Friday, December 2, 2016


I could never make myself
care too much about what
I'd left behind. It just never
held me that much, the
whole 'Avenel' thing. I
could hardly ever even
think of it as a place.
Hard to even explain
what it was  - I never
knew. How could you
find 'identity' in a place
that was known by it's
paucity? All those silly
little places around, all
they did was go into 
another something 
called 'Woodbridge' 
without first really 
having a place for 
themselves. Port 
Reading, Sewaren, 
Fords, Colonia. Each 
was just a stupid 
nothing, more like a 
design on some real 
estate or business map, 
of places that were 
created after what was 
already there had been 
chopped and destroyed. 
Surplus land, from the
junkheap of time, now
re-purposed for lustful,
returning, soldiers. Just 
because a place has a 
bunch of streets and 
some tick-tack houses 
everywhere, that doesn't 
make it anything. It was 
defined, any one of them,
each of the towns that 
went into the greater
make-up of municipal
'Woodbridge,'  by the 
absence of itself. They 
just needed a place  -  one
central address and location  -
for all the corruption and 
pay-offs to get to. Even 
Woodbridge  -  for all the 
torch-lit parade and heroes 
stuff  -  was a joke cast 
back upon itself. Jardot's  -  
pronounced, by the way 
as Jar-Doe's  -  was about 
as typical of anything else, 
except maybe the Avenel 
VFW Hall, which was taking,
during those years,  about 
10,000 years to get built, 
one cinder-block a year, 
for some reason. (I think
it was the loss-leader for
their 'laundering' of 
construction money). 
The energy quotient for 
doing anything, in Avenel, 
just wasn't there. And when 
it finally was, it just made 
everything worse. I used to 
think that if Brigitte Bardot 
(big French babe-starlet, 
then) had married that 
Bobby Jardot guy, she 
could have been Brigitte 
Bardot-Jardot, really 
throwing a wrench 
into the works, locally. 
But at least it would 
have cleared up the 
pronunciation for 
people. I mean, really, 
how could you take any 
pride in places and 
supposed 'towns' that 
just weren't really that 
at all? Woodbridge 
had this supposed 
1952 sea captain 
'War Hero,' Henrik 
Carlsen, who refused 
to abandon ship, and 
stayed to the very end, 
finally being rescued, 
with injuries. They 
made him out to be 
a big ticker-tape kind
 of returning hero, 
parades and all. He 
died at age 72, later. 
Turned out the entire 
story was bogus and 
a cover-up, and yet 
people still to this 
day believe it and 
take all that local 
honor stuff to heart. 
The ship was an old 
junker, left over from 
WWII and converted 
to cargo-freighter use 
by some Hamburg 
shipping line, which 
is where Carlsen gets 
involved as a merchant 
captain. (You can look 
all this up, one of those 
'local Woodbridge man 
makes good' stories). 
The 'Flying Enterprise,' 
as the cargo ship had 
been re-named, was 
carrying a load of peat 
moss, 12 Volkswagen 
cars, a couple hundred 
typewriters, and a lot 
of other basic, 
commercial freight. 
But, at the same time, 
and secretly (which is 
why Carlsen fought not 
to lose the ship and its 
cargo), sub-contracted to 
the Atomic Energy 
Commission and all 
that CIA and Military 
USA secret stuff, it 
carried a huge load 
of (secretly) zirconium; 
which was necessary for 
atomic use  - bombs and 
the rest  -  and was difficult 
to get, and quite valuable,
and hush-hush too. It was 
important stuff, and he'd 
been well-briefed of the
'importance' of secret 
and safe transit on his, 
essentially outdated and 
substandard, old tub of 
a ship. It really wasn't 
up to the task of the 
payload, but it was 
so bad it was 
inconspicuous too. 
Anyway, the welds 
broke, the ship took 
on water, and went 
down, while Carlsen, 
in deep shit at this 
point, tried everything 
short of magic not to 
lose the load. So, 
paralyzed by fearful 
inaction, he 'stayed' 
with the ship, until 
it was lost. He was 
saved, and the 
cover-story had 
him a hero  -  for 
trying to save a 
tubful of consumer 
junk, in the course 
of his stupid job. 
That was the reality. 
In Woodbridge, all 
up and down Main 
Street, he somehow 
was converted into 
some patriotic 
super-hero valiantly 
serving to sustain 
the great glory of 
his country. Yeah, 
well, met me at 
Jardot's and we'll 
talk. P.S. Bring 
You can't make this 
stuff up, and at least 
it would have been 
a good yarn, had I 
ever had to defend 
my 'home-town' to 
any NYC native (of 
which there were, 
let's say, a lot). No 
one ever asked, in 
fact, all this 'where 
you from?' stuff ever 
did was perplex them. 
The useless cover story 
in their heads was of 
New Jersey as a 
patented dung-heap 
of open-flame refineries, 
slaughterhouses, murderers,
mobsters, and pig-farms 
in the Meadows, all the 
way down to Elizabeth, 
where the oil-storage-tankers 
took over, until you, maybe, 
got to the Jersey shore, 
where it all started again
until you got to old Atlantic
City. Of course, that 
assumption was all 
wrong too, but what 
the hell did any of them 
care? At some point, it 
seems, it always turns 
out that someone 
somewhere is the 
butt of someone 
else's and somewhere 
else's joke at their 
expense. 'Raise High 
the Roofbeams, Carpenter'  
-  as J. D. Salinger put it.
New York City, by contrast,
was shoulder deep in history
and legacy and place and charm
and intrigue. A person could be
free, free to learn, and bust out,
and not give a damn about the
usual niceties that racked
everyone else up in all those
outlying stupid-ass places all
over the map. It was like
being in a tuxedo for a month,
eating in it, sleeping in one,
and telling yourself it was cool,
when it wasn't at all. As soon
as I got to NYC, penniless as
I was, that old tuxedo went right
in to the very first trash-can
I saw, and good-bye to all that.

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