the phoeni

         A notorious mayor of New York City once quipped,

   “Great little town if they ever get it finished.” That was 

   James Walker(1881–1946, in office 1926–1932). Implicated 

    in a substantial financial scandal, he resigned and skipped town

   - and the country – in the night with his fabulous Ziegfeld

    Follies girlfriend and did not return until things cooled down. 

    At that point, his late political career qualified him to become a

    successful record executive. 

            Today, I proceed across the once vibrant artery of the 

     once Greenwich Village; 8th street. Electric Ladyland is on 8thst.

     That's where a different Jimi once lived. Today I quip to myself,

     “Congratulations Mr. Beau James Jimmy Walker, It's finished.”

                              "La Commedia è finita!" 

            My reasons for taking that route to my spirits revival are 

      these; it provides a hypotenuse shortcut to my objective and, 

      I enjoy a visit now and then with the 50 years of memories and 

      ghosts that gambol before the altered, choking or empty stores

      on 8th street.

            Another near great American once wrote here about the rash

      of 'vacancy' that plagues our Gotham, and Nation. The rash is

      now a kin to leprosy. But, at the apex of my sojourn, I found

      redemption at 'under 20$'.

           Half way to home now, I sit in Union Square park, a fine 19th

      century urban oasis. They used to have a gibbet here and

      would hang juveniles in the Five Points times. To my right is

       George Washington and Blueskin. To my left is the building 

      that once was Tammany Hall. This was the seat of power for

       William 'Boss' Tweed(1823-1878). At the height of his powers,

      he was the third largest property owner in NYC, it's most

      powerful political figure and estimates of his 'skimming' run

      between 25 – 200,000,000$, an unimaginable sum of money in

        the 19th century. Busy boy I'd say. He died in the pokey on

        Ludlow street. 'Magine that, and all by age 55. 

             As the lock-down(or the term you prefer) and 

       unemployment and Spring marched in in lock step, I found my

       preferred spot, my fortress of solitude and succor became a 

       patch of park up by the river in the 60's. I've written about this

       balm before. There are Willow trees and comfortable chairs and

       all the sights of the river and the muted company of souls of like

       desire, seeking the peace of this Eden.

            Here I can read and write and write and read. What do I

       write?    Next question...

                        “whenever it is damp, drizzly November in my soul;

                                         whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before 

                                        coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every 

                                       funeral I meet; - then I account it high time to get

                                     to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for 

                                  pistol and ball.  

           Yup, 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville(1819-1891, New York 

       boy), published 1851 – in England(?) as 'The Whale' in three

       volumes - “incrementally” is what I calls it.

           I'm reading it for the umpteenth time and ever the first time,

        ever fresh and reborn, cerebral yoga in a damp November. 

        It is one of my go to novels, you betcha...

           Couple of weeks back, I started reading reports about a 

        resurgence, a Renaissance of whales in New York harbor. Now

        these are Humpback whales(Megaptera Noveangliae). Mr. Dick

        you see, was the much larger Sperm whale(Physeter Catodon).

        The river – not really a river technically until you get up to

        Albany – is cleaner now that a certain battery manufacturer

        who felt themselves entitled to use our river as their toilet,

        ceased to manufacture their wares, here. The cleaner river

        supports  the small fish and crustacea that are just the thing a 

        Humpback would choose to eat.

             The day is bright and cold, hat and gloves cold. The clouds

        are Holbein clouds, low and heavy, well formed and blanketing

        straight to the horizon. The water is choppy and the chop

        reveals where the river(really a tidal basin) is shallow or deep.

        I can't work a pen with the gloves and I find it too cold to read

        and concentrate so I stare, happily.

              To my left/south is Ellis and Bedloe's islands and the

        Verrazanno. Straight across the river is the great state of

        New Jersey; its towns neatly arrayed like chess pieces from

        Jersey City north to Ft Lee where, they keep the George 

        Washington Bridge, however, no horse.

              In a lilting panorama my eye moves across the water,

        back and forth, repeat. In one of those famously sought after

        moments of clarity, I realize. I'm hunting for a whale. 

        Moby Dick sleeps soundly below deck in my backpack but by

        myself in the crow's nest, I keep watch for a spout or a fin.

        Wonders of the Universe, I lower my head and weep. I might 

        though at any moment jump up and in an embarrassing 

        attempt at a Scottish brogue declare; 

                     “Capt'n, there be whales on board!”.

             The river came back. The whales came back(though I've 

        not seen one yet) and the krill and the menhaden came back.

        Who knows what else? Wonder.

              Great novels, great works commence revealing themselves

        at about the third read, I'd say. Finish it the first time, let it sit

        with you awhile and start all over again. 

                                                  And again, it's not finished.

              And NYC and this Nation ain't finished neither, no sir,

        no ma'am, homey. Dig it.

             We're coming back, bet your best horse. We got past toxic

        criminal scumbags before, some quite capable. 

                             The Firebird rises 

                                                     resplendent

                             A Whale breeches.

                          Phoebus shines brightly 

                                       and Spring

                                keeps her promises.

  "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."