Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't Get Blood In The Food!

"Chickened Out," rather than insult the Great Music Spirit
by playing a guitar missing a string...
morning started out with myself waking up under the corner of the pavillion roof, where I had moved at some point in the middle of the night, after I felt raindrops falling on my head. My guitar was missing the "g" string, which had broken the night before.
I went to Howard's tent, next to which I had been sleeping on clear nights, and asked Howard what was open on this holiday morning.
Howard has the habit of rising before the sun and going to Brother's Market to purchase a newspaper and a cup of coffee. He might be paying a visit to The House of the Rising Sun, also, but that is not something that I have plied him for information upon...
Howard said that Brother's was open (but I had figured as much as soon as I saw him reading the day's newspaper), and that Walgreen's would open "soon."
We left together, in search of a TV with the Thanksgiving football games on it. Howard wanted to go into an establishment to watch the game, but after looking at some of the menus posted outside the French Quarter sports bars, "gazing in wide-eyed wonderment" at the 7 dollar hamburgers and such, he decided to return to The Occupation, and forgo watching the Detroit Lions lose a game.
I wound up in the parking garage of The Marriot, squatting down next to my backpack and guitar, so as to present the lowest profile possible, drinking cans of Hurricane High Gravity Lager and watching the Detroit Lions lose a game.
At one point, a young security guy came by and asked me something to the effect of, "Can I help you," to which I replied: "No, this is my Thanksgiving; a can of Hurricane and a football game in a parking garage..." which brought a smile to his face and, shortly thereafter, he emerged from the hotel holding a remote, turned the volume of the TV up and asked me: "Is that better?"
"It doesn't get any better than this!" (sadly).
Soon, an older security guy emerged from the hotel holding a remote, turned the volume of the TV back down, and then rudely ran me off.
By this time, though, the sun had set enough so that the TV sets facing the front (public) sidewalk were no longer awash in glare, and I was able to watch the second game.
There was a parade of some sort, and Canal Street was soon flooded with people. I thought about playing, then thought about my missing string and the obstacle that it would present, and decided not to attempt it.
I have made money before with a damaged guitar, proving that many people are tipping the busker just for the fact that he is "out there trying to make money." I made 80 bucks with a guitar which was strung with mis-matched strings, of the wrong gauges, but that was the time in Mobile after my guitar was stolen and I was given a replacement by Scott the paramedic which was in the condition noted, and I was flat broke and had to play for string money to remedy the situation as fast as possible. It was a "beerfest" night, and yielded the aforementioned renumeration, but, I also had to endure the indignation of one young gentleman yelling "You're out of tune," and another exasperated young man imploring me to play "anything recognizable," to which I could only reply that my guitar was strung all out of whack, and that I had to tune it to an open chord and that I couldn't play anything recognizable because, as far as I know, no recording artist has ever hit the charts using a guitar with all the wrong strings in the wrong places...
I blew off playing on Canal Street that night to avoid similar humiliations.
The next morning, I was up early and at the music store with 3 bucks in my pocket. It could have been 33 bucks, had I swallowed my pride the night before and gotten out there and banged on the thing and sang "Happy Thanksgiving (you drunken bastards)" or something. I was kind of kicking myself over that, but I was also "thankful" that the music store was going to open on that Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving...
I had an hour to kill, and decided to sit at my "Decatur" spot and attempt to play something.
I took a low "A" string (I did; it's documented right here) and installed it into the slot which was missing the "g" string. I tuned it to "g," but an octave lower. This allowed me to use standard chord fingerings which yielded varying results.
I soon came up with a servicable 3 chord progression, which is the father of "a thousand songs," (provided that the performer has no qualms about playing those thousand songs all in the same key.) This, along with improvising lyrics and music, allowed me to produce about 7 bucks in the hour before the music store was to open. I thought I sounded pretty good, actually, on that altered instrument which was somewhere between a guitar and a sitar.
Walking into the music store with almost 11 bucks, I bought not one, but two new strings.
Hitting the streets again, though, I felt kind of a letdown.
I was switching from one form of playing, where I had to tend to the cerebral process of anylising everything in light of the unfamiliar string arrangement, to the process of re-hashing already worked out arrangements. I could feel a whole lobe of my brain retreating back into hibernation. The way I motivated myself was to resolve to continue to think in terms of inventing unique things while I played, and look at the guitar in new ways; and spend some of the left over money on some fine Abita "Turbo Dog" Lager. That helped.
I'm Running Out Of Pictures; Give Me A Break!
A Word About Lobes
The part of the brain that I had to use while playing around the string which was in the "wrong" place was kind of like the part that is used to play word games, for example "Make a sentence using words which all start with the letter 'p. '"People purchase pretty, precious plates; politely paying."
Or, the letter "r:" Roaring, running rivers roll really round rocks rapidly."
