Friday, December 30, 2011

The Library Is Closed

So I'm not there, writing this. I am writing this Friday night and scheduling it to pop into cyber existence Saturday, I guess around noon.
Hey, I might be dead now, how cool is that, reading me post humusley

Mr. Clean

Most Recent Photo of Lincoln Believed to Exist!
Today, I labor under anxiety, because time is "short".
So, first things first: I did find a photo of Abraham Lincoln, behind the drywall in an abandoned house, which had been destryed by Hurricane Katrina, which I happened to be sleeping in, which experts have confirmed to be the most recent picture in existence of the late President. I will be auctioning it off soon, for money to buy strings and some basic hygeine items.
"I was kind of tearing out the drywall and looking behind it for just such a type of thing; or marijuana, when I came across it," said Daniel.
The library will close tomorrow and the next day, and the next day. I might just write short posts and use the "options" function to have them automatically publish on those days that the library is closed.
I am charging up my cell phone battery. I got into my pictures folder yesterday, on  a different computer than the two which had given me fits. I don't know if it was because the crappy cable was positioned just right, or if it had something to do with the machine. I took the opportunity to copy all of my pictures to a jump drive, which seems to be of a less quirky nature, so that I can continue to blog using photos to enhance the presentation.
I am also charging my mp3 player, and will soon check my e-mail to see if anyone heeded my general appeal to send songs as attachments. Out of 42 facebook friends and 30 or so blog readers, I am hoping for at least a Captain And Tenille song or two.
Mission Accomplished, All Clothes Washed
When I left the library at 2:30, I started to make the march down Rampart Street towards the laundromat where Jerry Lee Lewis recorded "Great Balls of Fire."
I had my big pack on my back, my smaller pack on my right shoulder and my guitar over my neck and hanging almost in front of me, where every step I took caused it to bump against my thigh. All I could to is walk to a steady cadence, so as to impart re-enforcing vibrations into the wood.
I was wondering why the stuff was so heavy. I thought that the damp clothes contributed, but the load was more heavy than what they alone would account for.
I kind of felt like a "sitting duck," in that, I would have a hard time "outrunning a nigga" burdened by all my stuff, but, as it was daylight, and I walked on the side of the street which is in the French Quarter Proper, where perpetrators are prosecuted to the maximum extent allowed by law for any crime, I wasn't worried.
Don't be deceived by today's USA Today article, which reported that New Orleans is one of few cities which is bucking the trend, nationwide, of having homicides in decline, and is having quite the opposite tendency. (I've been here almost 6 months and have only been murdered twice).
Since I had to get the larger washer, which cost $4.75, I decided to throw in my backpack, along with everything else except the shirt and pants that I had on. This gave me a chance to empty everything out and determine what was making the bags so heavy.
For your entertainment, as you read; a little music for
violin and guitar.
Grandpa Elliot (background) was in some movie where he played himself
and sang "Stand By Me," and played the harmonica.
It was a "blockbuster" movie, (not only that, a lot of people
saw it) and so he became famous. He still does pretty well,
because people love to be able to go back to their hometowns, play
that movie for their friends and say "We met that guy; it was so cool!"
About Tonya and Dorise (foreground) though, Grandpa was overheard to say:
"They're puttin' me out of business!"
I found an empty glass bottle, which once held sesame oil before it leaked out, soaking part of the inside of the bag.
I actually recall a day or so when I kept catching whiffs of what I thought was Thai food. But, I guess it wasn't Thai food, it was the sesame oil, which was dripping out of my backpack and running down the backs of my legs. But, I can't afford cologne right now, and I figured sesame oil was better than nothing, and was thinking that when I ran into Tonya, who is Chinese, and probably likes sesame oil. (I know I'm stereotyping violinists; sorry)
I had a zip lock bag containing two hot dogs, which had been in there for two days. I also found a very soggy book, which must have taken water the night that I played outside the Superdome and then bumped my head, causing me to forget that I had two hot dogs left.
I was able to wash everything, and lighten the bags by a few pounds by judiciously discarding things like soggy books. The book involved was "Writing The Memoir," by Judith Barrington, and my condolences go out to her and her family for having to have thrown it away, but, I had read all of it, except the last couple chapters, which deal with "libel" and "defamation of character;" subject matter which I doubt would be of any relevance to an incorrigible, like myself in that practice.
I didn't get out to play until it was 7:30 p.m., and I had a half hour to get to the music store to replace a string, the "g" string. I have broken 3 "g" strings this week. I have been playing a lot in the key of G, in anticipation of adding my "G" harmonica to the mix soon.
I ran into Doreen and her band. They were already breaking down. Their boxes were so full of money that they were using pitchforks to chuck it into the back of their SUV. "There's a lot of people out," her husband said to me. "Are you just going out?"
"Yes," I told them, and I could see the regret in their faces that I had missed out on the gold rush of the afternoon.
I told them that I had had to do laundry that day, because I just couldn't bear to wear the same clothes another day. I told them about the clean guy, who I had talked to, the night before.
We talked about the clean guy, and the spot that he played at a bit, and then I was off to get my string.
After stringing up, I sat on Decatur and played from about 8 p.m., until 9:30, and had about 10 single dollars thrown to me.
I got a 12 oz. Pabst Blue Ribbon, and then moved to my Bourbon Street spot, where I tried to play the best I could and focus upon the singing. I was wearing clean clothes.
A group from Mexico City came by and seemed to enjoy what I was playing, and then a guy and a girl stopped and listened for a while, and threw me a few bucks. Then, requested something, which I (luckily) knew, and threw another few bucks. Then, in between songs, the young lady asked me if I was on the street, and, after I said "yes," handed me 20 bucks, advising me not to buy liquor with it.
I didn't have to buy liquor, I told her, because someone had come by and given me a "Jameson and Coke," and I had a 22 oz. Kirian beer on deck. Kirian is a Japanese beer, and I couldn't help seeing the "syncronicity" in the fact that I am listening to a Japanese singer on my mp3 player, and I had jammed with "Butterfly," a Japanese blues singer.
Then, I played for about another hour, having to break my tip case down from several bills, to only a few, especially after a stray group of hoodlums came by and asked me for a dollar, which I refused them. I told them "This is like my whole paycheck," referring to the 15 or 20 bills, one of which was a five.
I had stashed the 20 from the young lady in my pocket, along with some other singles.
"There are people out here making a whole lot more than 20 bucks a day," I added, as kind of a white lie.
Yes, but their money is in their wallets, not right in front of the hoodlums faces, causing them to become like 4 year olds in a candy store, ready to throw a tantrum if they can't have a Snickers!
I made off with about 60 bucks for 3 hours of playing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Mission

