Tuesday, November 16, 2010


 Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.......

It's all in the book.  A ticket to a movie at the Downer Theater in Milwaukke, $2.25. A lower box seat at County Stadium for a Brewer game, $5.00. A polo match at Uihlien Field, $1.75. "The Who" at Dane County Coliseum, &6.00. A Badger Game at Camp Randall $5.00.  And at the time I was taking home about $60 a week pushing a hack, plus tips and whatever i could make on the side selling imports from Mexico. ($90 per lb in lots of ten... retail at $15 an oz...do the math)  My share of the rent was $67.50, utilities included.  Cable was an extra $3.00 apiece,  We opted not to have a phone.  It's in the book.  Even the warning tickets, cause, see, I liked to push the taxi 35-40 in 25 zones.  Got a ticket once for running a stop.  Took that one to court, full trial, and got away with only a $10 fine.  That's in the book too.
And the little poems I used to like so well.

the human wars are not 
so I am riding this train 

My legs are long and hang
     over the sides

Little black music notes

out of the smoke stack
and  spread
over the land

the people in the fields
straighten their backs 
for a moment
and wave

I am hanging on tight
     Gerald Lange

this love making is cloisters-fishing shacks
on the North Sea

the cold wind drives us 
we spread its little teeth.
     William Rosenberg

There's a lot of them. Even some of mine which, to be honest, I didn't much care for thinking, like a parent of a grown child, that they could have done much better in life.  But that is just stuff&such and they are in the book too.
See, I scribbled while I was in college.  In between pushing that cab and selling imports and occasionally going to class.  Mostly on desks and toilet walls.  The shitter on the third floor of the library by the Government Docs dept and the faculty crapper in Radford Hall were some of the best reading rooms I ever visited.  But then I got caught.  My first 'published' poem was lifted off a desk in one of my journalism classes; someone had seen me write it, and the next thing I knew it was in the school newspaper and I was writing satire and color stories for them.
That's how the book started.  Clippings.  And then any old thing I liked.  Ticket stubs, menus, articles, cartoons, drawings..... just about anything I liked at that moment got pasted into the book.  Anything.  Well, someone said something and I dug it out ... after at least twenty-five years.  Such stuff!!!

"....in an atmosphere of blue snow, dim light, and extreme cold."
I didn't write that.  Wish I had.
"... sometimes when we are entertained by each other, we are bold about it, but just as frequently, it seems embarrassing, and we turn our faces aside."
Again, I wish.
There is an article I wrote about Transcendental Meditation.  Not a bad article, but then I remember that I came to think of TM as a crock of shit and that tequila and a good joint worked much better anyways.
Ronald Boeing, 22, was the last of 1,174 Wisconsin boys killed in Vietnam.  A 7 day unlimited travel Greyhound bus pass cost $76 during the Bicentennial. A photo of me from the Milwaukee Journal protesting out side of a Ronald Reagan campaign stop on campus in 1976.... all that is in the book, too.  Cards and drawings from Nancy.... who had legs that went on forever and  who took my heart and went fishing with it in a different lake.  Notes from Bonnie and Maureen and Suzanne..... folks who didn't fish.
I didn't really study in college....but, boy&howdy, did I get an education.

So I wrote a bit for the school newspaper but I also was in a bunch of drama productions, did some minor work for student government and joined the Varsity Debate team. All that while working and maintaining a  solid 2.4 grade point average.  I certainly wasn't a zealous activist .... this was all pragmatic.  The newspaper kept beer in the fridge that stored the film....the only place on campus you could drink at 11 am... being an actor assured you of possibilities for getting laid in odd places and in unique ways.  The debate thing was just something that enabled me to travel to strange and foreign places like Mankato, MN, Mt. Pleasant, MI, Eau Claire, WI, plus... the University gave a very generous per Diem food allowance and you got to stay in really really fancy Holiday Inns. Hey, I was living on $60 bucks a week or so and you could not count on the import business especially if you smoked a lot.  A guy has got to eat.

