Monday, October 31, 2011

Money Monday

Saturday night,
There was a guy playing on my spot on Decatur.
I had gotten there late and had every reason to expect someone to be on my spot.
Friday night, the gutter punks were restless.
They weren't making any money doing whatever they do near the beer store, and they kept drifting to and fro, past my spot in their migratory hunt for handouts, food and beer.
I had about 25 bucks, and, every time they approached, I added a couple dollars of my own money to my case, playing with their minds (and what awsome toys they were.)
On their last pass by, I had all my one dollar bills fluffed up, and my case looked like a cornucopia of plenty, I'm sure, to those "travelling kids." They were wishing that they had learned how to play a guitar.
Finding another guy on my spot was somehow karmic.
Some people attribute making money to the spot that they were at, and not the performer, per se.
The punks could have very well told the guy that there was "a great spot" up the street, where he would make a lot of money. It was probably a mistake to mess with the heads of the travelling kids that way, an example of my pride getting in the way of my best interests. They would have told him so much in exchange for a cigarette.
The guy didn't sound too impressive, strumming away but not singing much.
He had a dog. The travelling kids have dogs; lots of dogs; more than one dog for each punk. Dogs are their money makers. People stop and leave food for the dogs, which the dogs get some of. They don't want the dogs to appear too well fed, of course.
The Bourbon Invasion
Instead of getting angry, I went to Bourbon Street and tried another spot, which I had always wanted to. It is way down the street from the chaos up the street, and I think people take "quiet walks" there, away from the maddening crowd.
I had a good night, and probably made another 20 bucks. I never would have considered 20 bucks a "good night" but we are living through The Great Depression of '11...
My "money" songs were "My Favorite Mule," which is an adaptation of "My Favorite Horse," which I wrote in Saint Augustine. The carriages are pulled by mules here, not horses. One group of people that stopped and put 3 bucks in my case told me that mules were used because they can pull more weight because they are related to donkeys and not horses. Somebody else said that they can work in the heat and require less water. "...Did I just not see my favorite mule, my favorite mule, my fa-a-a-vorite mule?"
They asked me the name of "my favorite mule."
"I haven't found out, I'm admiring it from a distance"
They suggested "Pixie."
"That's kind of hard to rhyme, though," I said.
"Dixie!," one of them said.
"She pulls the white carriage, down in dixie; I'm not sure but I think her name is Pixie..." and another dollar in the case; sweet.
The other "money" song was "You Must Be Getting What You Want," which is about Karrie. I have finally distanced myself enough emotionally from the subject matter, and the lyrics are starting to fill out. It has to do with the fact of Karrie's not pursuing me to Mobile, more than a year ago, and the likelyhood that it is because she has found a way to satisfy her needs without my help.
I probably wouldn't have tried the spot, if it weren't for the guy playing at the other one. Gutter punks work in strange ways.
There is a whole other section of the French Quarter that I hadn't been aware of. The girl with the shaved head who plays the mandolin suggested it to me that night, after I left Decatur. She was one block down, on a corner of Royal Street.
A lady asked me directions to Checkpoint Charlie's, at one point in the evening.
I told her to go to the corner and make a left. Then I said that, at the next intersection there will be a girl with a shaved head playing a mandolin; make another left. Good directions, or what? I could see on her face that she was impressed by my knowledge of the quarter...
"You Even Talk Like Him!"
I am not foolish enough to believe that winter will not come this year. Santa Clause, maybe not, but, soon it will be necessary to make arrangements for the cold season.
I might try to stay here until Christmas, and then I am considering south Florida (after a ride on the freight train) as a winter spot; maybe even as far as The Keys.
I met a guy in St. Augustine named Art, who was from Key Pine Bluff, or some key with a "Pine" in the name...
That's better than not knowing anyone in The Keys, I guess.
He took my picture and said that he wanted to show it to a guy who is my identical twin who lives down there. "You even talk like him!," he added. Maybe we could start a band...
That's about it for Money Monday. Tuesday's focus, I haven't determined yet.
Sue and I are having a little spat, by the way...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Flashback Friday: 1969

The Target Ship

Huge Crabs And Water Over Your Head

It was our family, and the Curtis family.
We were on Cape Cod for a two week vacation in August.

It was 1969 and the "summer of love."

I didnt' know anything about any "summer of love," as I was 6 years old, my sister was 7, and our parents were keeping a shield between us and certain knowledge of things going on in the world at large, like hippies and the Vietnam war, for starters.

The Curtis's had three sons, Billy, Bobby and Stevie.

Stevie was my age. He was more worldly than I, and a little tougher, because he had older brothers.

I imagine that made it harder for Tina and Bill to shelter him in the same way from "the real world." Those were his parents.

Tina and Bill were friends of my parents. They went out together or played cards around ours or their kitchen tables. They also took their two week vacations at the same time in the summers, with Cape Cod being the destination for about 5 consequetive years, during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Bill had played football with my father in high school. Bill hurt his back playing football with my father, and still carried the symptoms of "a bad back" with him.
Bill had been "Billy" when growing up.
Tina was tiny, and had had the nickname "Teenie," before becoming Tina. 10 years later she would be found one morning in the Nashua River in our home town, after an apparent failed suicide attempt. It would be attributed to her going through menopause by the doctors, and the card games with my parents would stop around the same time (too much akwardness when Tina layed the "suicide" jack on the table.)
Billy was almost 17 and too old to enjoy a vacation on Cape Cod. He had become Bill by then, and had more interesting things to do. Cars and girls were amongst the list. He was going to Woodstock with some other teenagers in a Camaro, instead of coming to Cape Cod with his family.
Bobby was 14, hadn't become Bob Curtis, and was there with  us. He would grow up to be a pharmisist.
Stevie was my age and a long way from graduating to "Steve." He would break into houses in our neighborhood as a teenager starting a couple years after the Nashua River incident, but not necessarily related to it.

