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.

Friday, April 25, 2008



I was dreaming of the sea - in this case the Mediterranean which is a deep gash some two thousand three hundred miles long and never more than five hundred wide created by a vast geological upheaval which piled up mountainous folds around the sunken trough and I thought of all the peninsulas thus created and the storm-sped waves and the outcrops of softer rock between hard buttresses which warped and scarped and notched their shores - these intricate coasts encourage intercommunication - (I wanted to question that thought actually as I figured to myself that actually maybe that would encourage instead 'isolation' and singularity - but who was I to say oh humble swank that I am) and never far behind the coast of the Mediterranean anywhere are the sharp-cut and endlessly varied heights (a complex belt of high relief that actually extends all the way from Spain to Indonesia and Japan) and I realized just as suddenly what I had been doing - constructing for myself a matrix of reference wherein the sea referenced my idea of life and dream and solace and self and I knew it just as much as I knew the day or the sky or the light : I was in a waterfront antiques place in Perth Amboy once and the lady proprietor who was about 90 years old and nearly feeble but still well-dressed and coiffed enough to make a sensible case and though there were no coves or caverns or raging sailors about there was about HER a true sense of another age and another place as all her waterfront and seascape relics - everything from lamps and shades to old maps and telescopes and looking glasses and cutlery EVERYTHING within referenced back for her to another time and place in which she still lived and just as I talked to her I talked to another place and time and age - we shared stories of her wonders of the sea and the wide-fronted bay and ocean before her of which she'd lived an entire life a life which spanned centuries and was filled with stories and experiences and tales the likes of which we'd never hear again and in her sputtering short-stop of a dwindling life she now had left only the vivid memories which had already transplanted her experiences and I'd have been willing to bet she'd not sold anything not an item of value in months yet kept close watch over hundreds of people coming and going noting and watching the shifting shades and the changing lights of the coast and the sea and the sky and I'd never before truly met anyone from another place and time yet THERE she was - old frock coat and dress and jewelry and glasses thin white hands with translucent skin almost showing beneath it all veins and blood everything human about the wearer of the skin and fabric - strange so strange that there and then I'd met up with that and when - 1888 1867 it could have been any of that and no matter the difference.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


211. 'IF ANYBODY ASKS....' (nyc, 1968)

'No one ever trembled like the executioner of an innocent man' I was told one night by Maxie Blanck who ran some sort of numbers racket out of the back room of 228 e. 50th Street a restaurant or something like it with music and dance on the side and there were always cars coming and going out front and women coming in with big smiles and red lipstick and furs and stuff and the men nearby all had shady names and dark suits and smoked cigars and no matter how often I regarded the scene there I was unable to figure exactly what was going on until that one night after Maxie inexplicably had said that to me he took me aside and give me two 50-dollar bills to get in the car with Frankie O'Malley and Teddie the Fender and take the ride up to Kingston and back and so I did - all in one long night - but we were accompanied by some old boxer guy named Cudgel or something and he was shaking violently and nearly crying the whole trip up and all the other two guys did was basically ignore him until we got there when they trundled him off to the back of some bank building where some other guys were waiting for them and after about twenty minutes (when I was told to step outside and just keep on eye on the car and the street for no reason at all - and that always confused me because I'd not been told what to watch for or who or how to make contact with them if I'd seen something amiss) they came back without Cudgel and handed me a package wrapped in brown paper along with a small valise and said 'hold this until we get back - get in' which I did and nobody talked nearly the whole time and when we returned I handed everything off to Maxie and he patted me on the back and said 'good job now beat it' and so I did and I never was sure of what I heard was correct or not but I was later told that there was ten thousand dollars in the valise and Cudgel's two hands in the paper sack but that was NOTHING I never proved or not.
Sometime about then I realized that when I dreamt all I ever dreamt of was words - sheets and sheets of black and white opaque words coming down in a flash that never made any sense but that I always found myself reading aloud almost phonetically and getting nothing from and it was either that or very very old places which no longer existed but with both of them I was satisfied and with both of them I still live today.
"If anybody asks you went to Albany for steaks."

