Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is, of course, the famous bronze statue
named "The Tourist And The Two Street Musicians"
The basic necessities of life are in the news.
Last night, I pondered getting on the train for Mobile and returning to that city no richer, except for a couple of tee shirts and some hygene stuff.
I was on the Riverwalk. There were few souls milling about. Most of them had coolers full of "ice cold water" for sale for a dollar.
I was thinking of playing, having found in the past that this pays dividends, even when it looks like it couldn't possibly.
The tourists in the city of New Orleans have learned to Ignore.
I have passed hundreds of people, as I walked the entire French Quarter, seeking an ideal spot to set up and play. The typical individual walks with his eyes straight ahead and a "I don't even see you" expression on his/her face.
There are beggars everywhere.
People must feel that "everyone is trying to hustle you out of your money," which is a very unfortunate dynamic. The money has been miniscule for the musicians, while the panhandlers have been out"earning" us, by imposing themselves upon anything that walks on two legs and is not wearing a police uniform, with their incessant begging.
There was one (obviously drunk) guy spewing "Do you have some change, so I can get something to eat," to passersby. He went to "work" on this right after he returned from the evening meal which had been fed at one of the missions, where I saw him eating.
Canal Street, near where I have performed
Some people have a compunction to give to someone who proclaims himself to be hungry. They might feel that it would be cruel to deny a person food, either based upon a biblical verse, or out of a kindness which might be in their nature.
I walked around the perimeter of the quarter. Every head that I saw faced forward, eyes straigt ahead with varying degrees of discomfort evinced by their facial expressions. About one in a hundred even made eye contact. Have these "world travellers" decided that having nothing at all to do with the locals is the best policy?
I didn't make any money at all last night and, frankly, only put a half-hearted effort into it. If I could read the minds of most of the tourists who were walking Royal Street last night, I would say they were thinking "He's distracted with his music right now, let's hurry on by; and remember; don't talk to anyone, unless of course they look like us then; smile."
I was, as I said, contemplating taking the train back to Mobile; penniless and wearing the same shorts that I had on when I left, though with a new tee shirt.
People are saying that it is "slow" now, but will pick up.
Missionaries Give Me Stuff
I was staring out at the sea, wondering how I was going to face the sea of scowling faces back in the Quarter when a couple guys came along pushing a cooler and said that they had "ice cold water." I told them that I hadn't even made a dollar to buy any "ice cold water."
They weren't selling it, though. They were handing it out to the poor, along with hamburgers and chips. I drank a lot of ice cold water and ate a hamburger. They gave me a ziplock bag with hygiene stuff in it and then prayed that I would make money playing music and that my mind and heart would be transformed for the better, also.
I don't know if it worked, because my sleeping spot was found to be destroyed, when I got to it at about midnight, and I had to sleep by the interstate on hay...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This Is New Orleans

