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, June 28, 2008


224. I NEVER WOULD HAVE KILLED THIS JULIUS LAROSA ROSENBERG GUY (the ‘new stranger’ you just have to meet):

The word was this : ‘whadd’a fuck you talkin’bout?’ or however that’s said nowadays in the rattle-staccato runabout that people say things by and I never saw such a speedcar of words whiz along so fast as what I hear in the street but no one knows anything really and amazement is the moment I realize my past no longer means anything to the current crop of contemporaries around me : ‘Juliusfuckin’whoo?’: call it contraption call it schooling call it contraction distraction rejection projection whatever you will – it’s a sad sad symbol of a day long gone by : ‘I want to carry your carriage and lead you along I’d like to walk you home or take you to my home at the seashore : ain’t got no house at the seashore so just wann’a sit on your floor and do you some good – we can chew gum together you can kiss my eyes and I can touch your things : however you’d like to arrange this – holiday-on-ice or riverside jaunt in my cardiac cadaver - abstract features played out on the cell-block wall and Nikos the Greek guy who owns the diner on the corner by the firehouse comes over and says “Ah! The best thing in the world – to meet a new stranger!” and I couldn’t tell what he meant maybe some weird Greek logic or something or maybe just a newer discomfort with the same old language he’s learned “aren’t all strangers new after all?” I replied and he smiled back and said “yes but not new of course like a new stranger is” and bewildered or befuddled or betwixt and between (I couldn’t ask him which one because he’d say ‘you mean bedazzled?’ or something) I just let it go – the King Street Diner had nothing to say for itself anyway except the traditional Greek coffee cups which somehow they still used – the kind with the urn and the Olympic discus statue and some God or two piled up in blue before the columns of one or another version of the Parthenon or the Acropolis and like mighty words from mighty Mount Olympus the inscription reads ‘it is our pleasure to serve you’ – which always reminded me of that old movie where the aliens come to Earth to ‘serve Mankind’ ostensibly to help but what they really meant was they were running desperately low on food supplies on their own planet and wished to take a few specimens of humankind back to propagate as a new food supply on their own planet - thus the ersatz interplanetary motto of their assistance here ‘to serve Mankind’ of course misunderstood and misconstrued by all those stupid dangling Earthlings who fall for the ‘we want to help you’ story line until they realize it’s too late : or I don’t know MAYBE that never was a movie maybe I made it up or maybe it was a Twilight Zone storyline or maybe Herbert Huncke himself told it to me at Barrister’s the sleaze-ball homo-bar he once frequented on 38th Street between bouts of pneumonia and cocaine fixations – he was the first really fucking maniac I ever met but nothing went nowhere so it all just ‘was’ or as he’d say ‘boy you can’t have zero until you figure out what the other numbers are’ and even if that was never really true it stood him in good stead with any Arabs he ever met (Arabs invented the concept of ‘zero’ a long long time ago – thus you know WE have Arabic numbers) – oil barons from Riyadh and Rapallo who swept in in 1956 Chryslers and under their robes were as gay as Zorro anyway : Herbert never minded he just ‘went with the flow’ which was another of his oil jokes : the lady with the mole on her ear was the one I always fell for – she was darn nearly as ‘purdy as a cracker’ I’d heard some cowboy say and all she ever did was sit about and talk to anyone who came by and she was like the traveler’s best friend and non too shabby for it either : her name was Marnie McKay and she’d been hanging out on the Westside since before the last of the Hudson Dusters (the old waterfront gang) put his final gun away - she’d had mentions in a few movies and bit parts in this or that but none of it went to her head “they’d like an old whore like me in any movie they make – adds ‘local color’ you know what I mean – and as long as they pay something ANYTHING I’ll do it for a few hours” she reminded me of anyone’s dumb aunt the kind you had to go see when they were visiting and she’d dote on you just for being someone new or the neighbor’s boy who’s friends with little Johnnie - and then as I got to thinking about it maybe THAT’S exactly the kind of thing Nikos meant - certainly fits the description of a new stranger you have to meet.