We were all sitting on the grass outside an ice cream place in the town of Brewster, eating cones.
"Look at the hippies," said Bobby.
I turned and saw two men with long hair and beards, wearing colorful shirts; the first two hippies I had ever seen and at the age of six, no less.
My father whistled. It was a whistle that I would become very familiar with by the time I was a teenager. It was somewhere between the kind one would make while surveying the destruction left by a tornado and one made after having just carried a heavy object like a bag of cement a long way and placed it down.
He would often make this sound when confronted with anything preposterous.
"They're probably stoned!," said Bobby.
"What is stoned?," my sister and I said in unison.
Stevie was smiling as if he knew what stoned was and as if he was amused at my sister's and I's nievity.
"Never mind," said my mom.
"Quiet, Bobby. That's not a nice thing to say about someone. You don't know them, they might be nice people!" Vintage Tina.
The Curtis's had rented a cottage in Brewster, and we had stopped there for ice cream before driving to look at their cottage, and before my family continued on to Eastham, about 10 more miles up the cape.
We looked at the cottage, and then went to the end of the road to see the bay.
It was then that I caught my first glimpse of the target ship.
The target ship was an old barge, which had gotten stuck on a sandbar in the bay and then was sold to the military so that fighter jets could practice dive-bombing on it, using innoculous tracer rounds; usually at night.
The rounds emitted a loud report, though, and/or the sonic booms, which rattled the china in our cottage on those nights when the pilots were training to go rattle things near China.
From the angle of Brewster, the ship looked short. From the shores of Eastham, it looked long, as it was being viewed broadside from there.
It sat about 2 miles out, past where the tide ever receeded, and in my six year old imagination, it was in water way over my head and it's rusted, pock-marked hull was teeming with crabs as big as the water was deep.
In the five years that we vacationed at the Cape, I looked forward to seeing the target ship more than anything. It was the first thing I looked for. From Provencetown, on the tip of the Cape, you could only see the back of it.
Learning To Fight
One night, the parents all went out and left Bobby to babysit myself and my sister.
Bobby took this opportunity to teach me how to box.
If Tina was around, she would have told him something like: "Don't be teaching him how to punch people, that's not nice," but Tina wasn't around, nor were any parents. It was just us "men" (and my sister, but she was watching the snowy picture of a TV show; the Boston stations were a little weak out on the Cape).
Grabbing the little pillows off of a couch and handing me two of them, Bobby said "Come on, I'll teach you how to box"
We had to strip down to just our shorts. "You can be Mohammad Ali, I'll be Joe Frasier, he wears the red shorts."
He helped me with my stance and my crouch and how to hold the pillows in a defensive posture, and threw punches gentled-down to my six year old self.
I was hitting back and not wimping out, and I could tell that it made Bobby kind of proud of me. It was training that I just didn't get at home, with only a sister one year older around.
Then he said "You're just using your right, you need to switch them up to fake the guy out, here, try this!"
He showed me how to throw three lefts in a row and then (out of nowhere) a right, in order to fool the opponent.
"Now, you try"
I knew that Bobby already knew that I was going to throw three lefts and then a right (out of "nowhere") and I didn't like my prospects for success, but, for the purposes of instruction, Bobby played along.
My right pillow caught him "totally by surprise," whereupon he hit the cedarwood floor of our cottage hard, yelling "AAAAHHH" and rolled around in mock pain, saying "Frasier is down! Frasier is down"
And that was how I learned how to fight; in a cottage on Rolling Lane in Eastham, Mass which smelled like cedarwood, and where you had to put rice in the salt shaker, so the salt wouldn't cake up.
That night, I lay in my cot and listened to the sonic booms of the jets bombing the target ship, as boys much older than I learned to fight.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not In A Moat!

