Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I always loved crummy
things, materials and
places slightly breaking
down, upon which 
both the evidences
and the appearances
of time are clearly
shown. Like old paint
on an old car  -  not
the kind that's cared
for, just rather the
kind that's allowed
to break itself down,
dis-color, fade and lose
all luster, show spots of
thinness and rust. In
effect start 'becoming'
something else. We
each wear our mileage
in the same way. We
enter a middle-ground
of becoming that which
we had not been before.
And, like things, so
people: that's what
endears me to people,
or, I guess, makes
them endearing to
me. However
you'd put that; I'm
not here to fight
grammar. I love
people who can
accept their breaking
down, and walk
boldly with that. In
1970's New York, it
was probably then the
heyday of falsity :
fake faces and lifts,
elderly women who
somehow insisted they
retained the right to
try and look 12, or 18,
or 25. Always a real
bimbo-failure, and
who cared? It was
just the times, and
then later, much,
those crazy years
of Botox and facial
lip fatteners (I forget,
but that had a name
too), it always got
pretty grotesque and
unsightly, I thought.
But, money went
around from money
trees for some, and
they went at it,
doing what they
wished. It made
for a weird visual
environment, even
though the fashion
pages and the geeks
adored it and showed
each other up and off.
The entire city was
trying it  -  the
infestations of
demolition crews
dismantling all of
the old world, and
leaving us nothing
but one-plane flat
glass and plastic,
everywhere. I loved
ripply glass with
or however the
hardware guys
phrased that. Those
old windows made
all the difference.
It's one thing to
try and update  -
people OR buildings,
but the complete
destruction of
something, which is
what it really ended
up as, that was another
matter entire, and not
a good one.
As real as New York was, 
that's how fake it was on 
its way to becoming. It
was in the air  -  a 1960's
bit of churlish foppery.
Ties, beards, clothing,
shoes, women's styles,
everything was well 
on its way to being
'performance' and
not earnest living.
Show-biz. Like now,
where the end result 
is people worrying 
more about where their 
corn or cantalope is
grown and by what 
means, than about the 
item itself. Once the 
docks, piers, ships 
and haulers, for real
 stuff, not today's form 
of plastic fork and 
Chinese shoes and 
hats, coming in, were 
gone, it was only a 
matter of time for it to 
become a sort of 
'ahistorical' island-Limbo 
of the lost. Confused, and 
with a weird sort of overt 
self-absorption that then
tries to cover for the quite
ridiculous un-naturalness 
of what New York City is 
now. Nothing generated, 
but everything proliferated; 
a sterile island filled with 
millions of waiting faces that
need food and humor to 
remain in place, at all times. 
Back then it was all underway,
 just not yet so noticeable. 
R. D. Laing, the 1960's and 
'70's own hip, psychological 
analyst writer, would call it 
insanity, and he was right.
No longer with anything 
grounded, everything flies 
loose. Everyone had their 
'origination story', half of them 
made up, which became 
one of the trademarks
of New York humor too.; 
mostly a Jewish thing, 
a real Woody Allen type 
of nervous trait. That's
where the religious folk
stepped in; at least they
were 'grounded.' I loved 
it all. The big, Friends
Meeting House at 
Stuyvesant Square,
back then was the best.
I knew one or two
people who were, or
who I considered and to
be 'secular Christians.'
Having myself just
fallen all out of that
Catholic seminary
routine with all that
magical thinking
and rigors of this
and rigors of that.
They amused me, but
held me up with an
interest too. On Ninth
Street, there was a
place called Menno
House, where the
Mennonite people who
were in New York City
for a long-term of
subway preaching and
street-corner proselytizing ,
in the manner they did it,
would stay. I don't know
what it is now; it's still
there but looks a lot better.
It was always humble 
and quiet. They kept a
little library room that 
allowed a person to go in
and just stay for a bit.
They kept a meager little
library, mostly of their 
own stuff, but there was
also the usual: Devotional
stuff: My Utmost for His
Highest, which was like 
an old re-write and 
commentary, daily on
verses from the Bible 
with this Oswald
Chambers guy's own
thought and lines, by this
guy who'd died of a
burst appendix years 
back. Not that I read it 
each day, but whenever 
I was there, I'd catch up
on a few. It was like
sitting around in the 
main lobby of the Chelsea
Hotel, on 21st street,
but entirely different.
As different as is order
from disorder. One place
was sanctified and
right, and the other 
place was mainly some
mad, crescendo nuthouse:
bizarre basket cases living
out their days accompanied 
by cats, sex booze, or pills.
Not too many dogs, though
they were around too. In
that lobby, everyone was
too strange or disoriented
to actually even know that
you were there, and the
only devotional found there
was one to self. One of
Chambers' maxims was
'Stop listening to the
tyranny of your individuality
and get emancipated out
into personality.' I was
never sure about that, 
but these Chelsea Hotel
lobby creeps sure seemed
to have landed  hot and 
heavy on somehow onto
both of them : individuality
AND personality too.
I always took that, sort
of, as an attack  -  veiled or
not  -  on what an artist or
a creative person was about.
Was Chambers inviting us each
to fall away and abandon
our own 'oneness' or
singularity, through some
age-old chestnut of 'we're 
all the same and all as 
one, together.' If so, why? I 
really hated those sorts of 
broadened-out and 
fairly useless, wide
It always sounded
all too much like some
Beatlesque hippie-dippie 
love-in claptrap. If that's
what 'religion' thought
of us each, just part of
a whole, I wasn't ready 
for that, call me wrong 
or right. I hated being 
blanded-out to nothing.
I always thought 'God'
liked character.
So, you had 'Shadow of
the Almighty', that one
was by Elizabeth Elliot.
And that old bugbear,
the 'Chronicles of Narnia'.
All that C. S. Lewis 'Mere
Christianity' verbiage. I
always considered them 
as secular books and
not really Christian, 
from my view anyway  
-  they never brought 
out the shield or the 
sword; the one
Jesus said he was 
bringing. Or the fire 
and torment. Everything
was too happy and 
glossed over. Not that
copy-cat Catholics had it
any better : they had
'Limbo', this crazy 
concept of between 
places, waiting it
out, as it were. A real
suspended animation 
of half-being, that they
at least pretended to 
believe in. They had 
no clue that the 
Buddhists had done 
it one better with 'Bardo,'
their place wherein 
the unsettled and still 
homeless souls wandering 
were able to be. It too 
was an entire and 
other place, outside 
of all recognized 
boundaries and forms 
of being, and just as
conceptual too. 
Why couldn't either 
of them just say 
they really hadn't 
a clue and were 
just hoping for 
something. I'd heard 
of Bardo Pond  - 
which was like a 
lake or a conceptual 
body of water-being 
that they had to 
cross over before 
(Buddhists) they 
gained re-birth, 
or I'd heard of 
Brigitte Bardot, 
which at that time 
some men would 
have considered 
Paradise, but I'd 
never really gotten 
the jump on Limbo, 
except as a mad, 
sad dance craze 
from about 1961. 
Boy, the world 
was way too 
for me.

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