Sunday, June 22, 2008



Well it wasn’t the Good Ship Lollipop that much I was certain of – the siding was harsh steel plating the color was a dour and stern military hue the sounds were militant and composed of bells and clangers and commands and the only reason I was on it was because I was delivering fish : ‘delivering fish’ was a euphemism – I’d always been told – for bringing whores to a location to which they’d been summoned but this wasn’t that – I was literally delivering three large frozen white boxes of fish to the kitchen area below decks of this ship which had docked on for the overnight or something - the guy at the fish market who’d called me over asked if I’d take the job making the delivery and if I could do it right then and as quickly as possible - and ten bucks later I was off with a hand cart loaded with three large boxes as I said of fish that had been frozen it felt near solidly into a triple-block of concrete but which in reality were some part of yesterday’s leftover catch bought and paid for by the ship cook or kitchen mate or something - so I was let up the gangplank and went smartly on my way and then elevatored down-decks to the galley or whatever the kitchen area was referred to as - the guy was a big sloppy burly Irish guy in a white short and apron and he grabbed the boxes from me and said a quick ‘thanks that was perfect’ and although again I’d always thought that all this stuff was taken care of beforehand and carefully measured out by military brass this extra order of fish was to be for the captains and officers alone - some sort of special meal they were getting : I wondered about ‘why fish?’ as if had I been at sea for two or three months probably fish was the last thing I’d want but maybe in some perverse way now that they were ‘on land’ again they wanted ‘fish’ - go figure that one : so I walked away down the steel corridor with an occasional sailor or mate or whatever milling about going on with business - sweeping and brooms and dials and shovels and all that THINGS being checked - the view outside was certainly cool – the tall buildings were framed with light and steel as if it was all some passing parade of postcard or picture the harbor was slapping the walls and there was some form of a spray which occasionally washed along - I’d been on the Staten Island Ferry a hundred times so that I was familiar enough with all the sensation felt but it was much more massive this format was and everything seemed magnified : the guys at the fish stall were grinning when I got back and I really couldn’t understand why but I grinned right back and watched them as they hosed things down and washed the metal trays but no one ever told me what I’d just delivered outside of the story I just mentioned - which seemed right to me - yet the way they grinned and stuff I had a feeling of something else – like it wasn’t maybe ALL fish or it was BAD fish or leftover scabby stuff they wanted to unload or fish they’d pissed on or hid a gun beneath or something - a million stupid thoughts went through my brain and I was none the wiser for any of them but the two guys nearest me had sat down to begin playing cards and so then did I sit and said ‘what’s up?’ and they said ‘oh nothing scamp – you just made the captain’s day that’s all’ and I said ‘how’ and they said ‘that was four hundred bucks worth of the best prime fish we got – we’d stolen it and then sold it – the four of us – and you just delivered it all for us – SMOOTHLY brother’ : and then I realized in an instant that if this went BAD it was ME and no one else who’d be culpable as I’d made the delivery – most of the real operation of the fish market was overnight and by morning was mostly cleared out and these guys were here just for their clean-up shift and hanging around but they’d done all this thievery during the night and it was only me who’d taken that fateful last step of making the ‘delivery’ and once I realized that I figured I’d better move along just in case - nothing ever did come of it but I moved along smartly anyway just to get to some other part of town.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


222. SECOND RIVER - 1769:

People walking around like scoundrels zombies mute like lambs giants made out as pygmies and everything all mixed up - Lola Falana lookalikes on the Number 112 bus - leaving from anywhere to get where it's going - guys with turbaned heads talking intensely while they wait on the curb and the looking out the looking out for the bus that's sure to come and sure it will evermore and along the stairways where now only weeds and sumac grow no one anymore takes note of the things of the old days - markers and plaques and history in the mix of what-once-was : the waterfront church by the old ferry port and the depot which once stored grain and is no more and the waterfront too is no longer a waterfront at all but paved like a highway and two levels high and ringed with roadway ramps and weeds and junk and no one there can tell me a thing about the history of the soil and the dirt and the abandoned graves and old pieces of fence and the ancient sign says 'Second River 1769' which was an old settlement by the old reformed church and everything now is empty and dead and hurting my head as I just sit to think and watch the Hispanic congregation come sauntering out from the next church over - some storefront contraption with no name and a big Spanish banner and it's all material for nothing to me and livid as can be and inauthentic too - and the officer nearby turns and says : 'we've buried the old with the dead - we've buried the old with the dead...' and I turn my head from him and just start muttering 'no difference to you I'm sure no difference to you...' and we walk apart as if a thousand years of human consciousness does not divide us : he is walking with rational logic and reason and supposed law on his side and me on the other with sundered and twisted dreams of sedition and revolt illogic and explosive creative thought ready to tear his world apart - the two things never mix of course : the engulfing flames and the water which puts them out - one or the other overtakes the moment and it's like that apparently with the wild grasslands of the mind too and the fight is endless the wailing wall of terror remains steadfast and nothing ever changes in the static stand-off the world makes of our mess : I hear the highway rumble with its nearby cars and I see the ragged trees still sleeping for their winter just now turn from slumber to some idea of awakening LIKE the power just the same of every dream and thought of conquest that's ever passed my mind - and stopped to take root and taking root stayed to blossom and blossoming grew.
And it is all like a mystery to me too : staggering around and dazed beneath 30-story buildings perpendicular to the sky and every illicit awning in the world seems to be on the roofs with umbrellas parasols lemonades picnic tables and lamps too ('my my how these people can live!') but WHY WOULD YOU ? do that can't you ever stop to think : the tiny Spanish guy underneath his car changing brakes or changing oil in the gutter at the curb and his loose-bottomed feet stick out from the car and stretch out to the sidewalk where people walk around them - two strange things with no place to go - and across the way some doorman silently watches with a whistle in his mouth and then just yells : 'hey you ! you can't do that here ! get the hell off the curb!' but ALAS nobody even cares and no one looks around and it's always like that anyway - natural dogs and natural oblivion outside the doors of the Natural History Museum.

