I really want to get this going....

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

NEW WORLD WRITING (nyc, St. Mark's Place, 1967)

217. NEW WORLD WRITING (nyc, St. Mark's Place, 1967)

There's only a small passage between the distant past and the today we've brought upon ourselves and like the seven sins of anatomy there are many differences in approach and in effect and these are things we all partake of : one night I was sitting around the basement at the Studio School by myself and in one of the little cubicle-like areas where I sometimes slept and which a long long time ago were used as copy and storage rooms for the Whitney Museum when it began there in the 1920's (8W8th) - a lot of the old paper and cuttings were still around as odd pieces of this and that color and texture of cut-sheet paper always interesting and always odd and I was there one night just reading as I often did (for this location afforded to me total privacy and solitude) and I came across the to me startling Frank O'Hara poem entitled 'The Day Lady Died' which was included in a volume called Lunch Poems which had been published by City Lights and Lawrence Ferlinghetti - it was a poem I at first wasn't sure of and then after I learned what it was about and who (Billie Holiday) I found totally caught and captured that ultra-cool New York hipster feeling - in this case that of the writer in the midst of all his usual NYC activities stumbling across the tabloid headline and photo of the announcement of Billie Holiday's death and remembering in a completely soft and natural manner the things it conjured up for him and the simple memories which came forth recalled as they were amidst all his other activities : it was a wonderful poem for those few minutes in time it took to read and think of it and I reveled in that sensation too 'It is 12:20 in New York a Friday three days after Bastille Day yes it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine because I.......I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun and have a hamburger and a malted and buy an ugly 'New World Writing' to see what the poets in Ghana are doing these days....' and it goes on but go look it up if you want more because it encapsulates what I'm saying and the heck with all the rest (I met Frank O'Hara once he was five foot seven and walked on his toes and stretched out his neck and angled his head all to look taller and he was quite thin and wore collegiate white low-cut sneakers and was quite homosexual too a 'charming madman' a 'whoosh of air sometimes warm and pleasant though sometimes so gutsy you closed your eyes and and brushed back the hair the whoosh had disarranged' - to almost quote Larry Rivers) and just knowing I was in the middle of all that at any hour elated my spirits - it's difficult to say now or to get across now the sort of strength and bravado this sort of thing brought to me and it was almost as if I'd entered royalty in a realm of some new way of life - I'd met many people and lodged and visited and hung about with many others and I'd gone from the sorts of Tony Main and Andy Bonamo types to the austere cerebralness of Mr. Munching and some of the others and I'd walked and talked with Philip Guston and Morton Feldman David Hare Charles Cajori and Mercedes Matter and others too just to namedrop and the sudden rise in feelings and a certain esteem all this brought forth is difficult to define but easy to peg - suffice it to say I GREW and I LEARNED and the sorry world-ago from which I'd come was far behind me and (nearly) forgotten.
I had been dwindling and I had been fading and it took its time before the results of that were clear : I had a clear and open track to anything I wished and even if I wished for nothing that track was open too - remember with William Burroughs in the church at St. Marks in the Bouwerie even then so early on I was realizing the same dream or something of it which I had percolated through my brain into reality and as often as I was in a daze and essentially lost without direction so then too there were those wonderful times where I knew exactly what I was doing and what was all about me - the incredible sound-story music factories into which I walked with the street-fair format of open serenading all along St. Mark's Place and the Warhol 'Exploding Plastic Inevitable' and all that stuff at the Dom later the Electric Circus where people seemed stuck forever - both indoors and out - and there were times right there at the curb out front of that building where I'd see what amounted to 'families' of fellow-traveling hippie types immobile and totally spaced for one or two days and nights in a long row and no one ever bothered them and they used (apparently) whatever facilities they needed whenever they chose inside the building and all the rest of the time they simply stayed there smoking eating talking doing nothing and although it seemed a quite directionless thing to be doing they did it always and to my taste it was distasteful having no 'place' or reference except that of the fifteen others around you but such was what they wanted to be about as some form of fragmentation was occurring and the resultant society which was taking its place was vapid and loose as could be and even I for myself 'enjoyed' the sites for these people bore no shame nor modesty either and decamping to an outward city street in nakedness and certain lewdness seemed to mean nothing to them and I often didn't really know what I was seeing or perhaps I myself was so deeply embedded in some myopic positioning of my own from within a vast and newer inner universe that I was projecting these things outward but I'll never know and often at that time my 'place' was east 11th Street and just as simply any of these people entered with me what seemed a fine and secure hovel and they liked it as much as any but came and went until others took their place and I often awoke surrounded by strangers simply asleep or prone upon the floor and unknown and gone again that quickly and back - food was never an issue nor was much else and it seemed they were always high or drugged or distant (as distant as I was at least) and in the same way with them was the freest most strange climate of sexuality I'd ever imagined - hard to explain again now but what I mean I guess is a constant stream of fucking fornicating and changing relationships and partnerships with not a word ever said about anything and today now I look back and realize these were age groups of 17-25 year olds at most and I am stutteringly struck by what I must have been witness to and only NOW do I know what a 'celebrity' must see and must live as a lifestyle in the mirror - so the same way these people brought their own notoriety and I for one made good note of it : forgive me if you don't know what I'm saying for I really can't make it clear here I am dull and speechless looking back IT WAS A VAST MEDIEVAL SWARM I attended to and it all seemed like a colorful lusty varied and weird traveling carnival sweeping somehow over heath and meadow until it landed smack dab in the urban middle of some dying old-world city square of people leaving and people coming each without ever acknowledging the other.


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