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IT IS THE END OF A DECADE. THE

years are burning behind us. A generation has come of age in the new world and severed its roots with the old.

We were the baby boom. The passionate bomb dropped at lt he end of the war, detonated to explode twenty years later: our shout of moral outrage resonated from Morningside Heights to telegraph Hill> flooded the streets of Bedford Stuyvesant, Motown and Watts.

Our music was the spectrum from John Coltrane to Frank ZapIJa. Suzie Crenmcheesc was dancing in the aisle when Judi th ~!ali na coaxed her onto the stage. I lied beside Julian Deck as Allen Ginsberg sprmvled on top of him.

1 read Paul GoodmnJ\' s article on anarchy in my grandmother's apartment in Brooklyn. The r-e was a picture in tho Sunday Times Magazine

II

of a black flag draped across the lap of a statue .. at Columbia. ~ty grandmother was an invalid. She sat forever in her chair, no longer knitting, only anticipating calamity.

The black flag was to be unfurled over

the Paris barricades in Amy. The black dress Susan wore gave way to my groping fingers when she came to visi t my cumpus apartment the year before.

Black and white was the verdict of the Kerner Report. I read the brutality of the Bouthern lynchings end the rhapsody of the Uarlem Renaisssnce. I went to work with children in a t\elV York ghetto, by the end of the year I WQuid be in Africa listening to the pulse of my own heart.

On that day, the Fourth of January, Nineteen Sixty Eight, at Eight PU in New York City, with the tv sot turned on in the bedroom, while stretched cnnvases reeked of turpentino and cn t In what pussed along the railroad apartment above the Chinese restnurunt on Avenue B where the narrow streets Bpiked by telephone poles, purking lIIeters,

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bus stop signs, alternate parking signs, the occnssional tree intensified with sunlight through the window pnne in what passed for our living room, and as I snt in the kitchen pondering over a cup of block coffee snd her oven fresh from lnst night's cherry pie, Susan song a peculiar bird song coming ~ost likely from the South Carolina swamps of her youth, while the eclectic

jug bond, of For-e s t Hills High School and Vietnam War a Luraru, played upon washboards, string basses made of washtubs, kazoos, toy xylophones and understated bongos •

Presidential politics was in the air. lI"inter was in the air. Vietnum, campus revolts, pornography, gun control nnd eclectic jug band music were in the air that year.

Every red blooded American boy !Vanted to • • • to grow up • • • grow up to be • •

• to be ornot ••• the green hornet! Yes, every mother's son of them. Buz~ing bravely for Victory on the field, behind the desk, between the sheets, dOI\TI highways t tnrnpikes t

8treama into rivors, rivers into oceans, oceans abounding surrounding us, and beyond

us.

Just let thc current carry UB. It was like we were in a lifeboat under Ike and the JFK years werc the violent ones when passengers were fed to the sea inorder to eose the burden fo.r thoae who remained.

I.e ar-e adrift a till. The wr-enkoge mounts under the Johnson administration. And we will be coIled upon by our conscience at last to benr witness.

It WDS America's third wartime winter in Vietnam. Walter Lippman ponliered the dissolution of the Democratic Party in the pages of Newsweek. He saw this ycnr DS the great opportunity for Republicnns to invoke a new political creed "for making our technological end affluent society a liveable one."

The lifeboat is uhder s Lcge by t he rs t or-my seas. I',ho claims to be the pilot? The captain of the craft peers out trepidly from whi te venetian blinds. The names Australia I Thailllnd and South Vietnam appear daily in

..

the newspapers.

lI'e, who have been looking back in anger, dismiss the hopes we held with savage scorn. There was the desire we could better communicate ourselves. "hile the media kept lookout for land or friendly ships, we began to discover ourselves •

*

*

It was tbe shy school teacher, then, who went to work on wee\aay afternoons. The mornings were free for sleep and reflection, save Fridays, reserved for the uptown therapist.

\\bat meant it to teach? to love 7 to cross barriers in quest? to postulate psychoanalysis petting penis preparation for the ultimate boudoir tryst.

"Let's do the twist~ and Chubby Checker were out of style by that time. TIle years beCore recorded Otis Redding, "Sitting on tho Dock of the fiuy".

This was 1968, and the Fall preceding had seen massive strikes by public school teachers. A new system of education wus sweeping the land as learning would soon mean

hold!n~ tort against the computers.

The ghetto children would someday be slave to computerized bills and verdicts. The liberation struogle had to begin in the classroom. Human realities had to be taught to be passed on from one generation to the next.

The year w~s 19G8. The ~r of the open

theater ••• the open streets • classroom.

