for Uncle Slugmo
I guess we are both blessed by God. In different ways. We both are going somewhere (or, I'm about to, and he left years ago already). We're both not coming back to the United States of America, due to these blessings.
Blessed by the Angels, I found a home. I've travelled all over, stressed about more things than I care to list here, and finally, I found a home. Blessed by the Angels Italiano.
I found a home across the Pacific. By the Alps. I am not coming back. I've spent the past ten years searching all over for my dreams, and they've finally surfaced, in the form of a one way ticket to a woman I'm in love with: she, in a faraway land.
On a side note, I woke up this morning, jumped out of bed, as it were, and grabbed and plugged in my typewriter (Smith Corona) and flipped on the on switch and went at it with the ideas which were boiling in my head:
I keep making the mistake of not being dispassionate and thankful as I depart this country. I always knew my life was not to be lived on American soil. I don't know how, but I always knew. I'm not a city person. Ich bin ein Zigeuner, zu sein mit mein Zigeunerin. Facilamente. Schlicht und einfach.
Back to the story. My Uncle Slugmo once helped my father build a deck. My parents' house is on a slope, so, though the house itself sits fully on the ground, the deck reaches outward. From the deck, a little, fresh view of the valley of Monterey Park is seen. The Ash tree sheds plenty of magnanimous shade and proliferates its leaves every year.
He died shortly after he helped build the deck. On the pot, como Elvis Presley and many other famous personages. The throne. And Uncle Slugmo, he was a king in his own way. An all around handyman, one of the good old boys. Yup, it was he who helped my father build the deck attachment which lies stretching out from behind the house, under the giant, leafy Ash tree in the backyard.
It occurs to me, after the past ten years of living the life I've lived, that I've only just now answered for myself one of the questions which I once dearly and very sincerely asked the heavenly spheres many, many years (ten) ago. The question being: what really is Beat? What were the Beats? The American leagues of Art seem to think they reign over the idea of Beat. Well, I, the writer, am here to say most people I've met in this country know nothing about the Beats. The real Beats I've met were in Europe and elsewhere, and those I did meet in the U.S. were nowhere near the universities.
The writer here brings up this question because he is just such a man as the type who would become offended whenever he happens to read "information" about the Beats from those who "would know." He, the writer, has lived his entire adolescence on the road. He knows Beat. He lived it. He has notebooks and notebooks and stacks of typed-out pages next to his laptop here as he types. He's lived it. It's been his bread, his butter, and his golden, shining light.
Kerouac both defines it (the word BEAT) specifically and haphazardly (at once) multiple times; he also completely denies any connection to the word many, many times. So, what we have here is my own Beat life as I've lived it, and my own Beat knowledge as I've compiled it over the years; from the books, music, and traveling bouts, and living situations.
Over the years, in articles and magazines, in so-called "interviews", in biographies and blogs, in documentaries of all languages and backgrounds which have been made on the Beat Generation, I've heard, listened to, and read things that all kinds of people, educated and quasi-educated, experienced and inexperienced, have said about the Beats. Let me tell you, they are mostly wrong. Most of them, from the post-70's publications and articles, don't even have any first hand knowledge- not of the real Beats- of the Beat lifestyle in general. They read, sit in houses and offices and universities, and write articles, and sit happy on $170,000 a year payrolls. Not Beat.
I've lived on the road. I've been homeless. At times by choice, many times not by choice. Once Kerouac said Beat means sympathetic. Let's go with that. Ginsberg said of him, he had sympathetic knowledge of the family men on the streets and the pigeon bag ladies in the parks. Let's go with that.
Back to the story. The old deck in the backyard of my parents' home in California. The place I'm soon leaving: for good. For Europe. The place, almost thirty years ago now, where my Uncle Slugmo once stayed over, back when I was just a bambino, and helped my father build this deck. The one which still stands now, its frame just as well, its floorboards, though, rotting through. I've helped my father begin to refurbish the deck which Uncle Slugmo once helped him build- all those years ago. Uncle Slugmo's younger brother, my Uncle Nelly, will be coming over to stay with my parents and help my father complete the deck's re-boarding. One brother, to another. And me, like I said, I'm to be a Beat Italiano. A Beat among Europe, where, I think, us real Beats (a quick course on the word 'Beatnik': it is like the word 'nigger', only, to a Beat; except we don't even use it like that amongst ourselves, so don't you go doin' it, OK), who really understand things, belong. Blessings in all shapes and forms. All kinds.
Uncle Kenny, Kennith Hughes, Jr., he got the blessing of the fresh hand of death. A heart attack he had, upon the gilded throne. One of the good old boys. Say a prayer for him. Big man, big mustache, big hat, big belly. Uncle Kenny.
As for me? I'm Beat, America. I'm off to Italy. I take my hat off to you one last time, because, like Uncle Kenny, I ain't comin' back to your green sods. My long life is to be lived elsewhere. None of your business, really, U.S.A., if you don't mind me saying, here.
Goodbye, United States of America. Thanks for, well, thanks for the Beat Generation, and that's about it.
Goodbye. The Beat waves, sincerely, on his way home to Europe. To her, the one Beloved. Uncle Slugmo, he too, went on his way to his Beloved, those many years back. He just took a different route.
All routes lead away from this country. To the rest of the world: don't let the U.S.A. smash your timeless cultures to smithereens, please. You are beautiful. This country isn't. It's all plastic and wares and dead axioms.