The Best Antique I Ever Found
How I Found It.
Where I am is White Plains, Westchester County, New York. Specifically where I am AND adjusted to it’s delightful and proper historical context, is JUST cresting the top of Chatterton’s Hill, the once “right flank” of General Washington’s army. Here, on October 28, 1776, the “Rebel” (American Continental) army fought the either “crucial” or “lame” (historic opinion differs) “Battle of White Plains” for a brief fifteen minutes around ten in the morning. Understandably, there was considerable foreplay to the fifteen minutes that consisted, principally, of the British army marching to and then around before the base of the hill in splendid red uniforms and shining steel accouterments while firing uncounted numbers of “solid shot” cannon balls “over” the heads of the Rebel army so ...that... after peeing their pants from the first barrage, the Rebel army pretty much stood around and watched the cannon balls ascend and then ... descend harmlessly behind them, bounce once or twice and... roll down the hill. This last is a very important point to me... TODAY: These cannonballs may still be and “are” ‘dug up’ during ‘construction’ ‘on the Hill’ to this day.
There was also considerable afterbirth to the “battle” for after the British (and Hessian) troops ascended the hill (meeting “heated resistance” and “galling fire”) and drove the Rebels from it in an “organized retreat”, the whole battle shifted to General Washington’s central line of shim-shod (old corn stocks pulled up by the roots stacked so these root dirt balls “faced” the “enemy”) fortifications in what is now north central White Plains. A single cannon shot, from the Rebel army, the FOLLOWING DAY is the only reported “action” to take place after the “taking” of Chatterton’s Hill for each army managed to bluff the other into an “I don’t know” kind of standoff that, after this ONE LONE CANNON SHOT, caused both armies to decide to leave the area. Although the battle was over in physical fact the extended printed road as to “who won what” began it’s construction and, like so many substantive publishing highways in history, is still under construction.
Therefore, when I hook right on top of the hill, as I do often, I cross a midpoint of the Rebel line and drove directly into the ascending British (& Hessian) army. “DAMN!” is my mental moment particularly as this, ah, battlefield ...ain’t no National Historic Shrine and all I usually see as “visitors” is a group “skip school” teenagers drinking ...beverages... out of brown paper bags AT EIGHT IN THE MORNING. Intersection after intersection of quite residential homes bless the crest with.... otherwise... NOTHING.... NOTHING .... NOTHING to show “a battle was fought here” (except for this stupid little kiddy play ground that does have a bronze plaque to “mark the site”) This state of affairs LEAVES ME ALONE in the kind of historic vignette I have come to cherish... OF NO ONE THERE, NO ONE CARES and LEAVE ME ALONE which is EXACTLY what has happened ALL the time I’ve ever been “there”.
WHY? Because it is NOT an accident that I am “here” and it is NOT an accident that “this area” ...(that, in my opinion AND ABOUT 200 YEARS worth of other people’s opinions... is “LOADED” with “great American history” but is, in fact, in advanced neglect... “THANK YOU!”... as a visitor shrine)... is a “special place that is calling me”. Oh shit on you and grant... GRANT YOU that I would NOT have thought it possible myself but have come to discover (“SURPRISE-SURPRISE”) that what started as a “gut” “feeling” similar to ...MANY I have employed in the past... HAS panned out to be... JUST what I thought it would be: VIRGIN TERRITORY.
What is virgin? To me. Well: Here at White Plains I found an area of our Nation that (1) is loaded with authentic historic place & time that (2) had been over the centuries very precisely accounted for by professional and lay history buffs (WHO ARE FOREVER MUCH better & smarter then ME so don’t you’s ah start the whine-butt stuff on me that I’m being “arrogant” or such cause, believe me: YOU know more about this then ME.) that has, as our millennium cross the second threshold (3) fallen into grave neglect, disinterest and, my favorite; lost to history. Kiss me, set me free at the site and LEAVE ME ALONE to dance in the full moon of unnoticed American history and I WILL WHILE...you watch TV?
You can “fuck me” after I “fuck you” on this. You ain’t there; you ain’t been there ‘cept for a “drive by” MAYBE. Your knowing eye has not trespassed and then PILLAGED the slope of American history that I began a DECADE AGO of very precisely choreographed immersion IN. IN. IN. Suck on that word: IN. I went where I wanted to go: INSIDE.
Here we must split (divide in two) the word “inside” to ...attempt... to convey my absolution, my addiction and my passion. For these be the words for my happy home of historic paradise where I ...prefer... to live. I will use other places and things from my experiences to try and convey “why” I am “here” (in Westchester County).
The first division is “sense of place”. The second division is “sense of object in it’s place”. These two form the unity of an “it” for me that is found... “in”. Sense of place began long ago in rather small chunks of space and time but has now grown and developed into a full fledge “ability” of mine to “be” “there”. The first large project I developed and executed was, now thirty years ago, along the Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire. It serves well here to demonstrate my ...absolution. The Connecticut River runs north to south between these two romance filled, pretty and historic... “states”. I prefer “land masses”. Along the rivers edge on both side one may find “old”. Old to me began as a stray into the valley while in high school. There, along this river’s edge, I found the romantic taste of Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap on my lips... “for real”. It was not the first time I had tasted the taste for I “be one” with it since I “can remember”. It is here I CAN recall, that... it was the first time that this taste of coonskin became a... dynamic... in a large area.
