Saturday, March 31, 2012

Everything Is Replaceable

There is an exhibition game going on at Tiger Stadium; admission is free...
I once had a "friend" who, along with a partner,
ripped me off for everything I owned, except the cereal that they didn't like (Grapenuts) and my computer desk (bulky and weighed about 200 pounds).
Looking for a "silver lining" in the situation, I came up with the fact that one of his philosophies, which he passed along to me was: "Everything is replaceable."
What he meant by that, and what resonates even more strongly in present-day America is:
If you up and leave Baton Rouge, for example, and have misgivings about moving away from the excellent library at the college and the store right down the street and the free bus lines, and the places to busk at night where there are drunk college kids, and the people that you meet and become friends with, well, don't sweat it.
You can go somewhere else that has an excellent library at the college and a store right down the street, maybe a free bus line, etc. and within 6 months, you will have attracted new friends that remind you so much of the ones that you left behind that you will talk to them the same way and they will respond the same way and you will find yourself saying things like "You would love "Joe" in Baton Rouge; you two would hit it off right away; you guys are just so alike, he's even a Deadhead!"
There would be "a Burger King right across the street from a Wendy's" (or reasonable facsimile) and the food would taste just like in Baton Rouge...everything is replaceable.
That tidbit of wisdom, (in exchange for all my possessions) was about all I took away from "befriending" that guy. I have yet to replace him with another friend who will steal all my stuff, but I believe that they are out there...
Another thing I learned from him is how to recognize him when I see him -the guy would take his cigarettes with him when he went to use the bathroom in my apartment when we were the only two there...
"I'm not going to steal your cigarettes, John, I've got my own pack!"
"I know, it's just...I have issues with trusting people..."
That was a huge red flag that, at the time,  I was too blind to see... 
My Point
My point is that I am determined to move on, before I (or especially Howard) get too "comfortable" here.
Last night, armed with only the 5 dollars that the lady had given me in the parking lot of the Circle K that morning, I went out at sundown to busk somewhere.
I wound up sitting with Howard and getting tanked up a bit on Milwaukee's Best Ice beer, spending the 5 dollars in the process.
(Howard has started to drink beer pretty regularly now. Before, I had only seen him drink once, in all the time I have known him. He claims that a 24 oz. can of Miller High Life a day helps to keep him "regular.")
I then sat at a spot nearby where Leroy, the local busker, has purportedly been seen playing, and started my case out with a few coins, one of which was a Mardi Gras coin, big and shiny.
About an hour of playing produced only 3 dollars (from one guy) and I took a break, spent one of the dollars on another beer, and went to the sleeping spot, where I lied down. It was about 9 p.m.
I felt like I was going to drift off to sleep, but then weighed the odds of my being able to wake up after a short nap, induced by beer, and be in the frame of mind to go back and busk some more. I didn't like those odds. I also thought about being on the on-ramp of Rt. 10 the next (this) morning, disgusted and with 2 dollars in change on me, trying to go cross country...
I forced myself up and went back and sat even closer to the spot where Leroy purportedly plays.
One guy threw me two bucks, and then a young guy, who said he was from Fort Wayne, Indiana came and sat next to me and told me that he could sing, and that he could especially sing Tom Petty songs.
I did a Tom Petty song which starts with the line "She grew up in an Indiana town..." and the guy from Indiana sang it and then put a bunch of ones in my case.
I Hear Leroy
I stopped playing and could swear that I heard an acoustic guitar being played nearby.
Sure enough, there was an older black gentleman playing guitar about 50 feet down the sidewalk from me.
I approached him and tried to introduce myself.  "Hey, man, I didn't even know you were here; I wouldn't have played right over there if I had known..."
He was a bit smug so, I just wished him luck and started to walk away.
I had a notion and turned back to him and asked "Hey, do you want to jam on a tune?"
"No!," he said. "I don't jam with no one, I'm the star of this show!" Then he went on to imply that he had some kind of political clout which allowed him to busk there, as if it were some great privilege, as is the whole community has embraced him as their local musician and has elevated him to the stature of "busker in front of The Chimes Bar," and that I was being pretentious to think that I had a snowballs chance in hell of jamming along with him.
A girl standing nearby said "Leroy rocks!" as if to punctuate what he was saying, even though I'm sure she couldn't hear what it was.
Leroy had what looked like about 10 one dollar bills in his case, and sounded a bit drunk as he played 50's R&B songs. Someone put a buck in his case and said something complementary, to which Leroy replied "That was from the heart; from the heart, man!"
I decided to retract the courtesy of not playing 50 feet from him, and returned to the spot 50 feet from him, where the guy from Fort Wayne was still sitting.
"That guy kind of had an attitude with me"
"F*** him," said the guy from Indiana. "You sound better than him, I want to hear you play some more"
I played some more, and soon matched the 10 dollars in Leroys case.
Then the guy from Indiana said "You're the coolest dude that I've met so far down here" and gave me 20 bucks, which had "leaving town money" written all over it.
I went to sleep, planning upon getting out there today, off Rt. 10 with a sign that says "Texas," and busking by the side of the road alongside it.
I understand that a guy from Fort Wayne doesn't come along every night and hand you 20 bucks. Without that, I would have netted only about 12 dollars.
Blown Reed?
This morning, I discovered that one of the notes on my harmonica (drawing the "6" hole) does not sound. I had thought that there was something missing on certain songs, but since I play by ear at this point, I didn't pinpoint the problem until this morning.
I unscrewed the outermost screws, but couldn't undo the inside ones, using my only tool, a pocket knife. I'm not sure what I would have done had I gotten it open. I was half expecting to find a breadcrumb jammed under the reed or something.
I will have to play tonight (if I do) without the benefit of that one note. My other harp won't fit on the neck harness thing, as it appears to not be designed to.
I might stay one more night, since it will be a Saturday night, and push my luck a bit with Leroy and his political power. 
I don't know if he will start trouble if he thinks that I am going to make a habit of playing opposite him. I did tell him last night that I was just passing through town, and even threw a dollar in his case, since I had made about 32 of them.