Can You Hear My Guitar?
I Meet Dragonfly
Saturday afternoon, I Walked down Bourbon Street and soon realised what the people were talking about who had said that it is not a good place to play, because all the clubs and bars and restaurants have their own music. All their own music was bleeding together, and an acoustic guitar would be seen but not heard.
On Royal Street, there was a man fashioning flowers and crucifixes and things out of palm fronds, like the one's I had seen in Saint Augustine, Florida.
I asked him if he had ever been to Saint Augustine, and he told me that he had been born there. He told me that he was leaving that spot at 5 p.m., and that I could have it after that. I went to explore for another hour and a half, planning upon returning to take the spot. Flower man said that it was "a good spot."
It was in front of an antique shop which was closed for the summer; not a good omen, I thought.
I arrived at the flower guy's spot at a little past five, opened my case and started tuning up.
A large black man, wearing a white shirt and black pants came up to me and told me that he had been planning upon playing the spot, but that he just had gone to get a soda, which he showed me, as if to back up his claim.
I said "Yeah, I've lost my spot before by just running off for a minute, and coming back to find that someone else grabbed it," I said, hoping that he would get my insinuation that he had lost his spot, and that I hoped the soda was worth it.
I played for a few minutes, in between tunings, and made my first dollar playing in The French Quarter.
Then, I saw someone enter the foyer behind me, out of the corner of my eye, and station himself behind my left shoulder. I figured that it was the large black man, perhaps thinking that I would play for a little while, and then he would want equal time.
I have seen his ilk before.
He was either going to wait a little while and, if I didn't make any tips, tell me that I was wasting the spot. "I would have had at least 10 bucks by now, at least, you're wasting a spot that someone else can make something out of!"
Every time I stopped to re-tune, I expected him to say "You need to be tuned up before you sit down and be ready to go! Why don't you let me play while you go somewhere and tune up!"
Then, he would tell me that the music I was playing was the wrong music at the wrong time and played the wrong way for "these people," whose mindsets he would claim to know intimately, from his having experience playing in The French Quarter. "These people don't want to hear that depressing stuff, that's your problem, right there!"
Finally, after playing about 20 minutes and trying to ignore the presence breathing down my neck, (I was sure that he was putting a voodoo hex on my strings to make them fall flat and probably blowing confusion powder down my neck at the same time) I turned to face him.
What I saw was a woman with red hair and three black spots painted on her forehead. It hadn't been the large black man, after all.
It was Dragonfly, the tarot card reader. I know this is out of sequence, because I already pissed off Dragonfly after the laced drink incident, but that is how I met Dragonfly, and she gave me 5 bucks to have the spot.
I took the 5 bucks, thinking that any spot can be a good spot, unless it is on the moon. The Moon Walk, down by the river is OK, though.
How I Met Sue, The Latina Woman
Then, Saturday night, up walked a latina lady, who was carrying a cat with her, in a cat carrier about the size of a mailbox.
She and I talked about the plight of the homeless. She is tryig to get a job and has not had any success.
She sat by me as I played, and offered me suggestions, such as "Try to get some nice clothes and dress up," and "Play songs that everybody knows."
She meant well, but I had to hold my tongue a couple times. I almost ran her off, telling her "Listen, I've been doing this long enough to have found a little niche, and it isn't dressing up and playing 'Old Time Rock-n-Roll' by Bob Seager. I eventually calmed down, and she eventually moved on.
I saw her later on that night and bought her a beer.
I told her about my excellent spot for sleeping (air conditioned, plush carpet) and thought that I would show her to it, but she wanted to go to her own spot, which is kind of in the same neighborhood. She has been attacked by crazies before, after being invited to their places. She is about 4 ft. 10 inches tall and weighs about 95 pounds. She is Cuban (I think) and is probably older than me. She doesn't talk much about her past.
I ran into her the next morning and she bought me a yogurt with blueberries and granola type thing at the Tulane Medical cafeteria. Someone had laid 6 dollars on top of her pocketbook, as she was sleeping on a bench outside the casino. She spent $2.80 of it on me.
Sue said that she has some stuff in a storage box in some other state. It is only 40 bucks per month, but she is about to fall behind two months and is in danger of losing what little she has. I was hoping for a substantial tip when I played that night, so I could help her pay her fee.
Admittedly, I would have to have someone drop "a couple bills" on me, in order to be able to afford it, but, when you're playing Bob Seger, er, Grateful Dead songs to drunken gay guys (see below), you never know...
This morning, we met at the same spot at 7 p.m. (on the nose) and went in quest of clothing. Sue (as that is her name) thought that they were giving out clothing at a place all the way across the French Quarter, and so we bent our steps that way.
We stopped and got drinks at a convenience store half way there. A bird promptly dropped a turd from high above us. It landed in Sue's drink. Only a bit of it hit the top of the can, which was lucky for her as it alerted her to what had happened.
"What are the odds of a bird landing it's crap right through the little hole in the top of a soda can?," asked Sue.
"This is New Orleans," was all I could muster as a reply.
The place where we went at 8:30 didn't open for another 5 hours. She decided to wait, while I walked back to the west side of the quarter, where I met a man who was waiting at a bus stop. He asked me about music, told me that he grew up in New Orleans but was disappointed upon returning to find it what it is.
He gave me two dollars and suggested that I go to a place up the street called "Covenant House," where they used to give out clothing to the poor ("...but that was 20 years ago...").
I was told by the lady at the front desk that Covenant House was now only for homeless youths, aged 16 to 21, and that they stopped giving out clothing about 6 years ago.
I guess I managed to charm her out of the 2 tee shirts that she gave me, probably by mentioning that I had to wash the one I was wearing twice daily in the fountain outside of Capital Bank. Some people go there looking for venture capital to start a business; some to wash their shirt in the fountain out front -we all have different "banking needs."
John Barrett
Last night (Monday), I made a measly 5 dollars, and it was not from playing music; it was after chatting with a couple, who had set up photo equipment and were waiting for the sun to dip to the horizon, in order to capture the effects of the smoke of a huge forest fire which is raging in East New Orleans. They were thinking that it would make for interesting colors. I will go to the website that they gave me (along with the 5 bucks, although I made it clear that I didn't want them to think that I had talked to them for a half hour as a pitch for money).
That about catches things up. It is Tuesday.
Southern Decadence Festival 2011
You're going to have to do better than
just playing "Karma Chameleon" over and over...
Things have been slow, everyone admits it. Another musician apologized to me for being rude "the other night," claiming that he was very upset over not having made more than two dollars and he wasn't in any mood to talk. It's a good thing he wasn't, for if I talked I may have been equally rude from being upset over not having made more than two dollars.
But, there is good(?) news. At least there is hope.
The Southern Decadence Festival is coming this weekend!!
They (we) (I) are expecting more than 100 thousand homosexual men to invade the east end of the French Quarter, which is already a gay stronghold. 100 thousand gays, all in one place. Where is your suitcase bomb when you need it...D' oh!! (just kidding, of course)
But, I am hoping that by playing Elton John, David Bowie and maybe throwing a little Barry in there (Mannilow), I should be able to make some money and have a gay ol' time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Should have seen it in the cards...

