Monday, July 30, 2012

A Pretty Thin Week

Sunday Morning, I woke up before noon.
I was behind the building by 8th Street and not at Shermans, after we had had a small argument over the incident when I was attacked the previous night.
I was grateful that he had come to my aid and was ready to use deadly force to protect me while I foraged for my glasses and my hat, but the whole ordeal stressed him out after he had a chance to dwell upon and realize the full import of what might have happened, especially if the same kid had emerged from the darkness and started to demand "his" five dollars again, and picked up another bottle.  
Pathetic Busking Take
I took a few tentative steps and found that I had banged my right knee pretty hard during the scuffle.
I had the pathetic amount of less than 10 dollars in my pocket, and the enormous weight in my pack of two laptops, and some shampoo and hand sanitizer and three paperback books that I had added the previous night upon arriving at the spot behind the building and finding that another homeless guy had been staying there, but was nowhere in sight, and had left those items behind.
The thought of hobbling to the store and then to the library was daunting, but I needed to start to rehabilitate my sore leg by walking on it.
I limped off towards the nearest store to use my food card (which also had less than 10 dollars on it) to get an energy drink, and then spent the afternoon in the air-conditioned library, where I found a book on Perl Programming (learn it in 21 days!!) which hadn't been there before.
Eventually, I realized that my circumstances required some fore-thought, and maybe some common sense.
I didn't want to spend money on bus fare to go to Scotlandville, only to sit there, flat broke for a few days, and then return to busk on Friday. Howard will just have to wonder what happened to me after he doesn't see me at all this coming week. Maybe he will come downtown and look for me at my spot Friday; or maybe he will lay there reading and eating Cheetoz and drinking Pepsi.
I needed to go to the One Stop Homeless Center the next day (Monday; today) to check upon whatever happened with the photo ID that I was trying to get with their help.
I also needed to go to the post office to see if I could re-activate my "general delivery" box, so as to receive a couple of harmonicas which Alex in California is getting rid of, and which would be hard for him to sell, as they have been in his mouth, and people are funny about things like that (although trumpets are routinely sold...)
Back To Shermans
I hobbled back to Shermans in the evening.
He was asleep and said that he had been up all the previous night.
I went into his kitchen and, fueled by a huge pot of coffee, stayed up pretty late catching up upon this blog and a few other things.
I went on YouTube and one thing led to another and I went from watching Evel Knievel jump to watching lions fight bears (and they weren't wearing football helmets) to watching the first appearances of Jay Leno, Madonna, Conan O'Brian and Brooke Shields on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, to the speech which Brooke Shields made at Michael Jacksons memorial service...
One might think that I am "trolling" for blog traffic by dropping names, but I am only telling it like it was...then I went to sleep around 4 a.m. and slept until noon when...
My Dinner With Sherman 
In the late morning, Sherman offered to buy me lunch at some place where a waitress whom he is attracted to works.
He had been there by himself a few times and was worried that the young lady would think that he had no friends, and that is where I came in; and got a Reuben on Rye for my troubles.
It is going to be a pretty "thin" week with no money for beer or cigarettes, but plenty of time to study Perl Programming and maybe record some music.
Sherman wants to burn a CD of a few of my songs, which I can sell out of my guitar case as I play, like so many other buskers do.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