Little Richard and Fats Domino
stopped coming here, after it was changed from
a music studio into a laundromat.
My mission,
since the mission is closed for the holidays, is to do my laundry today.
I asked Howard if there was anything that he needed washed, and he told me that yes, there indeed was; but he was wearing it all and had nothing to change into. I shouted to him directions to the Goodwill Store.
My Camera Phone
My camera phone is in the news, as it has been malfunctioning these past few days.
Techno Speak
When I plug it in, I get the message that the phone is ready to use, but if I want to view the pictures in that folder, a box pops open and thumbnails begin to populate the box, but at some point the thumbnails stop being rendered and are replaced by the Windows icon which is used in place of photos which could not be rendered.
Then, the box loses its functions, the pointer becomes an hourglass in outer space, or in a zero gravity similator, and the display on the phone begins to sporadically alternate between telling me that USB is connected, and that it is not connected. One small ray of hope is that my USB connecting cable has a damaged spot along it, where the outer casing has been split open, exposing the little red and green wires. It could be the cables "fault" (even though it is hard to place blame on it for doing exactly what a messed up cable is expected to do). Anyone with knowledge about these matters, please leave a comment or suggestion.
I will add that, when I wiggle the cable at around the spot where the fracture is, the wiggling coincides with the sporadic appearances of dialog boxes telling me things like "device not recognized" or "a problem occurred.."
Now that I think of it as a former technician, there is more than a 99% chance that it is the cable, and all I have do to test the hypothesis is try it with another cable. Technician, heal thyself!
Yesterday's Debacle
Yesterday, I left the library and got an all day bus pass. I then saw the 39 bus pass by and decided to walk to my transfer location in 20 minutes, rather than wait 45 minutes for the next 39 bus. (Warning: There may be a quiz at the end of this, where you will be asked "So, how many busses did Daniel see in all?).
I arrived at the transfer spot in 20 minutes and was in the middle of a 24 oz. beer when the next 94 bus came along. Those are the breaks.
To make a long story short; I got out there, went to the Family Dollar to get some things (and Howard's Cheese Whiz stuff), grabbed my bag of damp clothes, which showed signs of having been disturbed by someone, and got back to town just few minutes late for the closing of the library, and my guitar and bag were held hostage the whole night, while I just walked around Royal Street, taking a night off.
I forgot to mention Grandpa Elliot in the background
wearing the hat...he's famous
The Clean Guy
Across the street from one of the fancy hotels was a guy whom I had seen before and spoken to, a couple of times. He is mostly a singer, but accompanies himself very simply, on a guitar. "I'm the exact opposite; I'm trying to focus more on the guitar and less on singing," he said to me, after I told him that I had been working hard on my guitar playing and, after hearing his rather fine voice, was inspired to work more on my singing.
He is the opposite of me in many ways. He is clean cut. He stands up and uses a strap for the guitar, and makes eye contact with the people walking by.
I sit on the sidewalk, and focus on the music to the point that I sometimes have my head lowered over the fretboard and the people cannot even see my face.
I've never felt that my 'presentation' is appropriate for Royal Street, across from the swank hotel.
He had a few bills in his hat, I noticed at a quick glance, most of them fives.
It's hard to talk to another street performer while managing to keep your eyes diverted from his/her tip hat. It's an involuntarily action. You don't want to pause and stare rudely, but its the first thing that your gaze falls upon. Men in locker rooms experience a similar impulse.
The guy is a good singer, but what he pointed out was the fact that he was staying "clean."
Indeed, he had on like a dinner jacket, or a blazer and it looked clean. He was clean cut and looked like he could be a jet pilot. "Since I  play across the street from the hotel, I try to stay clean," They (the hotel) appreciate it, they really do," he added and, as if to punctuate his sentence, someone came across the street from the hotel and dropped yet another five in his hat. Here it was a day upon which I failed to do laundry; then I run into HIM.
So, if you want to play across the street from the hotel, try to look like you stay across the street at the hotel.
Next comes Operation Laundry, which I will launch shortly.
Then, the "question of Howard" will have to be addressed.
He seems to have a very simple life of rising early, getting coffee and a newspaper, then reading in the library most of the day and retiring early.
It seems like he could do this anywhere, and why he would go to any lengths to get his Coffee and newspaper in California, instead of Louisianna, when it might entail "tailing" me all the way across the country where there might arise situations involving jumping off of bridges onto fast moving trains, and encountering poisonous snakes and homeless people along the way, is beyond me.
I need to have a talk with Howard, or rather write down my take on the whole situation, present it to him so he can digest it, and then wait for his reply. That would be better than having to shout the whole conversation back and forth, letting every other homeless person in on our business.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Ahead

I could be that guy in the middle, if I play my cards right. Soon after the January 9th BCS Championship game to be played at the Superdome, I will be free to roam the country. This photo was taken from the garlic capitol of the world, which everyone knows is Gilroy, California. It is near where I plan to try to settle down, start a new life and campaign vigorously to become Garlic King.

