Saturday, November 26, 2016


How many people have
you heard of who have
who have ended up all
pretty much right where
they set out to be a long
time back? I mean, of
course, happily, and with
a satisfaction. The famous
and powerful, having
achieved goals, are still
always whining or
complaining about
their 'burdens' or the
sacrifices they've
undertaken to get there.
How 'tough' it is being
recognized, and owning
all these things and
places, and the demands
on their time, and the
constant stream of
wants and need by
others. Yeah, sure.
Why they don't complain,
as well, about all the
lawyers and accountants
needed to maintain and
keep up all their money
and trips to the bank,
is beyond me. They're
usually just full of crap.
Anyway, that's all
accidental stuff. I was
meaning to refer more
to the deliberate, the
set-out for places and
The funny thing is, as it
concluded, that for all my
own high-minded bravado
and quest for the gold and
the rest, I've ended up, lo
these many years later, right
back, for the finish line, at
my starting line. If that's
not, at least, a perfect
continuity, a completed
circuit, and rounded ending
to the great arc-turned-into-
circle of a poorly-run life,
I don't know what is. I walk
the soiled, lousy, streets of
the same dungheap of a
place where I began my
formative consciousness...
and then fled from screaming.
No it's over 50 years later,
and I'm walking these
streets again. Like some
jerk in a Green Day song,
walking those same empty
streets on the boulevard
of broken dreams. All that.
The same jagged routing of
teen angst that never went
away maybe, or something
to that effect. Hundred-year
old men aren't supposed to
be like that. The cars are
supposed to keep running,
not break down and have
you start walking away,
Anyway, new cars now stop
and re-start for you now at
every red-light. Who the
hell came up with that one?
I went to New York City at
age 17 precisely so that none
of this was ever supposed to
happen to me. I was going to
wipe the dust from this place
and be done with it like a
headache. A bad habit. Now,
in present hindsight, it doesn't
look all that bad  -  as long as
I can keep it rolling, as long
as the train station's near me,
as long as I can drive myself,
and roll. The rest of it all can
go screw. Five hundred years
ago most people were amazed
if they ever got thirty miles from
home. I can dig that  -  a local
guy today slowly passed me in
his shiny-like-new metallic
green '47 Willys Overland.
A big box on wheels. The
kind of cars most of the
relegated-to-poor people
around here drive are little
cars that regular people
would never think of
having as their 'first' cars.
It's that kind of place. This
was the guy's own hobby or
project car, but most others
have their work-trucks in the
driveways, home from
the job. The people who
leave from their homes
here, get into cars slightly
haggard, and often they
have a cigarette dangling
from their lips, with which
cigarette they accompany
themselves on their drive.
Windows up, no matter.
Today's up-to-date class of
modern-world people have
done away with all that.
All the ugly stuff of life, as
it once was, is gone. That's
all been cleared up. People
now just nicely do their
assigned tasks, willingly.
It's not often anymore
tolerated, the old and the 
ugly manners of the past. 
Just today, I saw two cops,
with their two cop-cars,
tending to a suspect in a
car they'd pulled over. All
lights flashing, one cop
to the front, the other
standing at the rear. It
looked pretty important,
a serious stop. Then I
noticed the cop at the
rear slowly yawning.
I laughed it off then, the
whole scene. No importance
at all. In times of stress, the
body does not yawn. Not
part of the emotional or
chemical repertoire at that
point. Have you ever noticed?
Even flashing-lights cops now
just go through the motions.
People  -  probably at much
the same level as these local,
Avenel, folk  -  back then, in
NYC, kept everything ordered
within bounds. Few had cars,
or even thought about that.
IN the city, when you're poor,
having an automobile is most
probably the last thing on your
personal list of items to attain.
Right below the cottage on
Fire Island. It all takes money,
the getting of it, first, and the
the constant parking headaches,
insurance, gasoline, finding
places to go (there are none,
really, without getting also
involved in deep toll costs  -
unless maybe you just wish
to drive up to the Cloisters,
and stare out over Englewood
Cliffs, or whatever's across
the way there). At least a poor
man keeps the good sense to
not get carried away with
the normal bull of everyday
life. Which is why kids wrench
open hydrants on hot Summer
days and make their own frolic.
A '47 Willy's certainly wouldn't
mean much. The people in
Chinatown, where cars never 
moved much anyway, dealt
with a constant gridlock along all
those tiny, ridiculous car streets,
with parking and crowds to
boot. People there just walked
OVER cars, to get to where
they were headed. No one
ever got IN one. Truck
deliveries were done in the
dead-still of deep night, and
for the rest  -  even the foolish,
rich, Long Islanders who'd come
out in their Lincolns and Caddies,
in all their clothing and personal
finery (which didn't cut it for
anything there), were just trying
to impress others but only 
ending up embarrassing 
themselves as they struggled 
with their gigando-cars 
and all those tight spaces. 
No one really ever got
In my own sense, I've always
been a social outcast; but it
never bothered me. I found
my own ways of solace.
When I was ten, my parents
gave me a stamp-collection
book and starter kit. I was
endlessly fascinated, and it
took me away. I gathered
any stamps I could, and 
ordered stamps too, from 
all over the world, from
those old stamp collector
companies, like Littleton 
Stamps, in New Hampshire,
it was, or Boston. There were
a few. Comic books too always
had those 'Send ten cents for
a thousand stamps from 
around the world,' or 'older
American issues.' Those were
my favorites  -  all those
commemoratives of dams 
and waterways and 
inventors and statesmen.
I loved those send-in offers.
I'd find ways, just a few years
later, to stay up as late as I
possibly could, reading.
Writing. Thinking about 
stuff. A different sort of
richness for a different
sort of poverty. 'I have
said that it is the sufferer 
from insomnia who knits
the torn edges of men's 
dreams together in the 
hour before dawn.' Loren 
Eiseley, a mostly 1960's
essayist. He sure got it right.

No comments: