Saturday, February 20, 2016

7829. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 169)

(pt. 169)
In like 1608, King James outlawed what he
called 'profanity' from stage plays  -  of the
new sort being organized by itinerant groups
of actors and performed by them in  road-shows
and the newer form of 'playhouses'. The playhouse
was something rather new -  a settled home, an
erected stage structure, some huge thing with
seating and sight-lines and stage and equipment
places. A new undertaking for sure, something
fresh and strange sweeping Britain. The King
had to step in to stop this new hard-boiled
colloquialism from unsettling things, embroiling
the people in a newly developing form of
activism, or at the very least, 'fresh-thinking.'
He outlawed, as I said, profanity. Thus, the
end of 'God' in Shakespeare's plays. Once I
learned of that, I was pretty shocked. For the
first thing, what was the King doing making
such an edict  -  in the middle of plague years,
death and danger everywhere. At one point
it got so bad that the playhouses were actually
ordered closed, and these actor-troupes, including
Shakespeare's, once more took to the road until
re-opening. And then there was the Gunpowder
Plot at about the same time. Danger lurked, it
seemed, everywhere. Outlaw profanity? Yes, yes
that will do it. Anyway, not having profanity is
one thing, but why then was it 'connected' with
the disappearance of 'God' in Shakespeare's plays?
Just another baffling, fool question for a kid from
Avenel. I had to be so careful. For a while I felt
myself to be the Billy Graham of idiocy. Billy
Graham was a public, TV preacher, just then,
in the late 60's, gaining some big-time notoriety
and followings  -  southern Baptist-style public-
meetings arena style preaching to large crowds.
He hit at just about the same time as mass-TV
and all that adulation it can bring, so very
swiftly his 'Crusades' were everywhere. By
the mid-seventies the country was all fired-up
over the fiery, handsome, charismatic your
preacher. Young being, I guess, mid-or late 40's.
I know my mother took to him like butter to
bread, a regular Tom Jones or Englebert
Humperdinck of the religio-entertainment
airwaves. At a certain point there was no
difference. The singer Neil Diamond, about
1969, had a great song about the entire idea
here - 'Brother Love's Traveling Salvation
Show.' Pack up the babies and grab the old
ladies, 'cause everyone goes and everyone
knows Brother Love's shows. I wonder what
King James would have made of that. A true
media-inducement to unfettered thought. And
then look at today. Every roadway and bridge
abutment is sure to carry some wonderful spray-
painted message of good-will and happiness. I
guess that's why the world turns and we don't
know it. If we did, if we were aware of spinning
constantly at high speed, we'd be driven nuts.
That's what relativity is, everything going on
at once, and us not even being aware of it.
Jeepers where to begin. The only things really
out in front of me now are Death and Oblivion
-  I find them everywhere. At the corner of Route
One and Avenel Street, where the happy Fire
House electric sign tells me all the real things
I need to know. I find them at Randolph Street
and Leesville Ave., right at the maw of those
great, metal-crunching jaws always at work
in the scrap yards, the men flinging and
piercing things with strange and huge bits
of steel and metal and claws, old-deck-hand
cars piled up for the their own oblivion one
atop the other. Around the corner to the
auto-wreckers, guys roaming around looking
for their orders of used tires and rims, door
panels and alternators and differentials,
wrecked cars being taken down piece by
piece for re-sale, and every last part
computerized and logged. Old men
lumbering about. Here and there a
patterned dog staring at something in
lieu of sniffing a puddle of what might
just be oil. Or something lethal. It's the
same for us. Staggering shamelessly
through the lethal bowels of Avenel
and Rahway, re-jiggering our own
terms of reality to make things work,
or at least to make this 'Time of Now'
work, for us. Why not, then, and what
other time is there, ever?
So, what was it I said? Myself as the
Billy Graham of idiocy  -  field shows
and arena crusades, target practices at
gun-shooting expositions? Any of them. I
was just living my time, while doing it.
Down the slow bottom of the hill, across
from the 'Kindness Kennels', they had
just taken down that RCA building  -  the
red-brick factory and office which had
stretched there for the longest time, in
some new fez of modernity. A sleek, and
efficient business format and business-campus
architecture, spreading out on acres of grass.
It was all taken down, nearly and as a pin,
in about 3 months time, and the entire complex
was restructured for what became a KMart and
a Pathmark expanse  -  with liquor store, pizza
