Sunday, December 20, 2015

7608. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 108)

(pt 108) - part B
The storyline also here goes that  -  and I
don't recall this either  -  by the time we got
back from that trip to the World's Fair that
priest guy was not speaking to us, was, in
fact, furious with us and left us at the Rahway
train station (where we had parked, not Avenel)
and we had to walk home from there. Now, that's
pretty funny. The dumbo priest takes us, then drops
us in  a pique over something. I can only figure,
known for my own potential, that it was probably
something I said  -  maybe about the maudlin
aspects of the Pieta and what they'd expected
Americans to do by having them fawn over
some over-hyped piece of cry-baby marble.
Something like that. If that was the case, hell,
it was worth the walk home. The World's Fair,
in '65, was being held in the same place as the
'39 World's Fair. But, back then, they had a much
more iconic identifying logo image  -  the Trylon
and Perisphere. I don't know if you (dear reader)
know of it, but it's easy to find or look up. It was a
great, catchy two-piece design. Very perfect for
1930's style and design, and it ended up meaning a
lot : possibility, the future, the boldness of ideas, the
grounding of thought and culture, together. They
were both made-up names, by the way, signifying
what they were by their components. City of Tomorrow,
'Democrocity', they somehow thought to call it all
that  -  made up word too, for made-up concepts, I
suppose. The Trylon and Perishphere at least had
some visual pretense, some power of the image. The
'Unisphere', by contrast, was  -  just as it was named  -
some cockamamie idea of a Robert Moses sort, dreamed
up to show the 'world' as one. A complete gimmick and
a lie. This entire '65 fair was a United Nations themed
thing anyway. What's called a 'kumbaya' moment  -  named
after some folk-song ethos of African unity/brotherhood
name. All it means is that someone is keeping you busy
and happy while, behind your back, they're fleecing you.
Like Robert Moses ripping asunder any core context of
NY City as urban place, ripping out neighborhoods like
Grand Concourse and other places for his silly by-ways
and freeways and overpasses. This whole fair was a
pretext of his for land-grabbing anyway. It later became
the site of Shea Stadium, later Citi Field, all places where
municipal off-uses could take over, paid for and floated
for by bonds and taxpayer debt. Robert Moses was a
land-Nazi no good son of a bitch. You could look it up.
These were once the 'ash-fields' of The Great Gatsby; if
you read the book (NOT the movie, chum, you've got to
read the book), you'll learn about them  -  once the collection
points of all New York's coal and ash waste, a great, dipping
and slovenly place of idealized carnage. These World's Fairs
were municipal fiefdom's ideas of a sort of slum-clearance
for Earth and dirt. You can read it all  -  Robert Caro has
great books on Robert Moses; Great Gatsby, as I said, and
many more. When I got done with the '65 World's Fair, the
main memory I had of it, besides that of a thousand idiots
standing in endless lines for Belgian Waffles at the Belgium
Pavilion and all the rest of that sham-Euro pretension whether
Swiss, German, French or Belgian, was the faux-sexuality of
what was called (USA sponsored)  the French Quarter  -  a
lazy-man's imitation of raw New Orleans sex and promiscuity,
all pretend and masquerade. You couldn't get laid there if you
tried, but that was what America was trying to push. Go figure.
In the '39 World's Fair, what I read anyway, there were actually
naked people, sexy, unclad girls and women, doing the real acts
of dance and masquerade a la raunchy Hollywood pre-code stuff
of the day. By '65, it was all pretend junk. Fairly typical of it all.
I always stayed pretty nonchalant about things  - which may 
account for my not remembering things. Like having to walk 
home from Rahway, I would have just thought that to be really 
cool. Left to our own devices, left-flat by some whiny preacher 
guy who was probably all bent out of shape, either by being with 
two boys all day, or by being all perverted and twisted by what 
he'd seen at the fair. You know, 'Johnny's so long at the fair', 
and all that, from the song ("Oh dear, what can the matter be...').
I don't care what you say, perversion is perversion. The ribald
punk antics of us Avenel guys in the junkyards and stuff, that
was above the boards adolescent pranking, with no harm extended.
The rest was pure punk perversion, a priestly masochism or 
something. When I was in the seminary, I knew some of the 
kids were getting it on. The priests and brothers there were
some active guys, here and there. No, it wasn't everyone, not
by a large margin, and it wasn't me. Though I did find myself
one time in the large, white cottage deep in the dirt lane that
was kept aside, complete with two beds in two bedrooms, a
billiard table, and kitchen, and used for assignations by those
'boys' who'd been selected and were going along with the ruse.
But it wasn't no ruse, and I soon enough high-tailed my way
