Thursday, January 26, 2017


I always had a lot
of things on my mind;
and that wasn't always
good. Sometimes,
when you're just
getting to age, around
14 or whatever, it's
best not to be that
way, best to rather
just coast a little.
Check out the
scenery. I could
never get to that
'empty-mind' state,
though I tried. All
these little books
about Buddha and
stuff  -  all those Zen 
koans, perplexing,
and confounding.
The things that,
paradoxically, were
supposed to settle you
in stillness by being
so turned over and
quizzical. I'd sit
around getting
plastered by all
these ideas. It's
really no wonder
that I never came
to any sort of fruition.
Fruition  -  now there's
a funny word that's
really easy to trace
but no one ever does.
An idea comes to
fruition, like a tree.
An apple tree, starts
with blossoms in
the Spring, they
drop off and the
little seed-bud slowly
grows outward into
the form of an apple,
which then grows
out, circularly, (as I
already said back
when, nothing in Nature
does not grow curved
or rounded; no sharp
edges or angles), and
then matures for
picking. It has
become the apple.
The fruit. It's come
to 'fruition.' What
d'ya know again!
My whole life has
just been a skid; the
brakes locked on,
way back ago, but
the skid is still in
effect. I'm not brainless
or mindless, and the
'empty' aspect of my
thought has never set
in. I'm still in the
carom, or the
careening; which
is cool.
However, in the
outer world, things
are always underway
-  changing, evolving
around whichever
individual version of
'you' that's in effect
at any time. It's
always different.
There was a guy
in New York, still
is actually, named
Kenny Shopsin  -
sort of a crazed, cranky
restaurant-diner guy
with a very eccentric
place at Bedford and
Morton Streets; well, it
was back then, something
 like 1973. Strangest
place you'd ever go
into; the guy was a wee
bit crazy over his food
and the preparation,
and even over your
eating of it. He was
rude and sometimes
in your face; a sloppy,
big Jewish guy whose
father had bought him
this place in '72 say,
back when it was a
shop and the guy
was retiring or
something. Kenny
Shopsin would
never have passed
any sort of test, I
mean any  -  culinary
school, business
school, decorating
or design school,
public relations school
and any other. Except
an 'I'm me and I'm
real' school, if they
had that. But it all
worked, for years
-  people always
got all scared to go
in, he'd never accept
parties over 4 people,
and at that he was
making an exception.
People would come
in with like 4, and
then another 2 would
swaggle in, pretending
it wasn't planned and
all. He'd cut them.
Believe me, with a
knife. And then
he'd ask what they
wanted and make
fun of their selection
and of them too. It was
the same thrill as
maybe at a circus,
having a sit-down
meal in the lion's den
or tiger's den. Kind of
'always look behind you.'
His menu was bizarre,
with the craziest things
in the world  -  like 'Your
Girlfriend's Surprise', or
somesuch wicked title,
which was an order of 
pancakes that had, in
the center, I guess as a
filling, peanut butter.
They moved him out
a long time ago, and
now the same kind
of place, though now
smaller and not near
as eccentric and strange, 
though still run by him, 
is in the Essex Street
Market, at Essex
and Delancey. It's
all the same, maybe
smaller, yes, but just
as nutty and crazy,
but not nearly the
same vibe as the cool
corner store look
it had before. Essex
Market is a LaGuardia
era (1930/40's anyway) 
cooperative vegetable 
and fruits open-space 
market, of stalls, and 
vendors. Depression
era, it has a real
downtrodden feel,
though it's busy.
Just no magic.
It too is coming
down within the
next few years  -
as there's a ten-year
horizon massive
building plan in
play now right
there, taking away
some ten blocks
for an extended
housing project crap
operation to be called
'Essex Crossing.'
Shopsin's gets an
actual new location
for itself in those
plans  -  though I
figure Kenny won't
be around to see
that one. He's
probably 72 or
75 right now;
still functioning
OK, I guess, but
getting on.
