Wednesday, November 4, 2015

7395. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 63)

(pt. 63)
In addition to fun and friendship, there was misery too,
but it was mostly the misery of a certain kind of silence.
Occasional stories of sadness would drive themselves
up  -  the kid next to my Aunt's house, Aldo or Luigi or
one of those Italian names  -  they were always raving 
about him as a gifted classical guitarist  -  he was
diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it became a big,
tragic story. I love classical guitar music now, and 
will sit and work for hours with Villa-Lobos or Joaquin
Rodrigo, or any of those people, playing in the background.
Great stuff. But when I was 10 or so, that was the last
thing I wished to hear or understand and learn of. It
was like another, old language, something the stuffy
old foreigners listened to. The certain smite of sadness
over this kid was always hanging around my aunt's place
that one Summer or whatever it was. 
On Inman Avenue  -  by contrast  -  everyone always seemed
hale and hearty. Boastful, brash boys, sallying around at any
time ready for mischief or a fight. Everyone had their own little
crowd, and people were always changing too, I'd guess, but the
mix stayed okay. You kept one eye, as you could, on someone's
sister you were beginning to dig  -  innocent, puerile stuff. The
things of kid dreams. That's all we knew back then, That one
year I mentioned, I think Winter '60-61, it was rock solid cold 
freezing for neatly the entire month of January  -   the street was
a coat of frozen over snow and ice that never went away. All
we ever did that Winter was mob the street  - sleds, ice skates,
snowballs, igloo ice huts we'd build, channels of water as the
run-off and the melt back up into huge puddles. Cars were
askew everywhere, No one could really 'park' in their normal
ways unless a lifetime first was given over to the shoveling and
cutting of ice and snow. Everything stayed in place. It was great.
As a kid, we'd just walk endlessly out  -  back over the tracks
and across great white fields, over past Rahway Avenue, or
down into Woodbridge. We'd be heavily dressed, we'd get 
wet and soaked early on, and just sloshed around like that for
the rest of the long days. I'd guess school was off some too, 
or a lot  -  I don't remember except for the freedom. We'd get
to Woodbridge, and it was all something quite different : a line
of stores, a street of shops, a downtown. People trouncing about
with bags and little boxes. There was a grocery store, an old
A&P right on the main street. There was Christiansen's, which 
was just an old-line retailer, before department stores and stuff
took over  -  it had all the requisite uniforms and gym clothes and
all that we had to eventually buy. Had the market locked up. 
Then it slowly disappeared.
Living in Avenel was like living on a trunk-line, some old 
railroad siding off the way a bit, where things were a tad seedy 
and forgotten, on land no one else really wanted  -   too low here,
too marshy there. Up by the highway, it was higher, with one or
two spots of some nice beauty, maybe  -  but the highway had
that already, the big houses were gone, the land had long ago
been given over to houses in rows, roadways, garages and
factories. There was a big RCA facility over on the edge of
town, just before entering Rahway at the RR trestle as it ran
over St. George Ave. There was another huge foils-manufacturing
plant right behind that  -  Dri-Print Foils Co. There was Security
Steel over by us. Merck was nearby. The prison, Philadelphia
Quartz  -  it just went on. The 1920's and those years pretty much 
had defined and altered down whatever Avenel was going to be.
It had been happily dealt away for cash money and deals, with
little regard for 'place', and certainly no respect for beauty or
ecology or its own natural setting. Junkyards and scrap yards,
parking areas and truck lots had been given free reign. Like 
something out of Theodore Dreiser or Emile Zola, the naturalist 
tendencies of industrial-growth and all its cultures had taken
over. It was the start of something big, and a something big in
which people, most certainly, had been invited to take a back
seat to the other things happening. And, like mute monkeys, 
they mostly did. That was our parents, and us. We were all the
end-result of that. Even I sensed, somewhat nervously, that
some day it would all have to blow  -  the pressures were 
building, the dial on that steam gauge was getting dangerously 
close to red. We were probably the last of our sort of upbringings
to live this way.  I was a kid all through this, but already an adult
in my head. I knew it would blow. And, eventually it did  -  a huge
cultural cataclysm ensued in about 10 or 15 years. Politics hit dead
bottom, wars were waged by liars and cheats and thieves. Companies
everywhere  -  yes, from RCA to General Dynamics and Monsanto 
and Merck  -  the goons in our own backyards  -  they made untold 
sums of money off of this. Once again , we were being used.
The farmlands and the meadows of my youth were gone. What was
there in their places were black holes of indecision filled with people
all ready to further expand into that nothingness. Heads filled with TV
gossip and stupidity (me included), opinions formed by the stupor and
glamour of the big, dumb magazines, the talking zombie heads on TV,
the endless glitz and shows, the forced manufacture of fake media stars
thrown at people, each with their little, false and public-relations 
department narratives. It was all a plant. From Elvis to the Beatniks, 
from the counter-cultural waifs and eccentrics to Einstein, Bob Dylan 
to Doris Day and Rock Hudson, the shit just flowed.  Masterfully. 
I could name a hundred more made-up tales and gimmicks and
names, immediately. On and on  -  and it still does, in the worst way 
possible. But I'm not talking about that now, or yet. The idea then 
was to latch on to something, to any of these; stay distracted, be a 
know-nothing, and let them have their way with the world. Hell, 
in its equivalence it was like our parents giving up a daughter to a 
rapist  -  just to go along, keep the peace. They were all too dumb to 
know any better, and too loyal to their own indecent code of the great 
war and the experiences they'd just completed. Through all this, we, as
kids, just madly went about our scrambling ways; finding what we
could wherever we could find it  -  learning, growing, and getting
ready to source ourselves out in that big romp of 'Freedom' we'd
all been lied to about. I'd learn and read about cultures of Aztecs
and Mayans who'd sacrifice children, select the young girls for
the mountaintops rituals, cut the hearts out of their sons and their
daughters, praise their Gods and watch the rivers of blood flow from
the sacrificial victims of their choosing, their own silent offspring.
We were meant to scoff at this, to see how enlightened and advanced
we, as a culture, by contrast had become. But it was a lie. We were
no different then they had ever been.

No comments: