Friday, April 30, 2004

Went to WFMU Record Fair in New York City at the Metropilitan Pavilion on 18th Street. I work there sunday so tonight was for browsing & socializing. It's like visiting a museum of vinyl - I admire & hold rare near mint soundtracks costing from $30 to $70 & whisper to them, "Yesss, i may have you someday, but NOT at THIS price!. Did get one for $5, The Egyptian, bad Fifties epic but rare collaboration between two great film composers, Alfred Newman & Bernard Herrmann, not on my "A" list, still worth having at the price - found it misfiled in a bargain jazz box. The WFMU Fair, held twice a year, is considered one of the best in the world by collectors & dealers. Of course the NYC Male Record Geeks crowd is there in full force, but the Fair attracts a much wider range of customers, with plenty of $$ to spend. I've never been a collector of "rare" vinyl. It is interesting to see how much many of my records would have been worth had I never handled or played them. I gave my records heavy use at home & on the radio, couldn't be especially concerned with the condition of the jackets, or avoid putting a scratch or ding in some of them.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Nearly all apartment buildings are the same in that if there's a piece of paper in the middle of a hallway floor the tenants step over it for a month rather than pick it up & throw it away. It's a proprietary thing; if one doesn't own the building or rent the hallway, then don't bother. A basement smoke alarm has beeping here for weeks; it probably just needs a 9V backup battery. If I lived in a basement apartment I would replace the battery myself rather have to listen to it until the landlord decides to take care of it. Forget about anyone voluntarily disposing of the twenty plastic bags of weekly sales flyers that get dumped on the stoop every week. The owner of this building, like the owner of my previous abode, pays a guy to put out the garbage & pick up the litter. A building around the corner apparently has no such service; the street out front always has paper, empty cans, Burger King trash in it - & this stuff blows into the adjoining yards - that's an ugly half-block. If tenants are indifferent to their surroundings then they don't have to admit they'll always be renters, never owners.

This apartment is a little buggy around the sink, no surprise given the age & type of building, so I'll have to be a cleaner, neater person; no leaving the dishes unwashed overnight or not cleaning the counter after meals. You don't want them telling their friends & families. I'm already getting into that habit. Irving Street was unusual; professionally sprayed every month, rarely saw an insect that didn't fly in from outside. Had a bee next in the garage area underneath me, & during warm weather these nasty buzzers worked their way through the wall & into my place via the air conditioner, only one at a time, fortunately. My Linden apartment, a four family, had an occasional mouse & few creepy crawlies of the thbousand leg variety. The Music Studio on Milton Ave. in Rahway hosted the big roaches that come up from the basement - & that building had a Chinese take out & a convenience store in it, yuck. But people near fields & woods have it worse. My sister has chipmunks infesting patio & garden area, attracted by the many bird feeders. The population of these rodents grew so quickly that I surmised something in the syrrounding environment had changed, probably involving an absence of cats. Squirrels get in the ceiling. Ant colonies try to migrate into her kitchen. & deer ticks in the bushes; remember when it was safe to walk through the woods in shorts? What's Boy Scout camp like now?

The Small Print: Iraq Casualties 4/20/04 - 4/26/04: 19 deadAdd YOUR comments here

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

In my neighborhood of Elizabeth one learns what the future will be like for the Anglo-American national minority. On Morris Ave. between here & Broad St. there are only four shops that are not run by black, hispanic or South Asian merchants; an auto parts store, a small restaurant, shoe store; & a sheet music store that looks exactly the same as it did thirty five years ago when I first set foot in it. & owned by the same man, now old & with the rosy cheeks of a bum ticker, still coming to work every day in coat & tie, standing behind the counter by the window. I have no idea how he's stayed in business through the decline of the Morris Ave shopping district - it was in very poor shape in the 70s & 80s, & its comeback as a lively Spanish-flavored street, & into the age of online catalogues. Through the loyalty of many church organists & choir directors, I would imagine. He was never well-stocked with piano teaching materials - I used to drive out to a self-serve warehouse in South Plainfield for my music books. Two blocks of Morris Ave. support at least ten eateries, including Chinese, pizza & Dunkin' Donuts; about six hair & nail salons; a very popular bar; three bakeries; three shoe stores; only one small food market; & a bunch of places that I can't tell exactly what they sell - phone cards, insurance, religious items, legal services.

