Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (Conclusion)

By this time, of course, besides being turned off by having to room with a sexist like Barry, whose 1970's political views and values did not reflect my own 1970's revolutionary left, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist non-Zionist and male feminist political views and values, I also had had enough of living again in Queens County.

Prior to the 1970's, I had grown up in Queens, lived in the Midwest and lived in Manhattan and Staten Island; and in the 1970's I had lived in the Bronx and the Midwest again, before finally returning to Queens County.

My childhood memories of growing up in the Douglaston and Little Neck area of Queens within the Beech Hills-Deepdale developments of low-cost, co-op garden apartments, during the 1950's era of U.S. white working-class affluence, were memories of a Queens in which I still felt on the same cultural wavelength as were most of my childhood friends, childhood classmates and childhood elders. But now in the 1970's, as an adult in my 20's who had become politically radicalized and alienated from culturally straight white suburban middle-class/affluent working-class values, I no longer felt I was on the same wavelength as the other adults in their 20's who still lived in Queens in the 1970's.

Between the 1950's and the 1970's, both Queens and I had changed; and by the 1970's none of the people I had grown up with in Queens seemed to ever appear in my daily or weekend life scenes in the 1970's; and there also seemed to be little likelihood that living any longer in Queens in the 1970's would enable me to easily find any new scene of people with whom I would feel some philosophical affinity, shared life aspirations or emotional closeness to.

So, naturally, when I heard from my sister, who was now living in Brooklyn, that there was a vacant apartment in Brooklyn that I could rent by myself for just $100 a month, my revisit to Queens ended. And to the more urbanized borough of Brooklyn/Kings County I moved my guitar, my cheap portable typewriter and the duffel bag that contained all my clothes, as a new year in the 1970's began.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (79)

Although Barry had mentioned having had "a chick" while in college that he had split up with eventually, it wasn't until near the end of the time I roomed with him in the Jamaica basement apartment that he brought home a "chick" who spent a night there with him; apparently someone Barry had also previously dated during his college days.

She was about the same height as Barry, had long, straight black hair, wore  jeans and had a face and figure that most men in the 1970's would have considered physically attractive. Yet despite her somewhat hip-looking surface appearance, she didn't seem that hip intellectually or counter-cultural in her value-structure.

To interest her initially in going out on a date with him again, Barry had to agree to find a blind date for her friend, another woman in her early 20's who, unlike Barry's womanfriend, didn't wear jeans and would not have been considered physically attractive by either most culturally straight men or most hip, counter-culture-oriented men in the 1970's. So that's why Barry pushed me into "helping him out" by agreeing to be the "blind date" that the "chick" he was trying to "score" with was requesting that he also provide to go out with them. And, as a favor to Barry, I got into his van with him one night when he wasn't working at the Queens College student union building, because of the Christmas season school break, and he drove us both to the Queens apartment of the parents of my blind date, to pick up both Barry's date and my blind date.

Once we got there, the parents of my blind date examined Barry and me and reminded us to bring their daughter home before midnight. I no longer recall where we went immediately afterwards with Barry's date and my blind date after we left the parents' apartment; probably to some restaurant for dinner. But I do remember that both my blind date and I quickly concluded after talking with each other in the back seat of Barry's van that we were neither physically attracted to each other or had any common interests.

She seemed to be interested in the 1970's in just finding a straight, conventional, religiously conservative Jewish middle-class professional man--perhaps an accountant, lawyer or medical doctor--who wanted to get married, have children and make a lot of money--which, I, obviously, wasn't. And, in turn, I didn't feel that she was on the same wavelength as me philosophically or intellectually enough for me to want to date her again, even if her surface physical appearance had, in fact, resembled that of Barry's date more.

Eventually, Barry drove us all back to our basement apartment in Jamaica, where he spent abut a half-hour in his bedroom making out with his date, while my blind date and I awkwardly attempted to make conversation in the living room, before Barry and I drove both his date and my blind date back to each of their parents' apartments, in which they each still lived.

But the next night, Barry was able to go on another date with his date, without being required to drag me along as a blind date for his date's friend, like on the previous night. And after his second date with her, Barry brought her home to the basement apartment and apparently "scored," since she was now willing to spend the whole night sleeping and making love with him in his bedroom.

The following morning, however, Barry's new "chick" and sexual conquest was first crying and then screaming at Barry for awhile, before Barry was able to temporarily quiet her down and then drive her back home to her parents' apartment.

Apparently Barry had been able to "score" with his new "chick" the previous night because she had assumed that he had agreed that they were now "a couple" and that he would start looking, with her, for a fancier apartment in Queens in which they would now live together.