\\110 were the young children the shy school

the open

teacher was being entrusted with late inttbb ev.ening 1.'111111e the purcnt s labored to s e t them 1'rec? Straight nhesd the underground railroad ron from Sccond Avenue and East Fourteenth Street toward Curnnrsie tnking the shy school teacher to work on weekday afternoons •

1

Doctor Doolittle could talk to animals. He bridged (1 barrier of corunun t cc t Lon , He listened to the painful ~as of insufferable pachyderms.

Susan's cat, a Persian by nature, coupled with a short hair to sire nn indubitable lItter that emerged in a box in Joe and Liz's closet.

It WIlS tit Joe und Lh:'s npnr tmcn t on East Fourth Street thut the eclectic jug band DIet.

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Theirs was the fabled East Village Crash Pad. Came the wanderers, the addicts, the hopeful, the hopeless, the horney and yes even the hermit for an occasional taste of harmonica while washtubs rang, knzoos buzzed, scrubbonrds rattled, xylophones clang, guitars strummed, flutes piped and cats meowed.

Let us make love in dark corners or wait on the verdict of an illegal hospital abortion. The snows accumulate outside the window and turn to c i ty slush. l~e debate the possibility of escape.

If only we can go where human cornpasslo~welcomes us. Lyndon Johnson has sent the boys off to Vietnam. People nre manipulated, emasculated, gesticulated Bnd percolated.

lIe ent the mncrobiotic rice which Liz has bcen,cooking. I yearn for Susan's cherry pic. She has not de n i e d mo. 1 have held her against my body, and sho has found warmth in my embrace.

I must escape. I talk about the Peace Corps and Joe counters with his expcr1-

cnces in the military. Is it all the same? Is there no surcease from hostility? Does the quest for the realization of love lead to crucifixion.

We debate the d.i Lerana with music in the fabled East Village Crash Pad •

If I can only impart to you the knowledge of your potentialities then surely you are learning to affirm yourself in a world that would otherwise deny you. I cannot teach you anything that you do not ulrendy know~ I can only affirm your faith in the knowledge that you do know.

Yet, what are the schools doing? Are they

in any way educating the students? The teachers Viere striking for more pay. The students wanted to achieve an education, which would help them to nchieve a job with substantial income. The 6Y8tel11 was breathing heavily down all our necks.

There were hard times. Susan and I quarreled.

There were jealous and petty times. I moved out. I r-an away to Puerto Rico. I DIe t Lourdes and tried to conjure up the delusion of love.

Then SUSW\ wus hospitalized. I went to vislt hoI' frequently. Tho operation was serious und

she would be in the hospital for over a month. \\ben she came out sho came to livo with me.

She was weak. Too weak to actively demonstrate. Just strong enough to carry on her mild routine.

The presidentiul primaries were in full swing. In the Spring Johnson had announced that he would not run. I had gone to work as office manager for the McCarthy campaign out in Jamaic ...

Bobby Kennedy entered the race. Thon be was assasinated. I remember Susan waking me up to the news. We both cried and held each other.

I was gain; to leave the country come hell or high water and the Democratic convention in Chicago convinced me there was nothing that could be done about the country. t-;othing that could be done.

Joe and Liz came to visit us out in

. ,.:; Queens. In Kew Gardens. In my snug bour-

geois apartment. A~ concession to the

parent within me. By the courthouse. Away from bohemia we were and Joe and Liz came

to visit us.

There was no eclectic jug bond. There was no fornicating on the floor. All thot there was was respcctablli ty. That' saIl.

Strange word that. Hespectobil1ty. Bourgeois sentiment. There is a bourgeois rcspectability thnt undercuts the artistic respectabl~ity. An inability to nppreclate the scnsunl glories of the carth. The bourgeois is too stuck in the head,

l~ father: too abstnact. Abusincss roan. Everything was turned into credit. A purely abstract notion. It affects the heart when you rob it of seeing bcauty for beauty for truth or what ever- but not money. That is not beautiful because it is costly, but it is costly because :t is beautiful.

And. To find respectability. That is not respectable, bccause it is insurable, but becnuse of its own seIf worth. I have self worth therefore I am respectable.

lzy father drove with me out to Kcw Gardens.

He signed the lepse with me. I was respectable because I no longer lived with bohemians. I

was free of the s ch Lk s a that horrified my father.

l~ father. }~ poor old mono Incompreh~nsible. Life seem~d to be aimed at him with a vengence. Ilhat was the meaning of the hostility he felt from his son. lie ho.d yet, to know.

I\'e type on.

Inglorious. I go with my father to Kew Gardens. I leave Susan. I fall in love lvi th Lourdes. I invite Susan to como live with me. All the time I desperately need sex. My parents ~n't admit to sex.

I can't adm1tto sex. But it comes my way.

Fortunately.

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