Tuesday, January 31, 2017


It doesn't always
take a magician to
make magic. Things
have a way of doing
it themselves : the
magic of disappearance,
or the magic of appearing,
coming back, returning,
if even in a different
guise. At 85 W. 3rd
Street was the house
in which Edgar Allen
Poe had lived, with his
wife, I think, when he
he wrote The Raven.
He lived in other 
locations over time 
as well, but this one 
was nearby, quite 
accessible to me, 
and, I thought, 
welcoming. In 
addition to the 
old Northern 
Dispensary, of 
which I've also 
written, here, early 
on, these two places 
formed, amidst these 
streets I was living 
upon, my own small 
circle of place. It 
was always very 
warming for me 
to have this. I'd 
go here, and just 
sit  - across the 
street there was 
some sort of a 
fire house or 
something, and 
there were a 
few places to sit 
 -  not benches 
or anything, 
because in 1967
the world wasn't 
yet quite that 'all-
welcoming' and 
open, but parts of 
the stonework and 
foundations of the 
buildings which 
had places to sit 
on. I'd just do 
there; lost in my 
own references. 
That was '67, '68, 
long back. In 
about 2005 NYU, 
as it usually does, 
gobbled this up 
to  -  rapacious 
land-users that 
they are. Local 
and neighborhood 
opposition went 
on for a while, 
but the University 
won. Funny thing; 
their idea of solving 
this puzzle was to
 re-erect, on the 
front portion of 
their new construction, 
what they call a 
of the old Poe House. 
It's right there; I 
guess the same 
bricks and windows 
and all, which they 
must have saved. It 
looks like that 
anyway, but it's 
all false  -  just a 
fake front wall 
of what-once-was, 
slapped right onto 
the new construction 
  -  offices, doorway 
and school stuff. 
Pretty funny. Ersatz 
as all get-out, but 
it still passes itself
 off as historic, 
and not everyone's 
the wiser for it.
Now all NYU need 
do is make up some 
good, walloping 
stories about the 
place, and ring 
up some student 
guides who like 
to talk and babble
 about made-up 
stuff, and they 
could have a real 
go of it. If everything 
reaches an eventual 
plateau enough of 
unreality, then they 
could own that 
'narrative' pretty 
darn well and 
near to complete, 
as well.
Over at the 
Studio School, 
I used to revel 
in the atmospherics 
of the past therein. 
That was a real 
humdinger of a 
building : a 
joining of what 
was once three 
into one, and 
an adjoining 
building which 
was used as a 
Youth Hostel. 
The Studio School 
portion of it all, 
those three 
buildings, you'd 
maybe never know 
about, except for 
the endless and 
twisty, long 
stairways and 
the sort of 
way a lot of the 
halls and spaces 
went. There wasn't 
a real 'road map' 
for the unified 
building, so at first, 
for me, a lot of it 
was hit or miss, 
or hit and miss, 
or whatever is 
said in that phrase. 
Mysteries abounded  
- plus there was 
the usual assortment 
of 'haunted' and 
'ghosts' and 'noises' 
in the night. None 
of it true, of course. 
I should  know because 
I lived there, in the 
basement, for a 
good period of 
my time there  -  
having been blasted 
out of my own 
place on e11th 
when the cops 
busted it and took 
everything and 
everyone away. 
I had already moved 
out because they'd 
turned the whole 
place into a mess 
of people. 16 at 
last count, AWOL 
military kids, running 
off to Canada. We'd 
been running it as 
a safe-house of 
sorts, and it 
blossomed into 
a mass-evacuation 
center for people 
on the run from 
Vietnam service. 
A lot more too, 
but I'm not going 
into that now. I 
sensed the end 
was near, and 
just stopped 
going back  -  
after the one 
time that no one 
knew who I was.
 I had to say, 
'Well, fine fellows 
and gals, it's actually 
MY apartment you 
see.' That was it 
for me. I let Andy 
Bonomo run with 
it, and eventually 
so many bad things 
started happening 
that they all got 
taken away and 
the stupid apartment 
was police-taped 
like a God-damned 
murder scene. 
Which it was too, 
but I'm not going 
there right now either.  
So I started staying 
in the basement of 
the Whitney, I mean 
Studio School, 
where, after Mercedes 
Matter and other 
got wind of my 
plight, it was 
realized that they, 
suddenly, really 
would like a 'night 
watchmen' on 
premise. There 
were all sorts 
of creaks and 
noises, but I 
never saw any 
untoward visages, 
ghosts, spirits, 
ghouls or vampires 
either, for that 
matter. But, man 
oh man, if I had a 
narrative of my 
own made up, 
I could'a been 
as big as 
P. T. Barnum.
That's all this life 
is; a fiction. It's a 
piece of this and 
a piece of that, 
all stuck together 
and given a scene 
in which to play. 
How strange it 
all is. In a way,
at one level, I always 
wanted  to either 
'tell' my story, or
'sell' my story. I
never did sell it, and
am still pretty much 
a pauper; but I sure
do tell it, I guess.


