Monday, January 25, 2016

7735. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 143)

(pt. 143)
Finishing in Woodbridge High School that last 
year, I managed to be pretty useless. I sulked, and
I remained fairly aloof, just trying to be out of the
gunsights of whomever it was who'd be watching.
It failed. Lou Gabriel and  - I think, John  - Stanaitis,
decided that would be the year to find a token
reprobate and squish him. That would be me.
There was no sense to any of it, and it was all
a game. I was selected because of the cultural 
crunch that everyone knew was coming, societally,
and they needed a scapegoat whose skin they could
peel without any real cost to the running of things.
I was new. I was weird. Basically, I just felt that 
those two miserable order-perverts were jealous 
of me. Had they not already been so Nazified in 
their approaches and practices, they'd have loved
to be me. Every chance that was available, I ended
up there, in front of one of their miserable desks,
with their miserable, chubby, decrepit secretaries
seemingly lording it over me while I waited for 
either one of those toilet bowls to get done and 
come out and deal with me  -  knowing full well 
that neither of them really wished to and that the 
practiced art of screw-you underway included just 
having me wait, in what they'd figure was a stupefied 
terror, for them to come out. Not so. I just sat there
watching all the other stupid teachers come in, one 
after the other, to 'check their mail'. Which must
have been pretty humiliating for them. They couldn't
even get their own mail; there were boxes with names
behind  the man office-secretary's reception wall and
they'd have to announce their names and get their
'mail' handed to them. It probably wasn't even mail,
more just some in-school propaganda sheets about
upcoming torture trials and executions. They lapped 
it up. Meanwhile, I'd just sit there, biding my time,
wondering what it would be that day. Too long, the 
hair, again ('Didn't we just get you a haircut last week?);
too crummy, the footwear, ('No sandals, you know, 
and the shoes need to look better than that'); pants
too short, pants too long, pants too tight, and the
best one, a regular  -  'too many clothes.' Yeah, I
pioneered the layered look back in '66-7  -  you try 
walking the tracks to school each morning in 38 
degrees and less, with fewer than three shirts, two 
sweaters and a jacket over that and then tell me 
about layers. It was all so stupid, 'you teaching me
or my inseam?'  -  that was always my cool and
imagined retort. They'd never get my breaking 
humor. It was too advanced for the time.
That high school was a freak show and a zoo. In
the weeks of the holiday breaks at colleges, to
make it all more ridiculous and pompous, there'd be
these smooth 'returnees'  -  kids who had gone off to
'college' that Sept. and were now back for their first
break  -  in to 'educate' us on what college life was
all about : they'd bloviate like it was coming out their
pants. How 'it's all on you, you'd better make good 
study habits now because in college there's no one 
there to force you to work, and you've got to stay with
it all on your own, to succeed.' Oh gee! Wow! Sounds
a lot like jerking off! Everyone was so very impressed,
no one more so than the crummy teacher. Here these
zero-headed kids were actually returning! To tell others
how to make it all work; since they obviously were
so key to the workings of Slime Island State University,
somewhere in Pickle My Ass, Pennsylvania. Yeah, they'd
made the big time alright. The same guys who just
last year were retro-fitting their exhaust pipes by
banging on them with ball-peen hammers to the radio
tune of Wooley-Bully while they tried to find their
girlfriend's budding tits.  I was once impressed enough
to just walk off into the Gabriel-Stanaitis office 
concentration camp and tell them how impressed I
really was and then turn myself in for wearing dirty 
underwear. I got suspended that day, for 11 minutes.
Nobody ever listened. There was this girl's gym teacher, 
another total dreck. She was eleven hundred years old
and the talk was she'd once been a Rockette or some
NYC ballet dancer or something. 'Could'a fooled me'.
Looked more like she'd been a testing dummy for some
a-bomb test on No Bikini Atoll, somewhere in the
South Pacific. How the girls even could stand to look
at her as they took gym was beyond me. Women's Lib
hadn't yet begun, and all this was way before the time
of speaking out for rights and equality over sex, you 
know, I mean your 'sexual roles'. Whatever it is. She
was a pest. The men gym teachers were just as bad but
they were so very insipid that they simply did not matter;
though once or twice they threw me down to the office 
too. I don't remember what for. I came right back at them.
But the one guy who really fried my potatoes was the art
teacher, named Frank Gubernat. This guy took every
element of being creative and being an artist and deflated
it to being rubbish. And he was a real pile of shit about
it too. Who would ever think that one of the biggest Hall
Nazis in the school would be the futher-muckin Art Teacher!
He used to stand there, just watching, one by one, as kids 
