Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Battle Over My Soul

Ragin' Cheapskates
The explaination for all of the red clad people walking around the Quarter last evening and not spending money, or tipping musicians, is that they are here to see todays New Orleans Bowl, featuring the two teams on the poster.
The University of Louisianna (at Lafayette) team is called the Ragin' Cajuns.
It could be that they were saving thier money for The Big Day. I even saw hot dog venders shaking their heads in dismay last night; and panhandlers kicking trash cans and cussing (I got a perverse pleasure out of witnessing that spectacle).
A Royal Pain
On Royal Street, across from the Hotel, I played for about 45 minutes and made no money.

All Yours, Gentlemen...
 That is a "prime" spot, where an authentic jazz clarinetist can get 100 dollar tips from the people who step out of the hotel to hail a cab or smoke a cigarrette.
It never was a good spot for myself; and was in fact the very first spot that I tried upon arriving in NOLA, and I remember making just 2 dollars that time; before embarking upon the search which eventually led me to spots where I could make 50 bucks per night, if I was persistent (i.e. stayed sober enough to play for at least 3 hours).
After leaving there, I made my way towards Bourbon Street, to the very same spot, across from Barnabys condo; where I continued to make nothing, even after I put the sixth string on my guitar and started playing it like a normal instrument, rather than inventing music for guitar minus one string.
I gave it my best effort; hampered by my cold, which reeked havoc on my ability to sing.
I started to think that New Orleans is so competitive that any kind of handicap (like a bad cold) is enough to make people pass you over.
One man put one 5 dollar bill in my case; which I hadn't seeded.
Get Sleeping Bag
Then, after expending that effort and telling myself that I had done the best that I could, I started to walk off in no particular direction except to take a leak somewhere.
I came upon two white plastic bags, each one containing a sleeping bag; one red, one green; sitting next to a trash can on the sidewalk. -Christmas colors?
A quick inspection showed them to be pretty new and recently washed.
The green one was larger than the red, which I was able to fit in my backpack, stretching the pack to the outer envelope of its limits.
I thought about grabbing the other one for Howard, but then considered the problem of toting it around in addition to my already bulging backpack and guitar. I left it there for someone else.
I can't be worrying about Howard; that is the drawback of having a traveling companion; when you find yourself worrying about him. And that is the stipulation that I put upon our relationship; that we each can basically take care of ourselves and in some regard are better off on our own; but we value the little things that come along with having a traveling buddy; but it's just "icing on the cake."

It seemed like a lot of the out-of-towners from East Carolina (especially) and from Lafayette were here for the first time. I overheard snippets of conversation like: "No, Canal Street is that way; where we just were..." and such.
I Hold My Tongue
They Can't All Be Jerks
I did get pissed off at an apparent family that walked past, with an older, kind of out of shape, well dressed man, with three young teenaged kids, a boy and a couple girls, and a wife in tow.
They walked by me; as I stood on the sidewalk with the so-common-here "Don't even look at the street people" attitude, although the girls glanced sideways at me.
Then the dad said "Look, It's Santa Clause!" which, it didn't dawn upon me until this morning (pun intended) was in reference to my now overstuffed backpack, and which evoked giggles from the entire family.
I was one inch away from snapping at him; knowing that they were headed for one of the few dark and relatively deserted parts of the Quarter, in between other hot spots, where they would momentarily feel more vulnerable.
But then, I caught myself.
I have a theory that; my ability to be the nicest, most loving and caring guy in the world; comes along with the opposite nature; and I have the ability to think of the most scathing and evil things, by settling on the other extreme.
I let it go and worked upon changing my attitude to the positive....
There are certainly already enough people in the French Quarter spewing forth evil from out of their mouths.
If that guy derives no other payoff out of his station in life; weather he worked hard for everything he has; or was somehow coddled and handed things (I suspect the latter) than the perverse satisfaction that he gets from thinking that he has made a homeless person feel "small"; than that makes him the more pathetic of the two.
NOLA Rich Family Syndrome
It seems to boil down to that dynamic in many instances, here where the rich come to play.
Families walk by a street person and the fathers smug grin seems to say "That's not us; we're the Clarksons (or the Johansens); you won't see any of us on the street; we're cut from a much finer cloth; we're better and smarter; we're fortunate to be Clarksons!  Now, we're going to go into that ice cream shop and get some cones; and when we come out and walk past the homeless guy; I wan't you kids to look him in the eye as you lick your ice cream and then say 'Yum, this is good!...make him wish he was a Clarkson!"
Then the wife pulls closer to his side in a gesture which says "I was so fortunate to have met you..."
It's as if they can't really feel a sense of worth unless they juxtapose themselfs to someone whom they deem pathetic.
I realised that this was the trap that I almost fell in to; and was fine after that.
$2.52 Off The Ground
I went to Rouses and got a salad and some trail mix and a raw steak.
Noticing that the time was 12:18 a.m. (three minutes after the last ferry leaves) I opted for the Simon Boliver sleeping spot, to try out my new sleeping bag, after eating the salad and the raw steak.*
*Once every 2 month or so; I eat a raw and bloody steak (usually a Chuck Steak)usually it is a precursor to some kind of monstrous task, which I'm not always even aware is imminent; like traveling to a new location, or getting into a fight. And, no, I don't get sick, but rather feel better than I do after consuming a cooked/singed piece of meat.
I slept well.
I layed there in the quiet of a Saturday morning with the construction of the building across the street halted; and slept until well rested at about 9:30 a.m.
I woke up and rolled the bag up. Under it, I found 78 cents in change in the mulch; which may have fallen out of my pocket or Howards on another occasion.
I headed towards CVS intent upon getting an energy drink and debating upon weather or not to spend some of my 9 dollars and 92 cents on a pack of cigarettes.
A young lady was approaching me from the direction of CVS. She had a Monster Energy drink, which she took one sip off of, and then placed the rest down at the edge of the sidewalk.
I picked it up. It was lemonade flavored and cold. I began to finish it for the young lady.
Then, I went across the street by one of the LSU Medical Centers parking lots, hoping to find a half-smoked cigarette butt.
I found one which was almost whole, and next to it; in the bed of vegetation around a tree; was cigarette box which turned out to be missing only one cigarette. It was as if someone bought the cigarettes; took one puff and then placed it all down on the sidewalk.
Blogging Instead Of Busking
Right now, it is 2:07 p.m. and the New Orleans Bowl should be almost over now.
I had hoped to be outside playing on the sidewalk by now; but I suppose this is a case of my blog taking precedence over a money making opportunity. They will be in town and partying for another 12 to 15 hours, though.

2 comments:

Alex said...

Well, if you're going to make yourself *look* like Hobo Santa Claus, then why get mad when people point out the obvious?

And, while "The Clarksons" sneer at you, it's no different than when you sneer at your fellow street people.

Today's post was even more scavenge-tastic than most. It's something like, "Ooh, found a half-finished drink here .... found a marijuana butt there, yummy!! Then someone handed me off half a beer, wow, $1.75 on the sidewalk that rolled out of some drunk's pocket..."

You get mad at people who act like they're better than you, then you propose that you're better somehow than the other street people, which your'e not. You all are begging, busking, scavenging, getting your "feedings" from the church or the FDA (in the case of Food Stamps) etc.

I'm going to say that your'e no better than the smelliest hobo out there, and you all are circling, circling, circling the drain, some to get sucked down soon, others maybe not for years. And The Clarksons are indeed better than you.

Alex said...

Oops I meant USDA which is who actually set up the Food Stamp program.