Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fashion and the Sixties

My actual favorite part of HS and Junior HS was clothes and hair.  Not my clothes and not my hair but everyone else's.  Girls in particular were hotter than hot.  Beehive hairdo's, white boots, over use of mascara and eye shadow.  Guys got to wear skinny pants and skinny ties and sharp shoes.  My erotic ideals were all formed in the mid-sixties.  In fact when the punk era reigned supreme I was happy as a pig in shit.  All the women looked like really fierce versions of my high school crushes.  It was like heaven because this time I could do something about it.
Of course in 1965 I could do nothing about it.  It was the first year my mother let me choose my own clothing.  We drove to Pitman and went to Jack Lang's the premier men's and boy's clothing outlet in our little corner of the world.  This made our little corner of the world very small.  We could have driven to Philadelphia and I could have gone to Brook's Brothers or Wanamakers but we didn't.  We went to Pitman.  I picked out my spring school clothes.  An chartreuse Izod LaCoste polo shirt and a pair of vaguely lime green, glen plaid pants.  Also a zip up spring jacket.
We drove from there to Ernie's Shoe Post in Mantua.  At Ernie's I picked out a pair of desert boots.  Plus a pair of PF Flyers.
I was ready to go.  I was going to be one snappy dresser.  What a dope I was.  I would make these mistakes with clothing dozens of times over the years but this stands out as one of my worst.  I walked through the school like a green lollipop.  At least my desert boots were cool.  But I turned no heads.  Instead I retreated further into the world of books and history and all the attendant bullshit of my tiny world.
Next up...Ocean City.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Book Report from Hell

Let’s go back again to 1965 and Gateway Regional HS. For the first time in our lives we move from class to class. There are announcements on the loudspeaker. We pledge allegiance to the flag along with a disembodied voice. We have new classes, English instead of Reading, Earth Science instead of Science, Mathematics not Arithmetic, and on and on.
My English teacher was Mrs. Oglesby. For our first book report we are asked to do a presentation along with several other students. The presentation would summarize the book and illustrate the reasons you liked it. Nightmare. Horrible, horrible nightmare. Out loud performance was not my thing in 7th grade. You can probably understand since I was a midgety, skinny runt with a cowlick. My voice was as high as a birds. I felt like some monstrous geek and I was.
But there was no way out. As I recall I was hooked up with Jim Maddox and Steven Kaye and the book we selected was “Last of the Mohicans”. This was just about the only part of the assignment I liked. I was a James Fenimore Cooper freak. I read all his books. Books that were universally reviled by any competent writer or critic. But they had war and Indians and sacrifice and forests and blood and an acceptable amount of romance.
The girls all picked “Rebecca”.
This killed us right from the git go. :Rebecca” is a fairly easily summarized story while “Last of the Mohicans” has a jumbled up plot that isn’t clear for a hundred pages. Plus the girls were better at this. Their presentations were funny and inventive and informative. Thank God I can’t remember ours. I do remember it was a miserable failure. We tanked. I remember slinking away from the front of the class thankful only that we’d finished.
This deep sense of embarrassment and humiliation was to walk just behind me till senior year. You can only imagine what a joy it was to go to school each day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So Much Time So little work

Hi all,
Sorry I've been a lazy fuck.
So, before I give you my post about Wenonah in 1965 let me remind you of three things dear to my heart.
First, Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States of America.  Given that there was only one black girl in my class at Gateway Regional HS and given that I drove through a black neighborhood with outhouses to get to high school this is a wonderful moment in American history.
Second, two events dear to my heart and poetry were set aside this year.  The Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival and the Frost Place Festival of Poetry.  I could say lots of shit about this but mostly it sucks that money kills an art that makes no money and enriches peoples lives. 
Manana... or maybe Friday... Book reports, Rebecca, and the Last of the Mohicans.
God Bless, Good Night, and my regrets on the passing of my dear friend Rick Sonnenberg, known to many of us as Rick Lopez.  Death comes and steals away and the best are caught in his arms.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year's Eve

When I was young my brothers and I were banished to my grandmother’s house on New Year’s Eve. There we drank half an illicit beer and ate ham sandwiches and watched Guy Lombardo ring in the new. That is if we didn’t fall asleep because of the beer.

Or else my grandmother and Aunt Gersh would come to the house and we’d do the same thing in Wenonah as we would in Bala Cynwyd. My parents were engaged in adult fun. We had no idea what adult fun was. So far as we could tell from our few exposures to a grown up party it consisted of laughing loud, drinking, and smoking and staying up late. This did not seem fun. Plus they played the Mills Brothers and Perry Como.

They did not go out to fancy night clubs, they went to friends houses and checked in by phone. No real need to do that as we had been trained well and staying up till midnight was extraordinarily difficult. So it was that my brothers and my little sister and I rang in the New Year of 1965. It may have been that year that my parents had the party at their home. I can remember vaguely one such party so let’s call it that one.

I was sitting at the end of my bed with my cat, Surprise. The warm tones of Frank Sinatra filled the night. There was a woman’s high laugh. The light from our back porch shown out onto the lawn and the clear night sky was lit up with a thousand stars. Happy New Year and noise and fireworks and honking and then the music again and sleep.
I woke the next morning to a house full of half-empty glasses that smelled of whiskey and ginger ale, overflowing ashtrays, and a house as quiet as a morgue.