Return of the Bicycle Rack

In the interest of carrying on the Moki tradition, yesterday afternoon I resuscitated that bicycle rack. He actually owned three. One, a simple wheeled stand that you stick your back wheel onto (instead of leaning your bike against something), another is a T-shaped stand into which you insert the seatless downtube, perhaps (I don’t know), and then the last one is one he never used at all. It has splayed legs like an ironing board, with a slanted bar contraption onto which you attach your diagonal tube and crank/gear assembly. You can’t imagine it, so maybe I’ll take a picture. He was quite excited about buying it, from a guy out in Woodside, or one of the other -sides in Queens. We went out there on a drizzly grey day, the Saturday before Labor Day or perhaps the Saturday after (it was around my birthday). The guy lived in an apartment on a nice residential street, and brought the pieces of the rack out to us. Moki put them into plastic bags, bin bags I think. Then we had lunch. There was a nice pub/restaurant a block or two away. As it was my birthday or thereabouts we called it my birthday lunch and I had an $18 lamb hamburger which was excellent. Moki astonished at the price. I mean, here we were out in Queens. But it was a gourmet lambburger. Then we walked to the subway in the drizzle.

This was during one of the periods when Moki was again getting excited about bicycling. We’d gone out to the bike expo in Red Hook (formerly downtown, around Pier 17) the previous May, or perhaps the May of the previous year (2018?) and Moki spent $180 on a lighted bike helmet with turn signals, which I don’t think he ever used. He showed it off to Wojeck the doorman who was much impressed. After Moki died Wojeck asked if he could have it. That sounds very forward of him, but he wanted it to be put to good use. So I found it, along with the USB attachment and instructions. Wojeck said he knew how to use it. He’d looked it up and found the price had gone way down.

I am confused about the date, something that doesn’t often happen. When I last looked, the trip to Queens for the bike rack wasn’t in any diary or datebook. I’ll look again. But from emails in late August 2019, it appears Moki found it on Craigslist around then. Surely if we had bought it a year before, he wouldn’t be looking for another rack. By this point we’d settled the bikes in the foyer. In the spring (2019) we pumped them up. But we never took them out. Around the time we were getting ready, Jeffrey Brando came by and smoked some tina with us. So that day was blown. I remember he was going through some problems at work. He was a highly paid specialty nurse but he worked through an agency and right now his wages were being garnished. So he didn’t have much moolah. And then he lost his job or was suspended for reasons I don’t recall. Possibly Moki made notes in diaries or email or text messages. It was around this time that Jeffrey disappeared from Moki’s life. I know he came by once in December 2019 and we smoked a little tina again, one last time. I was a bit ill, and then developed a sore throat and felt iller. I went to the bank and on the way back could barely stand. I had to grip scaffolding along 57th Street to get home. Later I decided this weird sickness was early-adopter COVID-19. It didn’t last long, because a few days later Greg and Jef and Cyan and Spencer and I had dinner together at the Playwright and at that point I told them I had just recently been ill.

The bike rack hung around, unassembled, for a few months. Moki didn’t know how to put it together. There were no instructions. Online I checked out every bike rack i could fine until I found one with a similar conformation. Then I put it together. And I left it assembled until I moved the coat rack from the corner opposite the foyer to the west side of the living room, by the rubberwood table. Needing room, I took it apart and folded it, and that was that for the next couple of years. I don’t know what possessed me yesterday to assemble it.

Because I seldom left town or did anything memorable, 2018-2019 is a very foggy period for me. I wrote a few pieces for Splice in late 2018; that I know. I also had a couple of pieces in the Reader. Two in AmRen in 2019. Saw Colin and Jared in June 2019. In July, I think, Moki and I had dinner on Travers Island with his bicycle tycoon friend, the one who explained the Ashtabula Crank (strange one-piece assembly used by Schwinn and some cheap American bikes). RG sent me on an interview at Spence-Chapin, an adoption agency whose stock in trade seems to be mostly niglets. Met Cyan and Pepper at Time-Warner in July or August. We ate at Chick fil-A and went to Trump Tower. She’d parked the big SUV nearby. Early September I went to election-poll training of a sort on West 19th St, which led nowhere. I never even got paid for the hour or two of training I was supposed to get. The following spring I was assigned to show up at a location in Chelsea in the wee hours of the morning. I walked all the way down but couldn’t find the address.

In August and September 2019 I thought I had some translating work, but it turned out to be a total scam. They sent a fake check and asked for most of it back in a rebate while the bad check was waiting to clear. They were foreigners, deep foreigners, not good with English at all. Someone named Savannah (fake name), forever sending me txt msgs. I wrote a long eulogy for George Mitrovitch that was finally published by the Reader in December.

I chased down some horrible jobs in October 2019. End of the month, I think, I ended up with the strange Robert Brooks thing. He did not have a true office, worked out of a rent-a-cubicle in the East 40s. Not much to do. I started some websites, not much progress. He called a halt to the job after a few days when he went to a conference in Florida for the scammy business of getting aliens work visas. Robert had been tracked for a career in biomed but became a lawyer instead, and not a particularly successful one.

In early 2020 we were hit with COVID. The city shut down, the gyms shut down. I signed up for another horrible job: Census2020. But instead of beginning the work in April or May, we were postponed to late July and August and beyond. One blessing was that I mainly canvassed my immediate neighborhood, basically Park Avenue over to Eighth Ave, in the 50s. Later on as the list grew thinner I had oddball addresses way the hell over in Hells Kitchen. By early October it was all finished. My boss was a theatrical fellow named Larry. I remember once when I slipped up, or he thought I slipped up, he gave me a warning, telling me that the way I conducted myself might determine the course of my future career with the Census. Career? You mean I might actually make a career of this, get a real job? No, that’s not what he meant at all, he was giving me bureaucracy-speak that I might lose the job that was going to end in a couple of weeks anyway. He was not a bad fellow withal. I just wondered why he got to be boss and I didn’t. Oh probably because he’d been an “enumerator” (what I was) at least once before.

