This is a novel that collects a number of the classic tales of the Garley Gang. This scan combines two early manuscripts so the names changes a little from one to the other.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
This is an autobiographical novel about the first few years I spent living in the Montclair Rooming house from late 1972 to early 1975. I had intended a second novel, but never got around to it. This is the original manuscript.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Thunderstorms are predicted for today when I know for certain I will have to be outside in a space so wide open I’ll be among the tallest things on the horizon.
We live in uncomfortable times with questionable choices, not just which candidate to vote in as president, but in the every day things that make life bearable, whether to bring a rain coat, an umbrella or body armor.
Trump’s comments about the Second Amendment yesterday incited a near riot among
Clinton supporters, when he told his audience would kill off
the Second Amendment if allowed to appoint Supreme Court justices and that
Second Amendment supporters had no options to stop her – or maybe they did. Clinton
These days, I take the light rail since the second stop is only two blocks from my house and the trip to
takes roughly the same amount of time as when I drove. Bayonne
While I could have used this mode of transportation sooner, it was not practical while I worked a beat in
Bayonne, or while I still
lived in .
I would have had to drive or walk to the 9th street station and
getting on the light rail at 9th Street is a nightmare, since it is
the primary stop for the upperly mobile in their journey wall street or the
jersey city waterfront – making mockery of the old comparison of sardines
pressed together. Jersey City
While I still have to deal with these sardines, moving to
45th Street in Union City allows me to access the line long before the
hordes of greedy do, and thus guarantee myself a seat all the way through Hoboken and . I get off at Jersey
State Park for the change to the train. Bayonne
While I still have to deal with these sardines, moving to
I also discovered that with the exception of
Square, I can access nearly every place I need to
cover for the newspaper, and thus do not have to suffer the indignity of
finding a park spot or getting a ticket when I overstay my welcome in some posh
This trip reminds me of those days in the early 1970s when I took a bus to work and back each day, traveling from Montclair to Fairfield and back, a regular commuter who had not yet become addicted to the convenience of a car.
I guess I’m not too old to learn a new trick especially when it really is an old trick re-imagined.
Over the last few weeks I have been scanning my old novel manuscripts and journals, traveling back in time to those days when I was far less confident that my life would turn out well.
While some of these journals were typewritten or done on Atari computer, most are handwritten, and in re-keying these I am forced to relive some of the most painful moments of my life, and the lessons learned.
I read Faulkner on the light rail and have come to realize how much I owe him for my vision and how I write. I keep thinking of the professor who once compared me to Faulkner, but only now begin to understand why – style if not content.
Today, I’ll take a slightly different route, journeying to a park off the
station, a place so flat you can actually see the sky, and the approach of
storms. Today, I wait for the thunder and lightning, just we all wait for the
outcome of an election in which we all are losers irregardless of who wins – painting Trump as
some kind of monster, and the media falling into lock step behind her. Clinton
There is no truth in such storms, only a lot of wind, lightning, and illusion.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Monday, August 08, 2016
Fortunately it is the height of summer and so I don’t have to wear closed shoes all the time. Otherwise this less than Shakespearian tragedy might play out differently, and I might not get to witness its proper conclusion.
Waiting for a toe nail to fall off is a lot like waiting for a bus you know will arrive eventually, but whose schedule is so skewed you can’t completely predict just when.
This drama, however, will mark the change of life that comes with the move, and mocks some of its significance much in the way the drunken Trinculo does in the Tempest, or the Fool in Lear, putting perspective on the whole matter, and making sure that I do not take any of it too seriously.
The toe, of course, was the victim of too tight steel toe work shoes I cleverly thought I might wear during the loading of boxes for the move, believing that I might spare myself injury if something might fall. Thus, I packed or threw out shoes that I might have worn more comfortably if at a greater risk, and so suffered through the slow rub of a slightly too long big toe nail box after box, trip after trip, in temperatures that might have rivaled one of Dante’s circles of hell.
At first the rubbing seemed tame the way the first drop of water torture might, something I could easily tolerate – and did during the short duration. But as time went on, the small torture turned into a significant pain, and I was helpless to halt it, unable to locate alternative shoes, and when finally I did, unable to put them on because of the swelling around the toe and along the side of my foot.
The last day proved the worst because I knew I was damaging myself, blood filling the entire nail, and puss surrounding it like a frame, dark red with a white border.
Eventually, I found my sandals and began the slow recovery, although even at that point I knew if I escaped serious infection, I would lose the nail. The blood oozed out a few days later leaving the whole nail pale white. The puss eased and went, and so I walked painlessly with my folly exposed at the tip of my sandal for any fool to see.
Then came the waiting, and I still wait, watching the nail loosen. I am too cowardly to yank it off, and so sometimes, contain it with a bandaid since for some reason, I pump the toe more now than I ever did in my life before the tight shoes – needing the steel protection to protect me from the damage the steel tips had done. One such bump two nights ago threatened to yank the nail completely off, but I pressed it back and bandaged it again, determined to let by body reject the unwanted appendage.
This, of course, is comic relief to the change I am making, moving a great distance not so much in miles (a mere 40 blocks) but in physic distance as I move from Jersey City to Union City in what will likely be the last significant move of my life, the steel tips of my new home designed to protect me from unforeseen elements, and to keep this fragile self from suffering damage that will come quickly, like a bolt of lightning, ending the charade that has been my existence all the years prior to this.
