Monday, January 16, 2017


300. 'KNOCKED 
As many things
as captivated me
also kept me
engrossed and
quite busy. I was
like a sponge and
it was all coming
in fast and strong.
At every turn it
seemed to me as
if NYCity was
nothing else if
not just a massive,
wide-open school.
Fascinating. The
huge library took
me in, all the
galleries up along
57th, and at the
Fuller Building,
everything I
could handle,
wherever it
was. I learned
things  -  which
were often funny
to me. Things such
as  -  that, in
reading the
words of
someone else
in the writing
of another,
the item, if
there was
incorrect within
it, like a mis-spelling
or something, it was
labelled, in brackets,
with a '[sic]',
which essentially
meant to say
'his mistake, not
mine.' I found
that hilarious  -
some academic
twerp so caught
up in his or her
self that they
couldn't even
fix or excuse
some other
person's local
error, but had to
'point it out,
gratuitously' as
if to say  -  'look,
this is this idiot's
mistake, not mine.
I know better than
this craphead ever
did.' - I just wanted
someday to get
a hold of one
these jerks and
really let them
have it. It might
not seem like
much to any
of you reading
this, but to me
it stank of a
whiff of
which pretty
much was
indicative of
the uselessness
too of the
this jerk was
about to impart
to you as reader.
Voracious, I
was. I covered
every corner
and each angle
of New York
City I could,
and found plenty
of amazing and
cool things to
satisfy my own
wicked hunger.
Tidbits. The
docks and
waterfronts :
even the word
which in our
day pretty much
covered a wharf
or a dock worker,
actually, in the
1840's and then,
was the word
-  read the following
and you'll see that,
and a '[sic]' too  -
 "Irishmen took
over the New York
City docks as
well. 'Along the
wharves,where the
colored man once
done [sic] the whole
business of shipping
and unshipping,' noted
one African-American
newspaper, 'there are
substituted foreigners
or white Americans.'
On any given day
five or six thousand
of these 'alongshoremen'
moved mountains
of cargo off ships
and around the
port, roaming from
pier to pier..."
So...see what I
mean. The use
here of some
colloquial, old
black guy's language
format has to be
pounced on,
highlighted  -
for no effect. I'm
pretty sure any
one of us as
reader would
know what was
was going on with
that use of the
word 'done.' But
this jackel-boy just
has to point it out,
even though it's 
already in quotes.
It was a funny
world. Another
one I found, while
reading some old 
stuff, was that the 
sports word, 'fan,' 
had nothing to do
with 'fanatic,'  -  a 
shortened form, as
I had thought. It was,
instead, in early 
class-conscious and
quite separated, New 
York negative slang given
to the new, high 'elite' 
of lawyers, brokers, 
editors, doctors and 
sorts, who attended these
events, and were able 
to pay the entry fees;
and then 'followed' the
sports in print. These
gentry enthusiasts were 
known as 'the fancy',
later short to 'fan.'
There's a very 
interesting cemetery, 
down by First avenue 
and 1st street  -  
something often 
called 1st and 1st,
which, yes,  can 
get confusing. It's
under lock and key 
now and not that 
often opened  -  
only on special 
days, tours, open 
houses, etc. (an 
open house at a 
graveyard; pretty 
novel idea). There 
was a time, in 
the 1950's and 
60's, when a few 
famous guys not 
then quite famous, 
all lived there  -  
people like Allen 
Ginsberg and 
some of those 
guys  -  and they 
often have references, 
in their memoirs 
and things, to 
the view or what 
they remember 
the most of their 
arrival at whomever's 
apartment for a 
party or a reading 
or something. Crazy 
guys, artists, writers, 
dopers, singers. The 
graveyard itself goes 
way back to earliest 
NYC history -   all 
those early and founding 
rich family names. 
Just like this one, 
there are one or two 
others like it, pretty 
much hidden in 
those lower confines 
of old NYC, when 
this wooded and 
marshy area of 
the old east side 
was still coarsely 
inhabited and 
considered more 
of a useless and
 junk-land area. 
I loved these 
places  -  each 
monument, the 
ones you can still 
read, have stories 
and are, or seem, 
just aching to let 
you in on them. 
a famous, old 
New York name, 
(Hamilton Fish, 
probably the most 
recent of the lot) 
is represented in 
here by its 
pre-eminent and 
founding name, 
a guy named 
'Preserved Fish.' 
You can look 
that up. It's 
perservered [sic].
Plenty of fanfare, 
and all the time. 
It seemed as if 
there was a parade 
at every moment 
for one thing or 
another -  canyon'd 
streets, confetti and 
ticker-tape, marching 
bands and open cars. 
