Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Have deliberately gone awry.
Polish home at the basin bottom;
men in pork-pie hats, holding hands,
blessing hams. We are drinking this
gold liquid very late on a Saturday
night. The kitchens are still filled with
food, and all the people in this building
yet mill around. Feast of this or that.
St. Stephen, or Sylvester, or Stanislaus.
One of those inveterate foreigners who
another world go 'round. They bless the
food and then the booze and then the
klieg lights and then the cars outside and
then the clothing that people are wearing
and then intentions and hidden meanings,
and then mistakes in case of do-overs and
then the make-up and make-up, both kinds,
and the weddings and the divorces and the faint
explanations at the end of a stick and the children
to come and the mantelpiece relics from Sevastopol
and things Crimean and things Polish or not and
those twin brothers who died apart when they were
ruling that fair land and the caged birds and the flounder
fish and the eels and the waterways too. Everything,
everything including things that cannot ping.


(part 2 - a thousand ghosts)
So, anyway, I'd go from
Lincoln to Depression  - to
towers filled with lame and
infirm and old and sorrowful.
Families, just then beginning,
Spanish and black too, with
like 5 kids already, each. Old
people dying off, post-war,
sad Jews, and other East
European types, still seeing
fire and bullets in their eyes,
never somehow unlearning
that war. It was horrible stuff,
palpable, you could feel it in
the air as you walked. They
were all somehow lost -
these interior streets and
paths were curved and
smoothed (they seem to
have left off harsh angles
and corners as much as
they could  -  probably
an architectural trick to
lessen the dull monotony
of place). I never knew
or saw anything or
anyone really 'good'
by the usual worldly
standards, come out of
these projects. Don't get
me wrong, probably
there were some  -  you
read biographies of
people and such, and
someday someone will
pop up saying 'I was
brought up in the
west side projects at
16th street....or whatever.
On the lower east side,
another place from this,
(it too had its own huge
sets of projects, much
more so), there were
piles of leftover people
too. I knew at least four
people, old Polish Jews,
running delis and a
diner-counter and things,
who still had the number
tattoos on their forearms
from captivity. Like
dark-blue, faded-ink
old prison tattoos, just
a string of ID numbers
as an inmate, whether
gassed or beaten or
worked nearly to death,
here they were, living
out their time, herein
NYC, in silence and
struggle. But, they
were at least alive.
I wished them
all well.
I never had any of
that exposure in Avenel.
There must have, I
guess, been survivors
around, Perth Amboy,
New Brunswick, somewhere,
- we had synagogues in
lots of places  -  but none
of that was ever put out
to my attention Certainly
not in the seminary either.
We had one Brother there,
an ancient guy about 80
back in 1963  -  Brother
Isadore, I think it was.
We had three guys there,
with names and faces
I mix up. an Isadore,
a Cornelius, and a
Sebastian. I really
forget names or titles
-  this little, old guy
had a big white beard,
yellowed, as it was
around his mouth. He
never interacted much,
never spoke, and only
tended the barn animals
which we kept, where I
got to know him, a little
anyway. He had slapped
this Hitler guy, back
when Adolph Hitler
was in the German Army,
WWI days, and this
Isadore guy, before
being a religious, was
his superior. This
Private Hitler kept
complaining and
demanding, the story
went, more straw for
his bedding  -  so
incessantly that
eventually his
commanding officer
or superior or whatever,
slapped him down.
that was Isadore.
(The Salvatorians
were a German religious
order, based  -  within
the USA  -  in Wisconsin.
Varied numbers of them
would get posted to
Blackwood for a few
years at a time, as
seminary faculty and
management). So, the
German heritage and
history stuff was
everywhere, except
we never delved into
this Nazi and/or
extermination thing
at all. All our taught
History was kept to
ancient and Holy
Roman Empire,
ascendant Christian-Europe
material, the perfect
story laid out perfectly
in this church-history
setting. My brain always
started making all these
connections each time
I'd see one of these
sad-sack cases with
a numbered arm. Like
the guy who worked
at and owned the
Yonah Shimmel
Bakery  -  Jewish
delights, bagels, bialies,
coffees and and all that
stuff. He had one; sad,
sorrowful, tough guy.
It was always hard to
take  -  for me  -  to see
and realize  -  what a
world we had just
burned up, and all
these leftover people
still aggrieved and teary.
Like real bad muscle
ache after a too-hard
day at the gym. (I'd
guess anyway, because
I'd never done that). And
each time I saw one of
these people, the men
anyway, they were tough-
looking guys, real scrappers.
I could never believe that
they didn't fight like hell
to get out of their fate  - and
maybe that's what they did
and why they were still 
around, even in 1967, 
milling down the rough
edges of their old platforms
of sorrow and
I saw women too  -
numbered. But they were
always more discreet, and
sad about things anyway.
Sleeves covered their arms,
usually. There was one guy,
the only one, and the one I
saw the most of, who  -
running his little corner,
morning eatery over by
11th, (my corner), who
looked as wispy and weak
as a kitten. I never knew
HOW he'd survived all that
brutishness. He was about
100 pounds, really slight,
and his skin and pinkish
pigmentation was just as
startling. He always 
reminded me, in his 
way, of being the 'Andy 
Warhol of the Holocaust.'
Sounds crass, I know. 
He had one eye that 
always teared. It was
just always tearing, wet.
He'd dab at it now and then.
He also never spoke, or if
he did it was in the most
minimal verbal fashion
imaginable. The word 'no'
was a long spiel for him.
I felt dead serious sorry 
for that man  -  all that 
sadness. The Con Ed 
guys who'd come in
each morning for their
usual workaday stuff 
never seemed to care
or even notice anything
about him. (There was
Con Ed generating 
substation or somesuch
down at the east end 
of  11th-14th streets. 
That's the one my 
houseful of anti-Vietnam 
agitators had been 
planning to blow up,
before they all got
hauled away). I guess
American Justice
lived in my 509 e11th
street digs too.
All those unearthly streets were
haunted for me; I'd walk willingly
among a thousand ghosts.


