Thursday, March 29, 2012

...I Drink And Jam For Bread...

 On this 29th day of March...
More on (not moron) Howard

Do You Know Any Grateful Dead, Off Of The Europe '72 Live Album??

I left this Bluebonnet Branch Library and walked, with Howard in tow, to the junction of Perkins and Bluebonnet Road, not quite a mile, where our paths forked; mine, towards the beer store for my first two brews of the day; Howards, to the KFC, where I soon joined him, sipping discreetly from out of my backpack, while he ate a two piece "dark" meal with sides of mashed potatoes and green beans, after paying $5.99 for it.
"Kentucky Fried Chicken is expensive," said Howard.
"Was it good?"
"I guess it's made exactly the same, weather you get it in Baton Rouge, or in China, eh?"
"Well, in China, it's the best fried chicken" (He was an English teacher there for years)
"They probably start with better quality birds there, up to Frank Purdue's standards..."
"No, I mean that there are a lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken wanna-bes there, but they're all garbage, KFC is the best one, hands down..."
We then got to talking Economics, after he said that he had an undergraduate degree in that discipline.
Then, he told me that he has a daughter, aged 34, unmarried, in San Diego, who was having a hard time "getting started." He said that he had money invested and that he has willed it all to her.
The guy is sleeping under bushes instead of enjoying a comfortable retirement, for the sake of leaving his daughter as much money as possible. The plot thickens...
I wonder if, after his divorce in '87 which he told me about, he set up that trust just to spite his ex-wife and keep the money out of her hands...I wonder if he plans upon dying soon...I'll have to ask him.
Busking Barnes And Noble
But, what does any of this have to do with street music?
We then went to the Barnes And Noble, where Howard went inside and sat down to read from the periodical rack, and I sat in front to busk, nervous about weather the management would leave me alone, as they had done at a Jacksonville, Florida location, back in 2009.
After 10 minutes of playing, a teen aged black girl walked over and said "You sound nice" and put four quarters in my case, on top of the two dollar bill, which I had seeded it with to start.
This was a moral victory, an ice-breaker, and a psychological boost came with the knowledge that I was going to make something that evening. I was playing "You Are So Beautiful," the Joe Cocker song which fits the G harp like a glove.
I continued to play, not seeing a whole lot of people going in and out of the store. I thought I was sounding alright, and was kind of mildly surprised that the few who did pass within earshot didn't throw me at least some change.
My disposition was teetering on the brink of becoming nasty and myself breaking into an improvisation on the theme of "kiss my ass, you rich f***s!" but a little voice in my head said: Stay positive, sound your best, do it for the love of music, be grateful that you don't have to clean oil out of a barge all day for 50 bucks...give them a chance to hit you up on their way out... 
I did just that, actually learning some new tricks in different keys on the harp as I went.
A group of three young black kids stood and listened. The oldest, a girl, asked me how long I was going to play for. She wanted to go home and bring back her brother, who was learning the guitar, to hear me play.
Night fell -no sign of her brother, and the parking lot began to thin out a bit.
I didn't see anyone around, but I kept going, trying my hardest.
A college girl (if her LSU shirt was to be believed) came around the thick column which I had positioned in front of me (to disperse the sound left and right rather than out into the parking lot and off into space) and, smiling, put a dollar in my case.
Then, shortly thereafter, anther one did the same.
Then a young man came from out of nowhere and threw a dollar. Then another young lady.
There were six of them, in all, by the time 8 p.m. arrived and the store entered its last hour of operation. I got the idea that they didn't want to stand in front of me to assess my music, in case I sucked and they would have to either feel like they were being rude by just walking off and not tipping; or would tip me begrudgingly to avoid that feeling. They hid out of sight and made their determinations as to weather or not I deserved a dollar, and then approached...I have seen this many times before and I must give it a snigglet-type name.
Let's call it: Obscurvulation (Obs-CURVE-yule-A-shun) verb; the evaluation of a performance from a spot hidden to the performer, as a means of freeing oneself of all karma associated with personal interaction.
Howard arrived at around this time, and with the store only open another hours, I decided to knock off.
After telling him about the 7 dollars that I had made, saying that it wasn't bad, given the amount of people out, he handed me five dollars.
Earlier in the day, he had said "So, you need to make about 12 bucks a day, just to keep going, huh?"
I told him that, yes, over the course of me keeping my "books" over the past 4 or 5 years, that was a reasonably accurate figure. He must have remembered that.
I went to get one more drink after my jam and some cigarettes and still had some bread left over.
Tiger's Bend
We slept behind a restaurant which specialises in craw fish, reminding me of just how little distance we have placed between ourselves and New Orleans, since leaving there 7 days ago.
We were behind a row of hedges, separating us from the parking lot and its lights, at the top of a grassy slope which descended to a pond. The pond had ducks and fountains blasting water up from two different spots. On the other side of the pond was a rather large house, with all kinds of stuff in its back yard, trellises covered with flowers, lawn chairs, and about a 16 foot motor boat. The pond was just about large enough for that.
We both reported having slept well to the sound of the fountains splashing.
I went to Starbucks, where I got a coffee and read some. Howard went to Radio Shack, to get a battery for his hearing aid; which will have the effect of helping me rest my vocal chords a bit.
I talked to a young man who was sitting outside of the Kentucky Fried Chicken, wearing its uniform, after I had checked there to see if Howard was already there (I'm sure he will be there).
He was a black guy of about college age, who had a lot of tattoos, most notably an entire passage from the bible on one forearm. I asked him if he were an LSU student.
Let's Get Out Of Here And Find Ourselves A Street Musician!
He wasn't, but was able to answer my inquiry as to weather or not there was anything similar to the French Quarter on the LSU campus, where there were bars, clubs, restaurants -drunken college kids with money, basically....
He told me that there was indeed such an environment and that it was situated around the junction of Highland Street and Tiger's Bend ("LSU" Tigers bend, I assume).
He even told me that there was already a guy who busked in front of a certain restaurant there and had been doing so for a while; inferring that it would probably be alright for me to play in that area tonight, just not at his spot...
So, I will bend my path towards Tiger's Bend, by taking the #47 Highland Road bus, which the tattooed young man indicated as being the one to take.


