Wednesday, December 30, 2015


(pt. 120)
I have always tried to live in a purely deliberate
fashion; I thought, anyway. In this life you have
haphazard, and you have deliberate. Haphazard
people it seems are always the ones having
accidents, in blue cars, driving too fast, ignoring
the double yellow, all that stuff. Just jamming
along, turning where they choose, no matter the
sign. The fat, stupid ones, seen later on TV, after
running down a pedestrian and a baby carriage
or something, trying to blame another, or some
other cause, or a reason elsewhere for what
they themselves have done. Really sickening
stuff. It's fairly characteristic in all they do, the
way they live. They never 'deserve' punishment,
it all always someone else's fault or issue. Kind
of just makes you sick. Deliberate people are
different. They're 'posh' by comparison. Things
happen more slowly, as they accumulate and
develop   -  they need all the right reasons first.
It's like the difference between a cigarette
smoker and a pipe smoker. The cigarette people,
they just light and burn  -  sucking away on a
mouthful of gray smoke, without a concern.
Reaching the point of a butt, all three minutes
later, they just throw it down, often not even
stomping it out; but just move on, oblivious
until the next three-minute bout of 'need' hits
them. A pipe smoker  -  if you've even seen or
done or known one  -  they take forever. Loading
and packing, getting the tobacco from a pouch,
loading it in just right, the right amount, the
proper tamping-pressure for good lighting, the
lighting, the slow and careful puffing, cradling the
pipe, the physical object of the pipe, tending the
burn now and then, and  -  finally  -  twenty minutes
or more later, carefully undoing all of that after
their little flame has subsided, cleaning and
draining the pipe, storing it, etc. It's as slow and
deliberate a process as any deep thinking can be.
The polar opposite of the cigarette person. Two
varied extremes. I often came across as a haphazard
nut case, but in reality I was always quite deliberate.
Most of Avenel was, and still is, about as haphazard
as one can get. So many recollections abound, things
that still would startle  -  for a town of real homes and
orderly suburban living, it would still often present
the damnedest sights. I remember one house, over by
Metro's, every year. November or December, or
whenever deer hunting season is, they'd have at least
one or two deer carcasses strung up on the side of
their house, over the side porch (all still there), while
they eventually got around to fully gutting and butchering
or rendering the meat, or whatever you do with dead
hunting kill. Like it was nothing, or like it was some
mountain hollow out in West Virginia. Tongues askew,
eyes popped, neck slightly twisted from the hang; it
was really pretty gross, and I always felt for the poor
dead sons'a bitch deers  -  who'd never shoot back,
couldn't fight back, and had to end their ignominious
existence hanging over the side-porch of some Avenel
idiot's house, waiting for the carver. Maybe that's a
deliberate thing too? Can't be too haphazard, I guess.
Or the same with cars  -  there were always a certain
few who had two or more vehicles  -  pretty much just
like the deer I just mentioned   -  strewn about, hood
open, just hanging around missing parts, flat on their
wheels, undergoing long-term repair or demolition, and
sometimes even causing little oil flows and rainbow
puddles. No one cared. Both these traits, once I lived
out in Pennsylvania, were fairly common things. There
were always hunting kills around, and there were
generations of dead cars and broken down machineries
strewing up most every yard : right up there with the
refrigerator on the porch and the armchair out on the
lawn, or what there was of a lawn. Things just accumulated,
and stayed, but out there you could accept it, and expect it
too. Everything was isolated, on twisty dirt roads, no
one else was nosing in your business. I don't even know
if deliberate versus haphazard worked out there. They had
their own categories  -  like when your sister is also your
aunt and her kid is from Uncle Freddie but everyone calls
him Buck. Know what I mean? Definitions stretch, genetics
twist. Nothing is what is what meant to be. But, this was
Avenel  -  there had to be at least a few categories and
protocols that went with them. I used deliberate versus
haphazard a lot  -  it always worked for me.