I Barely Escape Mobile
Thursday, August 25th was the day that I had finally decided to leave Mobile, instead of waiting upon things to improve.
I went to a spot to catch the next train to New Orleans, a spot which was near the International Trade Center building, which was where I was arrested for trespassing, back in April.
I sat and waited for the train. It came and stopped with a grain car right in front of me. I threw my bag and my guitar on the flat platform which that type of car has at each end, in like a cubbie hole.
I had just sat down when I saw a Mobile Police car coming down the road in my direction. He drove to the where the road dead-ended at the railroad tracks and spun around, parked and then sat there, about 100 feet from where I sat. It was a spot which would give him the element of surprise if I was to emerge from the bushes and step onto forbidden property.
The same people who had me arrested for trespassing must have called the police upon spotting me nearby. They might have thought that I was going to use their water spigot again and were prepared to throw me in jail for every ounce that I took.
The train ride
Thankfully, the train began to move. I ducked down and peered through a small hole which was cut into the side of the grain car as I passed the cop sitting in his car, probably watching in his rear view mirror for me to emerge and take one step onto the state property, so he could make the bust.
A little further along, to my left, was a Port Authority cop, who seemed to be positioning himself to offer backup, in case I should have decided to make a run for it. Tax money well spent in protecting a water spigot from unauthorized use; but all for not, this time. Sorry, taxpayers.
As the train picked up speed and entered the tunnel under the Mobile Convention Center, I couldn't help wondering if the cops were eventually going to call the CSX Railroad people and tell them that they might have a train
hopper on their hands, after I seemed to vanish into thin air. This concerned me the first few times the train stopped, starting in West Mobile. I eventually figured out that they were stopping to let other trains pass them in spots where there were two sets of tracks.
It was loud. I tried yelling and could barely hear myself. I sat and read Beach Music, by Pat Conroy, in between watching the scenery going by and trying to estimate the speed of the train by counting seconds between known distances, like the distance between utility poles. We were doing around 65 miles per hour, according to my math. No car running parallel to the train on the 50 mph speed limit road, passed it.
It was fun, at times. It went through Gulfport and Biloxi, as noted on their respective water towers.
After crossing the 20 miles of swamp of which I was told to expect, the train finally started to slow and I noticed that we were passing by a huge junkyard.
(I later learned that the huge junkyard was the city of New Orleans.)
The smell of urine assaulted me, to go along with the visuals of a city still recovering from natural disaster.
Getting off the train, I had to wander a while in order to find a way to get out of the rail yard.
I got to a little store, where I spent one of my three dollars on a beer, and asked directions to The River walk. I was told that it was "like six miles; maybe ten," by someone who is depth-perception challenged, I assume. I kept asking people and they kept pointing in the same direction. I walked on into the night, past rubble and decrepit buildings.
I Find A Place To Sleep
Eventually making it to the downtown area, I found myself tired from carrying all my stuff 6 miles, or maybe 10, and parched. I began to search downtown New Orleans for a water fountain (that's a bubbler to you New Englanders), and, finding none, began to look in trash cans until I found a half full bottle of spring water. It was in a can in front of a reputable bank, so I gambled upon the safety of drinking it. Dying of thirst was a pretty good bet otherwise.
Then, the same search for water led me to a place where I could feel cool air coming out of a huge vent on a building which was under construction. Eventually , the leak will probably be sealed but for now, it blows into a little tunnel, made of scaffolding and plywood and serving as a temporary entrance to a not often used door.
There was a shopping cart with a few things in it, and a piece of cardboard over a scrap of carpet, and a little backpack. Everything except the homeless guy. A quick inspection of the backpack (for informational purposes, not to steal anything) led me to think that the owner might not be trying to sleep there that night. The most recent date on anything in the bag was two years past. Plus, it was already 2 a.m. -pretty late for the average homeless guy to be out since most of them have to be out of their sleeping spots at sun up, before someone shows up for work at the reputable bank.
There was a fountain right down the street with chlorinated water shooting high into the Louisiana night, which made for a good washing machine. People had thrown change into it for luck, I suppose. I took 80 cents and left the rest in it for luck, I suppose.
The next morning, I walked towards the downtown area. I stopped at the first motel, a Holiday Suites, I think was the name, and asked the front desk lady if there was a water fountain there. She directed me to it, as opposed to telling me that it was for guests only, which was a good sign. The water was ice cold and delicious. (4 Stars for the Holiday Suites in NOLA.)
Arriving at Canal Street, on the edge of the French Quarter, I ran into my first homeless guy, who was panhandling by the Walgreens at the trolley stop.
I tried to probe him for information about "resources for the homeless," like food and clothing, but all I could really get out of him was that he needed a dollar and some change in order to get a pint of vodka; and then he would be all set, not a care in the world...
That night, I played for money for the first time in New Orleans. I made $11.50, and five of that was from a tarot card reader named "Dragonfly," who gave me the five bucks for my spot because she said it was her spot, but wanted to be fair about it....
$11.50. Welcome to the "Big Easy."
Someone Laces My Drink
People have told me that, in New Orleans, people will just walk up to you and hand you money or beer or drinks or food.
Someone gave me a tall plastic cupfull of a red liquid, which he told me was a "hurricane," as I was playing on Canal Street, late Saturday night. I knew that the drink came from one of the establishments, as evidenced by the cup it was in, and the fact that the young guy had just emerged from the place. I trusted it in that regard. It tasted like it had tequila, rum and fruit punch.
It turned out that I lost the next two hours and had to listen to people the next day tell me of the things that I did, that I would never do.
I think that the guy who gave me the drink was innocent of wrong-doing. I don't think he planned upon following me until I sucumed, and then stealing my guitar. I think whoever gave it to him was probably a fag who had plans for the guy. I wasn't followed; but rather was saved by running into another guy who I went to the park with, before walking around town spaced out.
Dragonfly, the tarot card reader is angry with me because I supposedly walked up to the lady who was having her cards read by another tarot card reader, "Shadowman,"  and asked her for a dollar for a beer.
The tarot card readers were the first friends that I made when I came here. I would never want to do a thing like that to them; I would never ask anyone for money like that either.
He said that I was "really spaced out."
Shadowman has forgiven me, Dragonfly, not yet. "This is New Orleans," said the forgiver...

