Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Behind the curve, ahead of
the curve, whatever it was,
I didn't even know if there
was a curve. To me it was
more like a time-warp. I was
flinging myself, voraciously
if not also vicariously, between
eras and locations. Time was
bent. An interim of six years
had me transformed. From
night owl in the city to just
an owl in the country. Who
knew what? Most people
get a friend or a crowd to
go through those years with.
I had no one, outside of a
new wife and a new kid.
Chump change or not, I
was on my way to the teller.
It was mid-January, 1971,
I think was the year, when I
first hit my new house  -
frozen solid, up and down,
I stayed there alone for the
first bit of time, until things
got settled and the rest of my
little family would be brought
in. I was unsure what even
worked or didn't work in that
house. But I learned right off
that, as far as heat went, I was
working on a blank page. It was
so cold it was too cold for the
cold to get cold. You get my
gist. In a week or two the
weather broke at least. It
went from 12 below at night
and maybe a steady 17 in
the day, to a much balmier
week or two of 35 degree
days, maybe even 40. I
quickly caught on; the locals
called it a 'January thaw.' They
said to enjoy it while it lasted,
because February and March
were even worse. So at least
this 'thaw' allowed me to see
things thawed out, to see what
leaked and what was sound.
To get outside some and see
what was around. I had to work
on, and quickly, a furnace
situation, yes, I knew that.
Plus, imperative and needed
quickly, was a real stove, a
new stove. Cooking only then
could be in order, and this new
arrival, wife-master of that
stove, would be needing that.
But, first, before the stove, I'd
need a kitchen floor to put it
rightly on. The one there at
that point was, basically some
old plywood, set into place
with big nails and quickly
warping and even peeling,
over the holes in the floor
it was covering up. Yes, (you
may ask), people thought I was
crazy. I went into town (Troy,
PA, about 7 miles off), and
priced and contracted for what
was needed. I had barely enough
money left for those major items,
and then I needed to beg for the
urgency and quick installation
and set-up time needed. The
stove-sale guy, looking askance
at me, raised his eyebrows a bit
and sort of hummed  -  wondering
right then, I'm sure to whom and
what he'd just been contracted to
deliver a stove. Though he did
claim to 'know' the house, and
the Parmenter guy I'd mentioned
as the house's previous owner.
The floor guys took some more
doing. It was not a 'regular' sales
point at all. I first had to convince
these guys I was serious about the
need and the deal to be made. They
kept a truck or two, and a shabby,
lewd, office, in some work-shed
area attached to an old barn. In
the middle of a place called
'Milan,' PA. But be careful, I was
told, they do NOT pronounce it out
there like the place in Italy, 'Mi-laaan.'
Not at all, and don't do it. 'Hereabouts
they're serious and they call it 'Mylan.'
And you best too, just to keep it right.'
These guys  'Scatter' Jensen, Alfred
TenBrock, and the 'boss, Ed Haye,
proceeded, without ringing my neck,
to explain to me how you can't just
'put down a floor' (you idiot). There
first needed to be an underfloor, an
inspection of joists and things beneath
all that, and what they called an
'underlayment'. One very odd and
weird word I'd certainly never seen
or heard before. Essentially what it
meant was extortion. I was to be
buying two floors, plus paying for
some creepy, foul-smelling,
black-toothed tobacco-chewing
guy to go underneath all this and
tell me if the 'joists' would hold it
all without themselves too needing
to be replaced. Oh glory be, praise
and hallelujah! I'd somehow won the
Pennsylvania lottery! The floor one
anyway, the one in which YOU pay
them to take your loot away.
I also had never considered
mud. The hard-pack of a dirt
road, the one that led to my
house, had been a solid-frozen
easy to traverse by car roadway.
