Sunday, November 29, 2015

7518. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 87)

(pt. 87)
The old heave-ho of metaphor can always
be brought back from the dead, speaking of
which, Avenel has no cemetery? In and of
itself, that has to tell you a lot about the sort
of place it is, and always has been. This is
the kind of opposite of exclusivity  -  you can
for sure get in here, easily, and, when you're
done, in fact, you can't stay. There are
plentitudes of cemeteries around and nearby;
but when you begin to hear of that little,
secluded, designation of 'place' and quality
by which people say - 'Avenel' was always
wonderful to me, like a small town of old.'
Just stand up and say back : 'Shut up, you
fool. You've got it all wrong.' A good portion
of Inman Avenue is, in fact, buried cheek by
jowl in St. Gertrude's in Colonia. Neighbors
in life are, there, also neighbors in death.
Right near to where my parents are buried
I can do a very small, sideways shuffle-walk
and run into five or six immediate neighbors
who are also buried there. But that's not Avenel.
Remember that. The identity of 'Avenel' stops
with your very last breath. So, breath deep.
In fact, in Avenel, as a dead car you've got an
excellent chance of remaining in town.
Certainly more than as a dead person.
Good joke there, somewhere.
Father Genecki used to tell me his line  -  he'd
go on about how his 'early morning walks' along
Avenel Street made him feel an essential part of a
small, almost New England like, village. I knew
even then it was a crock  - but I never said anything
back. I did look long and hard for, oh, say, a central
town square, a bandstand, a magistrate's office  -
anything. There wasn't. Time was when there wasn't
even a bank. You couldn't send a telegram. Well,
maybe. What I'm saying is how all the usual overblown
rhetoric that gets fed into our heads, we accept it all
when it's made up of things we simply can't prove or
disprove -  like a religion or an ideology, or something.
But as soon as it comes down to a tangible form, like
all the rest of that gibberish, we can disprove it readily,
just by looking around. So, that makes it pretty tough
for lies. I also remember, about 1964 or 64, banners
across Avenel Street, two or three anyway, proclaiming
(Woodbridge had been awarded the designation that year)
'Woodbridge, NJ - All American City.' They flew those
banners with pride, though I never knew why. It was
all part of some hocus-pocus from Lady Bird Johnson,
the President's wife, about 'beautification', as she labelled
it. No highway billboards, no unsightly slag heaps (or
junkyards) along the highway. Probably no trailer
parks and hot-sheet motels either. Oops, forget those
last two.  How in the world Woodbridge, NJ, and then
by extension and by banners, Avenel, NJ, became holders
of an 'All American City' title is beyond me. More rubbish.
There was, first off, nothing 'city' about any of it. To the
opposite : you could never NOT find a parking place here.
There were never hordes and lines of people anywhere.
So, anyway, I never knew what was up, except that all
these people were bunko artists and flim-flam men. The
reason people came here, in fact, was their 'fleeing' the
cities of old and staring here a'fresh. If anyone really had
possessed any good sense, it could have been played up
in an opposite fashion  -  forget that belabored 'city' stuff,
just present it instead as the archetypal American story
line of someone 'breaking' away, going somewhere new,
to start all over, and succeed, or not, on their own merits.
Another interesting thing  -  you couldn't ever find a parking
meter in Avenel. There never was one. Until McDonald's,
and all the rest of that crud, began clogging up St. George
Avenue, you couldn't really get any declared 'fast food'.
When Dunkin' Donuts, in fact, re-seeded itself in the old
Ira Rhodes gas station on the corner of Avenel Street and
Rahway Avenue, I was pretty dumbfounded. The empire of
mass-marketed foodstuffs and the national advertising 
identity that goes with it all, how about that, had landed
in Avenel. Now we've got representatives of every chain-saw,
I mean, chain-store, eatery there is. The two main boulevards
of this grand Parisian endeavor, Rt. One and St, George Ave 
(Rt. 35) are so splendiforously arrayed with all that grand 
City of Light stuff, damn! And not to mention the peculiar 
gastronomic beauties of Avenel Street would be sinful!
After all, I ask you, what man can live in a desert? Who is 
there among us who does not need the prod and push of 
fellow humanity surging past him? Man is not made to 
life in soulless wastelands, after all. Yes. Give me the 
town square always,
When a grand man takes on grand proportions, it's OK.
Everything seems fitting. But when a small person begins
wearing 'grand' proportions, it never works, it goes wrong,
isn't done right, never fits. It's like a bum drinking Grand
Marnier instead of Night Train Express. Calling Avenel  
a small town with traditional mores and observances, 
that's like calling the Avenel Park gazebo a fitting place 
for a Michelangelo sculpture, for an outdoor display
of the Pieta. Go on, give me a break. Call things what 
they are, and just learn, instead, to be comfortable in your
own skin. Humility. Pleasure. Acceptance of the real.

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