Sunday, April 13, 2008


210. BEAUTY BE DAMNED (Frenchtown):

"You can't criticize that stuff man you don't know what you're doing they'll get you in the end for this you know" Busbee said that to me out behind the catering hall and we'd just been inside the decoy shop - this huge place selling one after the other of duck decoys and wild animal figurines and stuff and the walls too were lined with beautifully framed trophy fish and trout and paintings and landscapes and that sort of thing GRANTED beautiful enough but questionable too as art I would have thought MAYBE decorative craft or something but not ART - missing all the qualifications in my mind for art - and the proprietor was a smallishly rotund guy about 60 years old and the entire time he was on the telephone arranging sale after sale of these things "auction prices as bid I understand that but these things are appreciating very quickly and I always keep a price floor in operation but I did tell you eleven hundred so that's what I'll sell it to you for but it's worth fourteen most certainly" and that's the way he was going on and on through the afternoon - making at least three maybe four sales in the short half hour I was there with Busbee and the place was well-kept neat as a pin laid out real nicely and the walls were covered with landscape art in striking realism and striking color too and little captions and stuffed field game and fish and of course a hundred or two decoys - ducks and things of all sorts and all poses - and I guess if you're into designing your little den or atrium or something I guess they're cool enough and worth some bucks but you have to have the bucks first - to make the place for them and then to buy them - so that's already like twice the bucks already needed - way out of bounds as far as I see it and where will it all end up when everything comes crashing down around us I want to know - ghost towns ghost houses abandoned reliquaries and ruined homes ripe for plunder and looting and many many a dead homeowner overstretched by finance and trying desperately to protect all meager (now meaningless) possessions too but THAT'S the end of all mankind and the end of vanity and its penchant for collecting too BEAUTY BE DAMNED.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