Thursday's special feature,
On my way to pay bills, cash checks and buy money orders
(as well as a NOS energy drink)
I guess will be "affairs of the heart," for no other reason than, I was already going to delve a little into them today, and "flashback Friday" is kind of a no-brain er.
As of now, I am through with Sue.
Wouldn't you be through with Sue if she did to you what she did do?
I don't want to see her on a boat or on a goat or in a moat.
After we were both given citations on Canal Street, Tuesday night, by a cop, who, when handing them to us said: "I'm just going to give you a warning," before telling us that we couldn't play in front of The Marriot, we both had the same idea of going to the courthouse, first thing in the morning, to ask about the citations, which we were asked to sign.
I ran into Sue in the morning, as she was sitting and feeding Kooky, and preparing to take the bus to the courthouse.
She had slept by the casino, after disappearing from me the night before, after the incident of being run off by the cop.
One second, she had been right behind me as I was checking the Popeye's dumpster for food for Kooky, and then she just vanished. She probably thought the same cop was going to come by and arrest us for stealing discarded chicken. She didn't say anything, just walked off.
She was siting by the library, trying to read the ticket, on which the ink was so light that it almost looked blank.
Mine was the same, but it was clear that we were both being summoned to court. We couldn't figure out why the cop had said that he was just warning us, yet, we still have to go in front of a judge on the 1st, the 4th or the 9th, (depending upon what that illegible mark in the date box is...)
Sue must have repeated 10 times, "Why did he say it was just a warning, but we have to go to court; I don't understand it," and 10 times I had to reply, "I don't know, Sue." It became annoying.
I gave her a dollar for the bus ride to the courthouse, and then started riding my bike towards it.
The lady at the clerk's office could shed no light upon the situation, saying that the tickets wouldn't be in the computer until the end of the month. She thought it looked like a "1," but the courthouse is closed on that day...
My worry is that the cop told us that it was just a "warning," hoping that we would disregard the summons, whereupon, we could be arrested and taken to the jail, where our bond would be set just above the amount of money in our pockets upon being booked. "Welcome to New Orleans."
Sue was blaming herself for drawing the heat, saying that she had gone into the Marriot to get some water, and that was what provoked them to call the Law.
We were still getting along then.
We have to go back on the 1st of November to get the correct court date. "The judge will either dismiss it, or fine you," said one court officer, off record, of course. We are hoping that the officer checked the "warning" box on some form.
I rode her on the handlebars back into town, to save a dollar, then dropped her off.
She stayed close to me all day, even walking with me all the way to Decatur Street, (which slowed me down, because I could have ridden there in one quarter of the time) where I got an early start on playing.
They had removed the dumpster, which offered me a sound reflector and increased my volume, which was disappointing.
Sue took Kooky out of his portable prison and set her on a blanket and they both sat by me. There was very little traffic. The night was getting off to a slow start.
Then, Sue's attitude began to erode around the edges, as if being eaten by a squirrel.
First, I ran to the store for a beer while she watched our stuff.
Upon my return, she asked my why I hadn't gotten her anything to drink.
There were a few reasons.
First, she hadn't asked me to (I'm not a mind reader.)
Second; almost everything that I have ever gotten her she has rejected for one reason or another, even food for her cat ("why is it cold?") and I am not good at guessing what might meet her approval.
And Third; I don't think we have the kind of relationship where I should be expected to lavish gifts upon her. She has survived on the streets of New Orleans for 6 years. I think she knows how to provide for herself. I've seen people give her twenty dollar bills, telling her "Take care of your cat," for example.
Then, I performed my parody of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," which I change to "You Are Better Than Nothing," and sing lines like: "You're not exactly Angelina Jollie; but when the lights are out, you could be...You are better than nothing, me."
The humour was lost upon Sue, who said, "Thanks a lot for making me feel like shit!"
Shortly thereafter, she packed up and walked off, saying "I can't request a song" and "I'm not going to sit here until 8"
Then, it was I who felt inadequate.
She had wanted me to play songs that I would have had to sound out, in order to find the chords, and then my performances of them would sound like a guy playing them for the first time (not exactly "A"-list material), and, this was not the time nor place for practicing new stuff. The tourists in the French Quarter tend to expect more, and so do their wallets.
She made me feel as if sitting and listening to me had been boring enough for her to seek other diversions. It wasn't until later that I recalled the timing of her change in her demeanor and attributed it to the "Joe Cocker" song.
After she walked off, and dusk began to fall, the traffic picked up and I made enough money to pay for the new strings which I had put on; a basic need.
Then I went (alone) to Canal Street and continued to get some bites on the songs that I cast out...
I was surprised to find Sue sleeping at the billboard spot, when I walked up around midnight.
I lied down next to her. She didn't stir. Kooky was eying me warily, as if unsure whether to approach or retreat into the bushes.
I took out some chicken that I had gotten from Popeye's dumpster. She approached and ate it.
Sue woke up briefly, mumbled something about being tired, then went back to sleep.
In the morning, I put my arm around her, playfully and said "Buenos maƱana, Suzanna." She didn't think it cute. She threw my arm off of her, saying "Get your hands off me!"
I mumbled "I'll never touch you again," thinking It's not worth it...
I don't need to made to feel that way, and I refuse to, so, I have ignored her all day, having seen her twice on Canal Street already.
Not in a boat; not on a goat!.
She was ignoring me also, but, I was not paying attention to her first, for the record....
Then, at CVS, I met a young black lady named Dees, who was waiting with her 11 year old daughter for the girl's schoolbus.
She was going over "prepositional phrases" with the girl.
I put in my two cents on the subject, and we struck up a conversation. I told her that I might be teaching English today, had it not been for being arrested for dealing marijuana back in college.
She said that she had some really good "Kush" at the house; gave me her number; and we are supposed to meet somewhere later. She is in her 20's and very good looking.
It's funny how my major complaint with Sue was our language barrier, and along comes a young lady who knows the subtleties of prepositional phrases...
I feel like there is an all-knowing, loving God controlling things lately...
And that is all on the romance front. Tommorow, hopefully I can post a story or anecdote from the past, making for "Flashback Friday" along with any breaking news, of course.
The guy I met, who is from Wisconsin has a recording studio, by the way...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Minute

Last night,
I played on Decatur. A guy gave me 22 dollars, after talking to me about music.
Then, I ran into Sue and played on Canal Street, but a cop ran us off, more later...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Esta Susanna En Bolsa?

The Netherlands Checks In

Someone from the Netherlands looked at this blog (30 pages, even) at about 7 p.m. last night (Central Time.)
It would have been about 2 in the morning there. What kind of person reads my blog at 2 in the morning?!?
I suspect that it may be my brother, Jim, there on business. He goes to places like the Netherlands...
So That's Where The Netherlands Is...