  • I Beat Sherman In Darts
  • I Am Attacked By A Young Black Man
  • Busking Miseries Continue
  • Should I try to be smart and not let my ego get in the way of making wise decisions?
Last night I was determined to get to my spot and claim it at an early enough hour, which I managed to do, even after challenging Sherman to a game of darts, which terminated at about 8:45 when I threw a double bulls-eye to claim victory.
Sherman has, amongst his 24 hobbies; darts.
(Photography, Archery, Fishing, Air-Brush Painting, Fish-Keeping, Guitar Playing, Keyboard Playing, Weight Lifting, Model Rocketry, Carpentry, Computer Programming, Video Gaming, and Cycling round out the other "24.")
He has a dart board and, according to him, when he first took up the game "there were more holes in the wall around the board than there were in the board."
He has practiced many hours and was a better dart thrower than myself when I first got there. He had better technique, which he had culled from the internet by Googling "Dart World Championship," or something and then learning from the freaks that can throw three bulls-eyes, if they need to; or three triple 20's if they don't, on any given turn...
But, once upon a time, back in 1996, I had a friend who had a dart board in his garage and I would often go there and shoot darts and make up my own games, such as trying to throw a "1" and then a "2" and then a "3" etc. and see how high up I could get before missing a shot. I think I got up to 19, once.
I had practiced a bit on a previous visit to Shermans, and last night, practiced more and started to feel the old magic coming back, to where, as soon as I released the dart, I could "feel' where it was going... 
I jokingly said "I think I can beat you in a game of darts, now"
I must say that I improved even as the game went along, with my groupings closer together, or more "accurate," as the pros would say...
I think Sherman spreads himself too thin with all his varied activities.
I Fight Over Five Dollars
Then, I busked for a while and got a handfull of one dollar bills, before midnight rolled around and I took my customary break, to run to the hood store, to get my second 24 oz. Natural Ice beer of the night.
The oppressive heat was causing the beer to hit me harder" and, after I guzzled the second beer behind the store, I was walking past the official crack dealers of the little market, when one of them asked me if I was "straight."
I told him that I was indeed "straight" and that I didn't mess with that (stuff) -only smoked a little weed every now and then.
I shouldn't have even offered that tidbit of information, as hustlers are known for taking everything you say and using it against you, (just not in a court of law.)
"I can get you good weed, right over there," said the young black man, who was about my height and weight, and about 25 years younger.
It had been so long since I have dealt with his element and so recently that I had guzzled my second 24 oz. Natural Ice, that I ignored the warning sign of his instant ability to get me "good weed" as soon as I had mentioned it. (He probably could have gotten me "good LSD" in the same alley, had I said "I don't mess with that stuff, just drop a little acid here and there...")
I told him that I only had 5 bucks to spend, anyway (an investment that I hoped would come back three-fold when my Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead and not to mention Bob Marley songs took on a new, euphoric dimension after I imbibed).
This didn't seem to deter him, as he ushered me across the street and towards a house where some "hippie" lived and did business.
"I'll smoke you up," I said, which got no response out of him.
This was *kind of* the second warning sign that I ignored; what's in it for him? How much could he possibly profit off of my 5 dollar transaction?
Well, to make a long story short, we got a little ways down a side street, and just out of sight of the main road, whereupon he asked me to give him the five dollars, so that he could go to the house and get the little cranberry sized (at least, I was hoping) bud, and would return with it. (-Third warning sign, for those of you keeping track...)
"If these people don't trust you enough (,dude) to put it in your hands and let you walk away and they don't trust you enough to return to them with my 5 bucks, then, why in hell, should I trust you; I met you 5 minutes ago; these are supposedly your "peeps" that you're dealing with; you must think I'm stupid!" I said, starting to see through the Natural Ice haze enough to understand why he would be willing to walk all the way down there for a lousy 5 dollar deal (he would be keeping the whole 5 bucks) and starting to walk away.
Then, he fell into the old, tired, pretty much standard hustle of saying "I walked all the way down here, for nothing?! You owe me five bucks!"
"The hell I do! You walked all the way down here to rip me off!"
"You're gonna give me the five bucks, or I'm gonna beat your ass!," he said, as he reached down and picked up an empty beer bottle by the side of the road, and in an action which he might have seen done in the movies, attempted to turn it into a make-shift knife by breaking it on the curb, only the idiot shattered the whole bottle, leaving himself a hand-full of shards.
He came after me anyways.
Nike Air Defense
I had the disadvantage of having my glasses and my hat on. The one, decreasing my peripheral vision, the other, increasing my straight ahead vision.
I didn't have time to take the glasses off and put them in my pocket before he was upon me; but he did me the favor of taking them off for me, along with the hat with his volley of punches, a few of which landed, and caused the glasses to fly off my head.
Being a bit too drunk to have seen through his scam also meant being too drunk to fight at the highest level, but I managed to fend him off, as he seemed concerned with dragging me to the ground and kept pulling upon one of my arms in an apparent attempt to do so.
Once on the ground, and on my back, though, I was able to connect with one of my new Nike Air VISI PRO 2 sneakers to his solar plexes as he attempted to move in on me. This sent him flying backwards (amazing what adrenaline will do for you), enough so that I could regain my feet and, then I basically ran off, and was soon within the brightly lit area near the main road, where he would have to be an even bigger idiot to continue to try to assault me.
I didn't really feel like I was hurt, I was more concerned with retrieving my glasses (perhaps in the morning) but after the guy in the convenience store asked "What happened to you?" I looked at my reflection and saw that I had a badly swollen cheek, and a cut over my right eye which was oozing blood down my face, and what you would call a "pip" under my left eye. My knees, especially the left one, were pretty badly scraped, as he seemed to be trying to drag me as much as punch me.
There had been another, probably unrelated incident and the hood stores parking lot had about 8 police cars in it. I wondered if the guy that attacked me was wondering how I could have gotten them there so fast; or if I was "one of them..." 
I decided to go back out and busk, blood and all.
A Sherman Shepherd
I wasn't making any money, despite saying "Just punch me in the face if you don't like my music," to whom evers attention I got. I really was hoping for the chance to lie and say that some guy came by and said "You suck!" and attacked me, hoping to at least make some money out of the situation.
Then, Sherman showed up on his bike. He immediately asked me what had happened.
"Some guy jumped me, over 5 dollars."
"Where?!" he asked, as if outraged that a thing like that could happen anywhere in the Capitol City.
I told him some of the details. I didn't want to make it sound like I had no fault in bringing about the circumstances; like it was a totally random uncalled for act of violence. That would have enraged him and made him go home to get his gun or his bow and arrow.
He left and returned shortly thereafter with a damp wash cloth and some kind of antiseptic, which I used to wipe my face, and his gun; can't forget his gun...
(Of course he has one; he seems to have everything else.)
We went on a mission to find my glasses and my hat. 
We found the glasses (they had flown to the other edge of the road, but not the hat. Sorry Alex In California, but I lost the beautiful hat that you sent me; but you probably already knew I was kind of irresponsible at times.
We heard someones voice coming out of the darkness as we searched, but nobody approached. Maybe our non chalance and obvious lack of fear tipped them off to the fact that we had some kind of ace in the hole...Maybe their intuition told them not to approach the armed man who receives a check each month from the government for a "mental disability."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Adam And Eve

