Sunday, February 7, 2016

7778. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt.155)

If I took anything from the rather ragged simplicity
of Avenel, it was that 'pretension' is the worst thing
there is. I left there with the motto 'Simplify' ringing
in my head  -  and it is still right. As it turns out, very
little of what I've actually become has much to do with
Avenel. 'Stranger in a strange land,' as Robert Heinlein
put it, but I (try to) make it work. I'm way too vulnerable
sometimes, and have numerous problems with both
mind and heart. Those traits aren't very 'Avenel', but
I've always been like that. Probably have just been
clonked one too many times on the head, like those
boxers and football guys who then zone out. Anyway,
you can't define what you can't define. My whole life,
even as a little kid, was mostly spent in a bundle over
someone else. Happened enough. Heartfelt wound after
heartfelt wound, and nowhere really to go. So, what kind
of introduction to anything is that I walked away a long
time ago from any recognition factor that would sub-limit
what I'm about. Too many branches, on a strange, straight
tree maybe. Guys in Avenel were supposed to be strong and
rugged, without any of that vulnerability stuff. While I was
growing up, over on Monica Court, but actually in Frankie
Stroehlein's backyard, as shortcut, right across the street
from me, was a kid named Bruce Kelber. He had an even
younger brother too, name now forgotten. Bruce was a
wildman as a kid, a complete, unruly nut case. The whole
house was nuts  -  people screaming and yelling, always, in
the backyard, what I could see. Bruce and his brother doing
weird things; throwing marbles at cars, starting little fires.
You'd understand trouble if it came out of that house. Some
years later, all of a sudden I see long-haired Bruce, about
25 or so then, being lauded and cited for bravery  -  as a
fireman, with the Avenel station  -  he ran into a fire or
something and saved a burning kid. Whatever the story,
I forget. But the locals and the newspapers ran the
story, all big, about bravery and valor and the guts to
do right, on the spur of a moment. Brucie Kelber,
it was. Damn it all.
That was more of what you'd expect from Avenel
stock. Certainly not me  -  I'd fallen weakly, by
comparison, into another realm, a world
distressingly soft, when put side by side to
Avenel, or to Bruce. The 'Artworld' was another
psychic realm entire, and one that I'd have been
hard-pressed to explain to anyone. If they'd have
even listened. The rough and tumble ragamuffin
world of our little streets never included people
leaving them for softer endeavors or the followings
of aesthetics and art categorizations. It was as if
I'd suddenly been turned into the UN ambassador
or something. Even the idea of the priesthood and
missionary work, a few years before, had cancelled
me out of the 'Avenel' running. None of that mixed
well. it just seemed all the time to me that Life was
getting too complicated. The idea of 'simplfy' seemed
right, but the more I trod on, the more I complicated
things, deepening levels of meaning and thought, and,
in turn, fussying up more than simplifying anything. 
Simplify works in the artworld too - but there
it usually just means 'stay old, remain outdated,
work in an outmaoded fashion, remain small.' All
that is the language of Art. not grandiosity or 
pompousness and grand, enormous outreach. 
Most of Art today has turned into a public-realtions 
gimmick, tie-ins, big bucks, and personality cults.
It's like a visual rock-music for mostly moronic 
hangers-on. Now, as I see this, it just hit me that 'visual 
rock music' could be an art concept of its own any day  -  
there's already a place in close-by Pennsylvania where
people go with hammers and strike the rocks  -  which are
strewn about everywhere in a huge-glacial-rock-dump formation
of about 40 acres  -  and each rock makes a different tone and
sound. The huge field of gray rocks, large sizes, just sits there,
left where they were as the 'glacier' melted right there. That's
what they say anyway. The varied iron content of all the
different rocks makes then each have a different, and distinct,
ring sound when hit. I would have no way of knowing how this was
discovered, or why anyone would nave been traipsing around there
with a hammer, but it's there, it works, and it's true. 'Ringing Rocks 
County Park', Ringing Rocks, PA. It's also a campsite for campers
and travelers with hook-ups on their camper vehicles for plug-ins.
I had a friend, from Germany, a music-theorist and a music-major, 
who in fact produced, performed, and recorded some sort of
'suite' of this music from the rocks (rock music?) andm back
in Berlin, had it performed, or at least played publicaally
somewhere, to great reviews. He'd woven in a few other
musicians and instruments  -  bass, oboe, and the rest. In some
strangely connected and tenuous way, the same string connects all
these things. But the monumental art of the Earthworks people
still strains. I don't know why. I'm from Avenel. I need the tidy 
frame, not the wide, broad one. 
It's always amazed me how I've probably missed the boat
on everything that's interested me. Art, music, writing, 
poetry, and the rest  -  I've got tons of material but just
have never caught onto the many-laced strings of going
anywhere with it. I can't stand the dealings and the
pretensions, the arrangements and the credentials and
interview kinds of things. I refuse to make a public presentation
which woule be characterized as 'correct.' I should have
special license plates. Avenel was certainly never meant to be
a home for artists anyway  -  nothing good comes out of Nazareth,
and all that. The art frenzy is not Art, it's just a frenzy. I keep
doing the working  -  when you're merchandising, you're not
working, producing. I'd rather be doing that (the work itself).
Merchandising is business, which blows. They've now even 
managed to make war and theft into business. So far be it
from me to interfere or even to get involved. I can't stand the
'type'. Let me be discreet. Next year in Jerusalem.
When I would be at home, all I'd think about was not
being at home. That was pretty weird, mainly because,
as a kid, you're supposed to grow and dwell into your
surroundings and environment. I guess that never
happened with me. It was always, 'get out, move on.'
I'd never see it anywhere else. My friend Jim Cruise,
over on Park Ave., he always seemed to have the most
beautiful home life. His sister was grand, his mother
was grand, and his father always seemed just right,
settled, quiet, smart. His mother used to make us
'soft' baseballs, one after the other -  she take like
gym socks, or something, roll them onto one another,
a few together, and then somehow stitch them, as a ball,
to stay. Just a tad larger than a real baseball, tightly
done, and all drawn together into a fairly hard ball.
Jimmy had a deep, long yard, as did the Hoffman's,
behind him. With those 'soft' baseballs, we'd spend
hours hard-pitching and hitting, in his yard. With the
occasional really great long fly balls these 'sock-balls'
were perfect for. The other, crazy thing  -  and here's all
that weird Catholic crap again  -   Jim had a set up
of an altar in his back room  -  a simple, but identifiable
altar and he'd actually perform 'Mass' in there. Pretty
strange; stranger too that I'd 'attend', along with his
sister, once or twice. He had the entire Latin liturgy
down, some mini-sermon stuff, and even went as far as
pressed circles of some stupid Wonder-Bread middles
as the distributed host. Man, I announce to you now,
my brothers and sisters, it was weird! Go in Peace.

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