Archives For red bank

The Kid from Red Bank

“Count Basie’s swing arrangements are not blaring, but they contain more drive, more power, and more
thrill than the loudest gang of corn artists can acquire by blowing their horns apart.” i
Jack Kerouac

Count, bink-bink!
The Kid from Red Bank
On the River Navesink
Red Bank Boogie
One O’Clock Jump
Stomp and stamp and stump the band
Give the man a mighty hand
Tinkling keys
Fats Waller knees
William Basie’s simple swing
Keep your flashy bling-bling-bling
Count will swing and swing and ring
Timing
Elegant and clean
Flowing rhythm
Jumping beat
Meet you on Mechanic Street
Lobster twitching up a leg ii
Mobsters in old Kaycee days
Billie,
Lester,
and Jo Jones,
Thad and Mr. Quincy Jones,
Frank (The Kid from Hoboken) once but skin and bones

i McNally, Dennis. Desolate Angel: A Biography, Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America. (New York:
Random House. 1979). p. 38.
ii Horricks, Raymond. Count Basie and His Orchestra: Its Music and Its Musicians. (New York: The Citadel Press.
1957). p. 23.

Melvillian Flat

There’s something about this second-floor Red Bank flat that hints of Melville, poor Bartleby scribbling away at his lonely desk, (or Kerouac when he took the job in the Hartford filling station and typed away gloomy hours). Maybe it’s the curve of the rounded windows or the rectangular window facing the street with its late nineteenth- century commercial buildings or the hardwood flooring with its long planks or the kitchen stool I use at the little desk, perched there like a Wall Street scrivener. There is a New England feel to this town on the Navesink River. Actually, when we came to see this apartment on a deceptively quiet Sunday morn, the first thing we noticed was the wharf-like building next door and the narrow street leading to the boat yard and yacht club and silver twinkles on the river blue, and I thought, this is like Portland, Maine.
We’ve been everywhere, man, sailing New England waters: New London, New Bedford, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cutty Hunk, Newport, Blue Hill . . . everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. You might say our heart is in the sea, all salty and brined and gray-green-blue, and wouldn’t you know, right down the street in our lovely waterfront gardens park, this week’s feature movie is Jaws. Jaws and all those great Neptunes of the sea and Moby-Dick and you and me. Melville was a sailor, and Jack was a sailor, and me, too, a sailor. Right now, like those doomed sailors of the whaling ship Essex, I’m sailing The Doldrums, right into Obscurity Sea, see, sì. My heart breaks when I check out the local music store window and see my little book still on the shelf there. Don’t people read anymore? Melville sold less than four thousand copies of Moby in forty years . . . the book was ignored. i
Oh, this White Whale life, and watching as my family stops speaking to each other after the enormous pain of horrible neurological disease and trauma and unexpected death and all its sad aftermath and how it capsizes this Pequod called life and plummets one into black depths of deep, deep
sorrow, shark-infested waters, only to be knocked down by immense Jonah-like waves ii again and again and again . . . and as Jack said, and as Bartleby Melville said, in so many words, what is the point? But we have to go on, and keep living, and do our best, and go to the sea, through Fair Havens and rummy rum Rumsons with estates and monies and unaffordabilities and open mics and closed doors and seek refreshment for our souls in the vast sea, sea, sea, beyond the Atlantic . . . and into eternity.
i Philbrick, Nathaniel. Why Read Moby-Dick?, (New York: Viking. 2011). p. 6.
ii Kerouac, Jack. Road Novels 1957-1960, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 2007). p. 735.

Lobster Tail in Downtown Red Bank

Lobster tail in downtown Red Bank
A big lovely lobster tail sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar
Takes up the white cardboard bakery box tied with red-and-white- bake shop string
Nestled in pristine white bakery paper
Layers and layers of light flaky leaves shaped as shell
Crisp to the tooth
One crunchy bite
Fresh sweetened rich French cream oozes out
Another bite will set you right
Next bite lightens up this sad old world
Lobster tail of great price
Will knock you on your jass
One is enough
But two is outta bounds
Count Basie, outta bounds and fly me to the moon
And before you know it
You’re swinging at the bake shop in downtown Red Bank