December 11, 2009

A Story Under Every Stone

Gary Davidson and myself after finishing a two-day job assembling and hanging those IKEA cabinets I am dancing in front of. Gary is a Brooklyn native who knows more about Brooklyn and its history than anyone needs to know.

There's nothing to beat 129 blog posts for showing me how full of crap I am. I can't even read some of this stuff now. Yet it was heartfelt, most of it, proving I suppose that feeling doesn't mean all that much in writing, as far as literature goes. This ain't literature, that's for sure. I don't know what it is in fact, unless it is merely a compulsive vomiting of thoughts and feelings into the blogvoid--for relief from the empty dull nightly nothingness of my suspended-animation existence-in-waiting, and the submerged daily anxiety of surviving. My habit of writing is hard to kick, even if most of what I write can safely be flushed and never missed. You think this is bad? You should see the 150 drafts I abandoned but keep for inexplicable reasons. Don't think I never wanted to chuck every pen pencil paper notebook and word processing program on the premises into the garbage and be done with it. In fact I did it once.

Beside the great Brooklyn Dodger's grave, a short distance from where I live in East New York. Jackie Robinson is a hallowed name in Brooklyn. (Click photos for close ups.)



Gary is a fine photographer and artist with an eye for balance and beauty. After 55 years in the neighborhood, he knows this vast complex of cemeteries as well as anyone except the gravediggers. I have the same fascination with graveyards, the older the better.

A normal day at the Post Office on Sutter Ave., where I waited an hour-and-a-half to pick up a package that wasn't there.

Sunday I start driving a taxi in New York City again for the first time in about 22 years. It took 3.5 months to get this goddamned hack license due to the bureaucratic snarl of the licensing proceedure now. In 1974 I paid $30 for a hack license and went out the next day and found a job on West 47th Street and started making money right away. I applied for this license in early August, and since then I have seen thousands of dollars go by in yellow cabs that I wasn't driving. I nearly had to marry somebody at the TLC to get the license, at a total cost of about $600. I racked up $2,450 in personal debt for this son-of-a-bitch. (I had no idea that many people would actually lend me money.)

Gary holding a ticket I received for no inspection sticker beside the inspection sticker. I got two of them in two days. Sixty-five bucks a pop. (Contested)

Looking east and south over Brooklyn from Cypress Hills Cemetery.

Yeah, that black van is still with me, but soon it's going to be sitting in a field in the Catskills, far from any voracious insurance company.

Those bastards had me making phone calls for two weeks to the Virgin Islands, trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious entry on my NY state driving record that I had turned in a "document" there in 1995, when I was in Colorado. I've never been to the Virgin Islands.

Finally I tracked down the head of the motor vehicle department in that faraway place. She told me, "We don't even keep records back to the 1990s." I repeated this to the one friendly voice I had found at the TLC, and he said, "Oh, okay. You don't have to get that one then. But it might come up later."

It might come up later?

This vast criminal enterprise had me rounding up driving records from every state they had a record of me driving in. It's a good thing they aren't as thorough as they think they are, because I have had, count them, 15 driving licenses from 15 states: NY; NJ; LA; TX; MA; RI; WA; CA; CO; NM; NC; ME; FL; VA; NV; plus Canada, and a Marine Corps driver's license too. I think I'm qualified to drive a taxi in NYC; especially since I drove them for six years at night over a 15 year period.

Incidentally, I took the written and driving tests for most of those licenses. On top of that I had a National Safety Driving course that lasted a week, and several other safe-driving courses over the decades.

Sigh. Things have outwardly changed but inside I hardly have. I almost never look at my face in a mirror, except when I'm brushing my old white hair back, but on the rare occasions when I do, like the other night when I was wondering if I had suffered a mild stroke, I look long and steady and wonder who is this guy looking back at me, and what is it that keeps him keeping on. I don't know what keeps me going with the intensity of my life. Something set me running back in 1958, and I have never stopped.

Sometimes it seems like my life has been an emergency; one emergency after another, which I learned to negotiate every day looking more or less calm. I don't think people who know me realize how intense my feelings are, how intently I look at things, how intense is my wonderment amazement and disgust, how wild and intense my thoughts are, that I can't adequately express, and how passionate I really am. I have to clamp my mouth shut all the time or they will think I am a complete nut. Sometimes I feel such a sense of desperation it's indescribable. I am burning up in this fucking refrigerator.



My feelings exactly.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You write with a lot of feeling. Stay with it.

Mike said...

I'm looking out the window,
but all I see is the same old scene.
It's horrifying and amusing,
but anything I could say
would seem obscene.

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