Broad Street is another world, & not my neighborhood; there no vacant storefronts, & one can find a great pair of name brand sneakers & "authorized" sports logo clothing but it's going to cost you plenty. Most of everything else is crap: badly made furniture in weird hybrid Italian-Spanish designs, incredibly tasteless home decor items, off-brand electronics, $9.99 watches, 14 karat gold jewelry displays sharing space with luggage & cell phones. But why be snobbish? Perfectly average suburban people who wouldn't dream of shopping in downtown Elizabeth buy this shit at the Jersey shore in July & August.

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Yep, it's all finally here. It's everywhere, but here. A lot of it will be unpacked & then repacked. I have stuff that's never been out of boxes for long, & I have no intention of getting rid of it, at least not yet. Other things - books & art - are in long term rotation; some of it stayed in boxes for the past eleven years, since I moved from a larger to a smaller apt. I really need to listen to & sort many dozens of unmarked cassette tapes - I became careless with my WFMU radio show archive tapes in the late Nineties. & get into a poetry-making mode.

Some thanks: Edie Eustice. Edie made the first trips over here with me, carrying my most treasured items, which included a model carousel, paintings, musical instruments. A few weeks later, mid-move, she helped me bring some order to the chaos of the old apartment. Plus a few typically delicious suppers & providing sanctuary one night when I felt like I was headed for the edge.

Jim Coleman: Jim gave me a good part of his Easter when he & Rose came up from W.V. to visit his parents. We brought enough things over, including an unwieldy futon mattress, for me to take up residence two weeks ago when staying at Irving St. became untenable. Moral support, too. An old & steady & trusted friend.

Jeff Jotz: Jeff generously loaned me his '84 Olds wagon for four entire days.allowing me to gain control & complete the move by myself. Jeff is a long-time WFMU listener & occasionally DJ'd on the station back in the Nineties in East Orange. Without these three good friends, I have no idea how I would've accomplished the move. I was blessed.

Appreciation also to Jan & Bruce for checking in from a distance. & to Lenny A. for a generous gift last fall that made all the difference in getting me through a bad period & into the new year when I was able to handle this difficult passage. Thanks & love to you all.

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Friday, April 23, 2004

FRIDAY NOTES; Slowly unloaded second trip's stuff this evening, heavy book boxes, but last thing in was large lightweight box of Xmas decorations.

Could have three trips I suppose, but hauling out, transporting & carrying 12 cartons of records up here earlier, one right after another, was exhausting. Until two weeks ago there were about 40 cartons. Since the size of my collection was in equilibrium between 1990 & 2004, I don't understand why the two previous moves in that time didn't traumatize me, even with helpers. If you try to talk about moving records with other people who have thousands of them, they become anxious. Records seem to be worse than books, although books are as big a pain in the ass. A woman came out of the building as I was stacking the recordsin lobby prior to carrying them upstairs, & she thought it was a big collection. Said she had a lot, mentioned Beatles, which surprised me given she was black, I think of Fab 4 as very whitebread 'cept when Aretha covered them. As I moved a metal shelf out of the closet, a few loose records fell to the floor - must have been stacked on top - among them was a mono, original 3-D Their Satanic Majesty's Request, one of my most valued record covers, which I'm framing.

Still a lot of stuff on Irving. Hoping it isn't as bad as it looks; all the shelving is gone & closets emptied, so there's a jumble of half-filled boxes & crates, odds & ends, things being thrown out, the flotsam & jetsam that comes out of the corners & cracks in the wake of moving, all on the floor. Picked up an inexpensive hand truck, which helps a bit taking boxes from apartment to car, then car to stairs, but using it to haul two boxes at a time UP the stairs is counter productive, lift, thump, lift, thump... & a lower back killer.