Those same lobes used in the above exercise are begging to be used, but not always satisfied when I am playing "Imagine," by John Lennon for the umpteenth millionth time. Just a note on my brain.
This City Just Isn't "Me."
If it wasn't for my court date in 22 days, I would probably be poised to get out of here, by train or by thumb.
I think the people who stay here are addicted to some element of the city, and it is an addiction which is holding them back and imprisoning them here.
It could be as simple as the fact that, on any given night, one can walk down Bourbon Street and be handed money and drinks and cigarettes and pot and food, for starters. It ain't no kind of life, but it's a bit better than not being given anything, to some folks. Then there is the fact that a grown man can walk down the street wearing women's lingerie and, rather than being attacked by toothless guys who jump out of a pickup truck and yell "faggot" while administering a beating; they are handed money and drinks and cigarettes and pot and food, by people, in exchange of posing for a picture with said folks.
This city just isn't "me."
20 Bucks
That Friday night, I sat and played on my Bourbon Street spot, and thought that I made about 10 bucks, before discovering that one of the bills in my case was a 20 dollar bill. I hadn't seen who threw it, but learned the next day when I went into The Unique Store, where one of the cashiers, whom I see pretty frequently in there, asked "Hey, did you get this?" while holding up a twenty dollar bill.
I had to appologise for not having thanked him (or noticed him) at the time, citing my intense devotion to and concentration upon my craft (and perhaps Abita Turbo Dog Lager) as the reason.
That was very nice of him, considering that most of his customers who are homeless are pains in his ass, panhandling out front, stealing from inside, vomiting outside and coming inside and smelling up the place. I am happy to be seen as being at least "one rung" above a pile of crap!
First Friday Artwalk
This Friday will be the first Friday of December and, hence, the First Friday Artwalk will take place, both in Mobile, and in Fairhope, Alabama (where the rich people live and are glad that they don't live in Mobile).
I plan upon taking the train there and prospering, while the musicians of New Orleans wallow in mediocrity, fooling themselves into thinking that the redeeming qualities of the place are redemptive enough to warrant their continued existence there.
They are like gamblers who are blinded to reality by the occasional big score that befalls them, and slight the fact that it doesn't nearly compensate them for the other 364 days of the year, when they backslide...
Black EyeDay
Then, on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, we were sitting in Duncan Park when the now familiar red van pulled up, and like Pavlov's dogs, the cry went up of "Food, Run!" whereupon the floodgates were opened and the residents of the park, there protesting against "greed," surged forward in their attempts to be near the front of the line.
There was a line of at least a hundred, which began to inch forward, as "the church people," after blessing us, telling us that they loved each and every one of us, regardless of where we "are in life" (alluding to our homelssness and which I kind of took as a judgement in and of itself), and leading us in a prayer to ask Jesus into our hearts, began to serve ham, turkey, macaroni and cheese, a green pepper and meat concoction, and desert.
It took them a while to establish a rhythm. I counted almost 40 seconds before the first person in line had gotten his plate and walked off. Doing some quick math, I determined that it would take them nearly an hour to serve everyone.
Things eventually sped up a little, and within 20 agonising minutes (agonising because I had left my backpack in Howard's tent, and wasn't putting it past any one of the peacful demonstrators to steal it) I was near the food tables and had a "front row seat" for the spectacle of a black man, who walked from the back of the line and cut to the front of it.
A white man yelled "If you can do it, I can do it!"
The church people remained mute.
The white man, to demonstrate his premise, walked to the front of the line and confronted the black man. He was drunk, or at least more drunk than the black man, it seemed.
Soon the white man's drunkeness became more evident as he took a swing at the black man, but only grazed the man's jaw.
The black man then punched the white man, who fell backwards, hitting the back of his head on the sidewalk and then slowly "coming to" from a couple of seconds of unconsciousness, just as the black man, standing over him, rammed his fist into the middle of the man's face, with an audible thump, which was closely followed by a second thump as the back of the man's head hit the sidewalk once more.
He lay there, unconscious for a few seconds, then started to emit a gurgling sound, as the blood, which was coming from his nose, and it appeared his eyes and mouth, began to run down his throat.
Nobody called the police nor an ambulance. The church people continued to serve food; the man who had cut the line and then hit a man who was already barely conscious was the next recipient of their blessing of food, which had been prayed over.
A slovenly looking white girl, who speaks with the dialect of the blacks in New Orleans, and who is frequently seen in the company of black men, approached the man who had cut the line. She had a big smile on her face. "Hell, yeah, knocked him out!," she said, and then performed a sort of knocking together of the fists with the man who had cut the line, before she did a little dance which consisted of walking around in a tight circle, mimicing an ape, with the same smile on her face.
By then, the white man had staggered to his feet, bleeding profusely. He was still near the food tables. He began to sway.
Oh, no! "Don't let him get blood in the food!"
The man was grabbed and pushed away from the food tables, where he was placed once again upon the ground. There were drops of his blood spattered on the table. One of the church ladies inspected the pot of spaghetti, concluding that there was only tomato sauce, but no blood on the spaghetti. Thank God!
