I really want to get this going....

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Friday, November 07, 2008


248. A GRAVE OFFENSE (at the burial site of Stephen Crane):

Someone once told me I'd be a natural playing drums - this after 12 years of piano instruction of course - so you could imagine my let-down - but they're both percussion instruments so I was so greatly crestfallen that I couldn't simply hit the keys harder and make them pay : my way of situating the situation within my personal life and I never did like organized music anyway - all those symphonies and chorale groups sitting down together with their earnest looks and faces and uniformed-look clothing as they played or sang from stages and pits either tiered or simply set out in really bad rows with music stands and oboes and all that : every cliche in the book has already attended every player of a violin anyway - 'Suzuki-method' or not - so I just never let it concern me and the old ways of fear and loathing and all that fire and brimstone stuff I left in the back pages of my very old copy of Huckleberry Finn wherein on the very last page all Huck does anyway is escape (west west into something very else) and if the story-book pageant of anyone's life eventually does run down and they slow and wither and die (as we all do) I'd have really liked to have seen an old-age Huck Finn many years on telling another great American story and that was my hint to anybody listening and they can take their drumsticks and 'stick 'em where the sun don't shine' - curious phrase that I heard a lot of when I was living in the country but now I was in the city deep city and anyway it was before all that and I was trying hard to read things and found myself enmeshed in Giles Goat Boy by John Barthes and the feeling I got was (later proven to be correct) that he (as the author) wasn't writing simple stuff for simple readers - if you wanted to read hard and dense then he was the writer for you : no compromises no half-measures and HE DIDN'T WANT any lazy-reading types and back then I could handle that OK but in today's world I really don't think Barthes anymore would have a chance but whatever I DIGRESS - my favorite sport of all time was reading those old English guys or at least English language guys like Sterne and Fielding and the rest - funny simple curious elementary-of-language but only in their own way each - and now we've so broken it all down that the sad sad English language is busted apart and fairly useless - used for commerce and used for lies mostly - but really no one cares and either way it's a wash for Civilization (the kind with the capital 'C' is over and done) - my mother's dead and my father's dead too so the writing's on the wall and everywhere I turn there's nothing really to see BUT OH I should mention - today was again such a dreary day (I'm talking to myself) that I went again to Stephen Crane's grave and just sat there for a while thinking about things.
The thing about Stephen Crane's grave is it's not really Stephen Crane's at all - it's actually his father's gravesite : his father was a rather famed and wealthy enough Methodist minister or pastor with a great congregation and a home-church in Newark into which he was buried with much dignity and as this stern and dour fellow dismissed and disapproved greatly of Stephen's work and undertakings the afterthought that is Stephen Crane's gravesite is a small brick-stone far at the feet of the obelisk which recognizes the lordly father within the family plot of sorts - merely marked with a succinct 'Stephen' and perhaps a number - Crane's resting place is serious lonely and forlorn especially by contrast to the wildly elaborate and flamboyant Gypsy gravesites in the other 'active' parts of the cemetery (Evergreen Cemetery - on the border of Elizabeth/Newark) - for in this current area of burials are to be found Gypsy legends Gypsy Kings Queens stars and whatever other motley assortment of outrageous characters one can wish for - these large stones are etched and decorated with stories and tales portraits and scenes poems songs and epitaph replete with wonder and joy and a sometimes overwrought sense of decorum : Jesus and Mary and all the rest of the Sacred Heart crew are displayed profusely amidst the ribald nick-naming and story-telling of these fiery Romanys and by such contrast is Stephen Crane's grave sad forlorn insignificant and notable - and I mention these things only to be observant - the end-result of such a forceful life is shown by its contrast to the screaming and attention-grabbing power of the insignificant-by-contrast Gypsy personages sharing the same grounds (it's a large cemetery with wide expanses of old traditional areas of 18th and 19th century burials fully respectful of the Great God of Old which ends up in its rear corners at these raucous Gypsy sections - filling up every day - amidst weird rimmings of 1960's homes and duplexes just outside the fence filled with sloppy families of the present day - all their noise and loud cars and music can be heard within the comings and goings of the cemetery and just out of it - abandoned gas-stations factories parking areas and the rest : a totally weird site and one hard to absorb if absorbed as I usually was within the stern internalizations of Stephen Crane his grave his family and his era - Alas poor Rorick ! and all of that -- the silence of Crane is unsettling amidst all the now-accepted noise of a present-day which by its manners dismisses ahead of time any such notion of the sort of respect and homage Crane would be due - ah! had any of them but a brain worth a penny they'd know : instead the inveterate class-warfare of the living versus the dead goes on endlessly and these places while offering solace to both in a way offer solace to neither but also it must be said New York and its area is filled with such graveyards here and there tucked around with some even as leftover little squares and plots and appendages of where used to be fields and lees and as the roadways streets and trails took over many of these were simply moved taken away distressed forgotten about or plowed over without a care - how many bones of the dead are beneath us at any one time anyway - the vast geological history of the entire globe itself contains so many layers of time and people that it is surprising by what degree we do NOT trip on the dead : but most of this is kept hidden or forgotten and only in those references of church ritual and religious attendance are attentions and words brought to bear on the myriad levels of dead-dwellers underfoot - the dust and alchemy of bones and spittle the dear dead maggot-ridden corpses of the lights of day from millions of years of trouble and time : we hasten to say or we hasten to add what cannot be said or added to - we stand alive but for a moment and then bodily-dead as every corpse is for oh-so-long a time forever after - dust to dust and ashes to ashes as someone once might have said.
I guess it's always been pretty certain that things run downward things fall apart and eventually even the best lose all meaning - it's like that too with the tradition and the places of all these great old ideas the cemeteries once embodied - when once there really was grandeur and learning and dignity and all the rest - nowadays everyone's a cheap little know-nothing pimp running about getting things cheapening things acquiring piling up making noise babbling on trading junk for junk strutting about either like whores or junkies or both and the essence of the matter is that no one any longer knows for shit and those crapholes which pass for school pass nothing on because it's the same dunderheads who were 'them' then who're doing the teaching now - which is less teaching than mostly just placating and being done with that - so it's NO wonder nothing of any value gets passed on (even though in its 'word-play' quality it most certainly does get 'passed-on' and forgotten) - anyway now you go to a cemetery and it's mostly flamboyant crap just like in people's minds - you'll find Mickey Mouse figurines or any cartoon bullshit character stuffed animals toy planes and cars plastic guitars whatever all piled up on gravestones in some pathetic infantile fashion abetting a mental midget and that's their idea now of remembrance : like doodles and happy faces on a stupid memo pad : nothing more and only because people are deafdumbandstupid all together and like it that way and there's really nothing left to pass along anyway if it isn't already instilled along the way and it's just too bad but good for me (they can all rot in their own Hells) because at least the grand old traditional spots live on and like Crane's grave or something I can visit to find the turmoils and strife which occurred in the making of something that's lived on - I've been to many Allen Ginsberg Delmore Schwartz Isaac Singer to name just three - and always feel better and more wholesome and connected when I'm done so in light of yet another late Sunday Crane visit there better not be anyone to start on me about their tendentious bullshit ideas of 'value' and 'worth' as it refers to this present-day world because I'd just be apt to shoot 'em right in their very face and plant their twisted body face down and warm maybe two feet in the dirt and call that a grave offense.


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