209. [A TWO-PARTER] -
A. The Gretchen Haynes Factor:
"You're the only one dreaming or don't you know that?" - when she said that to me I was startled enough to look back because until then all I'd ever heard were lines like 'you're only dreaming don't you understand?' which all were ways of saying the usual 'life is an illusion' and 'nothing is real' rap but her phrasing now bore an entire other meaning and a far different consequential value about this reality and it was enough to stop me short - I turned back and approached her and said "I couldn't help but hear what you just said and I really must tell you it has stopped me short and I want to hear more" and she looked at me and said "just as I figured - one a day at the most WELL at least SOMEONE'S listening I guess" and with that she opened a notebook and began reading aloud "there's no more difference between a sunset and a sunrise than there is between an egg and its casing - they both behave erroneously only in the mixed-up mind of humankind - a mind which expects everything to be complacent and steady and there is no such quality to existence - which is constantly wavering on and off in fractile seconds of visionary time which when amassed appear continuous to the viewer whose nervous system and chemistry then reacts to what they assume has occurred but none of this has occurred at all - in fact the ONE is all there is and it is quite alone in its constant and multilayered creation at all times of all things..." I listened mesmerized and I watched her too at the time as she read - standing on a small block of wood about two-feet square and just enough for her feet and some movement to accentuate the lines she was reading with whatever small movement she gave them - her one hand was outstretched and her face was long and thin in an oddly interesting way - reddish hair just wherever and seemingly without care and she wore a small jacket of green fabric with seemed woven with some strand of a gold something and bore also a few patches and initials and a word or two and I wasn't sure what I was seeing but watched nonetheless "there's nothing but the essential and ancient UR quality about existence in an endless loop and a replay of all occurrence which has ever gone on before - the same re-fashioning of ideals and thought the same endless warring factions clamoring and the same lame conclusions drawn by theorists of darkness and error and the singular most-perfect form of being is one of complete strength and power and purity and from that IDEAL state comes the visionary expansion of creative consciousness in its pure oneness and being - recreating constantly and tending to the singular one-moment-thread of cosmic life and existence - YOU are alone and remember YOU are the only one dreaming!" she'd read that like a dramatic poem even though it was filled not with poetry words but with all sorts of theoretical words and figments of some scientific jargon sprayed forward - a sure and strange mix to be certain - "have you had enough now?" she asked "or are you willing to go down for the count?" and she stepped towards me and extended both hands to mine "I'm Gretchen Haynes known to the world as Sasha - here but for a moment but the longest moment in time it is" her binder was on a table next to her and she quickly folded up the legs and put everything in a canvas case and said "let us go then you and I - for tea and favor talk and treat - it's all right over here" and together we entered a small tea-palace (this was the edge of Chinatown where it met the Bowery and mostly the rest of the street was lamp-stores electrical fixtures wedding gown shops and restaurant supplies of that nature) there was affixed to the wall an enormous image of the Buddha with candles burning all around and bowls of oranges and incense sticks and a few people milled about as we sat and had tea brought to us (she did) and I was not sure of the 'ritual' or if there was to be one but I went along anyway with all the preliminaries - the door had been closed and the room was fragrant and pleasant to sit in and the others about were all interesting to see and clothed in fabrics and colors I wasn't used to seeing - mostly girls they were - and someone had left a lute or something like that in the corner near a small velvet riser on the floor and a seat covered in black fabric and then I saw finger-cymbals and small boxes of other musical things some unknown and figured there must be some ritual or performance aspect connected to this - nothing like a form of worship but instead a means maybe of identification or discipline "we are the Daughters of Rama and this is our headquarters - we have a serene form of worship here which bothers no one YET at the same time we are revolutionaries whose mission it is to change the world and alter and bring down the evil powers who have taken control and are running things : we discipline ourselves with fasting and meditation and a rigorous discipline of informal preaching and witnessing for the One : everywhere and at all times alone : I have brought you here to see what we do" and she'd already poured tea and kept talking so I remained in place nodding when it seemed necessary "how long have you done this?" I asked pointlessly and then said equally stupidly "and no one knows?" she smiled and said "none of that matters I hope you'll see for what we do is what we are simply and no more than that and what makes us work are our connections outside - we are not the counter-force who will do all this revolutionary action - we are just the ones who meditate on it and speak it and thereby offer it the support beneath all things which it needs to go on" and I asked "OK well where are the others then and what do they do?" she said "they are out there and they - frankly - take action in small cells - they burn things and steal and break and enter so as to undermine the establishment and the powers in place - they enforce a form of terror in locations all across the nation - stirring up unrest when they can and forming dissent and awareness and it is not an easy process but will grow slowly" and I was of course put off by all this most especially the idea of the Buddha or whatever 'religious' cover they were using (I'd also always thought before this - for whatever reason - that the whole 'Rama' thing was Hindu and not Buddhist) here to do this but I saw quickly it all was really nothing - a few Oriental faces and a little bit of eastern protocol and finesse was all it took to add a bit of glamour to what was underway "is this all related to the war and like SDS and the campuses and stuff?" I asked - hoping not so quickly to exhaust my knowledge of things - "because if it is I know a bunch of people who've taken over my own apartment on e. 11th Street and are doing a lot of the same stuff you just mentioned" and she said "why aren't you then there with them?" and I said "got fired - or fired myself - moved to another free spot I got and left it all to them to go about whatever they're doing and frankly I couldn't see it being worth the effort and had too much other stuff I wanted to be doing" at that she smirked back at me "lousy bit of self-interest I'd think - no?" and I said "on the contrary anything but myself - I'm trying to figure out this huge idea of LIFE in big letters and sometimes it's the smallest little things - the 'self-interest' you mentioned - that I ignore because it throws me off - and anyway just before when we were outside I thought you were going on about the same things but now in here you're telling me it's arms and fire and revolution - how to figure that?" and she smirked "it's no contradiction really - if you'd just open your mind a little - one way to get the attention of people is to spout romance and fantasy in their face - in this case erratic romance and philosophical fantasy about the big issues of existence and interpretation - and it got your attention anyway didn't it ? and by the way I KNOW who you are and we know all about you and your 11th Street place so don't worry on that count - over there they're pretty much doing exactly as we want them to and right here we're doing their bidding too - it works back and forth and real simple and while they're generating money and people and stealing cars and turning them into cash and harboring fugitives and AWOL runaways with Government stolen goods we keep it all mixed together here with a whole different story" and all that of course amazed me because it was true and I had in fact gotten clothing and the very shoes I was wearing from someone just recently at 11th Street on his way to Canada escaping the military and he'd left lots of stuff behind and gave me the shoes and clothes when we saw it all could be used and they were in fact operating a sort of house-of-passage for kids fleeing their army stints and running off to Canada and in the meantime stealing government-issue cars with lettering on the side - the cars which they'd leave behind and which would get painted and stripped or re-fitted and the whole thing would be sold for three-hundred dollars each time through the garage they were all working with down by the river and across 11th so I KNEW that money and people really were being generated and I also knew the prevalence of a drug trade happening there too - all together they tied into one big effort of anti-war and war-resisters types all working together and not so long after all this anyway was the famed Eleventh Street townhouse bomb-explosion which reduced lots of things to rubble but that was yet to come and I really at that point didn't see that coming but I guess 'Sasha' did - and also I found out later that it was right there and up at 110th Street where SDS organizers and the big anti-war push was set-up and implemented the March On the Pentagon and all the big demonstrations and student strikes and stuff which started happening - so she was probably much right about stuff she said and I tried to sort-of play along and get duped at the same time all of by what she said : I listened intently and watched just as intently for everything I could see was important and even 'precious' to me - encapsulating a time and an element I somehow knew I'd never see again : Sasha was invaluable and useless at the same time and I could tell she was full of shit but just as devious and probably dangerous too and just as I'd always thought Andy Bonamo (my erstwhile 11th Street rent-roommate) was in actuality really an informer and an agent I had the same thoughts about her flash before me - just little signs here and there which seemed to give them away - but I said nothing and I said "so anyway where do you get your philosophy and stuff from ? make it all up?" and she said "no it's real - a mix of Madame Blavatsky and Rudolph Steiner stuff with a big bunch of modern physics and cheap philosophy thrown in - plus some real P.T. Barnum bullshit too if you must know - there really IS a sucker born every minute" and I said "well that 'sucks' don't it ? leaves me feeling like a rat in a hole - I actually fell for your rant" to which she replied "that's OK - if it works for you you can have it" and then she asked how 'old' I was anyway and I said 17 and she shook her head and gasped a little "17 - good God what are you doing here?" and I said like same thing she was trying to stay alive and make something work but she had better bullshit and probably more cash too and she asked if I wanted something to eat and I said OK and she brought me some food and two other guys came over and gave me ten bucks and said not to forget what was up and keep my eyes open and watch things - they'd be around and they'd like to see me again and if I wasn't doing anything on Saturdays would I like to paint posters on 18th Street and did I know how to build simple tables they needed help there for that too and I said well OK I'll get over there and thanks - that was it Sasha took my hand and walked me out and said she hoped to see me again soon doing something good for the effort and I smiled back and said OK no sweat see ya'.
I knew I'd been used and I sort of felt put upon by the brashness and the audacious stupidity of what someone like her and her bunch could be doing - but I didn't care and I was young enough by far not to need to worry - it was only after time passed that I realized they all were probably in some goon-squad or bomb-squad of their own making and I was kind of glad anyway when things did start crumbling - gigantic marches on the Pentagon shootings at schools and frenzied riots and National Guard trigger-fingers and explosions and blow-ups at all sorts of places and radicals of every stripe I started liking and enjoying - even the dupes at Columbia messing around with Clark Kerr and Mark Rudd and all that stuff- for within it all I knew were the people I'd run across the defamed the dumb and the startlingly committed - passing themselves off perhaps as firebrands and revolutionaries while at the same time taking genteel steps to preserve their humanity and their hygiene - washing themselves nicely spraying 'feminine hygiene ' products over themselves clowning around with looks and styles and scents and perfumes and ALL of this completely opposite their public intentions and whirlpool approaches towards anarchy and free-love and the rest : the burgeoning attention to sexual control and birth-control pills and orgiastic revelries was merely a fun sidebar to living a lie and to growing up - essentially - a momentary lie at least while something else was being accomplished : I heard of the Berrigans and their tom-foolery and I watched while bullets and brains fought it out and then with a 'WHOOSH! the townhouse explosion on 11th Street did it all in once more - and I watched who ran and who stayed and what was done and why and how and I wondered for a moment and then moved on : Charlie Manson was white bread compared to these fools and I'd go down again to Tompkins Square and watch the niggers on their drums and the spics and Italians in the old bandshell putting together some fucked-up fusion of music and then the guitar-folkies would come by and then the amplified ones and the girl singers and the next thing there was a sing-a-long of thirty people in an instant smoking pot together and singing or humming and then tripping and jamming out - long electric guitar solos with nitwit accompaniments of anyone's impulse and urgings - but the ranting guitar solos went on and everyone joined in and then as usual it all eventually turned to dazed silence or stupid and sentimental emotion : Peace ! No More War ! Bring Our Brothers Home NOW ! : it was predictable as sin and happened every time and I felt that at bottom all it was was period-images and means of growth for adolescents and young adults unable to cope with various pressures in any other way - transference and emotional transcendence into realms they really knew nothing about (world geo-politics being after all a specialty-of-special-sorts) and a wise person would leave all that stuff alone but they were anything but and they waded in and try as I might I never got involved - for myself I had already fled and was already gone - hating the war and hating the peace so to speak - and as Gertrude Stein said 'remarks aren't literature' : I listened carefully and did write down much of what I heard so that the great 'someday memoir' within my head could blossom I knew I could make it but I know too it would take forever and more to get it done and then get it across : and what did any of these people know anyway ? Poulenc better than Wagner ? Auden better than Yeats ? no one among them would have an inkling for it was ALL to them electric guitars and not much more or maybe perhaps electric guitar Coca-Cola and a muffin too.
'You do what I can only name.'

