Saturday, September 18, 2021

13,829. HARGROVE

Moss doesn't really grow only on
the north side of trees. It's more 
to do with moisture and light, but 
that  gets forgotten in the telling. 
And it really doesn't matter  -  any
woodsman or pioneer would have 
already known what direction he 
wanted. God's compass is built 
into  each of our heads.
I still marvel at audacity and
the boldness that makes a man
shine. Not that it's all good, but
merely that it exists. People who
chase only money, they get charged
double in the end - the mind magnifies
that which it least respects.
Changeable kingdoms, and the
fiefdoms of good and evil. I'll 
play cards with the Devil , yes,
but you'd better way-up the odds
before I start. No limits to my


So you are saying this life is a whisper,
the small noise a carillon makes out
of adjustment. The earthquakes and
the landscapes that fail; the tsunami
that subsumes what it entails?
How can one lock the effervescence
of living away? Like a sulking child
or a brooding stray, hiding in corners
or running away? I think not, and 
I'll keep my own freedom in my 
own free way.


I can make it stick; every fiction
I know carries some of reality too.
Darn this apple tree, and it takes
so long.
Leave me to my oasis, I suppose. 
Here where the silly birds slight
each other over seeds and waters?
How far is the distance to land?


In my days of old I played lots
of roles; now the fire's gone and 
I've grown cold. I was once a
Keystone Cop. I was once a
Katzenjammer Kid. I was never
fickle in the things I did, but
all of life changes before too
long. I remember the melody,
but I forget the song.

