Outside Myself There is A World
I set out with Alexis Bhagat and Sahra Walker to try the heart of Paterson once again. I seem to have many mistaken notions as to the nature of this heart. For instance, I have been avoiding the falls: touristy, too easy. After another long, hot day, however, we drive down Ryle Rd. past the old factory buildings and the animal shelter, park the Buick, and take the wooded path to the falls. I am thinking that I have failed to connect to the city. However, in a quiet corner where the falls eddy at the mouth of a mammoth open pipe, we meet Tony, for whom the falls is the true Paterson in contrast to the commercial, violent, and seductive forces of the street. Contrary to what I had been thinking, for Tony, the falls were a site of black power, the psychic center of the city's integrity. The rest was Babylon. The waters of the Passaic seemed to hold powers of self-actualization. You could also probably do drugs there. Tony was both doing drugs and self-actualizing, but using one to pry free from the other. And he was also writing poetry. Here's some of what he recited for us: "She turns over her life everyday, like a hamburger slaving over the heat. Constantly constantly all they want and eat and beat is beef and beef. Cow after cow after cow I ask now, when will they just want milk?" The prostitutes on Van Houten St. seem to be a continuity between Williams' world and Tony's. We leave Tony and end up at the library, where I find out that all the archival Williams materials are in Hackensack.