Saturday, January 7, 2017


Sometimes the only
reasonable way to
bring things down
is to just bring them
down. But that's only
good if you want the
flight to end. I never
reached that point, so,
true to form, I always
had all sorts of things
flying, in the air, up
and around me,
unfinished. Once
in a while I'd
stand back and try
looking at everything
'objectively,' thinking
maybe to give it up,
or some part of it. I
remained pretty
much engaged with
everything around
me  - sponge-like, I
collected and sapped
up whatever was
circulating. You have
to understand  -  I used
the most boring and
ordinary of young-guy 
pursuits as useful 
stepping stones. An 
example is the 
real joy I found 
in going to Philadelphia. 
Every so often, some 
legal-docket issue 
and its printing had 
to be delivered to 
Philadelphia. For 
these trips I got to 
use the owner, 
Ron's, new Ford 
Galaxie. Pretty 
cool  -  plus, that 
secretary girl from 
Newark I wrote 
of, Marlene, she 
had a new Mustang. 
Once or twice she 
let me use that as 
well, instead of 
the Galaxie,  In 
any case, using the 
NJ Turnpike, I got 
where I was headed 
in good fashion. 
I was a naive as 
a potato, in love 
with being, or the 
sense of being anyway, 
and footloose and 
fancy free in Philadelphia, 
expenses paid. I'd park 
in some safe and secure 
location, all paid up, 
grab my box or two 
of stuff, and head 
over to the Philadelphia 
City Hall. If you've 
never seen this place, 
you owe it to yourself. 
Topped by an  
enormous statue of 
William Penn, it 
centers the actual 
street geometry 
of Center City 
Philadelphia, which
is what they call
their downtown.  
Broad and Market, 
and the rest, they all 
spin out from it. 
Back then (it's since 
been changed) the 
law was the no 
building in the 
city could be taller 
than the statue of 
William Penn; no 
higher. That was, 
maybe 15 or 20 
stories high, so the 
city, back then had 
only the most traditional 
and nicely staid sort of 
skylines. Reserved. 
Proud. Stately. Serene. 
Stone. Now it's all 
different  -  height 
restrictions were removed, 
by the 90's maybe, and
the City Hall and the 
statue atop it are now 
dwarfed, and all around 
it are fairly gross, or 
innocuous, glass, 
geometric, skyscrapers  -  
like anywhere. Could be 
St. Louis, could be Dallas. 
I'd go up into the tower 
of the City Hall  -  just 
a nasty, rabbit's warren 
of plain, small clerk's 
offices, one after 
another, down crummy 
hallways, with groups 
of boring people 
milling about. I'd 
file my papers, docket 
the booklets, briefs 
and printing. Then I 
was done! The rest 
of the afternoon, 
within reason, 
travel time, etc., 
beckoned. I knew,
yes, that I needed to 
be back with THEIR 
cars, after all; but I 
dawdled as long as
 I could, always 
blaming traffic. 
Along the grassy 
expanses of City Hall 
(these are gone now 
too, just a small 
monument remains 
of the famed 'outdoor 
book-market' stalls of 
Center City Philadelphia),
 there was an endless 
array of dark green, 
wooden sheds, and 
stalls, and tables, 
heaped and filed 
with used books.
I'd browse forever. 
It was amazing, as 
if the entire area of 
Philadelphia and its 
environs had given 
over its 200-year 
supply of old books. 
Estate and mansion 
libraries; private 
collections. Things 
were everywhere, 
for sale, at fractions 
of a dollar, and 
three dollars was 
a fortune, a rich-man's 
gold price for a book. 
Every conceivable 
thing  -  subject, 
format, size. Forty 
cent books galore. 
I was hooked. Plus, 
along Broad Street 
there, a number of 
well-established art 
schools and museum 
links proliferated. 
The Philadelphia 
Academy of Fine 
Arts being the 
largest one. I had 
a million plans 
afoot, in my head : 
move there, go to 
that art school, 
hang out at book 
stalls for the 
remainder of 
my day, live like 
Gauguin or someone 
on the fringes of 
my imaginary 
personal Paris.
 I'd get back in 
time for work 
'dismissal,' (much 
like school), and 
realize I was back 
once more in the 
'real' world. 
Woodbridge again. 
Only far in the 
back of my head 
did some place 
remain, exotic, 
imaginary, like 
where I had just 
again been. Distant, 
but so near. I, for 
sure, marked it 
on my calendar, 
be sure of that. 
There was the 
most vast difference 
in the world between 
New York City, 
and Philadelphia  -  
yet they both 
represented the 
self same thing 
to me. History. 
Art. Intelligence 
and Learning. 
Fidelity to Self. 
One was 
murderous about 
its ways and means 
(NYC), and the 
other served tea 
and pastries with 
real gentility and 
reserve, while 
speaking softly 
and kissing you. 
I had mixed feelings,
 but I did find myself 
really liking the kisses. 
It's was one of those 
monumental life-divides, 
choosing one location 
over the other. The 
same thing occurred 
with San Francisco, 
that one time, actually, 
in the late '70's Same 
sort of deal, but the 
distances were far 
greater and it was 
easier to just say 
no and break away
for a return.
