Monday, January 9, 2017


I was apart as
much as I was
whole. To me it
all sounded very
weirdly as if it
could be some
seminary lesson  -
from the differences
comes the oneness,
and all that. In the
seminary, we never
did get much math
taught  -  the joke
was, or mine was
anyway, 'why would
they teach us math?
Here, in a place
where three always
equals one?'
However old I was,
a kid, an adolescent,
young adult, whatever
stupid category they
put down for me, (old
enough to kill, good
for Vietnam, or to
be killed, so sorry)
I was broken and
sundered too. A
part of me was
this, a part of me
was that, and each
part again wanting
to be something
else. How's a
young person
supposed to get
any direction from
that? What do you
take? Where do
you go? I felt
sundered, hell
I felt forty ways
to sundered  - I
innately knew
what I wanted
to be, nay, what
I had to be doing,
so I did that. Two
things in my life
made 3-in-1 one
products : a household
lubricating oil company,
and the catholic doctrine
company I'd lost. It was
gone and I wasn't 
getting it back. But
the world was not
responding to my
needs either, it was
not answering my
call. Down at the
bottom of Main
Street, Rahway
Avenue, about
this time there
was still an
Oldsmobile Dealership,
Woodbridge Olds in
fact, at that corner,
and a rounded,
corner, brick tavern
right connected to it.
I never got the name
of it, but often as
I passed, walking,
bicycle, or car,
I'd see people
coming and going
-  not many, don't
get me wrong  -
but I'd see them
-  there were some
sleazeball project
apartments right
across the street -
it was only thirty
years later that I
learned they were 
owned and managed 
by this Metuchen 
guy named Stanley 
Lease (real name), 
who had Lease 
Realty. He owned 
a ton of buildings 
in Woodbridge 
and Perth Amboy. 
None of them kept 
up very well, and 
all rented out to 
lower echelon 
types. Stanley 
lived in Metuchen, 
a big house right
on what was called
Tommy's Pond, 
and when I had 
an office there 
at 719 Main Street, 
he was my landlord 
too, for the office  
-  so I got to know 
him. He and I 
drove into Perth 
Amboy once, 
because one of 
his duplex tenants 
had left behind a 
motorcycle in the
basement. He 
wanted me to 
see it, thinking 
it was worth a 
billion dollars 
to him if he sold 
it. It was a real 
piece of junk 
15 year old 
Honda Goldwing, 
probably worth 
600 bucks, if it 
even ran. Sorely 
we rolled away. 
Stanley's also 
the guy who, 
in 1998, decided 
I would be great 
as a candidate 
for Mayor, in 
Metuchen, where 
I lived then. I 
took the bait, 
like a fool. What 
a disaster. Maybe 
I'll relate that 
story again 
sometime here. 
Anyway, this bar  
-  I figured a lot 
of the local corner 
drinkers just rolled 
out of bed and 
some time by 
afternoon got 
their shady asses 
across the street. 
Cars and taverns 
belong together 
anyway, right?  
In its waning 
years, Woodbridge 
Olds became a 
printing client 
of ours too, at 
St. George Press, 
after all those car 
advertising guys 
had been moved 
in. Small, small 
world. Always. 
I wondered what 
sort of wholeness 
those people, who 
drank there, fit 
into; if they 
found themselves 
complete. Or 
was their drinking 
a way of reaching 
that missing 
Was everyone like 
me? There were 
so many things 
in the air right 
then, my air, I 
felt like a 
filled to burst. 
Just throw me 
at something. 
It was like that 
Mark Twain book 
called Huckleberry 
Finn. It's really two 
different books, 
in one. At Chapter 
Sixteen, it all of 
a sudden takes a 
different tone, 
different action, 
even the writing 
style and point 
of view are altered. 
See, Mark Twain 
had originally 
written the book, 
up to Chapter 16, 
and then put it 
aside, and it 
stayed aside 
for a number 
of years. Later, 
when he took 
it up again to 
complete it, 
his earlier Mark 
Twain voice was 
gone  -  he'd changed, 
been transformed 
some, had money 
and lots of other 
problems, travels 
and experiences. 
So, of course, the 
remainder of the 
book takes on a 
whole other 
coloration. I 
loved Huck Finn; 
he was me all the 
way  -  anarchic, 
rude, opinionated, 
onto his own way 
about things, surly, 
worried, reflecting 
on things all the 
time, feeling sorry 
for old Nigger Jim 
and Pap, and 
everybody, and 
their feelings, 
dead and alive, 
even those two 
ridiculous English 
fakers, and the 
Grangerfords and 
the Hendersons, 
whoever those 
feuding families 
were. (That was 
quite a battle of 
slaughter, by the 
way). At the same 
time, to finish the 
book, Twain drags 
Tom Sawyer 
back into the 
action, running 
things  -  boy I 
hated Tom Sawyer, 
he represented 
everything else, 
he was the 
for sure : logic, 
control, reason, 
poking fun at 
people, insensitive, 
hurtful, fake and 
pushy. I tell you, 
had I been there 
I'd have stabbed 
him. Stabbed him 
dead, and put his 
lifeless clump on 
a big raft to float 
down the river 
some to be 
consumed by 
riverside dogs. 