A Major Investment

The guy behind them is not a musician, but rather a
guard in charge of chasing after anyone who grabs
the tip basket and tries to make off with it...
Looking ahead, it is Wednesday.
The priority today is personal hygeine and that means that, after I leave here, I must take the bus out to where I stashed my extra clothing and my heavy stuff, which I saw no immediate use for nor purpose in carrying around for the 12 miles that I walk on average each day.
I plan upon grabbing the clothes, which have probably gotten damp, and bringing them to the laundromat where Little Richard recorded "Tuity Fruity," where I will wash, dry and fold and then lament the piddly bits of money that I am making on the street which turns the funding of doing laundry into a major investment.
Howard wants me to pick him up a can of cheese "that you spray," propelled by aerosol, I guess, while I am out by the Family Dollar, which is near the railyard.
I might get an all day bus pass for 3 bucks, so I will be able to, at me leisure, talk to some of the railyard workers and ask them questions pertaining to trains which go west.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

4 Day Haitus (appended)

This library closed
for 4 days, over the holiday, reminding me that holidays are not really for the homeless.
It closed, and it will close again, over the New Year's holiday, Saturday through Monday. I won't be back until January 3rd.
I played over the weekend with mixed results.
I'm Probably Perfect The Way I Am
It seemed like Friday night's activities died down early.
Relax, Daniel
I stopped by where Tonya and Dorise were playing , in front of Rouse's Market. Tonya asked me why I had a deeply thoughtful look on my face, and asked me if I was even capable of relaxing the tension in my lower forehead, which gave me that look. "I don't know, I'll have to think really hard over that," I said.
She assured me that there was nothing wrong with it, in her opinion, and that she wasn't judging me, and that I am probably perfect just the way I am.
As she was packing up her stuff, she asked excitedly, if I was going to play. I figured "why not," because in front of Rouse's Market is one of the "best" spots in the French Quarter. It is a great spot for a band, or someone with a big production, involving amplifiers, chairs, microphones, and preferably, an 8 year old girl playing the drums. It is a mediocre spot for a lone unamplified guy with an acoustic guitar.
I took my guitar out and played, thinking more of trying to impress Tonya, than any other thing.
She has an acoustic guitar player (Dorise) as an accompanist, already. I was impressed with the repertoir of Christmas songs that they were able to churn out, especially their instrumental version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and Tonya's ability to count the days, so as not to make it "The Eleven (or Thirteen) Days of Christmas."
You've got some funk in that box...
It would have been nice for Tonya to tell me that I sounded good, before she hopped in their van and took off, but, I had to spend a bit of time tuning, and then played a song that I thought that Tonya would like, and which I had to stop in the middle of, because I hadn't been doing my homework and memorising songs that I think Tonya would like...
The next night, Saturday, I had better luck after I stopped where Doreen was playing the clarinet with her husband on Suzaphone (partially shown; bottom left), and her little girl, Dorien, on drums. They were packing up to leave also, asked me if I was going to take the spot also, and this time I played a song that I thought the little girl would like, playing funky chords and making up lyrics about the green bread of my sandwich (It was "spinach bread," and was supposed to be green, but I made a joke about it). Doreen's husband put a dollar in my case and said "You've got some funk in that box!"
It being Christmas eve, there were people everywhere, and I had the feeling that I could have made a lot of money, just because of the occasion, but I couldn't bring myself to just sit somewhere for that purpose alone. I might have to adjust my attitude in that reguard, in the future.
I just about broke even the whole 4 days of the extended holiday, to include last night's Monday Night Football event at the Superdome, when it rained just about the whole time. I sat under a stairwell and played. Most people just walked past me, and I didn't think that I was making hardly anything at all. I counted about 16 bucks this morning. Some of the people that threw me something must have thrown a few bucks, because I'm pretty sure that less than 16 people tipped me.
Then, I stood up and banged my head on the concrete of the stairwell which was a couple feet above it as I sat. I left the game because of a mild concussion. (The league is paying extra attention to those kind of injuries this year, and, even though I didn't have any blurred vision, I decided to err on the side of caution and went to the library's patio to sleep).
This morning, Howard asked what has become his "morning question" lately: "How'd you do last night?"
I don't suspect any hidden motives in his asking me that, though, because he gets check every month from Social Security, I sometimes wonder if he sees the potential to be of help to me, somewhere down the road, especially at times when "I didn't do so well last night."
It is still up in the air, the decision to cut myself free of Howard, or to take him along wherever I go. The pros and cons are about equal in the matter. He might get a little extra money for being hard of hearing, though...I said "HE MIGHT GET A LITTLE EXTRA MONEY FOR BEING HARD OF HEARING!!!!"
It would be easy to write him off as a bumbling idiot who trods along behind me and asks painfully obvious questions like "Are you gonna go inside?" after we had walked all the way to the Unique Store and are standing out front. "No, Howard, I just wanted to see if I remembered how to get here after bumping my head last night." Or "Are you gonna hide it in there?," as we near a lone stand of palmettos and I am walking towards it carrying my sleeping bag, after having said "First, I'm going to stash my sleeping bag somewhere," before we walked there. And then: "Is that a good hiding place?" "No, Howard; my bag gets stolen out of here every time and I have to buy a new one each day, but I just don't know of any better hiding places..."
But, I had recently rededicated myself to living a more spiritual life, and had asked Jesus into my heart for about the 38th time. This time was different, though, because I was really comfortable with the people that prayed over me, none of them reminded me of a used car salesman, dealing over my soul, and I think the prayer had an effect; things changed wholesale for the positive, and a lot of blessings came my way.
And, Howard came my way.
Because of his deafness, it is easy for people to dismiss him as being mentally retarded, and that kind of treatment has apparently molded his personality. I think he is intelligent, but just misunderstood, and lonely.
If I give my body to be burned, but don't have charity, then...I don't remember the rest of that scripture, but the end result isn't good...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Same Old New Orleans

As I walked down Canal Street,
and saw the scowls on the faces of the people, and heard the brass band playing on the corner of Bourbon Street, the one with the saxophone player that physically attacked a musician who had the misfortune of choosing to play on that corner, not realizing that it was consecrated sacred ground, I realised that it had taken all of 10 minutes back in New Orleans to have the state of mind which I had left here, before going to Mobile for 2 weeks, revisit me like a mist blowing in off the river.
But, since my time is shorter on the computers here, I should get to the most important thing first.
I am smitten by a Japanese singer/songwriter who I heard on the mp3 player which I got in the parcel from Martin W., of West Virginia.
I am looking forward even more to a possible relocation to San Francisco, because it is closer to Japan and the probability of my running into a Japanese singer/songwriter would be higher there.
The mp3 player was sent with Ritsuko Okazaki (above) already loaded onto it, singing "For Fruits Basket," which is pretty beautiful, despite it having a few borrowed chords from "I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World," by Ronnie Milsap. 
Last Night was dismal, as far as street performance went.
I went back to the music store to remedy the situation of having a "d" string performing in the role of a "g" string. The guy dug deeper into his single strings and was able to produce a string which is meant to be a "g" string, which I bought for $1.
I then went and made no money at all.
If I had to have a night where I made nothing at all, it was a good time to have it, as I still had about 20 bucks left from what Martin sent plus what I had made the night before on the mis-strung guitar.
The place where the
Japanese music originated from, uncannily enough.
I have gotten e-mails saying that some other stuff is on the way.
Mom mentioned wiring money, and a parcel has been sent from London, destined for the Rebuild Center. I am praying that it will not take 58 days to arrive, like one sent to Mobile last year. I got that "Christmas" package in February. It had postage marks from Mobile, Texas, Mobile, Ohio, Mobile, Tennessee and finally, Mobile, Alabama, or something similar, I recall...the postal service is going to go bankrupt if they continue such inefficiency.
I will have to see about arranging with the nuns at the Rebuild Center to forward it, should I be in California at the time of its arrival, perhaps by contacting the Lidgleys of London to see if they have a record of the weight of the box, and its approximate dimentions, so that I might get a pre-paid box which they could put the box inside of, and send off to San Francisco. Those nuns can work miracles.
Other than that, I am down to 21 minutes, the temperature outside has dropped about 20 degrees from the comfortable range of last night, dropping along with rain this morning. I'm sure my sleeping bag got wet, but, that is because I was too lazy to tote it around with me all day, and hid it in a bush.
Daniel and Ritsuko, itsu mo! (for all time)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

