Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Holy Smoke! The Church Burned Down.

Hammer That Son of Bitch Down
What the hell would man (men) do without the hammer? I say "man" because I don't know many women who keep hammers around--unless they're married and I guarantee you their husbands have hammers.

They are building an 18-story hotel next door to me--yes, I know, I've been bitching about it since the beginning of this year. Today it is rainy and drab and dundrearied. The sky is like a stale, rotten, mildewed, dog-farted-on grey blanket being layered over us--if it rains hard, it'll be kind of like we are being waterboarded (not torture, by the way). In spite of that, the construction workers are like busy bees over there. The only "machine" I hear these days is the mighty hammer. The greatest toy of noise ever invented by deconstructing/reconstructing man. At this construction site, it is surprising how few men are working on it. I'd estimate maybe 10 at the most--3 of those being illegal immigrant laborers they hire by the hour (New York City union construction workers make $16.00 an hour; these illegals work for half that--$8.00 an hour--and then they only get paid when they actually work and they get no benefits, health insurance, life insurance, no safety coverage and they get no overtime. Can you imagine being an illegal in New York City, speaking no English, with legal New Yorkers hooting at you, some of them beating the shit out of you for sport. The illegal construction workers are usually Latino immigrants--from Mexico or South America--and they live in clusters out in Queens and some, the majority of the day laborers, live out around Hempstead, Long Island, where the locals hate them with a ferocious passion. They gather every morning on certain corners out there and wait for construction site bosses to come along in SUVs and take a handful of them for a day's labor. "Hey, Mex, do you know how to use a hammer?" "Si, el patron!" the immigrant answers. "You're hired...8 bucks an hour...with a fee for picking you up in this SUV and hauling your illegal asses to the job site."

And let our hammers ring, and they do. It's the most heard noise in New York City, but especially in Manhattan.

You would think that in 2009 these construction sites, first of all wouldn't use wood much less hammers and nails. What we find, however, is that they use tons of wood, especially in building the retaining walls that create forms into which they pour concrete, tons of concrete, 13 truckloads at a time (they are just now putting in the basement floors in this construction site). Friday is concrete-pouring day. The concrete then hardens over the weekend. In order to pour concrete in a small-space-site, 50-foot street front site, they have to use this concrete-pumping machine that takes the concrete from the Mafia concrete truck (oh yes, the Mafia controls most of the demolition, concrete hauling, the hauling away of debris, building materials) and pumps it through this long extension tube so they can get the concrete from the street all the way to the back of the site or anywhere in between. They used to do this with goons (mainly Black guys) and wheelbarrows but now they use this pump, and the dynamic force it takes to pump that concrete through that tube is a much louder and openly more disturbing process (you hear this one all over my Midtown neighborhood) than the hammering; yet, it still it isn't as consistently bothersome as a bunch of human men bearing and wielding hammers with nail-hammering or just-plain-hammering glee. "A Chorus of Hammerers Hammering" could be a John Cage left behind.

Yes, hammers. And nails. And big sheets of plywood. And 2 x 4s and 4 x 6s nailed in place as studs, to which the plywood sheets are nailed. Yes, they actually build a wooden retaining wall to hold the concrete until it hardens--and it's quick-hardening cement, you bet--plus it hardens in rain or snow, blizzard, gully washer, it doesn't matter, in two days that concrete's hard as rock--we hope, though we know the Mafia allows dirty and bubbly concrete to be poured--dirty in that is full of rocks and loose sand and bubbly in that they pump too much air into the water feed as the cement is being mixed in the big Mafia concrete trucks--the Mafia loves Mack trucks!
Hey, a whole nation used the hammer as a part of its national emblem. The unholy Soviet Union (we called it Communist Russia). We ended up hammering those bastards down, didn't we! "Mister Goor-boo-chef, tear down that wall!"
And who could forget M.C. Hammer? A lot of people have now. He's a lost and forgotten rapper has-been. Once The Hammer ruled rap. He got richer than hell but instead of becoming an actor like Coolio or Ice Tea or Ice Cube or Vanilla Ice (remember him?), M.C. Hammer bought his mother fabulous mansions and himself a stable of race horses! Soon the Hammer was in IRS trouble--he had to give up all his bling and his mother's mansions and his race horses--and he ended up "out-the-back-door" of the rap world and singing for his supper in the alley packed with the once famous. "Why look, isn't that Young M.C. over there?" "Naw, man, that's the Hammer."
This is said to be the world's largest hammer.
The Holy of Holies in Hammer Heaven Hierarchy--not just any old hammers (notice no claws).
I have decided to write my way to hell. I don't believe in heaven. Hell I believe in because it's the core of the planet on which I exist. Hellfire is core fire! Writing is such a sweet pleasure. I love watching teevee writing shows. There's always some babe, some cultured babe, and she starts babbling about writers as if she knows exactly what a writer meant when he or she wrote something considered a classic. I read Charlotte Bronte last year--Jane Eyre--and how I came to despise it. Fuck the Classics, I say...and Fuck teaching people how to write. I'm now reading a big favorite of mine, Albert Murray, and also Toni Morrison's Jazz. Holy cow, those are Black writers. Best writing I've read of late is Jazz. Damn, that woman can write; and she writes like nobody else I can think of.

I'm still fascinated by the writings of both Paul Bowles and his weird wife, Jane, especially Paul's beautiful books, Sheltering Sky, Up Above the World, and Let It Come Down. Bowles was a master of words. The effect of Sheltering Sky on you after you finish it is awesome! That's one damn fine but troubling novel. My sister-in-law introduced me to Bowles in the 60s--she handed me The Sheltering Sky one day and said, "That book is the best book I've ever read, in spite of what your brother claims is my favorite book" [his books of course]--it ain't no fun being married to a writer, as my sister-in-law would tell you if she could--she's been dust now for 20 years.

Here's a cool remembrance of Bowles by David Espey:


Here's a cool paragraph from Espey's memorial:

Composing vs. writing
What interested me most about Bowles was the relation of his music to his writing. For years he had been a composer, having given up writing, because, as he said, he just didn’t understand human beings. He gradually moved back into fiction through the technique of automatic writing (these first efforts were a kind of beast fable, but he soon turned to humans who behaved in animal fashion.) It was very different than writing music, he said. Composing was quite logical and rational, and maddeningly internal. He felt that composing enclosed one too much within one’s brain. Often when he composed, he would go for long walks compulsively while working out the harmonies and musical relationships in his head. Writing fiction was much less frustrating than writing music he said, once he had gotten back into it.

for The Daily Growler


The Daily Growler said...

Damn good writing Wolf Man...if I say so myself.

Don't you love that: say so myself


The Daily Growler said...

And it's still good writing 3 years later.

Myself Again

Marybeth said...

I meant to comment on this one when I read it years ago. I am a single woman and I own a lot of hammers. Oh yes! Single women fix things and build things. I've made all of my fish tanks and my bird cages. All out of wood. My fish tank is 5 feet by 8 feet by 2 and 1/2 feet: a wooden frame with a plastic liner and BIG fish; koi. This fine piece of carpentry, designed and built by me, lives in my garage. I've replaced the garage door with wire mesh and plexiglass so the fish get lots of light but are protected from the raccoons. More hammering. I also own and use mallets and maddocks and Pulaski axes and drills and all sorts of other things. Women who live alone learn how to do all the things married men do around the house because they don't have a man to do those things. Married women may not own hammers because they have husbands that do, but single women do own hammers. And in my landscaping work I have removed concrete patios with a sledge hammer and a pry bar, and my skinny little body. You'd be surprised how much hammering this little woman has done.

p.s. Your comments crack me up.