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05 April 2009 @ 01:20 am
I feel as if I have been fucked by a god. My lips are tingling, my cheeks are flushed my nose is running, and I was so completely unaware and uncaring of how violently I was shoving food into my face that I discovered a whole new feeling in the joy of eating alone. I recommend the food at Chavella's on Classon as pretty much the best Mexican food to be had in this world or the next, or at least Brooklyn, specifically the potato & chorizo taco and the chicken chipotle one. Please remember to put on the sauce as this makes all the difference.

My Uncle Mark called me earlier today, drunk. It's what he does. Calls me up a little tipsy, sometimes so much as to be a little offensively dumb, other times -like today- just enough to make him voluble. I guess he's sort of a lonely guy. I'm sure he has friends but he doesn't have any kids so I think that puts a lot of extra time on his forty-something year old hands-as well as the hole my grandfather very visibly left in his life. But he does things. He said today he was trying to figure out why his tractor suddenly didn't want to go into reverse. I guess he was taking a break from working on it to call me. Anyway, he called up to ask if I had finished a book he gave me, Grey Seas Under, which is the story of a salvage tug in the mid-20th century that reads sort of like a badly put together series of newspaper articles with lots of meaningless names and dates.

This brought him to talking about as he has told me more than a few times, the fact that him and his brother rebuilt the engine, drive-shaft, and all the accessory bearings and gears on a tugboat from the 1920s when they were kids. They did it for Jack Drury, whose family has been friends with mine since the 1940s, and owned a dairy equipment company and large industrial yard on the Kill Van Kull, and they were paid $1.25 an hour. "Not much money, even then" I said and he said "Yeah, but we learned." And then he talked about kids these days. One facet of the "kids these days" um...discourse...is that they don't have any mechanical skills, which seems pretty valid to me. Not literally, but I think the gap between the regular college-educated person and a person who "works with his hands" is a lot wider than it used to be, because of specialization, the income gap, divergent technology and much else. It's something that bothers me a lot because I'm on one side of it and my family and co-workers are on the other. Not that I seem to them a clutz or a spazz or an total moron like some people. I can change my brake-pads or run a bobcat and I have some idea what journals and bearings are but I don't know what a crocus cloth is and I can't tell what my uncles are talking about when they get into an hour long debate about tractors. So it fascinates me and I do want to learn more.

Today in the shower (of course) when thinking about what my uncle told me, I realized a good opportunity has come up. He and my uncle David spent a whole summer taking the bus across the island and then coming home covered in grease with towels wrapped like turbans around their heads. By an odd coincidence it  was the same one my great-great grandfather, Emil, had worked on for over a decade as the engineer. The interesting thing I found out today is that Emil would not set foot on the thing. It can pay to hear the same story told over and over again. You think to ask different questions.He would tell my uncles stories like how he took down all the plumbing, wiring, gears and whatever else from the ceiling of the engine room and replaced it so that it was just one foot higher so that he didn't have to bend his head when walking around, and he would give advice, but he adamantly refused to go near it. Even when the boat was part of the regatta in New York Bay for the nation's bicentennial, he refused to go. My uncle just said "You could never tell with those old-timers. Sometimes they worked for sixty years on the water and they never wanted to set foot on a boat again." It could make a good story with a little digging, and gives me a chance to learn about more what tugboats must have been like to work on when the work was a little more serious and dangerous.
larger_lielarger_lie on April 5th, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)

you have a nice life
would love to read it.... if u dont mind i m addind you as friend
bootsinrain on April 5th, 2009 07:38 am (UTC)
Hmm. I do think I have a nice life.

You are added back.
larger_lielarger_lie on April 5th, 2009 07:48 am (UTC)
everyone thinks that

thanx for the add
bootsinrain on April 5th, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)
I like to think that I appreciate its vantage points and advantaged points.
the Frumious Bandersnatchfrumiousb on April 5th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)
I've got a tugboat Uncle too, and he's full of stories about the boats that he's worked on. I wish that I lived closer so that I could visit him more.
bootsinrain on April 5th, 2009 07:50 am (UTC)
Oh really? Where? And for what company? Most people that work on tugboats are decent story-tellers. There's lots of time to kill.
the Frumious Bandersnatchfrumiousb on April 5th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)
He's retired now, and lives in Florida. I don't know the name of the company he worked for-- he wasn't on tugboats his whole life. Later on, he fixed up an old steamboat and did tours on the canals. He has four or five old boats that he's currently rebuilding. That's what he's doing with his retirement. :)
bootsinrain on April 7th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Moving to Florida to retire always seems kind of sad; moving to Florida to retire and restore old boats seems wonderful.