out of there  -  just wasn't that interested in billiards, let's say.
So, as I was saying, the walk home from Rahway would have
been a piece of cake to me, no questions asked. I knew every
which-way and shortcut home  -  past the black mason's hall, 
past all those fisherman guy houses backing onto the river
(see all the previous Rahway mentions in other chapters). 
You could walk the river, turn right as it meanders, and 
walk clear through to the Leesville junkyards. That was easy.
Or you could walk Rahway Ave. all the way home, past the
prison and all that. Or go out to St. George, or over the back
way  -  whichever you liked. It was pretty glorious.
As I said before too, my grandmother used to take us to NYC,
by train, maybe twice a year  -  for my sister and me, at 9 and 10 
years old, thereabouts, it was always a big deal, a massively 
important day out. My grandmother always took us to some 
(crummy) movie; nothing I ever liked. They seemed long and
boring -  even though they were always in cool movie palaces.
I remember one year she made us (me) watch 'The Nun's Story',
some really creepy movie about some stupid girl's interaction
with her being a Sister or not, or something  -  I couldn't get
interested. Walking along the way to it, we passed a marquee
for something called 'Anatomy of a Murder'  -  which sounded
great and I really wanted to see it. But, no dice. It was always
like that  -  I can't remember the other movies. Then, we'd
always go to the Automat. They were these really neat places,
filled with grumbly old men, down on their luck types, taking 
like three hours over a five-cent cup of coffee. Maybe a piece
of bread. You'd drop your nickle or dime into a slot next to
the window you'd selected. In each window was a little plate
of the food you wanted  -  macaroni and cheese, say, or soup, 
or a slab of meatloaf, whatever. Same for vegetables, potatoes,
salad, etc. you kind of built your meal. It was supposed to
be automatic but it wasn't really (it was all pre-fast-food, like
we're used to now). In fact, I think fast-food put them all out 
of business. We still used to go to them in the mid-seventies,
there was one last one left, by the Chrysler Building, along 
Lexington by 42nd. By that time they'd changed it some so that
if you didn't want you didn't have to deal with the little windows. 
You could get a tray, ask for a meal all put together, and take it
along the slides, like in school, to the cashier. She (usually, she)
counted it all up, and dispensed your dollars back and the change
came out this cool coin-chute. Which chutes, of course, the bums
were always hounding around. It was dreary because, by the 
mid-seventies, the preponderance of urban poverty and bleakness
was pretty much taking over and the only people you'd get in
there were the real losers, down and out trench-coat types, all
stained and tattered, or wise-assed, half-drunks, beleaguered
black dudes, and occasional whores and hookers. They also
had established, inside, on the floor, a Famous Amos, or 
something, chocolate chip cookie franchise thing. You had
to eat at these large, shared tables, or sit at some scrunched
up, singles table for one. You never knew what grubfest was
going to next sit down next to you and drool or die. No matter.
Nothing moved, people stayed for hours, seemingly paralyzed
or dead. One after the other, re-using the previous guy's Daily
News (the headquarters was right next door, eastward), or
whatever passed for reading matter in such a dung-heap of 
a place. 'Panic In Needle Park' was better than this. It always
got dark early in that joint.
One time, on one of my grandmother's trips, in the Automat, I
bumped some guy's single-table, and the bump sloshed his new
coffee around. It was harmless, and I just kept moving along.
The guy went crazy-ass ballistic over it, nearly killed me and
shouted my grandmother down for having a brat kid who 
bumped tables and didn't say sorry. He was probably kind of 
right, but I was shit-scared of the guy immediately when I did
it and just kept moving so as not to have to deal with him or
hoping he'd not noticed. It was all unknown territory in a
place like that. He'd probably disembowel me with a freaking
Automat butter knife.  Anyway, he got over it and I said a 
squeaky 'sorry'. Another time, in one of these places somehow,
my grandmother got pick-pocketed. She then suddenly realized
we didn't have enough money left to get home, so we went,
really, begging to Penn Station, she explaining to some person
in charge of something what had occurred, somehow proving 
it or whatever, and we were allowed on a train for passage home
free. It was scary, but then it got cool. Nice touch. Later I just
figured that guy with the furious wail over his coffee was just
the distraction needed to get my grandmother's attention while
his accomplice probably was stealing her money. I wasn't any
nine-year-old detective, mind you (but, remember, I did want to
see Anatomy of a Murder), but all these movies probably 
worked on my head.

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