Saturday, January 21, 2017


If you drive past
Philadelphia and
just keep going a
little bit, there's an
old town  -  really
crummy and beat
to death  -  called
Chester, or Old
Chester, some say,
and along the road
right there is Calvary
Baptist Church,
which was a big
surprise to me
because out front
of it is an old,
rickety historic
marker, perhaps
from maybe 30
years back, then,
and it makes mention
of Martin Luther King
and, I think it is,
Crozier Bible College
or something like that,
where he stayed and
filled in, preaching
and being mentored
by some other
minister whom
his father (King's)
had asked to
shepherd and take
under his wing  -
his son's activities,
that is. Martin Luther
King, Jr. I guess this
was in the 1940's,
late, maybe. If you
see this Chester, PA
now you'd say to
yourself how
could anyone
have even lived
here, and for those
reasons especially,
of preaching and
study and religion.
I guess it's all
been a long way
 down, for everything
 -  because there are
some old buildings
around  -  solid, old
and strong, and
they present the
appearance of
once really maybe
having been a part
of something. A
strong community.
But now it's all
forgotten, vacated,
or neglected. Like
so much else, you
have to use your
imagination a lot.
I've never understood
a country like ours
here, this USA,
how it can let, or
they, can let stuff
like this occur.
I've been to only
a very small
number of places,
but three, right
off the bat, head
my list of the
worst places I've
seen. Camden, NJ;
Reading, PA; and
this Chester, PA;
I might as well
throw in another
rickety dump in
that area of PA
as well  -  Hamburg.
Maybe a lot of
these places are
or were black-people's
towns, leftover and
filled out by poverty
and destitution
after the whites
were done with
them or got enough
money to move
along to somewhere
else ('better'); but
what they leave
behind is always
a nasty shambles
for which they
then blame others.
The indigent and
the really poor,
who have no other
choice or means
but to fill these
newly abandoned
towns, places,
and cities. Even
like Detroit and
all that. You leave
a void, or you dig
a hole, and somehow
you just think it
will be filled up
with 'something.'
It's a shame, and
there's really no
reason nor excuse
for it, that I can
see. All these
types, always
lecherous for
money and deals;
any opportunity.
They run and hide
then, when they
come to aftermath
places like this.
All you get to see
see are crapholes
like 'Marge's Market'
or 'Wise Owl Grocers'
and such  -  tiny
little, cold and
dank usually, decrepit
places that sell
anything and whatever
they can, next to
the laundromat and
a liquor store. I know
because I make it a
point to see these
places. The lottery
counters, always,
the bread aisle, which
is a misery; no
selection worth
even stealing and
only called 'bread'
out of corporate
charity because at
the very least you
can throw some
cheap peanut butter
on it and go find
some jelly. Kids
are expected to
grow up on this  -
nurtured on nothing
good, all they do
is run to the soda
and junk aisles
-  which in these
places are always
vibrant and
Meanwhile these
profit guys want
nothing to do with
investment in
salvaging such
a place. Ah,
what's the use;
I go on too much.
Anyway, I don't
know much about
Martin Luther King
anyway, nor, frankly,
do I care to know
any more than I do,
but it's also a shame
how someone like
him, whatever
his merits or
life's work, was
slandered and
defamed to death
-  lurid stories of
sex-orgies and
two-timing, even
homosexual stuff;
all that junk was
bandied about,
stories planted,
cameras and secret
recordings, supposedly,
by  -  in the 1960's  -
the likes of J. Edgar
Hoover and his FBI
henchmen. They
distorted and
pilloried this guy
 -  and once that
kind of stuff is
out, whether it's
right, wrong, true
or false, you can't
really ever recover;
your name is
besmirched and
your work often
detoured. That's
the manner in
which both these
ends of the same
disaster happened
-  powers that be,
at work, distorting,
ruining and letting,
by neglect, things
fall apart. While
everything else
that matters, to them
-  like raking it in,
going to the banks,
amassing stolen
funds, and
ruining other
places and people.
Thousands of
man-hours put
in to destroy a
guy like Martin
Luther King,
and then finally
have him killed
anyway, and at
the same time,
taking places
like Reading
and Chester,
and letting them
rot in their 
Hoping the 
miserable people 
left living there 
all drop dead. 
Yeah, pledge 
allegiance to that.