They've got the lights on in the
closets, yet every room is dark. 
Kept that way, deliberately, to
manifest the problem, not the
solution.  Ten thousand people,
at the drop of a hat, screaming 
back. Nothing good at all, just
the old politics of death again.
Moonstone maidens and forested 
riders, guys in black capes on tall
white horses. It's the middle of the
fractious night again and the only
things running are those old
German tales. Of the forest. Of
the woods. Bavarian black magic.
If I were a spider, I'd weave you my
web; or a snake, I'd leave you my skin.
As it is, I've got nothing better to give
than used air, high-mileage thoughts,
these words, and  my grimace, looking  
up at the sky as those white contrails 
pass. Everything, to somewhere,
another opening.


What is this, about not washing
your face; an ashcan school of
cleanliness? And how many others
can fit? I won't divulge the pattern
here, but it's not different than a
revenge porn of the mind: there's
the hot lawyer, walking into court
like she's one of them instead of
the lawyer to fight. Her whole
persona reeks 'do me.'
It a far cry from a Harrier jet that's
just landed on the roof. Military
guys in hats counting countdowns
backward while texting lovers home.
This happens all the time : saltines
and cracker pills, guys from Indiana
thinking they've hit it big but forgetting
they first had to drive through Ohio
to get here. New York, a flagellant's
paradise for sure. I'm out.


There were candy wrappers blowing
around out front, and two young girls
had just strolled in. They didn't belong.
You knew that  - this was one of those
new sorts of men's haircutting places,
with the funny, man-cave names like
'Another Cut', or 'Made Men', or
'Clip Jobs.' No meaning, just a
posture; where men will be tough
and boys will be men. All that and in
an instant. The place was crowded,
like a gym guy's sauna. It was pretty 
obvious what was going on. No matter,
I guess you just pay more for the extras.
The guy Mustafa was cutting; he eyed
me watching. I wasn't a customer, 
just outside by the liquor store 
doorway. One of those movies like
'Trading Places' or '48 Hours' or
something where for Eddie Murphy
getting some 'trim' meant getting laid.
Too much complication, all that, for
me, and it adds a whole other level
to 'Made Men' as well. I don't need.
When he came out for a smoke, I
said, 'Tell me something, 'Stafa; how
you running this place with a good
conscience?' He smirked, and said
slyly, 'It's not what you do, my friend;
you see, it's more how you do it. I
could burn down the woods, but
you'd never find the match.'