8 Followers, Not Including Howard

This blog now has 8 followers,
who will probably have their inboxes inundated with notifications persuant to my every cyber move.
I can understand people, who are stuck in their 9 to 5 jobs and taking home a regular paycheck to a real home, wanting to vicariously sit on a sidewalk and play "Imagine," by John Lennon, hoping that someone will come by and say "nice song," as they throw 5 bucks in their guitar case. It is a dream that few dare to pursue.
If you do, though, I have found that revising the song a little will help you out.
The chorus can be changed to:
You may say, John was a dreamer
But, according to him; he was not the only one
He hoped some day we would join him
But then some psycho shot him with a gun...
(I know that "shot him with a gun" may sound redundant, but I need to clarify that it wasn't a camera.)
What A Day
It was quite a day.
It started by me waking up for the final time (there had been at least a dozen others) next to Howard, as we slept on the marble patio under the overhang, outside the library. This library.
I had gone there, after playing last night on Decatur for a couple hours; a couple hours in which the city of New Orleans seemed to be saying, welcome back, Daniel, you need not think of ever leaving again, by fortifying me with about 11 bucks; during an hour in which I played my guitar with a "d" string in the "g" string slot.
Techincal Fact: In order to make that arrangement workd, I needed to tune the other 5 strings down as far as I could while keeping them close to their indiginous ranges, in order that I could tighten the alien string up from its indiginous range, so that it would meet the other strings "half way," sort of.
I had 5 flappy, twangy, dreamily disonance strings, and one tight one, praying for itself to snap just to end its misery, yet not snapping, like a soul in hell, because I just wouldn't do China Cat Sunflower, by the Grateful Dead and show it mercy...
That being said, Howard took to New Orleans like a fish to water, assuming that the water is in an aquarium which also hosts a lot of suckers, bottom feeders and sponges.
After going to the music store and learning that, out of the six guitar strings which they sold seperately, they were out of the one string which I was missing, I devised the above detailed arrangement, made the 11 bucks, and then got out of Decatur before I got another ticket for obstructing the sidewalk (you can't really obstruct it before 8 p.m., but, after that time, you actually swell up and assume such an imposing presence that you are suddenly obstructing things).
Charges Dismissed
I couldn't set my alarm on my cellphone, because the battery had gone dead, during the train ride.
Howard woke me up unintentionally, though, when he returned to the spot with his newspaper and his coffee, which he had gotten right down the street, at Brother's Market. How convenient it is for Howard to sleep outside the library and have his coffee and newspaper so close -almost makes you wonder why he would ever leave to head for California, following a street musician along the way, doesn't it?
I got to the courthouse. I made sure that they knew that I was there, and I explained why I was late the previous day, placing due blame upon the CSX railroad and their insensitivity to the schedules of their riders.
Basically, what happened was: The District Attorney, who is a blonde haired woman (though it lookes dyed) with the eyes of a master strategist; eyes which can register compassion one minute "We're just trying to help you put your life together by taking advantage of government sponsored programs, which are putting social workers to work..." to suspicion "You say that you are putting your life together with the help of government sponsored programs, but, why were you arrested last night for the same thing you've been arrested for 15 times before" said to me: "You would have been rocking (her word) if you stayed yesterday."
I told her that I hadn't gotten into town until afternoon, due to the unreliability of the CSX trains.
"I thought I saw you here yesterday morning."
 (She saw Sue, perhaps, and assumed that I was with her, because we were co defendants, and had been sitting together during previous proceedings).
To make a long story short, I finally got to talk to the head District Attorney, who, after tip toeing around the issue, being careful not to say certain things, finally said "I'm hoping you'll just leave the city, so I can dismiss this charge."
I told him that I planned upon leaving right after the B.C.S. national championship game, to be played at the Superdome.
He said "Try not to get arrested over the holidays," and then dismissed me, before dismissing my charges.
Almost Heaven
Then, I stopped at the Rebuild Center to check to see if I had any mail, because it is halfway between this library and the courthouse.
They give out mail at 1:30 p.m. I got there at 1:30 p.m.
The nun in charge of the mail, asked me if I was expecting anything. I said "Yes, a package from California," forgetting that Martin W., who said that he had sent something, later said that he was in West Virginia.
"Who is it from?," asked the nun, ever vigilant of scamming homeless people, who, hearing that one of their ilk was expecting a package, might hit the person over the head, steal his ID, and then do cosmetic plastic surgery upon themselves to make themselves resemble the picture on the ID, in order to steal the package.
I remembered Martin's name, and then instantly remembered West Virginia. "I'm sorry, West Virginia, not California...I'm confusing him with someone in California, I said."
Those were the magic words, and I was passed the box, which I opened, like a kid opening presents on Christmas. It wasn't Christmas, but I was like a kid.
It couldn't have been more timely. I was in a quandry over how to remedy the string situation on my guitar, given that the music store has every other string 'cept the one I need. There was some money; enough to get a full set, and head west knowing that when someone tells me that they will give me 5 bucks if I play "Hotel California," I won't have to say "I can't really play that one, 'cause I'm missing a string"
There was a jacket (the color of the scorched earth that I usually sleep upon), and cigarettes, as well as an mp3 player. The player has a "mic" jack, and I am motivated to use it to plug in a mic and record a song, thanking Martin W., and praising the people of West Virgina in general, as being "good people."
In general, the package was well thought out, and ministered to my immediate needs. I used one of the plastic ties to tie the jacket to my pack, and headed for the library, where I intended to shave with one of the razors (included).
San Francisco
It has been kind of interesting, the things that have conspired to point me in the direction of the bay area of California.
I have gone on a website a few times called "Sperling's Best Cities," and filled out their extensive questionairre which plied me for my opinions on everything from clean water to symphony orchestras, and, every time, the city at the top of the list, and hence the "best city" for me, has been San Francisco.
There is another intangible allure which the place holds for me: I have a secret death wish to slide off the continent and into the Pacific Ocean, during an earthquake and surrounded by homosexuals.
That, and the fact that the Grateful Dead got their start there, and I can imagine my music being there, like New Orleans Ragtime Jazz is here; lucrative.
Plus, being adopted as I was as an infant and being given only a threadbare profile of my biological father by the nuns at the Catholic Social Services place, in order to protect him from my finding him and hounding him for money and to borrow the car keys, I was nonetheless made privy to the information that he was too young to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood, and that he instead, took on the resposibilities of heading to San Francisco to pursue a career in music. If God wants certain information to be passed along, He will brook not even the reticence of nuns, and that little tidbit has kind of stuck with me...
As soon as I had left the Rebuild Center, with my pack replenished with stuff, I ran into a guy standing out in front of the place, who asked for a light and then, unprompted by me, began to explain to me that I should go to San Francisco, California. He painted a bright picture, resplendant with visions of free hotels and food stamps for the homeless, and medical marijuana by the wheelbarrel-full.
I'm starting to wonder if the mindset instilled within me by my grandparents, who "never accepted any charity," rather worked hard their whole lives, may not apply to this current age.
If the world's economy is going to collapse and the antichrist is going to take over by hacking into the main world bank computer, then deciding who can buy and sell and who can't, then maybe I should get myself on disability, and supplement it with street performance enhanced by medical marijuana. After all, there must be something wrong with me if I haven't worked in 5 years!
I ran into Howard, and when I told him of my plans to move out west, he said "OK," as if he will be with me, every step of the way. We will have to have a "little talk" sometime before January 9th, and the BCS Championship Game.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Howard and I finally got a train,
At about 9:50 this morning.
This was about an hour after I had to appear in court, but it was the best I could do, under the circumstances.
The circumstances are that Howard has taken to following my every move. He may think that I know so much about being homeless, that he should study my behaviour and model himself after me by following in my footsteps, literally.
While looking for a train with an open boxcar all Sunday afternoon, we walked a pretty good distance. One conductor told me that a train was to leave for New Orleans at 4 p.m.
In order to be in the best possible position for selecting a car, we walked about 3 miles from this library, into the railyard, and then sat and waited. Howard dragged his feet the whole way, and had his blankets clutched in his arms.
The 4 o' clock train was either late, or snuck by us somehow, on another set of tracks.
We spent the whole night in another spot, where I had hopped before, hoping that a train would stop right in front of us with a boxcar's door yawning open for us.
I am starting to think that Howard expects to follow me all the way to California, if that should be my destination.
He has a habit of watching me. At almost any given minute, I can look up from what I'm doing and catch him just standing there, watching what I am doing, even if it is tying my shoe.
Every time I move, I draw his attention.
I was brushing my hair the other morning, and Howard was watching me brush my hair. It makes me feel self conscious. He was watching me eat olives and feta cheese, after I came out of the Winn Dixie.
I had forgotten to get a plastic fork, so I was kind of drinking the olives and feta cheese and olive oil out of the container, while Howard was transfixed by the whole spectacle. At one point, an olive escaped my mouth and fell on the sidewalk. "Woops," said Howard.
I don't really need a play by play announcer, Howard. I felt like saying.
He is following me around, expecting me to lead him to the promised land for the homeless, or something; I don't know.
The fact that he has been almost deaf his whole life, probably means that he grew up outside the company of the mainstream kids; the one's who didn't shout at each other.
Still, it is trying my patience to have to answer questions like "Did you get yourself some lunch?" which is what he asked me, after I had stepped out of Winn Dixie, with a bag of food, which I started to take out in preparation for eating it.
I know it's a rhetorical question, but, the snide side of me wanted to say "No, this isn't me!!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mobile Flying Ballet