I used to go down to the Kindness Kennels a lot. When I was
maybe 12. It was down in a muck-hole in the ground, a wet
spot over by the brook and the railroad. There's a Wendy's
and a Home Depot there now. I remember the kennels there
real well  -  for a few reasons. First  was, I always liked
the girls that worked there. They were like 18 years old or
so, loose-limbed, sloppy types, hippies before there were
hippies, kind of. No one really in  the magazine-beauty
category of attractive or pretty, but they had something
about them that was always better than that. They were
always happy, and dedicated to all these crazy dogs and
puppies and cats and kittens. Pigeons. Rabbits. Most
everything went through there. They were always
cuddling something, filing out forms. There were maybe
40 cages  -  you could walk along, inside or out, since they
opened both ways, and the captive dogs within came and
went to the people passing by. Yapping. Barking. Making
you real sad you couldn't just take them all. It was quite a
place. I knew things also died there, got put to sleep, and all
that, but I always overlooked that. Had to, or I'd be crying
myself all the time, and nothing would ever be right. All
I did ever want was to have a dog from there. I finally
got one, in 1971, January. The last thing I did before I left
town that day was buy a dog I named Billy (later always
called 'Super Bill') from them (this was years later). That
little puppy drove with me, inside my jacket in the unheated
January-cold car, the 260 miles it took to get back up to
Columbia Crossroads, PA. Just stayed in one little curl,
like a comma. I delivered that dog to its new home, and
it loved everything -  danged stupid-ass fool dog. It got the
name Super Bill because, out in the wilds, once settled in,
it would challenge, at a fast trot, every car and vehicle that
came within a mile of our place. Wasn't afraid of anything
at all. I should have always kept her tied up, I guess, but
how could you  -  tie up a 12-acre dog whose land was
its Paradise, who free-rein being demanded space and
glory and happiness? Dang fool one day did get itself all
busted up under a fast-passing car. Just left for dead at
the side of a road.  I can still cry over that, if I choose to.
Please don't get me started.
So, I guess Super Bill was one haphazard dude of a dog.
Never seemed anything deliberate about him. Some are
just that way. It's too hard to judge everything.
The backwoods of Avenel, as you fanned out in the late 1950's,
got haphazard real quick  -  all those Blair Road people in
their 75-year old homes, living out there with their own small
kingdoms of trees and cars and dogs. Junkyards, a bit different
than the ones by us  - the Blair Road junkyards had like trees
growing out of old cars, they were spread out, ran through
bush and grasses, had waterways through them. These guys,
Dafchik and Rhodes, they had small work sheds about, with
lifts and hoist, and they had sheds of fenders and then sheds
of hoods, and then sheds of seats, all that differentiated stuff
in case someone asked. Tractors and crawlers. They just lived
amidst their work, with little care for all else, or so it seemed.
There's a poet, still alive, I think, maybe not, named Gary Snyder,
an old-line 1950's kind of writer, Beat generation at first and
the moved along. He's got a line somewhere that says : 'Nature
isn't a place we visit; it's where we live.' I always liked that
line, and it fits pretty well into what I'm talking about here
- even though, the flip side of all this was that these people,
'we, these people', as it were, were intent not so much on 
living in that Nature as mucking it up  -  ruining it, getting
rid of it; but that'll have to be another matter and another
time. My point here now is that along the fringes, where
they still existed, were yet people to be found who were
living one or two steps off the ground and that was it. I use
Blair Road only as my example : they still had garbage-barrel 
fires; they burned leaves and trash' they buried their dead 
animals in their own private spots, they had, yes, those
'sacred spaces' I talked of. I got a phone call, in fact, just the
other day from a good friend, childhood chum, play-writing
buddy from the old Maynard the Beatnik Reindeer days, in
fact, and he began telling me these wonderful little tales of
his own sacred spaces when he was young  - disgruntled or
unsettled, these were the spots he ran to : he called them
'Big Rock', and 'Little Falls'. And another friend who lived
right near them as well, he's mentioned them to me. They
were just off Avenel Park, when the real world around it was
still wild enough to get lost in - woods and paths and shortcuts.
Now it's all those cookie-cutter apartments I'm always
wailing about  -  all those first-stop in America types 
mugging around. All those apartments and condos, they
buried everything we used to know about the Nature we
lived, not visited. Now people instead hop on a plane or
something and go pick their asses in Yosemite or the Grand
Canyon and get back on a plane to return home like they're
John Muir or someone  -  one of those great 19th century
big-time naturalists  -   'cause they've got a postcard photo or
two of something 'real'. Real like the plague is real actually.

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