Thursday, January 31, 2013

  • Superbowl Prediction
  • Slowness Persists
  • Ferry Out Of Service
  • A Talk With Trumpet Guy
As a person who watched more football on TV while in jail than the average man on the street who has a job can only dream of watching; I feel as qualified to make a Superbowl prediction as any of the ESPN talking heads who are set up under tents in a parking lot off Decatur Street.
As one walks along that street and gazes past all of the security personnel who are eying ones guitar case suspiciously; one can see the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Lou Holtz and even Jerry Rice, propped up under bright lights and talking away incessantly about the upcoming game.
Am I Raven Mad?
So, here is my prediction for Sundays big game:

Baltimore Ravens 29
San Francisco 49ers 24
There will be squandered opportunities by both teams in the early going; but Baltimores defense will figure out how to contain the 49ers offense just enough; and Joe Flacco will play like Terry Bradshaw and score just enough.
And the MVP award will go to Ray Lewis; even though his statistics won't justify his selection.
He will cause one fumble by knocking the ball out of the San Francisco quarterbacks hands; but the 49ers will recover it (...this will occur at 11:44 of the second quarter with the ball on the San Francisco 11 yard line).
Personal Cops
Walking down Bourbon Street Wednesday (last) night, I observed that there were enough cops and few enough tourists so that each tourist kind of had her own personal cop; along with a panhandler to cater to her guilt feeling needs.
I got on the ferry that morning with just change in my pocket.
On the other side of the river, a young couple asked me to play them something on my guitar; after giving me a cigarette.
As I was taking the Jasmine out; the lady mentioned Led Zepplin; so I played "Dancing Days" and they gave me the only 3 dollars that I would make that day.
They were on their way to the Amtrack to catch a train bound for Detroit.
They said that my playing was "awesome" and the guy said that it had given him goose bumps.
I went and spent the 3 bucks on 3 beers from Unique Boutique (the Hurricane Lager has a new logo design on the can!!) and just walked around, not seeing any spot which looked promising to play at; and noticing that some spots had become less desirable due to nearby clubs and boutiques having turned the volume of their music up to "super" levels.
Even the jazz band at the Market Cafe had their bandannas removed from the mouths of their saxophone; and the guitarist was getting some sustain from the sheer volume level of his amp.
This made it too noisy to play by Sydneys. I walked around and noticed that the street musicians whom I encountered every 100 yards or so; had mostly given up upon playing and were just asking people for food or money saying "We aren't making anything by playing..."
Ferry Interesting
The ferry is not running now because they are doing some kind of repair on it; we are stranded, Howard and I, on this side of the river.
There have been 4 armed "Homeland Security" officers riding the ferry back and forth this week.
I talked to trumpet guy last night and he said that he is leaving here as soon as he can for Miami.
He said that he made 2,000 dollars the month of December here. He thought that was pretty good but is not doing nearly as well now, in January.....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nothing Doing

Tuesday night, I just walked around, doing nothing.
I didn't busk; I didn't do comedy.
I couldn't decide where to play, or what, or why; and things were pretty slow considering the Super Bowl is 3 days away.
I took the last ferry back and ate and slept; and this morning it started raining; and rained for a while; highlighting the fact that we are ill equipped to deal with the weather here.
It will be cooler now that the rain has passed through, and a lot of clothes will be damp.
I have very little motivation; but am working on it.
The simple things like staying warm and dry are going to be the order of the day. Boring...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Skinny Tuesday

