Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I lived a lot of
midnight life in 
New York City; 
it was all I knew. 
This one interesting 
guy, on 31st, right 
along Broadway, 
he had a loft that 
his father had 
turned over to 
him  -  this was 
a white guy  -  
and all he ever 
did was run 
black-guy jazz-night 
jam sessions there;
 most all the time. 
I never knew how 
his father had 
gotten onto this,
 or what was involved, 
and I didn't care. I'd 
met him, the guy, 
not the father, who 
was dead, at the 
Villager Restaurant 
one night. There was 
a waitress-counter girl 
there, named Tre, 
actually it was 
Theresa, by whatever 
spelling, but all I 
knew her as was Tre.
 She used to say 
her Italian father 
(I thought they 
were Greek, but 
this worked better 
for her story, so I 
never called her 
out on it) had had 
five kids. He was a 
dumbstruck immigrant 
without much command 
for the local language, 
so he called each kid 
by their number, 
birth sequence 
number. She was #3, 
thus 'Tre'. Good joke
 but I never believed 
a minute of it. It was 
the same kid of 
joke, to me, as the 
Spanish fireman 
joke with the kid 
named Jose. How'd
 he get that name? 
'My father was a 
fireman and he 
named the the boys 
he had in the order 
they we're born. I 
was the first  -  
'Hose A', the next 
was 'Hose B', and 
so on.' Har har. 
When I met this 
loft guy, anyway, 
in this restaurant 
 -  they sold paintings 
there, right off their 
walls, diners and 
patrons got a glimpse 
as they ate, for 20 
bucks or so  -  we 
hit it off and became 
friends. I started going 
to his loft, first by 
invite, and then 
whenever I felt. 
It was always open  
-  beer, smokes, real 
Jazz-guy booze, 
reefer, whatever 
you wanted. I never 
did the hard-ass 
stuff, but there 
was speed and 
cocaine and pills
 and everything, 
plus a pretty nice 
coming and going 
of babes, black and 
white, and all ages 
too. They were always 
having combos playing, 
people would just
jump in or out, with 
their instruments or 
those of others. Piano 
players always soloing 
away, keeping a 
keyboard accompaniment 
always going  -  horns, 
drums, etc. The drum 
guys were the best. 
Jazz drumming is 
like no other. It's not 
so much about 'time,
as it is 'breaking' that
 time. It doesn't want 
that rollicking steady 
of regular music, 
or especially of 
rock music. There's 
more pure breakout,
 an antic-level that's 
different. Notes 
between beats, 
drum hits where 
most people expect 
silence or a single 
tap. It's just different 
and it's more like work. 
For sure. The jazz-drum 
is a different animal,
totally. It's just another 
language. All these 
guys, they were 
pretty tight, they 
all spoke together, 
as one, but they 
were all speaking 
differently. I guess
 that's what 'good' 
jazz is, an unspoken 
thing, the whole 
errant tribe, out, 
just rolling along 
the plains together. 
Frenzied. Induced. 
High. The women 
came in, but they just 
sat around, all thin and 
wiry, even the black 
ones, which is not 
like today. Back then 
most everyone was 
skinny, and the more
 serious and really 
beat you were, the 
skinnier you presented 
yourself. 'Be Bop' had 
its own clientele for
 that stuff and mostly 
these black babes 
they really kept to it. 
None of the fat Aunt 
Jemima stuff going 
down. The white girls 
too  -  a lot of really 
tight, skinny red skirts 
and flouncy shirts. 
Open collars and 
necks, cleavage 
and stuff galore. 
They were really 
hip, hip to something, 
I never knew the 
whole story  -  lots 
of cigarette smoke 
and stuff, dark rooms, 
lipstick. A lot of times 
there'd be people 
making out and things, 
on couches on the side, 
or some real serious 
stuff too, in other side 
rooms. Once or twice 
some real bad-ass 
sex scenes. I mean 
not just two people. 
Listen, I was there 
for the music, and 
I fetched too  -  they 
needed something, 
or wanted something, 
I'd be the creep that 
got sent out to get it. 
All those late-night 
stores and stuff. 