I got my plate of food, though I discovered that I had lost my appetite.
The police never came, an ambulance never came.
The man's brain could have hemmoraged; he could have died.
Had that been the outcome, there would have been over a hundred people, including "church people" who hadn't seen anything.
There would have been one street musician, though, who would have proudly taken the stand in a courtroom, raised his right hand, swore to tell the truth and then delivered of himself the above account, word for word.
Then, left town; never to return.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am trying to split my time between
these daily posts and putting together my piece for "Flashback Friday," which is supposed to be from 1984 this Friday. It might take me until 2084 to finish it.
*By the way, using the "post options," I am able to schedule things to be posted in the future. I am writing some stuff which will automatically be posted well into the future (like 2084,) possibly long after we are all dead. How cool (bizarre) is THAT?? I'll be gone, but the blog entries will keep coming and coming...
Don't Hate Me Because My Hat Is Beautiful: A man is
unable to conceal his envy at the sight of me in my
brand new hat. The facial hair may have to go, but the hat
has found a home, perched atop my head...
Goodies From (California)
The box of stuff arrived from a reader named Alex, who is out "west". (I don't want to specifically mention the town, even though the heading above would have been more poetic, had I done so, to safeguard his privacy and save him the embarrassment of being linked to my silly blog.)
I was relieved to have gotten it at all, as, there is a sign posted at The Rebuild Center, stating that "anything which needs to be signed for" will not be received by them. If Alex had sent it UPS, then, oh what a convoluted mess it may have created; enough to ruin my Thanksgiving.
New Hat
There was a hat, a kind of greenish-khaki colored one with a chin strap with a wide brim and...well, just look at the picture!
My street musician "shtick" was becoming "old hat," with me appearing in the same 3 or 4 shirts, and using the same hackneyed signs, like "Street Musician Stimulus Package," "Free Music, 40%-60% Off, Tonight Only (All Songs Must Go)," "Special Deals To Make Me Stop," etc. I needed a change.
Now, with the hat, I am ready to foray into the arena of "show biz." I am no longer just the guy who plays guitar on the street; I am "the one that wears that greenish-khaki hat." People like gimmicks. I can tell them that I found the hat, and when I placed it on my head, I began to jam around..
A Harmonica
There was a harmonica; a real one, not a "toy harmonica;" like we all had as kids and out of which you just couldn't get certain notes because they were stuck or something -big difference (I'm sure that Marine Band made some better quality one's; but they certainly did make a really cheap model, which we all seemed to end up with, and which discouraged 99% of us from pursuing harmonica playing for life.
The one Alex sent can actually be played as a musical instrument and has no non functioning holes. I took it out and immediately "Silent Night" came out of it; "as natural as breathing;" in the key of G. Cool.
"As soon as I added this to my guitar playing *holds up his harmonica*, I doubled my income" -The Boogie Man, St. Augustine street musician; (perhaps equally renowned for entering the police station in that historical city, carrying a shovel, and proceeding to attack the officers with that implement. It was one of those flat point shovels with a wide, deep scoop, used for picking up sawdust, which may have been a "mitigating factor" pursuant to his subsequent prosecution for the crime (yes, it's illegal to attack police officers with a shovel in St. Augustine.)
Without further digressing from the subject of harmonicas, I plan upon following in the footsteps of The Boogie Man, (and also; adding a harmonica to my guitar playing LOL); as soon as I get one of those neck strap harmonica holder things, like Bob Dylan has.
A Can Opener
There was a can opener; a very light, compact and durable one.
I used it last night, to open a can of spinach, which I mixed with sosauerkraut and raw hot dogs, making one the "gourmet meals for under 4 bucks," which I eventually feature in the appropriate chapter of my work in progress: "Homelessness For Dummies." 
In a related note, a gutter punk approached me and asked me for some of my spinach, while I was taking shelter from the rain on the sidewalk in front of Rouse's Market, and stuffing my face . Another one asked me for a hot dog, which I actually gave to him, because I wasn't planning upon eating them all, nor leaving the remainder in my backpack. None of them asked me for any sauerkraut.
An Ocinero
There was one of those instruments thats name is spelled similar to the word above. It is a little shell-like thing with holes in it. It is easy to play, and I look forward to impromtu jams with every street musician whom I pass in my travels -can't wait to see the look on Tonya's face when I start playing poingnent counterparts to her violin solos.
I had been in Walgreen's the very morning that I received the box, and I almost bought socks, such was the gravity of the "sock crisis" that I was in. I put on a pair *immediately I got them. (*Caveat: I've heard people use the word "immediately" that way; I'm not sure if it's gramatically correct.)
A Multi-Tool
There was also a multi-tool type of apparatus. It is kind of like a Swiss Army Knife, containing a knife, and a strong set of pliers amongst other things which Scandinavian troops would find useful.
It feels good to have a weapon on me, as I walk the quarter. I won't hesitate to squeeze a would-be assailant's nose with the pliers and yank really hard, if I am compromised.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Money Day Monday

