Sunday, April 24, 2016


One thing about New Jersey
that jumps right out : people
are totally passive. It's no wonder
the environment and surroundings
are butchered and have been
allowed to wither. No one ever
seems to care about anything. Even
the most simple procedures are
giveaways  -  at a red light, say,
that turns green, and the first
car or two aren't moving,
because the drivers are not
paying attention, looking down
at phones, or whatever. I swear
to think that if they sat there the
entire light, no one would say a
thing. Jeez, at least honk. Like a
passive lamb to some slaughter, many
 NJ people apparently take no steps to
proclaim themselves, their sovereign
beings, their presences. It's THAT
engrained, all this meaninglessness
and dead personality stuff. No one
ever gets riled. It's pretty pathetic.
And sad, and  -  just as much, as I
said  -  indicative of the state of
affairs they've allowed themselves
to live with  -  politics, society,
schools. As I pass around here,
I refer to it as APS  -  'Avenel
People Syndrome.' Like walking
around in ill-fitting clothing,
weirdly color-combined, pants
that appear to be pajama bottoms
all day long, a K-Mart step up
from sweat pants, I guess. In
such a red-light situation, I have
the notion to get out of my car,
go to that car's window on the
driver's side, rip the person's
face off, leave with an ear or two,
for fun. Why put up with unneeded
bother? I thought it was 'give 'em Hell
from Avenel', not 'Don't wanna'
move, in Avenel, that's swell; the
light's turned green but, oh well.'
Damn, I love crap poetry.
I lived here a long time. Then I
didn't. Thomas Wolfe said 'you
can't go home again', and yeah,
he was wrong, but he was right
too  -  mainly because wherever
you left from, when you try to
return, it will no longer be there.
It's a pretty certain fact, because
no one will ever lift a finger to
stop any alteration. Everything
eventually gets bullshit-translated
into something then considered
'good'. All that stuff I hate. I hate
'Good' when it becomes a cause  -
'for the kids', 'to help those less
fortunate', 'in times of need'. Blah,
blah and you ain't foolin' me none.
Tell it to someone else. There's
absolutely nothing worse than
when someone is posting the ideas
by which to judge others in terms
of their own (the poster's) innate
high qualities and intentions  -
because it's always false, and
there's a cashbox somewhere
with an unlocked or an open
lid. You can bet your bloomers,
sweetheart, and I'll be the one
to take 'em down for you. (I
think I meant the bloomers,
not the person posting, but now
I already forget). So, anyway,
that's how I get when I see jerks
and unattentive people getting
away with it all and no one
saying a thing back. Passive
and useless people abound.
When my aunt and uncle lived up
in West Milford, NJ, way up in
the hillbilly hills of NW Jersey,
at a place called Genader Lake,
which was maybe a pond really, I
forget, there was, next to their house
a big, deep hillside of wooded acreage
I'd get lost in there for hours, I mean
the entire visiting day. There were
old cars, hulks of scrap, trees and
heavy undergrowth everywhere,
little animals and streams and
rivulets. The arched treetops
were my altar's Heavens right
there, and if I never re-entered
the realm of the ordinary and
the miserable again, I wouldn't
have cared a whit. I can
remember still  -  in that deep,
wooded silence, away from
most everything  -  walking
along and coming upon old
cabins and lean to's  -  I guess
from old hermits or campsites
or people who had been living
in the woods there once. Used to
be you could do that stuff; hide out;
Depression people, 1930's and
1920's sorts. When an older way
of life still had meaning. Old, craggy
boards and dead doorways, soup cans
and soup labels, peeling and rusted,
blown our or bent and mis-shapen
in old shelves and counters. On the 
little windows, there'wouldn't be 
curtains; instead they just used to
nail up cloth, like old shirts or 
dish-towels, and remnants of these 
old cloth pieces would still be seen,
tacked on and blowing, or just hanging,
like a rag, from the inside frames. In the
weeds, dead and forgotten, old rusting
hulks of squared-off cars and trucks.
Mobility stopped dead in it psychic
tracks and not a trace, not even a
grave, not even a left behind towel,
or the waistband of some old pants
or anything. It was absence, nothing
more; negative space only, where
things once were, the old 'perhaps'
of the village of Possibility, which
had long ago closed up shop. All
I smelled was doom and death, loss
and destruction. But it was the
happiest smell I've ever smelled too.
The ghost was the Mayor, and
the Mayor was a ghost.
I found, then, in walking along, that
everywhere I'd come across a dead
tree  - ten or fifteen year old saplings
that had died, but remained in place,
just like trees, but dry and lightened,
that with a certain, determined and
steady kind of push, they'd slowly
be dislodged from the rich, loamy,
dark soil and, with a certain sort of
quite audible root or tap-root 'snap'
the entire tree would come tumbling
down, keeling over, as it were.
Another thing I found and did, was
to take the thin trunk in both hands,
on these dead trees, and with a
whip-sawing motion vigorously
go back and forth so that, sometimes,
in the bending and movement of the
tree, the whipping motion would
snap off the higher top part of the
tree, which then would come
tumbling down. And of which I,
of course, had to be sure I remained
clear of. Such were the exploits
of one, lone 1959 ten-year old boy
in the woods. I don't know if such
is possible today, or if it would even
be desired. You can't go home gain,
because it ain't no longer there!
Out behind that house, in some further
high woods connected by a thin dirt
roadway, was another, old house  - 
still functioning, made of round
stones, large, arched, windows and
views, lots of space and well kept,
though locked and apparently
unused. I can still picture it,
perfectly, and, in fact, as recently
as ten or twelve years ago it was
still there, in the same condition. A
nearby cemetery has by now grown
quite closer to it on the one side, but
the foliage is all still there and it's
well hid  -  if you weren't aware of
it being there, even from the cemetery
grounds, you'd miss it. I asked my
aunt about it, years back  -  she was
just as mysterious over it. She said
it was owned by a Russian couple,
who very seldom used it and were
very seldom there, and when they
were they were quiet, stealthy and
secretive. Of course, in my mind
all I could think of were, in that
time and era, were cold war spies,
secretive documents and handoffs,
relays, Rosenberg stuff for sure. The
Soviets, and all those Reds! In
retrospect now, I can still see how
it appeared in my imaginings, even
though, it's really more Tolstoyan
than Mikoyan (a Soviet Foreign
Minister in the 1960's government).
All these things are still with me,
like the tag-ends of memory that a
body can't shake. Everyone's got their
on version of that which pulls their
memory strings, tolls them old bells
('Ask not for whom the bells tolls, it
tolls for thee')  -  Marcel Proust had
his madeleines, and Jan Sheperd had
his boyhood home and friends. We've
all got something; the trick is in finding
them and ferreting them out from the
darker mass of black that we've
allowed to grow up around them  - 
but, at the same time, the trick is in
knowing how and to what to connect
them, so they don't just become a simple
and dumb 'nostalgia', a boring re-telling
of something. We've all got something,
and sameness kills. It's like being stuck
in a room with someone who insists on
re-telling to you, in eager detail, a dream:
Nothing worse, nothing more slovenly,
and nothing more boring, than that.

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