Driving the Jotz '84 Olds wagon is the highlight of the day. I leave the radio tuned to WNYC, rarely remember to listen at home, some good interviews during the day & David Garland's great music show in the evening. Yesterday he played Mahler's Das Lied von Erde in celebration of Earth Day, then Alex North's cool music from Cheyenne Autumn, a movie I happened to watch last week dubbed into Spanish. Following all the dialogue hardly seemed necessary. I've sometimes thought of myself as the bargain bin David Garland - scratchy records & butchering foreign words. I looked at David a little more closely a couple of years ago when I wanted my occasional radio shows to express the major shift toward classical music in my personal tastes - which brought me closer to the programs I was doing on WFMU 20 years ago. I'm a little more conscientious about pronounciations, but please slap me if I ever start sounding like those announcers on WQXR.
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Today was the first day in the seven weeks since I found out I had to move that approached being enjoyable. & that's mostly because Jeff Jotz (known in these pages as Patrick's dad, Liz's husband, journalist & former WFMU staffer) loaned me his monster beauty '84 Olds station wagon, now parked beneath my window. That put me at last in control of of transferring Chez Rix. Plus, I love driving - which I don't get to do much, & I like station wagons - this one is just an oversized version of my beloved '89 Dodge Colt wagon.

In two trips, I carted over large, medium & small shelves; a cushioned chair; a portable washing machine; a heavy end table; lamp; filing cabinet; assorted boxes & bags. Still made it to a therapist session & did some food shopping. I have three days to finish to job.

Yeah, there's gonna be a lot of heavy lifting tommorrow, with aid of handtruck. But I miss having a car. The Colt was pretty reliable for 3 1/2 years, mileage over a 100,000 when I got it, & I probably paid a few hundred too much. Its gave me trouble in wet weather; drove great in dry. Then a wheel bearing went late one night on a Turnpike exit, the electrical began acting up, I just did not have the money to maintain it. The City of Rahway towed it away after a snowstorm while I was recooping from surgery at my sister's, so I just let it go. I liked to get around; Sewaren boat ramp, Cliffwood Beach, Keansburg, or just park overlooking the lake in Rahway River Park in every kind of weather, reading paper & listening to the radio, or jotting down throughts & observations. Browsing my fav funky stores like Oddjob & Natiional Wholesale without buying anything, like they were just oeculiar exhibitions of consumer goods. & stopping by Edie's house a few times a week for coffee, cookies & Seinfeld reruns, chatting because we'd seen them som many times. & the night after the tornado hit Rahway felling so many grand old trees, power outages, the police had the main streets sealed off, so the challenge was getting to the Quick Check in Clark at 1 am when I developed a craving for Old Mill glazed donuts, & found a few dozen fellow Rahwayans there with similar needs. What I carried around in the Colt I'll certainly have in the next: low beach chair, binoculars, disposable camera, poem anthology, cheap school notebook, fold up kite.

The problem on my corner: There's a bunch of men from Africa who live in my building & some other buildings in the neighborhood. Some of them are married & have children. They are boisterous, friendly, & they never shut the hell up. Right now, Thursday near midnight they're out there shouting it up. The loudness is cultural I suppose, but making the noise on the corner late in the evening, & in the afternoon, & blocking the steps in front, they need to be Americanized, because here it's just inconsiderate, & it is disturbing the peace, & only the cops can learn 'em. The cops came by last Saturday night, said something through the car loudspeaker, & the guys broke it up. That has to happen five or six nights in a row.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I've been open about my struggle with depression since beginning treatment in 1999, but guarded until recently about the physical & economic toll it has exacted during that same period. Physically, I have lost teeth, had a detached retina that required two surgeries with no guarantee it won't happen again, remaining hair has turned gray, an enlarged prostate. Making the monthly rent payment was often an all-consuming effort; not until the middle of last year did these efforts finally reach the point of futility. Looking back, I don't understand how I made it that far. But the on-going financial crises constantly sidetracked actual rehabilitation, which requires periods of low stress that medications cannot provide.

