Monday, July 28, 2014

Greff Fabrics Blues, 1971 (xxv)

If I remember correctly, in 1971 Snelling and Snelling still required the aplicants it placed in permanent jobs at firms like Greff Fabrics to continue working at the job for at least 3 months, in order to avoid being charged some kind of fee for having quit the job before 3 months were up.

So although I was ready to quit once Mr. Hamilton unfairly gave Rob, the African-American supervisor, the axe, I waited until my 3 months at Greff Fabrics were up at the end of December 1971 to give my notice that I was quitting. But by New Year's Eve, I was on a passenger train heading for some campus town in the Midwest with the money I had saved from my Greff Fabrics job in my wallet; and with my only luggage being a duffel bag and a cheap guitar.I then spent most of the train ride conversing with another long-haired hippie who was heading for the University of Kansas's campus in Lawrence, Kansas.

By the end of 1971, the New Left aboveground political scene and Movement scene in New York City seemed completely dead again; and the campuses around New York City's five boroughs seemed to once again resemble the silent campuses of the 1950s McCarthy era from a political point of view. Neither at Greff Fabrics nor at the other 9-to-5 "real world" workplace scenes was there any evidence that any significant group of 1960s New Left revolutionary activists were going to be able to radicalize the 9-to-5 New York City workers politically during the 1970s, so that they would come to reject U.S. capitalism and 9-to-5 slavery enmasse, and also support a Black Panther Party-led or revolutionary feminist women-led anti-imperialist revolution in the United States.

Yet by the Spring of 1972, some buildings at Columbia University would again be re-occupied by anti-war students after the Nixon administration resumed the Pentagon's bombing of North Vietnam; and it was becoming evident that the FBI was unable to capture most of the anti-war New Left Movement people who had gone underground and become 1970s weatherfugitives.

But, in retrospect, my post-Greff Fabrics work experience-based late 1971 impression fear that the New Left would continue to make no significant political impact on the continued "business-as-usual" functioning of the 9-to-5 Death Culture world of capitalist wage slavery during the rest of the 20th-century and early 21st-century ended up being a fairly realistic fear. Without the kind of daily U.S. mass media tv news show access that Abbie Hoffman and the seven other Chicago Conspiracy 8 Trial defendants had been given in late 1969 and early 1970 (or that Columbia SDS people had enjoyed in late April and May of 1968), New Left revolutionaries--whether male, female, African-American or white--would be unable to develop a mass base of working-class support for a Revolution in the United States during the rest of the 20th-century.

And the plastic Greff Fabrics pattern of  manager-employee power and economic relations of 1971 would continue to be replicated year-after-year in most other plastic, authoritarian U.S. Death Culture workplaces--regardless of how much the technology that was utilized at these for-profit or tax-exempt non-profit workplaces would be changed or modernized.

Plutocratis, oligarchs, capitalists, bankers and their ass-licking managers--not the New Left revolutionaries and anti-capitalist U.S. workers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds--would continue to rule the 9-to-5 "real world" work scene; and institutional classism and economic inequality in the United States would begin to intensify during the next 45 years.

(the end)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Greff Fabrics Blues, 1971 (xxiv)

I also left New York City by bus on at least two other Fall 1971 weekends while I was working at Greff Fabrics: once to check out the Douglas College and Rutgers University campuses in New Brunswick, New Jersey and once to walk around the Penn State University campus in State College, Pennsylvania.

On weekends, the Douglas College and Rutgers University campus seemed more dead and empty of students walking around than did the Penn State University campus. Perhaps because New Brunswick was much closer to a big city like New York City than was Penn State University, which seemed far from Harrisburg and even further from Philadelphia, and was also located in a more scenic rural area than were Douglas and Rutgers's campus.

