Monday, November 16, 2015

7453. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 75)

(pt. 75)
My mind has a reaction to things. It freezes. 
It wants to say, 'Oh Jesus, not more Avenel 
stuff again.' Yeah, well. It was always kind of 
funny for me to realize how it goes with the 
'history' of places. Woodbridge and Avenel 
were peppered with these tiny ideas of itself as 
a 'place' that used to be  -  but only the small, 
historical types knew of it. Now it's different  -  
there are markers and historic posts about this 
and that. People put a glide on things, all puffed 
about,   -  pretending. None of it has any reality  -  
they make up all these stories from the most 
basic rudiments. Parker Press. Valentine Brick. 
Bitting's Brewery. There are kernels of truth, only 
kernels, to all of this  -  but they erect stories and 
edifices. When I was a kid no one gave a shit about
and of that stuff. When it did begin to trickle down,
I didn't know what to do about it because it was all 
being run by elitist and snarky town insiders. I just 
watched. There was a woman around town named 
Ruth Wolk  -  an annoying smidgeon of a woman, 
proud of herself and proud of her search for 'history'  
-  but it all had to be right, had to fit her design first, 
except for that it wasn't history. She wrote a few small, 
published, paper-back books with old photos and tales 
and stories of 'Woodbridge Township'  -  collections of 
old photos, small stories, tales and captions, and mostly 
ideas of the grand, older, days of a construct she 
named 'Woodbridge'. It was all of her own making  -  
and she was a complicit in it as anyone else. All tea 
and cosys, for the ladies. She'd write of fine old, 
secluded homes, farmland and grassy lanes. She'd 
write of wells and water-sources, small knots of people 
organizing to do something authentic and real. Yet, 
at the end of the same blurb, she'd boast of the now 
'grand' Woodbridge, how it was turned into parking 
lots, shopping, roadways and large organizations of 
political and civic  -  and school  -  groups. her 
impetus and focus, as is most usual for these sorts 
of people, was on organized schooling : grandiosity 
over Boards of Education, new, grand schoolhouses 
and collectivized districts and regionalized high 
schools and all that. Everything headed in the 
complete other direction of the tiny porridge she'd 
just been brewing  -  seeking instead consolidation, 
hugeness, organization, a centralized, authority-down 
sequence of limit and control. She could never answer  
to that stuff, mainly because she was a liar and made
her half of it all up to fit her lame narrative. I never 
figured any of that stuff out, the whys of it, nor did I 
understand where and and all of these 'town' people, 
with their bizarre attitudes and ideas, had come from : 
I knew the clutch of them, mostly  -  temple dwellers 
from the older, centralized yet small, Woodbridge. 
But they were just as intent on turning everything 
away, making it bad, tweaking it to their higher levels 
of regal and splendiferous (vain) authority and 
centralization. The world was turning and spinning 
fast  -  all things were being altered. There were two 
churches, catholic ones anyway, in Avenel. When we 
first moved there, the original church building was 
on Avenel street. It was a pretty simple, small and 
ordinary church sort of brick structure; very nice 
actually. It faced the main street of the simple town; 
it was a 'satellite' parish or mission/outreach of 
Woodbridge's St. James Church  -  an outpost for the 
burgeoning population of the developing swamplands 
which were Avenel. In about three years the parish 
had outgrown its church, and a larger, more modern 
'church-by-churchbook design book' structure was in 
place, destroying the woods behind the older church 
which still stood and was left standing for some 8 or 
so years  -  used as a gym, social center for kids, 
basketball hall, etc. A total mish-mash. Boy Scout 
 meetings in the basement, once a 'catholic' Troop 
73 had been established to debunk the nearby 
Presbyterian Troop 42, of longer-standing, and 
more manly, proportions (tougher kids). It wasn't 
really as if, in Boston or somewhere like that, the 
lines separating the religious parts of town meant 
anything. They meant nothing at all  -  it was mostly 
in the addled brains of parents and/or old-timers 
from other places; people who kept such scores, 
who marked these things down. All of us kids, 
we'd run together no matter who or what  -  most 
of it could be described as dastardly stuff from any 
angle so what matter is it in a religious context 
anyway. These are always adult concerns, not 
kid concerns. To predicate the separation of Boy 
Scout troops, neighboring, a block or two from 
each other, on the flimsy premise of religious 
affiliation is some totally bizarre and perverse 
premise, something only a perverted adult could 
think up. It was medieval and destructive to any 
sense of either proportion or reality. It's wasn't that 
much different  -  in its stupid, no-brain adult way  -  
than was the rather random of school grades into 
things like 5-6-7, etc. That whole thing was purely 
for the convenience of adults and their pecking-order 
mechanism dumb-ass brains. Everyone and 
everything overlapped, but they just wouldn't 
 consider that. Randomly proscribing this or that 
as a level, a break-point , was just another way of 
controlling kids and forcing them to think in teacher 
ways. Boards of Education, in reality, were nothing 
more than labor-agencies for pushing along teacher 
pay and segmenting the process of 'Education' 
(actually its very opposite) into the levels and 
paradigms needed to run business-like foils of 
learning and pay and station. Most teachers were 
more interested, anyway, in sleeping with each 
other  -  enticing the new, young ones, into place, 
becoming close to that new arrival with the nice 
breasts, or the handsome new dark, tall, and 
handsome teacher, still single. (Or not). Not a 
god-damned thing of any of it had to do with 
education. That was a form which was force-fit 
 over the entire enterprise. It was employment, 
it was labor, and it was socialization (and often 
eroticism) all rolled up into one. Something to 
keep adults occupied, and have peculiar ranks 
and status levels established. I would have 
gladly walked out on their 'education' bullshit 
the very first chance I got  -  but you cannot, 
and 'they' have all the enforcement tools 
arrayed to be used against you. No wonder 
there was so much misery. 