"Rehabilitation" for the kind of depression I have (which also has a mildly manic component) is mainly about recognizing the onset symptoms & developing coping strategies. But to really know the symptoms, one has to get some sense of how often the body cycles into depressive periods, & how deep these depressions can go naturally when they are not aggravated or brought on more frequently by external pressures & anxieties. Product claims for anti-depressants made by the drug producers gloss over a number of points. One is that a drug that makes you more "yourself" also makes you less yourself in some way. Another is that chronic, periodic depression is not the same as a "blue" period needing short term treatment. Yet another is that no one is exactly sure how these drugs work, or how well, or even why. Which is why the advertisements hedge on the actual connection to brain chemistry. At best, these medications only alleviate a condition. In my case, Zoloft helped for awhile & then itself became a problem.

The most obvious outward evidence of how badly depression affected me is that I disappeared almost completely from the WFMU airwaves for two years, wrote very little poetry & published hardly at all outside of my own webpages, & completely withdrew from contact with several old, close friends who deserved better from me. Drawing from that, it's not difficult to imagine how screwed up everything else was becoming. Of course, on top of all this, I've been as deeply disturbed by terrorist attacks & the Iraq War as any other thoughtful, feeling person.

Over a year before the December '03 breakdown I'd begun reconnecting & repairing relationships (I confess to wrecking a significant one), doing more creative work, pushing myself toward becoming a public artist again, even socializing on occasion. So there already was an ascent hiding behind the descent. I was putting myself on "rehab" time, which is not the clock most people live by. This eventually, inevitably, brought me into conflict with my landlord a few months ago, when I committed myself absolutely to a long term strategy of rehabilitation. I have no intention of gyping this man out of what I owe him, But I also know that I was going to be dead on Christmas night if my therapist had not picked up the hints I was giving her & intervened the way she did - having me removed from my apartment by a social worker & a Rahway police officer & delivered to the Trinitas Psychiatric Inpatient Unit. I made a deal long ago with my therapist that I would somehow tip her off if I moved past suicidal ideation into an actual plan with a method & date, which had never happened before. She cares about me & respects artists. I trust her. My landlord was demanding his rent money while I was engaged in a life or death struggle. That's like asking a man holding on to the edge of a cliff with both hands to reach into his back pocket for his wallet. There's a choice one has to make in a situation like that. I was given less than one month (it could have been less than a week) to have rental assistance approved, find an apartment, transfer & finalize all the paperwork, come up with most of the security payment, & move out of an apartment I'd occupied for over ten years, all with few resources to make the actual move, & on the absolute minimum of budgets. & to cope with this without having a serious emotional relapse. All the while knowing I would pay this wealthy man every cent owed him anyway, after going through this hell, if I managed to survive.

It's something like a miracle just that I'm sitting here, alive, in a new apartment, listening to classical music as I write this. With my literary & radio archives, plus many books, & much of the fine art given me, & shelving, & even my Christmas decorations still at my former residence. Do I really need them? The landlord can have them if he's willing to store them at his Poconos house.

All my former landlord I have in common, aside from that apartment, is that we're both Scorpios - with all that implies, & the same age. As for the virtue of Scorpio loyalty, one can never be certain of how one earns it.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I'm back online.
These are great times for you, but they may be challenging for a dear friend or a loved one. Keep an eye on them and do what you can -- heck, while you're in giving mode, spread it around. Stay humble as you perform your superhuman acts. Give some proceeds to charity. Maybe others won't accept your generosity this time, but at least you can say that you tried.
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Saturday, April 10, 2004

I'll be offline from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon while Chez Rix moves. I'll be at the new digs Sunday night but phone goes on Wednesday. How come Verizon has to send an actual human being out to climb a poll & turn on phone service, but if you don't pay your bill they can turn it off instantly?

