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, January 30, 2009

THE MUSIC LESSON ('Old Urban Jazz Cat')

260. THE MUSIC LESSON ('Old Urban Jazz Cat', nyc, 1968):

I never entertained any theories but the ones I could prove - and the certainly-peeling paint on the stairway and landings of that old loft-warehouse building with living quarters on its west side - with a cool view of the old cranky Hudson - proved to me that this was a dump albeit perhaps the most musical dump one would find anywhere ('this side of Paradise' notwithstanding) along 17th Street for as long as one tried - I did and I walked many times through its wearily-cavernous edges while watching the trucks come and go and the black guys shooting nickels or smoking bent cigarettes as they leaned on the ledges of the loading docks and shitty postal zones and stables and taxi-barns all along there from the very corner by the Peter McManus Bar to the watery front of the grimy river covered with jacketed guys going about their tasks - filth merchants or stevedores : you choose - I'd just sit back and listen to those guys running up and down on their horns - every scale-run and musical interlude imaginable - Sharie O'Duff and Starkey Coleman and Wintzy Laber and all those crazy guys who would play long sets at nights in any of the weakly resonant clubs along the avenues uptown - smoke-filled sets pushed and puzzled with cocaine speed and marijuana that took everything to the limits and then they'd slowly be seen making their way back to this infested loft - singly or in groups - stag or with babes on their arms - and the next twenty hours were just some sort of bliss for them : maybe a fog maybe a haze maybe a recollection of from where they'd come and been : the tastes of jazz and all its crazy staccatos still resonating in their heads while three floors up the sky out their window was featureless and the morning trucks down below sizzled with their disgorged cargoes of hardware hat-racks fur coats or shoes and manufactured loft goods came and went around them by the truckloads - it was that very sing-song-y aspect of their living which gave that urban-gritty taste to their music - some free-form attack on reality placed with drums and bass-lines an uninitiated ear could never pick out - and it wore itself like a coat of beauty or something mixed with paint and thrown on walls the walls of reality the room out of which all other things came the infested dream of breakaway and solo - a very singular time seen in the faded images of the old buildings and battered entryways along the street - flat and black and abandoned into a ramshackle motif of decay and angular presentation for no one and these guys used to say 'that' was what gave their music its touched madness its reason for being and they'd work on it three days a week and then take it to the clubs and play all night if they had to in order just once to get it out there for the ten drunks present to witness to hear to understand or at least allow and yes yes there were times I was sure I couldn't understand one damned thing abut their jazz and all that fast be-bop touch and run stuff with little melody except the melody of some scattered sound-remembered and and fills were the lifeblood and essence of what they lived : hedging nothing going straight for the finish driving direct into and past the point of agreed it might still be like that today if I sit back and think about it but for that moment and then these guys were certain and sure of what they were doing - it was like drinking coffee or drinking whiskey or having sex or any of that for these men their instruments and their runs were as good as their lives : countertop furnaces with little flames and shattered windows mended with tape bare bulbs in the landing-doorway and a leaking faucet on all night the constant cold-bathroom drip-drip of water coming down and leaving a furious rust-stain in what looked like some scientist's sink a hallway bathroom good for less and the blackened glass of an old wall once leading onto some factory-floor - something now converted to a living quarters and music-studio together an all as illegal as can be - but in much the same way as student-quarters in some ratty old urban-dormitory walk-up with all its bare wires and bare bulbs and coffee-pots and hot-plates and twisted mattresses and old towels everything just came together just as the sound of all their raging instruments did : and I still never caught the ignominious rhythmic incantation that so many people had for jazz - sometimes to me it was just free noise - still I could see it (rather than just hear it) as something sterling that stood for itself alone - like some precious metal or something held in esteem for the rigorous effort it took to dislodge it from the ore in which it was buried - some magic metal with plenty of mettle - and yet underneath it all I knew their was something else something hidden and mysterious some great racial and tribal essence from the back of way-back itself and these 'cats' as they said they each had in their own ways and in their bloodstreams that ancient jagged old pulse of all that before them had happened - the defenestrated cultural and tribal dance of black darkness wild jungle and mysterious and wonderingly prolific experience of living - 'LIVING' in the human sense of being alive without constraints without meanings and refinement without the slowed-down pulse by which the disappointing present-day cut through all spirits and souls all music and story and these guys had it all together and it came through in the crazed sounds of their detail-oriented music - a type of sound run amok with the 'details' of the music those details that the 'outsider' could never see just maybe merely glimpse or feel or sense somehow - like a memory of a mother's wet hand holding the dishrag over the sink or the way a father's harsh slap would feel to a ten-year just stepping out with some brute form of self-identity - that was the wordless voice the running juice of all the wild loft music I used to hear and it spoke to me honestly I'll admit only with the greatest of difficulty - it took plenty of time and practice and exposure and explanation for me to somehow begin to grasp sense of it - and I found that sense in these strange 17th Street lofts and walk-ups I'd frequent and be openly welcomed into by crazed yet steady men - men of horns and rhythm and tempo and beat and time and solo and it was all like another tongue and a language I slowly learned.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