What things we did, as boys, as kids, even as 
'Catholic' Boy Scouts (go figure) was more along 
the likes of breaking into the here or there abandoned 
house (there were still a few hulking, huge, old 
mansions behind massive shrubberies and trees, 
left in Avenel; abandoned, for the most part, and 
untended), wrecking what we saw, destroying plates 
and dishes, flinging old 78's (hard, black, thick plastic 
that smashed like glass) into trees and walls, entering 
the rears of the varied junkyards just to outwit the 
mad, junkyard dogs and destroy windshields, 
smash lights, wreck otherwise already wrecked cars. 
We'd smash windows where we could, slingshot rocks 
and pebbles into things, use various firecrackers and 
other small means of explosive, as kids are wont to 
do, I guess, to blow things up, main or slaughter 
small animals, running through the woods with bows 
and arrows set for squirrels, birds, or any other small 
ground animal  - which as far as out kid-frenzy went, 
should be 'ground-up' animals anyway. It was crazy. 
It was bizarre and wrong, and sad too  -  as I think of 
it now I still shudder. What we were thinking, I'll 
never know. It certainly bore no semblance of either 
side of the stupid 'religious' divide which had been 
presented to us. Protestant dances, and Catholic 
dances. Protestant Boy Scouts and Catholic Boy 
Scouts? I mean, and still do, what the fuck? Whose 
strangely altered and medievalized thinking goes 
 like that? You read of these sorts of things in the 
year 1410 or something, but this was 1950's Avenel, 
a shit-hole suburban, low-priced, swamp-infested  
 construction project in which people were 
supposed to live  -  living new lives, highly-stylized 
new lives, in fact, of ease and splendor, of toothpaste 
in tubes and butter in tubs, lightly whipped. How
to defend this negative and backward-looking idea? 
How to (for us), in fact, live with it? It was child abuse,
 of a sort never mentioned. Never still is, and the 
same sort of undertakings are going on. It's a real 
child abuse  -  all those assumptions and methods 
and means; they're cruel, and they're nasty and they 
really do wreck children. Children never live our of 
it, they never really do grow through it. The wounds 
are ever-present. (First they pierce you and wound 
you for 18 years, beating the bejeezus out of you 
with crap, and then they expect you to willingly 
enough agree to a few years in the Military  -  where 
their same assumptions, masked deviltries, tortures 
and nasty proclivities will get you maimed, wounded, 
 crippled or destroyed for some of their own, bastard, 
adult ends. You really ought to stab your parents to 
death when you're like about ten. It would probably 
all work out the same. 
I never really wavered from my tasks. I would 
read the get-your-hands black (back then the ink u
sed to rub off) 1960's, thin-columned, endlessly 
wordy New York Times, nightly. Spread out on my 
hard-tiled floor in my room upstairs, I'd read page 
after page items about far-off places, the 
mechanizations of men, Congo, Asia, China, 
Soviets, space-competitions, Nazi-history 
investigations, auto-industry items. Until late at 
night  -  oftentimes my wearied mother would 
 climb the stairs, knock and open the door, and 
quizzically look at what I was doing, reading on the 
floor some stupidity like a scribe, shake her head, 
and tell me it was late and that I should get to sleep. 
There was an endless war or skirmish always 
underway somewhere  -  Brazzaville, all of Africa, 
Congo, Swaziland, Taiwan vs. mainland China, 
Appalachian poverty and problems right at home 
in the USA, civil rights troubles, school desegregation, 
slums, urban renewal, everything all a'twirl at the 
same moment. Something big was brewing; I could 
feel it, I could already understand it, but just wasn't 
sure of the approach. Life. Death. Little mattered. 