Astronauts, ball teams, 
ethnic confabs, 
you name it, it was 
there. Just a background 
noise to everything. 
I used to go down 
to the old Federal Hall, 
where there's a statue 
of George Washington, 
right by the stock 
exchange building, 
at the spot where 
supposedly he took 
the oath of office as 
President  -  when 
the previous, original 
and old Federal Hall 
was there. Now it's 
all ponderous and 
marble and columned 
and granite and all. 
Religiously displaying 
placards and statues 
and recreations in 
story-line of all 
sorts of things. 
Guides and docents. 
All for stuff that's 
pretty much just a
made-up narrative
to fit the present 
day. I'd just sit there 
and watch the 
world around me  -  
masses of people 
engaged. Business. 
Stocks and bonds. 
Trading. Banking. 
Right across the 
way is some other 
bank or something 
building where in 
the 1920's or so 
some carriage-bomb 
went off, killing 
and maiming and 
leaving shrapnel 
holes still visible 
and left as they 
were in the side 
and face areas of 
the building where 
it went off. In front 
of it. It was nothing, 
in the present day, 
but always added 
to the deepened 
mystery and 
presence of the 
ghostly past that 
I always felt all 
around NYC. 
Just another 
instance of 
same. Yet, part 
of that whole 'game'
  -  about the ghostly
past  -  was that 
it was all on you. 
The guides and the
pictures and all, 
they'll present to 
you an accepted
narrative of the 
way things 
'supposedly' were,
they say, but it's 
all on YOU to
see it. Each person
envisions and imagines
what they 'think' they
see differently. It's
the same with 
everything else.
There's no 'there'
there, or anyway.
Elmira never had 
anything like that. 
Right in the center 
of town sat this 
really grand post 
office; an entire 
Elmira block taken 
up. It's empty now, 
and they've built a 
new and real 
ticky-tacky postal 
facility across the 
street, sharing the 
space of the old 
bus station, which 
too has been 
destroyed and 
remade into a 
child's puzzle kind
of place where
now people just
sit around, idly
waiting for buses 
and things but
demanding, while
they wait, to be 
amused and not 
have to think about
things. That's the
kind of world we 
have now. They'd 
be most happy if 
the bus came in
being driven by
Mickey Mouse or 
some idiot move
character. God
forbid someone
had to think.
This gigantic old 
post office building 
is for sale. I passed 
it not so long ago. 
The whole place 
is vacant  -  I 
don't know 
what sort of 
shape it is inside, 
but it would be 
a project and a 
half to buy that 
place and find 
a reason to make 
it be something 
again. All right 
in the center of 
town there, just 
off a little, there's 
also an understated 
Civil War era 
graveyard. Not 
like the others, 
at the far end 
of town  -  there 
are graveyards 
there too, (Mark 
Twain), with an 
entire Civil War 
section, but they 
make a big stink 
about it because 
it sits at the foot 
of the Elmira 
which in the 
Civil War days 
was an actual 
prisoner of war 
camp for Confederate 
soldiers  -  they were 
hauled up there, 
half dead and 
wounded anyway, 
and kept in real 
miserable, cold 
conditions (like 
Prison, in Georgia, 
for the union guys, 
but at least there it 
wasn't ever 12 below). 
These soldiers dropped
dead like flies, and
just got buried by
number, in rows.
This other civil war 
graveyard, downtown, 
is just a big block 
of dead people and 
their stones. not 
bragging about 
anything, certainly 
not themselves or 
their place. Neighbors 
and friends, just 
ordinary Elmira 
people, who went 
south, and fought, 
and died and came 
back to be buried 
among family, kin, 
all oddly shared and 
abutting, then, a Sears 
parking lot strewn 
with a bunch of dead 
'69 Chevies and 
Fords and stuff. 
But the houses 
all around it, 
they were big, 
old, and grand 
structures all 
from that era, and
still are  -  rambling 
housefronts, multi-decked 
porches and gables 
and dormers and 
all that really nice 
old stuff. But they 
were in disarray 
and all tattered 
and falling apart 
some too. Everything 
just always seemed 
tired and wrecked, 
even before the 
flood, and then 
after the flood it 
was like a knock-out 
in a really bloody 
boxing ring. It was  -   
finally here saying 
something good 
about Elmira  -  always 
peaceful and restful 
and quiet there  :  
probably because 
it was all on life-support 
and just hanging in. 
Except for the McDonald's, 
and the local Pudgie's 
Pizza stores, Elmira 
was comatose and 
long, long gone. 
But I must say  -  
I liked it, like 
that, and probably 
for that reason.

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