Wednesday, December 7, 2016


One of the first things
I had to do was learn
limits. Having found
that it was both smarter
and easier to do 'one'
thing at a time and not
juggle a number of
things, I realized that
the purity of effort was
reflected in the quality
of the end result. The
quality of product exactly.
It became a real past-time
for me, seeing that. I
started seeking out
'quality' in all things.
The idea of 'quality'
began to seem to be
one of the things
that was going out
the window quickly.
Things, while becoming
cheaper, were just as
quickly turning to junk.
Leather was replaced
by plastics  -  my
father's quaint use
of 'Naugahyde' on
furniture and things,
where once before
it would have been
a nice leather. I never
saw a farm-field of
naugas, but they
were apparently
all giving up, by
1958, their hides.
My father's customers,
having perused his
sample books, were
more and more
selecting the fake
fabrics presented to
them as choices. My
sister kept getting
'patent-leather' shoes,
and and patent-leather
 tap-shoes for her
dancing lessons.
Ball point pens
were replacing the
nib-tip of good
fountain pens,
inlays, and ink-wells.
Things once mad of
beauteous, polished
wood began turning
up in ersatz imitations
of themselves. Even
the telephone  -  once
a solid, heavy Bakelite
-  was before long being
made of  tawdry-colored
plastic, in every variant
of tint and color a fool
would want. One by one,
as volume and appeal
increased, quality of
care-of-product fell to
the wayside. The
plebeian masses
(me, us) had taken
over  -  so that the
preserve of care
and quality was turned
over to the rich and
the wealthy, who
seemed to care
about that stuff. My
friend Freddy Fox,
an old-line car mechanic
with a garage in Rahway,
was a collector of
Chris-Craft, hardwood
boats. He owned a few,
which is all anyone
could own anyway  -
they were real, full-sized
boats. I'd never figured
out why (1970) until I
actually saw one. By
modern standards they
were dinosaurs, but by
the better standards of,
say the 1930's or 40's,
these boats were beauties
-  perfect  wood, sleekly
engineered and constructed,
worth a mint. All the
schlubs with boats in
the marinas then (and
now), in my experience,
were proud of their
plastic and fiberglass
tubs with horns and
flags and names.
They had NOTHING
however on the quality
the Chris Craft and its
like offered. Like a
Maserati up against a
Ford Falcon. No go.
Passing through the 
rigors and miseries of 
growing up, I quickly 
realized that nothing 
of the essence of 'quality' 
was ever offered. Certainly 
not within the misery of 
schooling. The presented 
reality of, say, senior 
year high school, bore 
simply no relation to 
reality in any form. 
Every concept adopted 
and assumed was incorrect. 
A spaghetti-twirling-fork 
of Kant's 'Critique of 
Pure Reason', force-fed
to any one of those dolts 
would have served them 
right. And right down 
their throats too. In the 
year 1967, plastic was 
heroic. The space-program 
was heroic. Vietnam was 
heroic. To these people,
Jeez, high school was
heroic! As if nothing 
was ever to come after
it. As if it was their 
life's pinnacle. It had 
just never dawned on 
anyone that their world 
could have been skewed 
towards the powers that 
be before it had been 
turned over once and 
presented to them as 
fantasy. Anyone now 
who can revel in that 
past then is simply 
insane. You can tell 
it because their 
'heroics' still go 
on. Bloviating and 
deceit. It's really 
too bad.
Things always hit me 
like thunderheads; 
storms approaching. 
And they still do. 
For instance, now, 
cars have windshield 
wiper systems that 
sense rain and turn 
themselves on. Okay, 
as concept, I get it. 
It has little anymore 
to do with 'driving' 
in the old sense, but 
people accept it and 
move on. What bugs 
me is how no one, 
along their way, just 
stops to investigate 
or think. I'd known 
guys in NYC who 
would think about 
everything  -  about 
the water coming 
out of the hose they 
were holding  -  the 
merchant guys hosing 
down their sidewalks 
and stuff daily. There 
was a meditative 
quality to the use 
of things. Catskill
waters splashing down. 
Now, no one even 
considers what they're 
doing. What is it 
happening at that 
windshield point? 
Is the 'presence' 
of water calculated 
by a moisture content 
hitting or massing 
the windshield? Is 
it weight? The weight 
of the water, setting 
off the blade-motor? 
What is the weight 
of such water? While 
moving, or standing 
still? What is measured, 
and how? How then 
is that connected, 
electrically or by 
sensor, to the 
motorized segment 
that energizes the 
What is IN the 
windshield glass 
that starts this, 
and how? Who 
dreamed this up? 
What human quality 
of inquisitiveness 
and technical 
infatuation brought 
us to this? If it's
'human' at all.
In 1967 in New York, 
I still had a few places 
where I'd go that were 
yet using horses. They'd 
get shoe'd and brushed 
and cared for diligently. 
I'd work around  -  grain 
buckets, clean up, 
wash-down, blanketing, 
etc.  -  just for the joy 
of doing it. These were 
heavy, delivery horses  -  
large, clompy feet, 
pulling wagons, 
dragging freight to 
and from one or 
another place. It was 
all a passing frenzy 
of things  -  a slow 
frenzy, yes. But it 
was all going away. 
It was meditative, 
as I said. To me these 
were all 'religious' 
people and moments. 
I was transported, by
far, away -  to 
something else, 
certainly something 
before plastic and 
crap and Naugahyde 
and Princess Phones 
in techni-colors. 
All crap. No different 
than the other language 
of junk they spoke in 
high school  -  pretending 
to care about each of 
our personal matters
while really just busting 
in to take control over 
us. In fact, send of off
to death if they could. 
No one spoke a word 
of truth. No one did 
anything right. Certainly
no one ever did ONE 
thing, one good thing, 
solidly and with quality, 
at one time. The entire 
world was a blemish, 
and that blemish was 
being passed on to us.

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