The least I can do is give the guy
a "plug" to my upwards-of-two-dozen
30 Dollars Saved Is 30 Dollars Earned
I woke up with about 30 bucks, on this Monday morning.
I had played for a couple of hours last night on Decatur. If it weren't for the fact that I had woken up that morning with 40 bucks, and could start my case out with a few of my own dollars (plus some change, in order to send the message "It's alright to throw a quarter; I like quarters, I won't be offended and my clothes will be cleaner next time you see me...").
I walked past The Stash Box, which is run by a very cool guy. It is close enough to my spot, that I am pretty sure the guy has heard me play, as he sits out in front of the store. Managers sit out in front of their stores here, ostensibly to greet people, invite them in, drum up business and, oh yeah, to discourage people from running out of the place with unpaid for merchandise. Again, "This Is New Orleans..."
The guy commented on the condition of my guitar case. "Every time I see you, your case is in worse condition!"
"Yeah, my whole life is being held in place by bunjie cords, these days!"
This brought forth a chuckle and then he said: "I've got a case that I can give you. I don't play acoustic anymore, just electrics, so I don't need it. Wait until [so and so] comes back from break and I'll get it for you. Are you gonna be up their in your spot?" (He called it my spot; I felt "accepted")
I went to that spot and played for about a half hour before the guy came and laid a brand new gig bag next to my tattered remnant of a gig bag. Cool.
They are so anti-gutter punk in those businesses, that I felt a sense of pride in their implication that I am a "musician" and am welcome to play near their stores. (They haven't caught me peeing on their dumpster yet, though. My status may change. Stay tuned.).
I made about 6 bucks in an hour and a half, putting me at the top of the ranks of other musicians whom I compared notes with that night. The tourists just weren't tipping. I probably wouldn't have made the 6 bucks, had I not persisted in "smiling through the rain; laughing at the pain" as tourist after tourist walked by without acknowledging me. Knowing that I had money in my pocket, a new case, and that the business owners on Decatur like me (they really like me) was enough to keep me loose and flowing and not averse to playing my weirder stuff, like "My Favorite Mule."
The night before, I had played "Mule" and gotten some strange looks, but found a 10 dollar bill in my case when I looked in it, which wasn't there before I played My Favorite Mule.
When she stands up; you know you're
in for a treat. BTW, this picture is taken
from the National Geographic website. Yes,
no feature on New Orleans would be
comprehensive without including Doreen.
Tears From Heaven
Then, I drifted towards Royal Street and Rouse's Market.
I could hear Doreen's voice before I could even see her and her band.
She was "on fire" last night.
It was as if she and her family were facing eviction if they didn't make a certain amount of money, and that they had put their situation in the hands of the Lord and just "let it fly."
I have never heard Doreen play so well, and that is saying a lot. When her clarinet solos neared a climax, she stood up and aimed her notes for the sky. It brought tears to my eyes. Twice.
I put 50 cents in her tip jar. (Making her only the third other musician that I have tipped, along with Tonya and Dorise, and the artist known as "the girl with the shaved head who plays the mandolin.") She said "thank you, so much." I was the only one whom she broke the continuity of her playing to say "thank you" to during the half hour that I listened. It was like an unspoken communication between street musicians; priceless.
Her daughter of about 7 years old was playing the drums, and at no point did it ever sound like they were being hindered by having a little kid in the band. "She just follows along," said Doreen, after I complemented the little one on her playing.
That is about it for Money Day Monday.
I saved 30 bucks on a new case, and "splurged" by buying a pack of cigarettes and watching Sunday Night Football, squatting down behind the barricade which fronts a sports bar, sneaking a peek at the game and swilling down some Red Dog Lager.
Help On The Way
I should soon be getting the package that Alex has sent from California, containing "goodies" of interest to a homeless guy, like a can opener. I went up to the Rebuild Center, endured the stares of those there to be "rebuilt," stares fraught with envy (because I've spent years of my life honing my craft, and have an income), derision (because, even though people just "give" me money, I can't even help out a nigga with a dollar, not one out of the 20 who ask me every day), suspicion (I think he the police), ill intent (let me take that guitar from him; let him see how it feels to HAVE to panhandle, like us) etc., got to the mail line, which was so long that I surely would have missed out on this computer session if I waited for a package which might not even be in yet, and decided to try again tomorrow.
Play The Song About New Orleans
I now do 4 songs that mention New Orleans, though I didn't notice this at the time I added them; it was a subconscious thing.
"Tangled Up In Blue," -Bob Dylan (So, I drifted down to New Orleans, where I was lucky enough to be employed...)
House Of The Rising Sun (There is a house in New Orleans; they call "The Rising Sun...")
Big River -Johnny Cash, Grateful Dead (Now won't you bat it down by Baton Rouge, river queen roll along; take that woman down to New Orleans, New Orleans, Go on, I've had enough. Dump my blues down in the gulf. She loves you, big river, more than me)
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant -Billy Joel (I remember those days hanging out At the village green ; Engineer boots, leather jackets And tight blue jeans ; Drop a dime in the box play the Song about New Orleans; cold beer, hot nights, my sweet romantic teenage nights)
Don't ask me about Sue.
I brought her to the spot where I sleep at The Occupation site, after we hung out Saturday night together. We snuggled up and slept; her, myself, Kooky and the pidgeon.
Sunday night, I returned late to find her asleep at the same spot. Thinking that she was expecting me, I layed down next to her but, she pushed me away.
I moved about 50 feet apart from her and slept.
In the morning, she wasn't talking to me, as if insulted that I would move away from her, even though she had pushed me off.
Now, she is hanging out with the very same guys whom she cited as the reason that she didn't ever want to sleep at The Occupation again -the one's who were "messing with her head."
Sunday morning, I gave her some yogurt, some tuna for Kooky, and a can of soda, and a trendy shirt that I had found, which was brand new.
I asked her for some of her water to brush my teeth with. She told me that she needed it to drink, because she doesn't drink "sink water."
A little while later, after observing her mannerisms around the guys which she is once again hanging around with, and noticing that she was acting radically different around them than she does around me, and seeing her go with them into the pavillion to get food and then get into a shouting match with some other woman who had "no right to talk to me that way," I asked her for some of her hair conditioning gel.
She told me that it was "expensive stuff" (she found it in the trash somewhere), at which point, I said "Then give me back my tuna fish," whereupon she gave me back the bag with all the stuff I had given her, as if it was no big deal to her (acting like a prima donna, who has "plenty more where that came from").
Last night, I found the shirt thrown on the ground near where I sleep.
I have decided that I don't like Sue (Phillipina, if you're the clerk of courts) very much any more, and am prepared to tell her so much.
I have been doing a neuro-linguistic programming excersize where I picture her face and then switch my internal image to a splattering of vomit which I saw on the sidewalk on Canal street last night. I switch back and forth; back and forth.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One Minute Warning

