Saturday, September 19, 2015


(pt. 9)
The funny thing is  -  a few years later  -  all this was
forgotten. People got bored. Space flight, even these 
early, most preliminary Alan Shepard and John Glenn
and Gus Grissom, and even Yuri Gagarin, the very first,
the Russian guy, became more of a ho-hum affair. All those
crazy fears were somehow put aside. In 11 years or so, we 
had men on the moon. I say 'we', because  -  true to form  -  
that's how the propaganda of the day went. It was always
us versus them, unceasingly  -  Eisenhower, Kennedy,
Johnson  -  all the usual nitwits of those years managed to
bifurcate the world into the two absolutes. It never made any 
sense to me to claim a patrimony for 'American' to be representing
'humanity' in space. How ridiculous was that  -  the dumb small
speck of prideful Humankind, reaching out into the cosmos, to
right away start claiming and bragging 'rights' for one sick
little dot of place instead of another equally sick little dot of
place. As if any of that mattered in the amazing scheme of things
consciousness was here claiming.  Standing on the sidewalk, looking
up, here in Avenel, NJ, USA, World, Earth, blah, blah, who cared
what name was on the baseball flinging into space, Rawlings or 
Spaulding, what mattered that? My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Joe
Zaccardi, erstwhile pre-eminent grade-school teacher of all time, by
reputation, he too would just always foul things up with his weird 
nationalism and juicy fervor. We'd have to listen on the transistor 
radio, sixth-grade kids all huddled around, in the 'portables', which 
were in no way portable at all, those astronaut guys getting shot into 
space for their twenty-minute sub-orbital, and later orbital, flights, 
and he'd all the while be proclaiming some Americanism or another 
to which we'd have to listen  -  our 'better' nature, how 'Commie' kids 
were trained to 'turn in' their parents, squeal to the secret police, if 
they heard anything said at home that was 'unpatriotic' or somehow 
anti-Soviet. (We, by contrast, I always thought, would just send them
out shopping, hopefully to come home with something for us). All we
did, by contrast, here, he'd claim, was live in peace, watch TV, and
follow the baseball scores. That's the concept the space capsule we
were following represented. American right and goodness. Meanwhile,
outside, where I really wanted to be  -  forget all this ridiculous 
gibberish  -  the American ground was being torn up, Avenel was
turning its own forces to the nervous anticipation of even more new
growth. Thank God for America and the portables (where the 'overflow'
of all those newly-arrived grade-school kids was put, for 'learnin'). My
favorite woods in the whole world was gone, getting torn up and ripped
for Doreen Drive and Mark Place  -  the newest flock of square housing
to be dropped into place. From my perspective the world little needed
space flight, at age ten it simply needed space. In its way, it was pretty
marvelous to see all those people come out to the Inman Avenue side-
walks to stare up and watch  -  all those disparate folk, only a few years
ago from other places  -  Brooklyn, Elizabeth, Englewood, and
Irvington, now together as one in their own square box, outside looking
up, in a place too that once, until only recently, had been a serene,
solid forest, a swampy woods, a green space where only nature lived  -
as unspoiled as the moon (uh-oh, watch out, Luna), convincing
themselves to watch and comment upon some ideological nightmare
which had been drummed into their heads already as a competition
from which only one winner would emerge  -  and in had better be,
and by staring up and watching they'd help guarantee it to be  -  the
land of Dodge and Chevy and Ford and IBM and General Dynamics
and Security Steel as well  -  new-home America,
there we were, and here we are!

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