Sunday, April 10, 2016


19. PRINCETON, pt. (A)
I never ever wore a suit, or
even a good shirt, while in
New York. Everything I did
was shabby by design. I didn't
care and didn't want to be seen
caring either. My rejection of
all things was pretty total.
Funny thing, jump ahead 40
years and in 2007 I'd be on the
Princeton train every day. Early
morning train, on the way down
surrounded by all sorts of last
night's late-night freaks getting
the 5 something train back  -
to their dead haunts in Trenton
or New Brunswick. These were
the night workers, the drunks,
the savages, the drug-goons and
alcoholics who serviced New
York overnight. They approached
their lives in some of the same
ways I did 40 years previous. I
had to guess I'd somehow grown
out of my situation  -  externally
I mean, not internally. (There, I
was the exact same me as ever)
-  we'd flipped things around a
little bit. Here, I was the 'normal'
one, they were the losers. Their
rejection of all things was pretty
total. Then I'd get to Princeton
and it would all flip back over
again  -  the monied crowd,
swarming the train platform,
going back to that other end,
where I'd left. In their 1200
dollar suits and coats, leather
briefcases, fine bags, shoes,
everything. The ladies in the
finest bob-fashion and bearing.
I'd get into the midst of them and
be the hobo once again. Sometimes
I'd wish I had big-time money,
just so I could change the world.
How strange is all that.Turnabout.
Fair play? Who can I
speak with, please?
I've always said I was the kiss
of death  -  meaning by that that
whenever I catch up to something,
or see it, or take note, right after
that, not so long, it's gone, or
underway with renovation or
removal. It never seems to fail,
whether it's a far-off house in the
countryside somewhere, a jaggedy
old falling-down barn, or a strip
of old, cranky city buildings. In
Princeton, once I got started there,
the very same things happened.
They had, still pleasant and
unremarked, in 2007 and up, a
really nice, underused, 1930's style
stone building as a simple but
rich old train station. It wasn't
always open, (only certain hours,
and never the right ones. It could be
12 degrees out, and it would be
closed. It would wonderful out,
and 70 degrees, and of course it
was open), but when it was, the
inside was  grand; a spacious
room with a nice, long, bench
seat wraparound, nicely heated,
grand restroom spaces, a ticket
counter. Of course, no longer
was there a ticket attendant or
any of that  -  the usual
ticket-stupidity machines had
replaced humanity some time
back. That auto-woman voice,
with the idiot-tinge to it that
should be strangled. In one 
section of her spiel, she would 
say something like 'if you are 
visually-impaired, press the 
RTO button.' There was none. 
She meant 'Audio', but the
dumb-ass machine had merely
constructed the word Audio 
out of R and T and O. There 
was no such construct for an 
Asshole button, I guess. That's 
the screwed-up but always accepted 
world we live in. And it's just
presented to us, we can do little
or nothing about it. You know why?
Because it's all done by the usual
cyclamatic reptilian control-thinking
alien bluebloods in our midst, 
running this devil's concoction 
we call our world. Yes, even 
Princeton, and even moreso. 
Politics, churches, schools,
government, and all the rest 
of the notebook and the full 
record-keeping process and
procedure fools. It's all tied
together, and called somehow
'the Fall of Man.' Oh Adam, 
where are you now?
No one ever seemed to care about
this brutal waste of a wonderful, old,
legacy train-station. The McCarter
Theater was right next door, and all
the usual blue-bloods, would come
and go to watch their silly, stupid
self-reinforcements of plays and
music, all the usual overly-righteous
stuff that makes up the weave and
fabric of dopeyness. Then the seasonal
push of the usual kids' crap  -  all those
ball-busting Nutcrackers and James
Taylor rebounds, the Joni Mitchells
and Grace Slicks of this world.  For
this was it all sacrificed. After some
local town opposition, as usual and
in spite of it all  -  I even had a letter
published in the massive harangues
over this, in the Princeton Puke or
Packet or Puck or whatever it is  -
they got their way no matter. Yes!