Friday, September 17, 2021

13,825. RUDIMENTS, pt. 1,214

RUDIMENTS, pt. 1,214
(transistor radios)
The funny thing was, about the
Twin Towers, or the World Trade
Center as it was more officially
known, was how much I really
disliked them. In the beginning.
When they first went up, I detested
what looked to me like two
transistor radios jutting into the
sky. For you modern cats, that's
a throwback reference to the days
when Emerson and GE actually
made, wonder of wonders! hand
held radios for personal use. In
their days they were quite amazing,
and it all started about 1958. At
first, as the 'technology' of the
new 'transistor' developed, the
race was on for more and more
'transistor' in the radio; at first
6, then maybe 8, and as I recall,
by 1960 or so, 12 transistors.
I never rightly knew what was
going on with all that, nor what
a transistor even was   -  opposed
to a 'resistor', I figured  -  but the
more you had, the more the little
radio could pull in. It was as if
even this 'new' thing had to be 
entered into the then-current 
rat-race of more and bigger and 
larger, all. It was funny too, since,
as the cars got longer and wider,
with fins and swoops and chrome 
and all, so as to sort of represent
symbolic power, when I saw the
actual space capsules and stuff of
the Mercury rockets and John
Glenn and the space-shots I was
staggered by how, as of a sudden
they had been made to look like,
instead, toasters, stunted erasers,
or the silliest, most blunt-looking,
utility boxes winging in space.
So much for glitz and glamor, and
in the same manner the Twin Towers,
when finally completed, represented
nothing but expediency and an act
of 'efficiency' which brought forth
the most banal, neutral and generic
looking, vertical blocks; to make it
worse, twinned! America sure knew
how to pocket the 8-ball.
Walter Benjamin had it that 'all
paths lead to the present, and the
future leads there too.' I guess
that was sure truthful.
The hand-held transistor radio
for me, walking along Inman 
Avenue, vivified life as I knew 
it. Allowing me to walk down
Inman Avenue, where my 'home'
was, at #116, in a miserable row
of exact-pattern lookalike sand
castles, to be accompanied by
Ben E. King singing 'There is a
rose in Spanish Harlem...' Damn
it all, thought I, there really are
other places.
Anyway, moving along, the Twin
Towers represented to high-point
of that 1970's time, upon completion,
of flat planes, right angles, stern
visage, no windows, and people
otherwise ventilated and entombed
by 'technology,' though, then, of
the architectural operation. Complete
and utter rationality embodied in
steel and glass. Little did anyone 
know what was to come. I wasn't
much interested and, at first, as I
said, really disliked them.
What happened over time, especially
at right about the turn of the century
to 2000, was that I had really grown
to love them. They stood for so much
of NY for me, whether good or bad.
They were useful as refence points,
visually, to one's position on the
island, or across from it, to the
outlying places of Brooklyn, or
New Jersey. I knew the sightlines,
from uptown or across town, and
was quickly able to determine
things from where I knew the 
towers were; which streets opened
to their straight view, which were
angled, etc. I'd often sit at the
tiny outside-drinking balcony of
the Nancy Whiskey Pub and just
stare them down (a great vantage 
point there).
Conceptually, it was all a different
matter. What had happened, actually,
was that, through the 1960's and with
only a modicum of consideration and
'public' permission, Authority itself,
(NY Urban Development, the folks
at Port Authority, to name but two)  -
each seeking to increase their local
fiefdoms and commands, desensitize
neighborhoods to anything but greed,
profit, and commercial venture, and
the public be damned, took over the
lands, properties, and storefront small
businesses of an entire Lebanese and
Middle Eastern district of shops ,
grocers, and small stores. It had, until
then, been referred to as the electronics
district  -  since many of the shops
and workmen of the area were of the
repair-skills for small appliances,
TV's and radios, wiring, short wave,
buzzers, relays, buttons and (probably)
transistors too. They were unceremoniously
shut down, and the people moved out -
sent scurrying, in fact. I don't know to
where they were exiled, but like the
Lincoln Center district, at about the
same time, where the same thing had
been done to Puerto Ricans, I'd imagine
it was out to those gruesome apartment
and plaza projects like Starrett City, or
out to Flushing or Queens. There's an
entire book on this Trade Center
relocation and demolition, by Danny
Lyon, entitled 'The Destruction of
Lower Manhattan.'  -  a fascinating
read and photo book showing the
derelict district, the ruins and the
demolitions and the raw vacancies
of the area. Over what amounted to
maybe 5 years, the clearance and
land preparation for the massive
excavations of the towers got
underway  -  almost surreptitiously,
without big announcement and/or
publicity, an entire section of
lower Manhattan was removed.
By the time the towers were 
destroyed, I had grown fond of 
them and at that peculiar time
I'd frequented and gotten myself
used to, even, the concourse and
shopping mezzanine, outlandishly,
since it was like nothing other than
a suburban mall, a commercial
chatter-space serving the thousands
who worked there daily. Food,
clothing. Ties, belts, shoes, hats,
leathers, watches and jewelry,
books and expensive collectibles,
rare-items, antiques. It was, in
its respect, pure commerce. Above
it, in a myriad of offices and
corridors, there was, for a time,
nothing so much as a great vacancy.
So much so that, at first, around 
1974, in order to keep the
enterprise solvent, the State of
New York itself became the 
largest tenant; offices, boards,
bureaus and commission and 
agencies too  -  let alone what
was moved there from Albany.
The place was, at first, a real
losing proposition.
Frankly, I was never sure what
to make of it. Ornament had
always been a part of architecture
on older NYC buildings  -  that 
is why we note them and 
remember them and why that
old style of 1880's grand and
stately architecture represented.
This, however was something
new, past even the steel and glass
modernism of Lever House and
the midtown ship/shape glass
and glitter buildings. The Twin
Towers were simply plain and
raw and brutish, sort of just as
they crumbled died too. The
commercial concourse within
represented nothing more than
commodity culture, internalized,
taken is and denied the street.
The business of the buildings,
in their aspects, wasn't in fact
'commerce' at all; nor was it
trade. Plain and simple, it was
mass-bureaucracy; it was the
buying and selling, and the 
transporting of, great quantities
of everything, ('Trade, Global')
by way of clerks, trackers, typists,
accountants, and shipping and
receiving management in huge
numbers. Or Governmental-force
bureaucracy  -  a brutal, plain,
force in its own way. These towers
probably deserved to die, sad to
say. The least likely suspects did
it too  -  crazed, desert, nomads,
little different than the crazed,
desert American everywhere
doing the selfsame stuff just in
the habit and rubric of another
ideology. Supposedly. Mammon.
Allah. Yahweh. Pick it.
It's funny to realize that the first
attempt at taking the towers down
was a failure. It was 1986 or so
when some other Islamic cleric
masterminded a van laden with
heavy explosives to breach the 
underground gates for parking
and explode beneath a tower,
which did occur, and took out
a large area and many vehicles,
etc., but nothing enough to
dissemble one tower, let alone
two. Same sort of terror-thought.
The blind cleric was tried and
sent away for many years, vowing
that the 'next attempt would NOT
fail.' (I don't know whatever
happened to him, I think he's 
dead by now; but I know he was
imprisoned for a long time). It
was that first attempt destruction
that put up the vehicle-barriers,
gate-barricades, and no-parking
areas which were in place after
that. in any case, by 2001, that
problem too had been superseded,
in this case, by air travel. When
those towers came down, a great
part of whatever new-soul New
York was supposed to have been
getting, or building, went down
with it.


