"I am a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, Hebrew and Public School born and bred." This I confessed to the heavy set smiling woman with the purple apron emblazoned with the word "Mary" on it, whose smile immediately becomes fixed, as if varnished by my unprompted revelation. There is no escaping the past in Orange County, not even on a motorcycle. As a word of explanation, I was at the Burke Catholic H.S. sponsored Wine, Chocolate and Music festival, which for anyone who was thinking of attending and did not,--shame on you, it was a lot of fun, anyway, I'm talking to Mary, the woman I had been emailing back and forth about participating. In my defense for the faux pas, I am not by temperament overly inclined toward blurting out unsolicited, self-revelatory anecdotal fragments(heaven forfend! blogs notwithstanding), but in this case I did feel somewhat like a sore thumb amidst all the semi-pious good humor, there in the small gym announcing the past triumphs of the basketball team in large white letters as we, present occupants the field of those past contests, zealously poured wine, hand dipped strawberries, brewed lattes, sampled apples, furtive frankfurters, equinimically dispensed pizza, homely ziti and coquettishly frilled bon-bons all to the tuberific strains of 'If you knew Susie Like I knew Susie, ohh, ohh!, ohhhh-what a gal!'
Anyway, so now it's a week later. I decide to go over to Noble Coffee Roasters. They had been there at Burke too and I had a hankering for a latte (can you say that?). I see the fellow that had been there at their booth. Dark haired, young, good looking, brooding.
"Weren't you at the Wine and Chocolate festival?"
"Ohh yeah, the, what is it? the wine guy?"
Clearly I am irrelevant.
Grabbing my mocha I pick up Orange Magazine, amidst increasingly uninteresting and repetitive profiles of random occupants of the county, there is a picture of Allan Gerry and Paulie Teutel with a bike, a chopper built for the Bethel Woodstock museum,-- the caption reads 'two entrepreneurs cut from the same hippie fringe', who could be more different than Allan Gerry and Paul Teutel, there they were painted with the same fuzzy hippie brush,
"Were you at Woodstock?"--back at the Burke festival, I immediately snap back into focus,--I am talking to Tom, from Pazdar winery, actually the father-in-law, they are setting up next to me, he seems extraordinarily friendly, more than the usual, 'hi I'm your best buddy for the next four hours or until I packupandamouttahere',
market buddies, way,-- Tom starts giving me some of his history,
"Marine Corps. Bergen Catholic H.S., thirty years as an insurance investigator"
"Insurance investigator? Why is he asking me about Woodstock? Did I set something on fire there,--maybe Hendrix' guitar?"
"Heyy, Burke's got a real dynamite basketball team!"
"Did you see the Yankee game?" Clearly not Jewish.
"Yeah I was at Woodstock, lotta mud, couldn't see much, (kinda like now)."
"But you could hear it,--right."
I am looking at the magazine back at Noble Roasters. A week later. Forty years later! jeez!
Feeling ever more irrelevant. The young brooding guy has a baby, 'Simon' I learn his name is.
They are speaking some foreign language. For some reason I think it's Albanian,--for no particular reason, no more that for thinking Pazdar was Jewish at least, --I look at the bike in the picture, big reclining leather fringed seat, two tier, something evocative,
The front part is a strange, tapered kaleidoscopic shape, like Leonardo's telescope in technicolor, heyy!
weren't we giving birth to the new nation, there in the mud, weren't we the midwives of the new American Renaissance? Where's our Leonardo.
"Old Huey L on the radio 'Power of Love', --that's what the shape was,--
the strange, inelegant shape. A machine of love."
There's a funeral in Campbell Hall I am passing it, timeless somehow, the
man in the military hat, the group is somehow coherent, as if reinventing itself,
The Power of Love, reinventing itself thru death,
Me, I still feel irrelevant, even to myself. Not interested in a reinvented me.
Stick to the routine,--some strange light is emanating from
the group gathered there over the casket, like a Normal Rockwell
light, something gone, like the wrong side of tapestry, something comfortable, structure without the contention of color.
I see another cemetery, empty vacant, dominated by the over sized large cross,
on the rise in back is the red and white, cereal box cell phone tower,
"Wbo you tryin' to call man. Is this 1969 trying to call 2009 to tell me
that I am now irrelevant, old,--unreinvented, and possibly wanted for an
imaginary arson,--spring, supposed to be a season of rebirth, somehow I
just don't feel it, the flowers yeah they are there but not in a rush like usual,
waiting for the inevitable question.
"Lotta babes there not wearing much?"
"Dunno, didn't see much, too much mud."
Yeah, flowers, and the blasted drizzle,--mud.
"What did you eat?"
"Some hippies from California fed us." by this trying to distance myself
avoid being painted with the broad fuzzy hippy brush, impossible,
"Hello, I would like to make a call,--"
"Hello, I would like to make a call,--"
"If you knew Susie. Oh, oh, oh."