and fashion tales. My first remembrance
of anything like that is from the old
high country where I once lived. Genial
guys, rugged and strong, wise  old 
farmers  -   they'd sit around, some 
Winter nights  -  an old fire at the 
base of some old barn, a slab of
concrete at its social end. There'd
be a tub there too, of fermented apple
cider, apple jack or whatever they 
called it, from October. It was wicked,
at 4 months old.
They invited me in, and I become soon
a regular to them : stories of hunts, and
adventures past, bawdy tales of women
they'd known  -  and some still around.
Half fire, half fiction, and facts of renown:
Harold Korndyke's enormous wang, how
Helen Manger gasped one night in secret,
she though, but everyone in the other room
had heard. That dead deer in Arneson's truck,
how it came back to life two hours later
and fought them like hell, until three Bowie
knife cuts killed it again.
Believe me, ladies and gents, it wasn't all pleasant.