Which quickly turned, in 40 degree
weather, to a mucky, thick and
sticky mud, one that ate cars. In
a few days, all that the road ended
up being was two tires tracks,
deeper and deeper down, some
12-15 inches in no time, so
deep that the rest of the car
dragged and bogged down
while the tires just spun. It
might as well have been ice,
but ice, once you get out of the
car, you can walk on. This ate
you, along with the car, up.
It would pull the shoes right
off your feet if you weren't
careful. It was a might rough
and surprising few weeks.
Often dark, which made it all
worse. I learned quickly, and
I learned good. A few times it
took a chain hook-up and a tractor
to pull me out, my car anyway.
I learned where to best park,
and how to walk the higher
ridgelines, over to the house.
Ridgelines that didn't so carry
the mud and stayed dryer.
People were generally morose
and settled, I found, about all
this. No one much talked of it
as hardship, just a part of the
climate. As in Hell, where, I'd
suppose, no one talks of the
flames and the heat because
they're all just there no matter.
Cows got stuck too. And
sometimes, I saw, just like
a car they too had to be hauled
out. Pretty much the same
process. It was 'dad-blurned
What made it all so different was
how it really WAS so different.
Who would have ever imagined
that any and all factors of urban
living would become completely
meaningless, after I'd so nicely
learned then. I had to start from
Well, I got my junk done. After
the floor and stove, which all
actually turned out OK as far as
house jobs go, I was forced to turn
to the furnace. Which, of course
proceeded to just price me right
 out of range. At which point, I
guess, some form of luck checked 
in. First off, out of a maddening 
concern about what exactly I had
gotten their daughter and new
grandkid involved in, the in-laws
began to insist on paying for the 
stove and the floor, or paying me 
back, in reality  - which is what it 
was. Gratefully accepted. And the
skeptical furnace company, and
installers, realizing I had just 
been 'credit' approved' by the 
Troy National Bank, approved 
anew for me to pay them through
installments of thirty-eight dollars
and three cents a month, for five 
years, the remaining balance on the
new furnace-system. Which was all
put in, installed and running fine 
within three days. More good fortune.
Please get cold out once again.
The oil company  -  from whom 
I bought fuel oil for this new 
furnace, in addition operated on 
account. No one really had tons 
of cash around, I guess, and a lot 
of this farmer business stuff just
ran on credit accounts, good faith,
and faithful attention to terms and
conditions. The bank had set me 
up, as I mentioned long back here, 
with an open series of 30 and 60 
day notes, as needed, to keep 
afloat. Sounds fairly hideous, 
but in fact it all worked out
well. I never broke a contract, 
and continually managed to pay 
all these people back. I managed. 
I worked.
A little testimony here is in order.
Most all of these people are dead 
now  -  parents, in-laws, bankers,
installers, representatives, and all 
that. I never really took any one of
them by the hand, head, or ankle,
for that matter, to thank them for
these good-faith maneuvers, on their
parts, to show faith and confidence 
in me. To keep me afloat, to keep
us going. I was from nowhere, 
really, and I was speaking and 
representing, I admit, things to
them that most probably made 
little sense, whatever they'd heard.
It never seemed to matter. They
processed me as any other. For
all of that, I send appreciation.
Thank the lord I didn't also need
a roof  - that would have been
a problem. And thank God, as
well, for making 'hiding out'
sometimes go so well.

Monday, May 30, 2016


Down by the waterwheel : standing
alone, the guy with a yellow dog, and
a springstream hammock of some other
form. We haven't yet fully developed 
the colors we yet do not know. But I 
can tell you this, for sure : When they
finally land, when they come back for
us again this time, it will be with new
and different colors we've not yet seen
nor devised, nor dreamed of either.
John of Patmos or whoever you are.
You can wait for all the trumpets in
the world, but the colors are what 
will make it real. You'll all at once 
both sense and feel. (You'll all at
once both sense and feel)...


Wherever it came from I was
looking at this book : Mountain Charles.
something about another horse, the Alps,
who knows. I know I know nothing.