An 'Arts District!' was to be created
engulfing and destroying the train
station  -  to now become a restaurant.
For the blue-bloods to eat their roasted
disk and flank steaks while talking
about themselves to each other. I
guess there really is an 'art' to that
stuff, so let 'em have it. When the
Revolution comes, at least we'll
know where first to point the cannons.
Expansion here was the word of the
day, but only the 'proper' sort of
expansion  -  the controlled and
dictatorial kind. You see, what these
fools don't know, about anything, is
that 'Arts Districts' aren't planned.
It's a ludicrous concept to begin
with, only something a mansion-head
elitist would come up with. If they
come about at all, arts-districts are
slums, where artists and their little
playhouses and studios congregate
because of cheap rents and slum
conditions, to be left alone and
develop. They're rank and dirty, and
probably reek of infestation and some
form of crime and illegality too. It
should, of course, as a concept all
be shoved right up the ass of these
Princeton (or anywhere) fools. I was
often just on fire, brimming with anger,
yet I'd have to see these people, and
their attire and comings and goings;
the posters for performances, the lines
of university and town geeks swarming
their mental pillows to hear 'Julie Barret
with the Maonstif Symphony Orchestra'
perform 'Frontino's First Array' and the
38th Symphony of Brucklemana. Yep,
they'd line up for sure. It's all gone now,
been done away with; they even moved
the train. The new 'station' is not that at
all. It's a merchandise mart with a train
stop attached, and all the stupidest people
in the world still go there.
I may have imagined things, but if I did
my imaginings were sometimes way off.
People never really want to hear directly
what it is you are trying to tell them  -
they want it first ricochetd off their own
more comfortable concepts of self and
being. It makes everything easier that
way, and it's how we funnel our working
concept of the world into a usable form
for ourselves to walk through. In that
respect, each consciousness is different.
Not to the extent that your orange is my
banana and his apple, but to the broader,
more conceptual and generalized range
of 'evidentiary being.' My time in
Princeton always involved a lot of that,
because the people I dealt with there
had totally different tags from which
they dealt  -  the library and reference
books of their lives, with those tags
attached, were far different from mine.
They were mannered, and concerned
with things and the appearances of
things. That's OK, and in a fine-boned
environment like Princeton, it's all
acceptable as a way of life. Why even
bother with the place if you were not
going to be that? The early mornings
in Princeton, I mean 6am anyway,
getting off the 5:07 train from where
I took it, are where the illusion is broken
for you. There are buses from which
come toppling out, in clumps of ten
or twenty per bus, Hispanics and
Mexicans, from Trenton and New
Brunswick buses mostly. They talk
swiftly and busily, chattering and
grinning, as they walk along. These
are the infrastructure slaves, the behind-
the-scene workers who keep things
running for the elite who utilize their
labor  -  the underground people at
'Olive's,' and other restaurants, all
the kitchen and cleaning  people,
the ones who meet the trash-trucks
and unload the lettuce and tomato
crates and drag out the refuse bags.
It goes on everywhere. It's mostly
invisible, and the smug bastards
who partake of their labor would
probably never admit nor accept it,
publicly. They'd disclaim exploitation
and get all haughty over it, but, really,
(I say this quietly), who the fuck are
they kidding? They thrive on this.
Don't get me wrong, these 'guest'
workers are pretty useless and
annoying people, and I'm not 
exactly going to bat for them here 
either, but it's all a form of 
labor-slavery. So why not just 
say it, instead of smugly eating
your kale with the side order of 
McCarter in your snug, trampoline'd 
backyard? Oh those paper Marxists, 
always on!
When I was growing up, you were what
you were. The diner cook was the diner
cook  -  may have been Bobby's or Mary's
father, the kids right down the street, but
it was by choice and he was a regular guy.
Nothing hidden, no multi-layers of infraction
or fraud getting him in, no paperwork or
work-cards. It was a simpler world. You
see a sign in a window, 'Short-Order Cook
Wanted', and that was that. I never at first
even knew what that was, a small guy for
behind a low counter? Turned out it meant
like a diner cook, who could produce quickly,
a 'short' order, on short notice, done and out.
