A Moment With Ginsberg in a Noodle Shop in 1995
His balding head cut an unmistakable shape.
I’d seen it before. On book covers. On the cover of the Village Voice.
Even with stooped posture and grey coat, his visage was unmistakable. This was no mere mortal old New York Jew. This was Allen Ginsberg. The poet. The iconoclast. The aging Beatnik Howling analog at a world taken over by Alanis Morisette pre-packaged irony and post-flannel power chord mediocrity.
It is 1995. A cold New York winter day in February.
I sip a bowl of Cantonese noodle soup and stare. Mee’s Chinese Noodles. 13th Street and 1st Ave.
Mee’s is a tiny shithole of quality food and crappy service. Next to a deli and just below the too-crowded intersection of 14th and 1st by the L Train and the bustle of Stuyvesant Town.
But for all its cockroachitude and tables unwiped since the 1980s, Mee’s is my home. My only place for Chinese food in the city. At least once a week. Maybe twice. Egg drop soup. Sesame noodles. A certain quality of consistency. Was it MSG? Perhaps. But it worked. A momentary respite from a confused and chaotic New York struggle.
Allen Ginsberg was in my home.
It didn’t take much to bring joy to my post-NYU poverty. Just noodle soup. I scrounge the city for jobs in the entertainment industry and wondere if my Dad had been right all along. I believe I might be an artist. But I fear that I’m not. Sometimes I chase young women in bars. Other times I sit at home and try to write.
Mee’s is my friend. Mee’s is a respite.
Warm soup and crappy tea in dirty glasses. Together, harmonic.
I would find out later it was Ginsberg’s favorite. But at the time, he is an apparition. I stunning reminder of the city I hope to measure up to even as I struggle to pay my rent.
I don’t talk to him. Just watch him as he eats. The ghosts of Dean Moriarity and apple-shooting Burroughs haunt his visage. The residue of a 1950s fantasy come to life in my noodle shop. The intellectual rebellion by the City Lights and road trips of a pre-counter culture youth movement. I ponder the photographic record of his journey at the end as mine is at the beginning.
Where once were young men breaking out of conformity there now sits Old Ginsberg. No stopping the road trip into the Now. Just aging bodies. Sipping noodle soup.
No country for old poets. Not in the Seinfeld era.
I fancifully think of a baton passing from him to me. Then my face flushes with shame. I have no howl to give. No kaddish. No poetry. Just a desire to eat noodle soup and hope for a job someday. With health insurance.
He shakes some salt into his soup. A young Asian companion hands him a napkin. They don’t talk. Eventually he is done. His companion helps him to his feet and struggles to get his large wool coat around him. Together, they shuffle out the tiny door.
The flames leap from the stir fry in the kitchen. The windows are foggy with beads of water. Dim, grey New York awaits on the outside.
Ginsberg passes by my window. Outside now. Across first avenue. Into the mist.
I say nothing.
But I honor him with my soup. And that is enough.
Angry White Conservatives of America Continue to Unleash a Primal Scream As they Fade Into Irrelevancy
This comment from my The Day White People Died Post says it all:
So, my white relatives that fought for the Union in the civil war should be lumped in with the whites that used slaves?
Our system is imperfect, but did it not eventually end slavery?
You just went on and on about how you went to a prestigious school and were a little jealous of your friend who made it big in the business. It sounds like people that vote for lefties are full of nothing but envy. Envy is the root of the class warfare language and tactic used by the left.
You are a smart guy, but you should step away from the liberal brain washing you were given in school and look for some other sources for historical perspective.
I’m sure the old Soviet Union would have allowed you to make a living such as you do now. And I know China is so awesome with their civil liberties, and Venezuela and Cuba are just booming with internet tycoons.
It’s funny that so called intellectuals and the college types in the USA are the first to bash it. No appreciation for those who fought and died to end slavery and abuse. No appreciation that they were born here and able to be the spoiled brats they are – and don’t appreciate that they aren’t living in some mud puddle in Afghanistan…
I look forward to the when the day when the chip on shoulder dies.
The ‘Merika, luv it or leave it, B.S. went out with the 60s, clown. The chip on my proverbial shoulder comes from watching a decade of the last dying embers of white privilege and rage set fire to an America that had a surplus and was on the way to leading the world into the 21st Century. But the Bush Rage blew it all up, and all because the world had become frightening and strange and filled with non-whites and non-Christians.
Sorry, bub. The future is mine. Not yours.
Reagan on a horse in the 1950s may have never happened at all, but you can content yourself with that fraudulence, while the rest of us rebuild the world you set fire to because you didn’t understand it.
Fast Food Fatassery and the Joys of Pull Tab
Outside of the juicy carnal nirvana that is In-n-Out burger, and the occasional Five Guys slobber chomp, I have one rule in my 30s. Never eat fast food.
Fast food is sexual sublimation by way of ketchup and mayonnaise shart. The perfect gristle chew substitution when America isn’t killing enough foreigners to satisfy the primal psycho-sexual eroticized blood lust that courses through the primitive tribal brain of hunter/gatherer yore.
