9232. LIVING ON BORROWED TIME:
Some of us live on borrowed time some of us borrow the time to live and some of us time the borrowing just right - perfect timing is dying broke or so it is said - and I'll never know the difference between wealth and riches anyway (only one has a stench?) so people line up for what they want and say to hell with all the rest ? is that correct ? I think not but whichever verdict comes in that's the one we live with - and just like how the guy farming tomatoes in prison on a 2 by 4 lot the authorities allow him doesn't know the difference between Freedom and Anarchy yet somehow wishes for both so we too turn our backs to what motivates others and say 'it's different for me' but it's not - and they line up for salad and they line up for meat and the constable comes and takes them away for criticizing TASTE and there's no satirizing the State and no cursing to God so let's get that straight and then one day just like that I was taking a ride to Harlem trying to find Striver's Row and see what made it go and the yellow taxi let me out at 125th because I didn't care and it seemed right [I exited and paid he nodded and left while I stayed] and I looked around me and liked what I saw and started walking west towards the river or at least to 8th Avenue and then up to 138th Street to see what was there and what the places looked like and mind you on foot I looked like a killer - unwashed disheveled and probably hungry and lost just as well - but I figured because of that I'd be left alone but you never know what grows in climates not home but nothing ever happened and I was taken in as one of their own and so left unbothered I sort of thrived in the climate and the place - well-being and wild with people all over the streets and music in storefronts and excitement along each street : folks on their brownstone stoops in three and four grouped clumps looking out and talking loudly while they smoked or played cards or threw dominos or whatever it is they do with those things and scarcely looking up they'd always let me pass - the side streets much quieter than the avenues but quainter and more pleasant too and I knew I was somewhere else don't get me wrong but I felt it was a place I could dig just as much and already I felt I prospered and already I felt well enough off to stay and so I stayed and walked around and looked at trees and poplars and azaleas and all the rest and every so often some window sill had sprouted a basket or a porch or something would hold a small planting and oftentimes - in the bleak midst of what as not - the beauty was lyrical and stunning and some men whistled as they worked - I noticed - and the fellow with the broom outside some rooming house was busy cleaning the concrete and another with a hose was whistling while he sprayed and the old windows were dirtied and gray from endless grime and rain but pride itself grew in the shade and just as much or more in light - and the old cool air of subway gratings blew up with noise as trains below me passed and here and there I watched people coming or going - some destination A to destination B - valise and briefcase handbag or bicycle a doctor's appointment or a maid's afternoon work all things I'd never know for no one told me what was so and the nearest I'd come to pleasure in a long time then was browsing at Hotaling's - the vast newsstand on 42nd Street which had newspapers and magazines from literally everywhere - Dubuque to El Paso to China to Maine Italy France and El Alamein - gone now long ago as I write this but still a vivid memory to me and the place teemed with visitors looking for THEIR hometown something in the middle of a 1960's New York City and that's how different the world really is now when NO NEED of any of that is had because the entire world and everything else always is on tap anywhere like some huge vibrant tavern of information where everyone's allowed to drink - but whatever - Harlem had a different odor and ethos all its own and it was still a place where people LIVED and found a domain to stay in and wanted it to be their 'there' and so it was - the dark corridors of hallways and the level street-faces of small shop after small shop with people milling around and the uniform stairs and stoops of the low sorrowful brownstones and the ancient armaments and traditional luster of Striver's Row where one after the other of proud street-face lineages fronted building after building still graceful and strong and Harlem had its Renaissance a long time ago but now it had another - between pauses so to speak - and there I was within it and I could smell the gravies and the cooking and the breads and the donuts and the crackling of the fried-heat and all the crazy foods it made and everywhere too was a certain joy even if mixed with a sadness and it was ALL authentic and that's what made even the sadness joyous and the joyousness too just as sad and it was a funny place sorrowful and slow and happy and jumping and everything in between : ask any bicycle messenger or anyone else for the coolest scene they have seen and you'll find out yourself what I'm saying.