Friday, May 13, 2016


Hidden codes, mystic numbers,
secret knowledge and sacred texts.
That was the kind of stuff that
used to get my attention. I often
wondered what the rural mailman
must have thought delivering certain
things to us  -  a coven of black-magic
pagans, initiates in some secret cult.
I was pretty sure there wasn't anyone
else around to whom he was delivering
weekly Village Voices and monthly
Artforum magazines. These were so
far out of kilter for this area. For
myself, I admit that for the longest
                                                    time is was difficult to shake all that
NYC stuff out of my system  -  in fact,
I just really didn't want to. This was
a way of keeping my feet wet. It went
along like that until, eventually, it all
fell apart. We were making constant
trips then to Ithaca, for that classy and
cosmopolitan Collegetown hilltop
with its bookstores, eateries and cafes.
It was like a different world, again,
anew, a seedy, rambling, 'other'
version, in  a way, of New York
City. It kept me alive. And then
to boot, we began a lot of driving
to  Binghamton, parking the car and
taking a weekend bus to NYC, for 75
bucks, round trip, and staying with
friends. Little cost. So, it was like
a split-life after a while  -  by the
late 70's, it was over. I could no
longer keep up the separation.
I'll probably get into a lot of that
dark and double-life stuff here
eventually, but for now I wish
to stay in Pennsylvania. The
stories are good enough to keep
me busy. The agent who first
showed me the house there was
a guy named Jim Jankowski. He
had a real estate office, in Bentley
Creek. I had contacted him by
mail, and received a Strout
Catalogue, which back then
was an amazing booklet of
land and home listings, by
state, nationwide. It was sort
of a collection-book for, and
Strout represented, last-ditch
homes, usually fairly seedy,
out of the way, run-down
conditions, and often with
strange stories that went
with them. You know how
real estate people usually are
all fake-fancy, trying to act
elite and representing 'only
the best,' and all that crap.
The agents who represented
for Strout were the equivalent
of Woolworth's workers,
apt to wear bad ties, shiny
and worn-out pants, and a
general all-around low
level representation. Again,
it was just low-level
Pennsylvania stuff, and
no one cared.  Jim gave me
an appointment, date and time,
and my father and I drove out
to check things out. Although
my father and Jim hit it off real
well right away, the first house
I had selected, the one for which
I'd come, was, upon my father's
seeing it, deemed, immediately,
not fit for sluggos, or bastards
either, and most certainly not for
a small, new family with a 6-month
old kid. I was bummed, and actually
couldn't believe how he'd stepped in
to stop my choice. Jim went along
with my father's wishes. In the end,
it didn't much matter and, as Jim
said, there were plenty more to
look at. At this point in time these
places, (1971) were essentially
broken-up old farms, with land
being parceled out and sold to
'farmers' who wanted the land
they'd always seen, owned by
someone else, near them  -  and
which land they now would buy
to add to their own acreage. Any
houses or anything else on the
property they make into a bundle
of 10 or 12 acres, as mine ended
up, and sell that off to anyone
wishing to live in it. That was,
anyway, what I eventually ended
up buying, for what was $17,900.
However, this first place I wanted,
was classic and, in my view, right.
If ever a place could embody sadness,
this was it. When I got there, really,
I found my soul to be immediately
at home  -  nothing I could explain,
nothing either of those two could
share. Like a bird, alit onto some
warm and fiery branch, yet one
that harms nothing while being
all-consuming, that's how this
place felt to me. But I had not
then the words to express it, or
forcibly push back. These two
didn't understand, and why should
they  -  here we were driving around
in a '68 Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser,
representing the modern-day. The
two of them talked real-world stuff,
the day's crises and prices, people
and places and causes. Jim was
dressed like some cheap supermarket
manager, nothing real at all, just all
bad choices, and my father was just,
well, my father, itching to deal, bargain,
'talk turkey, horse-trade' over some
deal or another, raring at the bit. I
sought none of that. My head was
spinning. I'll only try to describe the
place  -  and the funny thing is, I've
been back a few times, to try and
find what I lost then, and have never
been able to do so, and hardly can
even recollect where exactly this was.
