Sunday, July 30, 2017

9786. RUDIMENTS, pt. 28

(Making cars)
Nowadays, oh though I try, I just feel
that everything has gone to decadence,
to a real sorrowful waste of time. The
only way I seem to have of recouping
my own sense and sensibility  -  other
than my quite very small circle of
on-hand friends, which is perfectly OK
by me  -  is with my tending to get lost,
and I mean way-lost -  in my own writings,
harangues, and, in general, work. Which I
do, steadily and in quiet. It's fifty years
right now since I lit out from home, for
that final time. New York City bound. That
almost sounds like a historical era, a span
of time to be marked. With something. But
I don't know what, except perhaps a 
gravestone. That'll come soon enough, 
so no matter on that account. What I
regret the most is the loss of that old world
I lived in. It was so soon gone, and certainly
fifty years ago I had no inkling how swiftly
the world I was then inhabiting would be 
transformed. Believe you me, that version
of New York City is long ago gone away.
When I was in the seminary years, what little I
got of New York City was through the newspapers
and magazines I voraciously read. Fortunately,
for what little else good came of it, the seminary
library was a homey enough place, with a nice
circle of armchairs around a central magazine
and newspaper area, off to one side, right there.
Of course, the reading material there was strictly
controlled, no 'Ramparts' or radical reviews.
The most rambunctious thing there was usually
a catholic 'activist' weekly, from the radical left
of Catholic-worker priest stuff, maybe; and then
Commonweal, another one of those, more 
middle-brow. But I managed a personal subscription
as well, to some Washington DC weekly that was
out in those years (gone now) called the 'National
Observer.' It covered national politics and was extra
heavy on, what I thought of as, good cultural and
social kid of reporting, NYC and the elites, art and
the world. It came to me each week, at mail call,
and no one ever said anything about it. It was a
well-needed crutch for me anyway because mail
call was pretty lonesome for me. I forget exactly,
but they'd call out names for mail that had arrived.
Some kids got like almost daily letters and stuff.
Little packages of candies and junk. I never much
got anything, and it was always fairly lonely to
just figure your name, my name, wasn't going to
be called amidst all that glee. So, at least getting
that weekly subscription paper kept me going.
I learned a lot of stuff from it, Mayor Wagner,
Mayor Lindsay, a lot of weird NYC news and 
events. Well, I guess, I had to do something.
One of my friends was a guy named Leo Benjamin,
from somewhere in Maine. He was pretty cool,
sloppy and dirty, and a real yapper, but I always
enjoyed being around him. Then one day he was
just gone. (People would 'leave' like that, sometimes).
I don't know how people lived up in Maine back
then, but this Leo fellow was already very well-versed
in sex and all the workings of it, and girls. Go figure.
There used to be this beautiful green hillside we'd
walk (yeah, it's all condos and built upon now) and
it always reminded me, in its biblical way, of one of
those isolated places in the 'holy land' we'd always
read about, where Jesus walked with his disciples,
the olive trees, bent-over junipers and all that. Anyway,
from picture I'd seen. Gethsemane and all. Real
peaceful and holy and serene. One day stupid Leo
ruined it all for me. Jabbering on and on about
girls he'd known, the jerk takes me to a little
hillside rise with some sort of wooden cover or
something in the ground under some trees. He
pulls up the cover and shows me where the
'upperclassmen' (we called them that, as we
were just first year guys) kept this huge stash 
of porno magazines, protected and dry. It was
unbelievable and I kid you not. That was one
day that really destroyed my visions of any
hillside seminary biblical romanticism. A
bunch of juniors and seniors, wanking. I don't
know where Leo Benjamin may be these days,
but I'd sure like to thank him for that, and a
few other things too.
The best thing about the seminary, actually, outside 
of all my cool drama department plays and theater
work, was that after they did finally boot me out I
never had to pay for it. Or my parents anyway. The
deal was (it was maybe 800 bucks a year, back then),
once you got passed through and graduated and all,
the Diocese of Trenton, or your 'home' diocese, would
pay for it all. But if you didn't finish, YOU were liable.
Except in my case the debt was forgiven if I would
just please go home for a Thanksgiving break and
consider not returning. Which dis-invitation I
surely understood and took advantage off. Never
did get to go through that stash of magazines.
Hey, they used to say, 'sex is holy,' even if
you were married to your hand, I guess.
Boy, I did love the Catholic Church.
Eventually I got all that run right out of my system.
It's funny, when you leave a smug place like that,
you just as quickly forget about it, or I did anyway.
Without even looking back. What the hell was I
thinking anyway.
I always took pride, still do, in controlling myself.
These Catholic people though, and all their
enforced codes and edicts, they said one thing
and did another. They were always preaching
self control at us, but they never mentioned that their
intention was to control 'our' selfs. I can harbor only
the smallest respect for custodians of nothing,
for twisted old guys taking advantage of young
guys. It brings you to situations where a bunch
of boys wind up burying magazines in a wooden
field chest somewhere. So, anyway, it wasn't but
two years later that I couldn't hardly remember a 
thing about that place and never thought about
boys one bit.  Whatever kind of deliverance and
salvation can that be? I know they said all men
shall rise again, but what were they really saying?

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