Even after the nail expires, and after the new nail grows in, I will look down at my big toe and realize that all of the tragic implications of this move, all of the foretelling of future events is of no consequence, as my shoulders rub unfamiliar walls, I hope will not cause any permanent damage
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Sunday, August 07, 2016
My favorite non-fiction writer, EB White once wrote a column for The New Yorker called “Farewell to 49th Street,” signifying that point in his life when he was giving up his urban existence for a more permanent abode in the country.
His essays talked about the summer trips to
Maine, but this point in
time would be his final move to a place that he had prepared for his
For me, moving from the western slope of Jersey City Heights to Union City is as significant, a charge so dramatic after nearly 20 years in the same location, I know just how Mr. White felt, wanting to remain at the same time needing to move on.
I hadn’t intended to move to
Union City at all, nor knowingly purchasing a
house from the former police chief. Those things simply happened.
The fact that the house was built in 1885 brings to me a deeper satisfaction that I can only describe as coming home.
I grew up in a Victorian era house – and until this move – I had lived as long in it as any other, leaving it only in my teens when I embarked on my short but dramatic life of crime.
The irony of buying a house from a police chief is not lost on me, nor is the fact that being near 45th Street and Bergenline Avenue, I have returned to an even richer piece of my past, since Union City looks and feels very much like the Paterson I grew up in during the 1950s and 1960s.
Perhaps this is the reason why it feels so good walking to the Light Rail each morning or across town on
45th Street, into West New York and
finally Weehawken where I can overlook the
Hudson River and Manhattan.
There is a kind of peace in all of this, and a sense that this is where I belong finally, after so many years wondering and wandering.
This comes at a time when I have lost one family – the uncles and aunts that were more like brothers and sisters, passing on all in a rush so that I have wound up an only child for a time, only to find a whole batch of wonderful half brothers and sisters I knew nothing about prior to this.
I think about my grandfather (on my mother’s side) and my father as I walk down 45th Street to the river, and back along 46th or 48th, depending on my mood, wondering if they, too, had wandered most of their lives before coming to a time and place where they could find peace, too.
I think the Victorian house was just that for my grandfather, while I have yet to learn just at what moment in his life my father found peace.
This journey we take is more than just one through time or even space, but inward to find something we have kept secret for our entire lives and may not have known about until we stumble upon it, nor are we completely aware of our need for it or what it might be until it presents itself.
I say hello to 45th Street because it brings me back in time and makes me think of those people who have always been most important to me, the bad people like Leonard (the bully from when I was a kid) and the not so bad people who I went to school with and still cling to the original place of their birth, to the grand people who like me wandered far and wide, only to return, if not physically, then in their minds, to the place where we all started, and finding at the core of 45th Street or Crooks Avenue, some special something that defines life, our life, and the world in which we live, and gives us meaning we never expected to have.
Street. Welcome home.
Friday, August 5, 2016
Friday, August 05, 2016
Dave was so tall at such a young age, he made his own father look small.
In the school yard at number 11, he stood out like a giant, though it didn’t help that he had been left back so many times he should have been graduating junior high by the time he finally managed to get out of sixth grade.
He wasn’t stupid. He just didn’t do well with books or the kind of regiment public school required.
I’m not sure of what he might have been good at, only that he was rarely happy until the bell rang and he made the long climb up the Lakeview Avenue hill to his house near Crooks and Vernon avenues a half mile away.
The walk was always wrought with trauma and humiliation since he bore a crush on my next door neighbor, Susan Brett.
She hated him, and came to hate me when I befriended him.
This grew in intensity over the years so that by the time we were all in junior high school together, she felt we stalked her, although in truth, we merely taunted her.
In fact, we rarely saw her inside or outside school in Junior high, but made a ritual of passing her locker every day and dropping a penny through one of the slots.
This so infuriated her that she actually reported us to the principal, claiming we had broken into her locker and stolen her books, which we had not.
By that time, Dave and I were doing our Blues Brother bit before there was actually a Blues Brothers. We wore suits and ties, and paraded through the school pretending we were among the intellectual elite, when in truth, we were the biggest pranksters in the school.
We perpetually taunted the cool people, and the thugs, which of course, made us targets of abuse. Dave for all his size was a wimp, and so when it came to a fight I was generally on my own, having to defend the crap that came out of my mouth.
I don’t think Dave ever got over Sue, although he paid me dearly when he found out my bedroom window was directly across from hers, and sometimes, she did not always close her shade when she got undressed. This hardly improved my relationship with Sue when she found out that I invited Dave and others to what amounted to a peep show – a profitable enough venture that I did not have to steal pocket change to pay for my cigarette habit. This source of revenue, however, dried up once she found out, and made curtain the shade stayed closed.
She certainly didn’t understand Dave’s affection, seeing him as a buffoon, which perhaps he was. But even when she was her meanest, he retained his affection for her, always wishing for more than he got, willing to accept even her abuse when he could not get affection.
He eventually moved out of the neighborhood and out of her life, taking up a life of his own with eventual wife and kids, and a job as a mechanic. Sue moved to California for a time – although her family remained in the house next of mine until after I went off onto my life of crime. I don’t know when they sold, but I never heard from them or her again – although rumor said she returned to New Jersey to take up a married life.
Dave, too, vanished into the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, the last refuge of blue collar people driven out of places like Paterson by crime and out of the suburbs by a high cost of living.
To this day, I’m sure, he still thinks of Sue and wonders if life might have been different if she had loved him as much as he loved her.