Spiritual Tuesday
My decision to focus upon a different area each day, has so far yielded Money Monday, and Spiritual Tuesday.
I haven't designated Wednesday through Friday yet, but am considering spotlighting personal relationships one day, and maybe a "flashback friday" where I pull a story or anecdote from the recesses of past memory and feature it. This might lend more of a sense of order to the blog, or it might be unsucessful if I'm not in the mood to write about a particular day's focus topic...
Sunday morning, I had a conversation with one of the Occupy New Orleans people. A guy from Beauclair, Wisconsin.
I had asked him for the time, and then commented that I still could make it to church.
"If that's the kind of thing you like to do," he said.
I told him that I've had about as many complaints as there are churches which I've visited, which established a rapport between us.
We then discussed religion in general, myself telling him of my "religious experiences," and my theory about the year 2012 (that the earth is revolving around the sun, which itself is in a galaxy which is revolving, and that the whole thing is similar to an amusment park ride called "The Scrambler," and during 2012, the speed of the earth is going to increase drastically, causing time to slow down and people to begin living 800 years, like Noah.)
Then, after that interesting discussion ended, up walked a guy who played guitar (Joe), and his younger brother (Brandon), who also played guitar. We wound up jamming a bit and much fun was had.
This was my first real interaction with any of the Occupy New Orleans people, other than asking for hot water in the morning, and I was pleasantly surprised to find, at least the ones I talked to, to be intelligent and interesting.
A Blessing On Sunday
Then, a guy walked up and said that he had a backpack, a sleeping blanket and a pair of boots for sale, all of it Army stuff and all of it for 15 bucks. There had been a "stand down," at the Veterans place, where veterans were given things like the above items. Their slogan is "'Homeless' and 'Veteran' should never appear in the same sentence" or something like that, but, since it often does, I guess they figured the guys could use the stuff, or sell it for 15 bucks...
I had woken up with 24 bucks and change on me, that morning, along with the goal of getting a bigger backpack that day. I was actually going to try to find the Army Navy Store and part with 20 bucks for one. I was tired of having some of my stuff (dirty laundry, mostly) hidden in various places, and tired of wondering if it was still there.
The boots were a size too small for me, (and who knows how many sizes too big for Sue) and I already had a backpack, so I offered him 8 bucks for the backpack, then wound up giving him 9, after looking at the bag and meeting the group of people that he was camping with, and figuring that they were all going to reap some kind of benefits from the money.
I played guitar for about a half hour, which they seemed to enjoy, and told me so...

Why, there I am, enjoying my new backpack
(photo by Sue)
Monday Night
Monday night turned into a "Sue" kind of occasion.
In the evening, as I made my way to the spot on Decatur that I like to play at, I ran into Sue.
She had been looking for me at that spot. This is a pretty long walk for her, made more difficult by all the stuff that she carries. It was kind of flattering that she had gone to that length.
She sat with me, as I played. It was a slow night.
I asked her to go to the store (on my bike) for a beer and gave her two dollars, knowing that they are $1.35 at that particular store. She went (after testing the brakes) and came back with two cans of beer, thinking that I had wanted two, but also saying that she wanted one.
I played for about an hour, with modest success, then, putting Sue and Kooky on the handlebars of the bike, rode to the other end of the quarter, where I played more on Canal, with Sue by my side when not running to Unique's, where beer is only one dollar.
To make a long story short, I made about 17 bucks for the evening, which was about comensurate with the amount of pedestrian traffic.
At one point, a guy came up and told us some kind of story of which I only garnered that he was in some sort of state of emergency; that there had been a death in his family, and that he needed 17 dollars.
"I've only made 17 bucks all night, but, do you want it?," I asked, testing him in some way.
"I hate to ask, but this is really an emergency!" he said, ready to take every penny that I had made all night.
He was a skinny black guy, but that is not central to this story, only factoring in when things almost became violent.
I tested him further by saying "Well, we need to eat off this money and do laundry, we really need it."
When he persisted, I snapped and ran him off.

After donning her newly washed pants, and
a purple shirt which I found and gave to her,
Sue allows me to take a picture of her
for the first time, in Louis Armstrong Park
(No, he wasn't an astronaut, Sweetie; that was
I had to get in his face, whereupon he asked "Are you gonna do something?" which is colloquial for "Are you going to fight me?"
I was ready to fight him. He had gotten over his grief over the loss of his loved one pretty quickly, I was glad to have helped him out that way...
I think he needed our 17 bucks to pay for a coffin, or some other example of crack-addled thinking...
Esta Susanna En Bolsa?
Sue and I returned to our sleeping spot, right behind a billboard which reads: "Welcome to Downtown New Orleans." -(find your own bush)-I get a kick out of the satire of that...
Two mornings earlier, Sue insisted that we vactate that spot early in the morning. I wanted to sleep more, but she was adament.
"If someone sees us coming out of here, they will come back looking for me!"
She said that she wished that they would come there looking for her and instead find someone who would (beat them up), but said that "No one is going to fight for me.."
That was my cue to say that I would fight "anyone" who messed with her, but I held my tongue, knowing how cheap talk is. They are having a fire sale on it here in New Orleans, by the way...
The next night, Sue slept somewhere else, and I got to sleep in late behind the billboard.
This night, however, Sue accompanied me, and we lay down next to each other.
I started to rub her shoulders, but could feel the tension in her.
I told her "We're not going to have sex," citing our visibility to people in the apartments across the street who might have magnified night vision goggles...
This brought about  an immediate relaxation in her, and she became very cuddly and affectionate...
"I can't believe you yelled at that guy who wanted money," she said, while in my arms.
I guess I had passed her test to see if I would fight for her...
The next morning, we went, with she and Kooky on the handlebars, to the laundromat, where Sue was happy to wash her pants and her socks.
It was the laundromat called Clothes Spin, a very clever name for a place which used to be a recording studio which recorded the likes of Ray Charles and Fats Domino and Little Richard, to name just a few. Sue wrapped a towel around her lower half while her clothes spun....