Thursday, June 12, 2008



One day I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant idling with some sort of fish ball soup and whatever occasional dim sum the lady would bring around along with some tea and it was about 20 degrees out and cold with a biting wind that had pervaded everything and the only life on the streets was to be found out along Chinatown and its crazy rim where nothing ever stopped the fish-sellers and vegetable people and the little tables with all their goods for sale and toys and hats and gloves and the rest and that incessant chatter of the Chinese tongue was everywhere - even with air blowing out of frigid mouths as I imagined each breath taking the form of some changing Chinese characters in the air around them and I imagined the great cacophony of sound to be allied with the same great melange of sight and everything together red dragon New Year's snakes and rat and pigs and all the rest and I wondered if anyone even noticed and sitting there in the cozy restaurant which seemed from another day indeed there were a number of people around me eating and the two workers nearby had spent the entire time so far cleaning a huge mound of Chinese peapods or something on the table and I watched them work swiftly with their hands trimming and tearing the harsh parts of the pod-leafs off and the table had a grand mound of green things and I thought what a job for an entire shift and they'd said not a word to each other just both facing each other at the round table engrossed each singularly in thought and across from me at the round table I was at was a woman with her two boys perhaps ages 10 and 7 each and though they looked alike they were different in size and someone alongside from where I was said "excuse me ma'am I couldn't help but notice are those two boys your twins?" and she laughed aloud and said "no no they are three years apart" and she rattled off their ages and everyone smiled and the one boy said "mommy I don't want any more rice it tastes like water" and she said "finish - you must just have a little more" and that went on as the dim sum lady came around again and people took more things and I'd just refilled the teacup and took two sort of dumplings or something on a small plate with four on it and it tasted as good as anything else and more time passed as I watched the sculpted dragons on the wall - large and fearsome with red lights for eyes - and wondered at their decoration and what presence they were meant to evoke and it went on from there - how the twinned boys seemed as coupled as did the twinned dragons and the twin dumplings and why I'd gotten everything in two's just then and the two guys at the pea pod table made me sure to expect a bill of $12.22 if nothing else but that didn't happen it was all fancy and my own whims at play and I started thinking about 'Fava Beans' which I'd just read about which were some French concoction a tradition of the 'galatte' a round flat pastry with a favor hidden in its dough - a practice which I'd read continues each year through the month of January and the galatte when distributed for centuries in France had begun as a custom whereby whoever got the slice with the favor in it became king or queen for the day complete with a paper crown and the favor was said to bring an abundance of good fortune and even to this day the favor is still called a 'fava' (or originally the French feve) for beans were what French bakers had originally buried in the cakes but they eventually became porcelain little toys and trinkets and are now - of course- instead PLASTIC items of the same variety little trinkets decorated with flowers texts or other themes meant to delight the recipient and I thought how parallel all that was to Chinese New Year good fortune customs and trinkets and luck charms and even fortune cookies but I figured at some point perhaps all things do mesh together so that each culture and every tradition soon enough is found to trade off the same human needs by condition everywhere and now the Fava Bean though it still exists is kind of a mysterious bean only occasionally eaten and without much other intention or presence and so long forgotten as that it could be but somewhere somehow tradition lives on even in a place like this - now that I mention it.
And then I decided there's no 'favor' in this world where the sewers have been known to run with blood and very soil we walk upon is drenched in death but we forget and at the bank the fireman was talking about retirement and I figured every mind has thoughts but only great minds have great thoughts and the lady he was talking to seemed about as dumb as he was about everything and as soon as they were done I got my money too and left again figuring there's always room for more and there's always levels of elitism too - that fireman was looking to retire by stashing away enough cash for another home somewhere to retire to while I by contrast was just looking to survive and pocketing whatever money I could here and there by which to do so and that was another elitism entirely - elevated elitism versus lower elitism or something like that and the rank difference between the two was as yet unknown to me and if we each had a daughter they'd probably look exactly the same at first and only later start looking vastly different (well that was a hunch anyway) and some people blame circumstance for everything and others blame environment while others say fate and I never got any of that straight so I just let it go because no matter what else sometimes it all comes so simply and leaves everything else behind because of its grand simplicity while other times everything's as difficult as hell and you just can't do anything about it anyway plus I thought to myself that sucker that fireman could die in a city blaze tomorrow and everything's for naught anyway and it was all like some fervid zen koan ringing in my modern-day ears like 'why did the cookie cross the road' and the answer is 'it had no ears' just as simple and paradoxical as that and another one 'what did the zen Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?' and the answer is 'make mine one with everything' and both of them made me smile (that enlightened smile seldom seen) and I realized how fateful - no matter what - everything really is and one moment anyone could be laughing at themselves while the very next hour they could be drooling on a metal cot shot in the head over a parking spot and that's the hand that the city plays up - one minute to the next you're double-crossed and just as dead : and bang your head and you ARE the missing link and so what of it.