I have only
one minute left to post this; well, actually I have 30, 29, 28 seconds to post this...
I made 30 bucks last night...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flashback Friday: 2006

These are the 13 songs which I deemed, 5 years ago, to be my top "money" songs. The blurbs were written back then, also.

Today, I only play 8 of them; listed below; having either forgotten the others, or forgotten that I know them.
  1. This One Goes Out To The One I Love
  2. Comfortably Numb
  3. Shameless
  4. Wishing You Were Here
  5. Tangled Up In Blue
  6. Sugar Magnolia
  7. Dancing In The Moonlight
  8. Sunshine

I plan upon resurrecting all the others, now that I have dug up this list and reminded myself of what used to work on the street, Especially "Woman," the John Lennon song, (to go with "Imagine" and "Jealous Guy," which I have since added) plus "High Time" and "Tequila Sunrise," because they were once (back in 2006) so high on my list. 

From a 2006 Journal on

(You Gotta Start Somewhere)

1.This One Goes Out To The One I Love (REM). -This one draws currency, strange currency...

2. High Time

(Grateful Dead, though most think that I wrote it [and am pouring my heart out the way only the Dead could]... those few former hippies, who are now CEO's of Fortune 500 companies and who often wonder "what if I had gotten on that VW bus back in '68, how would my life be different" bring up the average with humongous tips, the smallest bills in their folds being 20's...)

3. Tequilla Sunrise (The Eagles)

- I guess everyone knows every Eagles song- I cheat on this one, as a person approaches, I jump right into the "Take another shot of courage..." part from wherever I happen to be in the song. It sticks in their head and they find themselves humming it; then they hum their way over to Larry's hat and drop in at least a couple bucks; thank God for The Eagles and Larry's hat!)

4. Comfortably Numb

(Pink Floyd -The Chorus can be sung loud enough and is familiar enough to draw people from up to 75 feet away. "There is no pain, you are receeding" And, I'm "receeding" a lot , these days!!

5. Harmony
(Elton John - Off of the B side of either Benny and the Jets, or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I can't remember, and, technically it could be on Neither, since I can't remember...
When I was in 6th grade, we had a period right after lunch, when we would break out the phonograph and the stack of 45's, (the one's with the big hole in the center which needed to be fitted with a plastic plug so they would go over the nub on the phonograph).
The phonograph sat on a table, made by pushing four desks together. These were the desks of myself, Wayne Rameau, Debbie Richard and Christine David. I faced my 'girlfriend,' Debbie -whom I thought was the second cutest girl in the class. Wayne faced Christine, who I thought was the cutest girl in the class, the lucky stiff.
I was poised to trade up, had Christine started "liking" me, and Debbie started liking Wayne; at least I was at Christine's table.
Potato sticks were as popular as Elton John with us. There was usually a pile of them in the center of the table, oozing grease into a paper towel. We weren't germophobes, back then.
A lot of the 45's got spun repeatedly, Crocodile Rock and Bennie and the Jets come to mind. We would sing to them.
Our teacher, Mrs. Hayford being pretty cool for allowing us a period devoted to the Arts, considering it was a public school, and she wasn't required to do so.
Peter Capute and I were the best singers (a foreshadowing of my sucess as a street musician today, I'm sure). We took turns selecting songs. Once, I selected Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and caught a look on someone's face which read: Here comes yet another trip down Yellow Brick Road.
With a display of "contrarian" thinking, I flipped the record over and "Harmony" emanated from the 4" speaker of the phonograph. (Not Yellow Brick Road again, at all -fooled ya!)
I played it a lot more in the following days, and we eventually all learned to sing, mouths full of potato sticks, with Peter Capute and I taking the lead.
Today, I feel like I am back in 6th grade when I sing it, and if I close my eyes, I can smell  potato sticks.

6. Sunshine
(Jonathan Edwards....I won't inflate my ego like a puff-fish and say that my friend Ted and I, when we were 17, hung out with the guy who had played the acoustic guitar on that recording...but we did. His name was Eric Elliloquist, and legend had it that he had once met John Lennon, when the Ex-Beatle walked into a club where Eric was playing...The ex-Beatle wanted to jam with Eric, but Eric chickened-out because he thought the CIA and the government had killed Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and anyone else who's lyrics could be construed as having an anti-government message....or who's first names began with "J"...)
We rode out in his small car one particular evening, "burning one," and subsequently NEVER found Fat Albert's, a rock-n-roll club somewhere around Worcester, Massachusetts, which we were looking for.
At one point we started singing along with the radio.
Eric is a great vocalist, sounds like a cross between Paul McCartney and Van Morrison with a little Roy Orbison thrown in...It's no wonder Lennon wanted to jam with him...I loved singing but kept thinking that Eric was thinking what the hell am I doing riding in a car with two kids half my age, smoking out and singing to the radio, I mean I met John friggin' Lennon!!
Through knowing him, I came to see why he would think that the administration would "off" him for his song "I like California," in which he sings: "Winter in New England gets as cold as it can be. Sometimes I get so depressed that the cold lives in me.." 

7. Shameless
(Garth Brooks -the only country song I know, outside of "Sweet Dreams. Garth sold out the Coliseum when he came here to Jacksonville. There was probably a pickup truck (or two) in the parking lot outside the show..

8. Wishing You Were Here
-Chicago- "But I'd like to change my life, and you know I would..just to be with you tonight, baby, if I could....

9. Sweet Dreams
This one is about the seventh best tip garnering tune. People think I'm doing Patsy Cline, but I'm Doing Elvis Costello doing Patsy Cline...

10. Woman
(-John Lennon- Off of the last recording before he was shot. The oooh part at the end has the loveliest chords, major 9th's they're called. I spent a lot of time trying to BE John Lennon when I was a teenager in an "identity crisis." The crisis is over.

11. Tangled Up In Blue
-Bob Dylan -I wonder how many people know that "She had to sell everything she owned and froze up inside" means that she was pimped out by the then he started into dealing in slaves guy, and that everything she owned really meant everything and it made her frigid, and that "Later on, when the bottom fell out... means that they stopped having sex... The whole song is fraught with hidden meaning and people seem to know that it is about something, but that they just don't understand, they drop a few bucks in Larry's hat; makes perfect sense to me!! Here is that whole verse:

I lived with them on Montague Street in a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air
But then, he started into dealing in slaves and something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned and froze up inside
And later on when the bottom fell out, I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do was keep on keeping on
Like a bird that flew
Tangled Up In Blue


(-Grateful Dead- Lyrics like: She's got everything delightful, she's got everything I need; Takes the wheel when I'm seeing double, pays my ticket when I speed. Say it all.).