Monday, October 24, 2011

Level Zero

Things Have Been A Blur, Lately

Lost Opportunity
Last night, the Saints had a home game at The Superdome.
I thought that it was an afternoon game, and that I would have been too late to set up there and play for the masses exiting the stadium, by the time I had run my errands.
It turned out that it was a night game, and I would have had time to play and probably would have made laundry and string money, had I done so. Now I must choose between new strings or clean laundry. I'll probably be out there sounding great, but with rice and bean stains on my clothes...
I watched a guy across from the stadium, playing blues and making about 25 bucks, in just the half hour that I listened. He had a little gas generator and an amplifier, microphone and a display of his CD's which were for sale for $15 each...
He is an example of a "level 3" street musician. Level one is, no amp and no mic and no display case...

Level "5" would be having a gig in a club,
where you have a tip jar, just like the
street musicians, but, where you have the
advantages of the sound system, and a
captive audience, which you can repeatedly
remind that you are "accepting tips.."

I am at that level. I could have expected to have made 25 or 30 bucks, had I been more familiar with the Saints schedule and been set up by about 3 p.m., instead of being in front of a TV, watching another game.
I have only 2 minutes left on this computer.
I suppose I will go find a place to sit and play on this Monday afternoon, and just hope for the best.
I might play until I either break a string, or the music store is ready to close, and then go buy strings...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Out Of Jealousy

Gutter Punks
Straight To Work
I went straight out to play yesterday morning, after hiding my sleeping bag up in a tree. I was straight sober.
I chose Decatur Street, at a spot where there is an overhang about 20 feet above me and a dumpster parked 15 feet in front of me, corraling the sound somewhat.
It is in front of a closed business. The business may not be closed for long, as, there was a carpenter at work on the door trimmings.
His ladder was leaning in the doorway where I like to sit. I sat next to the ladder and opened my case and leaned my sign (the one that say's "Street Musician Stimulus Package," with an arrow pointed toward the case) on the ladder.
He soon arrived and said "You'll have to move your stuff."
He had a disapproving look on his face, fit for the likes of the "gutter punk" musicians, who frequent the area and are not really musicians, but are really punks. They use instruments as props in order to panhandle the tourists under the guise of performing. I could understand the carpenter's feelings, him being a laborer. I would have to play well enough to cause him to see me in a different light, or he might run his loud air compressor, just for spite...
I was perfectly sober and had a little bit of bronchitis-type symptoms of the throat. It was very difficult to get started.
My voice cracked on "Comfortably Numb" on the chorus (embarrassing), and I was struggling with anything above an "E" above middle C, so I did songs which didn't reach that pitch, then switched to instrumental stuff.
There was someone playing a violin (or a "fiddle," to her) a block up the street. It was the girl with strawberry colored hair, who I had talked to the night before, when I was riding around sizing things up and exploring areas where I had never been.
She suggested then, that I play on the spot that she was just about to vacate. I guess she had done pretty well, as evidenced by the money that she was scooping out of her hat. I only saw one five dollar bill, though, typical of New Orleans.
I didn't choose to play there because I was in a foul mood and also because, what works for a girl playing violin (or fiddle,) doesn't necessarily work for a guy with an acoustic guitar. I decided to go back to the sleeping spot and wake up broke the next (this) morning, thus forcing myself to play sober, a block down the street from her.
She was playing pretty well, a block up the street, and drawing attention; the volume of her instrument working in her favor. She sounded better than she had the previous night when I encountered her. My "foul mood" at that time almost had me riding by her saying something like "I wish I was a young female, so I could suck and still make oodles of money!"
I'm glad that I didn't, because she turned out to be friendly and informative and a better musician than I had thought. Besides, there are enough people in New Orleans who think that I am a jerk; mostly those whom I never give anything to for free; they are annoyed at the sight of me; can't fathom my reason for being...
I sat there, as the strains of her fiddle poured down the sidewalk, and a lady stepped out of one of the shops and, shrieking and clapping yelled: "I can hear you; you sound great!," thinking that I had to elevate the level of my playing in order to compete, and thought about how in other places like Mobile, the novelty of being a street musician was in itself enough to earn appreciation (in all denominations.)
I could have been discouraged, as I wondered at the wisdom of staying in a city where one must be at his best at all times, just to make a living. But, leaving would be a cop-out.
I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and play my best song at this time: "Chinacat Sunflower," by the Grateful Dead.
I guess the adrenaline resultant from being spurred on by the fiddle player up the street kicked in, and I played a pretty good Chinacat Sunflower. A man, who had just walked by the fiddle player and probably threw her a tip, put five bucks in my case, validating my art and getting me over the hump of being absolutely sober at the ungodly hour of 11 a.m.
Then, the sound of the fiddle stopped abruptly. She must have gotten a 20 dollar tip (from the guy that gave me five?) and called it quits. There is too much to see and enjoy here to keep working after making ones quota...
I played for a little over 2 hours and counted $13.87, before taking a break to come to this library and find it closed for no apparent reason (celebrating October 21st?).
I spent 2 bucks on a hard lemonade, breaking my self imposed ban on drinking for the entire day (just to see what fruit it yielded,) and then went back to the same spot where I played another couple hours, knocking off at 7 p.m., an hour before the ban on performing on Decatur Street kicks in. I didn't want to lose track of time, then be reminded by an officer with a citation in his hand, that it was after 8p.m.
Another hard lemonade and a ride to Royal Street, near Rouse's Market, where the nice Tonya and Dorise were performing, came next.
Tonya's Fingers
Tonya was playing less than perfectly (not so that non-musicians would notice) and seemed to have a troubled look on her face. She kept going to her cellphone in between songs. When people approached her (usually to request certain songs,) she evinced annoyance, with the exception of when I approached and got a warm smile.
I took a picture of her fingers as she played, from a distance of about 4 inches, using my "macro" setting. She said "Oh, I like that!" when I showed it to her.
I finished the night over on Canal Street, in between The Marriott Hotel, and Arby's.
I was getting more drunk by then, after adding just two or three more beers to the hard lemonade, but I didn't "black out" and so, I remember swarms of people throwing tips in my case, all one's and some change.
I would say that, by the time I quit at about 11 p.m., mostly due to finger soreness (there were still enough people walking around, and some of them tip just because of what you are doing and not because you are playing so well because your fingers aren't sore, but I am too proud to play to less than my potential, even if my excuse is that I had been at it for 6 hours), I had gotten about 26 people to throw something in my case (counting the guy with the five.)
This is a realistic and unexagerated tally. I played for about 5 and a half hours and made 31 bucks.
It's good to know that I can make 31 bucks, if I put my mind to it, plus, it is a "numbers game," and any one of those people could have been "the guy that throws a hundred dollar bill in your case," a creature a lot like Bigfoot; some musicians swear to have encountered him...
Sue's Woes Continue
I went back to the sleeping spot, where Sue immediatly started to rearrange her stuff, clearing a place right next to her, making me feel welcome.
She asked me if I made any money "...a little bit?"
"Yeah, a little bit," I said.
I asked her to guard my stuff while I made an (unbidden) run to Brother's Market, the store where they sell the fries that she likes. (She doesn't go there herself, because she has a quarrel with one of the Spanish ladies who works there, but that is "business as usual" for Sue, and a story for another time.)
I took the question about making money as kind of a hint, and I wanted to "beat her to the punch" and not put her in the awkward position of having to ask me to run and get her some fries. Kooky, as it turned out, was "starving," too.
There was some fried chicken laying on the sidewalk in front of the store; a breast and a thigh.
I went in the store and got my last beer of the night, and a large order of fries, ordering them in Spanish..."Quisiera comprar unas papas fritas; grande, con ketchup" (I don't think "ketchup" is a Spanish word, but they understood me...)
I picked up the chicken off the ground, once outside, and put it in the plastic bag with the fries and beer, thinking as I did, how many people might have been watching and thinking "that's disgusting, he's going to eat food off the sidewalk" and also thinking how few people might be watching and thinking anything at all...nor caring who ate what off of where...
Sue questioned the chicken for Kooky, "You didn't get this out of the dumpster did you?"
I told her that it was "cold" because it was in the bag next to my beer, and that I had asked them for a piece of chicken for "my" cat.
Sue was happy, kooky was happy, and I was happy to be beside Sue, without her being beside herself with irritation. We all went to sleep.
In the morning, Sue noticed that the clasp that she uses on her hair, and which she had clipped to her backpack, was missing.
She hasn't gotten over it. The theory is that one of the guys who was "begging" her to sleep next to him took it out of jeolousy...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pressure To Perform