joint, shoe store and the rest, all in place. For
about two weeks it was the greatest thing
around. I remember it, shockingly sensible
and wise, as the first place I ever saw the
fresh vegetables being misted, sprayed wet,
automatically, by a built-in mister-system in
the produce section walls. it was astoundingly
modern, an unbelievably glimpse into the
'changing' nature of how people were just
beginning to think about their food. Nothing
now, no, of course -   but the first time seen,
it was really something. I wasn't even sure,
right off, where we were headed with that stuff  -
some new and enlightened Golden Age of
consciousness, right there, in Avenel, about
to hit  -  or some other means of some wise-guy
merchant to pull the wool over your eyes by
selling his tired, old, and outdated 'fresh'
produce to you misted and wet, so you'd
never know. Was I, thereby, a cynic, or not?
And then, across the street, where once the
kennels had been, along with about sixty acres
of a finely wooded and well-watered land, they
repeated the same process, I guess first, actually,
to put up some other store and operation that
was there. Bradlees, and Buxton's Ice Cream.
Buxton's was an ice-cream cafe kind of place,
and my neighbor girl, Linda Lordi, worked
there. I'd occasionally hear stories from her,
about the place, and hear about her, in turn,
from other people  -  like adult friends of
my parents  -  who went there and would
tell about it, and seeing Linda there. She and
I were never really friends, or close even, but
she was nice, an I always liked her around.
She was sweet, for a while, on my across
the street friend, Donald. I remember once or
twice spending some time with her, hanging
around outside, by the cars parked in the street.
One time she flabbergasted me by her unending
devotion, talking a blue stream about it, each
nuance and meaning  -  a song by the Beatles,
called 'Ticket to Ride.' I can't remember what
year that would have been, by Beatles titles,
but I guess about '66. I remember being struck
by the precociousness of her attention to the
song  - it was, after all, just a song, but she had
every detail and nuance down pretty good. I did
realize, of course, even then, that the spot she
was at was the exact spot past which she'd
never go. She had all the factualities and
business and musical details of the song
down, correctly too, I guess, but I almost
wanted to take her further with it, into the
philosophical realms of what the song could
really 'mean', esoterically and semiotically,
the references and antecedents, the very
philosophical underpinning of that great
cosmic 'trip' we all have a 'ticket to ride',
as it is, for. Had she allowed, had she
taken, that one extra step with me, I think
I could have really dug her. I saw her years
later, five or six years ago maybe, a lifetime
apart by then, and we never mentioned a
thing about it.
I guess life has its funny ways like that. I was
always into music -  that funny way of using
'into' doesn't capture what I mean. It could
take you places, but it never was an end in
itself. When all these 1960's rock guys started
trying to bring things out from it with 'words'
it was the plainest, most declarative stuff I'd
ever heard  -  rhymes for the sake of rhyme,
really cheap, asshole stuff. Then the big guns
began coming along  - Buffalo Springfield was
maybe the first one to catch my attention. Neil
Young, part of that. Still simple stuff, but at
least it was solitary and ominous. That what I
was always seeking. Bob Dylan hit on it once
or twice, maybe three times, but most of his
stuff was simpled-out faux ponderous stuff
that always sounded, even if it was him alone,
like group stuff  -  ironic, partyish, sometimes
just goofy. I always thought him to be a really
over-rated act. Emphasis on 'Act.' He just stole
stuff  - references, crowds, allusions. It was
never authentic, even though that was the
principle it was sold on. When the Beatles,
for instance, began getting serious with
their own shit, even they were better than
him, and I was never a Beatles fan. That
whole genre of radio-pop was useless drivel,
one guy after the other trying to out-do the
previous thing they'd just heard. It was insider's
smoke, (literally), being peddled to kids.
Everyone, after a while, was just expected
anyway to get high, smoke dope, take the drugs,
drop the sugar-cube, and then go along with
whatever they were told  -  even, again, if it
meant being duped to go to Vietnam to replay
Dad, and do it this time to the soundtrack of the
Doors and Jimi Hendrix. Such ignorant junk.
Oh, anyway, the reason this is even in here
is because of Linda Lordi, and her heightened
interest (all news to me then) in that Beatles
song  -  which I so much wanted to deconstruct
for her, and talk about with her. Damn!
(Don't tell king James I ended with
a profanity).

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