Once the shoe is on the
other foot, I guess the
pressure's off the toes?


This firing range is a busy place,
and out on Witherspoon they are
drinking their coffees. Froth, and
sugars, and cream. 
Ambivalent to a fault, I sling by
unrecognized in my ghostly raiment.
As one who has already passed, I am 
past all that. Words ricochet, but I
don't stay to listen. What do you say
when you say 'Hi!' in the street?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


In the museum all they do is 
stand around staring : Things
to see, in wholesale distribution.
It's the same way I realize that
school is a lie : Teachers dump
their classes there, to study 'Art'
for the day.
By any token of the imagination,
they have none. The pallet of blue
and purple are only fashion tones
to them. The twittering of birds, on
the other hand, must remain outside.
'We'll break for lunch in half an hour.'


Whatever that was, I had it twice.
A strange elixir delivered by post.
Not airmail or anything; just post.
The delivery guy was already gone
when he got here. Drunk, I'm meaning
to say. He was green for sure, but he
said  -  clearly  -  that he hailed from
Yellow Mountain. Now, that was a
place I'd surely not heard of.
If he had a sister, I'd have asked her.
'What's up with your brother?' or
something like that. But I didn't
wish to bother with family stuff, for
maybe the ongoing peril was still live.
'Oh, Mama always liked him better.'
Or, 'Daddy was a no-good thief, and
I guess it rubbed off.' As it was, I simply
asked her what she wore under her
dress. She snickered, and said,
'A Freudian slip.'


All the drainpipes had already
fallen, and those old gutters which
had been filled with leaves now
screamed out for cleaning. Too
late. To say you're sorry.
That was always a refrain in old
songs, someone always rueing 
about something they did; broken 
hearts and sob-story effects. I
never got that  -  but then again
I never understood why a man,
any man, would sing.
It seems so weak. So whiny.
The damp cloth was held over
my face in the heat. Someone
made mention I'd fainted on
the field. One zillion degrees,
a thousand portly people, and
I'm the one who gets picked
out for the special effects.
Just tell me the time of the
Demolition Derby. Show me
the way to the next whiskey bar.
There's always something lurking
around the corner. I came close,
but it was still rather far.

13,819. 'HERE I WAS'

My eight surrogates were up on
the roof : apparent as alternate
versions of me, or the past-life
retrogressions of those I once had
been. All along this way I know
we leave things behind. 
This frightened me when I then
realized what all this was. I hoped
they weren't coming for me. Little
variation occurs within time, as
it seems all things just plod along.

Monday, September 13, 2021


That's the last jangle you'll hear :
And the deadened marsh oasis 
is not going to save you now. 
There's a fire at the thorn-bush 
where you're sitting.
Slice open that orange-peel
with some new kind of knife.
Inner-riches are waiting to be
found. Light-elixir, and these
are special oranges for sure.
I rented once a cottage by the
sea. I thought I'd have a crowd
but all that came to me were
the ocean breezes, gulls, and
sand-flies too. ('Live and learn,'
they used to say. Now they just do).

13,817. FOOL ME ONCE

It's been proven, in American
life, that the most lucrative 
phrase in the everyday language
has been 'Would you like fries
with that?' I've even heard siding
salesmen say it! (Though at both
funerals and wakes, not so much).
This whole place is kind of like
a phantom runway anyhow, so
nothing much of it matters. I once
had a job at which I manufactured
calendars. My days were numbered.
Then I tried working in a car muffler
place, but the work was exhausting.
Then I tried being a teacher, but I
lost my principals, my faculties, and
my class. Lastly, at UPS, I found
I couldn't express myself.
But only in America is there no egg
in eggplant, nor ham in Hamburger.
No, and neither apple nor pine are
in pineapple. Still, you've got to
figure, sweetmeats are candies while
sweetbreads, which aren't sweet,
are meat. That's cool enough.

Sunday, September 12, 2021


There was a broadstream at
22nd street, and I had nowhere
to go. Maybe over to Pete's, at
Gramercy, but I was so tired 
of that show-offy crowd. In
fact, tired of it all again.
The bus ran down the curb and
the old ladies cackled as the
black kid jumped the line. The
very idea of doing anything
about it, nowadays, is anathema.
We're all supposed to accept.
A thudding hurt was in my gut,
and I knew my knife could pierce
him. But even I removed myself
from such a precipice.
Once I remembered some camera'd
lady in Spain  -  she so badly wished
to be gored by a bull. I had heard
of Hemingway fixations before, but
she took the cake, or whatever it is
that Spaniards take.