The wind continues to gust, into this Thursday morning.
It is chilly, by New Orleans standards; about 65 degrees, (brrrr...)
I feel pressured to play as much as I can today, hoping that the wind will die down and it will warm up. My strings are starting to dull, and if one of them breaks I had better hope that I have the 7 bucks to replace the whole set. The music store stopped selling single strings for a dollar. Maybe this is to discourage the musicians who are not proficient enough to make 7 bucks...
Last night, I knocked off early, partly because of the cold (I have lost my jacket somewhere, somehow; perhaps by turning my back upon it for 3 seconds...) retrieved my sleeping bag from where it was still hidden. I may have been observed doing so by some homeless who were sitting on a bench nearby and will hide it in a different spot this morning.
I slept in a remote spot with Sue and the few who have remained her friends. They all moved away from the Occupation group, claiming that they wanted nothing to do with them. Sue manages to find grievances with about 90% of the people she encounters, it seems.
At the library, when I feel pressured to be out playing instead...
I first lay down by a wall, but then moved over next to Sue. "What happened to the wall?" she asked, quick to note my movement, in her typical suspicious way.
She might have wanted me to come right out and say that I want to be near her, but I told her instead that the lady I had been next to asked me not to smoke near her, which was true.
She was up "with the birds" and walked off, carrying all her stuff, to where; nobody knows...
Sue Up In Arms
I left the library and went down Canal Street, while I was waiting "65 minutes" for my next computer session.
I started to think that I am going to have to sacrifice in some areas in order to focus on others. I should maybe get out early and play for the tourists and only blog after having put in my hours in music.
Reading in the morning is nice, as is working on this blog, yet, there will be nothing to blog about except becoming penniless if I don't put music first, perhaps.
I ran into Sue, who was enraged over having not been allowed into a certain convenience store, where a South American lady was tending.
There is a long list of places where she has been barred from. Several of them are aware of the cat in her bag and are following their policies about animals in the store, yet, most never give her a reason for why she is not allowed in; according to her.
She seems to have the most problems with the Latino community, of which she is a member.
"They come into this country all meek and scared, and within a few months they get jobs and apartments and then they develop attitudes," She once said.
20 Minutes Into Her Diatribe Over The Incident...
I stood there and watched a half hour go by while she told me about how, as soon as she walked into the convenience store, the lady behind the counter said "Get out of here," and wouldn't give a reason.
I have had the same experience. Not here (yet) but in other places where the homeless people are "a problem," and anyone with a backpack is suspect.
They don't have to give you a reason. They can disallow you to enter their establishment just because they don't like the shirt you are wearing, or your race, or the fact that you look homeless. They just won't tell you what their reason is, if it isn't politically correct.
The owner of the Shell franchise in Mobile told me "This is my store and I don't like you so get the f*** out!"
Can you feel a revolution fomenting?
If the lady behind the counter is Peruvian, for example, and hates Colombians, she wouldn't say so upon Sue inquiring of her. She would not give any reason, out of fear of saying the wrong thing. If Sue went up the chain of command and talked to the manager or owner, the cashier would probably say that Sue "tried to steal something." This could be construed out of the fact that Sue may have picked an item up off the shelf and began to walk towards the register to pay for it, which is also in the general direction of the exit, and,  (there you have it:) attempted theft (get out of here, Colombian puta!)
I empathise with Sue's anguish and outrage over the injustice of it all, but also sensed the clock ticking away on my day and the pressure mounting to get out and make some money.
She wanted me to go into the store and ask the lady why she had not let her come in, thinking that the lady might respect an American enough to give a straight answer. I don't know it that is true but what is true is that there are only so many hours in a day and this afternoon will get colder by the minute, forcing me at some point to quit, hopefully with enough money made to get a jacket at the Goodwill for a few bucks. I just don't have time to fight Sue's battles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Other End Of The Earth