Yes, the essentials go, with Jim Coleman's help, but so much has to be left here to wait for a van & a couple of helpers from my rehab center. & in the meantime I may well be locked out of the Rahway apartment by Court Order trapping all my books & the collected literary & WFMU radio archives of your Blogged Jeenyus.

Well, at least when I took the heavy metal desk apart for the last time, & WFMU DJ John Allen removed 75% of my record collection, the old apartment passed the point-of-not-return, it looked like a place I was leaving. Up until then it looked like a room I had been trying unsuccessfully have painted.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Couldn't get to sleep last night, too anxious, so I decided to take 1/2 of a Depakote, a drug for manic episodes that was prescribed to me a doctor who didn't know my history & which I should have thrown out. I figured it must have some calming effect. It's a hard coated tablet, a horse pill, even chopped in two, & the damned thing stuck halfway down my throat, an uncomfortable worrisome nub glued there, not dissolving very fast, & refusing to dislodge when drenched with water & orange juice. Some meds, like Zoloft, are irritants, & you get a terrible sore throat & produce copious amounts of saliva, so that possibility was a serious concern. I became really anxious & didn't fall asleep until nine a.m., sleeping till after noon, time I could hardly afford to lose. Landlord threw a legal order to quit apartment at me, his right since I've overstayed the month. But he timed it for the Monday after Easter, his day off, he'll be at his house in Poconos.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The last time I moved I was eleven years younger, had a new girlfriend, she had a car, I had a car, was moving one mile in the same town, had three young people helping me with a big pickup truck. Right now I have none of those. I have no young friends, no lover, no car, I'm uprooting myself & going to very different place, I'm ten years older & feel it. Is it any fucking wonder I'm screwing this up? I am neither an organized person nor an especially focused one. I'm the sort of person who works best when the large details are taken care of: the major what, when & how of something. In total I have less stuff to move than in 1993. But instead of it all going down three steps, into a truck or car backed up to the steps, a five minute drive, then up seven steps & along a straight hall, I gotta go back down that hall, down the steps, load into who knows what or with whose help, drive to Elizabeth, park curbside, go up a long walk, up several steps into a lobby, up several more steps into a hallway, make a right turn & then up two steep flights to the apartment. Every trip from curb to apartment is a challenge. I know. I tested it Monday.

This is first time I've ever had to move all in one jump, all by myself.

The Small Print: Iraq Casualties 3/30/04 - 4/5/04: 32 dead, 28 wounded (incomplete list. )Add YOUR comments here

Monday, April 05, 2004

Edie helped me haul a few very important items to the new place today. My musical instruments; xylophone, old guitar, amp, synth. A box loaded with photographs. Some small artworks. A diner booth jukebox. A carousel.
(mine is different, but it's a "collectible" no longer available.) A couple of folding chairs. This stuff had to go, most of it couldn't be "packed," & it can't be banged around. We measured the windows. The ceiling fan works fine. Someone in the apartment below plays funky music VERY loud, full bass. It was mid-afternoon, which is when I play music loud, so have to have to wait & see if the evenings are more subdued. Otherwise, I have a situation I'll need to remedy in a diplomatic manner. Edie liked the place. Very roomy. I turned aside all suggestions she had that involved accumulating more furniture or imposing upon what I have designated as open space. I have special things I treasure & enjoy looking at & living with, & for once I want them to be displayed for my pleasure. If I'd been able to move stuff by car all weekend I'd have a third of the apt. emptied by now.

If you take someone from Oklahoma back to the house in Long Branch where she briefly lived as child, then drive on down the coast to Seaside Heights for a ride on the Casino Pier Carousel, & you do this on a brutally hot 4th of July weekend, she just might send you a beautiful carousel for Christmas, particularly if she's a spendthrift.
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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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