Friday, August 5, 2016


Electric Circus. Electric
Circus, that's all you
heard. Sometimes I
just got tired of it  -
exploding lights,
Joshua Light Shows,
or whatever that was
called, I don't even
remember  -  waxy
exploding bubbles and
spaced out kids. So
what else was new? Some
kids from Sag Harbor, each
a runaway, tasting NYC
for the first time only
because he or she had
heard of it. Well, yeah,
I guess that was an
adventure. That sort of
stuff happened, in '67.
I'd go in there, The Electric
Circus, sometimes even
with a pass, and never
know what was going on.
Some other days, I'd get
ten bucks to lug equipment
or cabinets and things around.
Some part of it was as if
the inmates had taken
over the asylum, for
sure. There was even
a stage play about that
then   -  the Inmates of
Charenton, or something.
Nothing to be done about it,
culture had turned its own
corner, woven its own fabric,
and this is what you get:
The Velvet Underground on
scream, Nico going on, and
that really subdued girl they
had on drums. Maureen
Tucker, I thought it was  -
like Mo Tucker if you knew
her well. Why put a girl on
drums? Couldn't figure that.
I tried to remain both
peaceful and calm. In all
ways. There was no sense
getting caught up in any
of this. I didn't drink,
most others did. I wasn't
using drugs, many others
were. All I did was my
own work, tending
to it and trying to
expand it. One thing
I disliked was  the
language of the drug
people. There's a thing
about that, and it was the
same later, with rock 'n roll
people, that they just
assumed everyone else was
just like them, or in on the
same stuff thy were doing.
A totally dumb  -  and very
annoying  -  assumption.
One you should learn right
off : 'shut up, you're really
annoying.' They would just
stagger around, totally blitzed
and zoned out, haggard in face
and body, lost, skinny souls
completely vapid and looking
somehow for a way back in.
To what, I never knew.
In later years, out of NYC,
I spent some time teaching
a nighttime writing course
at a little place called Union
County Community College
800 hundred bucks a semester,
two nights a week, for about
6 weeks each. They let me put
together, and describe, my
own course. I called it 'The
Writer's Eye'. I did it more
for myself than anything, but
ended up enjoying it, the give
and take, and the sort of
plodding regularity of the
whole thing. I found up I
kind of liked the idea of
'teaching,' or whatever that
imparting of information
would be called. I wasn't
really 'teaching' anything,
just more explaining
myself and how I
viewed everything. After
that, funny thing (this was
about 1982, to start  -  they
had come to me, I never
chased such a second job
down, from a poetry reading
person I'd 'impressed')  -
anyway, I began to think
in terms of what I'd like to
'teach'. It wasn't about the
mechanics of writing or any
of that  -  it was called 'The
Writer's Eye', and that's
all it was meant to impart.
A type of 'How To See'
course. Most people miss
everything, let alone take
anything away to write
about from any particular
situation. 'John had a farm'
would about sum it up for
them. Instead of 'In the long
run of things, beneath the
open sky and with two old
trucks both sagging in the
wood-plank weeds near the
dairy shed, with the wall
calendar that had, for some
reason, stopped its life at
'July, '71', John realized
he never did have this farm,
it had always had him.' Stuff
like that, wild and wicked.
I'd wanted, among any 
number of others, to teach 
a course built around a 
couple of books I would 
have loved to present
to people. 'Ringolevio: a
Life Lived For Keeps';
by Emmet Grogan; 'Sleeping
Where I Fall', by Peter Coyote,
'The Basketball Diaries', by
Jim Carroll, 'Catcher In the
Rye', by J. D. Salinger, 'Huck
Finn', by Mark Twain, with 
'American Pastoral', by Philip
Roth, also thrown in. That would
have been a good group of
books  -  about how the writers
each and with their presented
character(s), see things and
put things. This singular 
grouping of medium books
could have very nicely pulled
a lot of references together
for me  -  times and places, 
and some events, quite 
colloquial to my being. I
could have encapsulated a 
lot of Americana in those
five or six books. Then
Frank P. Dee retired and
moved to Florida. All 
I'd ever gotten to see was
the framed photograph or
two he kept on his desk, of
his boat and its surroundings
in Florida. I'd look at those 
photos, and they would mean 
nothing to me. He was proud of 
it, and all that came with it.
As I said, he retired, and 
then he went down there,
got himself set up, and died.
Poor guy. Heart attack or 
something got him. That was
the end of it all for me; no
one else had interest in my 
plans. Frank and I had gone
over my ideas, planned out
one or two situations for me
to be upcoming, these sorts
of ideas for courses I had.
End of that story.
That all had left out any
factor of the visual, or of
'Art'. The idea of the art 
was all still with me, but 
first I felt I had to show 
people, through writing, 
how to see. Or learn to see. 
Or even care to see. Which
often meant, first, to learn
to read  -  not just the 
words, but what to notice 
while reading, what to see, 
what to realize. Nothing is 
in there for no reason  -  or 
flip that - everything is in 
there for a reason. Everything 
has been placed there by the 
writer. Take it up, then, for
the writer, try to see what 
he or she was doing with 
that inclusion. Just like 
Philosophy 101 : 'Why Is
That There?' 
My life has always
been fairly magical like 
that, multi-faceted, with 
each face of that jewel 
throwing back to me a 
different and a vital 
reflection. I've always 
been able to take all of
them up  -  whether by 
writing, painting, drawing, 
or, even, music. I've just
always let it rip, and been
able to just let this carousel 
go 'round and 'round,
and keep on going too.

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