Now, with the passing of Sherman Hemsley, one of the three Shermans that I have ever heard about have gone on to their eternal rewards. Sherman who played alongside Peabody doesn't count; being a cartoon.
Free Ride
I got a courtesy bus pass from the driver of the #54, which I used to take the #10 downtown yesterday afternoon.
My first stop was at Shermans where I hoped to leave off ten pounds of laptops, which I did. I found 26 cents in the road on the way there.
We sat and talked. 
Free Coffee
Before I knew it, it was almost 10 p.m. and I could have easily gone to my spot, claimed it, and played for 4 hours and made more than the $14.78 that I would end the night with.
Sherman suggested a stop at the casino for a cup of their free coffee first, though.
I agreed to go along, but became anxious when one cup turned into two and there was no light at the end of the tunnel of our conversation. There had been nobody playing at my spot when we had driven past at about 10 p.m.
Although I was enjoying hanging out and chatting, it soon became apparent that, unless I said something, we could easily have sat there until after the last straggler from the bars walked past my playing spot, leaving me with 26 cents in my pocket after a Friday night, and dreading the coming week without cigarettes or beer or anything.
By the time we got downtown, we were greeted with the sight of the saxophone player standing in my favorite spot ("pretty expensive free coffee," I thought).
"How To Love," is like 3 chords, Daniel!
Sherman dropped me off at my alternative spot, where the club not far away had its front doors propped open, ostensibly so that people could feel the conditioned air pouring out and hear the music pouring out, and would pour in. Then he left to go get his bike at his apartment.
I was fighting the volume of the club and also at a loss for a song to play. Everything I started to play seemed vaguely inappropriate. I suddenly felt ill prepared (why didn't I learn one Lil' Wayne song, just one, I had the time!").
I felt like a runner who had missed the starting gun and was running just for the sake of it; with no chance of winning.
Free World
Then Sherman arrived on his bike. With his "Need A Pick" tee shirt, advertising his photography business.
He parked the bike next to me with a dollar in its cup holder, which he had illuminated with some kind of green glowing light.
I had two dollars in my case, reminiscent of a couple weeks before, when he had said "Only two bucks, you're not doing so well," after about a half hour of people walking past (us) and giving (us) a wide berth.
Then he stood there, his bike helmet flashing a red strobe, his "Need A Pick" tee shirt probably making it seem like he was working with me and trying to get me a guitar pick, and glared at the people passing by; the chip on his shoulder that he seems to carry around, glowing under the street lights.
People started to walk past, giving us a wide berth; just like the previous time.
Eve Looks Like On Of My Crazy Ex Girlfriends
I had even more trouble settling upon a song to play as I wondered what people were supposed to make of the whole scene, me a traveling musician, alone and on the road with only my guitar and my music for comfort; but then a nice ten-speed bike right behind me with a glowing dollar in the cup holder and Sherman standing there not appearing to be "rocking out" to the music at all, rather, full of hostility.
Free Flight
I packed up my stuff and made a bee-line for the beer store, giving him a chance to work his business without the distraction of a street musician. He rode along beside me.
I struggled for a nice way to say "Gee, it seems like there is something about the presentation that the both of us in the alcove makes, that seems to deter people from stopping to listen to me."
He finally said that he would leave me alone the rest of the night and (through clenched teeth said) that he had no hard feelings. Then he mentioned that, since he wasn't charging me room and board to crash at his place, if I had a shitty night, then we would be "even."
Nothing Free
And my late fathers words, given to me at an early age and then reinforced throughout my life came back to me: "There's nothing free in this world, son. Adam and Eve made sure of that..." 
It is now late afternoon, Saturday; 4 p.m as a matter of fact.
The chance of getting anything accomplished here will have to be put on hold until at least such time that Sherman wakes up. He sleeps like a manic depressant sometimes and I think it is contageous.
I will probably run to the store for cigarettes and a couple beers, spending myself down to under 10 bucks and pissing myself off.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Brown Eyed Women