I didn't care; it was 
all new to me, it 
was getting November
 cold, I was having 
fun. Shit, I was having
 the time of my life. 
Forget all that 
Avenel crap.
Growing up a 
normal schmuck 
suburban kid in
a highway dumb 
town like Avenel, 
what did I know? 
There was no sense 
of presence, no 
feeling for being
 somewhere. Not 
a touch of a town 
or village feel; 
just a bunch of 
creepy fakes calling 
the highway home. 
Pushing off their 
brats to a new 
down the road, 
hoping for the best, 
and forget the rest. 
Humping with the 
husband, whatever.
 Like Nietszche's  
'Eternal Recurrance' 
stuff, it just kept 
happening. Same 
old crap, over and 
again. Be fruitful
and multiply. Man, 
the parents in my 
were sure good 
at math. Brat-punk
 kids everywhere. 
You know when 
you're 8 or 10, 
awkward, nothing 
seems right, nothing 
really fits, you're 
always wanting to 
be doing something, 
get going, find out 
more. That's what 
the 600 of us were 
at any one time, 
getting jammed 
through the strainer 
of Schools 4 & 5. 
Nobody knew 
anything really, 
us or them. We 
were so crazy we'd 
have block against 
block snowball fights, 
like massed killers 
armed with icicle 
swords and snow-ball
hand grenades, just 
itching to see what 
it really felt like to 
kill someone. You 
could easily go home 
from one of those 
neighborhood brawls 
dead. Alive too, yeah, 
but dead. Take no 
prisoners, kill 'em 
all. There might 
still be missing 
children, from 
those days.
Look at me  -  
that all ended 
me up 8 years 
later in some 
preposterous jazz 
loft crazy-ass 
orgy house sideshow
 in the middle of 
New York City. 
Anything I learned,
 I learned on the fly. 
I stole. I ran junk, 
here and there, 
for people. I never 
knew half the time 
what I was involved 
with. 'You take this, 
you go to 58th, #521. 
Guy there, Frankie, 
he'll see you  -  you 
walk over near him  
-  don't look up, don't 
look at him. Make a 
noise, fall on the 
sidewalk and drop 
that. Move around, 
like something hurts  
- that's to get anybody 
around looking to you,
 not to Frankie. Keep 
it busy, count to 15 
maybe. And then 
just get up, shut 
down, and walk 
away. Do it, and 
come back here  -  
there's a twenty here
 waiting for you.' 
That sounds complicated, 
or not, but it always 
worked. Stupid as 
all get out, but it did. 
I always got paid; 
just never wanted 
to know anything 
more. A few times I 
went upstairs to places  
-  problem was, for 
me, the damn buzzer 
systems always caused 
me trouble, and by 
the time I finally got 
myself in the people 
there were already 
annoyed at me. But, 
no matter. I just 
always said 
something stupid, 
like, 'somebody 
was watching ,' or
'there was two 
cops walking along.'
That made them think
I was really into this 
stuff, experienced 
and all, and knew 
what I was doing.
You can never take 
anything at face 
value, or not much 
anyway, in New 
York. Most people, 
the harmless ones, 
they're just going 
about their work, 
it's a boring, daily 
grind for them and 
with no enjoyment.
 It might as well be 
Trenton or Montclair. 
Others are just passing 
through or visiting, 
along from somewhere
else, vague and stupid. 
It's the lifers there 
and the natives you'd 
need to watch for. 
They were a deep 
and hard and steely
 bunch. They never 
spoke the truth, 
everything was 
always part of some 
ongoing operation or 
scam  -  they all were 
connected, making 
money on this or 
that, and in spite 
of anything else 
they wouldn't think 
twice about clonking 
you on the head 
with a bowling 
pin if it would get 
them a hundred bucks. 
And that could probably 
be arranged, so watch 
out. Everything was
 always on alert. Anybody 
new there  -  one day, one 
month, one year, or five, 
was a sitting duck. The 
trick was just not to 
let on what you're 
situation was  -  lie 
your ass off if you 
had to, make up a 
story, but let them 
know you've been 
around and knew 
the drumbeat.

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