Tag Archives: New Jersey

When You Wanna Know If It’s Wild and/or If It’s Real

16 Feb

I had an interesting incident with Christopher this afternoon.

I found him in the garage underneath the car. He had his portable hi-fi on with the volume up to 11.  I almost had to raise my voice to get his attention (I needed another drink making), and I don’t need to remind you that I do not like raising my voice (it’s just not ladylike, is it?). When I finally managed to pull him away from whatever was so damn interesting under that car, he emerged with his shirt untucked and opened to the waist and his face and chest smeared with oil; he was dirtier than I’d ever seen him before.

This was quite a sight to behold.

While not unmoved by his rather rough appearance, I was also a bit cross due to my extreme thirst. He quickly cleaned himself up and satisfied my need. I tried to get him to talk about what had brought on this unusual behaviour, but he was reluctant to “share.” However, one thing he did confess is that he was feeling trapped and thought that working on the car might help remind him of all the places he wanted to go in his life. (Isn’t it cute when young people use metonymy?) In all honesty, I think the root of this reaction is not unrelated to a falling out he had with his mate, Georgio, who last week moved to Mykonos. Nonetheless, I gave him my time, a couple Bacardi Breezers and a bath, and he seemed right as rain again.

Like Christopher, I’ve had my moments of wanting to get away from it all. I’m sure we all have. It reminds me of a little song a good friend of mine penned many years back. When I was quite young, I spent a summer working with a group of carnies near Long Branch Beach in my home state of New Jersey; I worked primarily as a magician’s assistant, though I did manage to earn a few bob telling fortunes on my nights off. The Boss of the gang was called B Fred J, a lovely though short man. (Yes, he was in love with me.) After work, we would all sit around on the sand, and B Fred J would sometimes get his guitar out and sing to us.  He had written a beautiful ditty for me called “Born to Run.” I’d like to share it with you now, along with an explanation of its meaning (and my mother said that that minor in Song Lyric Interpretation would never come in handy).


In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream

(We did do it a lot in the day but never actually  in the street.)

At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

(Our most popular attraction was called the Suicide Machine—B Fred J  later sold this to a crazy eyed doctor called Kevorkian who, I believe, went on to make big money from it.)

Sprung from cages out on Highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and stepping out over the line.
Baby, this town rips the bones from your back

(I believe a childhood spinal injury may have been to blame for stunting his growth.)

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.
We’ve got to get out while we’re young.
‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

(“Tramps,” in this context, means neither sluts nor hoboes, but rather “sexy people.”)

Wendy, let me in, I want to be your friend,

(Scansion, I’m afraid dictated the change from Agatha to Wendy.)

I want to guard your dreams and visions.

(LSD doesn’t always have to be dangerous.)

Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines.

(Vehicular imagery for sexual activities.)

Together we could break this trap.
We’ll run till we drop, baby we’ll never go back.
Will you walk with me out on the wire?

(The Wire was the “Lovers Lane” of Long Branch, so called after an unfortunate accident involving a very lonely lad and a loose electrical wire.)

‘Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider

(Vehicular imagery for masturbation.)

But I’ve got to find out how it feels.
I want to know if love is wild, girl, I want to know if love is real.

(Alas, it wasn’t. I left that September, never to return.)

Beyond the palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard.

(A clever double meaning here: hemi-powered engines do exist, but, of  course, this also rhymes with semi-powered, and trust me, most of the screaming that took place that summer started off with a semi.)

The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard.

(As a result of their semis, obviously.)

The amusement park rises bold and stark.
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist.
I want to die with you, Wendy, on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss.

(Again, I’m afraid B Fred J saw our “relationship” a little differently than I did.)

The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.
Everybody’s out on the run tonight but there’s no place left to hide.
Together, Wendy, we’ll live with the sadness.

(Do you see now why this didn’t work out? Who wants to live with sadness?)

I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.

(I don’t think so.)

Someday girl, I don’t know when, we’re going to get to that place
Where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun,
But until then tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.Bruce-Springsteen-Columbia-Records

(Sadly, I don’t believe he ever got to the place he wanted to go. I, however, have been every place I wanted to go. If you really are born to run, you run. You don’t quit the carny business to become a real estate agent in Asbury Park.)


If you ever find yourself feeling trapped and lonely, don’t dismantle your employer’s car and get oil on her tea towels. Pour yourself a drink, turn down the lights, and sing “Born to Run” to your heart’s content.

Then turn on the lights, look in the mirror and grow the hell up.

To All The Saints I’ve Loved Before

18 Oct

The Pope had canonized six new saints.  That’s always nice to hear.

Although I myself am not a Catholic, I’m quite sweet on the saints due to an interesting relationship I had as a child with a Catholic family. When I was about nine, in an attempt to keep my brothers out of my room, I taped to my door a list of all the sins that would send you straight to hell. I thought it would give them something to think about before violating my sacred space. My mother, I fear, misinterpreted this as my interest in more spiritual issues. She spoke to a Catholic woman she worked with (New Jersey is thick with them), who agreed to start taking me to her church. Because she had a daughter my age, I was told to accompany her to catechism class.  The focus of the first lesson was the saints.

I was absolutely enchanted by the tales of ordinary people who could do extraordinary things. Seriously, anyone who can bilocate and levitate like Saint Padre Pio deserves more than just a pat on the back. And to top it off he was a stigmatist! I mean, was there nothing this guy couldn’t do?

At the time, I also appreciated the fact that so many saints were children. I was already growing increasingly aware of my own greatness, and it was good to see at least 22% of the American population recognised that children could be worthy of worship, even if not a single percent of my family did.

Finally, I was really intrigued by the concept of praying to a particular saint for a particular need. I encouraged my mother to call on Saint Zita when she lost her keys and told my father to pray to Our Lady of Fatima during that month’s gubernatorial race.  In art class, I sculpted a bust of Saint Matilda of Saxony, to counteract my falsely being accused of instigating a fight between John Gilbert and Kraig Hartley on the playground (surely no greater example of blaming the victim can be found). For my sister’s birthday, I drew a picture of Hilary of Poitiers on her card, as she is the patron saint of backward children. (It was about this time that my mother discontinued my trips to Mass.) Other saints I was particularly keen on were Nicholas of Maya (patron saint of boys), Elizabeth of Portugal (victims of jealousy), Catherine of Alexandria (girls and libraries, a perfect combination) and Jehoshaphat (jumping).  When I renamed my dollies after these saints and began referring to them as “my extended family in heaven,” my mom locked them in the cedar chest, booked me in to see a child psychologist and my excursion into the world of Catholicism was over.

One of the new few to be canonized was Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first Catholic saint, and people Down Under were rejoicing at the acknowledgment of her good work. She was a champion of the poor and of education. Some have suggested she become the patron saint of victims of sexual abuse by priests, but I can’t help wonder if there isn’t a more direct route the Pope could take in dealing with those crimes.

I would like to offer a hearty congratulations to Saint Mary of the Cross and all the other saints who recently became official. Well done all. No doubt you will be inspiring Catholics and under-appreciated child geniuses for many years to come.