Tuesday, March 1, 2016

7874. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 179)

(pt. 179)
Kennedy was killed, President John, I mean,
on Nov. 22, 1963. I was away at the time,
seminary years, and I've related the story
of that, here, already. Pious stuff, ridiculously
and immediately made church and religion
connected, for no real reason at all. Turned
out the guy was a scuz. He got killed in an
open car, in a dramatic fashion, and it was
all custom-made for that 'dawning of a new
age' crap they always force feed us. Stupid
people like dramatic things, and this proved
to be all of that. They watch movies with the
same esteem they give to historical narratives
where something 'cool' or exciting happened,
even if they're often most-entirely wrong or
bone-headed. What was it then, six or seven
years later his brother, Robert, was killed in
an equally dramatic fashion after the night of
the California Primary win, in the kitchen of
some hotel. Down for the count and dead. I
remember my mother being distraught about
that too, in about the same fashion as the
President. I snapped at her, when I heard of
it, 'maybe that'll teach him to keep his mouth
shut.' My mother was aghast, and sort of so was
I, immediately. What the hell was I thinking? I
sensed wrongness at once. My statement made
no sense at all, I didn't know what I was talking
about, and it was as if I blurted that out, at the
distance, just to hurt my mother, or push at her
vulnerabilities, But, boy, instantly was I sorry;
knowing I couldn't take it back. And it's been
there ever since, for me, just hanging around in
the air, some real stupidity on my part. She's so
long gone, and I can never explain to her now
what being an asshole is really about. Sorry Ma.
I remember they had a funeral train, later, carrying,
his dead body somewhere. I guess to Massachusetts
or Washington, or someplace. I remember pictures
of people, black and white, lining the rail corridors
along which the somewhat slower than usual train
was running : it was almost eerie, like something
from Lincoln's era or something. Old, wizened
black people, with their hats off, over their hearts,
tearing up or saluting as the train went by. Whites,
veterans, guys back in their uniforms, housewives,
kids, police people, clubs and groups. There was a
silence too. The train just rolled along. And then,
at the eulogy in DC or somewhere, his last brother,
Edward, saying some memorable quote about 'others
ask why, my brother asked, 'why not?' Something like
that. It was a moment, for sure  -  a little weird and
outlandish, but a sort of bundling together of all of
American in like one last group snapshot before the
shit began hitting the fan and all really just fell apart.
I guess you had to be there.
The country I grew up in was losing identity, fast.
The little no-place town I grew up in, Avenel itself,
was losing all tact, just becoming as rude and
unforgiving as the rest. I'd come back from New
York City for a day, and be met with nothing but
smirks. All the wise-ass old guys inside Tom's
Barber Shop, there next to Murray and Martha's,
everyday suckers, workshop losers each, sitting
there lined up for their haircuts on an otherwise
glorious Saturday, staring into their personal
nothingnesses, would straighten up as I passed.
The catcalls would begin  -  all the usual asshole
shit  -  'get him in here, Tom, we'll clean him up!',
'Lordy, look at that, I don't know whether to kiss
it or beat it'. It was like being in the deep-darkness
of distant Alabama or something, and being black
besides, in a white neighborhood. I couldn't believe
it. Besides, I think all those guys were horny and
perverted anyway  -  not getting anything at home
from the agitated wives, facing middle age with a
void, running a thin line of homo-eroticism with
each other, probably doubting their own manhood,
not mine, and taking it out on me, evidently  -
based on that last, quoted comment. I'd sometimes
quite consciously walk by there with my girlfriend,
her tight-ass jeans and all, just to freak those wankers
out. God, I loved life.
I always loved the long, dark roadways of my
childhood  -  they were, unlike now, always
under lit, not very much active, lined here and
there with odd, strange houses, and, basically
as I walked along, mine. Kids never get to
'own' much  -  or people think not anyway  - 
but I owned these streets. It was pure and
silent. I could do 10 year old kid, or whatever
age, walkabouts knowing no one was about to
touch me or mess with my meander. There were
train station walls dark and without movement.
These same walls today are lit up like Hollywood,
with stupid murals of war and past crusades, the
Woodbridge High School muttered curse of civic
art-school students given free reign to do...nothing.
Walls in praise of war, with toady's crybaby warriors
close in tow. Man-up, my friends, your modern world
sucks. Everywhere was unkempt leftovers, here and
there a sad and jagged car, broken down cars left at
curbside; turned over wheelbarrows with holes where
the rain had turned into rust. The world used to be just
left alone, given over to its own processes. People
knew and accepted what they were  -  things tire,
they wear out, they age, they die. Not any more,
this dead-eye-dick-world of modernity demands
its newness and light everywhere. Too bad.
Darkness has been taken away from us, all. One
by one, any of the senses of religious liberty or of
the inquisitiveness of the natural mind, has been
taken from us. People have dulled themselves into
insensitivity, under the guise of being everywhere
with everything. The zombie ethos has taken over :
a slow, settled drool that covers possibility or wonder.
No one cares much, willing instead to take the dictates
and conclusions forced upon them by others. Even
 the jokes now are lame  -  not wishing to offend a
fellow moron, well past offending. it's too bad. The
old smirk of real living, the fuck-you, can-do attitude
that once kept things moving on, is gone. In order
to get some inkling of it now, anyway, I can only say
go visit the metal-recycling scrapyards over by Leesville.
Riverside, and Fortune, or whatever it is. Those guys can
show you a few things  -  even though they're tough and
mean and surly. Let alone not allowing photos. Those
Slavs can bang you around before dawn. They do things
the way I remember. Throwing instead of placing. Nothing
actually matters except the task at hand, no other flutter
or fluff need apply. That's kind of Avenel-in-your-face,
memory stuff. Like a bum joke about the teacher's
attributes, let's say, or some guffaw about the
fluffer-nutter just seen walking by. But if I began
cracks about that I'd be no better than any of those guys
at Tom's Barber Shop, right? It seems everything today
is sacrosanct and can't be joked with. Like the teacher
with large breasts in school : she says to the kids, 'now
children, I want you each to use the word 'fascinate' in
a sentence when I call on you. First kid - 'I went to the
zoo with my parents, it was fascinating.' She says, 'good
but that's 'fascinating', - wrong word. Next kid - 'I went to
work in the GM plant with my father. I was fascinated.'
Same deal, she says 'Good, but that's 'fascinated', not
'fascinate.' Third kid - 'My teacher got big breasts. Her
sweater got 10 buttons, but she can only fasten eight.'
See; that's punch-'em-out Avenel humor at work.
It's sometimes a wonder what went on. I see now that
I really had little guidance, nor did any of my friends,
that I knew of. Fathers mostly talked to fathers, or, if they
talked to kids, it was in organized activities  -  Boy Scouts,
Little League, etc. Everything had to be within the rigors
of organizational input. Nothing free-spirited, wild or
'free-to-roam-and -grow' anarchic. That was one of the
things, in four or five years time, that became the ruling
factor of my introduction to New York City. By its
contrast, it was stunning. First off, it was urban  -  big time 
-  and, of course, it 'worked'  -  or at least it worked at
the time. One I got there, I was off and running.
I'll tell you about it more, in time.


Martin Kloess said...

Thank you for sharing this enjoyable post

gary j. introne said...

Thanks, Martin. gar