Friday, December 11, 2015

7573. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 100)

So many things to do and wonder about.
I recall walking with my parents through 
what was then a new wonder of the world, 
somehow  - the Menlo Park Mall. Which in 
the beginning was not that at all. It was open-air, 
without a roof, not enclosed in any way. To my 
11 year old mind it was simply a reincarnation of  -  
some other life to me from which I still had the 
recollections and bleed-throughs  -  a Roman or
Greek agora; a large, busily-tended open-air market,
cobbled and bricked, with occasional columns and
notated stellai (plural of stele, fancy word for memorial
column). I realized it meant little to any outside of me -  
none of these other people even took heed. The open 
air sunshine shining down onto me from on high, onto 
little stone places where one walked, no cars, no traffic,
just walkways and the most simple communication  -  
all that took me places, took me far away, far-off to a
backland I'd only recently left. Or so it seemed. 
Overlooking, or looking past, the stupid and crass 
commercialism present, I knew what the archetypal
subconsciousness of all these commercial architecture
types were sending out. In their bizarre and troubled 
reach for a 'new' kind of commercialism, a place for 
people to 'buy' and be herded and bamboozled and 
controlled, all they were doing  -  without even realizing
it  -  was pulling forth old tribal and group-mentalities.
Those things never die, they're always there, to be tapped.
What else in the world, or out of it, do you think artists and
writers and the rest are drawing from  -  for those who can
recognize it, it's a vital and always running stream to be
taken from  -  different for everyone, bearing each
individual's personal pattern and memory-stamp. We really
only know one-tenth of what we are at any moment. So
never be fooled, and don't be surprised. That's why
ancient architecture talks to us.
My group of pack-rat friends, I often thought, must have all
come from the same other place  -  perhaps in some other
life we were all warriors or athletes together  -  some ancient
time, a place like Marathon or the coliseums and amphitheaters 
of Rome  -  those great runners and messengers of antiquity.
There was a time, as well, when the ancient astronauts and
visitors of antiquity would come to Earth, mingle with Earth
women, propagate their half races and oddities of myth, legend 
and lore (our own world now turns its back on this all), and return.
See Genesis 6, see Ezekiel. Read the revoked and repressed Gospel
of Enoch, and others. Our world has always been ruled by repressive
tyrants making up their own truths. We'd learn, in sixth grade, the
half-stories, only, of what they wanted us to know  -  how the first 
Greek Olympians were runners to Marathon (thus the name, 
marathon), and ran their olympics naked. But we were never 
told why. It was never further mentioned : know why? Because
the races of Gods, and their swift speeds and heroic powers, were
still upon the earth and in order to be sure that it was only Humans
running these contests (Gods had a vast sense of humor and 
mischievousness, all) the runners had to be seen naked, to be 
sure they had navels and the proper sex organs of Humankind.
What, did  you think it was because they ran hot and sweaty?
Not so, Bunky. That's only something maybe a Mr. Ziccardi
would tell you. Remember all that 'fertile crescent' rot, and
the beginnings of 'Civilization' and the papier-mache relief
maps we used to have to make and color, on plywood sheets.
Mesopotamia? The beginnings of Mankind? All bogus.
Anyway. There was a lot of vacancy on Avenel Street  -  not
in the main part, which to us was the 'center' of town anyway  -  
each other section had their own 'centers'  -  that's what happens
when you have a town split in two by major highway, and 
then sundered a bit more by having an underpass gouged out 
of what pretty much was the business key.  All those stores,
maybe 10, they were gone and shuttered. Not much to look
at, because the wall of the underpass had shielded them from
view  -  but if you knew what to look for and where they were,
you could follow the lead  -  Cappy's, an old candy-store,
even cheaper than Murray's and Martha's and probably
pre-dating it. For six or seven years it bravely held on, run
by a very white-skinned old man named 'Cappy', to us. That's
all we knew. He had the same sort of stuff as Murray's, but
Murray's 7 cents was Cappy's 5 cents, and so on. Cheaper, and
lonelier, but the kind of place you wanted to go to just to have
it linger on. It didn't. Soon enough it too was gone. They all got
boarded over and then painted dark brown, on both sides of the
tracks, and just stood there for years, are still there, mostly, to 
this day. The remnants and ghosts of yesteryear. Pieces of 
things past. There's an old Paul Newman or somebody movie,
from about 1965 or '66, maybe, called 'This Property Is 
Condemned.' It's a really great old and sorrowful film about a
small town that the railroad is about to bypass -  close-up the 
station, and just move on  -  to mean the death of the town for 
sure. The railroad agent (Paul Newman) is sent there to scout 
around, see what's there, figure out how to tell these people of
their doom. He tries to see who's to be affected, learn their lives
a bit -  it's all sorrowful and lonesome and sad. He of course gets
involved with a fetching young girl, something like 18 maybe, 
who has a wise and bitter young sister about 12. It all goes foul 
the older girl kills herself, the younger sister lives on embittered,
everyone hates Paul Newman, he's no wiser for what he's done.
just sad and embittered too, the town and its folk die. But what's
worse, they die while they know they've been hoodwinked, that he
wasn't really who he said he was, was just an agent, sent to kill their
town. There's more; but it all captures a certain element of old
Avenel, as I saw it anyway  -  but the railroad never left Avenel,
leastways it's stilling stopping here as I write this today. Things
look up, things look down  -  just like us kids on those old
railroad tracks, watching out for oncoming trains.
There was also, back there, for years, an old hillbilly bar and
dance hall, called The Hillcrest. I never knew why, but, whatever.
It was a large, open bowl of a place  - dance-hall, stage, bar. Half
the people stayed inside, the other half just seemed to be always
crowding the doorways, just looking out. For something. Now
and again they had country-music bands. The clientele was mostly  
local mule-skinners, which is to say lower-lever working guys on 
constant benders. After booze, after wine, women, and song, let's say. 
In its waning days of' the early 1990's we'd pull in there late on a
Friday or Saturday night on motorcycles, any number of us, park,
and go inside  -  just to see who was about, which was killing what,
and what sort of fight or melee was about to break out. Fun stuff.
You couldn't see the place from the road  -  which meant that is 
you didn't know it was there, you didn't know it was anywhere. 
Even the cops didn't touch it. The whole place was like a bad
 swap-meet, where you just knew as soon as the one or two 
necessary guys needed for trouble got drunk enough that 
trouble you were waiting for would break out. The best bet 
was to let somebody else do your taking for you, stay in one place, 
lay low, and watch who came in. Just like some old, crazy saloon 
in Dodge City. Sad to see it go, when it went. But it went.

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