I really want to get this going....

Each day's listing is an excerpted edit from my work. These are numbered and sub-headed for ease of read and isolation from full body of continued text. Each small excerpt is a single-themed piece culled from a much larger whole. Please follow the heading numbers down to #1, or click on 'archive'. The highest numbers are most recently posted, obviously. If so interested, for follow-up, you may contact via e-mail shown - perhaps for discussion or annotation needed.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


116. A SHORT HISTORY OF HOPE - (Life at the Bottom, 1967)

The main question for me at the time was exactly that : IS THERE life at the bottom ? and I'd attempted hundreds of times to answer that question for myself - sullen slovenly sleepy and alone and whatever and however any of it came to be there it was presenting itself right before me in some cultural cross-hole of double-vision in which I saw two or more versions of everything and whether I was walking under the old bridges of the east side or sitting with thought at the Hudson's edge by the big old Superior Ink factory or the old Nabisco building up by 14th I realized thoughts I'd seldom appreciated before and I realized as well that you can't think about God all the time - as much as you'd want to if you did - because it gets you nowhere and fast and Jesus Marconi himself couldn't communicate with the spirit world under the stern conditions I'd been setting for myself and (as Mr. Munching had said to me) 'sunken treasure never lies at the bottom of the sea' I knew that no matter where I'd be looking it would be somewhere else [the way he'd emphasized that phrase put across the point that at the bottom of the sea what you get is what you get - the 'treasure' never lies - it was all some weird double-entendre wordplay thing he was fond of doing and in this case it played the idea of a fib or a misrepresentation against the raw fact of there being 'there' - at the bottom of the sea - whatever treasure it was that was there and once found you couldn't any longer LIE about it for it never lied about itself and at the same time it also showed that wherever you looked for 'treasure' and most especially in the places you looked where it most certainly was supposed to be it NEVER was there] - it never 'lied' at the bottom of the sea but elsewhere - where you'd been led NOT to expect it - and what I'd taken from that was not to look in ordinary places or expected locations for the enlightenment and the elevation expected but instead to go out and FIND it in the charming and quirky places where it really was : so all of it as spoken was part pun part message and both rather complete and obvious anyway - Munching died in 1975 or maybe '76 I can't exactly remember though it was during that strange post-Nixon time when everyone was still in some form of silly political shock and Gerald Ford aka Leslie King was some sort of mistaken President with the most mangled and ordinary of tastes and absolutely nothing creative or with vision - in fact a 'functionary' extraordinaire in the most Soviet politburo sort of way which was odd considering all that was going on but once the dull and flat functionaries begin taking things over you know for SURE - as did Irvington Munching - that for all practical matters all grace and magic is gone from everyday life and the country coarsened because of it (though it appeared that no one mattered about it) which to me seemed a real shame as I'd begun to be able to observe and just 'see' the demise of anything basic of what once was our country and as I said Munching died about then - a sudden stroke and then bleeding and then heart stuff and a rather quick death and Warren stood to gain something by it but I never much heard from him again either and the old building itself over time I noticed bore the signification of something still having to do with Munching or at least some form of his foundational monies - it read 'Global Fiduciary Assurance Fund : Foundation Project Advancement' and to the bottom right of the glass it also read 'Theodore Fenert, Counsel' and I knew nothing of either of these things or people and it didn't take long after numerous after-death visits to the place for us to be told that the library was closing and ceasing to grant access and we were allowed if we wished to take a few books and things as we selected and about a year and a half later a message reached me at the Studio School saying that my presence was sought for a meeting in some lawyer's office after which meeting I was given a check for $6500 dollars which I'd been told had somehow been granted to me free and clear as remnants of a will stipulating such were being distributed - all of which was fine by me but trying to cash it was another story and in order to do so I had to actually open an account at some bank along Sixth Avenue at the corner of 7th Street and once it was opened I then was able to withdraw by passbook amounts at will - it worked for a while and provided me much as that sum in those days was much more than it seems to be now - except that there were tax things and stuff to do which I ignored but I was told that once a 'paper-trail' was established of these sorts of transactions it was hard to ignore NONETHELESS I did so and never was checked for it so whatever and over time - reluctantly - Irvington Munching