Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Monday night was dismal.
Watch my bags, I'll be right back...
After having a talk with Sue outside the courthouse, when she asked me not to write anything personal about her in this blog, we wound up hanging out together.
She was almost broke.
I was almost broke because not being able to busk after 8 p.m. has been absolutely crippling. I am close to being literally stranded here, if left to my own resources.
We went to my playing spot on Bourbon Street and I had less than an hour to play, by the time I got there, and wound up not making anything.
Then Sue convinced me to accompany her to the crazy end of that street, where every club is so loud that it sounds like the bands are set up on the sidewalks in front.
She was convinced that she could get us drinks and even money.
She actually made a sign, using cardboard and magic markers, which she conveniently had on her. It said "Too hot, need a beer or tip money."
A couple times, she told me to wait where I was and watch her bags then disappeared for 10 or 15 minutes, when she lost her patience for sitting with the sign.
The first time, she came back with half of a "hand grenade," ("the most powerful drink in New Orleans") and a one dollar bill, and handed me both.
The second time, she returned and gave me a full cup of cold beer, and stated that she had gotten 5 dollars.
It was a side of her that I had never seen before, and it cast her "reluctance" to leave here in a whole new light.
I sat and watched her bags and read a book in front of a closed business that had cool air seeping from under its door -the spot that she had chosen to place her bags as if she knew about the cool air- and I had a beer or a drink in front of me the whole time.
Then, she suggested that we go to the area of the casino, which we did.
I sat and played at a spot across the street, where I had never made less than 15 bucks in the hour or so after midnight, and made zero bucks in the hour or so that Sue was in the casino.
It took me 10 months to finally have a day where I made absolutely nothing in New Orleans, and yesterday was it...if I don't count gifts from Sue.
I was packing up and getting ready to leave a note for her, telling her that I was going to run to Uniques to spend the dollar that she had given me, when she emerged from the casino with a full bottle of cold beer and handed it to me.
We walked back to the sleeping spot with me cussing out everything in sight and Sue telling me that everything is going to be alright.
And, since I promised her that I wouldn't write anything personal about her in this blog; this is where the post will end...


Alex said...

Sue is pretty decent looking. This is good and bad. The bad is, she really does have to fear sexual assault, someone getting her hooked on crack and using her as a prostutute, etc the whole nine yards.

The good is, she can panhandle and always live OK. If she were more together mentally, she could panhandle up a nice living and live under a roof. Because of her small bone structure, if she survives to become an old lady, she'll keep her looks old-lady style and she'll be an effective panhandler into old age.

You could stay in NOLA and live off of her, be her panhandling pimp in effect. I've seen this a fair amount, one instance that comes to mind is a *very* attractive white girl in Santa Cruz, who could sing, knew jazz chords, and was a delight to hear and to see. She explained to me how she's making $100-$200 a night and supporting her boyfriend who "plays the flute and is a genius" but for various reasons, doesn't work and sends her out to be the breadwinner, taking the risks also of course of robbery, assault, etc.

You could start out learning the ropes being a panhandling-pimp with Sue, then as your skill increases, find better looking girls.

Needless to say this is not something I would do. I would fucking eat dog food before I'd do this kind of thing. But I see you drifting in a certain direction...

Daniel McKenna said...

Karrie would give me ALL the money she "made" (its a Mexican thing -the guy wears the pants and keeps their money in the pockets) but, we were a team in that; she would have a 12 dollar night when I had a 43 dollar one and then vice-versa; If I knew that I was going to turn into an alcoholic I would still be with her; I left her so I could go in a different direction; and because I knew the bottle came first and me (and everything else in the world, to be fair) second...and now, just today I realized that without a Hurricane to get me started; I really don't feel like busking; do I really enjoy busking? I don't know; I'm afraid to find out by attempting it sober! and there are signs around the perimeter of NOLA pointing outward that are all labeled "Different Direction!" which I guess I missed on the way in...
I found a Hal Leonard book called Jazz Songs, or something as simple and it has "graded" jazz songs in standard notation; the first song is about the level of Mel Bay book 3, and the last one could be out of a column from Guitar Player magazine entitled "Tackling complex polyrhytmic single note melodies" It's Satin Doll, (Duke Ellington, but you knew that) and has the transcription of the guitar solo, which was was probably played by Joe Pass or Djiango Reinhart (sp)
I'm thinking of learning one as a "demonstration of a certain level of proficiency on the instrument" piece; which most players have in their repertoire...maybe the third song, Bye Bye Blackbird; or #4, The Girl From Ipolina...It's 98 degrees here now and even if I could sweat out a busking session; there would be nobody standing around sweatin' to the oldies...

Alex said...