OK then I'm not sure where any of that came from but looking at the paper on the wall I'm thinking pure chance - an old barn pattern with little chickens and a rooster and a weathervane and a red barn and barnyard repeated ad infinitum in some older format of what once somehow was bleakly called 'early American' and which style graced many a 1960's kitchen and kitchenette (two more words gone by the wayside) and which is now probably all gone (yet here still holding the connections to food - pig-out country dining in a most happy fashion) and a calendar on the wall proclaims the 'year of best intentions' but it's inconsequential for sure since it's for a tire company so I cannot make out any connection there - except for tires on vehicles which take people to endless eateries along the highway but...OH NO!!...not that again! - and the Michelin Man was a fat tire pig and they're round and filled up and roly-poly too but who knew that back in the old days anyway when starch and food and all that could very well get you through the bleakest of the cold winter months when you most needed some fat to work off to make the needed body heat to survive the frost and work of the lesser-food season which came upon you - and I never knew a fat farmer an obese dairyman and I never saw one who couldn't work off a meal baling hay or throwing a few milk cans around and year after year of best intentions shall make Jack a thin boy 'see saw Marjory Daw Jack shall have a NEW master and he shall make but a penny a day because he can't work any faster' I thought I'd heard that not so long ago and if that too was early American then call me late for supper (yum yum I can't wait to eat again and 'the smell of pig meat warmed my heart' said Anthony Victor Lavalle 'the pleasures of food were stolen from me in the interest of being svelte/but now it's over I'm done with that/I'm letting out my belt') and opposite to that actually I'm thinking of that skinny dark guy Franz Kafka brooding on and on about starvation and lack in his story 'The Hunger Artist' the premise of which goes something like this - some strange solitary and reflective type guy a dark character a loner a brooder goes into a zoo over to the panther's cage and watches the panther as it paces back and forth in its beauty and form devouring flesh and feed as it is thrown to him and the admiring eyes of all those who have paid to see it are gaping and gawking at the live beauty of what they see and what they're witnessing and this guy too is fascinated and still and fixated by the sight but in his mind he wishes to do the opposite and somehow convinces a zoo guard to give him a cage and he goes in and has people pay admission to watch him STARVE waste away simply wither from no food and this is his wish his ideal the prime goal of his life and he gets thinner and thinner and withers to nothing and the crowd - whatever there was - dwindles too and fewer and fewer people until none at all visit him in his cage to watch and he eventually withers and dies emaciated and skeletal in front of NO ONE in particular - a sad sideshow to a sideshow an abandoned forgotten cage tucked away in a corner and eventually covered with a tarp beneath which our hero - lone stark thin and silent - dies a lonely slow death - as was his wish : his very own 'Year of Best Intentions'.