But once they awoke the next morning, Barry apparently denied that he had ever promised to live with her in a fancier apartment or solely sleep with her; and his new "chick" and sexual conquest, predictably, felt disappointed, betrayed and sexually exploited. Hence, the tears and the screaming. And also, predictably, Barry then decided he would have to "go to his bull-pen again" and try to find another "chick" he knew from his college days, in order to make another "score"/sexual conquest, rather than have to deal with another scene with the "chick" who had been screaming at him.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (78)

I can't recall much else I did during the last month in my basement apartment in Jamaica, while waiting to hear whether or not the book publishing firm was going to hire me for the publicity clerk job. What I do recall, though, is on one Friday night going alone to a local community college in Jamaica to hear a student who played acoustic guitar with a harmonica in a harmonica holder perform a 1-hour set; and thinking that the student-musician-performer reminded me of early Dylan, musically and stylistically; but that he did not remind me of early Dylan, lyrically.

I also recall meeting a Chinese-American male friend of Barry; and also going on a blind date that Barry had arranged for me with a woman friend of a former "chick" friend of Barry that Barry was again trying to "score" with, during my last month living with Barry in the Jamaica basement apartment.

Barry had apparently met his Chinese-American male friend--who was also in his 20's, but now married to a Chinese-American woman in her 20's--when they were both undergradate students at Queens College in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Having grown up in Queens in the 1950's and early 1960's like Barry and me (before the post-1980's mass migration of Chinese-Americans from Manhattan's Chinatown and immigrant families from Asia to Queens seemed to dramatically increase the number of Asian-Americans in that borough), Barry's friend seemed as Americanized and assimilated as Barry and I. But the parents of Barry's friend were apparently less completely assimilated and Americanized than my second-generation parents had been; and  they were apparently still pressuring Barry's friend to live his life more like they wanted him to live it, rather than how he and his wife wanted to live.

So Barry's Chinese-American friend still seemed to feel some conflict as to what his goals in should be in the 1970's; although, like Barry, by the 1970's he had absolutely no interest in devoting any portion of his life or time in working for a revolutionary transformation of U.S. society, as I still did.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (77)

Having quit the Manhattan Criminal Court dictaphone-typist job after finally receiving the needed first paycheck after 6 weeks, I was now ineligible to receive unemployment compensation checks. So some of the time during the December that I last lived in the Jamaica basement apartment with Barry in the 1970's was spent looking at Sunday New York Times classified want ads.  

Noticing a want ad for a "publicity clerk" job with a book publishing firm in Midtown Manhattan, I telephoned its personnel office to arrange for a job interview. After being interviewed, my impression was that the person who was the publicity department manager was going to hire me, especially because I was the first applicant to be interviewed, in a decade when the first white applicant for a skyscraper office clerical job usually still was the person who would get hired, unless he or she lacked the job qualifications. But because it was the month in which the publicity department manager was apparently busy hanging out at various seasonal office parties and/or schmoozing/meeting with her print media contacts, press agent contacts, bookstore managers and newspaper or magazine book review editors, she took her sweet time about calling me back to let me know that she had hired me and when I might start working as her publicity clerk at the book publishing firm.

But after two or three telephone calls to her by me, which apparently also convinced her that it made sense to hire me as her publicity clerk because I was eager enough about obtaining the job to call her about her decision more than once, I was told to report to for my first day of work in early January of the new year.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (76)

I can't recall much of what I did during lunch hour for the 6 weeks I was caged in the dictaphone-typist pool at the 100 Centre Street Manhattan Criminal Court building. Working in Midtown Manhattan gave you the option of spending part of your lunch hour in more branches of the New York Public Library, in the central New York Public Library or at the Donnell Library. In Foley Square near the Wall Street area of Manhattan, however, there were fewer branches of the New York Public Library that you could spend part of your lunch hour at.

After buying a hot dog from a street vendor for my lunch on most workdays, I may have spent the rest of my lunch hour on only a few occasions walking up to the branch of the New York Public Library that was located in the south west side of Greenwich Village, browsing there for 10 minutes and then walking back to the 100 Centre Street courthouse. But during most lunch hours, I can no longer recall having done anything special when I worked there. Since I didn't start using each lunch hour on 9-to-5 workdays to write my Sundial memoirs of the 1960's manuscript text until the mid-1980's, I likely spent most lunch hours while working in the dictatphone-typist courthouse job just walking around or reading a daily newspaper I might have picked up out of a garbage can, or some paperback book that fit into my jacket pocket or back pocket. One thing I did do differently, though, during the 6 weeks I worked at 100 Centre Street was to take an elevated BMT route from Jamaica into lower Manhattan, rather than just take the E or F train from Jamaica, a number of times.

Before leaving work on the afternoon that I finally was handed, in the courthouse building, my first paycheck after 6 weeks by the dictaphone-typist pool supervisor, the African-American woman co-worker in her 40's, who had been friendly to me and who seemed, like me, to have only taken her job because she needed the money, then kidded me:  "Now that you finally got your first paycheck, be sure to come back to work next week."  Then we both laughed and wished each other a good weekend.