I kind of like the way this came out, despite the heavy echo and the fact that it falls apart at the end...
Free MP3 download: brown_eyed_1.mp3
I found them on sale for 55 bucks, but I still got a deal, I guess
I now go to the bus stop to see if I can get a "courtesy" ride downtown. Spending the 10 bucks on the Nike Air sneakers might mean that I will have to walk 8 miles in them to get to my spot. 
The library is closing soon...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Working On My Craft

Well, It's Wednesday and the 25th of July...
I should go downtown tomorrow to check on my photo ID situation at the shelter. Did I quote my moms phone number wrong? I always used to reverse the digits...
I still have a little bit of money; despite having bought sneakers that I don't need yet...
Tonight, I will build a fire and cook perhaps rice or pasta and maybe hamburgers, but Howard will have to pitch in on those; I've been feeling pretty well on the vegetarian fare that I have gotten used to lately.
I am  working a couple hours each morning on the Mastering The Guitar book, getting ready to sneak it back into the library; setting the alarm off on the way in won't be so bad.
Then, I may borrow the next book in the series...
I'm working on fingerpicking.
I am also working on having new songs, any new songs so I don't feel like I am going to do the same ones that I did last weekend. People might not know that the songs are new to me; but I will....
The lady that owns the boarded up building put the electricity back on, so I might have to try to get Howard to move so I can perhaps record something tonight.
I'm not going for the perfectly engineered recording at this point. Mine are going to be simple and casual and done in one take a lot of times.
I'm going to record some of the Mel Bay pieces, and kind of re-live my childhood; maybe even go back and fix some mistakes...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nike Air

I Sit In Shermans Studio Thinking "I Need To Check On Howard..."
Did someone once say "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it?"
I'm Already Jumping Higher
Last night, I was dropped off by Sherman at the boarded up building, where Howard was laying in his regular spot with an empty bag of Cheetoz (he's back to Cheetoz; I guess he ultimately looked at the Doritos that he had switched to and decided "this just isn't me; I'm leading a false life.." and switched back), an empty Pepsi bottle, the current novel that he's using to dissociate with, and a 24 oz. can of Icehouse beer; drank down to about an inch from the bottom.
I went across the street for a 24 oz. beer of my own and, sitting out front was a white guy (a bit unusual in itself) who was selling a "brand new" pair of Nike Air sneakers for 10 dollars.
He said that he had "payed" 80 bucks for them, but was in a financial crisis.
I had just been telling Sherman during the ride, that I needed to set bits of money aside here and there for expenses that periodically come up. I mentioned my sneakers, which are starting to come apart as a prime example of something that I would eventually need "40 bucks" to replace. And there was the kid, right across the street from the boarded up building selling sneakers that are my size.
I parted with the 10 dollars, after agonizing for what seemed a half hour -inspecting the holes in the Reboks that I had on; calculating the amount of money in my pocket; wishing that I busked by sitting on a milk crate or standing up, instead of destroying every piece of footwear that I have owned in the past 5 years by sitting "Indian style."
I need to Google the things to see if they are actually 80 dollar sneakers, although I doubt that the kid paid full price -something about the way he hurried off with the 10 dollars in the direction of where crack is sold cast aspersions on his character...
As Howard Snored Away
I got back to the building, cracked open my beer, and as I sipped it I wondered why the hell I came back to Scotlandville.
The power has been shut off at the building and so it is not only no longer a recording studio, it is no longer a place for listening to music, reading electronic books, writing or studying computer programming.
All that might change, though if I get the Samsung laptop working and it has a decent battery in it that might give me 5 hours of "life" or so.
At that point, I will be able to find a quiet place to record music, or a place with interesting acoustics, like inside a 10 foot in diameter pipe, like one that is in Saint Augustine and is made out of metal.
No Uncertain Terms
Speaking of Saint Augustine, I found this picture of my old friend, Larry, taken apparently around the time when I was in that historical city that did everything that it could to run the buskers and homeless people in general away.
I had a blog at that time, but lost almost 2 years worth of posts after I used an infected computer at the homeless shelter to post from... otherwise, Larry would be a familiar character to readers.
I can tell that he is angry at the guy who dresses his dog up and sells pictures of it, for sitting down right next to where he is trying to busk. In fact, Larry usually smokes his cigarette like that when he is just getting ready to say something to someone, and is composing some "no uncertain terms."  
I am studying hard out of "Mastering The Guitar" Book 1B by Mel Bay Publications, and my progress has been exponential.
I am attacking it from the first page towards the back, and from the last page, towards the front.