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Have 2 Minutes To Post

I took the train
to New Orleans, where I am now.
I wanted to play last night, but it took me till 2 a.m. to get to the French Quarter, so I found a place to sleep (in front of an A/C vent) and now it is the next day, and I think I am doing well so far.
I think God wants me here; ironically (with a capitol "i") 13 seconds left;;bye

Thursday, August 25, 2011

fac conclusionem (Prepare Chains)

Last Night,
I grilled a bunch of food, while drinking a 4-pack of Steel Reserve.
The food came out quite well. It was sausage, egg and cheese and burger on biscuit; not my usual fare but, I find that, before I embark upon a journey, my body forgives me the sin of eating stuff like the above; so that it can obtain the protein and the animal blood, which might help, should the journey become strenuous, or should I have to do battle.
Then, I went to the tracks and watched for trains. I fell asleep in the process, waking up around 4 a.m. when a train had come to a stop in front of me.
There was a grain car right in front of me.
I was expecting it to back up and drop off cars, but it surprised me by continuing on in the same direction. This, combined with the fact that I was thirsy, and had not filled a water bottle, made me decid to get a later train.
I will try again this afternoon.
I want to arive in New Orleans while it is still light outside.
I flipped open my bible to a random passage this morning, and got this from Ezekiel 7:23: 
“‘Prepare chains!
For the land is full of bloodshed,

and the city is full of violence.
There's some encouragement to go to New Orleans! 
That's about it. I am in Mobile and at the library. I will see if Wilma came into work today and if she has those shirts that she mentioned giving to me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Only Me

Last night, I started out flat broke, played about a half hour and some people gave me two dollars and fifty one cents.
On my way back from the Exxon, where I drank two beers, I stopped on the sidewalk in front of the swank hotel, to listen to the jazz pianist, who was inside.
A well dressed man came outside and asked me about my music. He told me that I should talk to the guy on piano because "he likes jamming with other people."
The man was pretty well "lit" on what I later discovered was wine, and was more inclined to overlook the fact that my clothes were dirty, I had worked up a sweat playing, and the fact that there is "more to it" than just breaking out a guitar and jamming along with a jazz pianist. For one thing, my (un-amplified) instrument is tuned one whole step below "concert" pitch, approximately. It is the "approximately" part which would have been an issue.
Soon, we were joined by two more well dressed people. A man and a woman whose left arm had been bitten off, half way up her forearm, by what I later found out was an alligator. Her name was Roxanne. I learned this, because she asked me to play the song "Roxanne" on my guitar, which I managed to sound out, based upon having once played it in 1979. Does she know that it's about a whore?
The four of us talked about Mobile. The second well dressed gentleman asked for a light and told me that he only smoked when he was unemployed, which he wasn't ashamed to admit that he then was. He lives in Washington, D.C., where his wife and newborn son were. He added that he couldn't smoke in front of his wife, for the sake of the baby, and because she would scold him. He was sneaking a few cigarettes, 900 miles away from her. He didn't own a lighter because it would be evidence against him if his wife found it.
They wanted to know what I thought about Mobile, which led to an interesting discussion, given the fact that I am on the verge of leaving "The Bay City," because, in my opinion, I wasn't making it there.
My answer to the obligatory "What brings you to Mobile," question, turned into a discussion about Saint Augustine, Florida. The first well dressed gentleman said that he had considered sending his daughter to Flagler College, which is there, but sent her to Tampa College instead.
The second well dressed gentleman asked me if I cared for a glass of wine. He soon emerged with a glass of what looked and tasted like Cabernet Sauvignon, though when he handed it to me, he said "All they had was pinot." After a sip I told him, "No, I think this is Cabernet." He might have been playing with me, or the bartender was playing with him.
So, There I was, the guy who comes by with a guitar on his back and picks the ashtrays, and who has been run off on at least one occasion, joining three of their well dressed patrons in glasses of "pinot," and the staff could only look on, not wanting to offend their guest by running him off.
They were very much music and art enthusiasts and seemed to accept the stains on my clothing and my unkempt appearance as being tools of my trade.
I played "Crazy About A Crazy Girl," one of my originals. Someone threw a dollar in my case, and someone else a twenty (probably the guy who had considered sending his daughter to Flagler College).
Another glass of wine was offered, which I accepted, noticing that this one was in a plastic cup and not a goblet, like the first one. This might be standard procedure for any wine which is to be consumed outside on the sidewalk, or it may have been the bartender thinking "It's just the street musician."
And the day ended, and I went to sleep with 22 dollars and 87 cents on the porch of The Christ Church, a few feet away from another homeless guy who stirred briefly when I lied down, but upon seeing who I was, went right back into a peaceful sleep, as if thinking: "It's just the street musician." 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Their Final Coupe

The End Of Days 
I woke up thinking that this would be my last day in Mobile, unless I decided to come back some day. This would only be the case should I decide that the new place was actually worse than Mobile. *sound of people giggling

I'll Tell You Where You Can Put That Egg!

Plot Hatched Against Me
Then, the city's demons threw everything at me which they could, in a last-ditch attempt to destroy me, while it still had time.
I couldn't go to the Presbyterian to get a hard boiled egg, because I have been barred from there. The barring offence occured a couple mornings ago.

They were handing out slices of bread, scooping out peaches and grits, and of course, dealing hard boiled eggs, that fateful morning.
Standing by the coffee pot was a street person who has somehow found a job, helping out around the church, in exchange for, I don't know what.

He is a tall black guy with a shaved head, and has been there for at least as long as I have been going to The Coffee Club.

He is the guy responsible for telling everyone to leave at a specified time, and the one who wipes down the tables, after they do so. He always seems to be in a rush to get everyone to leave in a timely manner, as if he is pressed for time and must wipe down the tables, put up the chairs, mop the floor and then hurry off to some important engaugement.