13. Dancing In The Moonlight (King Harvest? I think that was their name)
It's a song only an intermediate guitarist can pull off; all bar-chords, the way I play it...

The End

Thursday, November 17, 2011

History Repeats

Last night Sue and I
wound up hanging out, after she asked me if I wanted her to hang out.
I only wanted her to hang out if she wanted to hang out.
She only wanted to hang out if I wanted her to hang out.
She wound up going along with me, toting her bags, her cat and her pidgeon.
I was heading towards a spot on Decatur Street.
It was 6:30 p.m., and I would only have an hour and a half to play before the curfew on street performers. At the mention of this, Sue suggested that we go to a different (less distant) spot.
We bent our steps towards Bourbon Street.
Sue had a bottle of wine with her, which she had been carrying around for a week, after finding it somewhere. The calories which she expended carrying around a 2 or 3 pound bottle the 30 miles that she walks each week, made it an expensive bottle of wine, in that sense.
I set up on Bourbon Street. Sue set out to get the cork pulled out of the bottle.
It took her a while to find a bartender willing to break the law by allowing her to leave with an opened glass bottle, but she did.
We sat there as I played; myself, her, Kooky and the pidgeon; and I wasn't making any tip money.
Very few people were walking past.
I was trying to keep a positive attitude. I knew that (if anything can be learned from history)she was going to vacillate between blaming her presence for the fact that I wasn't doing well, and then blaming me.
A guy came out of one of the nearby houses and told us that we were in a residential area, and to discourage others from congregating there, he would appreciate it if I moved farther down the street. "If they see you playing here, they'll think that they can sit here, too."
He said that gutter punks had been sitting there, making a mess and "doing heroin" right in front of his house.
I moved further down and played longer, only making a couple bucks.
By then the wine was mostly consumed and Sue started to become critical of the songs that I was playing and the way I was playing them and also commented that the people on the street were spending their money in the bars and didn't want to give me anything.
I felt like I was putting her through an ordeal.
I also felt my failure on this occasion magnified by her presence, even while knowing that it was just the way I was "framing" things.
She began to pressure me to move to another spot.
I decided to aquiesce, mostly because I planned upon moving to another spot closer to where Sue slept, thinking that she might take the bait and go off to do just that.
I stopped at Rouse's Market and got something to eat.
Maybe I should have gotten her something, even though she didn't ask me to. Perhaps that is why she said "I'm going to sleep," before marching off in the direction of Basin Street, without saying much of a "good night."
I wished that I could have gone back to the beginning of the evening when she had asked me "Do you want me to come with you?," so I could have replied: "Sweetie, it's going to be a long slow night, you'll be bored to death just sitting there, and I'll feel like I have to entertain you, along with the tourists, that's just the way I am. I should probably just go it alone"
I haven't seen her this morning, and I'm pretty sure that is because she doesn't want me to see her this morning.
Understanding women in general is hard enough, without trying to understand one who carries a pidgeon around in a paper bag.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I panhandled my first dollar
since, coming to New Orleans, 3 months ago.

Sue's World
 I went out last night, with the 13 dollars in my pocket, trying to clear 2 more dollars, in order to have the money for my "bond fee" this morning.
I got two cans of Hurricane High Gravity Lager, in preparation for busking.
I was drinking them by the Popeye's dumpster, and digging for scraps of food therein, to throw to the pidgeons, so that they would be on the ground, rather than perched above me and aiming thier guano for my beer can.
These are some of the most accurate pidgeons in the world, here, where everything is "world class." They can put a tird in your beer so accurately that you will not even be tipped off to what happened by seeing anything around the edge of the drinking hole. It's similar to the Olympic diver who makes nary a splash.
A man, seeing me digging in the dumpster, handed me five dollars, and said "Here you go," and continued on.
I then had the money to give to the court as a "bond fee," ostensibly to insure my showing up for court on the next date, but probably serving another purpose, such as identifying the truely "indigent," so that they can be treated accordingly.
Homeless Court
I woke up at 7:56 a.m., four minutes before I was supposed to appear in Municipal Court.
I counted my money and (oops) had only 14 bucks. I must have miscounted the night before.
I went to the Walgreen's, planning upon asking someone if I could buy them a soda on my EBT card, in exchange for one dollar.
I found a lady who was going to the register with a couple bucks worth of stuff. I asked her if I could put her stuff on my card in exchange for a dollar and told her about my situation, where a dollar might keep me out of jail.
"I've got fourteen bucks, I just need one more," I said, showing her the 14 dollars.
No sooner had I showed her the 14 dollars when a beggar, whom I am familiar with, swooped in like a bird of prey and started begging me for a dollar. He must have thought that the lady was the one asking for money and that I was pulling my money out to give her some. This would paint me as the kind of sucker who gives to beggars which he preys upon, and he wouldn't be able to look himself in the mirror had he not tried to take advantage of me, and join in on the feeding frenzy.
I told him that I was a dollar short of paying my fine and that, this time, (unlike the other 50 times that I had seen him on the street,) it was me who needed the dollar. Imagine that...
Then, as is his habit, he tried to talk me out of a dollar. What is your ticket for? Oh, that's B.S., just don't pay it, they won't do anything, they've got more important tmatters. That's what I would do, trust me. So, now can I get a dollar? You've got 14, you said so yourself...
"It's people like him who make it hard for someone who really is in a bind," I said to the ladies back, as she walked away, having been overwealmed by a beggar begging a beggar, with her at the bottom of the food chain.
I was able to get a dollar from a young guy who was dressed in work clothes, and whom I offered to pay for his potato chips on my card in exchange for it. He seemed to believe my story, especially as I showed him the 14 bucks which I already had, keeping it down as I did.
I walked to the courthouse, getting there at 9:20. Sue was already there, as was Kooky, and a brown and white pidgeon, which she had in a bag. (It had injured a foot, and Sue was nursing it back to health.)
WE had been put on the docket for "Homeless Court."
Don't ask me what Homeless Court is, except that it has to do with the court continuing your case while you meet with various organizations, like "Unity," or "Metropolitan," who help you through the process of getting off the street.
There were a lot of "success stories" this morning, which we had to sit through, as defendants came forward, with one of the friendly councellors at his/her side and told the judge that they had just found work and that they were about to sign a lease for housing. This was met with rounds of applause for all.
The judge looked down at paperwork in front of him, noted that the person had done "everything we asked you to do," congratulated them, and dismissed the original charge. This happened to at least a dozen people.
Someone from "Metropolitan" talked to Sue, but made the blunder of asking her if she would take a "mental health" screening, as part of a process which could lead to her getting off the streets and having her charges dismissed.
She got offended, and became very animated in insisting that she wasn't crazy. She raved like a lunatic.
They asked her what she wanted. She told them a job (so she could buy a bus ticket to leave New Orleans,) or a bus ticket to leave New Orleans.
They set her court date for December 20th, as they did mine.
They didn't ask me to submit to any mental health evaluations, but of course, I didn't show up to the courthouse carrying a cat and a paper bag with a pidgeon jumping around in it.
A Jaunt To Fairhope?
I am considering taking the train to Mobile tomorrow, and then the bus to Fairhope for the Friday Art Walk, which I believe is on the third Friday of each month. I will need to Google that event to make sure that it is proceeding as scheduled.
It will be nice to get away for a while, and the money can't be any worse than the 11 dollars which I have made here the past two days -days on which I was desperately trying to make money to possibly stay out of jail.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Day Early And A Dollar Ninety Eight Short