Monday, July 23, 2012

September, 2008, Saint Augustine, Florida
. I found this on
First, and foremost, Sherman is a musician, and he has written some pieces for the electric guitar, the following of which is one which he considers one of his best...
So, please enjoy:
Shermans Song

I feel like I owe Sue something; she basically said that if I might be able to get the Samsung laptop to work and use it; and that she had too much stuff to carry around already; but I could fix the screen on this one (Sherman found one on e-bay same model "for parts" for 35 bucks -the only "part" I would need would be the screen though) Maybe I could buy it, take out the screen, then list it back on e-bay as "Acer laptop, just needs a screen, 35 bucks lol) and then list mine, working fine, for 80 bucks or so and wind up with an almost brand new Samsung and 80 bucks in my pocket;
I would feel kind of guilty about selling something that was a gift (from Martin in West Virginia) though.
When my guitar (the one shown, I think) was stolen in Mobile, Alabama a couple of years ago, someone (Scott the paramedic) gave me one that he had "laying around the house."
September, 2008 at my "church" spot in Saint Augustine,
with Doug, The Drummer
After I made 80 bucks with it the first night (it was Beerfest night and I could have made money whistling Dixie) I traded it, along with 25 bucks for a "better" guitar. I could detect a little bit of disappointment when Scott came by and saw me with a different guitar; he might have been hoping that I would become famous and he could point to the video on MTV and say "There's my old guitar!" LOL
Studio Time
Sherman's got his studio set up and now is my chance to take advantage of it; time to force myself to be spontaneous, I guess.
Howard is the only problem; if it wasn't for him out there in S'Ville, I would have no reason to go there; I could hang at Shermans and be 5 minutes walk from my busking spot which has been pretty consistent with 50 - 80 bucks per weekend; I don't spend as much at Shermans, either because its a pain in the ass to go to the nearest (1.5 mi.) store and back so if I go get a couple beers and then want a third or fourth one, I usually blow it off...
In Limbo
I still have the traveling bug, but its possible that I can replace my guitar and get a new reed plate for the Lee Oskar using the proceeds from this situation and then travel with more earning power at my disposal; I guess I need to be smart and not just hit the road in my underwear and barefoot, so to speak...
Now that I hardly see Howard he seems to be in limbo; its possible that he is unable to make his own decisions and just waits until the wind comes and blows him in some direction. I have been telling him that I want to travel for 3 months now and the longer I stay somewhere, the more reason there is to stay there (like having an air conditioned recording studio/place to crash and a busking spot that "produces" the only thing I don't know is if busking in Santa Cruz for example would produce so much more as to make the 76 bucks I make here on a typical weekend laughable; like 76 per night, or something...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