The matter was nothing at all  -  
cinders in the driveway, and a
long unkempt lawn. Over the
ridge was some dalliance of
water and light, with the Autumn's
new arrival of north-migrating
ducks. Mergansers, by name.
Stiffly awaiting another chilled
breeze, even I gazed out as if
waiting for something. My sense
of space was diminished in this
open air as I stood. Allied to
nothing, figuring I'd be free, I
was able to leave the material
world behind. Thankfully.

13,814, RUDIMENTS, pt. 1,213

RUDIMENTS, pt. 1,213
Taking my fate into my own 
hands I think here that I will 
make one step into another, 
more local, domain than the
one that I am usually used to.
I know that I can successfully
weave it into the broader thread
of my narrative, and probably
withstand the gnashing of teeth
it will produce. But, some people
never learn. I define my NYC 
years  -  through my own lens  -  
as authentic, raw, and real. It
was still the 1960's,  and years
of puddling out through the mish
mash of hippie-denatured, media
bullshit, over-assorted pinata
hangings of sex, drugs, and a
supposedly nascent developing
of a new 'culture'  -  yet another
oasis of 'bliss' along a patterned
media-field of nothing more than
sales hysteria. 'Buy, and ye shall
be free!' Only later did the computer
and tech industries coin there own
phrase 'Gigo' (garbage in, garbage
out), for the selfsame flim-flam.
If someone has killed, do they admit
to it? Immediately? Or only after many
years? Ask any soldier, and get me an
answer. In 1967, that answer, for so
many young men was forced out, as
if being coerced with forceps: Death
and destruction, carnage and burning,
rape and mad-murder, in its latter days
infected as well by drugs. It is (still)
called, in 'History' books, which of 
course must the 'approved' version for
the kiddies to learn, Vietnam. In my
own case, the killings were as local
as they rancid domain I'd taken to 
live in. East 11th street, up and down.
Hippies and goons. A very few years
later (look it up, view the film), those
same apartments and streets were for
a while taken over and redone as old
Russian fronts and cafes, for the film
'Ragtime.' The 'Novy Mir Working 
Man's Cafe' was a particular favorite 
false front of mine. It looked quite
authentic too. Watch the film, that's
11th street. James Cagney too, in I
think his last role. It was so bad in 
that environment then that my wife
and I were directed out of there and 
told to flee, that we should be in fear
for our lives and that we could be 
killed for walking around there with 
such camera equipment on our shoulder, 
if anyone saw us. We were taking
freelance photos of the scene. Crime 
was somehow that bad. I figured that 
was pretty real, and authentic too.
If something is co-opted, the dictionary
says, it is 'diverted to or used in a role 
different from the usual or original one;
as in 'social scientists were co-opted to
work with development agencies;' or
'the green parties have mostly been
co-opted by bigger parties.' That's how
I feel about all this 9-11 crap  -  which 
today just happens to be 20 years past.
Big whoop. To see the way people and
scumbag politicians handle the drivel
it's all nothing but co-optation. A mix
of sentiment, false emotion, rudely
re-directed uses for politicized ends,
and  -  in fact  -  unauthorized and
inauthentic, any, purloined, uses.
Anyone anywhere is invited to lick
their own asses on this matter as much
as they like  -  as loudly, as broadly, and
as publicly, as they wish. BUT, for me
to yet again have to witness the screwed
over co-optation of this by municipalities,
fire companies, politicians on the take -
and the make - is sickening. They can 
all go  straight to Hell! If I see one more
flag, or one more hand-over-heart
bullshit move, I'll simply and loudly
call it 'pandering' by weasels.
There really ought to be bombs 
and  firebombs absorbed into the 
schoolbook definition of what 
America is; along with the plain
old, regular American definitions 
of Freedom and Commerce and
Coercion and Control. Instead it's
as if we get the opposite. Everything
that's being proclaimed and taught 
is wrong, and all we're to be left with 
is a meddlesome mass of wise-ass 
preacher types trying to refine the 
smelting of the foul metal that's being
served up. I'm  an old guy now, a natty,
piece-of-crap rabble-rouser, I suppose, 
but that makes me no different than 
anyone else, just off in the other
direction. At least  I'm real and will 
speak my mind (which will most 
probably be censored here). When
a nation reaches the point that all
it's matter and opinion is reduced to
sentiment and emotionalism, there
is little left that's any good.
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2001, was a very
crisp and pleasant day  -  weatherwise,
in NYC terms  -  as had been Tuesday,