This year's performance of the Mobile Flying Ballet Society's "The Second Coming"
draws an enthusiastic group of Mobilians, who happened to have all
shown up dressed in "50''s" garb.
Ok, I am in Mobile; still.
Last night's attempt to board a train was unsuccesful, as none of the at least four trains stopped at the spot where Howard and I were waiting.
Yes, Howard, The 66 or so year old guy, who is hard of hearing and has been since a young age, so he seems very obtuse and I might have judged him a moron, had I not seen him spending hours reading some pretty good literature. He said that he couldn't make it through "Prince Of Tides," the Pay Conroy book that I am now reading and enjoying immensely, but other than that he has pretty good taste in pretty good literatere.
So, I have figured out that he isn't a moron. When I ask him "What time is it?" and he answers "OK!," I just attribute it to the fact that he misheard me. I guess my point is that...
My plans now include Howard.
Will Howard Become A Load?
He expressed a desire to go back to New Orleans with me. He cited his lack of knowledge about Mobile as the reason that he doesn't want to stay here. I don't see why he couldn't have, during our two week stint here, learned the locations of the places that feed, familiarised himself with the free trolley which circumnavigates the downtown area at regular intervals, and even found himself a place to sleep, where his blankets could also be hidden, etc. 
I couldn't, in good conscious, refuse to take him along with me. I couldn't think of a good reason why I should tell him that he is just going to be a "load," and I really don't know if he is going to be a load.
It is only a hop to New Orleans, anyways. We can discuss further adventures (and maybe a contingency for sharing expenses) when we get to New Orleans. I really might just spend a couple days there, before trying to get to the desert by January, for my yearly fast and cleanse in the desert, living on aloe vera juice and praying for 15 days, (which I have missed every year of my life but one).
I asked Howard where he planned to sleep once in New Orleans. He indicated that he did not have that information at the time.
When he asked me where I was going to sleep, I indicated the super secret spot which I have to be out of by 6 a.m., and which has room for only one).
Howard said that he wanted to "take the train to California." I had indicated making a move in that direction myself, but, if Howard is planning upon accompanying me all the way to California, if and when I should find the hand of God moving me in that direction, then I see no reason why to seperate from him and go it alone, unless an advantage to going solo presents itself.
I don't want to feel like Howard is my responsibility. He has been self sufficient, and has even offered to loan me money. He hasn't slowed me down yet, I must admit. So, at this point; the ruling stands that Howard is allowed to come along on the train ride.
The Wait
The Sockflower Hollies, seen this morning,
alongside the Blooming Shorts...
No, I'm not referring to the song made popular by the group "The Band;" Howard and I found out, at 11a.m. this Monday morning, from a reliable source in a railroad uniform, that the next train for New Orleans is going to pull out at 4 p.m.
That will put it in the Big Easy, at about an average of 8:30 p.m., and we would have lost the advantage of having the Family Dollar open, and we will be pushing it to expect the Winn Dixie to be open.
No matter, my plan is to sleep Monday night, out there by the rail yard, or perhaps past it. There are vast expanses of land out there that nobody seems to care about.
I'll have to take a bus ride into Canal Street to go to the courthouse in the morning, but I certainly don't need to take a bus ride into the quarter to sleep, that can be done "out in the country" towards the end of the 94 bus route, where there is a lake which I always wanted to investigate.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Make Your Bed