Looking at the book again really brought back memories.... articles that I had clipped about Nam and Nixon resigning and Agnew bullshit (least we think of the current crop of politicians as having invented bullshit) plus there were music reviews and all sorts of neato keen stuff.  And then I came across the kicker.... Tom's obituary.
He was the sweetest guy who ever put a shotgun in his mouth.  He had been President of the University Student Government and a pretty good friend.  He was the one who got me the gig booking guest speakers at the University... no pay, but free tuition for a  semester. A slim,clean, grinny guy with a wave and a smile for everyone.  Everyone liked Tom. Everyone.
I saw him the morning he pulled the trigger, at the laundro-mat. It was a combination laundry and liquor store, which really made wash day bearable.  So we were sitting there drinking a six pack and getting clean.  He was bumming..... he had graduated and couldn't find a job.... he was breaking up with his girl... he was sick of Oshkosh...the regular complaints.  I remember telling him I would keep an ear about for work and that everything would be ok. Later that night someone said that he had left a note explaining that he had bounced a check for the shotgun and would someone please take it back.  He left a neat stack of folded laundry in his room and had taken the sheets off the bed before he laid down for the last time.  He was a neat person. And only 22.
It's in the book.  Maybe I could have said something more, but probably not.  Word was he saw a lot of people that day... and no one really could tell he was that low.
See it is good to remember, it's good to have a book....... even if you are the only one who reads it.

There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed 

Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.

All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.


Sherry said...

There is more to you Jimmy than meets the eye, me thinks. I came to reflective thinking late I think. I wasted precious years chasing the "good life" with bigger, better, more, and so in some sense, I'm a fake. You my friend are not.

Let me know how your mom is doing? I pray for her everyday.

Christopher said...

You sound melancholy.

Are you sure Wisconsin is the right climate for you? We've got 11 weeks left on the clock before we bail on the Northeast and the vile winters.

We could swing by and pick you up on our drive to California.

okjimm said...

Sherry...//fake//???? C'mon... anyway who can mix religion, politics and recipes cannot be faking it.....or really learned more in law school than she should have! :0 :)

okjimm said...

Chris.... sounds good...but are youse guys prepared to stop for beer every 5o miles? ;) just saying'

Christopher said...

Sure 'nuff.

Plus, my SUV is mighty comfy.

Randal Graves said...

Even if we don't always look at the book, whatever is in it, we need to know it's there.

okjimm said...

christopher....sounds good...but iffen I left what would I complain about all winter??? ;)

Randalz... bookz is good

susan said...

I have a book too but there were times I ignored it because there was too much too fast. Yours sounds like a very special one.

Liberality said...

One of the things I like most about you is your love of poetry and music. Hope you keep your chin up! :)

Christopher said...

Complain about how crowded the beaches are on Christmas day in Santa Monica!

You'll be too busy having fun.

Plus, if you get an inkling for the white stuff, Big Bear is two hours up in the mountains above San Bernardino.

Seriously -- let me know.

okjimm said...

Christopher... HA! thanks, seriously...and it does sound good, but my son is coming home from Portland, my daughter would be really pissed... and, all things considered, it probably is my Mom's last Christmas. but Dude, you always have a pint waiting for you at Oblio's!!!

Anonymous said...

It was exciting to read the William Rosenberg poem in your post, because about 35 years ago I saw the poem in a magazine somewhere and committed it to memory. I was highly pleased that your rendering was the same as my memory of it:

This love making is cloisters
Fishing shacks on the North Sea
The cold wind drives us together
We spread its little teeth

Where did you see it? I know nothing about the author and any other work he might have produced.



okjimm said...


It was printed in a Rolling Stone. Back in the early 70's or so they would just insert small poems as filler. I liked it alot and stuck it into a scrap book. I know nothing about Rosenberg.... too bad.

Stop by anytime... I liked it then and it is still good now. Sorry I can't be more informative.

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