|3rd September 1948
Funny ain’t it? People always say that doing the same thing all the time or seein’ the same people every day is boring, but it ain’t. Hell, I do the same thing and see the same folks almost day in day out, every day of my life. “Doing the same thing” is probably the closest I got to a pass time or occupation. No, it ain’t doing the same thing or seein’ the same folks that’s boring, or uninspiring. It’s just the fact that most people that walk these street day in day out, who actually got a chance to look at stuff don’t cos they’re always too busy thumbing cabs or drinking over priced, flavourless coffee to bother to look at anything – they see but they don’t look. I mean hell man, you’d think in a city like New York folks’d never ever run out of things to look at or be interested in – heck I’ve been pretty much in the same spot more or less for six years an’ I still ain’t run out. An’ I got all the time in the world to look, if anyone’s run out if should be me. Yet the only time this whole damn city comes to a standstill to look at anythin’ is when some hot-to-trot star rolls into town or some over glorified, over rich, cocaine riddled actress puts a pistol in her mouth in a hotel room, or some wild down-town alley gangs rumble and a hoodlum pulls a pistol and shoots the head off anyone in sight. I figure half the brainless bastards in this city won’t pay attention to anything unless it’s either lit up in bright lights on a billboard in Times Square, printed in imposing, attention seeking letters across the front page of the New York Post or it’s holding a gun to their throat and demanding their wallet and car keys.
I mean, I see big business guys day-in day-out; guys that swan about town in their fancy pin stripes, eating expensive lunches in expensive digs with other big money business guys and closing big money deals. An’ I think to myself “How in shits name can you be smart enough to earn the cash you do? How can you justify it?” I mean hell, I don’t figure half o’ these hot-shots use their brains at all. They don’t need to. If they talk to one like themselves they’ve talked to practically all like themselves. I figure they don’t need their brains; it’s all in the talking. I figure it’s like practically everything else in the world – you fancy it up a bit and people’ll believe it. Heck, I’m tellin’ ya, if I had a dime I’d even bet you it that I could wrap one of my dogs turds in a pretty coloured, cellophane candy wrapper I picked up off the sidewalk, stick it on a shelf in Menswear in Bloomingdales with a ten-dollar price tag on it, and before long some gullible, ignorant bastard would pick it up thinking he’d found a bargain. It wouldn’t matter to him that it was a piece of dog shit wearing a candy wrapper. All that would matter to him was that it was fifty-dollars in Menswear at Blooms and you don’t find a lot for ten-dollars in Menswear at Blooms.
Yeah that’s what I figure: Everyone in this city is just so damn used to doing what billboards and magazines tell them to, most have forgotten how to figure for themselves. I figure I spend a hella lot of time figuring about other people. Hell, if you were me you’d most likely spend a hella lot o’ time figurin’ about other people too. Ain’t much else a guy like me can do other that think. Hell, you can’t win against nothin’ or nobody when you’re a guy like me. Just ‘cos you ain’t got no money or no-where to go, people expect you ain’t got a brain and cuss at you in the street ‘cos they think you’re just a no-good with no feelings and no thoughts. But if you try and prove to people that you do got thoughts and you do have feelings to cuss at you and tell you to shut the hell up and that a no-account dead-beat bum like you should know your place in society. So it’s hella easier just to keep to yourself and just think and write your thoughts rather than try and tell them to anyone – I figure most people in this city forgot how to listen years ago.
But I sure do know my place: I’m a sixty three year old guy (Bobby Randall for anyone who cares) with nothing at all to my name ‘part from the clothes on my back, half a packet o’ smoke sticks in my pocket and half a lifetime of memories three thousand miles across the continent in San Francisco. Hell, some days even I forget how I ended up on these streets. But I’m on them, and I sure do know my place; I can’t never forget it can I? I know full well and good that I’m at the bottom of the heap in this rat-race of a city, that I ain’t really living for no one and that sure as hell no one is living for me. But you can’t think too much like that, it don’t do you no good. I’ve seen plenty of guys like me come and go who’ve thought like that and in the end it killed, or as good as, every last one of ‘em. Some, like old man Kerouac, actually put a pistol in their mouth. I miss Kerouac sometimes, or at least I think I do – sometimes I think I’ve forgotten how to miss anythin’, it’s been that long since I had something to miss. But old Kerouac had it just as bad as the rest. Some don’t outright kill ‘emselves but do it anyhow by devoting their whole lives to doing zip but necking out of a bottle dawn to dusk. And then there are some that just give up all together. I don’t even really know how to tell it, they just give up. They stop living and start just existing. And when you exist but you don’t live – then you know you’ve got it bad. That’s always the worst, when guys do that. An’ I figure it’s always for the same reason: They’re chicken. The fact they got squat spooks ‘em and spooks ‘em good. Some people worry they got too much on their plates but these guys scare they ain’t got nothing. Having nothing creeps them so damn much they forget how the world works. I’m gonna write it down right now - just in case I ever foget.
Some people are always gonna have more and have all the breaks, and a hella lot more people will always have less and then some people will always have not much and then you get the guys like me and like them. Guys that will always have bupis, jack, squat, nothing. But just ‘cos you aint got nothing doesn’t mean to got nothing to live for, that’s what I figure. But a lot of guys don’t see it that way. they figure if they don’t got nobody and they don’t got nothing then what reason do they have for living. Forget booze, forget action, forget crack – the most dangerous thing people can ever look for is reason. But just like booze and crack, reason has addicts: some people need it and they can’t survive without it. As soon as one of these people runs out of reason for anything they freak, they can’t handle it. As far as they go if they don’t have a reason for doing something, they can’t do anything. And they get scared and then they punk-out. But that ain’t right, I don’t figure.
You don’t need to have something to have something to live for. Hell, I got nothing I ain’t already written and in some ways I’m the luckiest bastard in New York this side of Millionaire’s Row. I want to I can be up every morning in time to sit on the grass in Central Park, have a smoke and watch the sunrise – just as easy as I can spend days at a time on the move and walking every square mile of this fair city; taking in all her sights and sounds and smells. And just as easy again, as I can sit in a doorway for rise until set and watch the world go by, just thinking to myself and figurin’ stuff for hours on end.
In a way I suppose that’s what I like the most.