Contemplations & Reflections (with Toni Matulis)
Maroon & Gold
Bloomsburg State College (PA) - April 28, 1967
A Circle in Your Nose
Over last weekend I had the misfortune to take a trip through New Jersey. After about an hour I became quite intrigued with the method that that particular state employs in weeding out their mediocre drivers. They've got these contraptions every so many miles that they label "Circles." At first, not being very used to Jersey driving, I became quite infuriated when the headlights picked up a Circle sign and I had to quickly downshift to avoid being throw into a convenient ditch by centrifugal force. However, being of open mind (somewhere between cerebrum and medulla) I quickly saw the merit of the system: a crossroads plain-and-simple would not confuse a motorist; a circle, with four entrances, and a ring to run around (you can play Ben-Hur, man!) I while they keep pouring more cars in the four entrances (sort of like being in a closed oil drum with four pipes pouring water in), while you keep riding around getting weary and tired, bleary-eyed and sleepy, and first thing you know--WHAM-O!--you're plastered on the front of another car's radiator. Man, it's the survival of the fittest down there. Most of their good drivers must get caught up in those things, too tho, cause I couldn't find any of them around.
South/North of the Border
In a month's time I've had the dubious pleasure of traveling in Pa., N/J/, N.Y., and Canada. OK, great. Some people tell me that they were disillusioned the first time they crossed a border, because they didn't see any change. Apparently these people haven't bothered to travel the same roads I've gotten onto. You start out in Canada, after you leave one of their cities, and you see nothing but barrenness, Mountie, barrenness: gnarled trees, straight flat highways, and ground that isn't producing anything and that has no intention of doing any such thing. You hit northern New York and you see blessed mountains again; only these aren't like the ones in Pennsylvania because these are covered, completely covered, with pine trees, and they're genuinely beautiful. Pennsylvania we all know about. You hit New Jersey and man, you know you've hit New Jersey: the biggest "hill" is thirty feet and you don't know you've been there till you're over it and the car sways a little into a "Circle" sign; and there is sand instead of earth, and you know that plants don't look any too healthy growing in sand. Maybe people who can't see the change around them when they cross a border aren't traveling the same roads I am. Maybe they've figured out how to beat the Circles.
21 And Never Missed
OK. Turnin' 21 Time. Every teenager waits anxiously to be the Magic Age when he can go downtown, turn into a bar, order a Coke and not get thrown out; when he can vote for his choice for city council or same such bull-office; when he gets all of these great privileges--when he officially becomes a man (sic). OK. So I turn the thing into a marathon to see the Big Change come about--and Nothing. Don't even feel a little older. A bit more tired after waiting all day to see the Magic Wand descend and the Great Bird say: "You--you there, dozing off--you're of Age. You are now an adult." "Right, Big Bird, you tell it to me straight." Nothing. No change from what I was a year ago; you know the feeling? You ever get the feeling this is all some sort of a plot to stretch your patience to breaking? Does aging make one paranoid?