As for it being Tuesday, it is.
I slept until about 7:30 a.m., when I got up and determined that my immediate goal was to go to Rebuild Center to take a hot shower and wash out a couple pair of jeans at the same time.
I accomplished that goal and am now drying one damp pair on my body; as I walk around in the 70 degree air; with the other pair dangling from my backpack; gutter punk style.
Rebuild Center
Howard was there. (He looks a lot better today than he did a couple days ago)
"Don't bother on Fridays; it's just a ham sandwich; but from Monday through Thursday; their lunch is pretty good," he said.
Howards Slashes Budget
So, now Howard who gets money each month depositied into his retirement account (enough so that he could float himself an apartment; especially at some "Senior Center" type of place; where the rents have been tailored to the fixed amounts that retirees receive; Howard, who could be sitting on his own little balconey with his coffee and his newspaper each morning; and who could run inside and slide the glass door shut behind him in the event of an approaching rain squall; and could thus keep himself and his books dry; but who instead, chooses to live the way we do; has apparently cut yet another corner and is coming out another 75 bucks ahead each month; by having slashed the $3.99 fried chicken dinner from Brothers Market, out of his budget, alowing him to accumulate more money; which he will eventually leave to his daughter as part of the disbursement of his estate.
There are no more parades scheduled until this coming Friday (ham sandwich day at Rebuild), when there will be 4 of them; including the "Daughters of Eve" parade (right). And, as my time is short; I suppose I will go and possibly play a bit and think about if I want to do the comedy thing at House of Blues tonight.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Super Bowl, Mardi Gras; Super Bowl, Mardi Gras...

Last evening, I played and made very close to 10 dollars, on a night when people were only throwing money in regards to whether or not they thought the musician stood a chance to make his way through the upcoming onslaught of activity which will be the Super Bowl, and then the Mardi Gras.
It felt like an audition.
There was money to be made along the parade route on Canal Street.
Just plop yourself down somewhere behind the lines of people; in front of some business but not right in front; and collect money from people who can see what you are doing and reward you for it; and for others who actually lean over so that their ears are less than two feet from your instrument and who also might reward you.
I stood by a guy who was doing just that and saw him get at least one 10 dollar bill from a guy who stood in front of him and listened to him for about 12 seconds.
So, I could have done that; but instead I went to do business with a certain Jamaican guy and then made haste to Decatur Street, where I played at a brand new, well lit spot on a corner where the corner has been cut so that the front door faces diagonally across the street.
I always considered that spot better for visually intensive acts; even gutter punks who want to display their dogs better. But, there I was visually demonstrating Grateful Dead music.
It will be hard for the Mardi Gras to seem like the biggest thing ever, after the Super Bowl, but that will be an observation which will be lost on a person coming into town for just those two events.
It will be like fishing, for us buskers.
Worms For Sale!
It will be like deep sea fishing.
The busker might as well dub himself "Ishmael" and just perch himself on some spot; preferably after thanking God in advance for leading him to it; and then just play your darndest; and wait for the big fish to come along.
He's the guy who is lubricated enough and in the very mood to astound another human being with a demonstration of his wealth.
Particularly his wealth as seen through the eyes of a guy whose face lights up and who utters a prayer of thanks (probably too late, by the way; almost like saying "thank you" after someone has prompted it; by asking "What do you say???"
But, I digress.
The big fish wants his companions to see just how drastic the lure of money is; and; "Watch this; I'm gonna get this guy to play 'Imagine' by John Lennon ten friggin' times; you watch me....
Every time he plays it; I drop a 20 in his hat; and then we keep saying "Again. One more time!"
...You see; now that guy might have more talent than I do; I can't play a guitar; but here he is; like a puppet; like a court musician whom the king can put into motion with a clap of his hands...*clap* Music!!!....
And I toss him a few crumbs, you know,  20 dollar bills -not enough to even park your car, hear me? and he starts picking away like Peter friggin' Frampton, huh?!?...stick with me; and I'll show you the ropes, fellas.  
And, so you hook the big fish and, after he starts to walk away; he stops and returns to you and hands you 100 more dollars, saying: "I'm gonna give you another hundred; because a hundred aint' much in this world; I wipe my ass with them....."
And so, that is why there is a guy with a musical instrument on his back for every 37 people that are out walking the Quarter.
...Did you guys see how he hopped to it and played that song over and over? That's the power of money, gentleman......
And, as I sit here on this Sunday; having decided to keep blogging; and maybe just change the focus; it will soon become incumbent upon me to go out and take out the guitar and play music. Somewhere. Anywhere (almost).
Howard Looking Haggard
Howard looked very pale and frail and shaking and sickly and pretty much disoriented this morning.
He is still reading 1,000 page books at the rate of a day or two; but it seems that his reading just allows him to totally dissociate with the external world.
He just read a book about F.D.R, who was the president (for 12 years!) back around the time of WW2.
Howard devoured (rhyme intended) that 1,000 page historical novel in a little over a day.
I asked him this morning: "So what do you know about Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, now?"
His initial response was: "Nothing."
Then, he caught himself, and seeming to suddenly recall the book that he just read almost non-stop during the previous day, quickly added: "Well, I understand why a lot of people thought he was just an amazing guy. He was amazing; dealing with Germany and all that...."
So, now I have to keep an eye on Howard. ..."keep him on a short leash"...

