Monday, June 22, 2009

New York - Bear Mountain, Newburgh

“I started hitching up the thing. Five scattered rides took me to the desired Bear Mountain Bridge, where Route 6 arched in from New England” (9).

(It was raining, but I didn't hear any thunder. I like to think the fog enveloping this mountain looks exactly as it had when Kerouac stopped here).
(I had to zoom in to get this train, just to give you an idea of how high up the bridge is)

This is a terrible shot, but I'm including it because it cost me a $100 citation for not wearing a seatbelt--I removed it as I was parking to take this shot, and a cop who was dealing with somebody he had pulled over saw me drive a few feet to a stop. Absolute bullshit, but at least I get to use this quote:

“The American police are involved in psychological warfare against those Americans who don’t frighten them with imposing papers and threats. It’s a Victorian police force; it peers out of musty windows and wants to inquire about everything, and can make crimes if the crimes don’t exist to its satisfaction” (127). Amen.

“High up over my head the great hairy Bear Mountain sent down thunderclaps that put the fear of God in me. All I could see were smoky trees and dismal wilderness rising to the skies” (9).

“In Newburgh it had stopped raining. I walked down to the river, and I had to ride back to New York in a bus with a delegation of schoolteachers coming back from a weekend in the mountains—chatter-chatter blah-blah, and me swearing for all the time and the money I’d wasted …” (10).

The Bear Mountain Bridge is an imposing piece of architecture. There are taller bridges, but the feeling of the height being absolutely himalayan may be because when you cross, you're crossing between two mountains--Mountains whose peaks I couldn't even see due to the rain. That too probably added to the mystique. As for Bear Mountain itself, the first thing I noticed was how fresh the air felt/smelled. It was beautiful, and it wasn't exactly a nice day.

Newburgh, on the other hand, wasn't anything special. Parts of it had cobblestone streets, which abused my car horribly. One odd thing, however--there are a hell of a lot of Taxis in Newburgh.

New York City

“As we rode in the bus in the weird phosphorescent void of the Lincoln Tunnel we leaned on each other with fingers waving and yelled and talked excitedly, and I was beginning to get the bug like Dean” (4).

“Dean, ragged in a motheaten overcoat he brought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East, walked off alone, and the last I saw of him he rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again” (292).

“Dean stood outside the windows with his bag, ready to go to Penn Station and on across the land” (292).

“Whenever spring comes to New York I can’t stand the suggestions of the land that come blowing over the river from New Jersey and I’ve got to go. So I went. For the first time in our lives I said good-by to Dean in New York and left him there. He worked in a parking lot on Madison and 40th” (237).

(No parking lots these days)
(looking down Madison)

“One night we talked on the corner of 47th Street and Madison at three in the morning” (238).
(So it's a 12-hour difference)

“Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever for a buck among themselves, the mad dream—grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemeteries beyond Long Island City” (98).

“St. Patrick’s Cathedral: most striking of the windows and I didn’t expect strikingness at this late hour—is at upper front left—a lonely icy congealed blue with streaks of hot pink—little blue holes—painted with an immeasurable blue ink, noir comme bleu, black like blue, I was going to say three Apostles bur there are only two, third slot is not figure, is three one-third-size endisced figures almost like holes in skating ice—but with a winter swamp water full of mill dyes and midnight—no sky has had the color of this glass, and I know skies—all other windows here now dimming except this—it faces East, must be amazing tomorrow morning—faces East like my poor hospital window—Lord, I scribbled hymns to you—the other windows grow rich, brown, dark, secret, get better with age of light like wine with age of Time—the halo round the head of first figure remains bright and shining in the now general midnight blue of the window—halo of second figure is more humble—this window is secreted away and almost has same color as windows at halfway point turningpoint of stairs in old Victorian homes—concealed too—Only now I begin to notice the green—The similar triple window behind and above altar is now gone into the night—but not here.” (Visions of Cody 28).

The hints at the window mentioned in Visions of Cody were a lot more difficult to decipher once I was actually in the Cathedral. I'm not absolutely certain, but after I scrutinized every pane of stained glass in the place I believe the above window is Kerouac's window.
(across from the Cathedral)

“Since the Dakar Doldrums he [Carlo] had gone through a terrible period which he called the Holy Doldrums, or Harlem Doldrums, when he lived in Harlem in mid-summer and at night woke up in his lonely room and heard ‘the great machine’ descending from the sky; and when he walked on 125th Street ‘under water’ with all the other fish. It was a riot of radiant ideas that had come to enlighten his brain” (On the Road 121).

(Taken on 125th Street, Harlem. There's the "'great machine' descending from the sky.")

(Harlem, 125th Street)

“I took the Seventh Avenue subway to the end of the line at 242nd Street, and there took a trolley into Yonkers; in downtown Yonkers I transferred to an outgoing trolley and went to the city limits on the east bank of the Hudson River. If you drop a rose in the Hudson River at its mysterious source in the Adirondacks, think of all the places it journeys by as it goes out to sea forever—think of that wonderful Hudson Valley” (9).

(The 1 train to 242nd Street, 125th Street stop in Harlem)
(End of the line)

(dreary day in the Bronx).
(looking out over the 125th Street stop)

New Jersey - Paterson, Hoboken

“He [Dean] came right out to Paterson, New Jersey, where I was living with my aunt …” (3).

(June 18, 2009)

“Meanwhile Dean had gotten a job in a parking lot, had a fight with Marylou in their Hoboken apartment—God knows why they went there …” (3)

Paterson isn't too far from NYC, thus the traffic was hectic and plentiful. It reminded me a lot of Newark New Jersey, a city I dealt with a few weeks ago when I went to see a certain car at a dealer that was nothing but a chop shop. Not a place I'd care to live.

Hoboken actually wasn't as ugly as I was expecting, although I spent most of my time in a pretty small area (a dozen blocks or so within the Hoboken PATH stop). I bought a car from a guy who lived there, and the section he lived in was pretty nice--tree-lined streets, small shops and cafes with outdoor seating, nice looking buildings, etc.

Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, Allentown, Scranton

“I was all alone in the car, waiting for him as he made business calls in Allentown” (98).

“We zoomed through Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and up to Philadelphia on a winding country road and talked” (108).

I stopped at a few different spot as I crossed Allentown, and every time I picked up on the distinct odor of hot dogs (I guess I was in the hot dog district).

As for Philadelphia, there's a reason I go to that city fairly often. It's a young city with a great music scene and a hell of a lot of cultural offerings. I'm never disappointed, no matter what part of the city I visit/end up spending the night in; give me the most run-down sections of Philly over any city in New Jersey any day.

Note: In case you'd care to experience Philadelphia through the lens of a professional photographer, my friend Matt is in the process of creating a photostream on Flickr. Link forthcoming.

Kerouac didn't go to Scranton, PA in On the Road. I was passing through.