I was going to call this 'Why I Want
To Be a Bigamist,' but I couldn't really
find a way into that title. I mean, as I've
heard, restless sperm is one thing, but
this is something else entire : a heart
where a head can be, or a surfboard
that crushes a groin. I'm told, in a
fierce and heavy surf, when flying
loose, they can be as deadly as
missiles. Take off a head, or
crush it, like Mike Cantor's.
It's all too much to handle, one at a
time, in sequence. You see. That's 
why I want bigamy instead. My 
first wife was a black girl from 
Wyanon, North Carolina. She was
great, and then she died when
she fell off a plow. Left me
plenty empty. Then my second
wife was a beauty queen, only 24,
from Peurli, Maine. Man she
could knock-out, and the sexual
gymnastics almost broke my
chicken-neck. She ran off with
some guy named Bolster Hamran.
I don't know where she is. Now
I still have two. Barbara, from
New York; really great. And
Maryann from Catsford, PA.
They get along really well.
No quarrel, and both agree
it's far better this way. Come
tax-time, one  has always to be
left out. They flip for it.


Rivulets and rivers, porcupines and pork;
how can I ever make sense of these things?
Man gave names to all the animals  -  look
what it brings. We call what we face by
other names, and then, face-to-face, we
run the race, but only crash into each
other; never realizing we must run
all in the same direction. Hear 
the mockingbird trilling -
what it is she sings.


I can go on all day, I can, I really can.
Put the cow meat in the freezer, it'll
stay a while. Did you read this morning's
paper? They said the King of Tahiti 
was getting too greedy.

Monday, January 30, 2017


Walking past what couldn't be made;
once or twice again as people laugh.
What did you do so unerringly; you
know it couldn't be done. There it goes.
I spliced a radish onto my sleeve, like
a red button. But always moist. Funny.
There's a beer joint on Main Street called
Olive's. It refuses to be what it really is.
If this is a distant place, I'll stay much
closer to home; next time. Far easier.