259. THE VAST SUBCONSCIOUS UNDERGROUND OF OUR VISITED WORLD (the crazy man of old Union Square, nyc, 1971):

'Follow my life - take the piece from the source and hold something to your ear and listen well : The intellect of man is forced to choose perfection of the life or of the work and if it take the second it must refuse a heavenly mansion instead raging in the dark and morality is made by humans - not found in the world - and man must have an intellectual temperament with a delight in muscular language and the power to shock and the idea although a bit banal is that a person is responsible for his own life and external forces and events are merely the raw materials out of which we make a life and we therefore have no right to blame anyone else for the result because it was ours to make or muff and this is a philosophy or a psychology which is basically optimistic cheerful and a forward-looking one of self-assertion of liberation from oppressive frameworks such as those created by religions or other dogmas [AND] it has been said -
Sadness comes in three sizes :
Wind in the pines / Tears on my sleeve / Spaghetti :
while the Buddha's body cannot measured.
- this is truly remarkable -
"Esta buchiamento elanestreo tria enomble tolerado myanaro dustimistus aeroda telerado myanaro riligant et yatdo bosta bosta tiriamis trex no ! no ah dey wayamo lagdo tipes ayvama norto ex clamata emdicta tert !"
Strange foreign man:
He is measuring the sky he is lighting fires with his eyes and the outland rages in his flames and distorting horizons far awkward already by refraction and in stealth he walks away HE IS WALKING without limbs and he covets whatever he wishes and 'in strictures so defined he widely carries forth' along and over as people listen and so I wonder from what is he gathering strength and why from them as at that moment something flutters past me and I see it is merely old newsprint some sailing old page of nothing the same as the rest of the debris flying around the windy park and I see the words partial 'get your mind off the plow' and with everything else that too has lost meaning and I think I will just stop reading after this crazy guy is done reciting his words : 'off the ware on to the mantle the frantic matter seems to dismantle - and isn't that all like our very LIVES itself?' and as the hour though late is still enough for watching the fading light take away the far fading moon so fat still and settling as it sinks in whatever horizon is left FOR WE ARE ALL SO DIFFERENT NOW and far from any place we've lived before ('meadows in the field cardinals in the air that 1952 Chevy parked over there belongs to the soldier with the one-eyed girl - she was brought here from Cleveland and hasn't a care!') and oh delicate flower WITHER NOT NOW but stay until Spring and let me know you are here once more 'I love the laughing vale I love the echoing hill I love the oaken seat beneath the oaken tree where all the villagers meet and laugh our sports to see' and sitting here by myself I am awed too by age and its distance - soldiers on the field schooners on the water dock master trodding the old waterfront the shed and the shanties rank with odor and filled with all the overflow of the watery ages the spars and the ropes and the hooks and containers and the seaman's' salty tastes for food and drink - that knife slammed flat or thrown hard down into the tabletop wherein it stands and all the people straining to see out far to that watery horizon what sails approach and whose flag of endeavor it will be what journey closes in for AS LARGE AS IT IS IT'S A SMALL WORLD TOO and it's marked by craft and the line as on the maps and charts the conquerors can come or the peacemakers arrive NO ONE EVER KNOWS they just stare out : and on the maps and calendars of all men and maidens it is written - 'Father my Father you have brought forth a northern God to protect us yet it is He who maims us too and He will do no good here for there are not enough vessels to contain Him and 'ere long we must go anyway to other places and His hand cannot protect us from evils and the travails of travel and wander - men with messengers of gold and iron and weapons of fire and tongues of flame and magical weaving and dark smokes of falsehood and and they too shall bow down before that as quickly as you are gone from sight - Golden Calf Lucre Moloch Ogre each as insatiable as you - incendiary sacrifices lambs love maidens men - and your words shall be forgotten and twisted and even less heard and it shall be as if you had never lived nor been nor appeared here except as stories and lore NEVER LIVED and NEVER BROUGHT HIM HERE!!' and so they built three churches on the hills around as the landed people traveled wherever they went there would be a place for them to enter and think of the God or at least consider His ways as they passed on their Earthly missions and these ghostly places still stand broken bereft and forlorn and emptied of all pitiable screams and smokes and grown now dense and covered with weeds magical towers and flagrant tears in the fabric of daily life : the vast subconscious underground of our visited world : the gravelly stations and the holes they once covered for on THIS Earth the light is as darkness and the shadows are dense and the winged butterfly alighting stays not long or withers in the heat of fire and windward yonder blows sea breezes where STILL men stare out and pine to go as each and every seeks to leave but cannot move (mortal fabric heavy coil tarnished effect of man's first toil) and those who stay remain unhappy in their lot but steady they try and THUS THIS is our land today : for even as we may conquer the stars (as some will say) even as we have conquered the Moon we stumble over space.