32 Bucks, Or So

I rode Shermans bike to the store at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I reached a top speed of 20.2 mph, according to his digital speedometer.
I hadn't slept yet, as I had gotten back from busking at about 3:20 a.m. and Sherman and I had sat up talking.
A pack of smokes and a Mike's Hard Lemonade set me back the amount above, and I returned to sleep and to wake up around 2 p.m. Saturday, with about 38 bucks and a desire to go to Guitar Center and buy strings and picks before I wound up whoring away all of it.
We went to that place, where Sherman bought a guitar chord encyclopedia (even though he had a living, breathing one right by his side) and he sprung for the picks, which we split, 2 for him, 10 for me. They were Jim Dunlop .88 nylon picks, and I would come to "swear by" them, after making....let me see;
$5.63 -cigs and hard lemonade
$1.60 -a beer on the way to the store
$6.80 -Martin Marquis acoustic strings
$1.60 -a beer on the way from the store
$1.60 -a beer on the way to the gig
$1.60 -a beer during the midnight break
$5.63 - whiskey and cigarettes this morning
$23.86 -Total expenditures over the past two days
$49.72  -how much I have on me now
$73.58 -how much I made over the two days (minus the 17 cents that I started my tip jar with)
So, I guess I made 32 bucks last night, plus a couple cigarettes with the Jim Dunlop picks and by playing Brown Eyed Women, by the Grateful Dead as my "doesn't he know any other songs?" song for the night. I'm learning it and I believe in on the job training.
Adaptor For Samsung Laptop
I guess I will spend the 6 bucks on an adaptor for the Samsung laptop which Sue gave me in New Orleans, thinking (she) that it probably didn't work. 
I don't know where she got it, but it boots up with a Spanish version of Windows, and she is Colombian and there might be a tie-in there, somewhere.
Latest Sue Theory
I think she is the wife of a drug lord who is in prison for life and is now in hiding from either imagined or real enemies that he may have made.
She is too pretty (and has perfect teeth) to have been homeless her whole life, and she acts like someone who is used to having doors held open for her and being respected -always quick to take offense when someone treats her as anything less than a lady; something that happens all too frequently, as people are quick to judge someone who carries several bags on her shoulder and a couple of live animals....
So, the "problem" I am facing is this: For 6 bucks I can have a fully functional laptop which sold less than a year ago for about 800 bucks and which Sue just gave to me because it was getting heavy for her to tote around.
I am reminded of the time my car was impounded in 2005, and my 1930-s Buffalo nickel in MS-65 condition (which is listed in the coin-value magazines at 800 dollars) came up missing from my car and I was given 5 cents by the police to replace it -after all I was complaining about a nickel being taken from me; so I guess they placated me and we are now even and I should hold no grudge against officer Wasson -badge # 3033- of the St. John's County Sheriffs Office, St. Johns County, Florida.
And now an $800 laptop falls into my hands, through the agency of Sue ...
Is it karma (or are my love-making skills worth at least that??)
I don't appreciate all of you women out there who just said "karma" out loud, by the way...
Picture ID
Now, I wait upon the homelessness place to get back to me on helping me to get a picture ID from the state of Louisiana. It hasn't happened yet, and I wonder if I gave them my mothers phone number wrong.
At the point of getting the ID I think I will go to Shereveport. I am pretty sure that I can make about the same money busking there, as every city seems to want to be New Orleans and have a Bourbon Street and the sight of a street musician is a harbinger of the transformation of their city into a Big Easy in its own right; and they tip better than the people in New Orleans. The irony of that is amusing...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

About 45 Bucks

I got a ride from Sherman to my gig.
I had called earlier in the day and he told me that he had a brake light out and didn't want to drive; he also voiced his opinion that a guy that didn't have $1.75 for a bus ride to go and make 45 bucks basically didn't have his shit together; and kind of implied "what did you do before you met a friend that has a vehicle"
Well, he got me there.
I said "Before I started walking the 8 miles to downtown, I figured; I might walk all the way there and then run into you and you would say "Why the hell didn't you just call me, I was in the walked 8 miles for nothing!
Well, I sat down and played and almost instantly had about 8 bucks, just like the previous Friday night, and the one before...
I took my customary break at about midnight to run to the store for my first beer of the night, returned and wound up with about 45 bucks for the night.
Someone gave me a bag of fried chicken.
And now, I am at Shermans place. It is 8:39 and almost time for me to go busk.
I now have a desire to work on the Mel Bay "Mastering The Guitar" book. That always happens when faced with the uncertainty and the insecurities incumbent upon going out to a spot where I wasn't invited to and playing music that I wasn't asked to play.
I went and got strings and a pack of butts and suddenly 45 bucks didn't seem like such a great amount....

