Sunday, May 22, 2016


In the deepest Winter, the fire
would burn through the crust of snow
right to the ground  -  leaving a big
brown-tinted area of burn. It always
amazed me how the snow didn't just
melt and turn to water enough to put
out the fire. But it worked. Tough stuff,
that packed flame. It's just the sort of
thing you'd not think of at first. And
another cool thing was, at all times
but mostly in Winter too, how the
white jet-trails above, high up in the
Winter sky were so high. In Avenel
and all, the proximity of everything to
NY and Newark and the airports, the
jets were always low enough to see
their wingtips, even windows and
lettering sometimes. Out here, they
ere already maybe 7 miles up on
their long incline towards the west.
Combined with the silence that
accompanied it, it was weird to
just see white trails in the sky
with a small, small object out
front leading it. Like the days
of old, watching Sputnik above
Inman Avenue. Other times I felt
as if I was the last man alive out
on some survivor's frozen tundra
somewhere way north. Fire leads
to so many thoughts; it pretty
All of this was completely new to
me. I'd always been used to garbage
trucks and garage pick-ups. Back around
1958 I even recalled the first attempts
at separating trash, for an early version
of recycling. It was Woodbridge, NJ, and
it entailed cans and bottles being kept
separate and being put out on the curb
on a complete other day of the week.
Nothing was supplied, and you were just
supposed to got to the hardware store
and but yourself another one of those
noisy,  shiny-silver garbage cans with
lids that used to be around. It was a
failure, and they gave it up in less than a
year. Back then there weren't yet any of
those mandated and enforced
governmental things. It was
an easier world, I guess.

Way out behind that schoolhouse I
took care of, on a dirt road, off to
the left and sort of down a waterway
gully, was the actual 'town dump' if
you'd call it that. It wasn't any town
to speak of, just a spot in a crummy
section of woods. It's where anyone
who wanted brought whatever they
wished, to dump off. Just throw
over the cliff, or whatever: washing
machines, TV's, car parts, wagons,
dressers, sinks, pretty much anything
(And, yeah, while we're on the subject,
one time there was a reeking, putrefying
dead calf in there).No matter; there was
always enough material in there to make
for interesting picking around. People
do throw out the darnedest things, and
these country people seemed often just
not to care  -  about the past or sentiment
or any of that stuff. There'd be neat, old
things  -  watches and pictures, old
license plates  -  parts of this and that
all going to hell. The biggest silence
in the world went on around that place.
No one ever said anything. I used to
think there must have been some great
secret underneath the entire place. Now,
going back, it's all gone, been filled
with dirt, I guess, and it's just part of
some newer house's side pasture slope.
Beats me.
Being a newcomer there, and always
outsider, there wasn't too much I could
get nosey about or start asking. At least,
such was my opinion, but maybe it went
the other way  -  being outsider and new
maybe that was the only time I should have
asked those questions : 'how'd this dump
idea get started? What about the waterway
here? What's underneath all this? What's
the story?' Things like that. I was always real
cautious about stuff. Current events too. I
most often just played really dumb. I didn't
want to engage anyone in any sort of a
conversation about war or Vietnam or
what I'd been doing, or service, politics,
any of that. 1972 and all that counter-culture
George McGovern and the Berrigan Brothers
and all that craziness, it just didn't exist.
Not to draw me in anyway. Working in
Warren's barn, I can remember (he always
had some asshole radio station playing,
claiming 'the music soothed the cows' -
as if 'Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a
good friend of mine...' was going to help),
the Attica uprising, night after night and
day after day, going on, and the Daniel
Ellsberg break in stuff, maybe the
Watergate burglaries and that Dog
Day Afternoon bank robbery sex-change
thing. Nothing made much sense, and
Warren and the others just listened, as
if numb, obviously to a world they
didn't understand and had no clue of.
They might as well have been Amish
horse and buggy people. One time I
was eating over there, the entire family
around for that, and on the TV or radio
or whatever (it was mid-afternoon) and
Nixon had just floated the dollar and
done away with fixed gold exchange
pricing and instituted wage and price
controls and devalued everything  - 
it went on and on and they listened
to everything, but I'm not sure they
understood anything at all  -  I know
I mostly didn't. I had my own views
on that stuff, but kept all my
anti-officialdom opinions to myself.
To them, on the other hand, whether
understanding it or not, it was all
official and it was all from Washington
DC, and it had to be right because
those people knew what they were
doing, that's why they were there. A
sort of complete confidence that
whoever was behind those curtains,
controlling the puppetry, had it right
and it was justified. I wouldn't know
what to say anyway, so I just stuffed
my mouth with mashed potatoes. Can't
for sure talk well then.

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