Saturday, January 17, 2009



These streets never meant anything to me except the trouble and toil which time brought - every season would change what it changed and no matter the concrete or the greenery I felt the same as if I was in some deep Vermont woods amidst those suddenly descending hillsides coated and filled with hundreds and hundreds of deep dark and mysterious fir trees but I was instead chasing some other matter along one or another of the same cold barren streets I'd always seen - the old dumpy firehouse twisting on its form or the old Village Dispensary with its sad old red brick just waiting out another era and crying back for something : and yes I saw the same ghosts on every corner and on the Dispensary steps I'd see my own travelogue my Baedeker of Poe as he slumped there and moaned while waiting to be taken in tended to brought back from another horrible precipice to which he'd stumbled and around the corner and over some the soiled streets along Minetta with all their dark and violent underbrush of street urchins hoodlums markers and killers too - they'd never really left those age-old trappings where the floors sagged and the windows no longer fit and the tired stairwells reeked yet of ancient tired families swaggering in their destitution troubles and anguish - those cries still lingered and those kids along the street were yet there - hanging back as they scanned what passed - picking an opportunity or sensing a danger and looming nearby too was the old old house of Tom Paine and the other house around the corner where he died and the tower of the Vesuvius Church all filled with wailing Italians at still another weird funeral - holy water and hearts each pumping together - and the cemeteries which now breached the ramparts of brutish neighborhoods with no strangers allowed the horse troughs the mudded paths the tired laborers the men in work-pants pulling iron through the streets along piles of coal and horse-dung and the itinerant cobblers and stable-hands seeking work for horses for themselves for anyone and anything which could make a penny - and all this was a world alive and still there for me right there is my air and at my fingertips as I moved about : people all about even in the coldest mornings a 7-degree cold staggering through their walks and they walked and mumbled discreetly while holding things umbrellas bags bundles and each store seemed like a religion itself with each doorway a church but I could never connect the meaning of any one thing to anything else - which as it turned out I realized too was the way of all philosophy and all those people living broken and fragmented lives apart from the unity of THAT which was and which they and we all should have recognized early on but never did and living thusly a life misunderstood is probably the most 'Original Sin' (as they would put it) there could be and the one with which we're all smitten - but being too much of a burden to shoulder all that's always left behind and left out too of all those crazed pious pictures and all that Renaissance and medieval art I was always stooping (and stopping) to see - lines and densities of brown and madder the distorted peaks and valleys of faith and tradition before anyone really knew what any of that was and these were essentially the same people over and over again - they might as well all have been painted in vignette - so I passed auditoriums and and halls and central rooms and high stairways with small windows atop them where I'd see vases left in light and with flowers in them they'd reflect back some other realm and reality I was just learning - or a light left on where there was warmth (it seemed everything around me was warm at all times - even as I was freezing) and the slow slow cairn of evening would arrive and sweep through me as all that warmth closed - libraries and sitting rooms and the like - and the shuttered fronts of things marked again the isolation and singularity of the situation : the God-awful refuse of street and gutter rose up from pure nothing to settle in and voices hollow narrow and loud rose singly and together to say something in this nightmare mind of energy and place I'd carried myself through - I sometimes had only slept fitfully and raggedly for days and had wrestled with some horrible anguish and looked in every alcove to see what was left behind - reading mission windows reading posted signs for meals and sessions and help - any congregations of people warmth clothes and food - ANYTHING a prisoner could need it seemed was free for the picking but I staggered on alone past the massive assembled trucks at District 69 on Astor Place - everyone loading or unloading something - the sunken and profane ego of men working trucks and boxing rings and card-shark hustlers and scams and street-priest cheap missionaries all things and people filled with zeal the zeal of the dispossessed or the dead and all throughout the grubby wintry 1967 city were all the other years which had preceded it the lost and the dead the broken-down latchkey faces of the worn-out mothers and sons and fathers and often it seemed that all the frolic and fun had died long long ago and only the remnants and echoes of that uncertain something were left - some slum-face ghetto of tiredness and sorrow in which leftover people still scrambled to live - and it's all been done and closed over like yesterday's supper and yet maybe there was somewhere to be found some dignity some little bit of it anyway in the destitute poor and in the sordid heart of each person I'd see passing by and every washed-out person I'd ever thought of was walking with me now ST. LUKE'S MORTON STREET THE BOWERY right up to Herald Square in an old industrial darkness of smoke and might and all of midnight's power brought together in one mighty place - overlapped conversations twisted tongues layers of other languages amidst scrawling screaming oaths and broken sentences distended from all meaning and worth 'I swear if they arrested me now I'd be declared insane in an instant' and someone else says 'I would not fuck her I would rather lick my balls than fuck her' and the two patrolmen walking along are oblivious to all this and to whatever they see - Tompkins Square Park itself on the criminal prowl and they are talking as they walk twirling their sticks on leather straps past sandwich shops and shutters and windows and doorways and I pass the little bird-store and see in the big front windows that birds are flying around and some jump from perch to perch while others just sit and the canaries and parakeets and all the little brightly-colored things just collect themselves and stay put - the strangely silent snatch of bird-motion amidst colors and branches and the reflection of the traffic in the other nearby window too seems strangely muted and as if UNDERWATER I am watching life ALL LIFE for the very first time - OBSERVING EVERYTHING UNDERSTANDING NOTHING!