But, on a political level, Penn State University seemed politically dead in the Fall of 1971. Walking around the campus of Penn State University in the Fall of 1971 reinforced my feeling that, for the early 1970s U.S. students, what had happened at places like Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, SF State, Kent State and Jackson State during the late 1960s and in early 1970 was ancient history and of no relevence to their current lives.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Greff Fabrics Blues, 1971 (xxiii)

Besides spending the last months of 1971 working at Greff Fabric, I also left the United States for the first time one weekend in the Fall of 1971, when I hopped on a Greyhound bus at the New York Port Authority's terminal, which was heading for Montreal on a Saturday.

I can't recall much of what happened on the bus ride, except for the fact that when the bus arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border, the Canadian border patrol guards didn't like my hippie/freak looks and assumed I was trying to smuggle some drugs into Canada.

So when the Greyhound bus was stopped at the border and the Canadian border patrol guards got on the bus to examine its passengers, I was the only passenger that was ordered to leave the bus. And, once I was outside, the Canadian border patrol guards asked me to empty my pockets and searched me, to see if I was personally carrying any drugs--after I told them I was traveling with no knapsack or any baggage. They also apparently checked my name against whatever list they consulted, before allowing me to return to the Greyhound bus and enter Canada.

Once out of the United States, off the Greyhound bs and inside Montreal's Greyhound bus station, I initially felt good about, for the first time, being in a country which was not directly governed by the Republican Nixon administration's government. And since I hadn't studied any French in either junior high school, high school or college, I did feel that being in Quebec was being in a foreign country, since everyone there was speaking a language I did not understand. And when I walked outside the Greyhound bus station, I, coincidentally, encountered a march of about 150 supporters of Quebec independence and Quebecois nationalists that looked impressive.

But after I had walked around Montreal for about an hour, the sun began to set and it began to get dark. So I randomly walked to one of the cheap hotels near the bus station and asked if if had a vacant room for the night. Although the clerk at the front desk of the first place I went to looked  suspiciously at me because I had no luggage and looked like a long-haired hippie/freak from the USA, once I agreed to pay for the room for the night in advance and in cash, he gave me the key to one of his vacant rooms and I quickly undressed and fell asleep on the bed.

Waking up early the next morning, I spent most of the day continuing to randomly walk around Montreal's streets and eventually found myself in Mount Royal Park, looking down from its heights on the city streets below. Then, noting that it was now going to be the time for one of the last Sunday afternoon buses that would take me back to New York City to leave, I hurried back down the hill to the Montreal bus station; and I eventually arrived at New York City's Port Authority bus station very late Saturday night.

Visiting Montreal for a day had been interesting. But it also made me realize that--unless I learned some French first--it would likely not be that easy for me to survive as an exile in Montreal in the 1970s.  So living in the USA where it was still easier for me to find at least some kind of menial clerical work when I needed bread seemed to remain a much more realistic economic option than trying to figure out a way to eventually move to a French-speaking Quebec that then seemed on the road to eventually political independence and national liberation, and full national self-determination.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Greff Fabrics Blues 1971 (xxii)

One reason I quit Greff Fabrics in late December 1971 was because of the shabby way its white executives/owners treated it African-American sample room supervisor, Rob, in early December 1971. The culturally straight white owner, Mr. Hamilton-- on the few occasions when he came downstairs to the sample room basement from his main floor Greff Fabrics office and showroom--had noticed that we sample clerks were laughing and talking to each other as we worked. In addition, Mr. Hamilton--who smelled heavily of cologne and deodorant--apparently didn't like my more natural, hippie-like smell--which was free of any cologne scent or strong deodorant scent.

So Mr. Hamilton concluded that the sample room supervisor, Rob, was being too lenient with the sample clerks he was supposed to be supervising. And, without any warning, Rob was suddenly informed by Mr. Hamilton that he was being fired and replaced by some culturally-straight, country-club golfing partner or friend, in his late 50s or early 60s of Mr. Hamilton--who apparently wanted to earn some additional money at some job again for awhile--named Mr. Garrison.

Since Rob's plans to get married in a few weeks had been based on his assumption that his job as sample room clerk supervisor at Greff Fabrics and his weekly wages were secure, being suddenly fired by the white boss, Mr. Hamilton, seemed like a quite shabby move to both Rob and the sample room clerks he supervised.