It was in a dark woods, with a
winding-down road that could
hardly be called that  -  two tracks
for tires, perhaps, gave the idea,
but that wouldn't work except for
Summer. Mud or snow would take
up the rest of the year. The stones
and the rocks were wet, mossy,
and there was a heavy moisture
everywhere. First, you'd go
through a grove of black locust
trees; it was beautiful. Then, at
a clearing, was the home, with
large, white, cut stones all
around, of a local stonemason
and gravestone carver. He etched
by hand, hammer and chisel stuff.
No marble, too hard I guessed, he
only worked on white gravestone
stuff, whatever it is, the kind you
see on older graves. Borders and
designs, weeping trees, angels, and
the lettering and dates, of course.
He lived alone, was tall, and silent.
Then, after his place (which by the
way had a 4-wheel drive 'Dodge
Power Wagon, with a winch on
the rear, which he used to haul
stones in and out), there be a
bit more denseness, and then,
in a small, rocky clearing, the
place I sought  -  a glorifed shed,
maybe. Five rooms, a bathroom
and a flat porch area, and around
the rear another entrance and
some form of half-room/half
shelter, area. You have to also
picture that all of this, the
stonemason's place as well,
had behind it about 20 feet of
yard and then a sheer facade of
drippy rock  -  ancient layers of
solid-rock Earth, the stuff of the
planet itself. I don't know how
much daylight the place got, since
that rock wall probably sheltered
it totally at varied times of year.
Nor am I sure that the 'heating'
system presented to me here was
actually adequate for anything
worth a minute, let alone five
solid months of cold a year. I
admit the place was rough, but
it had charm. I was ready to
lunge at this place  -  pretty
much without thinking. It
was all romantic impulse
at this point, to just get
away, tunnel in, and hide.
So, whatever, I let them talk me
down, and we looked at five
or six other places  -  larger each,
and sunnier, and safer and drier
too. The prices were all about
the same  -  20 grand was a big
number. I had enough to get
going  -  a down payment
anyway (money from when
I got hit by that train, 13 or so
years previous). The rest came,
as I mentioned, through the local
Troy Bank and Jim's references
and connections. It was all insider
stuff and, as he said, every once
in a while they liked to take
interesting chances. A real
nice bunch of civic-minded
dudes. Once we found the
place I'd settled on, and which
anyway was the only place my
father really liked, we processed
some paperwork, and the deal
was set going.
I never looked back nor dwelt
on what had happened. It was
whatever it was, its own reality,
and I had a role anyway in the
protection of all this as a family
and as an individual, so I just set
to making the best of it all. There
was always a difference to me
between perception and reality
anyway, and I knew I was living
in another world and a realm
where little of this really mattered.
What I had to watch our for was
not getting ahead of myself and
bungling up the entire deal, the
situation, however it turned out,
was going to be one I'd have to
stay with and work through. If
you recall, just the other day I
wrote here about Destiny and
Fate. Destiny was the
pre-determined course of events
that was unalterable, and Fate was
a pre-determined course of events
that could be altered. That's all
from the ancient Sumerian language
and philosophy and religion:
NAM.TAR could be altered, 
literally the TAR meaning 'to
cut, break, disturb, change.' NAM
was unalterable, as Destiny, 
proclaimed and set into motion over
Mankind by Yahweh. So, I needed
to determine my own means of
attaining 'fate'. If it already was my
'Destiny' to end up somewhere, my
choice was in to accept or later.
This choice, this gravedigger's
ruthole, was, I thought, one way 
to have changed it. But it didn't 
work out. My Destiny was to be 
finely concentrated on the 
bright-light laser factor, but in
this manifestation, my Fate was
                                                       not to be in the moist, damp, dark. 
You'll notice that I talk big here,
like I actually understand, and 
understood then, the difference 
as I'd learned of it, between 
'Destiny' and 'Fate'. I never did 
get it, at all, and still, to this 
day, don't. I guess I'm just fated
to have a strange destiny, (or is it
destined to have a strange fate?)...

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