Thursday, June 05, 2008



I may have broken subterfuge with that idea : a gloss about going away something told between gritted teeth an old story about the junkyards outside of Camden NJ as seen in late evening from a 1952 Chevy pick-up passing along rutted old roads with hulks of houses left and ancient and severe looking black people staring out from the porches on a late October night : cool air lingering light soon to fade and colors passing to gray : twisted and sagging old cars in the nearby weeds or next to old dirt lanes with piles of metal and mattresses and steel all about while a few gnarly dogs sneer and growl barking at shadows and any movement to be seen the long vista of junkyards and oiled paths stretch through clumps of tall grass and trees - one moment a bucolic and beautiful scene and the very next an enormous horrid wreck of a place and it all runs down to the river somewhere along the edge whatever river it else the Delaware I guess - broad and wide enough to be something and important and swift enough to be the border between two states too - again that grand duality of things life and death entwined light and darkness and hurt and joy power and weakness : two states it would seem which are everywhere we go : and in trying to tell this all to someone ( a black guy huddled at a table his blue scarf jammed around his neck and a sailor's knit cap perched upon his top) I knew I'd missed a lot but was hoping anyway he got the feel of the episode correct and as I talked I began getting the strange sensation of having just read James Agee's great piece about a porch in an introduction I think to 'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men' or something and I thought it was called 'Knoxville 1913' or something like that but it seemed a far far superior piece of atmosphere to me than anything I could venture yet my words rolled on and this guy Tom he was rolling yet another cigarette as he hunched over the table and looked squarely down and he lit the cigarette with a scratch of a match to the tabletop as I watched him take a few first long deep drags and let the smoke linger as it seemed within his teeth and mouth until it disappeared into his sucking deep breath going in and then just as swiftly it came flying back out - soiled smudgy coils of smoke moved away from him as it seemed even his eyes flinched from the sting and he turned and said "you know what I think ? I think you talk the best old stories I ever heard - that sounds lots like someplace I been already and remember well" and I really didn't need to reply because he'd not meant it for that and so I just nodded and said "um yeah and it's real you know - that was Camden in like 1963 before they took all that away - and now there's a big prison or something there and even Walt Whitman's house it just sits there now like an old bedraggled leftover of something else - a quaint forgotten clump of three or four row houses together and nothing more and with the huge prison or whatever right across the street - government guards and gatehouses and all that" and he said "yeah I knows that - and that's what always happens the governments they step right in and take what they want - all the old beauty's gone since they owned it and their world's all just gold-plated shit anyway - might look better but underneath it all it's just shit" and this guy Tom reminded me of Black Tom the old place by Jersey City that's now Liberty Park - same story same bullshit - the government comes in and takes away whatever's left of some old sacred spot and just covers it over and fictionalizes its own version of the real truth about whatever might once have been there and nobody says a word and then all the new people they just fall for this new storyline and fall all over it and even start paying to go there and see things - Black Tom was a huge ammunition storage depot and loading port for WWI ships and it was blown up one night mysteriously by German agents in WWI one of the very few times that foreign agents have gotten onto American soil to cause destruction and the resounding blast was heard for miles and miles and fire raged and it was all wrecked and left with nothing there but tangled steel and wrecked buildings and all else and for years like that it just sat there and was called Black Tom - shacks and hovels squatters and hobos and mad dogs among the ruins and I remember once in Bayonne my Uncle Joe showing me a Black Tom telephone book when it had one of its very own - small and skinny like only a few hundred people lived there but lived there nonetheless - and now it too is all gone and just like old real Camden too gone and forgotten and me and this Tom fellow we just sat there a long time and talked about old Camden - about when he was a kid and when they'd come through with the salvage trucks and big metal dumpers would drop off tons of scrap metal from the old battleships being decommissioned and scrapped in the harbor and how the smokes and fires would go on all night and light up the distant waters like it the river itself was fire and flame and magic and he told of the vegetable-picking farm crews and the rack-trucks filled with peppers and tomatoes that came through for the soup company where nearly all the poor folk worked (Campbell Soup) and I wanted to tell him my story too - about how when I was that certain age Campbell Soup cans were seen as the high art of the century in NYC and forget the rest......but I figured he already knew that.