Back in the early and mid-eighties I hung around with this cat named Frenchie. He was a longshoreman from Charlestown (MA) with a chronically bad back. If you asked him for help he was just as likely to throw you the finger as give you five bucks. One of Frenchie’s favorite things to say was, “I don’t know nothing about nothing.” He said it all the time.
For a while (two years) my only thought was he was saying it for laughs. Whoever was around would usually laugh. At two years I decided he was saying it because he really meant and believed it. Like – “It’s raining. Let’s play cards. I don’t know nothing about nothing.” This was my observation. Farther down the road (five years) it dawned on me that I didn’t know nothing about nothing. One day, all of a sudden. I was so excited with this revelation I called (from MA) my best friend Bob (in El Cerrito, CA), and when he answered I said, “I’m the thin man.” Bob said, “Who is this?”
It’s such a great question.
If you know another Bob – Dylan – and you know his song “Ballard of the Thin Man”, you know there are two lines which go, “But something is happening here and you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?”
There’s another guy, named Dogen, who lived a while ago, and he once said, “Tonight’s moon is not last night’s moon.” Which is way different from what a friend I had named Chris (in Florida) was always saying – “SSDD.” Same shit, different day. In my mind’s eye I see this cool conversation among Chris, Dogen, and Frenchie. “Same shit, different day.” “Tonight’s moon is not last night’s moon.” “I don’t know nothing about nothing.”
I have vowed (to myself) not to publicly publish anything “esoteric” anymore. Though I woke up today (thanks), different from when I went to sleep last night – “Today’s Buddy is not yesterday’s Buddy” – and it kind of all feels esoteric.
Mr. Dylan again – “You walk into the room. With your pencil in your hand…….You try so hard, but you don’t understand, just what you will say when you get home.”
I think Frenchie said something just like that too. One night in the car.