Friday, January 09, 2009


257. BACKGROUND NOISE (nyc, 1968):

Just as would someone painting the black night black be seen as insane so too was I at times adduced to be off-the-mark as it were commingled in the brain brought over from some other situation but none of that ever mattered to me and anything I did entailed no choice at all but instead just the doing - and reading 'Tradition and Individual Talent' for instance I read it not once not twice but ten times and each time more carefully than the times before and then some guy seeing me reading it starts telling me about how in his art-class in some San Francisco school that piece had been a mandatory read a part of the curriculum which could not be avoided and everyone hated it and T. S. Eliot because of it was considered anathema and but a brittle representative of old stodgy ways and old stuffed-shirt traditionalism that 'wasn't worth anything these days' because it was pompous elitist and completely conservative and rather than argue with the guy I high-tailed it once again to my basement sleeping room and read it with an even more dense satisfaction - read it to myself alone and over and aloud so as not to miss a point and although now as I look back I can see the guy's intention (it was after-all a broad and very busily active time of turmoil and dissent and experimentation and the rest - at a period when every yapper with a mouth seemed to have something to say) I still by contrast to him revere the points made and feel that I understand them reasonably well enough to make the points right back if I had to - but the rest of the people chattering weren't the sorts who'd take the extra minute needed to consider the 'finer' points of reading or writing - tough luck I always said - and that's why so many of the emoters and raging screamers just went on their way - all those people at the front of the room in the open-read and read-aloud story-time crap that was going around : ideology and venom mostly and not much else : but that was always their intention anyway so maybe they got it across and it succeeded but I was quickly overly tired of the girl-faces all twisted and grimacing about their misspent foul youth their 'fucking fathers' and their measly 'take this pussy you Uncle Sam!' tribute poetry towards the anti-war malice and spit which was everywhere - nothing worse I always thought than torrid loud irate poetry in which the writer/reader bemoans their own youth in vile terms of the finest sort they can find - but that sort of stuff still goes around so no matter about that and it was the enervating aspects of the Vietnam situation that had everyone all riled up but I always took no cover in and anyway that wasn't real art - word-art anyway - and the interesting facets of Eliot's perspective were all but overlooked by these idiots - tradition awareness of the body of all the past the acknowledgement of contribution being added to alter the body of what it was and based on an authentic voice and not just a 'wild' voice - an authentic voice based upon and within the living vehicle of all that which already was : just a great sense of promise and premise in a writing based upon a respect for the past in its uses of the past and the continuing need to learn and read and feed from that past to make the live-fabric of the new which would alter that past even as it included it and was included in turn by it - if done well and in a detached enough fashion to leave out of it the raw emotive power of shout - so much of what I was hearing - but I couldn't be bothered to tell that guy anything nor to try and change that guy's mind and I just let it go on and I watched his often alcohol-fueled 'intrusions in the enchanter's domain' - which is what I called all his work if it had to be called anything - no figment of imagination there all just reality alone and making it be : like glass on a fish-shop's window - allowing one to view the assembled fish in their dead-on-ice finery and select to choose but BY and because of the glass not really sense or smell the truth of what you were to purchase versus the assault and reality of Chinatown fish-mongers with the smells sights and sounds and often LIVE fish too still poking about right there in front of you - the difference was that real -'you pick the fish NOW we chop the head and clean for you you take home NOW!' - that was in a manner exactly the way it was.