I just couldn't 
take to anything 
he did  -  like me, 
Mark Twain was 
suffering right 
then from that 
same two-halves 
disease. What's 
it gonna' be  - this 
way or that, Tom 
is it, or Huck? 
I never knew 
if anybody saw 
in this way, but 
the split was 
perfect and 
clear too for 
me. I never 
actually knew 
anyone anyway 
who'd really read 
the book, carefully. 
I know a ton of 
people always 
say they have, 
but I think that's 
just for school 
stuff, where you 
can fake a lot 
without really 
doing what you're 
supposed to have 
been doing  -  like 
reading Huckleberry 
Finn, for real. Somehow, 
Huck, and the whole 
Huck world, lost out. 
Tom Sawyer was the 
business-man, the 
rational world, the 
profit and gain, 
guy, always 
figuring, always 
things with 
his stupid, 
boring schemes. 
In the Adventures 
of Huckleberry 
Finn, I wanted 
him gone  -  I 
mean Tom Sawyer 
here, not Huck. 
Gone in the worst 
way imaginable. 
Whatever it would 
be  -  drowning 
and then eaten by 
dogs and dragons 
and then spit back 
up to be consumed 
once more, by 
riverside goats, 
and dogs again  
too. I was with 
Huck. When he 
lit out, escaping 
everybody, for 
points west, I 
was with him. 
The whole world 
beckoned that 
ragamuffin boy.
Funniest thing was, 
right then, I actually 
wasn't with him. 
I was looking
down the maw of 
something staring 
back at me, raring 
to get me and get 
me good. The 
treachery of 
being normal. 
It had me for a
while, but I knew
I'd breakaway, 
and I did, soon
In Woodbridge, 
about that time, 
mid 60's, whatever, 
there was a yearly 
Miss Woodbridge 
contest  -  four or 
five girls from 
the high school 
were selected to
 run for the crown, 
garner votes and 
popularity and 
all, and whoever 
got the most 
votes by whatever
 date it was, was 
crowned Miss 
Woodbridge  - 
trophy, sash, 
tiara, probably 
50 or a hundred 
bucks. I forget. 
There was this 
squeakily, eerie 
local real estate 
guy back then, 
Richard Bassarab,  
who looked
clean like Glen 
Campbell looked
clean, back then, 
and who was  
somehow put 
in charge of this 
He'd gotten, for 
the task, a new 
Plymouth Fury, 
unlike the cops'
 cars in town, 
which were 
also Furies, 
new, but  -  
naturally- hardtops.
His was painted 
maroon, and 
there was some 
insignia on the 
side or something, 
for Miss Woodbridge 
and all that. He'd 
drive the girls, 
one or two at 
a time, around 
to various functions 
and locations, 
where they were 
supposed to 
campaign for 
drum up votes, 
do that whole 
routine to make 
people happy. 
I never remembered 
who was who, 
nor who won, 
or any of that. 
This Richard 
Bassarab guy, 
in the meantime, 
would often 
enough be in 
NJ Appellate, 
hanging around, 
talking, getting 
printing, whatever. 
We all got to know 
him a bit, Bill and 
me there anyway. 
Neither of us 
ever quite 
knew what he 
was up to with 
these girls, nor 
how much his 
'driving them 
around' entailed. 
It was always our 
mystery, what he
was up to, and we
 envied him some 
anyway  -  picking 
up high school girls, 
for free, doing his 
job, and whatever 
else he did, and 
probably getting 
paid nicely for it 
while he waltzed 
them around 
Anyway, kind 
of creepy, and 
he seemed like he
might have been
gay anyway. The 
girl who eventually 
won, whoever 
she was, she'd 
get to lead the 
town parade, 
July 4th maybe, 
I forget, sitting 
on the back of 
the seat in his 
open car, waving 
to everyone and 
throwing kisses. 
It was all some 
Andy Hardy 
version of reality 
anyway  -  on the 
other part of that
same spectrum, 
high school boys, 
right there, were 
getting churned 
up and sent to 
the ringer of 
Vietnam. Escorted
around in tanks, so
to speak. Hoo-hah, 
there. So, as I said, 
this 'Richard' Bassarab 
guy always had us 
befuddled, riding 
around all the time 
with these healthy 
girls. We just laughed 
it off  -  figuring 
they didn't call 
him Dick for 

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