If I can't make a lousy few bucks tonight, I might as
well hop the train and never come back.
I could lose my guitar and all my posessions,
depending upon what the policies are at the jail,
concerning "property."
I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't just become
their "property."
15 Bucks may
be the difference between my freedom for the next week or two or -nothing would surprise me here in New Orleans- my being initiated in the ways of the Orleans Parish Prison.
I woke up yesterday with $13.87.
I played in the evening and kept my beer consumption to a paltry 3 cans of Hurricane High Gravity Lager.
I played Decatur until the 8 p.m. "curfew" came into effect, then went to Bourbon, where I got a couple of cigarettes and maybe a dollar from one of the stragglers who were out on this dismal Monday night.
This city really becomes opened to the most critical scrutiny when it is "slow" or "dead" or there are not many people out, if you will. It's like going to an amusement park and seeing only handfuls of people there. You get the impression that it just won't be as fun because you will be the only person screaming from a roller coaster car (the back one; it would be available) as it plunges over the precipice. Or you form a preconceived notion that the place just isn't all its "cracked up to be," as evidenced by the obvious lack of popularity.
All this is magnified in the French quarter which seems to thrive upon being so busy and crowded and chaotic that it never crosses people's minds that they are overpaying for everything, just to be part of the whole experience. People come here in droves, to see the droves of people, who have come here to see the droves of people.
Take away the crowds, and you are left with old buildings, the smell of urine and mule poop, and delicious food which could easily be replicated by other chefs in other cities.
Guy's wailing away on clarinets for nobody, and, most pathetic of all, clowns who, without the benefit of being seen through the eyes of children, are just guys with painted faces and funny costumes, and they aren't smiling, not by a long shot...
Yeah, when it is as slow as it was on Monday night, the 15th of November, it begs questions like "Why would anyone come here, anyways?"
I tried to find the Monday Night Football game on a TV, with no luck.
I then went back to the Occupation, where was showing another movie about the World Trade Centers collapsing as if by "a controlled demolition."
I woke up this morning with $13.02, down 80 cents from the previous day, even though I had purchased only 3 cans of beer; how pathetic is that?
I still have less than the 15 dollar amount, which I need to bring to court tomorrow, to stay out of jail.
I Have Let Sue Go
Unless I have "A Miracle On Canal Street," and not only cover my 15 dollar fee, but have enough left over to cover Sue's and still have something left over; Sue is on her own. I am not even sure I would intervene in the courtroom as they drag her away, kicking and screaming, towards a jail cell, unless my heart is touched in some way, perhaps if it seems apparent that she really doesn't understand what is happening to her, and why. She is deathly afraid of jail, all 85 pounds of her.
I see her occasionally, but have stopped talking to her.
She is a victim of the things that people have told her. People tell her things because they are playing games with her and deriving amusement out of her reactions. She will "go ballistic" and fume and stew all day over something that someone said about her.
A guy, whom I don't even know, walked up to her and told her that I had said to him "If you see Sue, give her a holler."
Sue accosted me and demanded to know what was "the big idea" of me having told that guy to give her a dollar if he sees her.
"I think he probably said 'hollar,' Sue, and I've never spoken to the guy in my life. He's messing with your head."
Sue doesn't know who to believe, some stranger, or a guy whom she once shared a piece of cardboard with, taking refuge from a tropical storm. If she is that distrustful, then perhaps she is a "damaged" person, beyond my abilities to salvage damaged Colombian ladies.
I have let her go, like the bird that she is, metaphorically.
Wanderlust (And Colloquialisms)
A reader of this blog has painted not only a rosy picture of the bay area of California, and the opportunities for buskers, for example; he has also hit the nail on the head in noticing that I ain't makin' crap out in these here streets of New Orleans.
He has sent me an e-mail to that effect, using the "contact" button that I wish more people would use.
I am looking to the West, from whence cometh my hope...
Addendum: Sue
After my last session on the computer, I saw Sue outside the library and decided to talk to her.
I told her that I only had 13 of the 15 bucks that I will need "to stay out of jail." At the mention of the word jail, it looked like she was about to burst into tears.
She then spent the next hour, repeating the same things that she had said the last time the subject came up, and asking the same questions. "I don't know, Sue, it depends upon what the judge does." "I don't know, Sue.."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Can Have That Camera??