One thing I have
always noticed  -
especially since
I was always
mixing up into
other places where
I had not been,
was that I myself
became the context
for whatever
historicity there
was. I suppose it's
like that for
everyone. But in
my own case I
had grown up
in a place completely
devoid of history.
A place that
did not ever exist:
the simplest row
of crud you can
imagine, built in
dirty lowland
swamps and woods.
No one had ever
explained anything
to me, taken me
aside to show
and say what
this land and
place was, to
put it in some
form of context.
To put their hand
and mine in the
red clay together,
as it were. I was
on my own.
History without
context is so
useless You end
up, say, with
something really
ersatz, like Colonial
Williamsburg or
any one of those
old 'George Washington
was here, did this,'
places. The east coast
here is full of that
stuff; mostly bogus,
fake or amplified
upon. The germ
of the tiniest 'story'
becomes the mythos
of same false, important
legend. OR, on the
other hand, without
context, you get any
of those history-houses
or town compendiums
that simply end up
showing 'this was
here, that was this,
and here's what maybe
remains.' It's almost
worth scoffing at,
because no one wants
to lift a finger to seek
out anything more
than that  -  mostly
they want a
society place
where they can
have their teas
and costume days,
recalling a dead
old History that
they themselves have
killed anyway; but
still claim; like the
Rahway NJ site
of the supposed
Merchants and
Drovers tavern,
or Boxwood Hall,
in Elizabeth. Or,
for that matter,
Nassau Hall at
Princeton University.
All of these places have
and keep a tendentious
story-line about
themselves, but
mostly to show
how much better
they are, in their
old time and
than are you or
the present era.
Bad news all
around. It always
somehow gets
turned into class,
status, elite and
value. You never
see a poor, regular
guy in an old flannel
shirt and a bit smelly
and tawdry looking,
pulling people into
an old site to show
the aroma, toil,
work and drudgery
of that 'Reality,' really.
Dirt, grime, no
brushed teeth, old
clothing, littered
and uncut paths
clopped with horse
poop, and roofs that
leaked and sheds
that fell. Open,
smoky fires, and
toilet pits. Just 'aint'
gonna' happen'  -
because it doesn't
fit the present day's
assumptive narrative,
which false narrative
now 'owns' all this.
They'd get thrown
out on their ear.
It's as if it would
be much better
for these people
if they could get
away with having:
'George and Martha
Washington, hip,
happy, couple drove
up here one night,
in their new Lincoln
Town Car (go figure?),
to stay a few days
dining and seeing
the sights visible
from this fine hilltop
which looks out
over the valley,
while they feasted
on pheasant under
glass and a
Cinnamon apple
pie which Madame
Farnoth, lady of
the house, had
prepared for
them.' See,
that's history!
Once I arrived
to New York City,
I suddenly realized
it was all there and
I was the context.
Weird as that
sounds, it was
true because it
was all within me.
The city gobbles
things up, builds
up and tears down,
with a twenty-year
timeline, so swiftly
that things once
mentioned get that
soon forgot. There
were layers upon
layers of things,
and none of it
was really
or even recreated.
There certainly
were no doily-fed
matrons guiding
people through palaces.
Merchant's House,
on 4th Street, was
a good example of
that. I went there
a few times, and
it's all there, still,
just sitting as if the
guy (name forgotten
right now -[got it:
Treadwell]) and his
family had just left
ten minutes before,
but what makes it
even better is that
there's no one yapping
at you about lessons
to take away or
what this or that
was. You're just
there, and no one
really gives a care
about you, as long
as you've paid
your eight bucks.
(That's all sooo New
York). There used
to be an equally
good old federal-style
home, right there,
next to it, abutting
it, but no one ever
caught up to that
one and it slowly
decayed, leaned,
and fell apart, and
is not long gone  -
and the lot is on
to something else.
Somehow Merchant's
House still is there.
Probably gets 10
people paying a week,
and maybe a cruddy
school group or a few.
I guess what I'm
saying is that,
although all the
lies about this
place too are
there, at least
no one speaks
them. It was just
a typical house
a few steps in
from the Bowery,
which was a
wild den then
of whores,
same-sex fornication,
sleepovers, suicides,
murder, dance and
drink. Never much
mentioned, how
the one could
coexist like that
with the other.
Right across the
street from
Merchants House
now is Jonathan
Swift's Hibernian
Lounge, more just
known as Swifts.
I met my friend
Danny from Britain
there once, as he
was visiting NYC;
on a rollicking grand
afternoon. There
were four of us,
drunk and stupid
in two hours on
drafts of Guinness
and buckets of
vodka. For Danny,
seeing a maybe
two-hundred year
old house  -  and that
was stretching it  -
was like, 'Whoah,
mate, what's the
big deal then?'
That's like a drop
in the bucket
where he's from;
like two years back.
That's pretty apt
when you think
about it. I mean, w
hat is history anyway.
Down on my corner,
until about 5 years
ago, there was a
hardware store
that was there
for a million
years. (OK, maybe
50). It's gone now
-  it's the place that
freaked me out (I
wrote about this
in past chapters,
way back) with
the sign in the
window, when
I was about 10,
which read 'Notice  -
Due to circumstances
outside of our control,
there will be no
tomorrow.' As a kid
that totally freaked
me out, and I panicked.
Anyway, they tore it
down, and to other
houses with it,
and now it's a
sleazeball 'professional'
storefront ( a freaking
Vape Shop and Distributor),
and a few condo units
upstairs, or apartments
or whatever those
things go as today.
So, you wonder, is that
too not a 'History'? Does
it not mark something
passed and tangible?
Five generations or so
of people with their
paneling, linoleum,
barbecue grills, and
pole lamps and lock
and key sets? Seeds
in the Spring and that
very rich smell, each
April and May of all
those soils and
mulches they sold.
It was all amazing.
It smelled so rich.
But there's no
narrative, obviously,
no one claims it or
speaks for it, because
it has no story. If you
'own' the narrative, it's
all yours; you control
the fable and the fact,
and the fiction too.
Ask the next Native
American Indian that
you see
As I entered this new 
realm for myself, I 
was, in a way, a 
humble servant to it, 
and  -  in another way, 
I was all-powerful; 
the content-mantainer, 
the processor, the
 'weaver' of the 
narrative I wished. I 
had 'MADE' the context!
And that made all the 
difference in the world.
It was strenuous and 
muscular, and made 
me strong. I'd see a 
hundred people at a 
time, all the time, 
dreadful, lost souls, 
seemingly blackened 
and deadened by 
their own obliviousness, 
walking the dark 
smoky streets in 
their overcoats and 
wraps. To paraphrase 
T. S. Eliot, I didn't 
know Death had 
undone so many.' 
To use Hart Crane, 
'Bedlamites.' Yet, 
here they were, loose 
and listless working 
stiffs, striving, and 
with no narrative at 
all. Absolutely nothing
 to claim except 
maybe their TV, 
some sports games 
and their rides