Alex said...

There's a fair chance one of Leroy's friends (if not Leroy himself) might just cave your heat in with a bat while you sleep now, so yes it's a good idea to get moving. You'd be charged with a hate crime for assaulting Leroy's bat with aggravated circumstances for traumatizing him by dying on "his" street.

Blacks have special rights here too, the only good thing is there are far less of them here and thus they are easier to avoid. The only one I have had a bit of a problem with personally is the one that begs in front of the health food store on Californiaa Avenue in Palo Alto. I have a plan for him, it involves playing LOUD Louis Armstrong riffs in his ear. And itching powder. In fact a lot of my plans involve itching powder, is that stuff still available?

Generally, buskers are considered better than beggars and even I acknowledged it, when I had to get by on "spare change" for a while I always had a buck or two for a decent busker. The crappy ones could go to hell. I also had a buck or two for the few *polite* fellow panhandlers I'd run into, maybe they needed it more than me. The asshole ones got nada, and I've actually chased a few off.

Alex said...

Oh - I was going to add, the nice thing about traveling the way you do is, all towns are set up about the same. You'll have your government stuff at the center, with your library, food stamp office, etc all pretty centrally located. And because that's where a lot of people are, you'll have a 7-11, Circle-K, etc. I've even seen "off-brand" ones like C-stop, lol. C in a red shape like a stop sign. Then there will be some kind of park area, or woods not all that far away. All towns are essentially plug-and-play.

For colleges here, in Gilroy there's Gavilan College, some kind of junior college. And the usual suspects like San Jose State and De Anza College. If I were homeless I think I could seriously live in/around De Anza College. There's a Whole Foods, huge-ass Asian shopping complex with tons of cute Asian girls and all kinds of cool noodle shops and a coffee shop and by coffee shop I mean a cool one, not a Starbucks. I've wandered all over De Anza's campus at night and there are all kinds of cool creepy trees, and not a security guard in sight - I know because I figured I'd find one, and ask them to use a bathroom. I never did, so I watered a tree. There are TONS of hidey hole places there to sleep, I'd just have to wake up early and clear out and not leave an obvious "bum nest".

This whole area is "bum nest" heaven though, so much more green than SoCal and tons of places with trees, ivy, bushes, etc.

Daniel McKenna said...

Hell, yeah; I'll address some of those issues in my post; the Asian girl giving me my coffee free was a sign from the universe; and Leroy is a big fish because he's in a little pond. The theater right by where he plays is popular and had about a 200 foot line, going all the way around the strategy was to wait for them to let out and get them at the spot which was the ass end of the line, when they were waiting to get in...
Leroy was singing so loud that he was just rasping; sounding like Beasty Boys doing The Platters; and the kids were right on top of him, had to go around him on their way to the ramp to the theater, and yet, I think the guy only had about 10 or 11 singles in his case, when I walked past, during halftime of the bb game I was watching down the street; I think the kids tip him for the same reason you kiss the blarney stone; or you have to see Big Ben; your alumnus dad threw him 25 cents when HE was a student, back in 1977, for christ's sake!!!!
Enough ranting; next post will be from another library, I can pretty much say....