Here I am and it's coming on
in. There's been nothing to eat
here for five days straight, but
that doesn't bother me. I've got
my guideline cap on and no
lobotomy. It's all settled anyway :
I'm sitting here freely and reading
to my heart's content. The 'nothing' 
here mentioned is Midnight again.
When I was a kid, that was usually
the name for a horse of black.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


(part 1)
There's a spot on the old
railroad-west-side that's
now a postal-truck building
or something. A long time
ago it was a railway depot:
'The Hudson Rail Depot'.
That was when the interior
tracks used to run right there,
above-ground, in the 1860's.
The whole world was different
then, and new things at that
time were things that propelled
people, moved people along.
Of course, they didn't have a
clue what was going to be
coming right at them, soon
enough. No different than
us, today now, with the
Internet and computer
world we've unleashed.
No matter. The building
there now  -  really crummy,
maybe from the 1940's, just
some truck loading docks, a
few ramps, and signs for
special parking, loading,
unloading, no idling of
engines, all that. There's
usually any number of
blacks or Hispanic guys
hulking around, with a
combined IQ of about 112.
Union guys, probably
getting a hundred bucks
an hour; loading, unloading,
pushing carts, moving
things, then, of course,
every 14th minute getting
a break, when they all come
out to smoke and look
around. It used to be all
used up and junk land,
around here, but now
every inch is worth about
a million bucks, and all this
old, fallow land is under
big-time construction,
constantly. Every time I
take a photo in this area,
any one of those shrouded
and unfinished buildings
seen comes right out of here.
There's a bunch, and New
York sure is changing.
Anyway, these bozos come
out like some extras from a
Pinter play  -  standing
around, minding only
their own vacancy,
squinting and wondering,
and they don't ever even
notice the Abraham Lincoln
plaque on the wall, which
to me is like revered ground.
Always has been. In the 1960's
(yes, a perfect, one hundred
year gap there; always right),
I'd get off the train from the
old Penn Station and deliberately
walk down this way to begin
my walk back downtown to the
Studio School by passing this.
It was the spiritual beginning
of each trip downtown. In
my mind, anyway, I made
it so. That plaque states
something to the effect that
President Lincoln was here
on his way to his inauguration
and then, as dead President, 
Lincoln, but a few years
later, his funeral train passed
through this station a well,
on the way to Illinois'.....
not exact, but something
like that. The point was
that he was here, alive, 
using a train, to make 
a date, and then he was 
here again only a short 
while later, as his funeral 
train trolled his dead body 
along to wherever. That was
powerful stuff, dead, deep, 
dark times. Not even the 
Kennedy assassination and 
all that TV pomp and stuff, 
could match this  -  these 
were dark times, back then,
and railroad times, people 
weren't in sassy and stupidly 
glib communication with 
each other and everyone else, 
things had meaning, messages 
took time, people passed 
slowly. In contrast, I hated 
all that monstrous 1967 stuff. 
Paltry and pathetic; we couldn't 
even spell mercy, let alone 
understand it. Brains were
filled with ads for hand lotion
and dish detergent. This older 
world, to me,  was dense
and alive, in a different 
chemical element, some 
essence in some other matter 
and space. I wanted to be 
there. I hated this 1967 
world, and as I walked 
through it I sensed I could 
walk through Time itself. 
I could commune with 
layers of ages as I wandered. 
I've never really kept a 
'home' port for my thoughts 
 -  just rather a 'go-where-random 
it all may lead'. That was my 
joy of living  -  the picking 
and assorting of what I'd 
stumble over. The man selling
 cigars and cigarettes in that 
crappy little stand, he might 
have said he was stuck, he 
was trapped, there each day,
making dish-pan pennies 
for all his time. Those union 
guys, getting their big bucks 
for cigarettes and candy, they 
may have never had a clue 
about their own presences, 
instead seeing life as a 
drudge and a draining  -  
of time and effort and 
money. I never shared 
that aura they walked 
through. I had a halo, 
and I knew that. I just
hoped it wouldn't interfere 
or get in the way. This 
was back when some 
rails still ran  -  over 
there, extreme west side.
There were still a few 
slow supply freights 
slugging around, pulling
carts of steel or bags of 
food and grain. Bakers 
and builders, all the same. 
They all needed their 
supplies. I had mine
in dreams of time.
I'd walk the streets, 
even though that area 
of the westside, as I
walked downtown,  
turned dumpy quickly. 
There were long rows 
of project-type houses, 
once I got down to Chelsea. 
As nice as Chelsea itself 
was, these 1930's or 
post-Depression projects 
were real crud, to me 
anyway. I guess if they
 meant housing for others, 
a sort of deliverance, that 
meant a lot. But for me, 
they just represented 
depression, small 'd'. I'd 
been born in the same
sort of place. A cheap 
commercial brick, facade,
no design ethos; courtyards 
and post-box rows and 
playgrounds with benches. 
Plazas and a government 
office or two  -  Dept of 
Housing, all that 'Relief' 
stuff, my Grandmother 
to call it. She was always 
talking about people, 
friends and neighbors, 
who had to go on 'Relief'. 
Like it was the end of the 
world or some horrible 
fate. Maybe it was, 80 
years ago. I don't know. 
Things were different :
they'd still let you struggle 
in shacks and shanties. 
Now, like here, they just 
tear it all down and stack 
those people up, 20, 25 stories 
in the sky, in dumb-looking, 
ringed, red-brick towers. 
Often with schools at the 
bottom  -  so, you figure, 
a poor kid, in fact, is made 
to never have to leave 
his or her 'poor' area. To 
learn about others, to 
mingle, to see. That was 
way too bad, I thought. 
Why wasn't it just called 
segregation too? I had to 
walk past them  -  still do
sometimes; they're all still 
there, done over at least three
times that I can remember 
 -  new tiles and bricks, new 
walking areas, even new 
names  -  after Socialist 
heroes and leftist heroines. 
David Dubinsky Center, 
stuff like that. Everything's
 named after someone. 
You can probably look 
Dubinsky up, right now 
I do forget what he did 
to get his own name on 
a tower. Like he was 
President Trump or 
something! Socialist 
hero is something to 
be. John Lennon said
 'Working Class Hero' 
but, whatever. To me, 
a socialist hero is a 
gigantic sandwich 
that everyone 
can eat from.