Whatever happened happened more than once but less than it seemed ('like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride its own melting') and I took it all in and wrote as much of it as I could and painted it too (that second-above quote ('you do what I can only name') was by John O'Hara in his referring to the NY abstract expressionist painters who were his friends and how they could paint but he could 'write') and I was DETERMINED to stay and to withstand assault too ('someone's going to stay / until the cows come home') - so I DID and the best way to describe the scene is with some awkward remonstrance about 'time and tides wait for no man' and all that crap but I won't because I was at some term happy within and with myself - colors from a tube and a paint-studio of my own on some third-floor walkup open-windowed white room overlooking Eighth Street shoe-shops-music-scene-Cinderella-whatever locus of fun fame and serious study too : liquid life fistful of tacks and God's own Summer too ('the moon was hot and hollow hung like hellfire in the tawdry skies') and then the first Halloween came and the cat ran away with the spoon (some splendiferous happenstance and a fiery tale of Larkin lore) and I figured I'd better 'run for my life' or I'd learn what it feels like to have one's whole life turn suddenly invalid - which is exactly how I knew I'd feel if I was anywhere else - men in suits graybeards clutching handlebars women on the prowl students itching for a party a fireman raggy with splendor or a cop walking backwards on the beat - had I been intent on being any of these things I realized inside myself that I'd never fit and I recalled my father saying over and over 'learn a trade learn a trade' wherein his point of view was that education got one nowhere and any degree or paperwork and wage notwithstanding the man who possessed the knowledge and means of DOING something instead - something real and tangible - that was the guy who was ahead but I never bought that either because that - to me - was the guy also who was stuck to his drudgery and who ran in an endless circle of disappointment and doubt : all trades notwithstanding the hollowness was the real threat and a decimated fabric of time or place or intent was really the only goods an 'upholsterer' dealt with - and anyway he also used to say 'lift with your legs and not with your back' which was probably more like it this burden this weight this onus and pain.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A LEN LEVY STORY (nyc, 1969)

