Monday, June 6, 2016


New York was, pretty obviously,
quite tangible and real. It doesn't take
a genius to understand a taxi clonking
you on a bicycle, or a piece of metal
falling from ten stories up above and
landing quite near you. There must be,
underway at any one time, thousands of
lawsuits  -  mostly won and with nice
settlements  -  against the city of Hew
York. For something falling, hurting
someone, some unsafe item, old and
neglected, doing harm to a person,
some form of bodily, or psychic, harm.
There are, at the least, a hundred
settlements a week, and a bevy of
attitudinal lawyers whose specialty
is representing such clients. It's a
situation of constant ripe pickings.
My time there brought me more than
a few instances of hearing or seeing
people underway with this. Believe
me, in NYC no one is ever really
unemployed. The smart ones just go
work for lawyers as hand-picked,
'I wanna get rich' plaintiffs. It's a
scam. The other thing I noticed, or
one other thing anyway, was how  -
besides the financial, advertising,
entertainment and other fashion-type
industries, New York City is, and
was in 1967 too, a Socialist paradise.
Millions of people work for the city
or the city bureaucracy, at some
level. Proud of it and way enriched
from it. Law Enforcement, as just
one category for an example, was
replete and loaded with pension-rich
people, double-dipping cops and
feeders, people walking away at age
55 with millions in retirement, and
laughing all the way to the banks
over their good fortune. There's an
entire town, in the Rockaways, at
the end of the Rockaway Beach
area,  -  of Ramones' song fame  -
called 'Breezy Point', made up
of nothing but endless rows of
retirement homes,  on the waterway,
with all the Cadillacs, boats,
motorcycles and yachts and pools,
you could dream of, and all is
owned by cops, retired NYC law
personnel. I've know two cops
who've retired out in this fashion,
and quite proudly. It's a truly
amazing NYC fact. There are,
I'm told also, probably more
guns and firearms of all sorts
here than in any other place of
NYC, as well as the fairest share
of beery, bold and boisterous,
and dangerous when drunk
or angered (or suicidal), macho
cop guys who never get over
the fact that they're, for the most
part, untouchable. Oh well, just
another story of the naked city.
Well, anyway, I consider all that as
Socialism. Making nothing, doing
nothing, supporting the State, and,
in turn, living off of, richly, and
for all time, that same State. At
the expense of others, however,
which then technically becomes a
breach of the Socialist code. So,
what to do? Shoot 'em dead?
That's called a proletariat
r-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n, and
not allowed here.
I guess the reason I mention
all of this is because it was
'Reality'. It was the tangible
day-to-day to which I'd attached
myself. Going into the 'big-city'
trap as a naif, as I did, one is
simply not really up to knowing
ahead of time all of the many
and varied ways that real, harsh
things await, and are out to get
you. If you don't know about it,
you don't know. Period. I had
been brought up through a series
of other environments, totally,
which  -  outside of some things
I'd read about  -  had not really
prepared me for any of this. I'd
arrived, remember, with a pocket
of change and the five dollar bill
that my sister's boyfriend had
given me on my last ride out,
as he drove me, to the Carteret,
turnpike bus-station. Abetting
and assisting an angry, fool
runaway, basically. Once I
arrived, I had to hit the ground
running, so to speak, and keep
it all going. Which is how all
those famous punk-derelicts
and beats, like Herbert Huncke,
and that bunch, did it in the
nineteen-fifties. Hit town over
and anon, well before me.
They'd head right over to the
'pokerino' arcades and ski-ball
palaces (there used to be
bunches of them), and hustle,
themselves and their bodies. I'd
remembered reading about
Huncke. He'd run away, from
his home in Chicago, at age
12, for the first time, with
'a beef against my parents',
to use his words. A hundred
miles out of town a guy gave
him ten dollars to blow him,
and he then knew what to do.
'Times Square. Every young
person ended up there, for that
was where the action was...
you could hustle from one end
of the street to the other. Horn
and Hardart Automat, a little
pot of baked beans with bacon,
for a nickel. Bickfords for
nickel coffee.' That was him,
I guess in the mid-fifties. It
wasn't me, and I was at
Tompkins Square, but the
time and prices are close.
See, that was reality. Cap 'R'.
On my flipside, in five years or
so, I'd be in a Pennsylvania wild
land that would be a complete
opposite of any of this  -  and
yet somehow equally as real, 
and maybe scarier. You could
die, just the same, but in all
different manners. I wasn't
aware of any of this, of course,
which is maybe one of life's
blessings to us, that we only do
the present, the one thing before
us, at a time. Otherwise, we'd be
swamped by trepidation, fear,
and expectation. Which we end
up being anyway. I guess perhaps
an awareness and a fear of death
takes over everything else as we
age. Don't know, maybe.
As I moved about New York, 
as I 'managed'  -  finding food, 
money, and, yes, stealing and 
grubbing too, I became another 
portion of myself, something 
latent, that had always been
there but which I'd never
manipulated before. The crafty
cheat within me. The one with
the angle to get by. One time I
took a quick job in a busy record
store along Eighth Street. I stole 
the guy blind on Saturdays  -  
new releases and stuff, I could 
just walk with and sell easy for
like 2 bucks on the sidewalk.
They'd be gone in three hours.
Cream; Disraeli Gears. Hendrix;
Electric Ladyland, or whatever 
it was called. Donovan had 
some faggy 2-record set titled
'Gift :From a Flower To a Garden'
meaning it was his little twerpy
song-florid crap gift (the flower)
to all the crazed, dumb hippies 
out there (the garden). What a 
bunch if shit. But a double album,
more money. There were others
too. Strawberry Alarm Clock,
'Incense and Peppermint' or 
some crap. I did this for maybe 
a month. and then just quit. I
didn't want the losses to start
showing up on his balance 
sheets at the end of the 
month. I was gone. Not 
that anyone would figure 
me, being right there around
Eighth Street and all. Most of
the other kids were suburban
hippie geeks from like Queens 
and stuff  -  they'd be way more
suspect. And they went home 
each night too. More likely to
steal, or maybe they too
were anyway.
Hippie days were weird 
days; anything went. St. 
Marks Place was like a 24-hour
slow-moving sea of weirdos, 
flowery bell-bottoms, incense 
sticks everywhere, freaky
glasses, rings, shoes and 
sandals and boots like from 
a clown show, bells on things, 
people smoking everything 
everywhere, kids zonked and 
zombified, passed out leaning 
against buildings, puking up 
10 cent pizza, spilling drinks. 
The greatest array of unfocused 
eyes and faces I'd ever seen.
Everybody was shit-skinny, no
fat people around at all. Bumping
into everything, falling as they 
walked. Half-naked girls managing
a belt-buckle and a necklace
probably larger than was their 
mother. And the coolest things
(my artist-eye at work here)
was all the faces  -  it was
amazing. Everyone back then
was still ethnic looking. Not like
now, or until recently anyway,
all blanded out and mixed. There
were faces with all the genetics 
of one-generation Hungarians 
and Poles, Jews and Germans.
All that stuff was still real obvious
and prevalent. Then it went away, 
all those Euro-country faces, as 
they all mixed and starting having 
their own kids. Generations diluting
down. It's kind of all starting again
now, with all the Mexicans and
South Asians and Asians and all.
Same stuff, but different.
A few times there were blackouts
and riots, angry people storming 
and burning up the places (and the
ghetto hovels) they lived in. Newark.
Harlem. Even the Village. Nowhere
was immune. Sometimes all you
heard was, 'Burn, baby, Burn!' as
the midnight fires raged.

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