The Chinese have taken an interest in my exploits
I have only 16 minutes to post, but must mention that I now have someone in China waiting with baited breath for the next installation.
Since I have such a brief time to post, I will try to hit the high points.
Blown Money
Last night, the wind was blowing in gales.
I washed my clothes at a laundromat right across the street from Lois Armstrong Park, before going out to play.
The laundromat used to be a recording studio, and recorded the likes of Little Richard, Ray Charles, Professor Longhair, and a slew of others (not listed in the order of their greatness).
Then, I went and played on Canal Street in the gusting winds which were reminiscent of tropical storm Lee.
At one point, right before I knocked off to go chase money, a gust of wind upended my guitar case, despite the full, unopened can of beer that I was using as a paper weight to pin the bills, and the money that I had made, (except for a miraculous 5 dollar bill and two ones which somehow fell into the vortex in the case where the winds cancelled each other out, causing a calm spot) flew down Canal Street, as if it was terrified of me; took a left at the Insectarium parking lot, and then a right on Gravier Street, at which point I lost it, both in my line of vision as well as in all other intents and purposes...
I couldn't help wonder if the half dozen bills swirling away from me were all hundreds, or just singles, as I was riding back to the Occupy New Orleans campsite where I encountered Sue, who was hanging out with about 5 guys.
One of them immediately tried to bum stuff off me.
I was pretty pissed and had fortified myself with Shlitz beer (which, by the way,  I toast Edmund Veatour with every time I crack a can open. He was the father of my best friend growing up and I think the first sip of beer that I ever had was snuck behind Edmunds back when he was up a ladder painting or something, out of sight of hisShlitz. Note: I've toasted my friends father close to 100 times since coming to New Orleans)
I got pissed at Sue for some reason, which I struggle to understand. Maybe it was because she had taken up with the guys that she was hanging out with and barely said a word to me.
I went off to my spot as I heard them all migrating to the gazebo to get out of the wind and possible rain. I was prepared to tell Sue to get the hell away from me if she approached.
Then, I started to try to put myself in a more resourceful state of mind, and my anger melted away. I did resolve to ignore her from that point on, though.

In the morning, Sue woke me up with a cup of hot coffee.
She told me that she had hardly slept, due to the constant chatter of those others who chose to hardly sleep. She said that she was "freezing."
I drank the coffee and then went up into the gazebo, where Sue was sitting on a cot and she patted the spot next to her, inviting me to sit.
She reitterated that she was "freezing," whereupon I put my arm around her and vigorously rubbed the back of her fleece hoodie, which was her only protection from the cold; having given away most of her heavy clothing to those who she feels are helpless, so that those who she feels are helpless could sell or trade the garments for beer money or beer. She didn't flinch or slap me and actually seemed content.
We left the campground together.
I told her that I planned to hide my sleeping bag in a spot down by the Mississippi River, that I knew was undisturbed due to the fact of me finding a cell phone, which had been there for a long time, as evidenced by its condition of being caked in dust.
She walked with me as I pushed the bike, myself being only slightly perturbed over the time that I was wasting by doing so.
We had to stop at the spot (per her order) where I had spotted the bird which was the twin to the bird that she had captured and relocated to Lous Armstrong Park's pond. We didn't find it after a 20 minute search through the bushes, under the the glares of homeless people sitting on benches nearby who might have had stuff hidden in the same bushes.
Then, after I stopped at the Westin Hotel to use the restroom, while Sue waited outside watching all of our stuff ("You talk about trust...") because she isn't allowed inside because they are wise to the cat in her bag.
I remembered to get water at Starbucks for the cat in the bag, which she didn't even give to the cat in the bag, confirming my belief that the getting of the water was merely a test of me, to see if I was paying attention to her (Kooky's) needs.
We went to the Riverside, where I hid my sleeping bag in the secret spot.
I decided to play right there on the Riverwalk, even though I didn't do it nearby where the Natchez boat launches for its cruise, and is where the musicians are fabled to make the Big Bucks.
There wasn't much traffic, and Sue pointed that fact out. We walked all the way to my Decatur Street spot, with her only mildly objecting to the distance involved, where I played and made about 10 bucks in an hour. This seemed to meet with Sue's approval.
Then, I actually put her and Kooky and her bag on the handlebars of the bike and zig-zagged through the French Quarter with her head resting against me, and her occasionally telling me "look out" when we encountered traffic. It was like being with Karrie all over again. I was surprised that she trusted my "driving."

