Saturday, December 16, 2017


So here we stand, bedeviled together, 
watching the quarry stars spin in the sky.
Two ways to find South, I've learned:
One, finding South by extending a
line drawn from the tips of a crescent
moon down to the horizon; and the
other, using the side of a tree where
the branches are most horizontal.
That's South, you see. Though these
things aren't monumental, they're
good enough for me.

10,302. RUDIMENTS, pt. 167

RUDIMENTS, pt. 167
Making Cars
As a kid, alongside the railroad
tracks and across the way, as 
already noted, was the prison farm. 
Off to the left of that, into the woods, 
and up a bluff and a hill, was a company
that was called Philadelphia Quartz.
We never knew what it was, in 1957,
as kids, but were just told it made
'bug spray.' Not a very comforting
thought, but none of us thought twice 
about it. Perhaps in Nazi Germany
as well, the kids were told the 
Cyclon B factory made shower 
equipment. These woods and this
entire area was, for the most part, 
our playland and we didn't much
care what went on. There was a pond
there, on the higher ground, and it was
always filled with a very un-natural
colored, cobalt-blue water. Almost
attractive. We never knew what it 
was, could have been, or wanted 
to be, but that never stopped us 
either from wading in. Not exactly
drinking it, no, more just like sloshing
and near-swimming  -  in our own 
electric-blue mill pond. None of lost
a limb or went limp, or were driven
insane (I don't think), but we never
did get to the bottom of 'bug-spray 
pond.' Just an interesting fact, for
sure, in light of today's peculiar 
squeamishness over everything.
The company is still there, of a
sort  -  some of the buildings of 
our day have been torn down, 
perhaps it's downsized, and there's 
now a gatehouse too, up there, 
for truck entry, security, etc. They
nowadays just call themselves 'PQ'
Corporation, having shortened their
name, and perhaps no longer affiliated 
in any way with the Philadelphia
reference. I know less now, in fact,
than I did then. It's no longer a
'hands-on' reference. 
Anyway, having survived perhaps
some toxic swimming and ingestion,
I headed forth past lots of obstacles.
Glowing in the dark, perhaps, but I
never noticed. (I will say this, in all
'fairness' to reality, of 9 friends and
peers of my referencing, 4 are dead, 
and 1 is now a basket case, psychotic.
His case is blamed on Vietnam service).
Just saying. Who ever knows, about 
the playing fields of yesteryear.
Early on I developed some neat ways
of categorizing or compartmentalizing
my mind, cabinet-like, around things.
I knew ways of closing them off so
that I could be 'doing' one thing but 
having my thoughts hard at work and
processing something else entire. They
don't teach that in school and such
behavior is frowned upon. We are told
by contrast to 'stay with task' and focus
on what we are doing. Yeah, OK, but 
that 'what we are doing' always turns
out to be in the employ of someone else,
for pay. In other, they simple wanted us
to automaton-ize ourselves and put our
own concerns on a back burner while 
we went ahead in service making money
for someone else or some other entity.
In other words, they're using us.
What kind of nice, God-given, life is
that? So, as I said, I was most often
off to somewhere else, even if people
'saw' me. Living near Linden Airport 
used to be cool too; it took up a lot
of my idle, young hours. I had, with
friends, made a cheap little treehouse,
about 1/2 way up a large oak growing 
alongside the railroad tracks  - all
scrap-wood, and slabs just hammered
together and into the tree itself. It was
firm and it was sturdy, and it worked.
And since it, and the tree, were straight
back behind my house, to the tracks,
I always had ownership claim to it,
sort of, and used it at will. Linden 
Airport was nearby enough that I 
often could see the small planes 
coming and going, on approaches 
and such, But, more than that, what
always intrigued me were the 
helicopters. Helio (sun) copters.
Helios was an early Sun-God.
They fascinated me and led me to
all sorts of flight and the physics
of flight and flight dynamics
inquiries. I just get like that,
over the top needing info.
It's a trait, still there.
Leonardo Da Vinci, it is said,
had designs and diagrams for
such 'flying machines' in his
drawings and notebooks. I've 
seen those renderings, and I 
guess that's what it (they) was or
were. Without any real 'propulsion,'
as we know it, it never made any 
sense to me. But, in any case, I 
would muse for hours on what 
made helicopters go. I knew about 
the rotors, the rear one for 'lateral' 
stability, and the large one at top 
for lift. At the same time I grasped 
the dead weight of the helicopter 
itself, always wanting to 'fall'
again straight down. 'Pull' let's 
call it. So the life generated by 
the motor-driven large overhead 
propeller-rotor, in the constant 
dynamic controlled by the operator, 
had to overcome the inertia or 
whatever of the dead weight of 
the thing itself, always wanting 
to drop back to earth. OK. That 
was a dynamic struggle always 
underway. (How philosophical all 
this got always caught my attention.
 As a human, do not we too seek 
life and get death, fall, failure, 
completion?). But what always
perplexed me, without any real
learning or knowledge of it, was
what and how got a helicopter
moving forward. And no less, I
had seen them hover in place, and 
even go backwards. Very confusing 
to me. It wasn't until many years
later that I learned (again still
self-taught, but a bit more
thorough) that the overhead rotor
blades themselves move; swivel, 
pivot slightly up or downward, and
in capturing that airflow, again 
controlled by the operator below,
propel the craft forward, or to hover
in place, or to go backwards.
Fascinating stuff.