Alex said...

Looks like fun .... I guess the plan is to busk up enough money to take the bus to the next town, lather rinse repeat? I think trains are a no-no at least until you're out of Louisiana right?

You're not going to get a lot of money out of bookworms. You need people who are going in and out of bars and restaurants, where they've been desensitized to handing out money, by modern prices and the need to tip.

Daniel McKenna said...

Tigers bend was actually Tiger Land, and it sucked. It was like the noisy end of Bourbon Street; except college kids seem to be broke in these depressed times; pissed off at the world because they are broke and using alcohol to escape the stress of being broke and ready to take out their angst by yelling "You Suck!" at a musician...all of the clubs there, which were drowning me out unless I retreated to a spot out in a cornfield had "all you can drink" specials -pay 20 bucks, drink all night...this made for a lot of kids who scraped up the 20 bucks (by checking the sofa cushions for pennies)and took the free Tiger Lines (purple, of course) bus there; where they drank too much and developed nasty dispositions, out of anxiety over "how are we going to party tomorrow night, now that the sofa is bare"
After an hour of walking around and having one guy's friends restrain him from coming after me, as he yelled "I'll kick your ass on the guitar, I'll smoke you on guitar, dude!" I waited for the very next free bus out of there, after spending myself down to just the pennies in my Crown Royal bag/weapon (to go with the pepper spray in my left hand) and was treated to the sight of a girl who was oblivious to the fact that one of her breasts was hanging out of her dress, because she was too busy puking...I might cut and paste this into my blog, so it will be redundant to you; but it seems like I have half a post already and only 34 minutes remaining...