Thursday, May 16, 2013
I made my pilgrimage to the waterfront again today, not the old river, but the mighty Hudson where Liberty State Park is split in two, the Morris Canal and the Yacht basin isolating this small peninsula where I have come more than once for solace, though today, I came on assignment, and felt none of the woes of old days when I needed water of some kind of soothe me.
Hudson is not
and does not have the same healing powers, the canal connects them and the
pieces of my life, since I have spent most of my time on earth near some
faction of the spoiled pre-Civil War dream that northern robber barons hoped
would spell the end of the Noble South. The brown water looks as spoiled as
those ambitious dreams, filled with the muck and disgust that all such ambition
breeds, and yet, it is not without beauty, and even the overgrown places I knew
best back in what was once called West Paterson (before some egomaniacs decided
they hated Black people too much to bear the same name as the nearby city that
had once served as the industrial engine for America) proved pathways for my
private journeys. The old Tow Path rock club where the band once played had its
roots in this one time navigational route. In one spot, behind an old VFW hall
there is even a little wooden bridge over the place where the canal once
flowed, although the only time it has water in it is when some powerful storm
lifts up the river and drips brown liquid into it.
Even this place at the corner of Jersey City where I came today suffered this fate when Sandy struck and left this place better suited for Noah’s Ark than for anything walking on two or four feet.
Workmen struggle to replace the wooden walkway behind the old Sugar House, as I stroll over land that had been so saturated that even now, it seems soaked, although I know this is the result of recent rain, not the flood that had left all within view underwater.
Other work transpires, not the least of which is that of the so-called
across the river,
that mockery of industry everybody praises, but which remains an elevated
middle figure to the world it exploits, just as the twin towers had served to
symbolize the British two finger salute that meant the same things. Freedom
This greed, this wanton ambition for power, this insanity of importance that Americans seek so that they can look down on all the other people of the world remains one of the great mysteries of my life, although I have encountered it on every level, from the hovels of the ghetto to the rich East Side I used to deliver to as a messenger, people who feel so utterly unimportant doing anything and everything to make sure they are more important than some else. No one wants to be last on line outside Club 54 or at the bottom of some Wall Street pile of crap. If they can be even moderately higher on the totem pole, they have power.
A backhoe digs up earth near the Colgate Clock – a sad testimony to what
has become. we have the clock here, but none of the production facilities to
which it once been attached – just as we lost the big cup from the Maxwell
House factory in Hoboken
when I first moved their in 1992. Then we lost the factory, and all the
factories, and all the jobs, so that all that is left is the empty ambition of
mountain climbers scaling only to find utter
emptiness when they get to the top. Freedom
I stare down into the water and see fish stirring there and the reflections of clouds, and something else, deeper down, some aspect of self I have yet to understand, perhaps will never understand no matter how many times I come across this canal, puzzled by the utter failure it symbolizes within eyesight of the rail road that replaced it.