That hems us in, while it catches
the ball. It's funny what people find
security to be. Wendy's here 'til
Wednesday, that much I shall see.
John Ford might stop by too  -  he
likes to rabble-rouse the masses, but
is in on no one's game. Free standing
man, he should get a statue for that  -
a big one with his name.
New snow  -  it looks like anyway  -
has fallen on house and garage. Over
the river and through the hills, to
Paradise Gorge we forge. Let me
take that back; forget the statue,
give more glory than that. Now
here's our imaginary speech:
'Of all the things lost, this world has
been the most important. Ashburnipal,
Sargon, Assyria, Babylon, Ninevah,
and Akkad.' (What was lost before,
will now never be found).


They somehow skipped me as they 
were choosing up sides. I let it go.
It wasn't the first, and many tries 
before had failed. Yet, I was pretty
good, though I guess they'd never
see. That outlandish, petty bunch
of sidewinder kids thought the
universe ended at the portables,
where they hid. Sometimes it was
baseball  -  scratch-games with
choose-up sides, on a field with 
too many trees and no real bases.
Or it was cigarettes, mostly either
Marlboro or Kools. Or Parliament.
Better times were coming, oh boy
that we knew. Rounding the corner
of twelve, we were hunkered and
ready to go. I remember Anne Levin
came by one day, and showed us what
she had. We just looked, didn't even
know what to say. Just looked. Yep,
dreams were made of this, and we
were made of dreams. I remember
Jeffrey Lund, just gaping at Ann, and 
then he said, gape-mouthed too :
'You do cartwheels, with that?'


If you want science then you can have it,
the modern world would be your oyster.
Listen to what you wish, the earth-bound
manacles twist. Here is the new cement of
a foundation to nothing. Man bows to the 
wind that blows. He may think  -  for him,
but Heaven knows.

Friday, December 15, 2017


Not the nervous sort, but not
impetuous either. Nor the sort 
to watch TV; I don't even know
what that's about. Walking down
the nighttime street, I clearly see
TV no longer is enough. Every
shadow is blue, and every black
is blue too  -  that TV blue of a
shown light cast outdoors. These
things I see are now wall-sized,
each and every. Installment plan 
investing by every family? How
game is that? And, no longer on  
a table, set before one, I see now
these are all enormous size and 
perched on the wall, higher than 
the eyes. I guess they all decided
they had to look up to something.