'Tis funny, I did my hustling of handicrafts in Santa Cruz sober, and my panhandling too. I'd have guys offer me beers, "Hey, I'll buy ya a beer" and I'd be like, "No thanks" because to me, I was "working". In Santa Cruz, occasionally, I'd get this stomach-gripe thing, where my stomach would hurt and what would help is booze. So I'd go to The Blue Lagoon and start off with a Guinness and some greasy bar food and then one or two of whatever "well" shots were on sale. It would fix my stomach but then I'd be a bit buzzed to do business correctly so then I'd sit around and cool out for a bit. One time I was wandering around buzzed and some homeless folks I knew insisted I come along to a "feeding" at this HUGE homeless center I never knew existed, and boy did they feed us good!

When I was caricature drawing, I didn't mind a bit of a buzz though, and drew the line when my voice began to slur. Of course drawing is a "wing it and trust yourself" thing.

I don't like to drink when practicing my guitar though, I can tell the quality of practice goes way down. It's like competitive shooting. I *really* limited, and timed, my alcohol consumption then, and coffee also, when I did that. Being able to shoot better than most "mere mortals" doesn't matter, I hate anything that takes the edge off of my performance when it matters.

Man I have *so* far to go, though! Those Mel Bay books go pretty quick, book 3 has got to have some amazing stuff.

Alex said...

OK hadda get that down before The Internet trashed it.

OK so, there's actually *one* book now that's all the Mel Bay books in one, and it's tempting but I think I'd rather get them individually as I go, so I can point to the purty rainbow of colors on my book shelf and say, "I did all those books". I don't really know ultimately if I want to be a finger picker like Chet Atkins, or a flat-picker like most including Django, or play a bit of slide, or what. Right now I'm inclined towards just what Mel Bay teaches - your standard 1930s/1940s pop/jazz guitar with a flat pick. No amp, played on an archtop. Gibson L5's are pricey but there are no end of old Kays and so on, out there.

A huge interest of mine is what I'd call "spoof" songs. I can't help it, I grew up on Dr. Seuss, MAD Magazine, and all those secret kids' songs we knew, you know, the ones about farting, boogers, and stuff blowing up. For instance take "The Orange Blossom Special". I heard that and immediately thought of how fun it would be to do a version about the #17 bus that goes from Diridon Station to Santa Cruz. REM's "Crush With Eyeliner" immediately brings to mind a song about our collective failed "Crush on Obama". Pulling off spoof songs means being *damned good* though. That's why there's one Weird Al and .... well, one Weird Al. He puts some serious work into his spoofs and actually studied accordion seriously, there is such a thing, for something like a decade. Plus he was an architecture student and for some reason, architecture students have (or had) to work freakishly hard.

Daniel McKenna said...

About the Mel Bay book DO NOT get the all in one thing; that is a sign of the times; a repackaging to align them with the miserable economy;
Think of it this way...would you study Karate your whole life to finally get a rainbow colored belt..NO, you feel special when you "become" a green belt, a brown belt etc.
You need to earn that red-covered book 3, and that means the green book 2 will have become dog-eared and with the inevitable stains on every page;
that's the one that is "carefuly graded; don't slight any material"
Or think of it as having all the food that you're gonna eat for the next five years on your plate, but only devouring a few appetizers and saving the rest for later....
Funny thing; I have an appreciation for all the songs in the books now; but when I was a teenager, I actually questioned the value of learning "all these queer songs" and I never knew if I was playing it wrong or if it was just a song that goes plunk plunk plunk because it was the music your grandfather did the Charleston to or the Hully Gully LOL
And, by the way; the Weird Al type stuff has always been kind of a specialty of mine; "The Grill" song only being a simple example, slapped together in 5 minutes...but..with the right video (showing me holding the hamburger the charcoal and lighter fluid and the spatula and staring at the patio where a cut piece of a grill lock is dangling from the railing; and then showing me trying to cook using cinder blocks, old bed springs and tin foil as the grate during the guitar solo) it could be a decent spoof!

Daniel McKenna said...

and then, right before the solo, the meat falls into the fire, a puff of smoke goes up and, using a strategic camera angle the view pans to the left and through the smoke, there is BB King himself, sitting in a chair with a bib around his neck and an empty plate next to a glass of iced tea and he plays the solo...yeah...

Alex said...

Oh yes, all the little books "earned" one at a time for me!

Yeah I thought the songs in the book were lame too. I think the idea is to start at about age 6 or 7 when it's like "I can do a song!" and nothing's lame. That's the age Dad had us singing The Land Is Your Land etc in the car, taught us all those little kid songs that kids used to sing, etc. And in school we rocked out to the Hokey Pokey and Pick A Bale Of Cotton.