walked by in the morning  -  any clothing infraction, any sort,
and he plink you right out of line and down to the office.
A real bastard. It happened to me, as I said, at least twice 
a week, often through the work of this jerk. The guy betrayed
'Art' every step of the way. It was so typical of schooling,
I always thought  -  having to portray something as daring
and liberating, having to push talented kids into the frenzied
anarchy of art and creativity, by a curriculum which detailed
the corruption of adulthood and the ragged and indeterminate
and subjective vagaries of bureaucratic, mind-set, terrorism.
Absolutely disgusting. By the same token, if some suave-gay
scarf-boy famous artist waltzed in as a guest-speaker or
something, they'd be all over his ass-licking face and name
and reputation extolling all his virtues  -  while he'd be up 
there dressed like some witch-hunt, duty-free fag artist 
and getting a pass because he was an 'artist', and just
'filled' with creativity. Total, deceitful, lying, cheating, 
no-good education system. It wasn't even worth 
enough to be called that.
'Extol the virtue, but kill the dream.' I always thought 
that would have been a good motto for Woodbridge 
High School and that it should have been engraved in 
the bricks up above the main doorway. Other than that, 
the place wasn't worth piss. Even the architecture of 
the joint was miserable  -  a cross between a prison 
walkway and an airy space-center or something in 
that 1950's vein, just before things really started 
hopping. You can see it today, it looks pretty much
exactly the same except in a more run-down condition.
I don't know how kids survive there. Just the idea of
Government-Schools is hideous anyway, and this was
a plu-perfect example of everything wrong. Back in 
1966-67, even though it was called 'Woodbridge' this
school took in other towns, before they all had their
own high schools built. Iselin, Colonia, Avenel, etc.
So, there was a steady stream of school-buses, in and
out, each day. That was problem #1. Essentially a school
bus, at that level and time, was a rolling abuse box -  if
not the prelude to a rape-box. Everyone knew what went
on  -  for God's sake it was obvious and hot-blooded  - 
but no one ever piped up. If you did, you'd probably be
dead the next day. Sex was on every kid's mind, in a
hundred different ways, and a twenty or so minute bus 
ride was just enough to be crammed in the back with
your favorite squeeze. Abuse, feel-ups, fondles and
worse. Then, please, let's not forget George Poco, a
local Avenel idiot who would endlessly fart and call
out the flavor of each one ; 'Ooh! That one's a spice 
cake! Ooh! Cinnamon! That kid should have been
thrown out the emergency door at the rear. At speed.
I used to do anything not to have to ride that school bus
racket. In the mornings, for sure, I'd walk. In the afternoons,
if the weather was bad or I was tired or angry, of freezing,
I'd take the bus. But it didn't happen often  -  though it was
always enough to get the life-lessons needed to see why 
NOT to take it again. Occasionally, more often than not, 
when I walked to or from school my girlfriend walked it 
with me. It would be a cold day in Hell before I'd subject
her to the degradations of the school bus. Once or twice, 
or more, in the mornings, we'd take the Public Service bus
that stopped in front of Murray and Martha's  -  it had a
number, like Rt. 84 bus, or something. It cost like 20 cents,
on its way to Perth Amboy. We'd get near the high school
and pull the cord and the guy would stop, we'd get off, and
walk the short remainder of the way to the school. That
was fun too, some days to just mix things up  -  we'd ride
with a bunch of glum workers on their way to whatever,
with their lunch-pails and shopping bags. It was always
like the lower-tier of hell, based on the misery in all
their faces. A tough and terrible world, I was in. That
was one notable difference between the 'old' world and
the new : back then buses went to places named, they 
connected actual towns and places  -  where people lived and
thrived, or not, where their front steps were, the old back,
grimy porches and windows, the playgrounds and the churches
You could get to be alone with yourself in the town or small
city (all decaying) you lived in. No matter what was to be
said about all this  -  and yes, plenty was possible to say  -  
the solid core of rack-bottom America, for good or for bad, still
existed. From such disparate places as Paterson and Elizabeth
or Fanwood or Newark, there were story-lines and personal 
histories everywhere, great immigrant lineages of toil and 
worry and strife. A bus that said 'Perth Amboy' on its front, 
well it actually took you there. That's the sort of worker's 
bus we rode  -  one with a legacy before it even got started 
each day. Now those same buses, in their delirious stupidity, 
total wastefulness, and in their reflection of paltry and 
despicably bankrupt culture, say things like 'Woodbridge 
Center Mall' or 'Menlo Mall' as destinations. Cam anyone
really imagine a reason to be forced to go to school in a
culture which was doing nothing but promoting the
growth of that sort of society?

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