10,297. RUCKUS

Dew-Falls Montana, and
Fontaine Ruen, North Dakota;
Des Plaines, Illinois. The three
of them together are my traveloque
now of places to be. They pronounce 
that as Fontaine Rooaine, by the
way, and don't get it wrong.
I was never there that I didn't need
an overcoat. Those climes, even in
October, need a talking to. Every
farmer's daughter had a farmer's
story to tell, and I think I heard
them all. A real ruckus, oh, yeah,
a real noise. That's pronounced
'noyce,' - and don't get that wrong.

10,296. RUDIMENTS, pt. 166

RUDMENTS, pt. 166
Making Cars
In the great course of things,
so much has changed around
here. It's totally illogical how
people stay here; the more I
think of it, the worse it seems.
A simply hostile environment
has been built up, one which
bears no validity UNLESS
your first concern is 'consuming.'
Which is what they wanted, and
what they got. A bevy of buyers.
If you take that out of the equation,
there's no real reason to stay here.
I've always held fast to myself that
there are basic things I stick with,
and I don't much veer from them.
Long over the years, certain places
have remained attached to me, but
most of them are gone. There was
a time, through the last year of the
70's, and into the mid 80's, that
Cook College (Rutger's adjunct
'farm' campus) was a regular stop.
Having just come out of a real
Pennsylvania farm set-up, and
having learned all those ins and 
outs of raising and tending, and 
milking cows  -  feedlots, pens,
chain-drops, manure-spreaders, 
health and hygiene, milk cooling 
and transportation, etc., etc., I felt 
really adept at watching what 
they did, and was willing to 
listen and even give out advice. 
A regular corral hanger-on 
I became, for a bit. Back then, 
they had about 30 cows, a 
bunch of sows, large pigs, 
and a double of nursery piglets, 
and thirty or so sheep, and 
10 or 15 goats and maybe 
10 horses. It was simple 
stuff, old-style rural NJ farming. 
Basic implements, hand tools, 
rakes and combs. Feeding times 
were all hands-on, the students 
would take care of everything 
(it was, oddly enough, mostly 
always, 99+ percent of the time, 
horsey New Jersey girls enrolled -  
very few males  - and they went 
about their farm chores like country 
bumpkin girl cowpokes; it was fun 
to see). I could never rightly see 
the reason for any of this, but I 
later did realize that once you get 
below Rutgers, the southerly 
expanses of New Jersey are/were 
still very well represented by 
farmlands, crops, old farm-families, 
and all the rest. Don't let the 
rumor-mill fool you, there's 
still a lot of inland NJ agricultural 
quality, for now. It's fading off, 
yes, but it's there. I guess a lot 
of these families sent the eldest 
daughter off to 'farm-school' or 
something, because they always 
seemed happy and joyful about 
their endeavor. Kentucky or 
Tennessee I could understand, 
yes, but this New Jersey aspect 
was exceptional. I'm not avoiding, 
to you, the fact of stating I liked 
the girls, and I'm a lot happier 
they were girls, instead of boy, 
farmers. That whole Brokeback 
Mountain BS, when that later 
hit, it all escaped me. I'm not
 much for sensitivity, but the 
bookstore kids, and the Princeton
bookstore kids too, at that time, 
fit right into whatever the then
societal norm was, breaking perfectly 
into that tune. I always disliked any 
of that mass-emotion, 'we have to
 think this way' crap. By contrast, 
these Cook College girls were 
throw-in-your-face cool. They'd 
have probably ripped that 
Brokeback Mountain guy 
a new butt-hole.
All that stuff has changed now. 
Once plastics came into farming, 
I knew it was over. Originally, 
a farm was one place you could 
always go, or be at, where 
you knew everything was 
going to be made of wood : 
implement handles, wheelbarrows, 
shelves, doors, levers and all 
that  -  lain old, well-worth, 
human-factor wood. It aged 
beautifully, It took on a patina 
of use and wore out in ways 
that were patterns of long-time, 
multi-generational, use. Think,
where else can a kid today put his 
hand into a well-worn groove on a 
fence handle or something, and 
say, 'This is where grandpa's 
(or great grandpa's) hand 
used to go too.' It really
was miraculous. Well, back
then, Cook College was like 
that. The grand, cow-barn 
(still standing) was white-washed 
wood. Perfect. The sheds and 
outbuildings, all leaning a 
little, were authentic. And 
then, just as in Pennsylvania, 
plastic began showing up; pails 
and sheds first, small things, 
shovel handles, and even the 
shovels themselves. Containers 
and bins. Once I saw that 
happening I sensed it was 
time for fairyland. It happened 
at Cook too. Places I used 
to walk around began being 
closed-off to 'outsiders.' Open 
latches and things I'd frequent 
began being hatched and locked. 
A few old structures (and trees) 
were taken down and replaced 
by crap, and, over time too, 
the 'activity' of the entire 
place just seemed to lessen 
and get tired. And then 
one day, even though it's 
still there, the college and 
the operation, in a much 
more closed and cautious 
format (I still go there some, 
but never see people now) 
the darn County moved in, 
took over a building or two, 
and had the audacity to set up 
an 'Agriculture Museum,' at 
seven bucks a head, to visit  -  
flower shows, garden stuff, 
occasional speakers, and exhibits 
-  they took all the old stuff, carts,
plows, wagons, etc., and made bogus,
stupid exhibits of them. Man was 
I aghast at what I saw. I nearly 
wanted to put any one of those 
museum jerks into a thrashing 
machine and pick them out 
later as pellets. That museum
crap lasted about 10 years, and 
thankfully now that too is closed up.
Maybe someday, if the county gets 
enough funds, they'll have a 
museum of museums that once 
were. And hopefully it will be 
made out of wood too.