It is Sunday afternoon.
I will go to McDonald's to see if the Patriots game is on.
Then, I need to start thinking about hopping the train tonight.
Howard left his entire bed (and pillow) on the ground upon the straw, next to the Episcopalian church.
I told him that his stuff was in grave danger of just disappearing from that spot.
He smiled, and acted as if he didn't care.
I thought, Hey, you make your bed, by not making your bed, and you lay in it, Howard!
He will not have me around for a while.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Someone In Latvia

Last night, Thursday,
I played at the acoustically superior spot, starting out pretty sober.
Howard had lent me one dollar when I went to see him at the railroad track spot. He was already aleep, though it was only about 7 p.m. No wonder he is up with the birds and off to get his newspaper and coffee every morning.
On my way to see Howard, I went by the fancy hotel on Royal Street, to pick butts out of the ashtray. There were two guys standing there, each one holding a styrofoam "to go" container.
Upon seeing me there, with my backpack and guitar and picking a butt out of the ashtray, inspecting it and determining that it was not only menthol, but too short, then returning it to the ashtray; they made the correct assessment that I would love their styrofoam "to go" containers; one for me; one for Howard.
They assured me that they were just "a bonus that they threw in," and that they didn't really want them.
It was tuna salad on a bed of spinach and tomatoes, maybe a black olive or two and a pile of cheddar cheese.
I woke Howard up, who wasn't hungry until he saw the nice "fancy hotel" style styrofoam containers which perked up his appetite. "Mmm, this is good," he said, as he ate the tuna salad with his fingers. Then, he lent me the dollar, so I could have one beer to loosen up before playing at the acoustically superior "New York Hi Style" spot, for all of about two dozen people that walked by in the two hours that I played.
"Ivan, what is funny American street musician up to now?"
"Well, let me tell you, comrade Uri! He made $5.85 last night, about 2,000
rubles, then he slept by the railroad tracks. Remember, before the collapse,
when we slept by the railroad tracks, and ate tuna salad with our fingers?"
"Oh, I remember, Ivan; but that wasn't tuna LOL!!"
As I took my leave of Howard, he wished me luck "out there." I told him "I'll be happy to make 5 dollars, tonight."
I played at the acoustically superior spot for about 2 hours.
A guy threw a 5 dollar bill in my case, as I was soloing over "I Know You Rider" the Grateful Dead song, which looked really pretty in there, nestled amongst the 85 cents that someone had thrown earlier. I wondered if I shouldn't have said to Howard, "I'll be happy to make 100 dollars, tonight," when I left him.
It will be Friday night, tonight. I will give it the ol' college try, and perhaps dust off The Grinch Song, which I had forgotten that I once knew, until being reminded today when I noticed that someone had read my post from December 3rd, of last year, which mentioned the song. Someone in Latvia.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slow News Day

It is Thursday morning,
I know, it isn't a very "giant" whale, and the cars
are from the 1940's, but it's a dream!
I woke up with 86 cents in my pocket, but I had a lot of smoked brats, two loaves of bread and some corn chips, which I had gotten from the Save-Even-More, and an empty bottle of Mountain Hollar cherry flavored pop.
I had woken up thirsty, in the middle of the night, and emptied the Mountain Hollar, which is very similar to Mountain Dew code red, eerily similar, actually -amazing how two companies, thousands of miles apart, working independently could both come up with the same red cherry flavored drink with a lot of caffeine in it and then name it "Mountain" something...
Then, I went back to sleep and had the tortured dreams which I always seem to have when I drink a lot of caffeine before going back to sleep. The smoked brats, themselves, were nightmares waiting to happen, also. These dreams are always hybrids of what is really going on, and what I am just dreaming is going on. I was being chased by a giant killer whale, which was able to swim through the streets of Mobile, yet, there was a train rumbling along beside me, as I ran.
I woke up, and there was indeed a train passing by, 20 feet away but; no sign of the whale.
I left some smoked brats and a loaf of bread and some corn chips at Howard's feet when I came "in" around 11 p.m., with a note telling him to wake me up when he got up around 7, to go for his coffee and newspaper.
I was planning upon playing at the "big clock" spot, on the corner of Royal and Dauphine streets, for the early morning "business" people. This has netted me 7 or 8 bucks in the past.
I didn't play there, though, because there was a piece of heavy machinery making a lot of noise.
Last night, I made $2.85 in about an hour off of the 20 people or so, who walked past.
The Cookie Monster
There was a short black guy in a yellow shirt with a round head who was running across the street from Bienville Park, intercepting every pedestrian and saying "Excuse me, can you help a man get a cookie? I need one dollar; just one dollar, so I can get a cookie."
Since it's a slow news day,
Here is the girl that bought me
a beer at Phat Tuesday's Tuesday night.
Her name is Yo-Jonesy, which I had mis-
spelled, along with the name of the bar...oops.
I forgot to ask her if she wants to come home with
me on Christmas, to meet my mother...oops, again!
I wanted to yell "He ain't gonna get no cookie!," but I couldn't yell it because A: He might; just might, this one time; have gone and gotten a cookie. B: The exchanges between him and every pedestrian had nothing to do with me; he wasn't talking to me, and it was none of my business (except for the fact that people are less likely to stop and pull out their wallets to throw me a couple bucks with him lurking there,). And C: There is no C, except when I went into the Dauphine Market, to spend one of the dollars that I made on a beer, he walked in shortly thereafter.
I said "More cookies?!? You must really like cookies!"
He didn't respond, just walked past the cookies and to the cooler, grabbed a can of beer, paid for it in change, and then walked out.
That was about the highlight of the evening. That, and the fact that John the street preacher is back in town, having been to Los Angelos, Houston, New York and other places.
He stopped to talk to me at my spot, as about a dozen people walked by when I wasnt' playing. I didn't mind. It's God's way of keeping my beer consumption at a minimum; He sends John the street preacher by to talk to me so the tourists will walk past and not throw me any beer money. John, if you're reading this, I'm just kidding. If you're not, then, I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Nice, Quiet Middle Class House