The trying station is open : a policeman
stands around for those who fail. My life
gets miserable too. But what does it avail
me to complain? I keep making things to
no acclaim. Haphazard guesses, and a 
sidelong glance at that wonderful woman
in blue. Why is she buying iceberg lettuce?
Certain things I can only wonder about.
It's a long story, kid. Little boys shouldn't
be so nosy, and I haven't got time to explain.
I should hang my head in shame? No, this
morning's a different temple and they have
switched now all the Gods. Everything's
been moved about. There used to be a
little guy, right over there, who sold
hot dogs from a cart; and over there,
another man gave pony rides around
an ever-dwindling circle; but one
ride would last you all day.

Monday, November 28, 2016


I think that what bugs me
most  -  in today's world  -
anyway, is the way people
have been co-opted and have
let themselves be taken over
by everything else directed
at them. Everything is glib
and happy  -  or presented
that way. In 1967, in the
years I'm talking of here,
through my lens of the
Studio School and the
rest -  my Daniel Boone
moment setting out
through a strange city  -
there was, by contrast, a
dark blanket thrown over
everything. You 'knew,'
for instance, that cartoons
existed, but they were for
kids. Farmer Brown really
could hide behind skinny
trees, and cats really could
come out of faucets, but
that was kept away, aside;
everyone knew it was
a kid's thing, and left
it. Now, by contrast, and
only as example, you
have idiot adults swarming
a midtown Manhattan where
every ad-board, light-panel,
and even store-by-name are
'Cartoon.' A quality of pure
infantilism has crept in, and
been pressed on, whereby the
serious, dour world of adult
and adult concerns, and
philosophical motivations
and psychological presentations
have all been usurped. Billion-
dollar movie industries have
in the face of all the world's
problems, been erected which
peddle and continue this
dreck  -  and the wisest
and most cool among us,
supposedly, stay involved
and speak for it. People
worship their retarded
entertainment people.
Endlessly. What a dumb,
sick world. There is no
longer anything
introspective. Not even
in Art  -  which is where
I set out to be. It soon
enough lost its fervor
of mission for me as
I began realizing how
it too had been nearly
corrupted. Introspective
aspects of work and
design were beginning
to fall away to flippancy
and the ironic detachment
of comic distance. 'Look
at this all, how silly it is!'
That had become the
catchphrase. Like the
Monkees too.
Andy Warhol used to say,
as a form of dumb amazement
at the 'wonderful' world we
are presented with, that
a movie star could drink
the very same Coke that you
do, and that the Queen of
England couldn't get a
better hot dog at Yankee
Stadium than anyone else.
I suppose he meant that some
great equality of everything
had finally descended on the
consumerist paradise this
land had become (off of which,
of curse, he made millions
repeating it endlessly). His
notion of 'Democracy' sucked.
To him it somehow meant an
agreeable access to accessible
consumer goods for everyone.
Oh, just great  -  the problem
never was the access, it was
more, first off, the means of
access. I could NOT afford
the same Rolls Royce or
caviar that this 'Queen' could.
(Only Warhol would use
'Queen' so unself-consciously).
It was not just about the
'access.' I too can watch
Chinese TV, but I wouldn't
understand a word. The
disparity of both wealth
distribution, and purchasing
power, and the conscious
awareness of that, makes
the difference. The rabble
in the street are just the
'rubble.' The rich remain
the rich. Like that current
dumb-ass statue of Ralph
Kramden  -  in the previous
chapter, at Port Authority
Bus Terminal  -  it makes
the 'assumption' by those
that be (in power, or ruling)
that their selective input
into your life, all as
approved, will reflect
