When the old coliseum where the Nighthawks used to play
fell precisely inwards on itself in a cloud of dust to the roar
of crowds watching on rooftops in their pajamas, for it was
early, I was headed to Union Station to catch Metro North
to the city. Better than fireworks, quipped the traffic guy
on the radio. What’s better than seeing something smash?
It’s true once I fell asleep on the red line, my face smashed
against one of the plastic seats, booze the hero of the play
that my liver, heart and head also starred in. Lucky some guy
didn’t rifle through my pockets or write on me. No subway roar,
or even the addled rants of a man wearing an Ollie North
pin and distributing pamphlets on how the Holy Ghost was
friendlier than Casper, could disturb me then. Not when I was
drooling, no joke, and missed my Brooklyn stop smashed
into sleep and only roused agog in the Bronx, South to North.
Slept and again woke in the Bronx, like in an absurdist play
where time was recurrent and distant sea’s muffled roar
replaced any dialogue. Scary. I was a wild and crazy guy
back then, would crash art openings featuring any guy
catering chardonnay to accompany his charcoals. My motto was
“the done can be undone but the undone can’t be done.” Roaring
around the Burroughs but never in cabs and always smashed,
some combination of buzz and drowse in constant play
in my bloodstream, lights blurring past like perpetual North
Stars. My days dazed in amazement. The idea of true north
held no interest. I was knocking back scotches with a guy
who knew a girl whose roommate I had dated, was playing
pool with George Plimpton and clubbing to jungle, was
being invited out to Fire Island and could call a smash
single before anyone but the record execs. How I roared!
Now I take Metro North into the city and do my roaring
around in a hybrid car with a car seat but that’s north
of never mind. Say I’m using a knife’s blunt edge to smash
garlic for a marinara sauce I’d wager better than the guy
who says “Bam! Kick it up a notch!” No matter who I was,
I’m happy, have no other choice in the next act of the play.
I still like to see things smash. More or less, I am that guy.
But all that bluster and roaring is like belief in Santa’s North
Pole into adolescence. Not what was and will stay in play.