Occasionally things would pop up; my own ideas 
and interpretations : 'desegregation'  -  using such 
a word, I felt, was wrong  -  it somehow made valid 
the existence of 'segregation', assuming all one 
 had to do was correct it, as without changing it
 or re-formulating first the dumb way people 
thought. Thinking about what I read of those 
weird, odd southerners and all their 'separate' 
Woolworth's food counters, restaurants and 
 bathrooms and water fountains, I would just 
think  -  what's wrong with these asshole people? 
How stupid could a people be? What race of 
Neanderthals had they themselves descended 
from that they could still subsist in this manner  -  
their screaming diatribes, shouting at schoolbuses 
and children, protecting their own supposed 'rights' 
(which did not really exist anyway)? Pimply-faced 
fat southern goons. Adults? These were supposed 
adults  -  grown and mature people who were 
assumed ready to lead others. They turned out 
to all be liars and jerks. I found that money and 
corruption left its presence everywhere. 
 African-bound cargoes of foods and medicines, 
large sums of monies, all stolen, swept away 
by corrupt leaders of corrupt governments run 
by small mobs of corrupt people. Theft and 
malfeasance were everywhere. The dead and the 
dying loomed as a result. War was nothing. War 
had just become a cover, an excuse for cover  -  
to cover and obscure the thievery and corruption 
wherever it could be concealed. Nothing was 
straight, people were crooked bastards, mostly 
moreso the nearer to the top one got  -  this 
went for the USA too; no distinctions made.
When you're 12 years old I don't think you're 
supposed to have already reached the point of 
saying 'Oh, what the hell...' It seems way too early 
to find futility and the grassy island of doubt so 
soon and already sidelining you. It's a tough thing 
to get over : it affects how you can talk and honor 
and respond to things. I had to carry that around. 
I was ruined pretty early, and nothing more about
any of it really seemed to work for me. I wanted out.
Boyhood fades; the world intrudes. How was I 
supposed to observe or see or watch things in that 
condition? The stupidity of a symbolic thing, like 
the CBS Eye, as a for instance  -  something everyone 
else accepted and looked for. This little place I was 
in  -  a thin strip of street not even a commercial street 
any longer  -  barren, derelict, cut in two by roadways, 
a lumber yard, a train station seemingly now an 
afterthought (everyone had their flashy cars to ride 
in instead), two or three 'candy' stores, selling 
nothing more than leftover pennypacks  -  
it was really a non-entity, a no-connected 
nowheresville. I was ready to cash out. Had I been 
4 years older, I would have just jumped a train 
(not 'in front of', just jumped on), or hitch-hiked 
Route One and disappeared. As it were I worked 
hard on finding other ways to get out. 
Hello Blackwood, (seminary days), I suppose.

Again, I'll repeat : I've found most of life to be a 
symbolic reality  -  people placing space and the 
things they do into mental landscapes which  -  
while not real at all  -  reach the level of 'real' by 
fulfilling symbolic needs. This can be argued all 
day  -  and I'd probably be the first to do it  -  but 
I am certain I could argue it to a perfect clarity 
and win. As I was growing up, the street I lived 
on had, as well and for itself, attained that level 
of being  -  it was a line of houses to which was 
attached a serial decision-making for the 
placement of like and symbolic items by each 
family, random or not, along the way. A sameness 
in cars : boats, pools, lawns, driveways, furniture, 
decks and patios (New Jersey patios, I always 
thought, bring a certain 'patois'). Symbolic 
preferences for lives not really lived; references 
too, I suppose. Nothing on Inman Avenue bore 
any real substance, it all seemed image and symbol. 
The time of being  -  the 1950's, the 1960's  -  were in 
fact completely artificial and symbolic anyway : 
 everything managed to be, to exist, from nothing 
and completely artificial and meaningless. Yes, 
that still goes on today, of course, but all things 
are different and done differently. The essential 
basis 'within a reality  of' its own' Earthness and 
substance (that thing we, back then, were just 
leaving) is all gone - everything is ephemeral 
and virtual and ethereal, and yet today's 'folk' can 
make no distinction on that level at all. They just 
live it. Art and re-purposing buildings in a world 
that has so little to say but so many ways of saying 
it  -  (nothing). So many people live amidst a 
symbolic reality of their own into which and 
through which function very well and feel quite 
satisfied, though without knowing. Quite 
discursive, no matter. I was just, already, sad
and morose, and sorrowful, and broken.

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