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Harvest

The Farmer
One of my farming buddies, with his hoe...
I am like the farmer who has toiled all spring and summer and has harvested his crop in the fall; and now all he has to do is get it to the market in good condition and collect his pay for the entire year.
The Fruit
The fruit is my music; 
The Labor
The tilling of the soil was me borrowing a book from the library, which is a Mel Bay publication called "Mastering The Guitar" and is level "1B."
Now, Level 1 B begins right on its first page to introduce 16th notes; and then jumps right into the first song in a series of songs that feature a lot of 16th notes.
Thus, I place the difficulty level of grade 1 B at about somewhere in the middle of Book 4 of the famous "Modern Guitar Method" series (where 16th notes are introduced). 
And that is where I left off, 30 years ago, and that is where I am picking up.
I really struggled with the first song in the book, entitled "Sea Breeze" and which is designated as being both a "fingerpicking" and/or a "flatpicking" song.
This usually means that the flat picker is going to be required to play a melody which skips around to different strings in a manner which is technically a lot easier if you use 3 of your fingers plus your thumb, instead of one pick.
The song didn't disappoint and has taken me 2 days of practicing it for about 2 hours each day, to have started to determine the best way to approach it with a flatpick.
It takes a lot of practice because you really can't miss any note at all in those songs and then claim that you have "learned" them and can "play" them.
They really have to be perfect because they are there to drill certain technical elements into you which you might never grasp if you can't play the song all the way through without missing a note in strict time and can even read the title of the piece and make it sound like the title.
"Sea Breeze" really has to put you in the mind of smelling salt in the air while you listen to it.
And there is usually some spot in the song where you are prone to screw up and make most of your mistakes and that one measure has to played literally 500 times until you find another perspective to look at it this song has a pattern where you have to skip over a string and hit the note on the next string up.
This was the first thing to "master" and I've already put 2 hours into working on it. It sounds like a simple thing but mastering a jump to two strings over gives you a great melodic tool and even sheds light on the techniques of people such as Steve Morse and Al DiMeola  and even John Mayer...
And there the technique is, featured in the first song of Book 1B in the "Mastering The Guitar" series.
"Sea Breeze" To Be Recorded
I will record it; as it is very close to being at the "level" that I am at when it comes to playing pieces from sheet music and is a pretty cool piece of music and might even sound nice over a drum pattern with harmonica added!
The Cart
The cart to carry my fruit to the market and the oxen to pull it is the #10 Scotlandville bus or Sherman's vehicle, if I can perhaps call him for a ride.
I might have to busk again for my bus fare, like I had to do last week. Or tap into Howard's vast resources.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When The Student Is Ready The Teacher Will Appear

Jack Johnson
I have discovered the music of Jack Johnson, (right) and John Mayer (to some extent).
With these two as new role models, the sky is the limit!
I have listened to about 4 Jack Johnson songs and have decided to start singing from my heart; in mimickry of him.
I have sang from my heart 3 times already.
"I can't even hug you goodbye...
because it would feel like something else.
It would feel like the start of deciding to stay
I can't kiss you goodbye; because goodbye would be a lie
A big enough lie to make me want to cry.."

People, I composed the above within just 24 hours of hearing Jack Johnson for the first time.

"I just want to warm my soul by the fire in your eyes..."

I'm sure Mr. Johnson has his detractors, those whom I imagine bandy about phrases like "A poor man's Bruce Springsteen," but I have my detractors too....

 "Go On" is a decent song by Jack
Our Visitor
We have a new visitor.
Here is a picture of what I think it is (below).

We have all seen the snake that comes around and eats lizards...
I know they're kind are famous for striking whatever human being tries to capture it with their considerable teeth.
But, I also think this one is pretty mellow. He slithered by, and only pretended to be venemous by striking a pose that would, to give him his due, fool a lot of people, for a second.
Then, when I went back to playing my guitar, he eventually slowly slithered past me in the opposite direction and I think captured a lizard before disappearing.
I Could Have Caught It
I really could have caught the thing, because it unwittingly crawled into on of the enclosed spaces (the one that I used to place my laptop in, kind of a cubby-hole, in order to block out as much of the traffic sounds as possible) and was, for all intents and purposes; trapped.
If I were to wrap both hand in socks, to fend off the inevitable first strike of the snake in its desperate attempt to escape, I could have captured it; because it really had nowhere to go.
More Common And Less Mild
It had crawled into a space about twice as big as a microwave oven and with an escape hole considerably smaller.
I wouldn't have had the proper enclosure to keep it in and feed it lizards, so I didn't try to catch it.
And I wasn't in the mood for a bite from a reptile; however mild
it may have been; It's kind of unsettling, they strike lightning fast and that is a definite attention-grabber; -maybe something that lingers in our genes from a time long past when reptile attacks were more common and less mild... 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Was I Thinking

  • New mp3 Hosting Site
  • Boarded Up Studios Shutdown
...when I posted last nights mix of Free MP3 download: Sultans_of_Swing.mp3
We Started Out With Frying Pans;
Keep Plugging Away, Daniel!

