Friday, March 11, 2016

7908. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt.189)

This entire junkyard thing has brought
me to somewhere else. It's a difficult
transformation, to range from dream
to dirt, but it happens. All of this Avenel
is gone from me now, as is most of the
rest of the world I once knew. Maybe
that's the pounding-in-the-face that aging
gives you, but I tend to think not. Apathy
is more that pounding  -  people give up,
grow dull, and stop caring. I had a friend,
abut 1969, Bill Konowalow, from Milltown.
He lived near the end of Kulthau Avenue,
and he told me  - I had to go there once to
see for myself  -  that at the end of his block,
where there was (still is, last I looked) an
empty, leftover, wooded lot, an Indian  -  the
native American kind  -  lived in  a teepee.
By himself, left alone, allowed somehow to
stay there in peace. It was true. It beat the
all-hell out of me what was up with that.
I didn't have a clue what this guy ate, how
he stayed warm (open fire?), or where he
did his personal hygiene business. It was
all just too stunning, and I was rendered,
I guess, speechless by what I saw. Bill is
long gone  -  I never know what happened
to him, and his mother, and his sister too.
The house Bill lived in is still there, but
I can't hardly recognize it when I see it
-  more like the dream version of this
entire scenario is all I remember. It's
so weird. But the entire area, too, of
the Dafchik junkyard and the Blair Road
swamps was exactly like this, and there
were Indian families there too, except they
had houses  -  small houses, yeah, but they
came with roofs. Which is better than that
teepee afforded. I guess. That too is now
dreamlike. When you think of all the
overlays of the story we call 'America',
and all the places and the hows by which
it was settled, you can sort of understand
the way it which the story has to be twisted
around in order to be understood. There was
an Indian guy, in 1854, 'Chief Seattle'. Yes,
the city is named after him. (Aren't we so
kind?) - He put it best : "How can you buy
or sell the sky? We do not own the freshness
of the air or the sparkle on the water. How
then can you buy them from us? Every part
of the Earth is sacred to my people, holy in
their memory and experience. We know the
white man does not understand our ways.
He's a stranger who comes in the night and
takes from the land whatever he needs. The
Earth is not his friend but his enemy, and
when he's conquered it he moves on. He
kidnaps the Earth from his children.  His
appetite with devour the Earth and leave
behind a desert. If the beasts were gone we
would die from a great loneliness of the
spirit, for whatever befalls the Earth, befalls
the children of the Earth." Well, he certainly
had that right. Yet, here we were, all of us
kids, in a pleasant place, maybe ten years
old, as a group, being presented with  -
first off  - 'stolen' goods; someone else's
lands, taken from them, long ago and by
whatever means. It little mattered,
because we were never told. Our fathers,
and our fathers' lawyers, and our mothers,
they all signed papers and agreements and
handed over money and the rest, in order
to claim their ownership, and take their
claim. It all had to understood, quietly and
clearly, yes. But what they gave to us was,
in essence, the leftover  -  silence and
ruination. Bad water that we were told
never to drink. Streams and rivulets running
gray and blue and dark brown. Not a sound
in the air  -  no hawks and the rest. A pretty
much silenced world, a mid-50's kingdom of
DDT and death. What was left, if any, of the
people we called 'Indians', we threw them a
bone, maybe allowed them a piece of the
shitty woods to live in. It was all a conspiracy
of silence. Nothing ever said, but it just
hung there.
Any claim to ownership of 'Goodness', no
matter how it was attempted to be taught in
the schools, couldn't be made  -  because there
was none. It was indefensible but no one cared
and so it never HAD to be defended, just was.
All those important swamplands and wetlands
and the vegetations and terrains all with them,
important and vital, people just ignored. Too
stupid to say and too stupid to realize, the 'lungs'
of where we lived, the aerators and the breathers
of our place and environment, just ignored. If
you took one look at any of those junkyards, like
Dafchik's, yeah, you'd understand what I mean.
Not only did we 'take' the land, but we then
despoiled it in  a most-compound fashion by
our overly-engineered use of the 'automobile'
to bring still further ruin. Puddles of oil and
waters with rainbow sheens. Rusted heaps of
discarded metal, piles of broken glass and
tires  -  right in with the trees and the plants.
Wordlessly engaged, all this junk was just
allowed because the people all around it
simply had empty minds, empty enough
anyway to only make their premise of
money-making have precedence. I never
knew exactly what it was that everyone was
after with all that  -   another car, a boat, a
vacation home, some distant travel? Why
could not just people attain a comfort level,
and remain in harmony with that? Pledging 
themselves to trees and grass instead of lucre?
Each time we kids slid down towards Blair
Road, in whatever manner we came at it. I
sensed the future staring me in the face : a 
life of drudgery attached to doing all this,
over and over  -  a life of shame and waste,
pillage and destruction. If people could just
call things for what they were, and then 
admit to what they were doing, it seemed 
to me then the world could become a better 
place. As it was, even your own pet dog could
be poisoned at your feet just by living.
Back to Bill : his sister was in training to become
an airline stewardess, for Eastern Airlines. She 
about my age, maybe a year younger, and Bill was
a few years older than me. He drove a pretty neat
1960 Chevy pick-up truck, floor-shift, three-speed,
real basic (like trucks used to be), painted primer
gray. We'd sometimes just sit in there and talk.
He smoked really cheesy, cheap cigars. Junk.
Smelly. DeNobili. Swisher Sweets. And then
one day he showed up with a pretty new Ford
Ranchero  -  which used to be like a Ford half-car/
half-truck. Pretty ugly, bestial looking. It was, I
guess maybe a '67. I forget. All he ever cared about
with that were the squeaks and rattles. Every little
sound the interior of the car made would drive
him half crazy. Eastern Airlines  -  getting back
on the land-destruction thing  -  had just erected
a headquarters in the lands that once were 
Woodbridge 'School-Lands'. Some donated
acreage that was supposedly dedicated to be
used only for further 'school-use.' That all
soon went by the boards, and all those 
vultures who were running 1960's Woodbridge 
managed to sell it all off, no matter the legalities, 
and take a bunch of money themselves, and run. 
It grew into what's known now as 'Metropark' -
a conglomeration of big, fat, corporate places
and a train depot and parking. Huge traffic 
problems, and the rest. No matter; all the crooks
ran with their money, the place was developed,
Eastern Airlines is long gone, and probably that
Indian, somewhere, is still crying.

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