Before I even put these ones on, my judgement told me
that they were going to be too big for my face

This Pair wasnt much better...

These are probably the ones I'll go with...for now...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Occupation

My pillow, my blanket, my toolbox and
my car...
I woke up this morning without the aid of being nudged by Sue.
She had already left her spot, on the other side of a hill which is barely visible in the upper left of this photo. I had chosen not to sleep next to her, for the second consequetive night. She is safe enough with the people whom she has around her. I kind of feel like "the devil she knows" when I sleep by her. She is only slightly more afraid of being alone than of my trying to touch her.
In the mornings, she disappears to somewhere that I am never privy to, and I only randomly run into her.
Yesterday, I saw her only briefly in the afternoon.
She wanted me to get her some fries at Brother's Market after I (unwittingly?) told her that I was going to run there to get a hard lemonade. She seemed to already know that I had money.
I thought about our mutual "friend," a guy from St. Louis whom Sue hangs around with sometimes, a panhandler, he is, who holds a sign which reads something about a "homeless Vietnam vet," and he also bums unashamedly by the Westin Hotel. It bothers me when the guy brags about the money that he manages to beg off of tourists, especially the joy he conveys when talking about the "clever" strategies that he uses. He told me that he was asking people for "two cents," the other night, and that the people thought that that was amusing. "What are you going to do with two cents?" asked one incredulous lady.
"Well, then, how about a dollar?" countered the guy from St. Louis, whereupon the lady gave him 6 dollars.
"You got to use humor!" he told me. There was an enthusiasm in his voice, as if he was chomping at the bit to get out there and beg some more, and get drunk once again. He seems very content with his occupation of panhandling. Meanwhile, I would have to play about an hour on some nights to get 6 dollars.
I thought about how I had seen him that morning and he told me that he saw me playing on Iberville Street and "It looked like you were doing pretty good; you had some money in your case."
Then I thought about the probability that he had encountered Sue and related to her the information that I had made money the night before, thus prompting her to ask me to get her fries.
It is not so much the dollar and a half that I spent, but the personal dynamics involved that bothered me and reenforced my decision to sleep in a different spot than her.
She seems to expect me to take care of her the way a boyfriend would; be there for her, support her and her cat; but to never touch her.
I think she is afflicted with a syndrome that women, who were once beautiful, and who learned how to interact socially during that phase of life, but who are now pushing 50 years of age, often succumb to. They continue to be flirtatious expecting their youth and beauty to open doors for them; but not realising that they are running out of ammunition, in their fight to be pampered.
I'm not saying that Sue isn't attractive, but, there are different "kinds" of beauty. I would imagine she could have "stopped a clock" when she was 17..
Except for that one evening on Canal Street, when she told me that I could kiss her, (even though I had never even touched her or held her hand out of an instinctive feeling that she would scratch my eyes out like a cat) she has become jumpy and skittish and hard to figure out.
My worldly posessions, half can of beer included...
Monday night found me standing on a sidewalk watching the Dolphins lose to the Jets, with me running to the beer store at halftime, during time-outs and commercials.
Some guy was tearing open bags out of a trash can in the alley between the beer store and the sports bar. He gave me three of the several peirs of sunglasses which he had uncovered.
After waking up and taking the picture of myself in one of the pairs of shades, I went to the Rebuild Center for a shower, during which I washed most of the clothes tht I have in my pack.
I now will go and throw them in a dryer for a few quarters worth of time, before going to find a spot to play at, on this not-so-promising Tuesday night.

Utilization of time continues to be an issue.
Walking through the library makes me realize that there are several areas of study that I am trying to tend to.
I am studying Latin, Spanish, Music, chess, World History, as well as attempting to become "well read" in the classics as well as contemporary writings.
It feels like I have only 10 minutes to devote to each discipline; not to mention my efforts to make this the most interesting (not long or boring) blog that I can muster.

It seems that the study of The Holocaust is being put in my way, perhaps by some divine Hand.
One of the ten best
books that I have ever
read in my life (96 pts.)
I took a picture of the Holocaust Memorial on the Riverwalk a couple weeks ago. Shortly thereafter, the novel I was reading (Beach Music, by Pat Conroy) turned its subject matter to The Holocaust when some of the main characters relived their horrific experiences of it.
The characters were Jewish, by the way...
Then, yesterday morning, there was sitting on the ground nearby where I slept, a book called "The Drowned and the Saved" (or something similar) which is about; you guessed it: The Holocaust, from a perspective of 40 years after.
So, for some cosmic reason, I am learning all about The Holocaust. Maybe there will be cattle car references in an upcoming song.
I am developing the ability to skim pages and absorb only the main points; a habit I never formed when reading Dickens.