Should I go in to the Sports Bar and play
the open mic night? They might buy me
a beer and enjoy my music, but I could sit
on the street a couple blocks up and
maybe make 5 bucks...
This morning, I woke up with no money at all, and 74 cents on my food card.
I did have some red Mountain Dew left in my 2 liter bottle, which I drank, and instantly wanted a cigarette, which I didn't have.
The Save-A-Lot manager finally told me that I couldn't stash my bag and guitar behind one of the registers that they never use, anymore. I needed to come up with a place to hide the stuff while I am in here blogging about being a street musician.
Right now, my stuff is stashed in a spot, which has about a 4% chance of someone coming across it. Out of the people who might come across it, I would say there is a 75% chance that it would be one of the landscape workers who have a depository of bricks and other landscape-related materials there.
The other 25% would be a homeless guy, and there would be about a 75% chance that the homeless guy would dump all my stuff out of the backpack, return to the bag what he wants to keep, and then walk off with the bag and my guitar, going directly to Martin Luther King Blvd., to trade the guitar for a 10 dollar piece of crack cocaine, because he really needs a hit, because it's going on 24 hours for him, without one.
I played at the open mic night at Fat Tuesday's Sports Bar, during their "Writer's Block" segment.
The crowd was enthusiastic, someone
bought me a 50 gallon glass of beer, and
one girl kept trying to touch my hat all night...
Someone bought me a beer (it was "Jones-y") and I played my song "Crazy About A Crazy Girl," which got an enthusiastic response. Then, I tried to play one of the only reggae songs which I know, "The Harder They Come," which I kind of hacked up, and got a less than enthusiastic response. I played it because it was ostensibly "Reggae Night," although none of the other performers did any reggae. There were rappers and poets, and one gospel singer.
I find that black folk seem to become unnerved when I attempt to perform the work of a black artist. I have been booed while doing Stevie Wonder before. They seem to like it when I stick to what I was born to do, namely "white" music, and seem to appreciate it more, especially through the tip hat.

Soon, I will be on a train, going through the tunnel shown,
which is also the only refuge from rainfall that Howard
and I have. We have been lucky so far.
I actually prayed before I went into the place for God to show me if I am meant to be an entertainer, or not, by either giving me inspiration, once I got on the stage, or leaving me feeling flat, uninterested, bored and just wanting to leave. I would follow His will.
I studied the sheet music which I had for the Jimmy Cliff reggae song before my time to go on came. Memorizing takes a certain amount of concentration, and so, I focused upon the lyrics. There are only three verses, and I pretty much made sure that I had them down. I would have to sound out the chords "on the fly," which I did, but, I attempted to do an extended solo on them ala Jerry Garcia, with The Jerry Garcia Band (not the Grateful Dead).
This is where I ran into problems, but, it was a learning experience and there is no quicker way to burn a chord progression into your head than to screw it up in front of an audience which had come out specifically to hear reggae.
Nobody seemed to like my story, before the song, about how I got a reggae album when I was 11 years old, which I never would have discovered in my white middle class world untill years later, had it not been for me winning a contest hosted by a radio station, then having the "top 15" albums at the time, sent to my nice quiet middle class house.
I noted that I wasn't feeling "oppressed" enough to pull off the song, either, and the audience was probably thinking "What does he know about 'the officers are trying to keep me down?'" Wouldn't they be surprised to know the reality, though!
I came away thinking that I needed to work a lot harder on my own lyrics, and let the extended solos take care of themselves. Then, I went and slept at the railroad track spot until 11 in the morning, effectively precluding any morning playing and any eating at the mission....yikes.
I came to the library here, to work on my story, to be published later.
I haven't eaten.
I am worried about all my stuff being taken from the spot where it is hidden right now, leaving me with no guitar, and no warm clothing. It is hard to concentrate.

Meanwhile, Howard continues to expand his estate.
If it were me, I would shake out the bottom blanket
each morning and hang it; so it could air out, and so
the ground underneath it could dry out.
I am also flat broke, and procrastinating over going out to play in the street. I am afraid that I won't make anything.
I also am telling myself that, if I don't at least give it a try, then I most certainly won't make anything, and my fear will be realized.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Walk In The Park

I didn't play last night.
I worked pretty long and hard on the story that I am writing. It has 13,678 words, so far.
I didn't drink nary a drop yesterday. I decided to meditate and pray for divine providence, which writing my story kind of got me in the mood for (and, alright, Dennis wasn't at the Save-A-Lot, so I couldn't ask to borrow a couple bucks to get me started with a couple Steel Reserves)
I made it to Cathedral Park, where a group of teenagers from a church here in Mobile (I'll get the name soon) were. They yelled to me, asking if I needed one of the things that I need the most: socks. I talked to them for a while, and as it became apparent that it was a slow night for homeless people, I was the beneficiary of more and more socks. I think I got one pair for each fifteen minutes that they talked to me.
I shouldn't say that I didn't play last night; I played a little bit for them.
They gave me the socks, plus sandwiches and gloves, and prayed with me. One girl gave me the coin above, which I will use to start my tip case out on nights like this when I am flat broke, except for 13,678 words.
While they were giving me the sandwiches, someone was stealing the kielbasa and pork ribs that I had at the railroad track sleeping spot. I investigated Howard, but he maintains his innocence.
The church group gave me extra stuff to give to Howard, which I did.
I will probably play tonight. It is relatively warm. I just want a few bucks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Joy Extinguished