It's funny how it
always seems the
people with the
most disdain for
money have the
easiest time getting
it, or making it, I guess
I mean, while others,
all spiff and hard-working,
slaving to make their
dollars, big-time,
never hardly get off
the mark. All their
sweat and hard work
and fancy white shirts
for nothing. It beats
me how that
result stuff comes
out. Maybe it's all
an act, but I don't
think this Kenny
guy ever gave a
crap about whether
he made a dime or
not. Yes, that seems
and maybe I'm wrong,
but whatever. Maybe
his family just had
a ton of money to
begin with. It' all
just about being
humble and simple
about it, not striving
and reaching. It's a
good trait, and
it produces results.
Like throwing people
out of your dime-store
restaurant when they
come in with too many.
Another thing that
kept me from really
hitting for the fences,
the really long ball,
was that all I ever
saw at the end of
things was always
some God-awful
lie; some bogus
concoction made
up so that people
don't have to face
up to real things.
Like in the seminary.
This Father Jude guy
-  I forget a lot about
him, except he
always reminded
me of Dennis the
Menace's father.
The TV show or
cartoon that was
made from it, and
there was a comic
book too. Kind
of a totally out of
it, yet attentive, big,
serious guy, with doubts
about nothing, set in
his ways. And just
ready to spiel it off
whenever. He had
these heavy-frame
glasses, and that
robe and beads and
all, the things they
always wore  -  like
we were in some mystic
temple or something.
None of it worked at
all on him, he ended
up looking like some
pipe-smoking Peabody,
walking strangely around
and trying to always
be thoughtful and deep.
One day  -  he was one
of those 'Advisor' guys
we were supposed to
sit and talk with every
so often; making sure
our gift and 'vocation'
(that's what they called
it when they said that
'God' had specifically
chosen us to work in
his 'vineyard' - by which
they meant, somehow,
the regular, ordinary
people of whom, it
otherwise appeared,
that 'God' couldn't 
have cared less about, 
or was apparently 
quite forgetful of), 
wasn't going astray, 
that what God had 
given us was being 
properly used. 
(Yeah, sure it was). 
It was all so stupid, 
but that's another 
day's tale. I said, 
to the effect, 'Father
Jude, if God knew 
everything, and all 
things were within 
his creating power, 
and if God was 'perfect,' 
as it's said, why would 
he have made a world 
like this  -  with all 
the bad things, death 
and murder,war and 
destruction and 
disease and all that? 
If he knew everything, 
he'd surely see how 
it would all turn out.' 
My question was 
real, and sincere, 
and, I figured, within 
my rights to ask 
since in a few 
years time it 
would be me 
having to defend 
all this oddball 
stuff to others, 
in my capacity 
over them, as 
priest and 
inside-line to 
God guy. You'd 
think I'd at least 
get a thoughtful 
answer, worth 
something, at least 
to validify my own 
thinking, in his 
eyes anyway, as 
a witness to me. 
Gosh, I needed 
something. He 
was a bit of a 
dud though, in 
my eyes. You 
could tell just 
by the really 
name he'd taken, 
'Jude.' Saint Jude, 
by the way, in 
Catholic Saint stuff, 
was (is) the 'Patron 
Saint of Hopeless 
Causes.' Man, can 
you get over that? 
His answer to me  
-  which I thought 
really sucked and 
was pretty useless, 
even if it did have 
a germ of something 
in it, something to 
think about, was a 
non-starter, a dead-end. 
A hopeless cause! 
Because all it did 
was tell me nothing 
at all and just make 
my 'question' fit 
within the stupid 
pattern, and the 
standard church 
thought. All crap. 
He said, to the effect, 
'Well, God, knowing 
these things and 
realizing all things, 
also gave mankind 
Free Will, the choice 
to make or not make 
things right, the 
chance to choose 
correctly and, through 
Grace, make the 
world right.' That 
was so bad it was 
humiliating  -  that 
my stupid question 
could even bring him 
to a point that measly 
and low. I considered 
it 'escape-thinking' in 
the very worst, adult,
 organized bogus-world 
way possible. I had
been seeking an
answer, and all I
got was that 
boilerplate pablum.
It was about this
time that I began 
realizing this game
wasn't going to be 
one for me to play.

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