I'm kind of a creature
of habit, especially if the habit is smoking or drinking.
Yesterday, I walked into the quarter and got two beers at The Unique Store, and then went by the spot where I had seen the bird, in case Sue was posted up there, keeping vigil. She wasn't.
I'm sure that there is a bum to the immediate right of
whomever is taking this picture saying:
"I can have that camera??"
Then, I went to Popeye's and grabbed some salt packets to put into the cheap beer, to make it as good as Hurricane Lager can be.
Soon, I will be a legend around here: the guy who puts salt in his beer (must be a Yankee...)
I sat at the same spot to drink and was greeted by a guy who is remodeling a hotel near there and to whom I have spoken a few times. He said "You're early today!" I guess he is a creature of habit, too.
I got the the spot on Decatur, and there was a rather large black guy sitting in the spot where I like to play, holding a sign, which basically stated that he was looking for work.
I asked him if my playing music would be considered "competition" to him.
He didn't answer, except with "the NOLA scowl," which is the expression of fashion here.
I began to play in the next doorway, after checking with the people inside the business, who had made the suggestion of "Run him off, he's just sitting there holding a sign, you're trying to do something!"
I told them that I wouldn't like it if someone tried to be territorial with me like that.
I was playing and sipping my third beer, when the guy spoke up and said "Hey, man, I came here to be by myself!"
I gave him the smart ass reply "Well, you picked a bad spot. You should go out into the country and sit under a tree!"
He then informed me that he was from Chicago, and that if I had said to him in Chicago what I had just said to him in New Orleans, then he would be committing some act of violence, which I can't remember specifically, upon me.
I then broke into music, putting the words of a guy that I was in Basic Training with, who was from Detroit, to the chords.
"In Detroit, if you're not a man by the age of 14, then, you're a punk; and, if you're a punk, you're always gonna be a punk."
I made a nice little ditty out of the words of Private Askin, who was from Detroit and was in my platoon.
Askin For It
He got up from his bed, did Private Askin, and stood between the two rows of double bunks -about 12 running down each side of the dorm- on more than one occasion, usually late at night, usually late on one of the nights that we were allowed to go into San Antonio and return drunk, and he made pretty much the same announcement, on each of those occasions.
He was in his boxers and there was what is called in some circles "a skid mark" despoiling his otherwise pristine garment, but, I don't think it detracted from the import of his words.
He said, and I'm pretty sure that I might have this pretty accurately, because Askin repeated himself, much the way Hitler (another great communicator) did, and, if there is a usefulness in repetition, beyond for merely its own sake, it at least has the effect of making the words stick in the listener's head.
Askin would say:
"My name's Askins, and I'm from Detroit!" Worth noting that he added an "s" to the end of his name, which had no counterpart, either on his uniform lapel, nor on his paperwork. This would be, in my opinion, to make his name sound more "bad ass." You might fuck with Askin, but you ain't gonna try ol' "Askins." (Why, it even sounds like you would be ganged up upon, by more than one Askin, and overwhelmed.
Mr. Askin continued:
"...and if you fuck with Askins - Askins is gonna fuck you up!" and then he reviewed the information about his origins (Detroit) and repeated the social commentary, the conclusion of which being that if you're not a man in Detroit by the age of 14, then you are a punk; and will be saddled with all the fruit of the consequences of that particular station in life.
I had a good friend named Corey Puckett. He was from Little Rock, Arkansaw and occupied the bunk directly across from me. I told him "Sweet dreams, and don't fuck with Askins," before we nodded off on those nights.
Getting back to the point of the anecdote; When I broke into song, and sang Askin(s) speech over a chord progression, substituting "Chicago" for "Detroit," the large black man came over and grabbed the neck of my guitar.
I realised the folly in returning his pull, trying to wrench the instrument from him, and throwing it out of adjustment, but I pulled back just enough to communicate "Let go" to him.
"You're not strong enough!" he said.
I told him "I have something strong enough in my backpack," and reached into said bag with the hand which wasn't engaged in a tug of war with him over the guitar.
For a second, he seemed to flinch, as if maybe thinking I would pull out a small caliber handgun and shoot him at point blank range.
I pulled my cellphone out, and said "911" to him.
He said something about not caring at all about going to jail ("I need a place to sleep and a hot shower,") and things kind of escalated until the point where I reminded him that I had asked him if he would consider me competition if I played music nearby and that he had just stared at me. That seemed to diffuse things, and soon he went on to another spot, but not before telling me that I needed to read my bible, as evidenced by the presence of my half-drunk third can of beer sitting next to me. "...and you're swillin'?" "You need to start reading your bible!"
Ok, guitar grabber, let me borrow yours...
I saw him at the other spot later that evening. He had added a tip jar to his accoutrement's, to go with his sign looking for work, and he was drinking something.
I went up to the Bourbon Street spot, and salvaged enough to break just a couple bucks ahead for the day.