Often, I am one of the last stragglers, because I wait for the line of people to finish pushing and shoving and complaining about the bread or the egg that they got for free, before moving to their tables, which they have marked as "their territory" by leaving a hat or some other object sitting upon it. I then walk up casually, get my egg and then sit off in the corner, on a set of steps instead of at a table.
This deprives them the satisfaction of saying "Someone's sitting there," at every spot that I might attempt to sit at. It gives the impression that I am aloof and anti-social; a correct impression, for once, out of their arsenal of them.

So, on this particular morning, the tall black guy with the shaved head was entrusted with the responsibility of handing out a bag of chips to everyone, to complement the egg breakfast, which he did; to everyone except myself. When I got to his station, he pulled the bag of chips back, holding them away from me and stood there looking at me.

I didn't really even want the chips. I mumbled something to the effect of "Oh, you only give them to who you want to, I guess."
I sat down and ate the rest of the breakfast, and as I did, I started thinking about the unfairness of his actions. Before I left, I went to the guy who looked like he could be in charge; the guy spooning out the grits; and complained.

He assumed a demeanor very similar to the guy who wouldn't give me a bag of chips, and basically asked me what I expected him to do about it, claiming to have no authority in the matter, and then diverted his attention, trying to ignore me.
I was hung over, and knew that I was leaving Mobile soon, and so I tried a little experiment.
"I could shoot the guy," I said.
The guy who spoons out the grits suddenly snapped to life and said "What did you say? Get out, and don't come back!"

The bums must have all been inside, getting their eggs
when this picture was taken....
He didn't have the authority to tell the part time worker to please give me a bag of chips, like he did everyone else, but he now had the authority to bar me from The Coffee Club.
I had always had a sneaky suspicion that the motives of The Government Street Presbyterian Church, were not spawned by a love of the homeless, and a willingness to serve them in the name of God, but rather, they probably recieve some kind of tax deduction, or a grant from some agency.
I couldn't resist shaking the bush to see what flew out.

Typical of a lot of "Christians." They wouldn't recognize Jesus Christ if he walked up to them on the street.

So, I didn't go in there for breakfast, obviously.
Their food isn't healthy for me to consume, given the amount of margerine that they use, and the fact that eggs arent' the best things for me, if I'm trying to be the best that I can be. This is another (subconscious) reason that I think I did what I did; to protect myself from myself and keep from going in there.

I went to Save-A-Lot, instead and had some bananas and yogurt and an energy drink.

A bum, whom I haven't seen in a while (since the last time he begged me), asked me for a couple dollars out front.

I told him "I do what I can to help the homeless, but I'm way over budget this month," and walked off.
Why he didn't instead ask any of the people who were getting out of cars and wearing nice clothes for a couple dollars, is beyond me, unless it has to do with the fact that one of them might be an undercover cop and arrest him for panhandling.

Then, it was to the library, to try, once again, to meet Wilma, who had said she might have some clothes and toiletries and even cigarettes to give me. She wasn't there. I guess that was karma coming back to me for refusing the bum his beer money. The bum would say that was exactly what it was.

So, I am faced with the choice of staying over one more day, hoping to get the stuff, or hopping the train to New Orleans.

I then went to Wings Of Life to eat.

They ran out of rice on the guy in front of me in line, and tried to compensate by giving me more beans, which I didn't want to eat. The sermon before the meal was about loving "your neighbor as yourself."

I can't do it right now. I'm sorry, but I hate the guts of half of those people in there. They yell "amen" and "hallelujiah" and then are pieces of crap to everyone around them, the rest of the day. The God I love would overturn the tables and smear them all with rice and beans.

What Did I Do To Warrant This?
I then went to the Federal Building to ask them to remove the warrant, which is still in the computer for the charges which were dismissed against me, a month ago.

I couldn't find a picture, but the building kind of looked like this

It showed up the last time I was harrassed by the local cops.
They put me in the back of their cruiser that time, and stood around making wisecracks and flirting with the women who walked by for 45 minutes, before letting me out, uncuffing me; and with totally changed attitudes, telling me that the warrant was "inactive." They told me that I should do something about removing it from the computer, or I would face the same ordeal anytime or anywhere the cops ran my ID.

At the Federal building, the security woman who "mans" the metal detectors, and who makes a little over minimum wage, and who has job security working for the government was her usual arrogant self.

I told her that I wanted to speak with someone at the Marshall's Office.

She wanted to know "who?."

I told her that I didn't know "who," but was hoping that the Marshall's Office could direct me to the right person to help me with my situation.

She told me that I had to be more specific. Some things are not your business, peon!

Knowing that the warrant was inactive and wanting to see her reaction, I said "I want to ask them to please remove the federal fugitive warrant which is upon me nationwide, so I don't keep getting arrested."

I could visibly see the blood drain from her face.

"I'm going to have to see your ID."
Of course you are going to have to.
Here we go...

She took my ID (the temporary paper one, good for another 6 days) and said "I'll be right back."

She was soon "right back" with another security guy, a white haired guy, (close to that government pension) who was eyeing me with interest.

They got on their radio's and talked to the Marshall's Office. The female officer put her walkie-talkie down on the desk in front of her and then, thinking better of it, moved it to the other end of the desk, out of my reach, as if I might turn it into a weapon against her if I had to make an escape.

I knew that they were thinking: "We don't care if the warrant is in the computer by mistake or not; if it exists, then the Marshalls have to make an arrest and let a judge sort it out." I could see it in their faces. They were practically drooling in anticipation of seeing this smart-assed guitar player led away in cuffs -probably had a smart remark prepared for the moment the cuffs snapped shut, like "Thanks for stopping by, come again! Hee Hee Hee!"

Then, a request came from upstairs for my name, date of birth and social security number. I knew that this was persuant to their check upon me, which would probably yield the same warrant.

