Wednesday, January 4, 2017


288. AVENEL, pt. 10
Angel never talked
much. He listened
and all, but the only
real communication
he made was with
Emil, in the presence
of Emil. They got
on fine, but nothing
in Spanish  -  more
just areal preliminary
version of English.
Even in the car rides
with me, Angel just
listened, while I went.
on. Occasionally, I'd get
a grunt or response of
a few words, or a smile.
I would just go on in
a speed-rattle, about
the things passing us
by. Observations, my
snide comments, my
humor. Angel always
was wearing what
were then called white
chinos; before jeans,
kind of, just a basic
white pants. A lot of
Spanish guys liked that.
The fact that they were
white kind of sucked for
him, because the work
of a print shop gets
messy. Never stopped him
though. On the other
hand, Emil, the old guy,
he continually came to
work in a tie and jacket,
and then took it off when
he began work. He'd
throw on this really
cool, full-coverage
leather apron, and a
printer's visor cap
kid of thing, like a
card dealer or maybe
a telegraph guy or
something. Emil was,
as I said, from Nutley  -
a kind of ritzy community
adjacent to Newark; it
was from where the
Newark money people
came, or went to, went
they made it. Business
and all. Emil used to take
his own great pride in
only being 'seen' in the
successful clothes and
bearing of a 'gentleman'.
He would never be seen
around with work clothes,
saying things about how
a man's pride is in his
bearing and appearance
(thank God he never
saw me now), the way
way he appears to
others, no matter what
he 'did' or what the
reality was. It seemed
a tad disingenuous
to me, as if he was
maybe faking 
something, or afraid 
of being seen for 
himself, or something.
Like, why was he  
going through all
this travail for a 
little job like this, 
if he was so much 
better than it? It
made no difference 
to me; I hated being
'dressed'.  Anyway,
the thing I could 
never figure was 
why these two  -  
from the same 
neck of the 
woods, both 
pretty near to 
the Newark train 
station (to which 
Emil got himself, 
for each trip. He'd 
arrive, and he'd 
leave on a Newark
 train, at the train 
station, right nearby 
to us), why couldn't 
they just do all this 
stuff together, 
and why did they 
need me, Angel 
anyway, for the ride 
and transportation? 
It dawned on 
me that perhaps  
-  just perhaps  -  
this Emil guy's 
selective vision
of his own self 
did not include the
space to be seen 
with the 'likes' of 
this Spanish guy 
being with him. 
Suit and tie, yeah. 
Class, or racism.,
maybe too?
No matter, Emil 
was cool. His big 
thing was in counting 
down the days to 
what he called 
'Tax Freedom 
Day.' I never 
much knew, 
back then, what 
he was talking 
about, but it went, 
for me, as follows: 
A regular guy had 
to work until about 
mid-May, each 
year, before the 
money he made 
started being his 
own. In other 
words, the 
take on an 
yearly work-pay
 took until the 
middle of May 
to be paid, 
if you looked 
at it in that way. 
Of course, they 
take small 
increments on 
a weekly basis 
so you don't 
'notice'. But 
Emil's point 
was if they did 
it this way instead, 
everyone would 
see and go nuts 
over it. Emil's 
also the guy 
who gave me 
the idea of why
Election  Day
is in November 
and Tax Day is 
in April, and
opposed to it by 
six months on 
the calendar. He 
said if they were,
as they should be, 
right next to each 
other, a person 
would vote their 
anger at having 
just paid taxes, 
and turn the bums 
out. For a 17 year 
old or whatever 
I was then, that 
was eye-opening 
news; never heard 
about that in school. 
had a good head, 
spoke well, talked 
a lot  -  not too 
much about the 
old days, of which 
I wished I'd asked
more, but mostly 
about his own
with the way things 
were. A bit of a
crank. Curmudgeon, 
I think it's called. 
The other (this is 
a bit odd) thing I 
noticed, seeing 
other older guys 
come and go 
through the shop, 
was that Emil 
wasn't one of 
those always 
making cracks 
about sex, and 
women, and 
stuff. He simply 
never went there, 
while  -  for all 
these other guys  
-  everything was 
snide and sniveling 
all the time. Sex this 
and sex that, girls 
and their shapes 
and parts and habits, 
dirty jokes, picture 
cards, the whole bit. 
I always just thought 
it went with the 
territory. Not for 
Emil though.
Emil would come 
in, hunker down, 
and go right to 
work, solid, 
steady, eight 
hours on a 
letterpress machine.
He also always 
brought the most 
tidy little bag 
lunch, and would 
sit, stop, and eat 
a sandwich in 
silence. Not a 
peep  -  and for
all his other chatter,
that was something.
Angel, on the 
other hand, along 
with Bill Konowalow, 
from Milltown, by 
East Brunswick, 
would go to one 
of the small offset 
presses we had, 
Multilith 1250's, 
as I remember  -  
and just turn it 
on and begin 
printing the day's 
work, which had 
been all laid out 
and sequenced 
for him. Still just 
never said much. 
Me and some 
other guy (I 
forget his name, 
Doug or Dennis, 
or something; a 
Rutgers guy), 
who we called 
'Weirdo Beardo' 
because he had 
one, and was 
one, would do 
the other work 
-  it involved 
collating, folding, 
arranging booklets 
for stapling and 
binding, trimming 
and cutting, 
packing and 
the rest. There 
was a ton of 
inside the shop 
printing stuff to 
do, always. And 
then I'd get the 
deliveries too. 
The deliveries 
were another 
matter, because 
most of this all 
was legal printing  
-  appeals, briefs, 
transcripts, texts 
of opinions and 
and studies. Mostly 
it was just the 
most simple 
work - unlike, 
later, for me, 
St. George Press, 
which was a real 
print shop, with 
a graphics and 
art department, 
state of the art
junk, Appellate 
was just a repro-house, 
a mess of paper and 
small presses. The 
briefs and things 
had to be docketed 
in different courts 
for appeals (thus
'Appellate Printing')  -  
Trenton, Philadelphia, 
Newark, even NYC 
sometimes  -  so I'd 
often be flying 
around like a 
hundred miles 
an hour to get to 
a clerk's office 
or a courthouse 
Hackensack to 
Haledon, anywhere. 
By three PM, 
before which 
time they had to 
be time-stamped 
and entered with 
that day's date. 
Speeding tickets, 
parking violations, 
I'd get them all; 
but they all got 
squashed from 
some inside 
connections the 
owner had, at 
Appellate. I've 
written about 
some of these 
adventures before, 
in another collection 
of these tales, so I 
won't recount here. 
We also did a lot 
of printing with 
and for Rutgers 
Newark, Law School; 
so a lot of my stories 
relating to that came 
out of there. Memorable 
occasions. I was still 
young, had a lot of 
crap ahead of me, 
but it all worked 

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