became a memory for me but one I treasure forever and which I re-live as if it were yesterday everyday and as someone once said 'I'd trade a thousand tomorrows for just one yesterday' or something like that I sort of understand the meaning of that perfectly well and let me interject here too that obviously a great amount of time has gone by but I am still as fresh and ready as I was ever then to undertake the feelings and intensities of the days I am here writing of and if any conceptual idea of 'relativity' exists for me it is the very one which can place me at the scene relative to a 'now' still purring fuzzily alongside me and the 'now' pales by comparison to the 'then' I step into proving multi-dimensionalism is the truth from which one can never leave - I step with time in all its encumbrances and pretty much go wherever I please by that - backwards of course - until I have achieved and set up a 'future' tense based on the fastening of the past to the present and all of that - no matter - Munching lives on : Bethlehem Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Phillipsburg New Jersey the old mining towns of Ogdensburg and Franklin the sunny hilltop resort religion of Mount Tabor and the flat expanse of Morristown proper to Denville - all a startling Speedwell Kingdom to one Irvington Munching and these are but a few of the wonderful local places he brought me all the while at the same time opening up for me the vaster Kingdom of Manhattan and Company all filled with thrill promise and random joy and it all really amounts to a SHORT HISTORY OF HOPE were I to write one but the most exciting of all the aspects to me was the intellectual aspect which brought with it refinement and awareness that I could not have done alone and Mr. Munching always said to me in effect 'you can rely on yourself - you can learn all you need to learn about American History by reading Henry Adams - ALL of Henry Adams and then reading Lewis Mumford and Edmund Wilson as starters - they're available anywhere before this society crumbles away forever at least' and by his presence and grace I DID read and so by that became enlightened (as he said 'for starters') - Art and Technics Brown Decades - a study of the arts in America 1865-1895 The City in History - it origins transformations and its prospects The Condition of Man The Conduct of Life Culture of Cities Hermann Melville Highway and City The Human Prospect (that's all Mumford) and then Edmund Wilson with his great 'decade' books - the 60's / the 50's the 40's I Dream of Daisy (with the greatest 'till then description of the female genitalia ever) Axel's Castle American Earthquake the Bit Between My Teeth - on and on it goes I read all the careful early twentieth century poets from Hart Crane to Ivor Winters and the rest I retraced the city steps of Eugene O'Neil Edgar Allen Poe the founders Thomas Paine and I STOP here for this is but a few but the point I make is that through Munching and brought to him by myself - a curious and meandering almost destined-to-be course through time - I was able to attain places and realms I'd never before imagined mentor tutor whatever you'd wish to call it a young person would have no better means than to follow this way all the while maintaining and preserving his own solitary self in the main - I was alone I stood alone and I went alone all through this and I marveled in waves as I set forth in each new foray : the boroughs the ferries the fishmarkets the meat houses the art scenes the factories the hotels and eateries the schools and museums and galleries shows theater people dives ailments treasures riches and crap too - every church pealed an organ ripe with meaning every word led somewhere else and much of these years were years in which too the city itself around me was literally falling apart - trains were dens of violence and theft a parked car was an invitation to breaking in windows were broken and smashed doorways were covered with graffiti vermin ran freely people were regularly accosted murders were high entire neighborhoods and sections of street were off-limits to any but the bravest the cops were useless the sirens wailed for nothing drugs were rampant and an entire secondary commerce of the illicit went on everywhere - even the whores and hookers I'd known and gotten used to seeing blazed forth in less glory than before and whenever I'd see one worth a look I'd mutter something about 'her half of the yellow sun' to myself as a version of my own 'Hail Mary' to live by and right behind the library at Bryant Park (now choice then not) one of the most fearsome collection points for junkies murderers thieves and tramps underwent its daily transformation from day to night and day again and my only religion stayed in the closet then as I walked with the worst of them and alongside the best of the worst too but parallel lives could never be so secret nor different from each other as those I lived - east 11th Street to east 65th Street to the west side piers and east side dives - all as one and all together - and 95th Street was a killer's lane except for the Spanish in me (none) and everywhere else I went there was always a dime-store Mafia of gangs and cheats waiting to take advantage of a 'New York minute' as quickly as they could - but you learn to live with stuff like that and you learn to just get by.


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