In the meantime, the two security people were doing their best to talk about an earthquake and other things, and not try to tip me off that I might be in danger of being arrested right where I stood. I didn't know if the marshalls were whispering "Keep him there, stall him!" or what. I wanted to test them by saying that I was going to step outside and smoke a cigarette, to see if they said "You'd better stay here and wait (in case they come out of the elevator presently. They're pressed for time, very busy, they are...)"

The elevator opened, and out stepped two Marshalls, wearing sidearms and tasers. I recognised one of them from my arrest two months ago.

They played it off just like it was going to be an arrest. "Mr. McKenna," said the one whom I recognised. "Step over this way. Come around the metal detector. Step through this door!"

I walked around the metal detector towards them.

To the security officers: "Does he have all his personal belongings on him?" This to infer that we might be going "somewhere."

The female officer told him that I had all my personal stuff, and the white haired one took advantage of his golden opportunity to make some kind of smart remark, thinking that I was going to jail; something like "But I was only here to get a check!" (which was what I was there to do the previous time, and which he thought was the reimbursement for time spent falsely imprisoned, which people who have high paying jobs get if they are held on a charge which is later dismissed. My days arent worth the same as those kind of people, economically. I was just picking up the balance of my jail account, about 57 bucks, but the white haired guard didn't know, and I kept him in the dark. I think it angered him to think that I had gotten over on the government).

After being led into the foyer, the marshall told me that I had warrants in North Corolina and in Florida. I already knew about them, and knew that those counties wouldn't extridite. That would bring me back into their lives. I knew that he knew too, but he was doing a good job of acting like he was still about to bust me. He was posturing himself as if ready to reach for his handcuffs and tell me to put my hands behind my back.

"There's no federal warrant for you, though." (In a rare show of efficiency, it must have been deleted after it was found to be inactive).

So, on the eve of my third attempted departure from Mobile, it looked like I was going to be shanghied a third time.
I resisted the urge to thumb my nose at the security people as I walked out.

Then, I went to the Licence Commision to check upon my ID which was mailed to my friends and subsequently returned to the Licence Commision. They weren't there. They don't work on Tuesdays. Of course, they don't work on Tuesdays. I wasn't surprised.

Then I made my way past the scowling faces, the lame, disabled hobblers with their canes, the bums staring with somebody please help me looks on their faces, more scowling faces (I even tried forcing a smile, thinking that I might just be getting back what I was putting out, only to see expressions that evinced resentment at seeing me appear to be happy)

And now, I once again decide wheather to stay or go. I still have a backpack and a guitar, but the demons of Mobile are plotting their last coupe...the guitar and backpack would be the icing on the cake...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Can I Last The Last Day?

There is a fountain just like this in Mobile
And The Lord Spoke to me in Bienville Park,
And His voice sounded like the rushing of many waters, and He said: "Leave! Get out of Mobile! Can't you take a hint?!?"
Last Of Stuff Taken
It is Monday.
Saturday, I went to the Christ Church Spot to find that the last of my stuff, which was a sleeping bag and another bag full of non perishable food items, was taken from the spot in the bushes where they had been hidden successfully, off and on, for a year.
This makes my decision to leave Mobile, pretty much academic.
Not so much to tote.
It is the people that, largely make a place "good" or "bad" to live in. However, it is also the geography that makes varying degrees of difference.
For example, the people of New Orleans may be very nice and have good hearts, but, they demonstrate a basic level of stupidity, in choosing to inhabit a patch of land which is under sea level and is "one hurricane away" from being washed off of the face of the earth.
The people of Mobile labor under the same disillusionment, thinking that their "heaven on earth" might be created out of this hot and muggy river delta.
I have encountered some nice people but, for the most part, there is an almost evil oppression hanging over the residents. The economy is a factor in that. There are also swarms of the homeless and/or disabled, who seem to have come here seeking to be taken care of by the government, and by the residents who have jobs and whom they beg incessantly. Plus, there are some of the weirdest freaks that I have ever seen, like Thomas Antione, whom a lot of people call "The Pink Man," because of the color of his skin, which he sports atop his shaved head. He is a "skinhead," "neo-Nazi" and claims that his father was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy (Ok, he popped up from a sewer grate and fired the fatal shot. I've seen a picture of one of the infamous "four hobos" and one is the spitting image of Thomas, by the way). He walks around carrying nothing but what is in his pockets. He often grins for no apparent reason, as if listening to some inner comedian. There are at least three of his ilk, who skulk around the downtown streets of Mobile. Take your pick, they're all equally wacko; I just don't have the space here to describe them all.
Waiting on Wilma
I once again postponed my trip after I talked to one of the librarians here named Wilma. She told me to meet her here on Saturday, and she would give me some clothing and hygiene stuff. She also asked me what kind of cigarettes I smoked, giving me further incentive to wait a couple more days before leaving.
She wasn't here.
I had previously postponed the trip while waiting upon my ID card to be sent through the mail. During those two weeks, I saw what money I had evaporate, (along with some possessions, that I had stashed.) The ID never arrived. I wasted 20 bucks, two weeks, and now will be thrown in jail by the New Orleans police on anything they can think of, just so they can get my prints and "ID" me, as soon as I tell them that I have none.
Mobile seems to have a consciousness which is bent upon my destruction. Could it be, Oh, I don't know....Satan??
I had never used this picture from '06, because
I had barbecue sauce all over my arm.
Solution: Cut off my arm!!
I Am Fed Up
Sunday, I walked to the Central Presbyterian Church. I was in time for the free breakfast, even though I didn't plan upon eating.
I was appalled to see a bunch of the regular crew of free meal eaters there; the one's that are usually at 15 Place, being fed. Very few of them would be staying for the church service.
Some churches feed the meal after their church service, and some even require attendance at the service in order to eat. The Presbyterian does it the opposite way, which is smart. Why have a bunch of antsy non-believers disrupting the dynamic of the service, then racing off toward the food,  before the "amens" have even quit reverberating.
I decided to approach the line of tables which were set up and off of which the servers were spooning out something that looked like quiche or omelet, along with grits and a biscuit. They also had cantaloupe, which is what I had my sights on as I neared the tables.
The regular crew of "freegans," were in their usual form and, seeing me approach the tables, jumped out of their chairs and rushed in front of me. They seemed to fear that they would not be able to get "seconds" if the food ran out through me getting "firsts." Yes, they wanted a second plate and didn't care if someone else didn't get a first. 
Canes, Because They Aren't Able
This was remarkable for the fact that the majority of them were rushing to jump in front of me using canes and other walking sticks for assistance. You see, "assistance" comes in forms other than free omelets and grits from churches. The majority of them are getting Social Security benefits for being "disabled," with the cane being the implement of choice in perpetrating their frauds. If their case workers could only see how nimble they are when racing to the front of the food line, they might re-evaluate their conditions, and cut their monthly checks out of the state's budget.
Housing, disability checks, free meals, narcotics (prescribed for phantom, undetectable pain), which can be sold on the street for additional income, and enough of the population who have jobs and whom they can beg; add it all up and Mobile is a pretty good place to trade your dignity for a free ride through life. It's enough to make the working man (like myself) disgusted. I would open up a walking stick store, to capitalize upon them but I fear that they would circumvent my business by contriving a way to get free walking sticks off of the government. 
I'm Sure Dante would concur that these people are
risking a purgatory spent  being chased throughout
eternity by a giant walking stick insect!
I go to New Orleans, not expecting to find people who could be deemed "the salt of the earth," as those folk would have been dissolved and washed away. I rather might expect to meet "the brackish of the earth."
I am hoping not to be inconvenienced or become victimised by their stupidity, and that the tourists who are merely passing through will be generous in supporting my music.
Diversification Planned
I have also had a revelation in which I realised that I can work on pencil sketches that I can display around me when I am playing and which I can sell for extra income.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Hear That Train A Comin'