You know how 
it was the Beatles 
who sang, something 
like, 'there are people 
I remember, all my 
life, though some 
have changed, and 
these places loose 
their meaning....' 
whatever it was, 
people, places, I 
forget. But I used 
it for places  -  to 
hell with people. 
It all meant the 
same thing for me. 
Diamonds in the 
rough, some locations 
rang perfectly, the 
vibration of my brain, 
while others remained 
totally removed and 
foreign to me. I 
couldn't have cared 
less. I found myself 
easily detecting that 
which I hated. There 
was a certain sort 
of Woodbridge and 
Avenel person, for 
instance, that I 
abhorred. The 
head-down clerk, 
the checklister, 
the bureaucrat in 
arms, the lady, 
endlessly dragging 
through her garden 
row of radishes. 
There were back 
parts of Woodbridge, 
out by Fulton Street, 
that were neighborhoods 
of these tired, old 
Hungarians and Poles  
-  tiny, old homes, 
dogpatch gardens 
with small metal 
fences, groomed to
death yards, everything 
planted in rows, no trees, 
no bushes. Everything 
was always clinically 
pristine. That wasn't 
any good for me; I 
needed the turmoil 
and the mess of an
activity, a flinging 
around of ideas and 
things, the thrash 
of a fury, the fires 
of a skirmish. All 
these other folks 
were just too 
quiet, too fixed, 
too sedate.
One time, in the 
height of early 
hippie times, for 
adults, not for kids  
-  adults ran a little 
later, men started 
growing sideburns 
and mustaches, 
guys in their forties  
-  these two people came 
in trying to be ultra 
hip; some activist 
newsletter or 
something. This 
was in the old 
bank building; 
anti-war stuff, 
Johnson was still 
in office, the country 
was in turmoil, and  
-  as I said  -  all of 
a sudden everyone 
wanted to be hip 
and cool. Sammy 
Davis, Jr. and 
Frank Sinatra, 
for pity's sake, 
were all of a 
sudden Smothers 
Brothers hipsters. 
(A hipster's like 
when you know 
all the categories, 
all the ways of 
being, but your 
own personal 
sense of worth, 
and irony, has 
overtaken all good 
sense and you 
somehow become 
a parody of yourself  
-  shades, and smokes, 
and clothes and talk. 
You're, you tend to 
claim, 'beyond' 
category, and 
It's kind of creepy 
and just wrong, but 
young-middle aged
people fall into it 
all the time. Go 
see Brooklyn, 
if you don't 
believe me)....
this man and woman 
come in, all cool. 
I don't remember 
the guy one bit, 
but the woman, 
maybe 38. maybe 
40. slightly 
just slightly, she 
starts talking right 
at me at the counter, 
going over the order, 
what they needed, 
and all that. Problem 
was, she had on 
a sheer, see-through 
black top, I mean 
sheer, with nothing 
but breasts under it. 
See-through I'm talking. 
Them babies were 
talking too, right at 
me. I hardly heard a 
thing she said, but 
every word those 
hipster tits spoke, 
I was listening. 
Jeepers, what was 
I do to, how had 
the freaking sundown 
world come to this? 
Pretend? 'No ma'am, 
I haven't seen a thing.' 
Continue gaping, a 
stupid man-boy's stare? 
Say. 'Oh gee, how nice!' 
I wasn't made for that 
stuff, sorry. Kind of 
all it did was piss 
me off  - that the 
world had dragged 
itself down to that, 
these two stupid, 
fluorescent creeps 
parading around 
like that (the people,
not the breasts). 
For this, people 
double parked, 
over-ran their 
ticket times, 
complained about 
the fines? I made 
sure, when they 
came back to pick 
up their finished crap, 
that it wasn't me who 
took care of them. 
(Anyway, Bill 
Konowalow wanted 
to see. I always 
thought he was 
banging Marlene 
as it was  -  figured 
one more wouldn't 
hurt him none. 
Big boy  -  but I
don't know what 
she wore on the 
return trip. He 
never said. 
The world
to me was pretty 
nuts. What I could see
was all I saw, and it
was't much to my liking.
I was young enough, just
 then, and say, 'why even
bother, this is all such a
waste.' So I never got on
that treadmill to 'success'
 and money that most 
everyone else was already 
scenting after. One time, Ron,
the owner of this little NJ
Appellate company, and 
I were standing out front. 
One of his brothers had 
pulled up with a gigantic,
brand new, drive-yourself
travel campers one of those
Winnebago things or whatever
they were. Enormous. Huge.
White. He had been having
marital problems we all knew
about (the family stuff was
pretty common currency
within the company). I looked
at Ron, as if to say, 'what's 
this?' His brother came out, 
all proud,  with his alienated 
wife still remaining in the 
front seat. She, once again, 
didn't seem happy about 
anything. He showed us the 
vehicle, inside and out  -  sink, 
style, bathroom, bed, the whole 
bit. They left. It must have cost,
back then, sixty grand, 
which was a veritable fortune.
After he was gone, Ron just
looked at me and, shrugging,
said, 'What are you gonna'
do, it's just my brother, trying
to save his marriage.'

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