You get yourself 
down to Old City, 
Philadelphia, and 
Carpenter's Hall, 
and the old friends 
meeting House and 
all that, and the 
only thing you 
get there are these 
high-minded tales
and stories about 
the Articles of 
Confederation and 
the Constitutional 
Convention and the 
founders and a million 
stories -  to one about 
how enlightened 
and high and righteous 
they all were about 
any of it. I've gone 
into recreations  -  
they kind of crud 
they put on  -  of 
Quaker meetings, 
and constitutional  -  
supposedly  -  discussions, 
'just like the founders 
in the days of the 
Federalist Papers'  
-  and I come 
away perplexed, 
always, about how 
all of that, today, 
with all that 
sponsorship by 
Aetna and AT&T
and a million other 
creepy corporate things 
(those are only two 
of the 'A's), can 
stand there with a 
straight face and 
try to promulgate 
all that twisted 
malarkey. And all 
those interested nobodies, 
from Dubuque and Peoria 
and Kansas City sitting 
or standing there 
gaping and taking 
all this wondrous 
baloney in. There's 
just nothing into the 
insides of any of this; 
just don't look too hard. 
And, by the way, I've 
always loved the 
Federalist Papers, 
and thought it was 
a really cool name 
for a bunch of essays 
about which not too 
many know or 
delve into. John Jay, 
James Madison, 
Alexander Hamilton, 
all that  -  grouped 
together and written
'anonymously' as a 
guy named 'Publius'  -  
pretty cool.
New York City always 
had its slums and 
problem areas, really 
big time. Some of 
these places had 
historic tales attached 
to them too; I never 
got bothered by any 
of that. There was 
a multifarious place 
called Harlem, which 
as it turned out, was 
numerous places all 
in one. There was 
Spanish Harlem, 
and Black Harlem, 
which is mostly 
the one people 
talked about back 
then, 1970's and 
all. And there was 
also an older Italian 
Harlem as well, 
like east 116th street 
and up that way. 
That was the area 
of the Italian 
immigration, in 
my father's day, 
when the construction 
and digging and 
excavating that 
went on for the 
new Lincoln Tunnel, 
back whenever it 
was, 1930 say, 
moved out and 
displaced all the 
old Italian 
stuff  -  houses, 
churches, schools 
and all, along the 
area by W42nd 
street. It all ramps 
and entries and 
exits and all now, 
for that tunnel. 
My father's days 
was the time
when it happened, 
and his earliest 
days were spent there 
and then the family 
got broken up  -  
all over to various 
foster-homes and 
stuff, mostly Bayonne, 
NJ. But, my father's 
father ended up  -  
some Mafia bigwig 
I was told  -  as my 
father related the 
tales to me of his 
infrequent visits 
back to 'see' his 
father, at 116th Street. 
That entire Lincolc 
Center Italian area 
crowd had been 
transplanted to there. 
But, anyway, these 
places were never 
as deeply embedded 
as sad places to me 
as were these old 
towns such as 
those I mentioned. 
The people in New 
York seemed always 
more resilient, 
tough as shit, they 
could take anything, 
and would, and 
would right come 
back at you too, 
with their own stuff, 
often worse than what
had been meted out. 
Like skullduggery, 
murder, mayhem. 
The stuff you 
remember; the kind 
of things that get you 
scars and missing 
fingers and things. 
These old Pennsylvania 
places, they never had 
any of that  -  those 
people just withered 
and sunk. Maybe 
Camden was a 
little bit different, 
but I don't think 
so. If you sought 
Mob power 
you had to go 
into Philadelphia 
proper  -  almost 
the same as NYC 
tough there. 
South Philly, 
whatever they 
call it. Philadelphia 
has like thirty 
by name, as does 
New York  -  after 
a while you get to 
know them and 
what they are and 
signify. But, these
Chester sorts of 
haunts, those people 
are just the walking 
dead by comparison. 
They stay, get stuck, 
and wither and die.
I don't think I really 
ever did real Harlem, 
black Harlem, by 
choice, all the time 
I was there. It was 
deadly. A few times 
I can remember  -  
wrong subway, or 
express train by 
mistake, or missed 
exits and all, getting 
off finally in any 
of a number of 
God awful places 
I'd never want to be. 
Marauding packs 
of killers and 
guys with knives.
Stare-downs, etc. 
The only thing to 
do at that point, 
and I'd tried 
everything, is 
to lay low, face 
down, walk fast,
 and get right 
back out  -  onto
 the next platform 
or whatever; or 
act just as if it 
all was nothing 
to you, and you 
were as tough 
as they were, and 
had that gun they 
had too. It all all 
bluster, fake, and 
lie, but if you 
presented it right, 
it succeeded. That's 
urban stuff, and only  
-  you don't even 
need to do that sort 
of thing in Columbia 
Crossroads, PA, 
where I lived too, 
or even Elmira. 
Those people are 
just weak. Their 
strength is in their 
steadiness and lack 
of inquisitiveness 
about lots of things. 
Mostly, those country 
folk just can't be bothered.

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