reality, and not be offensive.
For instance, I could not put
up a statue of, say, Verlaine,
or Rimbaud, or even Walter
Scott. They pre-date
everything, here, and no
one makes the connection,
but they 'represent', as well.
something 'other.' How many
actually know or care about
who Ralph Kramden is/was,
or Jackie Gleason, is beyond
me, but that never matters.
Idiots attract.  Here's the deal :
'the universal modifications
in the fabric of daily life each
transform novelty items into
constant and utilitarian objects
that we then have no choice
about. They alter our temporal
dimension in radical ways,
bringing us ever closer to
the usurpation of consciousness
by our incremental transformation
into automata.' Kind of means,
they got you by the balls.
That's what I objected to. All
that 'same' consumption of goods
and all that 'same' thinking and
habits of use : no distinction
between you and me. Transiency,
redundancy, an entire mass
unconscious being messed
with. That's pretty evil. I
stayed clear.  Today's morons,
gathered around that statue,
gaze at it, unfocused, not even
sure what they're looking at
IF they even see it. The tourists
from Dubuque, they go 'Aw!',
and smile, and take photos
gathered around it  - arms on
it like some best friend.
Boyfriends and girlfriends
kiss at it for their photos.
It's (literally) mind-numbing
and a really bad display, as
well, of all the rest of the
Times Square gibberish
just to the east. This was
once America, a place of
standards and values, with
a traditional reverence (or
at least I had it) towards
all those writers and artists
and strugglers who came
through here : darkness, with
an intensity. I hold my  hands
out to William Carlos Williams,
not Ralph Kramden; sorry.
Down to Chinatown, and 
it's sort of the same thing, 
maybe a little in reverse. 
Even weirder. They tore 
down, in the late 60's
and early 70's, a large 
swath of things in order, 
near to Canal St., and
the Bowery, to erect what's
called Confucius Plaza. 
It's very strange, especially 
because, first, no one
seemed to care, and
everyone just let
themselves get plowed 
over and pushed around,
by the usual 'interest' 
groups and Chinese 
Benevolent Societies
in bed with the usual 
city authorities, to then
re-make and thematically 
alter their own central
Chinatown crossroads.
But what was even weirder
than that was the 'retro'
aspect of all this. Confucius
was in dis-favor  -  not just 
in China, but everywhere. 
His old, very traditional, 
filled with protocol and 
ancestor-worship approach
to things by then had
been relegated to the 
junkheap. It was as if,
perhaps, a monument 
to Cuneiform chiseling 
were to be erected at 
the site of some Johannes
Gutenberg printing plant 
headquarters. It was
that different  - from the
cultural and consumer 
ethos of the present, from
the now (then). There was
a large, very oversize statue,
a center plaza post, flags,
granite, inscriptions. and
seats. Whoever they thought
would be attending to this,
they never showed up  -  that
plaza now is a dead-man's
traffic island with little sense
of place or purpose. 
People have been 
somehow 'equalized' by 
all their everyday habits  
all those phones and
messages and tweets 
and posts and computers 
and games. Everything's 
been lost when some 
current fake-media 
wanna-be (I only use as 
an example, and am, in
fact, not really even
sure what that is) gets
presented as the  'same'
thing for me as for you.
As if we all must be 'in'
 on the know, and each in
the same, glib/stupid way.
Same for you, same for me
Just like the Queen's 
hot dog. (Huh?)...


Arriving is so easy, it's the
coming down from that
mountain again that hurts.
So much depends on the
moment, each to each and
all the same. High atop the
bluff, the lancet castle will
beckon  -  sunlight glints 
and glistens, but there is
little to be heard or seen.
Past the point of nearness,
only songsters in the forest
are even heard at all.