Tuesday, July 26, 2016


International provenance, the
sanctioned idea that you've
'been' somewhere  -  all of
that held some heavy stead
in Princeton. That cute tinge
of another accent, the travel
vouchers of a decal'd forehead,
the traveled jadedness of
knowing 'how,' things work
there, or there, drawing beer
in Belgium, pouring your
cream in Rheims.
I used to love just listening
to the stories and takes I'd
be told. I'd look on, in some
amazement, to see how
people would return from
some far off vestige of
empire or place, and
come back unchanged,
exactly the same as
when they'd left. It
always seemed to me
that a form of travel
so deep and dense
would truly have to
'change' someone. I
know it would me,
and I'd be glad of it.
In fact, if I didn't
somehow change
I'd be upset. It's odd
how people can know
all about a 'there', but
know nothing about
their own 'here,' and
not really even care.
By contrast, in New York,
along the lower east side
were all those old people
who wished never to see
the 'old' country again :
bucket-loads of pain and
memory attached, stories
of tragedy and hurt. The
little, unending, film in
their closed yes was of
troubles and sadness. For
other people, going there
now had become 'holiday' -
that's a word you would
use in showing that you
were a tad 'UN-Americanized
(where silly people took
'vacations') and had
experienced the personal
rank and glamour of
'Holiday' in Europe
Mostly, what I have found,
is you can't be tendentiously
over-protective or precise or
limiting in what you do : life
has to become a product for
one's own self and being,
and that often just takes
some daring and the rest be
damned. Now, me talking
like this is a little crazy,
because that's never been
my style at all. That's more
for the home-made jewelry
crowd, the frame shops and
clothing stores and trinket
people with storefronts they
open on a dare. But you can't
go by me, because I'm always
in a huddle of my own, with
no really 'productive' output of
the sort that would be valuable
or meaningful to others. A lot
of the come and go stuff in
Princeton  -  Nassau, Chambers,
Witherspoon Streets and such  -
that was more their style,
opening a store because
whatever you sold was
also your 'hobby.' That's the
worse thing in the world to
do. It ruins your 'hobby' for
you, making it mercantile and
saleable, and it also isn't much
of a reason to run a business.
Everybody's got a favorite
something, but so what. The
next thing you know, to stay
afloat and make twenty dollars,
you're renting a fifty-dollar table
spot at some shitty flea-market
to sell your junk. I know, because
I did it with motorcycles and
motorcycle stuff.
There was actually a guy there
I got to know, with a frame shop.
It was the craziest place, and had
been there for years, and it showed  -
stuff everywhere, looked like a 
heaped  junk-shop, wood, 
frames, papers, books, everything
all a'jumble and cluttering up this 
front window he kept. I had
sold one or two paintings and
went to him in order to get
really professional framing.
It turned out to be expensive,
yes, and out-of-pocket, but they
looked really nice. Over that 
8-week period, I'd gotten to 
know him. He never produced 
when he said he would, his 
two-weeks would always 
become three, then four,
without any real explanation
But I never minded, mainly
because he was a cool guy 
and I enjoyed just giving
him my half-hour of BS right
back. We had a good rapport,
right off. He was a little, 
chubby guy, only a few 
years older then me, still
spry and he liked staying busy.
It seemed like he had tons of
work, a nice backlog, and good
clientele  -  of whom I'd also
see examples -  people coming
in with projects and things.
The way he explained it to 
me, and the business proposition
he offered, was that he was an
interior decorator, interiors only,
for wealthy Princeton people. 
He'd design and do their rooms,
over. Redecorated, from plans 
he'd submit. Big money. He 
told me I was a fool  -  'what 
are you selling this stuff for 
250 dollars for? This is
Princeton, that's an insult.
People won't buy unless it's
8 or 9 hundred. That's what
they want to pay before they
feel something's worthwhile.
If you work with me, when I 
design rooms  -  can you  
make a steady supply of this 
stuff?  -  I can build two or
three of your painting right into
the design and charge it in.
They'll love it and I can give
you a nice cut.' Anyway, that 
was the plan. I'd given a 
tentative, 'OK. let's do it,'
That was about 2008 or 9.
Then he started hemming 
and hawing, the 'economy's 
gone south, everybody's
pulling in, nobody's buying',
Etc. That was the end of that
deal I'd always see him after
that, but just talk and hello,
how are you. No big payday.
He was the Euro-type too,
who'd come back with all
these grand realizations and
perfect dreams. Such sand
is always running through 
my fingers.

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