107. FURIOUS MEDDLE
Just a couple of things that will
probably add up to any number of
things : I've just spent about 4 hours
re-reading, yes, yes, again ! 'Trout
Fishing In America', and this time,
now, fifty years from when I first
read it and probably my fourth
read of it, I find it infuriates me
to no end, drives me crazy, makes
me venomous, angry, and enraged.
Right now, today, this moment, it
seems not any longer to bear any
relationship to anything really
worthwhile. It's an author's game
kind of book - and because of
that slimy, cheap and annoying.
Four hours of the very cutest
runaround BS you can get.
Immaturity? Can writers do
that? Do immature writers
get contracts? Brautigan wrote
about 7 or 8 books, at least,
was considered an original,
a creep, a weirdo, and a loner.
Yeah. He had a daughter, and
she wrote about him. It's
probably not very nice stuff,
but I liked it nonetheless. I
like reading and learning how
those writers and artists I look
to or lived with, worked and
were. Philip Guston's daughter
wrote a great one : Her name
is Musa, I think now, something
like that. When I knew her she
was about 8 or 10. She was
always around with them, in
the back of their Rover 2000
car, driving back or up to the
family place they had in old
Woodstock, up there somewhere.
I remember a dog too. Musa's
probably 60 now. Wow, go figure
that! (Rover 2000 was a nice, posh,
British car, which a lot of the 'smart
set', back then used to own/drive).
Salinger, the Catcher In the Rye
guy, the best, one of my real
favorites. He had a daughter who
wrote about him, not too great,
and then another person I know,
Joyce Maynard, who was his
lover/wife, whatever, live in
domesticator from out of Yale
at about age 24, she wrote
about him. I love all that. A
bunch of people have written
about Kerouac. Burroughs.
Ginsberg. I love all that stuff.
Even all those stupid Dylan
books, all that overwrought
drivel about biblical shit and
all his secret references and
allusions. It's all crap; telling
more about the write of it than
the ostensible subject of it.
It's all really just adulation,
not intellectual work. Even
Sean Wilentz - the bookstore
guy I mentioned last chapter,
that's his son - a Princeton
history professor. He's good at
the history stuff, writes and talks
sensibly, has some good points.
His Dylan stuff though, big deal,
just too much claptrap. Just
over and over ass-kissing stuff.
No one ever really owns up
to anything, never calls out the
crap and asks about it or writes
about it. It's always the same
old high-points, and all done
with high reverence, like he was
Jesus again or something. Too
much for me. The guy's a rat,
Dylan, I mean; I don't know
about Wilentz. But I don't
care either. Those academic
dudes are a bum dime
a bum dozen.
Page 63, 'Shorty To Nelson Algren;'
Page 80, 'Trout Fishing On the Street
of Eternity;' Really, you ought to read
these, and then come over and tell me
what you think. Here's my dream (my
Surrealistic Pillow of my own), my
leftover hippie washcloth just soaked
and pilled with crud. It's 1968, we are
lovers once more, they haven't yet
paved the central path that leads
us out of here. Girls wore the most
simple, white panties, a big deal in
the life of a man was adjusting his
crotch to whatever comfortable
underpants he had, frogs were not
yet talking their kernals of wisdom
to men, and no cereal yet had been
developed to be named for Yoda. The
rocket ship that invented Mars had
not yet hit the launchpad, and the
center-fielder for the Amagansett
patriots was really named Adlai
Whens Stevenson. But. Nobody.
Knew. Or. Cared.
A quiet life takes very deliberative
action to make it so. Walking west
on Eight Street, I'd see workers, the
carpenter-guy types, in work clothes
and the kinds of loose pants that
have loops and pockets for all
those carpenter things that these
workmen keep busy by - levels
and tape measures, bars of chalk
that look like small soap, hammers;
the hammers would fit so nicely
right in the little loops which were
sewn into the pants, made that
way. Pockets filled with noisy
nails, cloth all spotted or torn by
extended use and spilled carpenter
stuff : coffee stains, cigarette burns.
They did a lot of their work in
silence, yes, but they sure talked
a lot too. It always seemed they
were working on something.
Right there, as it turned out,
they built, for Jimi Hendrix
(but then he died, and never
saw it finished really) a nice
studio place, for recording
and stuff, called 'Electric Lady
Studios'. It's still there; lots of
rock royalty and big-wigs still
use it for recording sessions.
Big deal commercial potential,
at all times. Maybe a lot of
these guys were working on that.
I don't know. So much changes,
things come and go, something
was always underway. That
was a crazy corner anyway,
famed and legendary too.
Sixth Ave. and Eighth Street.
Jefferson Market courthouse.
Women's House of Detention.
Every day you'd see all these
crazy whores and lesbians, on
the sidewalk, screaming
messages and talking back
and forth with inmate women
on the 10 or so floors in was -
windows open, with protective
jail-bars, yeah, but open air,
and all this screaming and
hollering was heir idea of
conversing. Actually getting
info back and forth. It was
funny. Long ago torn down,
it's now some highly-regarded
civic garden. Go figure. That
was back then - lumberjack
butch lesbians and all the rest
of those (my) Greenwich Village
types were still obscure and mostly
unseen - 'closeted' it's called now.
People used to come to gawk - it
was one of those 'oh you must see
this' destination jaunts that people
made. Now they call that a 'bucket
list' too. Isn't it funny how the
modern world, having lost all
else, having paid absolutely no
attention to anything at all,
blindly mapping its way across
a billion miles of its own pale
nothingness, now makes
designations for things to do -
like the whole damned world
is their one big class trip to get
tickled by. No gravitas, no
destiny at all. Looking back at
all this, looking ahead, whatever
it is, it just makes me want to say
to those sorts 'On my 'bucket list',
you asshole, is to be sure to get
to your funeral before I die.'