Moki was jollier than usual during the Census time. Because I was working, sort of. Talking to Brian a lot on the phone. I had a pleasant chat or two with him. Moki would tell him I was working the Census, or I was down at the gym (NYHRC was gonzo but I’d rejoined Chelsea Piers). Moki decided to try bicycling again in September, so took my bike out on a Sunday afternoon. It was crowded in the Park, he fell down near Fifth Avenue, I suppose near Grand Army Plaza. Someone helped him up. He never took the bike out again. That was curtains for Moki and bicycling.

In early summer 2020 we went for walks in the Park. The squirrels were aggressively friendly, running up to everyone and begging for nuts. Moki was pretty weak on our walks, had to stop and sit every time he saw a bench. Often we entered near Grand Army Plaza, walked past the Thomas Moore bust and down under the archway, past the stone pillars, and then up past the ball fields and the Ballfield Cafe. We sit on a bench at the north end of that loop. it was hot and muggy, and we were chronically fatigued, but we enjoyed those little walks. Often he would stop at the Chinawoman’s for a liter on the way back.Later on, in 2021 and 2022 he was much stronger on these walks. Though mainly we just made our  way up to Tavern on the Green and had a couple of bloodies.

During the deep-Covid-lockdown of 2020 I noticed that a few places over on West 72nd and Columbus Ave were opening up in July, at least with outside tables. I told Moki and we found us a very pleasant place on Columbus around 74th St, across from the shabby Key Foods supermarket. Went there at least twice. Moki didn’t trust himself to walk home one time so we took a cab.

Very sluggish recently, no exercise. Finding it hard still to get up from a squatting position. 1/2 pt last night, I think a bottle of red wine the night before, and probably two half pints the day before that. I need to pay rent. One month’s rent only won’t do the trick. Looking for extra shifts on Deputy. Fortunately I still have a free week ahead of before the back-to-backs on Gov Is.

I finally got the D. Macdonald piece in a couple of mornings ago. A rich and sprawling thing, and I scarcely said anything about the smaller essays in the book. I wanted to say something about Cozzens, but instead went on and on about DM and Tom Wolfe (important) and DM and Orwell (not quite as important, but I have to get that in there). The Cozzens omission may be useful later on if I do my piece about Appointment in Samarra, now 90 years old. “Appointment in O’Hara.” Begin with DM and Cozzens and how that devastating review killed Cozzens’s career. Cozzens says in the Time article (Sept 2, 1957 cover) that he’d been working on the book (By Love Possessed) for eight years, but I find this unlikely. It smells of the lamp and overworkings, and I think he worked on for over twenty. Anyway my theory is that By Love Possessed is bad because Cozzens was trying to do an O’Hara, specifically something like Appointment, but with more cerebrality and less drinking and violence. Both are in small towns in Pennsylvania, both seem to happen in the 1930s (Cozzens was Hap Arnold’s speechwriter and communications officer during the War, but no war intrudes upon the characters of his novel), both concern events that quickly collide upon each other in the space of a couple of days.

Also still out is the Birchers review, the Dallek book, which I wrote a month ago and am sitting on. Then we do The Truth Seeker. Only angle I can arrive at there is that its obsession with atheism now seems to be free-floating, with no purpose. With Smith and Johnson, it was a useful duckblind for all their other dank business, such as publishing Imperium. I have the story of my encounters with TTS, and Ian Hutton, whom I was searching for last August. The Blessing of the Fish in Santa Barbara. Ian Hutton, Storyteller. That would have been Feb 1988. Then in late 1991 there he is again, at the door of The Truth Seeker, downtown near the SD library. The Cartos got to know JHJ back in the 60s when TTS was distributing Imperium. Stayed in touch, WAC expected a bequest, didn’t get it. Elisabeth said how disgusting the guy’s ear was. Decomposing, full of pus. Then Dr. John, that mysterious, yeasty polyglot of Armenian, French, Scots background, born in the French Riviera, raised near London, trained as lawyer at Inn of the Middle Temple, but never practiced. Got medical degree (much easier in England than in America; after university and legal training he could probably complete it in two years). Somehow with this he then transferred to New York. Without an MD? Didn’t really do clinical work. Some kind of psychiatric administrator on Wards Island. (British physicians seldom have MDs or PhDs unless they are in some sort of an academic role or intend to build a private practice. In the main, medical training is largely designed to provide the NHS with an ample supply of bottom-feeders, generic GPs and physicians to staff Accident & Emergency rooms. After secondary school you do six years of combined undergraduate and graduate school and end up with a B.S. in medicine. (Also a B.S. in surgery.) Anyway, Robert John too wanted a piece of the James Hervey Johnson legacy, and after much beseeching he got $600,000, a portion of which was used to publish a paperback book that gently supported race realism and eugenics.


POSTSCRIPT: So it was May 15, 2020 that I somehow discovered the RAD Easy-Fold Bike Stand and sent the PDF flyer to Moki. I suppose I assembled it within the next day. We never got any use of it, after all that.


I found a gastropub in Sunnyside Gardens named The Dog and Duck, and that looks like the nearby bistro where we had lunch on that drizzly day. But unless I find some receipts I’ll never be able to nail down the exact date. And the pub no longer exists. A casualty, possibly, of Covid the following year? I don’t know that this is it, but the NE corner location is what I recall.