I have remixed it, and fixed it some more, reducing the obnoxious frying pan hit with a stick and boosting up the 5 gallon bucket covered with a towel and hit with a palm.
I also notice that the song wasn't playing from the Kiwi6 website (maybe a blessing in disguise...) so I have migrated to Tin Deck, and I think it sounds better already.
It's a dog-eat-dog world, and if the Kiwi6 free hosting site isn't working for me, than someone else can get nothing from me, instead of them... 
  • Two acoustic guitars
  • One electric guitar
  • One cast iron frying pan (8 inch diameter)
  • One five gallon bucket
  • One vocal

I also reduced the second acoustic guitar so that it is the same level as the first and only sticks out when plucked louder than the first.
This is the final mix and is about all I could wring out of the mediocre performance, which left me thinking that I hadn't really "nailed" the song, but I suppose it would do, if someone on the street were to ask "Do you know any Dire Straits? I'll give you a buck if you can play some..."
Power Out?
The owner of the boarded up building showed up this morning with the guy that cuts the grass, who cut the grass.
Soon after their arrival, the power to my laptop went out.
They must have gone inside and flipped the circuit breaker to the outside outlet off.
This might be the very last recording from the boarded up building/studio. And, I had my heart set upon finishing the "Sue Song," which I worked on a little bit yesterday...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Upon hearing that I had returned, the Scotlandville "Eagles" cheer squad
assumed this attitude -something, which I later learned,
they had never even practiced before!
Back In Scotlandville
I am back in Scotlandville, after having salvaged a little bit of money by busking on Saturday night.
Sherman started to give me a ride back here last night. 
It started to rain cats and dogs as we pulled off of Spanish Trail Road and onto Scenic Highway; at least I think it was Scenic Highway; the wipers couldn't really keep up with the torrential downpour and we may have been driving across peoples front lawns; I had my seatbelt on.
We wound up going back to his place, even though he cautioned me that I was going to lose my creativity and no longer be a homeless guy braving the elements and writing music about it...
I am using a ridiculously slow connection here by the boarded up building.
I woke up this morning this afternoon; it was about 2 p.m.
Sherman was snoring away. I went into the kitchen to work on some computer programming.
Highlighting And Clicking
I am trying to write a program that I can feed my blog posts into and it will change the font and size of the first three words of every paragraph and then change the color (at random) of every paragraph, (avoiding choosing the same color as the previous one at random, though.
Now, I do it manually with a whole lot of highlighting and clicking...
I think the program can be written with a few lines of Perl or Python code, but I am using the UNIX BASH shell, and am learning a lot about how NOT to write that particular program.
"Would You Like Some Eggs?"
"Sure, Man!"
Then, Sherman was up and mentioned that he had acquired eggs during the jaunt to Wal-Mart that he had taken at 3 in the morning because he was bored.
I wasn't getting any music done at his place, and that is the ultimate measuring stick of weather or not I should crash at a guys pad who invites me to do so.
Now, I want to record something; anything; tonight.
Drum Stolen
 "Give Daniel His Drum Back!!"
The 5 gallon bucket has disappeared, along with the chair and a few other things that we had in our little homeless camp here. We have been invaded by not one, but now two random black guys.
I feel that it was wise to have disappeared for a few days, as one of them kept showing up and hanging out and seemed to be staring wistfully at my laptop. He is the type that goes out and "hustles up some money" every day and it doesn't take a great leap in reasoning to figure out that he was probably scheming to have some friend from some other part of town whom I have never seen before (the friend, not the part of town) become the agent (i.e. the guy who beats me with a baseball bat and takes my computer and my guitar and my backpack) of my demise.
Then the guy (who stole our chair and my drum) would come around and tell me how bad he feels and how evil the world is and how he is going to ask around and try to find out who robbed me and is going to get my stuff back for me, free of charge; but can he have a cigarette in the meantime...
Daniel was so exagerating when he said he was the only white guy in Scotlandville; because; what about Howard??
Waiting Upon ID
I am ostensibly waiting here in Baton Rouge until I get my ID and possibly until I have given Jarvis a guitar lesson or two for money to make ends meet.
I now prepare to walk to the Dollar General and get a bunch of cheap food like pounds of pasta and rice that I can cook on the fire and maintain my weight of 141 pounds.
He *Does* tend to exagerate things out of proportion...
I notice a big difference when I use tap water to cook or to even just drink. I am starting to think that I might have an intolerance to fluoride or chlorine or whatever they put in the city water; and having drank it for most of my life may just account for the fact that I am a homeless drifting musician instead of the CEO of Dollar General, for instance....