23. JOHN NASH
In the time of about 2008-2012, I
would often ride the Dinky with John
Nash. It wasn't just me, don't get me
wrong, he was riding like anyone else.
A doddering old man, always outlandishly
dressed in some rather bizarre combining
of pattern, colors and fabrics. He looked
as if, often, he was no more than some silly
old man you'd see on a Boardwalk or
somewhere like that. He had a focus, but
not often was that focus clearly aligned,
apparently, with what was around him.
Man, did that ever seem familiar to me.
For some reason, everyone left him alone,
and he sometimes had a big Hispanic guy
alongside him as a retainer of sorts. I forget
his name, but we were noddingly friendly too.
It was through that Scottish guy Alan that I
actually was introduced to John, broke
through that 'wall' around him. It turned
out they were each near neighbors in the near
hamlet of Princeton Junction, at the other
terminus of the Dinky. John Nash - Nobel
Prize winner, famed for his 'Game Theory'
probability concepts, obscure mathematical
problems, and the rest, featured as the main
character in the film 'A Beautiful Mind', a
veteran of various psyching ailments,,
schizophrenia, CIA and Governmental
abuses, being slammed away in asylum,
etc. The University had supplied him, all
these years, an office and free rein to come
and go, I guess on whatever agenda of
conceptual and problem things he was
working on. You'd never know it - he looked
more like an old man out searching for the
next fireworks display. Once we were
introduced - I don't know how or why -
we clicked. there was a light, something
arc'd the two poles which were making that
light. John usually sat off some, away from
the others, and I'd be there sometimes too -
he'd been recently, at this time, to Bahrain or
Quatar , one of those places, giving a speech
and receiving an award, staying a while, and
at this time too the Beijing Olympics were
underway or had been. He'd tell me tales
of Bahrain, wherever, What it was like, the
Kingdom, the physicality, the people, their
habits. The Chinese Olympics had some
sort of stadium they'd built, referred to by
name as 'The Birdcage' - it was a sort of
strange-architecture, a woven look, but it
was a large stadium. He'd talk about that, as
he was fascinated by it. His voice was a
unique one too, a certain timbre, a tone
I could never place - wanting to ask a
million question, really questions about
really thing - I found myself unable to
get to the other side of that voice. He'd
wear those funny little fishing hats, the
kind you see in funny illustrations. They
never suited him either - nothing ever
did. Again, boy did that seem familiar.
He kind of just wandered about, real
soft, as a presence who wasn't really there
at all. Hard to explain. One time I watched,
incredible as it was, as he simply got up,
in Princeton Junction, walked all the way
to the far west end of the platform, jumped
down, and proceeded to walk towards home.
through the woods, towards his house. He
never drove, and his wife (whom I never met)
I was told did everything for him and took care
of things, real-world things, totally for him.
He also had a grown son, fairly estranged,
and estranged from the world too. Back
when there was a Burger King on Nassau
Street, this son used to buy the basic, coffee
and hamburger set-up and sit there for
hours haranguing people and, I've been
told, even getting verbally abusive to some.
He was eventually barred. Funnier than that.
the Boro of Princeton eventually forced the
Burger King to close and move out. Turns out
the townsfolk couldn't take the the smells and
exhaust-grease odors, and the daily mess out
front of the store each day. Of course, there
was more to it than that - in fact, the
community itself felt nothing but disdain for
those folk who'd even consider frequenting
a 'Burger King' location - like having a
condom kiosk in Vatican City. This goes
back, in a way to my first 'Princeton' chapter,
three back, about the unspoken and secret,
underground slave economy buttressing
Princeton, known as the 'Northernmost
outpost of the old South' in the trade.
'We'd like our help maybe out of sight,
unseen and unheard, I thank y'all'.'
I had a friend, Paul Montazzolli, a New
Yorker, dead now. He was totally intense,
crazed in anguish about many things. We'd
be walking Broadway, or anywhere, and
he'd see a 'Burger King' and go on one of
his rants - 'That's so totally American!
Only in America would the jerks have
to name something 'King'. Why wouldn't
it better be 'Burger Plebian', or 'Burger
Commoner'. But no, this is America! It
has to be Burger 'King!' Just a funny note.
Some time, recent, back, when I heard
the news about John Nash and his wife,
together, being killed on the NJ Turnpike
while being driven home from the airport,
in a NYC taxicab - and the way they
died - I was horrified and saddened.
In the impact, they'd been flung out
of the vehicle and died on the highway
itself. That was all I'd heard, and all I
wished to hear - no further gruesome
details please. It was horrible. Never
should it have occurred, to them or to
anyone, but what 'probability' factors
came into play on that, I wondered.
The world is a cruel, sad, maddening
place, overseen by tyrannical and often
unseen machinations. You wish for
your own call - God, commandment,
rule, church and law. There is none of
in that in the presence of these horrors.
I was never a fan too much of these
'Education Industry' factors, even all
during those years I was there. It had
all been dumbed down to nothing -
financial assistance and giveaways
to hundreds of the 'dispossessed',
educationally unsound, students
began to have its speckling effect
across the campus and the faculty
too. Princeton University, much like
the rest, turned out to be a big joke.
We'd get people like Cornell West
or even 'Poetry Great Paul Muldoon',
who turned out to be, basically,
media-acquired and media-accented
academia fools. Chronic insiders.
Goons of no import. Riding the
crest like surfers of success. Both
were undermined by undermining.
Cornell West would stroll along town
in his black coats and scarves, very
Pope-like in his approach to greeting
and conversing. Every hello was an
audience. It was pretty pathetic. Paul
Muldoon (rhymes with goon) was an
erstwhile rock and roller, with his own
silly four-piece set, now that he'd
'learned' to play bass guitar, buried
somewhere in the mix. Word was he
wasn't very good but wanted to be.
The opening-night soiree of the
bookstore had his little musical
group as the entertainment. They
changed names often enough, so I
can't recall. Maybe 'Roadside Shrines',
or 'Streetside Angels', or perhaps it
was just 'Racket'. It was all media
stuff anyway - in line with popularity,
fame and fortune. All the stuff of
a real 'education' these days - when
every little gold-water teacher's college
soon enough buys it way into being called
a 'University' and God be damned.
Button-nosed insincerity. Bad-assed
intentions. Nasty unions and meetings
and joinings. All together now. I could
out-write Paul Muldoon, and I could
out-think Dr. Cornell West tomorrow
morning and anytime.
Compared to those two, John Nash was
a Godly, sincere, and serious, presence,