Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Everything's Better With Bluebonnet On It

I am at the Bluebonnet branch of the Baton Rouge library,
after having asked one of the librarians in Scotlandville: "Where is like the rich part of town, where everyone drives Lexus' and Mercedes' and goes to Starbucks for their frappicinos, toting their children along, who all attend private schools, take violin and/or ballet lessons and who will watch me play with a fascination commensurate with the fact that they have never seen anything like me in their entire short lives, and whose moms will hand each of them 10 dollar bills and say "Put this in his guitar case...that's it..."
I told her that, bless their hearts, the people in Scotlandville have been very generous, and that, in an allusion to the biblical scripture about the lady who, in giving her only farthing, gave "more" to the poor than the rich person who gave more to the poor, said that they have actually given a lot of themselves, just by throwing me a dollar...
That being said, I'm out here in "tasty meadows" fishing for some serious cash tips before the cops here realise that they have never seen anything (here) like me in their lives; and decide that they have seen enough.
The Bus Ride Here
The bus ride here took almost an hour. We are WAY on the other side of the tracks; this ain't no Scotlandville, nor Kansas, Dorothy...
We are where the squiggly looking design is, in the lower left hand corner, having come from near where Rt. 190 crosses the Mississippi River, in the top left hand corner.
We rode through the LSU campus, passing by all kinds of schools of agriculture, nursing, dentistry...
"Is this LSU?," asked Howard.
"No, this is Baton Rouge High School, Howard. LSU was that three story building back a ways; the one with the American flag hanging over its only front entrance..."
But, I didn't say that.
I am learning to translate his questions by putting "This must be" in place of "Is this?" so that, this morning for instance, when I was peeling off layers of clothing, all he was really trying to say is "You must be getting warm," and "This must be our bus," when that huge vehicle stopped in front of us and opened its door.
My Brainstorms
Being in a strange land, apart from making me wonder how I am possibly going to sing King Arthur a song, has sharpened my wit, along with causing me to moderate my drinking to about half of the French Quarter levels, and to think more strategically. After all, I am thinking for two a lot of the time.
I got the idea of selling some of my food card money to Howard, so that he can give me cash from his retirement benefit debit card, and I'll pay for his food; at a reduced rate -giving me a few bucks and saving him on his Pepsi and Cheetos, which comprises half of his diet.
The other thing that dawned upon me at dawn this morning, in Scotlandville, was a memory from the past of the places where I have "hands down" made THE most busking money; consistently. And that is on the off ramps of the Interstate highways -the same spots where the grass has worn into a patch of dirt by people who stand there and hold signs, hoping that the people in cars waiting at the red lights will roll down their windows and stretch out an arm, holding money.
The response that I have gotten in Saint Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida has been enthusiastic. I remember getting 65 bucks in one hour in that former city, standing at the junction of Interstate 95 and Rt. 16, at which point I knocked off. I could have stayed longer, but I wasn't feeling greedy. Another time, I made $108 in an hour (but that was an anomaly based upon one lady giving me a hundred bucks...), then returned to the historic tourist section, where my buddy Larry was lamenting having made only a hand full of ones off of those "tight" tourists.
One guy, who spoke to me throughout the whole minute that he waited for the light to change said, "Every morning I see the same guy holding the same sign that says 'stranded.' He's been 'stranded' since I moved here almost a year ago! At least you're offering people music instead of just standing there!"
More than half of the people who honked their horns and held money out the window said something similar.
I had pushed that aspect of busking out of my mind, though, because ultimately I only did it when in dire straits, always feeling a lack of satisfaction on an artistic level as, most of the people couldn't tell if I was playing The Rolling Stones OR Dire Straits. I prefer to be in a club or bar with an excellent sound system, so that the subtleties of music and lyrics at least have a chance to be appreciated.
But, someone once said "You gotta do what 'cha gotta do to survive"
This library is 3.5 miles from the Rt. 10 off-ramp; not exactly out of my walking range, but it does present the problem of what to do with Howard. I'm not going to walk that distance with the sound of his shoes scraping the ground falling further and further behind me, until I have to stop and wait for him to close the gap of 50 feet to catch up with me -with his tongue hanging out.
I think that he is too proud to not try to hang with me, or to admit that he needs to rest. I don't want to kill the guy.
The Bluebonnet Swamp
We are maybe a mile from The Mall Of Louisiana, where, out the bus' window we saw a Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Lexus' and Mercedes' in the parking lot, and "Oh, wow! A Kentucky Fried Chicken!!" to the delight of Howard (-said he hasn't seen one in "forever").
I think that we will attempt to walk there, I will attempt to busk at the Barnes and Noble and failing that will go into Starbucks and offer to pay for peoples coffee with the gift card which The Lidgleys from London sent in their Christmas parcel and which still has 18 bucks on it, in exchange for a lesser amounts of cash. The times that I have had to resort to that in the past, many people just handed me money and told me to save my card for a rainy day...hence the 18 bucks still being on it...
One of several things could happen this afternoon and evening.
I could make money busking at Barnes and Noble, after we walk the mile to get there (I will hold a carrot in front of Howard's nose by repeating "The Colonels Chicken; The Colonels keep him going). 
Then we could find a place to sleep right around here, perhaps in the Bluebonnet Swamp -just kidding.
Then I could play the Rt. 10 ramp in the morning, with a sign that states that we are trying to get to Texas, perhaps killing two birds with one stone (three if Howard drops dead along the 3.5 mile walk to get there) by making some money and getting a ride, to boot.


