Was watching On the Waterfront and when Terry Malloy fesses up to Edie (he didn’t know they were gonna knock him off, he says) there is a helluva racket in the background, a huge clattering pounding. It’s a steam pile driver, and I remember seeing one in downtown Milwaukee thirty years ago. One of the loudest sounds I have ever heard, huge bangs amplified off tall buildings. Almost painful. You had to shout to be heard. I remember being startled at the volume, but the locals didn’t seem to notice. They used to build those monsters in Milwaukee and I suppose they were part of the scenery. No one ever said the industrial revolution was quiet.
Anyway, here’s one in upstate Wisconsin somewhere, at a fair. It’s loud, but it’s hammering wood, not steel. You want to hear it slam steel. You won’t forget it. A clang like the gods themselves, almost.
OK, this was an essay about On the Waterfront and I didn’t even write about On the Waterfront. Instead I wrote about something Terry Malloy might have talked about. Method writing, I guess.