8220. FALSETTO (eden)

This path somehow meanders,
through the garden wherein
I've carried your things a million
years on. Tarry no more. This 
bell is ringing again, but there is
no matter between us more 
pressing then heart. So I relax,
knowing full well that things 
will always be okay. Here
on this mountaintop, all
streams can only run 
downward, to finer
glens, and deeper


69. 'Hello, It's Me'
The Troy Hotel was a bestial
hell-hole, probably on par with
the bank right next door to it.
(But no one ever made the
comparison 'cept me. Next to the 
Troy Hotel, over one street at 
the curb, was the Ben Franklin
store. You have to think of,
perhaps Woolworth's, on a
smaller  scale by far, and
cheesier yet, too. A big deal
at Ben Franklin would be
like a row of toy cars,
hard rubber collectibles,
small rows of trinkets,
and a goldfish aisle.
Around these parts of
Pennsylvania, there were
plenty of Ben Franklin stores.
The men inside the Troy
Hotel were like dark, deep
vagrants who never leave.
A big draw there was the bar
-  where men sort of sat, and
just never left, or so it seemed.
If guns had been allowed, you
could be sure there'd be a pistol
on each guy's hip. It was, close
to certain, the welfare hotel
for Pride. Mostly kept dark,
or dim, there was a central
sitting room, like from an
old, or a 1930's movie.
Heavy fabrics on big chairs,
lots of things dark red or deep
shades of maroon and purple.
All things a little too large,
and dark. Much wood, big,
old walls with things hanging
-  pictures, pasted photos on
glass, a mirror or two,  but
really too high up to show
anything but room-views.
Good for avoiding surprise
and ambush perhaps. You
never knew.  Over to one
side was a reception desk
area, with a long shiny
wooden counter, a ticking
grandfather clock with some
moon-phase thing going on,
the slow, dull move of the
steady pendulum behind glass
keeping some sort of time to
a musical score of its own.
At the rear of the reception
and sign-in spot were maybe
30 mail cubicles, arrayed. It
could have been, once, there
really was a need for such and
so many. I think if there were
ever more than 7 long-termers
in there  -  who would actually
'need' a mail-service, that was
a lot. The big sign-in book.
The old tattered wooden sign
above everything, 'Men Only -
No Women Allowed'. Yes, that.
Anachronistic as all get out, it
must have meant something.
A large bathroom off to the side,
and a creepy, old elevator with a
gold arrow that swung past the
floor-numbers as it went along.
Pedestal ash-trays. A unused
shoe-shine stand. Just aside all
this, through a slight doorway,
was a bar. a few tables, coffee
urns, and the rudiments of a
serving kitchen area in only
the modest ways -  maybe
once the 'food' idea was a
going concern here, but
now, not much of anything,
really. No extra lights, no
televised anything, actually
no noise. The was probably
a sign somewhere reading
'Quiet!' with that exclamation
point in bold. Here all time
was lazy, as if non-existent
and gone. There was a big,
old wooden stairway going
up one side. The entire place
was, in my fact anyway,
almost comforting  - no one
chased you, out or in, and
no one bothered you, just
sitting there. A nice hideaway,
'Honey, I'll be at the Troy
Hotel.' I'd even seen a few
of those 'women' who were
not allowed, creeping down
that stairway, after they were
done, I guess. I always thought
there was, just as well, most
probably a back entrance and
exit too. Unseen. Alongside
the place, and shared with
the bank, was a parking lot,
usually with some 15 or so
cars in it. That's all I ever
saw, anyway -   never a 'big'
crowd, and always room for
more. The cars in that lot
were always funny. Here it
was, something like 1971-72,
and cars in that lot seemed
always to hark back still to
about 1958. It was pretty cool;
fuselages and fins, swoopy and
crazy two-toned cars in weirded
out color combinations you'd
never anymore see  -  reds and
blacks, light blues and creams.