Friday, January 02, 2009



Everyone's supposed to have an alimentary canal - some tube space wherein you taste your food - but apparently I never had one and still don't so that I couldn't care less about food nor what it tastes like nor what's in it or involved in preparing it : all the salacious drivel which keeps people usually on pins and needles about what they eat : where to get the best-tasting this or that how to properly prepare eastern salivating sea urchins noodled in alligreto-baked cream sauce with roasted pimientos and naturally-grown baked ziti - or some such crap anyway and it was actually a GOOD thing I was like that because when you're living hand-to-mouth on the streets and dependent on either what you can find steal or get with a quarter you can't be too choosy - I ate cast-off remnants of sandwiches two days old AFTER they festered for two medium-cool nights in which rats probably got first pickings I poked through plenty of restaurant and doughnut-shop cast-offs and ate good from that I stole numerous loaves of bakery-breads left early outside various delis and rectories and places like that and I picked through more than one person's share of garbage-cans and receptacles for trash - food-bags grocery boxes leftovers snacks and pastries - none of it mattered because it was always or could always be washed down with my two favorite foods (25 cent knishes or 20 cent bowls of early-morning diner oatmeal along with 5 cent cups of coffee - if I had to pay at all) and it was like that (comfortable let's say) after a season or two out there because the same people get to see you and know you and take some form of their own small pity on you (and they throw great stuff out anyway) - diner guys throwing you something for free or cheaply and people giving you dimes and quarters or others asking you to 'do' something for them - some any small task - so they could pay with change or at least feel right about giving you a hand-out BUT that's the kind of stuff you learn and see ONLY after a while of doing it : one gets over pride and gets over reticence rather quickly and it was like some New Testament thing in my head about 'I was hungry and you gave me food' or whatever it was but the more I thought about it the more confused I got because in my mind the picture was unfair - this poor schmuck who has things being besieged by people who have not and - in his perfect morality - being essentially 'forced' to fork it over - it seemed a stacked and biased way of going about things and really unfair to the have-it guy but that's was the way the general rule went and I suppose too somewhere in the back of my mind went the refrain that 'some day' if I ever had something I too would willingly and gladly fork some of it over to those who did not - but still that whole little biblical scene remained unsettling to me as if God himself or Christ or somebody was always planning to go about in secret and be undercover-testing people by knocking on their doors and asking for pity or something just to see what they received and who gave them what and it therefore seemed weird and spooky to me to see that such behavior went as quite-acceptable procedure in most church and morality sermons golden rules and all that stuff but these were the sorts of lessons I was engaging myself in during this time : small matters of introspection and sorting out of ideas and concepts which had been foisted onto me previously by things like catechism and church-schoolings and 'proper' lessons in behavior and awareness and all that 'social-grace' schlop they pour all over kids and school-members for like twelve very-long and dreary years and the ones who took it all in the best and came out all proper and