I learned that the river... when frozen in winter... was THEN (“the past”) used as, quite literally, an interstate highway NORTH for the expansion of settlement. This wide frozen direct route “up” allowed for an unprecedented amount of “stuff” to “make it” there. OLD stuff, intact, as delivered from the OLD HOMESTEAD to the new. “Huh”. My lips smacked; dribbling the drool of that flavor. My eyes looked. My heart beat. My hands reached for and TOUCHED history left, lost and LINGERING alone and along the edge of this great ice highway. I learned to hug that river’s edge. To WALK so slowly along it’s EVERY nuance. TO KEEP MY EYES OPEN for the slight peculiarity and creased LEAF of the old moccasin encryption called “history”. I breathed the air... and I touched the SOIL of the dead White Man’s scalp dripping blood while his WIFE bore his CHILD by brook in the woods “to my left”. Blessed are those who learn to roll this pebble of time between their toes and DAMNED be them that say that I, a PIRATE of this VERY SOUL, be encapsulated by it “for the money”. You know nothing about what you speak.
In the woods, by the river, I watched for the shadowy ghost of the emancipated Robert Rogers to float by me at HIS moment of glory. I log cabined and Indian trailed myself from home to home to tavern to intersection to barn to woodshed to well house to “THERE IS WHERE THE old road WENT” and down into the soul of “it” “in”. Brush the granite boulder with your hand but be careful not to damage the lichen of “it” “in”. I did this so very consciously that the eloquence of its non-verbal expression remains one with me to this day and THAT only perfects my skill while “the rest of you” stare in a bewilderment? For such lame souls I refer you to Francis Parkman’s divining dissertations on “visiting” a “site”; a pathetic yet landmark eulogy to “it” “in”. Go on: GO.
Before my hands and eyes I found, ever more precisely and abundantly, the residue of material history. Certainly every engraved powder horn bearing a map to “Fort Ti” has been found? No, it has not. That’s right: It STILL has not. And this I learned too. It has taken me decades to fully appreciate the scattering of objects, their sinewy hiding placing and curious ...locations but be I one to fight AGAINIST such odds? No.
I ask nothing. Left alone, which in truth I have been for over three decades, historic introspection has combined with in-the-field excursions to, until “death do we part”, allow me access to ... “it”, LITERALLY, “in”. Mumbling contemporary Yankee Doodle-ing I’s ah “find it” here, there, UNDER THERE, behind that and always, always... where no one else ...was at. Each time “it happened” as I once, decades ago, decide this sensation “was”, I learned to stop myself and capture “it” “in”. Today I suppose one may utilize the technical aberration of the expression “virtual reality” to describe what is in fact a reality that I do very consciously “virtually” WHILE I’m THERE: “IN”. As the experiences mounted in my repertoire of time travel I learned to adjust my original mystification with the process to understand that not only was I... I the one who instigate ‘em but that ... I... could “see ‘em” coming ... and going. This marked conscious development greatly enhance the ride and, again, as vignette piles upon vignette, makes me “better” at “it”... ESPECIALLY when I’m... “in”.
Hold on to your lost objects because here we go. What I have just attempted to convey is that I consciously, knowingly, ACTIVELY seek out “places” (ranging from large land masses to tiny little crawl spaces BEHIND the chimney) to “work” in my own special way ... for a ...delight only me... and my wandering wonder to be “in” “it”. Along the way, it is of course necessary to, well, let us say, PAY OUR WAY so here and there some of the “so much” of the... I ask nothing for... is gathered and, as I say, “processed”. Do I care what you have to say... let alone “want” for ... your “collection”. Please.
Most people, thankfully, DON’T collect anything so manage to rid themselves from ME before we need engage in the nastiness of paying my way. After those I find only a handful left and of those, most are marginally capable of comprehending materialism, its products and ...it arts. Bolstered by these factors; the commercial realms of “don’t know shit” combined with “(he-I-they) buys shit” has allowed me a defensive commerce that is “this is not about money” and ... it is not about “a” object. It also goes along way to explain the often pointed out to me “disdain” I am credited with blessing collectors and “other” dealers with... . Well. I suppose it is disdain but ...I don’t not believe it is commercially fixed. I believe its source is found in the need to get rid of these “people” before I may BEGIN to “do what I do”. To have a dealer or collector around ...takes up TIME that I would, for life is short, spend on my VOYAGE AT SEA in ... HIS-TOR-REE.