I guess a 12 or 14 year old car,
is nothing to really go on about,
but in that era, those particular
12 or 14 years meant a real break
in style and taste. Things has
changed so greatly that the
leftover-old really, really
stood out. That's funny about
things, and it works for people
too, and language, styles of
talk, clothing, even ideas.
We all know a few people,
as it were, 'living out of their
time.' That was the Troy Hotel.
Wasn't really much drama
ever. Or none I ever saw.
People just sat around. The
hunters were the biggest deal  -
come about Oct/Nov, they'd
start the hunt seasons going,
filtering in, three, four, five or
more days at a time, and often
in clumps of five or six guys.
These weren't the organized
'hunt club' guys  -  they all had
club-buildings and places to
stay. These were loner guys,
banded together for a week
of no shaving, lots of booze,
and feeling-up, the usual
tall-tales of the hunt, and
then feeling up some more
whatever they'd get in there
with them to feel up. It was
all a ritual scene, a rite of
passage akin to an old native
American Indian sweat lodge.
You enter as a boy, and you
come out later as a warrior,
a man. Just add booze. I do
think, however, just as many 
upright and strong men came 
out of all this, actually, as did
the sleazes, scaliwags and bums.
I'd see them, sometimes staggering
along about something, other
times as they seemed to just sit,
transfixed and grizzled. To me,
never knowing what to say, I'd
have no intentions of going past
the visual - just seeing them was
enough for me : It was as if,
back home and young once
more, I was on Avenel Street,
east of the underpass, walking
out, an evening, past Mike's 
Subs on my way down to 
Rahway Ave.  to reach the 
library, and I'd pass the 
Roxbury, that quiet old
men's bar, and see one or
more regular neighborhood
guys, fathers of my friends
here and there, walking in
or out, and just wave hi.


They were always telling me it was
a little place I'd really like. Siberia.
Where they send dogs to die. Men
too, but now the ones who were sent
there are all dead and there's been
little re-supply. It little matters, really,
where they go. They never return,
and I knew neither would I.
I shook off the sense of hurt and anger,
and downed my vodka like a man. Or at
least a Russian man. Who says this shit's
made from potatoes? Same people who
say Stalin was grand? This crap belongs
in a cancer-ward piss-yard. Call
Solzhenitsyn on that one, or
find out for yourself.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


How is it said: 'Out of the frying
pan, into the fire,' or 'as different
as black and white'? Either one,
and probably a hundred others,
could work. That's how I felt.
Sainted and secure, yet foul and
insecure too. A regular 'damned
if you do, damned if you don't'
scenario. I'm sleeping like a pig
in this sweaty park, and around
me these elders are riding out
their sorrows in a plague of
memory and grief. Too much
for this lumpen proletariat type
to take. I was unprepared. I
walked about in my own little
daze, at first. There was a
bandshell, on the south side
of the park., most always with
a group of polymorphous
Spanish musicians in it,
playing  -  to no one but
themselves, but playing. It
was pretty good, and I really
liked the percussion stuff :
a guy on conga drums, bongos,
and a regular drum set too.
Guitars and things, no vocals.
Santana-like sounds, on and on.
I often just sat there to listen. I
had my own bongo drums,
brought from home. I had no
nerve about it, and anyway
they were down in the bottom
of this stupid carry bag I had
with me. Always something.
The landscape, I realized, was
all in my mind. In reality, I had
no clue where I was. The thing
about New York City is, it's a
place. All things are 'situated'
in a place-specific geography.
Natives know that. Those
who grew up and/or lived
know that. Outsiders either
just do not know that, or have
never had it explained to them.
I had to structure and piecemeal
things as I went along, essentially
working blind. The only place
history I'd ever gleaned was the
one I'd found myself, through
reading or cheap research. I had
to learn this reality from a start
point I'd never faced before. It
was composed of need, hunger,
anxiety, hygiene, and need again.