the 11th, a mere 4 days back. The city, 
in a complete and continuing turmoil,
was shattered and shut-down. Getting
to anywhere below Canal Street was a
total risk and crap-shoot Everything
had to be on foot; no vehicles. Even
the tunnels were closed. Lockdown
and a weird sort of (real) fear was
present everywhere, as if most people
were certain yet that another 'shoe'
had yet to drop. The awesome spectacle
of the smoldering ruins, twisted steel,
the smell, the paper and debris everywhere,
and things still fluttering in the air,
the very psyche of terror itself, added
to the psychological terror. An unknown
'America, never before seen - Militia,
soldiers, ambulance and fire-workers -
ran everywhere. Sirens and signals
blared. Thick white ash and smoke
was still settling, and had coated
most everything. Cars were left in
mid-street, from where their owners
had fled, one assumed. Enormous
tow-trucks were dragging away crushed
vehicles  -  cars and taxis, commercial
trucks and firetrucks too! Crushed and
mangled materiel, everywhere. Along
each curb, to far downtown, were the
generators the size of of freight cars
which had been put in place alongside
the curbs. And from each of them, and
running along all the curbs, were plastic
tubed conduits of wires and connections
and hook-ups, everywhere, for temporary
electric power. As quickly as they were
put in place, as quickly were they then
coated with falling ash.  Police and
authority vehicles were everywhere, in
rows, parked wily-nily, on sidewalks,
walkways, grassy small parks, etc. No
longer did anything of that nature matter.
Already flyers and posters of the missing
(and the dead?) were tacked onto bulletin
poles, light poles, most anything vertical.
These bore the photos, the descriptions,
the places of employment, in or out of the
towers, the personal left-behinds, the traits
and habits, the likes and even the grooming
of the individual being sought. Desperate
pleas on paper.
The medical-command stations, amazingly,
were empty. The expected rush of injured
and wounded had never materialized. There
was, really, nothing left of all that. The large
Medical Station in Battery Park  -  tents, cots,
workers, EMT's, were idle, were just waiting.
Outcomes were in doubt everywhere. Wherever
and whenever a body was found, a blast-horn
sounded, the work at that location stopped,
and a macabre sort of recovery took place. 
An ambulance would then soar off, to St.
Vincent's Hospital, in Greenwich Village.
(That hospital too now, alas, gone to local
development; by the same cranks who
boasted so of it then). Nearby was the White
Horse, a famed tavern that was being used
as a re-freshening post for workers, firemen,
cops, soldiers, anyone in need of that respite.
Those within it, or on the sidewalk, were
always heavily garbed, and themselves
coated in white ash-grime. To and fro
they went, that entire day and night. Some
walked determinedly up or down Hudson
Street, returning to the scene for more, or
taking their time to walk off the horror. Cars
and vans dropped other off. Amazingly,
two things I saw that day live brightly on
in my memory. The first was the manner
in which, each time a walking rescue worker
would pass, donned in work garb and, as
I said, usually coated with ash, sweat and
grime, bystanders stopped, moved aside,
and applauded. There would be little knots
of people, standing together, applauding
the passing worker. The second thing, even
more vivid to me, was, at the NY end of the
Holland Tunnel (which had been closed to
all traffic except necessary vehicles and
police and militia use), when I saw, as
I was standing there for the vista and
the vantage point of the twisted and
smoldering ruins afforded me from
the nearby Nancy Whiskey Pub, and
heard the miraculous clamor of some
20 Negro marchers exit9ing the tunnel, 
armed with shovels and pickaxes, and
accompanied by a brass-band troupe
of companion marchers, playing a 
dirge-like tempo to some spiritual
tune I didn't recognize. They were on
their way to help and work. I figured
them to be from Jersey City? Hoboken?
It was awesome, touching, and amazing.
(I have photos of this. If I can find
them I will show them).
These were just a few of the scenes I saw
in those days of aftermath; and I'll tell
more too. Both my wife and a friend who
accompanied us, saw all these marvels  -
and not one of the things we saw can be
outshown by the inauthentic drivel that's
prattled about these days  -  recollections
of nothing much at all except the usual
cant and the usual agenda and the
usual seeking of 'something,' whether
money or a vote or some new form of
todays condescension playing itself
out over the dishonest and self-absorbed
counter-American defense of what passes
these days as 'America.' It's all crap,
and it deserves nothing.