So: First I get AS FAR AWAY from “them” as possible and MEANWHILE divine to enter a virgin territory of “it” that I ... I believe to be an “in” “untouched”. There is, in fact, an endless supply of these for it really just depends on what one feels like at the time. A roadside road house, “intact”, “totally original” and “untouched” brings forth it’s treasure just as the private home of the woman whose husband died and left her alone with “all” his parent’s “things” from “They were very rich before the Crash. I’ve never known what to do with all this but I DO think the paintings may be worth SOMETHING now.”.
“Oh Jesus” and if I say “fuck” too... then I guess I am LUCKY to be a pirate.
One controls the vignettes and with remarkable power... may even direct the broad travel toward the bigger scale themes. Returning to Chatterton’s Hill, we find the theme of my travel to be the American Revolution. Here, in Westchester County and White Plains, I found an area that had been unbelievably central to the actual activity of “the war”. Back and forth, over and under or, as THEY called it; “from above” or “from below” Westchester was the wandering territory where all “were” “in” “it”. Called “the Neutral Ground” to designate this state of affairs, it has passed into history as such, passed THROUGH history as such and ... PASS OUT THE RECTUMN of American history to become one of the most splendid NEUTRAL GROUNDS of unorganized American treasure LEFT unorganized. While witch houses in Salem charge admission, tourist camera’s clatter at Old Faithful, Mount Vernon cordons off staircases with velvet cables and the Battle of Gettysburg is “fought” again each year... when one visits White Plains ...no one is ... HERE.
Except me. Actually there are a real lot of people here but... a lot of ‘em are kids on drugs and ladies shopping for shoes in Land Rovers or ... the average guy with the average girl with average house and the average kids hoping to pay for the average car and still have enough for the ...average “that” “too”. Door after front door of street after side street of building after home after intersection after “EXIT 1/4 MILE TOLL BOOTH AHEAD”.
Now there is one more touch I add to this background canvas before I cease to accommodate you with “why I am here”. A great enhancement of my travels in the virgin historic lands I ...choose... is that most, if not ALMOST ALL... AT ALL TIMES... people “there”... “don’t care”... or even “know of” what I have been communicating. THAT IS A FACT. And I don’t stand around talk’en up about it, believe me. “FUCK ‘EM” and “I’ll, ah, TAKE THAT, thanks” pretty much covers our relationship merged DIRECTLY with as invisible a “visit” I DO make... as POSSIBLE. I know that no one knows or cares so consciously attract as little attention to my, ah, “work” as possible. It is only here upon this page, I believe, that I am first recording the actual conscious intensity of my motion to be “in” “it” although this reflects decades of actual ACTION TAKEN of my life. EVEN THOSE who be “in the trade” or such... MOST USUALLY fail to understand the deep mystical involvement of my travels. Generally they resort to the superlatives of disbelief and disgust such as “your crazy”, “your an asshole”, “what do you do with that shit” and the always pleasing “If you ever get anything good....:”.
What is good? If I am bad.
This “I am bad” I have been informed of for years. Therefore: All the more reason to be making that second “hook right” around the block. Then a THIRD hook to ...drive by Son of a Bitch & his dad to prove for sure that it is “only a bed” that is “left” to be “put out”. It was and, well... one of them boxes of coffee cans tipped in the back so I had a clattering going on “back there” (the now filling space in the back of the ‘burban) that sounded like I had the tins cans tied to the bumper and just got married. I hadn’t just got THAT but I had just got PAID. Here is found one of the principal compliments of “I am bad”; this “getting paid”. I’m gonna do this once here so the for the REST OF THIS BOOK I don’t have to elaborate the details of every piece of SHIT I pick up and YOU will just have to use YOUR FINGERS to count up and concluded that “Shit: The guy can actually do pretty GOOD doing this!” of “HOW DO I MAKE A LIVING” kind of figuring.
The coffee cans: Three boxes with approximately 12 to 15 cans ca. 1957-1962 (uncounted: I NEVER COUNT THIS SHIT) with “the lids” and a few “more” “without” ‘em. The “complete ones” are a quick “six bucks” ($6.00) each to “tourists” in Maine... in the summer... in the “store” OR... I could “sell all of ‘em” to one dealer but... fuck that cause I DON’T MAKE A LIVING FOR “them” (principal compliment of “I am bad” #2) so... prefer to “sell to the end user directly”. Conservatively, twelve times three is thirty-six times six dollars each is $216.00 total and deduct HALF to “maintain my lifestyle” including the 100% taxable “capital gain” of all these FUCK’EN OLD CANS... leave $108. POCKET CHANGE and ...that is only ONE GOD DAMN PIECE OF SHIT... “from the trash” even excluding the friggen “old vanity” thing I got “there” “too” “first”. How are your fingers doing? AND I WON’T do this again: YOU DO IT ....YOURSELF.... in YOUR neighborhood of choice.
This, ah, practice... goes a LONG WAYS to getting rid of the need for me to have to... spend much time... “associating” with my fellow dealers who generally “hate my guts” and other brilliant self made expostulations of their commercial understanding of why I’s the way I am. Fuck ‘em.