My Welcoming Committeee
...nothing but the dead and dying, back in my little town...
A friend of mine, who had been on the road travelling, said that, in two days back in Mobile he found it to be "one of the most depressing places" that he had ever been to.
People walk with scowls on their faces here.
So many people hobbling on canes. Do they come here just seeking to apply for "disability" checks???

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Or, "How To Cook A Chicken"

I Cook A Chicken
Yesterday morning, I ran into a guy who told me that he was cooking some chicken somewhere. He brought me to the spot, which was a slab of concrete which used to be the foundation of a building, but which now was overgrown with vegetation and ocluded from view from all sides.
His "chicken" was sitting atop a pile of ashes, which had been his fire. He was burning plastic, amongst other things. The half burned, half raw chicken sat there, having snuffed the flames out when it fell on them. Flies had taken advantage of the situation, and needed to be shoed away, all two dozen of them.
He grabbed some more plastic bags and went to work relighting the fire. "These things burn like crazy," he said. Yeah, because they have petroleum in them. I cringed.
He soon had a roaring flame, which spewed black smoke, going. A lot of black smoke, in fact, enough to give meaning to every fire-truck siren which I heard in the distance.
Then, he rebalanced the chicken parts on a small piece of spring from a mattress, or something, and resumed "cooking" it.
He had some honey packets, probably from Serda's Coffee, and some other sauce, pilfered from some other venue, ready to go on the chicken. Plastic smoked honey and mustard chicken with fly droppings. Yum.
As I was walking away, after telling them that something had suddenly come up and that I needed to get going, it occured to me that, despite having to witness the pathetic spectacle (his "roommate" was laying prone on the concrete a few feet away from the "grill," using his hands as a pillow, while he was getting "breakfast" ready), I now had a place where I could cook on a fire.
I retrieved my cooking grate from the graveyard, collected up some white oak wood, bought some chicken breasts, retrieved my hot sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil and vinegar from the Christ Church spot, and then went to the concrete slab.
Using cinder blocks to position the grate so it wouldn't fall into the fire, I soon had a nice "smokeless" fire going, using the technique of starting with extremely small kindling and gradually building up, so as to reduce the smoke output to a minimum.
I waited until the flames had died down and I could hold my hand 5 inches over the grate for 5 seconds, but no longer, placed the grate down by itself for a minute to sterilize it, sanitised my hands with some stuff that the Lidgleys sent from London (thank you, Lidgleys), and then put the chicken breasts on, letting them slowly heat up. I was planning upon taking a full half hour to cook them, this after letting them marinate in the vinegar from a jar of pickles for about 15 minutes.
They came out absolutely perfect.
I left a piece wrapped in plastic for those poor hapless souls to try, as soon as their hospitalizations for stomach viruses from the day before have ended. I also left a note: "There is nothing wrong with this chicken. I sanitized my hands and cooked it all the way. -Guitar Man."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Going Mobile

A Night For Flight
Tonight just might be the night that I get on the train bound for New Orleans.