Howard's World
I woke up with 16 cents in my pocket,
kind of hungry, and determined to get a cup of coffee and read some Pat Conroy, as my sole source of joy, which I did. My food card is down to $1.49, with 6 days left in the month. I am walking in the shadow of the valley of death. Not only that, things kind of suck...
I keep telling Howard,
(the 65 year old guy, who I talked into coming with me on the train, to get out of New Orleans) to put his stuff out of sight in the morning, and not leave a spread out blanket, as a signal to unscrupulous other homeless people, like a big white flag saying "I surrender! I surrender my stuff!"
But, yet, Howard persists in living in the squalor which you see to the left. He could, with a little effort, put his stuff up higher in the holly bush, so that someone walking by wouldn't even see it.
I'm almost 20 years younger than he, but I assume that I've had more experience with thieving homeless guys than he has.
Cookout Goes Up In Smoke
Damn, How much meat are they cooking??
Last night, after it got dark, Howard and I left the library. I went to get my bag and guitar from Save-A-Lot, and then checked the Save-Even-More, on general principle.
There were turkey drumsticks, sausages, a dozen eggs, and some thin-cut top round steaks, all of which was technically expired, but not yet physically expired.
I had thought that I would have to walk all the way to the railroad spot, to get the kielbasa and the rack of pork ribs and the "frozen" pizza, along with the salt and pepper, but decided that the newly found food would be enough, and that the rest would "keep" in this refrigerator-like weather that we have been having.
As I was walking back to the graveyard with the food, I took a different route, following intuition and the general principle that; if you go the same way every time, you will never know what you might be missing; and found two racks, which looked like they had come out of a refrigerator. They were leaning against a trash can. They were well suited for the cooking of what we had. They would even hold eggs in place to be roasted.
I threw those grates, along with some red oak wood, over the wall in a certain spot, then went to enlist the help of Howard in carrying it to the back, behind Nathaniel Elliot's tomb, where I had constructed a barbecue pit, using part of a wall which had come loose around Samuel Ashton's place.
I soon had a roaring fire going. Howard's lack of experience reared its head again when he asked: "Shouldn't we put the food on the fire?," when the flames were leaping to about 3 feet above the grate.
"No, the first thing to do is to let all this wood burn down to a bed of glowing embers.That is where you get your steady heat from. Then, we can feed it fuel as necessary. It won't be ready for another 20 minutes or so." 
Why some people expect to be able to cook something which takes 45 minutes in an electric oven set to 350 degrees in anything less than 45 minutes is beyond me. If that were viable, why wouldn't people just set their ovens to 500 degrees to speed things up?
I let the flames burn out, leaving a bed of embers such that you couldn't hold your hand 5 inches over the grate for more than 5 seconds, and then arranged the food on our "stove" with the heartier items, such as yams in the middle and the more delicate things, like the thin-cut top round steaks, on the edges, and then told Howard that I would be back in a half hour, and to "flip it every now and then."
I then ran to the store to get one can of Steel Reserve Lager.
Returning to the graveyard, I noticed a cop car parked nearby.
Perching myself on a trash can and looking over the wall, I saw the beams of a couple flashlights, cutting swaths left and right and moving in the general direction of where our grill was, closing in on Howard.
Howard was trapped, no way out, a sitting duck; his back literally against the wall -like what was on the grill; dead meat!
I tried to imagine what he would possibly tell the cops, should they find him. I watched as one of them apparently found him, as the beam from his flashlight stopped moving at the very spot where he should have been.
I listened for Howard's voice, but didn't hear it. Being hard of hearing himself, Howard tends to yell to whomever he is speaking to, which is, I think, common amongst the hearing impaired. I didn't hear Howard yelling, or anything else. The silence was deafening; you could hear a pin drop; it was deathly still.
Soon, I heard the distinctive sound of the blast of a fire extinguisher, then saw a thick cloud of white smoke rising up from the area behind Mr. Elliot's tomb, becoming illuminated by the street lights, as it floated above the top of the wall, and departed the graveyard, like the ghost of our barbecue.
I gave up on turkey drumsticks and roasted eggs, and went back to the sleeping spot.
Howard was there.
He told me that he had gotten some kind of cramp in his stomach "I have a hernia," and that he decided not to wait for the food to finish cooking, but left. He acted surprised when I told him about the police and their fire extinguisher.
I wondered if the police had encountered him, threatened him with jail for trespassing and starting an open fire in an historical graveyard (which is on the National Registry of Historic Graveyards), and Howard spilled the beans, ratted me out, sang like a canary, turned on me, and fingered me; all at once; then concocted the "stomach cramp" story, hoping to pull the wool over my eyes, leave me in the dark, throw me off, and hoodwink me.
I'm not sure what really happened in that graveyard in the middle of last night. Howard dropped off the sports section at my holly bush this morning, as if nothing had happened, though. He may have left the graveyard, thinking that I was going to cook the food anyways, and bring whatever I hadn't eaten, which would have been a considerable amount, back to the sleeping spot, so, why wait around...maybe he had gotten a creepy feeling, the willies and a chill down his spine, just as someone was phoning the police.
This morning, the opinion of one of the ladies at Pollman's Bakery, after I had related the above story was that the police were on high alert for smoke coming out of the graveyard because, just recently, someone was shot and wounded in another cemetary and his body set on fire because the shot didn't kill him and the guy was out of ammunition; (but had a lighter, I guess.)
This morning I bit the bullet myself, and went to Waterfront Rescue Mission to eat their noontime meal. It was red beans and chopped up hotdogs in a red bean sauce, poured on top of white rice, with a piece of yellow cornbread, some boiled mustard greens, and a brownie; with a cup of amber iced tea to wash it all down. Not bad but, of course, they have electric stoves and ovens.