Diner fare -   the American, gloppy goo that
people ate. Back then, people were busy
doing other things. Now they're just 'busy'
showing how they're 'busy'  -  flouting rules
and conventions and flaunting their bizarre
arrays. Dumb-assed Lexus women out
shopping in the stuff they just bought
when last out shopping. it's all for others.
The world's become a real asshole,
and an asshole place too.
All those early morning train trips, for
those so many years. I think it may have
been the first train running again in the
mornings. I'm not sure. But it too was
mostly taking service workers, this time
back, from their night jobs in NYC.
And a daily number of transit workers
as well  -  the night shift guys in their
yellow vests who took care of trains and
tracks. Same crowd each day, everyone
familiar with each other, and with me
too, from seeing me each morning.
Some people sleeping  -  the majority
getting off in New Brunswick, or staying
on until Trenton. Each morning, for the
car I took, the same two conductors were
on; two women, maybe age 40, tops  -
nice girls, big, wise, smart-ass black girls,
always together. One jovial little crew.
Over time, it became the established
thing that they'd never take a ticket
from me (I rode for free, yes), in fact
one or the other of them would just
stroll right by my seat and give a
'good morning.'  I would  -  because I
felt funny over the whole deal  -  every
so often bring them a carton of donuts
or cupcakes or something. No big deal,
Entenmann's Outlet Store stuff. It was
always appreciated. They were both big
girls. One time a rail crew guy saw the
exchange, and said, in a prime black-talk
tongue - 'girl, datbe how yoube gettin'so 
fat!' The exclamation startled me, and 
I (almost) felt bad, but it 
all got laughed off.
The train trip was always steady and 
wond'rous, with something different 
nearly each day. There were clutches 
of people, sometimes the same for 
a while, and then someone would 
shift or change or move or get 
another job. Always OK for a while, 
then, like so much else, it got worn
out quickly. The conversation, when
by necessity pretty much, was always
OK. State workers, going to Trenton, 
always with the view that they weren't 
being paid enough, were overworked,
had lousy benefits. Crazy shit, every
time, and the complete opposite of 
reality. Yet, you couldn't talk to them,
they were certain of it. One woman
was an EPA functionary, and another
guy (her husband of convenience) was
in some engineering capacity. One guy, 
Howard, was a big-time banker, who 
went straight through each day, to
Philadelphia, where he had a big-time
job at P&C Bank Headquarters in
Center City. Then, the 2008 big
bank-crunch came. He was in trouble,
and he knew it. He had a house 
in Warren, and a wife, and 2 kids 
in college.  We'd talk funds and 
money; he'd try to explain the 
banking crash and the resultant 
fiasco, explaining what a 'tranche' 
was, etc. He eventually got canned, 
and, instead, took his money and 
and bought a transmission-shop 
franchise in Metuchen that had 
been for sale. It was really strange, 
completely different for him. 
Now, I've never really followed 
up on this, to see if he's still there,
or if the transmission business
worked out for him. There was
another woman there too, almost
a neighbor of mine; she took the
Philadelphia train each day as well.
Her job was way high up in the
governmental commission in 
Philadelphia which arranged for 
and did all the public sculptures 
you see around, in Plazas and 
fountains and stuff; any of that, 
wherever. Big time job, nice but
very nervous lady, not urban in 
any way. It was funny, she'd go 
to Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 
every day, to her Commission's 
office, and all she'd be doing 
was reading the Home News and
the Star Ledger  -  two stupid, local 
to Metuchen, NJ newspapers, neither 
of  them of any real import. Her 
husband, on the other hand, had 
a job in NYC as a Building Manager 
at One Penn Plaza. Another big-time 
job, another commute. I once asked 
why she just didn't move to Philadelphia  
-  and I got the obvious answer; 'split 
decision', halfway for both jobs, plus
the two kids in local Metuchen schools. 
Yes, I guess it made sense, but it 
sure seemed to be taxing them. 

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