Monday, June 27, 2016


Another thing I noticed was
how people kept going back
to the well, time after time,
even after they knew the pail
had no bottom and wouldn't
hold water. It wouldn't matter,
and there was never that level
of introspection in them to be
considering any of all this. Even
with their apparent strict belief
in logic and sequence, it all
passed them by   -  the fact that
their packaged beliefs were all
untrue. I had to make sense of
that, on my own, in order to
continue. Over on St. Mark's
Place, around Eastertime one
year, I witnessed two different
events when the cap was
figuratively blown from
the top of my head. There
were two separate Sundays,
at this little Polish parish,
across the street right there
from the Polish National Home,
a sort of apartment building,
and next a few doors over from
what later became The Electric
Circus, of hippie, Andy Warhol,
and Velvet Underground fame,
where they had, in the 'spirit'
of season, two events which
startled me. People flocked
to them. You know how T. S.
Eliot wrote that he 'did not
know that death had undone
so many' about all those people
walking the bridge over the
Thames -  well, that's how
I felt. I was simply not aware
there were so many old-world,
naively honest people around
who held to such tenets. There
was nothing modern about this.
One Sunday it was 'The Blessing
of the Animals'. I wasn't sure
what it meant, but it appeared
to mean pets. There was a
streetload of people, standing
steady, babbling away in
whatever Slavic tongue they 
spoke, each with something:
dogs, cats, birds, hamsters,
snakes, lizards, even globes
of fish. In their own religious
way, the idea was for procession
with the animals through and
in the innards of the church,
for an eventual blessing by a
priest. The very next Sunday,
the same thing occurred, but
with baskets of food  -  to be
representing bounty, not just
that particular basket. I guess
for people used to hardship,
it held a real meaning. I was
just baffled. There was such
a pervasive, back-time, old
feel to all of this. From it, I
sensed the reality of all these
people - suffering, hunched,
laden down with a million
things. The same strenuous,
rigors, dictates and strictures
which ruled their beliefs,
ruled, as well, their lives. To
be honest, to me they just all
looked as equal to dead. Why
bother to go back again and
again just to repeat the same
It began becoming apparent to
me that many aspects of New
York City were just as barren,
or worse, than what I'd left in
Avenel. At least in Avenel, all
besides my fighting against it,
they were letting 'modernity'
take them in, and move them
along. The incidentals were
new, and things were changing
as much of that 'old' was pushed
aside and left with Mom and Dad
in other places, like Bayonne and
Newark, and Irvington. All the
places they'd left. Not here however;
these people were ancient in their
ways, medieval in their beliefs,
and fixed and certain of it. Small,
squat old women still in their
babushkas and hats. Stern men
yet saddled within by something
still horrid. Faith in God the Supreme
and Fiery, who would, perhaps,
if asked right, deign to stoop down
and bless this pitiful food and
these horrid creatures, lest we
forget his power and his glory
and He smite us anew, in some
other way. Boy, was I stuck, and
seeing it. I could walk over to
McSorley's  -  where the average
age of the men sitting around
was about 114, give or take  -
and imbibe their sorrowful blues
along with them; mug after mug
of a fastidious, home-brewed
McSorley's Ale, which you
had to buy two at a time - until
some knock-out power came
along to strike you, and then
knocked you down - and try
to learn their ways by hearing
their stories  -  pretty much just
like the bums and hobos I'd sit
with at the piers, with their
barrel fires. But these guys here,
at least they had ten bucks or
so with them. Bills as folded
and wrinkled as they themselves
sometimes were. Anything 'new'
about New York City did NOT
happen down here; this was
ancient throwback land. All
those hotmouths always going
on about New York and the
wonder of the city, the glamour,
excitement, the adventure,
the new, well they meant
about 50 blocks uptown. That
was all where magazine and TV
New York was, the Batman Gotham
high-society bullshit, which the
average Joe couldn't touch with
a 500 mile pole. Truman Capote
and Norman Mailer and all those
bravado-faggot-creepfest types.
You'd never get near it, and any
Holly Golighty Audrey Hepburn
cockamamie horseshit would
never cut it here. Like I said,
these people were dead.
Thing was, I mingled with
everyone; which was kind of
cool. I could ride the subway
uptown, looking like a slouch,
some out of touch artist bum,
and get up to the Fuller Building,
at 57th and Lex., wherever it was
- 5 solid floors, back then, of
class A art galleries, get off the
elevator, and mingle like the rich
among all the art schmoozers. Or,
a few blocks away, at another
corner, some building above
Bergdorf Goodman's, as I recall,
right by the Plaza Hotel, and
do the same thing there. Layers
of rich people, day-wives with
jewels and binoculars, swishing
around looking at an Arp for the
living room, or a Picasso for the
dining chamber, all that crap. No
one here was hurting about
anything, 'cept maybe a leak
in the yacht. And they weren't
even the really, really rich. Those
people would have agents out,
buying for them, or scanning the
art-auction houses and placing
enter bids and threshold bids
from the catalogues or in-person
viewings. Yeah, like some
bizarre funeral home. I always
fantasized about some filthy-rich
person ambling about, looking
for a schmuck artist to subsidize,
take on as a patron, send 7 grand
a month to just to make and produce
art. Never happened, and not even
one of those rich babes out for the
day ever asked me to go home with
them for an 'afternoon tea', like
the sleazy storybooks had it,
happening all the day, everyday,
every afternoon at 2pm. 'Horny
rich housewife boffs new and
upcoming artist on speculation
of future merit as an artist.'
Talk about misplaced faith.
Too bad.
Years later, what astounded me
was how motorcycle guys, Bikers,
when I got involved with them, a
lot of them fell for the very bizarre
practice of a yearly 'Bike Blessing.'
Like those people with their kittens 
and ducks on old Polish St. Marks.
Pretty much the me thing as those
old food and pets people; a remnant
of some medieval, quaint custom 
from the Vatican hierarchy in Rome. 
Selling indulgences, anyone? I
wonder, did the Teutonic Knights
have Father Jimeny Althazar bless
yearly their horses? Strange world.
I was free, or free enough, yes, and
determined to stay that way. Plus,
sort of, you can't step backwards
too easily when you cut loose the 
rope bridge over which you've just
crossed the hellish chasm.

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