Of course, as soon as I arrived in my basement apartment in Jamaica on the evening of the day I deposited my first paycheck from the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse as a dictaphone-typist for 6 weeks, I typed up a letter to the elderly fellow who had hired me 6 weeks previously. Then I placed the letter and the photo I.D. that I had been given upon being hired by the personnel office of the courthouse, which showed that, as a courthouse employee, I had a legitimate right to go in and out of judges' offices and court work areas with manila envelopes without being questioned, into a stamped envelope, which I immediately mailed. In my brief letter, I indicated that "in order to begin working" at a "higher-paying position in the private sector," I was "regretfully resigning my position" as a dictaphone-typist in the New York County Supreme Court.

In reality, of course, I had neither a "higher-paying position" nor any regrets about resigning. But, given my moral objections to the role of the police, judges and local court system in 1970's New York City society, I just wanted to get the hell out of there--without giving them any indication that I was somebody whom the judges and D.A.'s, Red Squad and cops would likely label "subversive" if I honestly wrote about my moral and political reasons for quitting. 

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (75)

Given the fact that I felt it was morally wrong and politically unprincipled for me to work in a New York County/Manhattan Criminal Court system that I believed was continuing to act as an instrument of political repression and human rights denial, on behalf of the white corporate power structure of New York City, in the 1970's, I quickly decided to quit the dictaphone-typist job as soon I was handed my first paycheck.

But during the first week of working in the dictaphone-typist pool, I was surprised to learn that, while the other dictaphone-typists were now each receiving their paychecks every two weeks or every month, a newly hired employee of Manhattan's Criminal Court like myself had to wait 6 weeks before he or she was handed a paycheck. So I, thus, couldn't afford to leave this job until 6 weeks were up.

Luckily for me, the unemployment benefit checks that were long overdue for me arrived during the middle of the 6-week period when I was waiting for my first paycheck from the Manhattan Criminal Court/New York County Supreme Court job. And the money from the late unemployment benefit checks enabled me to come up with my half of the monthly rent for the Jamaica basement apartment that I shared with Barry again, only about a week after the rent was due.

Barry had, however, seemed to get a bit anxious when I didn't have my half of the $150 rent at the beginning of the month. So I telephoned a former camp co-counselor whom I had befriended during the Summer of 1970, with whom I had resumed my friendship a number of years later, after bumping into him while transferring from the 74th Street IRT elevated station to the Roosevelt Avenue IND stop in Queens one evening, as we were both coming home form work.

When we got together in the evening following this telephone call, I hinted to him that I was expecting an unemployment benefit check or a paycheck soon, but that I needed a small loan in order to pay my half of of that month's rent to get the anxious Barry, my roommate, off my back.  But when my friend--whom I had never asked for any kind of a money loan or favor before--seemed unwilling to help me out with the rent this one time, I realized that he really was just a "fair weather" friend; although I hid my changed feeling about our friendship from him when we said goodbye to each other outside my basement apartment in Jamaica. Queens.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (74)

The 100 Centre Street and Federal Courthouse judges' offices, to which I delivered the manila envelopes containing sentencing recommendations and pre-trial "release on bail" or "hold" recommendations and reports, were often empty of judges by most afternoons during the workweek and often empty of judges all day on Fridays. Many of the appointed judges at 100 Centre Street and in the Federal Court apparently liked to take Friday off whenever they could, in order to have as many 3-day weekends as their low-volume case load enabled them to have. 

And sometimes, when I arrived at the private office of a judge at 100 Centre Street or in the Foley Square federal courthouse to deliver one of the manila envelopes, I would find the judge in his chair sleeping or taking a nap behind his private office desk. In addition, a few times, when I handed the manila envelope containing the probation officer's sentencing or pre-trial "grant bail-deny bail" or "release-don't release" recommendation to a judge, I noticed that the breath of the judge smelled strongly of whisky; and the judge seemed somewhat drunk--apparently from having had too much to drink during the 2-hour lunch breaks that nearly all the judges in the 100 Centre Street and the Federal courthouses seemed to take on the days they showed up for "work."

When delivering a manila envelope one afternoon to one New York County Criminal Court judge, I experienced a surprise:  The judge to whom I was now bringing the manila envelope in the 1970's had been one of the prosecuting attorneys in the Panther 21 trial case of the late 1960's.. This case had ended with the acquittal of all the Black Panther Party political activists, who had apparently been framed up on "conspiracy" charges by the NYPD and federal law enforcement agents in the late 1960's.

Yet in the 1970's, this prosecuror-turned judge in Manhattan's Criminal Court  was now responsible for handing out sentences and making pre-trial bail or no-bail decisions for arrested African-American defendants--despite his personal history of being involved in violating the democratic rights of the obviously innocent Panther 21 defendants during the 2 years whey were held without bail in pre-trial detention and during their trial.