I feel like I'm working, even when
I'm working, and when I'm not, I
feel that way too. Once I was the
bridgemaster atop the Victory Bridge.
10 or 12 times a day, maybe, having
to scuttle the traffic and open the
bridge; everybody down below
pissing and moaning because I 
cost them seven minutes, maybe,
on their way to Two Guys or some
stupid store back then. Liquor. Rakes.
And potted plants. If they had a real
place to go they weren't on this bridge
anyway  -  it ran right along and parallel 
to three highways, maybe even five, all
depending on what you count: Routes One 
and Nine and Thirty Five and Parkway 
and 440, and whatever else you need to 
know go look it up. Those are real roads.
This was a dumb-ass path. No one ever
jumped off here either  - wasn't worth it
and wasn't high enough  -  again, real 
jumpers went to the other bridges, where
they could hit real paydirt in one big try;
or whatever you call that. Like the elevator
guy says, 'Going Down.' Mostly, if we
had any problems, they were the head-on
crashes of the drunks. There was no 
divider, and the speed limit went 
unobserved; least-ways I never saw
it and neither, I guess, did they. 
Wrapped around a pole or two, or 
each other. And dead as all get out. 
Victory Bridge? We always called it 
Tragedy Bridge or Trouble Waiting 
to Happen. A few times some jerk 
drove right off the open edge. Not 
the same jerk, but I didn't want to use 
plural, to not blow it all out of proportion. 
Besides, everyone dies alone, as one. 
Ain't that what they say? The old bridge 
is gone now, with the swivel span I 
used to open, from high above, in 
my little wheelhouse. The new one 
they built is atrocious  -  it arcs so 
high into the sky that Saturn itself 
could safely fit under. And now 
there are jumper warning signs every 
200 feet. 'Don't Do It! There is Help!! 
Call...blah,blah'. Like the frenzied 
jumper is gonna' sit there and read, 
and maybe say, 'a phone number! 
Hey, that sounds like a good idea!' 
What a jerky world. Let them jump. 
We got too many people anyway.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


'Back when I had teeth that worked
I really used to chatter. Every other
Saturday night was some sort of
wild celebration. Now, it's all the
gristle that's left on a raggedy old
set of well-weathered bones. The 
boy can't talk. The boy can't sing.'