208. A LEN LEVY STORY - (Corporal Agarn in High Fiddle), nyc, 1969:

Len Levy was a legendary guy in his own small circle and a fellow - it should be mentioned - with enough gall and chutzpah to sink a ship single-handedly and he did have another name too which he used and it again was as outrageous as any other thing he did : he called himself Lenny Akaya whenever it suited him which was as crazy a name for a swarthy Jewish guy as if an American Indian had decided to call himself Fozzy O'Mannion or something but Len said he took the name from some old tribe of American Indians called the 'Akaya' tribe - known as the Akayas I think and probably an actual tribe even though I really think he picked it up from watching 'F Troop' or something - an early 1960's TV show about some bunch of frontier soldier misfits with warring Indian tribes like Kiowas and Arikawas and the rest - a barely scrutable twisted history made for TV factuality and not much else but Len said it was the name he used when he was dealing with people he knew he'd not meet face-to-face (which was probably a good thing) so all his phone contacts and secretive darkened meetings were always done as Lenny Akaya and I once mentioned to him 'mightn't that be construed as a bit Japanese also?' he said he really didn't care what they thought of him and for all he cared they could think he was a blind lame oriental Aleutian as long as it got him where he was going but that was how crazy all this stuff was getting to be as the mid-sixties droned on and became the later sixties when the bottom essentially had dropped out of everything and there was a near-panic in the streets and anarchy at home with wildness anger and fierce but false individualisms running rampant and the Beatles had discovered irony - which instantly ruined them - and then it went from them to everyone else there to there and all over the airwaves movie-screens and stage no one was to be taken seriously as they were all suddenly IRONIC PARODIES of themselves and what they'd purported to be and that great nervous edginess which had taken over everything meant that each person as a foil could NOT be simply serious but instead had first to cover it in a veneer of irony parody or extreme self-awareness about what they were doing (as in 'ah come on go with me on this one WATCH what I do') and it was all OK for about five minutes but petered out badly really quickly and you had twenty-year old assholes wearing military suits and moustaches and hair like girls and Beau Brummel fashions and androgynous sexuality and it all seemed to have started maybe slowly but then ran off with itself and took fire until hordes and thousands upon thousands of kids - college high school and beyond - had gone absolutely stark-raving mad over themselves and their own effusive little dipshit society and then to make it all worse they started demanding their own solutions to things they'd only little thought out and they chanted and paraded and protested and said outrageous stupid-shit things ALL DONE as performance and parody and soon enough NOTHING ever got done and everything started falling apart and just when the country needed a hammer and a stern fist it got clown cars and rubber mallets handled by Bozo the Clown and make-believe philosophers and everyone somehow wanted to be Corporal Agarn but turned out to be Red Buttons.