But since all the sample room clerks needed our jobs and were not in any kind of union, we did not walk or refuse to accept Mr. Garrison's supervision after Rob was given the axe. Instead, we just grumbled among ourselves about the injustice of Rob being given the axe in a way that would disrupt his marriage plans; and we accepted Mr. Garrison--who was an elderly corporate-type in a penguin suit and tie who--unlike Rob--wouldn't even allow us to work with a radio that played jazz and music softly in the background--sullenly.

So, not surprisingly, only a few weeks after Rob was fired, I ended up quitting my Greff Fabrics sample room job just before my sample room co-workers and I went out together for drinks after work, on the day before Christmas Eve, in some Mid-Manhattan bar.

During the last week of working at Greff Fabrics--after I had decided that I would move out of New York City and away from the East Coast by January 1972--I, coincidentally, bumped into Eileen again--in the Midtown Manhattan bookstore, Gotham Books, where we were both browsing between the book shelves after work one evening after work for awhile.

I had written a love song for Eileen, "Ms. Eileen," in the Spring of 1971--after first connecting with her in a spontaneous way in the Lehman College cafeteria one afternoon in April or May, when I noticed she was reading the Village Voice, after she just happened to sit down on the other side of the cafeteria table where I  happened to be sitting--and getting emotionally and physically close to each other for a few weeks.

But once Eileen realized how embittered I had become by my economic survival difficulties, poverty and pre-1971 anti-imperialist left activist experiences, she saw that it made neither economic nor emotional sense for her to leave the boyfriend she was then living with--who, given her recently acquired radical feminist consciousness, she felt she had outgrown-- and move in with me; despite the fact that I was more of a male feminist and less of a male chauvinist than was her current boyfriend. And in the Spring of 1971, I pretty much agreed with her that--given my growing economic desperation and growing anger at being denied access to welfare benefits, at my failure to find a new job and my falling deeper and deeper into poverty--it would, indeed, make no sense for her to leave her boyfriend--who had a good-paying straight job--for someone in my jobless, economically impoverished situation--even if I was less male-chauvinist, more emotionally open, more intellectual and more of a male feminist than was her current boyfriend.

When we bumped into each other again at the Gotham Books bookstore in December 1971, Eileen was still living with the same guy and still working part-time for some social welfare service agency. But now our emotional intimacy and closeness of 7 months ago seemed like ancient history, especially since Eileen now seemed to feel more appreciative of the emotionally and economically positive aspects of her love relationship with her boyfriend than she had seemed to feel 7 months before.

But since I had never played for Eileen the "Ms. Eileen" love song I had written for her, I invited Eileen, in a spontaneous way, to have dinner with me in the apartment in Queens I was crashing in that week, so that I could sing the "Ms. Eileen" song for her. And, surprisingly, Eileen spontaneously accepted my invitation, although it was clear to both of us that she no longer had any possible romantic interest in me, because her love relationship with the boyfriend she still lived with had become more satisfying; and because I was moving away from New York City and the East Coast in less than a week.

I no longer remember much of what we talked about on the subway and bus ride together from Manhattan to the Queens apartment where I was staying, although I recall that the time flew by fast, because we conversed the whole time in an animated way. I also don't remember what we ended up eating for dinner, although I don't think we each ate very much food.

What I do remember, though, is that I took out my guitar and sang the "Ms. Eileen" love song to Eileen. And that, after I finished singing the song, Eileen said: "You know, it's like you're a different person when you're singing than when you're talking."

And then, since it was getting near 8:30 or 9 o'clock, I can vaguely recall next taking the Q17 bus with Eileen back to the Flushing Main Street IRT station and quickly kissing her goodbye before she went downstairs into the station to take the subway back into Manhattan and then uptown towards the Bronx, to where she still lived with her boyfriend.

And because I never saw or spoke with Eileen (or bumped into Eileen) ever again, my memory of the last time I ever saw or spoke with Eileen is still associated with my memory of the last few days in which I worked for Greff Fabrics.