10,293. RUDIMENTS, pt. 165

RUDIMENTS, pt. 165
Making Cars
At 116 east 59th street, for as long
as I ever have known, there's been
an antiquarian bookstore named
'Argosy Books.' Simply calling it
a bookstore does it a grave injustice.
It's not hardly that at all. Nor are its
clerks and desk attendants anything
like bookstore people. Nor is the
atmosphere. It does nothing to keep
the swarming trade of book-browsers,
drifters, curious and otherwise roving
types, in. It wants, in fact, none of that.
Everything is done minimally here.
Perhaps the only real outreach to others
is a section out front, under cover but
outside, past which you walk to enter :
outdoor bookshelves, built into the
front, wood, nice, glass, keyed cabinets,
etc. There, with the marked-down items,
you, me, or anyone, is entitled space.
Once indoors, another matter.
There's an old-world flavor to things.
Woven, of rugs and tapestries, cases
and shelving. maybe 6 or 7 floors,
maybe 5, I don't know, and each floor
has its specialty. Nothing haphazard,
mind you, but a specialty. One floor,
antiquarian maps, large, framed,
wall-sized for the  (everything here
mostly has come from old New York,
the broken-out estate stocks of books
and such from passed on generations,
that great wheel of readers' deaths and
diminishments (much like New York's)
over the years. Let's accede to calling
it 'leftovers'. Sad, but true. And numerous,
too, but costly. Another floor is for famed
signatures, autographs, things inscribed,
the letter of Lincoln or Thomas Edison's
scribble on a notepage, a Churchill
birthday memo. Anything. Another
floor is New York/New Jersey books.
History. Photobooks, etc. Tomes, deep
writes, most anything except the jaunty
idea of fiction in place (which is, after
all, mostly a bookstore's trade, normally).
No matter, it's a place that must be seen, 
and revered. Here's a funny thing too. I
occasionally step inside and actually 
make a book purchase  -  and even
though I appear or come off as some
sort of chicken-fed street-bum lowlife,
perhaps (yes, I said perhaps), each time
this occurs these people come off as
if, just if, I may be some high-echelon
New York nobility they are not aware 
of. In their thinking and manners -  which
is always perfect, warm, structured and
quite nice, male and female  -  all old
and old-world; no niggling kids in this
joint  -  they reserve a form of fine
gentility and manner. I've grown
to appreciate that.
I've been going to Argosy for many 
years. One thing, above all else,
remains riveting : There are stairs
within the store to get to wherever 
you wish. But, yes, it can be a climb.
Just in the entry, and a real throw-back
to another world, to the left, is an
elevator and an attendant. A single,
small-box elevator, perhaps 5 people
and the attendant, tops; whether it
it goes by weight or people amount 
I don't know. Anyway, (always the
same, smallish, black man) in a 
little elevator cap and all (over the
years it seems the same person, 
but it must have changed) and,
as elevator attendant, he takes 
you in, closes first the gate, then 
the doors close, and then he clicks a
lever of some sort  into place, relating 
to whichever floor you've asked for,
and the slow climb begins. All 
small scale, and the little 
sight-window allows you to
see out to dead-walls, and then the
floor entry you're passing, and 
then dead walls again, and  -  upon
your destination  -  he shuts down,
uses the mechanicals to open
the door, and then the gate, as 
you step out. It's very regal, yet
rompy and interesting too. Only
one time have I seen or had
another person on the elevator 
with me.
I was reading today, about elevators,
which is how this got started. I 
thought it was all fitting and it 
jived in very well with my 
small-scale memory of same: 
"When I was a youngster, there
were still human elevator operators,
people whose job it was to go up
and down in an elevator all day,
stopping at the right floors to take
on and let off passengers. In the
early days they manipulated a
curious handle that could be swung
clockwise or counterclockwise
to make the elevator go up or
down, and they needed skill to
stop the elevator at just the right
height. People often had to step
up or down an inch or two upon
entering or leaving, and operators
always warned people about this. 
They had lots of rules about what
to say when, and which floors to
go to first, and how to open doors,
and so forth. Their training consisted
in memorizing the rules and then
practicing: following the rules until
it became second nature. The rules
themselves had been hammered out
over the years in a process of slight
revisions and improvements." Yes,
perfectly, and perfectly Argosy apt.