Alex said...

Route 10 will take you right across to California. Not the most interesting route, I'd rather meander along Route 66 in July, when all the Europeans are over, but at this time of year, Route 10 is a win. Not too hot yet, it's about like Route 66 is in July.

You can busk and hitch right along it, and get some traveling done. Just avoid a town called Needles.

Daniel McKenna said...

I might, upon coming out of Texas try to go north and travel that historic highway; Let me just say up front though that, I DON'T do that song about getting "kicks" I had a bad experience at a karaoke bar once in Pheonix when a dude, who had patiently waited for the mic to come to him; sat at his table and mumbled his way through it with all the energy of a turtle, then passed the mic along with a smug look of satisfaction; and I thought: Why the hell did he feel that that was important enough to wait for the mic for...I still shake my head over that occasionally and that was in 1999...

Daniel McKenna said...

Oh, I met a train hopper in Flagstaff, who was teaching me the ropes of hopping, "that one's a hot-shot" "that one's junk" "that one is going to Long Beach, you can tell by the car carriers" He mentioned Needles a lot. He wound up jacking my digital camera from my bag that he was "keeping an eye on" while I ran to the store to get a drink, and buy him a 7-Up (the camera was worth 700 bucks; this was '99 when you inserted 3.5" floppy disks into it to store an incredible 250 pictures -if that)
I couldn't help thinking that, since he asked me to get him a 7 Up which he knew I would get stuck with 'cause he was taking off with my shit and hopping on a "hot-shot" probably...was he rubbing my nose in the fact that he was coming "up" to the tune of "7" bills? If so, that cleverness redeems him a hair...

Alex said...

I think that camera was a Sony Mavica, I got one for a whopping $500 at a Wal-Mart about that time, it was a great camera. I have an earlier one now I got for $5 at a garage sale, and got a USB floppy drive for it at another garage sale for $5.

The Mavica was hugely popular, because it's designed like a Game Boy. Very simple controls, and most of them take really good close-ups. So pawn shop owners loved them, for taking pics of jewelry, and it was nicknamed "the Ebay camera". I usually got 32 640x480 photos on a floppy.

Needles is one of those towns where you're required to be a felon to live there. Avoid. In fact, route 10 is kind of a guided tour of a bunch of places like that. And can be ungodly hot, even this early in the year.

Route 66/I-40 has a *little* more class, there are people who tour along it, and if you're lucky you might run into one of the "Green Tortoise" tour buses that, if you can finagle your way on, will take you right to San Francisco. Green Tortoise is worth reading up on, it's sort of a hostel, that does tours, that's kind of a social club too. In fact, SF has a number of hostels that are fairly cheap.

There's another bus company in SF called Fung Wah, I've heard of it being cheaper and better than Greyhound.

I-40 if you follow it slavishly, will spit you out at about Venice Beach. Then you can travel along Route 1 which is very pretty, up to the Bay Area.