Fast food is merely a Marxian tool. False consciousness by way of dancing childhood imprint.
Kings. Clowns. Dogs. Toys.
Do not ask for whom the Taco Bell barks. It barks for cheeseburger.
Our collective golden arches smearing the wonder buns of sweet promise and orgiastic chew. These plastic temples are our Bread and Circuses of the 21st Century. Religion by way of sesame seed. Combinations and value meals meant to keep the proles obsequious, satiated, and artificially overstimulated.
The third act reveal, of course, still awaits.
But I make one exception.
When pull tab game pieces are involved, then I am in.
When I can pull a tab and find out if I won a small fries, or a coke, then purchase I must. Not a lot. But at least a few completely unnecessary meals. That I will only partially consume before throwing the rest away in disgust, will be purchased.
This ritual began as a primal imprint during my childhood years.
1984. The Terminator. Madonna. Duran Duran.
McDonalds offered Olympic Game Cards that looked like so:
Although this image is the 1988 version of the game, the same principle applied back in ’84. If the USA won Gold, a free Big Mac. Silver, free fries. A Bronze, a free coke.
I was ten years old.
The game was already some liberating concoction of gambling impulse under the guise of patriotism. But then all rules and regulations were suddenly null and void like cold, pasty french fry. Unhinged by the wake of cold war politics, divine intervention opened a portal into the land of unlimited Big Mac-ery and Friesation. For 1984 was the year the Soviet Union announced they were boycotting the Olympics. And the U.S. of glorious A subsequently won an ass ton of medals. Across the board. In every imaginable category.
I had already been hoarding cards for weeks.
Suddenly I had struck proverbial post-USSR gold.
Quickly, another crack in the procedural opened up. I discovered that when I went to cash in my winning food tickets, I could manage to procure a new scratch card from the proverbial disinterested and barely competent teenage employee.
Life was golden. Arches were revelatory.
I ate for free. Not just once. The entire summer. I mixed and matched cards. I tracked the Olympics for the first time in my young life with insane passion and obsessive statistical study.
Gold medal in the 100 meters? Big Mac!
Gold medal in the uneven bars? Big Mac!
Only a silver in fencing? Fries, bitches! Fries.
More pure than Oprah’s free car. More soothing than a back rub from a Thai ladyboy. It was the summer of fast food freedom. The summer in which parental begging and cash-poor salivatorial thwarting no longer took place.
My ten-year-old scrawny ass had been unhinged into a glorious vat of salt, potatoes, meat byproduct, and carbonated syrup.
Oh joy of joys! What promise the future did portend!
Childhood no longer held interest. Toys and cartoons faded into the past. The adult world had a system. A system that could be worked. A system that could be exploited. One only had to learn to play the game.
McDonalds had unwittingly indoctrinated me. The hegemony of first world fast-food chain-link conceptual hand-off had taught me to draw a conceptual bind between nation and consumption.
With every burger I ingested, America won. I had fulfilled the greatest fantasies of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman in their glorious visions of free market choice and voluntary conscription in service of a larger identity beyond flag and beyond nation.
I had pledged to the flag of Arches. Arteries in service of a tribal affiliation. An American patriotism in which physical supremacy meant free burgers and fries.
So what if the promotion almost bankrupted McDonalds. I was hooked.
Now, lo these many years later, and nothing has changed. When the McDonalds Monopoly game arrives, I must partake and imbibe.
Of course I throw away most of the shriveled cow anus and salt licks they call “food” at these abhorrent places. And I rarely, if ever, actually cash in the tabs when I win. Why would I? McDonalds food is vile putrid rat spittle served in a dirty ashtray. But I must pull tabs. I must go back to that time of future-promise and systemic manipulation by a kid who just wanted free hamburgers.
So I sat.
In a McDonalds in Woodland Hills.
I ordered a chicken sandwich. To cut calories, only a medium fries. For my soda, diet lemonade. Even with these choices, this tiny, crappy, feeble excuse for a meal probably included close to 800 calories.
When it arrived, I realized I had botched the entire concept behind the meal.
The chicken sandwiches don’t come with Monopoly tabs. Only the anus meat. The medium fries also had no tabs. Only large fries.
I had only two tabs. On my soda.
So I pulled the tabs on my soda.
I didn’t win.
I ate a few fries and took a few bites of the inedible slap of crunchy breaded chihuahua shite that McDonalds calls chicken.
I washed it down with chemical lemonade.
I had come a long way, baby.
I hate Cats
Cats are furry feral walking behemoths of puke-lick disgrace. You know this. I know this.
My various ex-girlfriends who spent dates talking about their cats know this.
I hate cats almost as much as I hate people who don’t hate cats.
I hate cats so much, I hate Andrew Lloyd Webber.
I hate cats so much, I hate Dreamworks.
There is one, and only one exception to the rule.
Well, maybe two.
Sure it’s not a deep rant to start off my personal blog. But whaddaya want, a treatise on Toqueville?
And no, I’m not posting a cat pic with this post. Unlike HCwDB, I can rant here without pictures.