9296. HIGH-BUTTON SHOES BEING SOMETIMES STILL IN VOGUE (nyc, westside docks, 1967):
I can't saddle you with guilt the kind of guilt that drives men crazy and it's not yours anyway for the having : here I was I was in trouble by the rubble - an old pile of discarded steel and brick and masonry and glass and everything else from thrown-off old Pennsylvania Station as it was left there - after having come down to be replaced and tracked a lot of the rubble stayed in place for near a year or more and in cold-steel mornings of solitary walking/nothingness at all I'd pass across the entire old westside of the 1960's almost spectacularly unconscious as I was - walking just walking from some train-station repeal of function and scene to a cold-morning's icy-blister of trudge and magic and anything I'd see I'd see twice and then twice again as everything was being changed over into something else - nothing stayed static the old city was on the move : hunched-over postmen with nothing to do and all their postal trucks and warmed over cars filled and saddled with mail while nearby the old horse-dealers and wagon-guys trudged forward in the deep early-morning cold with their horses and wagons going along at a slow-nothing walk across the regal old avenue while filled with some cargo of new or old - the waning days of horse-traffic were slapping me in the face and I knew it well - I'd talk to the Puerto Rican guys at the slop-shop where the trickle of water never ceased and they'd be tending stables of shit and a few leftover-to-die horses still around and we'd laugh back and forth as they'd ask what some 'jerk kid like you was doing walking with two cold feet?' and I could always answer back something stupid like 'going to steal from your mother' or 'taking the walk where you've never been' - those kinds of low-key stupid jokes were all we shared really - the little coffee stand nearby where the old black guy who knew me still took a dime for whatever and I'd sit there until the morning was high and it was well past eleven and then I'd walk off holding something - a leftover memento of having been there - and my feet would lean towards the elevated highway where the traffic was humming along and across the road and underneath I'd hop over stuff to get to the old docks and the guys I knew well there - the gas-can guys who'd be working on trucks or unloading crates and draining oils and moving bales of whatever and cords of rope and twine - all the sorts of things I could join in on and earn a dollar or two for three or four hours work and it was a treat in its way just to see those guys - the boats would come in and the trucks would stop and the exchanges made were for all the little things a city is in need of - west-side livery stuff from Jersey and elsewhere - nothing like today where the only ship cargo is in gigantic sheds and containers from far far overseas and away - all the Chinese and Taiwan and Thailand and India stuff - back then there was none of that and no one would touch it anyway and if they did then nobody wanted it - all the same - so it was all much different - smoky and oily and greasy and dark and black and dank and dirty with little regard for anything else and the truck guys would come over and take a piss into the water or spit on whatever they chose and the nearby toolsheds and such held always surprises - like the babes who'd come aboard for just some fun and just some money - enough guys to pay right there for a college education for sure : nobody cared and everything mixed - it was a solid old-time man's world and as funny as it is those are the same areas now where the only thing around is layers and layers of distant and different stuff everywhere - who'd laugh at that now I wonder? - but even leather bars and Badlands and bondage shops can't hold a candle to the magic I'd see back then and all these years later I can remember in a flash the very best of all that was worst and the very worst of the best too : Chinamen camouflaged as servants and cooks and the lame doorman at Whithurst and Parks - the old boarding house along Charles Street at the end - who always had betting slips and wads of cash to payoff from both ends and the winners and the losers who'd come his way or have to be dragged there to pay - ice-picked hands and broken knuckles notwithstanding most debts did get paid and win or lose the dice were thrown and everyday the same moniker was there in play - 'Dinky says draw and fifty at nine' or the big guy in the Buick who'd come by and have some black guy slowly walk in with another day's take - cash or what I never really knew the game : but the stevedores and the draymen did and the round-backed men pushing barrels and crates seemed always ready to play - for three bucks I'd start a trash-barrel fire and tend to it all day - keeping warm how many guys I can't remember nor say - always something - booze bottles or babes and either one of them in a regular old 1940's fashion or guilt swagger stupidity and daring : high-button shoes sometimes being still in vogue.