schooled usually turned out anyway ten years later to be the most-successful and most-bestial proponents of bad behavior (and worldly success) at the business-expense of others anyway so wherein's the justice in that ? I thought to myself and moved on because none of it mattered and there was really no geography of time or place which could show me the means and manners needed to get through all this without being hurt or injured in some way so KNOWING THAT and remaining aware of pitfalls and dangers I forged ahead anyway with little care for danger or problematic areas - in fact I knew nothing literally and when I did first arrive there I walked blindly into and along whatever I entered and I still don't really know (outside of the ONE address I started from - 8W8th St.) how I got to the other places I frequented except by the happenstance of accident propinquity and serendipity so that the places like 11th and 14th streets and Tompkins Square Park and the extreme old east side and such remained simple mysteries which I explored and experienced simply by doing and doing-without-knowledge too but none of it was ever harmful and I knew there was really no guidebook or planning for what I was undertaking so that in the back of my mind I KNEW that everything was constantly changing and undergoing its own metamorphosis in the same way : I was but one of many outlandish pursuits awash along these streets like some old water running from a sluice and kids and strangers alike went by all lost or confused or all perfectly attired and fixated on goals IT REALLY DIDN'T MATTER because in that intermingling of purposes and intents everything came together merged and went away again - altered or affected by what just went through it but the same nonetheless - and it was of paramount importance to simply survive : wickedly cold December days with the shortest daylight and the wettest snow/slush which then broke over into that opposite dry-cold-solid-state freeze of January and February : and each of these made huge impressions upon the means and the pacing of survival itself - seeking warmth if not solace wherever it could be found - walking snow-clogged and sloppy streets up towards 17th street to enter the painter loft of Guy Gray some French artist I'd met who kept a menagerie of pets in that loft - dogs cats two big rabbits a gerbil and a parrot - who probably each lived better than me purely by accident and he pronounced his name the French way so it was always hard to say and funny to hear with essentially a 'hard' G and behind it an 'e' - pronounced 'Gee' but nothing I was ever comfortable saying - and he was friends with one Gandy Brody whom I meet five years later unbeknownst to me while he was teaching as Art Professor at Elmira College - and the two of them worked miserably at their third-rate careers both which eventually fizzled (Brody died young in about 1978) but they both had spectacular painting styles especially Brody - with numerous works I really grew to like over time - and they kept a corner of that loft set aside somehow for people just like me - indigent acquaintances who could use a crumpled corner mattress to sleep on or get warm and nothing more was ever asked - I'd get there sometimes already shot and shuttered for the day just dying to sleep or hungry with pain and it would all be taken care of - I'd sleep the nestled sleep and reawaken with new impetus and go right back to 8th Street and start anew my own work - which power would last for three or four days and then wane again so I'd start out some more walking the streets and docks to find inspiration or intimidation - and either of those I'd put to use and YES YES it was a token life but a beautiful life too for a while.