Little did I ever realize that, in
about a month, I'd have an
apartment of my own only a
block away.  In that respect, I
was quite fortunate. It wasn't
much of anything, but it was a
place, something to land in. Sixty
bucks a month. Five years later,
and a millions tales and stories
too, I'd be looking back at all
this from the perfect, pristine
open acreage of deep Pennsylvania.
It was all so crazy  -  had anyone
even tried to tell me then that
this was to occur, I'd have
laughed and called them out.
Pennsylvania and all its perfection
was a far cry from any of this. I
doubt that I could have explained
Tompkins Square Park and the people
who utilized it, to any of them. It
was a faraway, other world. Only
once or twice did anyone ever come
even close to asking me about my
previous life, before the farmland
days. It was never direct, and I
never had to face it. Not even
knowing what I would have said
or how it would have gone across.
The days when my father was around,
those were the times it all came closest
to blowing up, because my father
had this tendency to be loose-lipped,
about others, in this case, loose-lipped
about me. He'd start babbling about,
like, 'Well, when I saw Gary's apartment
in New York City I just about flipped...'
and then just think nothing of launching
into some cockamamie tale, usually
at least half wrong, of what he'd thought
he'd seen. I'd squirm, as if I saw a missile
coming in, but nothing ever really hit.
And then, a week later, when he was
gone, I'd get something like, 'Your Dad
was telling me you was once a hippie...'
Close call, but no contact.
All these cow people were funny  -  it's
amazing to think how lives can be lived
in complete dedication to a pack of sullen,
hard-headed animals needing tending to
twice a day seriously and the rest of the
day in stages. It was as if, once gotten into,
there wasn't any escape. They used to tell
me how, with all those constant demands of
animal and crop things, as farmers, every
day, they'd never gotten away, never gone
anywhere  -  travel, vacation, cruises,
whatever. If they did anything, now and
then a farmer would go around, collect
what others needed, motor vehicle and
taxes and fees and licenses stuff, mostly,
and make a trip down to Harrisburg (I
was never there), and hundred or so
miles south and west, to do the business
for everyone, right at the clerk's offices or
whatever documents department was
needed. I always thought that was a
pretty neat idea; and it was only very
occasionally, and without much trust
in the future, that someone would leave
the farm in the hands of their sons or kids
for some time  -  whether it was medical
need or business. I used to sit around and
try to figure, with advertising and all,
what kind of money could be made by
maybe running a 'farm-sitting' or a
'chore-sitting' agency, so farmers
could get away. I'd learned all the
stuff needed, and knew I could handle
it, but things like insurance (what if
something really did go wrong?),
and money for ads and things, stopped
me. But most importantly, the 'trust'
factor, I knew, would kill the idea.
Nowadays, city people do dog-sitting,
and walking 10 dogs at a time on
multi-leashes, doggie day-care, and
all that, but the one thing I'd never
achieve with these country folk was
the trust and confidence for them to
put all their stuff in the hands of an
outsider. Probably just as well.
They'd always see me as someone
new, just 'in' from somewhere, and
not worthy of any real trust. It's just
a certain odd clannishness and the
aspect of a closed society.
Anyway, I never mentioned any of 
that to any one; it was all just a 
passing idea. There was one funny,
New Jersey, sort of time I went 
through. I had always been told  -  
never knowing if it was true or not,
that at Rutgers Agriculture, now
known as Cook College, there was
a live cow whose right side had a
small, plexi window put in place,
implanted, as it were, successfully,
to allow a viewer to see the stomach
innards at work. Whatever. Students
and visitors, supposedly, could watch
the mastication/digestion process.
I guess it all does sound crazy, but
what did I know. You've heard of
'urban' legend. Well, I guess this
was 'cow' legend. But like a fool
I had enough stupidity to bring this
up once, in a barnful of farmer 
types. It took about two hours for 
the laughter, at my expense, to 
subside. Yeah, sure, these people 
would  be the first to put their farms 
and livestock in my hands for a week.