Monday, August 15, 2011

That's All I'm Saying

What Was He Trying To Say??
Jacob's Lager
Saturday night, I sat at the acoustically superior spot and thought I played pretty well. I didn't make a dime, even though about 25 people walked by during the hour and a half that I was there. They were all lost in their conversations and oblivious. I was totally broke, so I couldn't even seed my case. I want to get another fake dollar, like the kind that Christians leave on the sidewalk, which look real enough to cause people to bend over and pick them up, whereupon they realise that it is a bible "tract," and not legal tender. They make good seeding "money." 
I then went up to the spot by the hot dog cart guy and, at a few minutes past midnight, a young black lady put five bucks in my empty case. I ran down to the store and got two beers, drinking them as I walked back. A beggar asked me for one of them. I almost hit him. 
On the way back to my spot, I ran into a guy named Jacob, who was from across the bay and who had left his ID across the bay, and so was stuck outside while his friends were inside a club. He asked me where I was going to play and if he could come and sit with me. "I play some. I've been playing for six years," he added. He told me that, to pass the time, while waiting on his friends, he was just sitting in the car "drinking a 12-pack of beer." Perfect.
We got to the spot around 1 am. He had stuffed a few cans of beer in his cargo pants pockets (those things hold more than it appears that they would) and we cracked them open, hiding them behind us in between sips.
I did a few songs and added a couple bucks to the three, which were left after buying the beer.
Jacob asked if he could play the guitar. I told him that he could, but asked him to change places with me, so he would be sitting by the case. "We can split any tips that might materialise."
He played pretty decently, for a sixth-year student. One good thing was that, given his age of 20 years (which made it impossible for him to get in the club without his ID) he knew the "next generation" of songs, one's which were from the 2000's, as opposed to the late 70's, early 80's stuff that I play. In this way, he cast a net for snaring the tip money of those his age, which turned into a five, a few ones and another five, within a brief amount of time.
I switched from backup vocals to guitar and played, while he ran to get more beer from his car. I was happy to have made at least something, though 17 bucks looks like more than it is, when it is composed of two five dollar bills, and the rest ones. I had gathered from our conversation that he probably wouldn't want half of the tip money, since "across the bay" is where the wealthy folk live, he kept running to the forty thousand dollar car for more beer, and was periodically using his 500 dollar "i"-phone to check with his friends in the club. I was right on that account.
When 3:30 a.m.came, and his friends emerged from the club, he left me with two beers, got this blog address (ooh, must be careful what I write) and then told me that the money in the guitar case was "all you."
By four in the morning, I was back at my sleeping spot with about 17 bucks and change, and my alarm set to go to church at the Central Presbyterian Church in a mere three and a half hours.
Normally, there would be no way in hell (excuse the pun) that I would jump up hung over and on three hours of sleep and walk almost two miles to a church service but, at 8:30, the sun was already beaming down upon me, making it too hot to sleep. It would reach 100 degrees that day.
Sleepers Awake
I am also sleeping at the Christ Church spot, where it is not a good idea on a Sunday morning to sleep in too late. That is kind of their busy day. I marvel at the enormity of that edifice and at the fact that it basically exists all for a couple of hours every Sunday, and maybe some kind of small gathering on Wednesday nights. So much brick and mortar and lush appointments inside, all for two hours on Sunday!
They also run the air conditioning 24/7, probably to keep the humidity level down so as to protect the lush appointments inside.

I have never been inside the Christ Church. I might some time.
From what I have seen of the "flock" that once had to step over me as I was laying in front of the main entrance, they seem very nice; at least from that angle.

I was sleeping there because it was probably a rainy night, and that entrance is covered. I was in front of the door probably because the cool air from inside leaks out the crack between the doors and the marble floor. So, it must have been a hot rainy night.
They were very well dressed older people and were considerate enough to step very lightly and push the door gently open, as if not wanting to wake myself and whomever else might have been there. Of course, the surest way to wake someone is to tip-toe around, trying to be quiet, as if up to something clandestine. I remember that we got up and packed up and left, before the lions share of the flock of sheep arrived.
Central Presbyterian Awakening
I had about 20 minutes to walk the two miles to the church. I set out, wondering every step of the way why I was going there. I wasn't really too hungry and probably wouldn't want to eat much of the free breakfast, which is offered to all but served to mostly the homeless, from 8:30 to 9:20, every Sunday morning.
The service was already in progress. I had arrived at 9:23, missing the free meal by three minutes. Somebody later faulted them for not at least making me a sandwich but, I think they were diverted by the guitar on my back. They told me that I could join the group which was playing on the altar.
I thought about that, and came to some realizations which I might not have come to, had I not walked two miles through the heat, hung over and on three hours of sleep.
The first one was, that I was in no musical mood at all.
Three hours earlier, I was drinking and playing and singing and enjoying it. What goes up, must come down, and my mood was proof of this. I just wasn't "feeling" it. I couldn't see how me going up on the altar to join the group in playing songs like "How Great Thou Art" was going to help anything. 
There were a couple of guitarists and a bass player.  I knew that I could make them sound better by adding lead guitar but the pews were full of fellow street people, and I was sure that some of them would be expecting me to try to show off, and I knew that that wasn't what the service was supposed to be "all about."
It certainly is what playing street music is all about; getting people to think that you are good enough that you might be "famous " one day, and they could tell all their friends that they saw you when you were (just) playing on the street, (and now look at him...).
This was ironic, since, one of my complaints against other churches is that their musical programs are pre-arranged and asking someone who walks in carrying a guitar to immediately get up and play is something they would never do. They would lose control over the proceedings by introducing an unknown commodity; a musician who may or may not be truly "saved."
So, I sat through the service. Afterwards, I was told again by one of the elders that if I ever want to play, I could. I should have told them that I don't expect to be in Mobile by next weekend.