It made me briefly consider the possibility that Howard may be in decline from some kind of degenerate disease like Alzheimer's Disease or any number of them that they have; and that, at some point, I might have to alert Emergency Response personnel of him being in a state of mind which poses a danger to himself.
I suppose I will at least wait until he is found swimming in the Mississippi River and offers the explanation that he was trying to get to McDonalds, and save myself the phone call....
So, that would apparently be it, for now. Things are still shaky financially and I will have to put in a good solid nights work in the joyful hope that I will touch one soul; who has money.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's This Guy Selling?

Just Get Out Of Here!
Funny how; of all the functionality intrinsic to Blogger; there is a "delete blog" button. I'm sure that a dialogue box pops up to prompt you to confirm that you actually want to delete your blog "are you sure?"
There is really no time to blog in New Orleans. Not now. 
There will be plenty of time to blog after Fat Tuesday is over with along with the Super bowl, and as the street sweepers vacuum up the last of the beads which broke when two people tried to catch them at the same time; that would be a time to blog.
I can't explain why I have lost interest in blogging. It might be related to my loss of interest in playing street music and in being homeless.
This city requires a strong mind set and a thick skin. People naturally look at you with a "What's this guy selling?" attitude; and staying positive is the challenge; and unfortunately; drugs and alcohol are not the panacea.
It can beat you down. I have gotten the advice from more than one concerned person to "Leave. Just get out of here!"
This particular trip to this city has brought upon me the discovery that there really are a lot of very good musicians, in the world in general, and many of them mark their calendars for the Mardi Gras; and, already it is hard to walk more than 100 yards without hearing at least one performer; blending in with the chaos.
Not everybody can have an abysmal outing and just take it in stride. It takes that certain mindset.
Competition was never a motivational factor for me. Trying to play "better" than someone else comes with the Catch 22 that, in order to play better, the music has to be filtered through the ears and mind of a listener, who will either deem you better or not.
Some musicians consider certain pieces of music to be the benchmarks of ability. To be able to play them, you "have to be good."
Not that there is anything wrong with having role models...
There is a Randy Rhodes song called "Dee," which falls into this category. 
The piece is awkward and requires tedious fingerings; is thus hard to play (and there even exist outtakes of Randy himself in the studio; flubbing the thing up) and, in my opinion; it isn't a great piece of music. It is studied by worshipers of that late great heavy metal god; who probably think that they are following in the fret steps of the master. If you were to ask them: "You like that melody, huh?" They might answer that question without answering that question by saying "It's friggin' Randy Rhodes, dude!"
Which begs the question: Does a good musician play poor music? Is it better to play good music poorly than to nail a song note-for-note which moves hardly anybody; like an experimental tone-poem where the composer is laboring under the rigid structure of having to use all 12 notes of the chromatic scale?
Yesterday started out with me waking up to realize that I had 8 dollars and change. I couldn't remember where it had come from but I had vague recollections of playing somewhere the previous night.
Click Away
I went and got a couple beers and then started to walk to the big Rouses Market to eat what would turn out to be a large salad and a couple seasoned potatoes.
And to wash it down, a Fosters Lager while connected to their wireless, where I posted yesterdays musings; giving voice to my inner argument over whether or not to continue this blog.
"Delete Blog? Are You Sure?" is always one drunken, moody click away...
Then, I walked out the side door; and, gazing to my left saw a bottle of French "Brut" Champagne with only one sip off of it; sitting by a chair next to a food container which may have contained a meal with only one bite out of it; but I was full and so, didn't check.
I walked back to the Quarter; offering sips of champagne to everyone I met (with no takers) and got back in time to see crews sweeping up after some parade; and to talk to a bunch of musicians who all concurred that it was "slow."
My mood swung towards the darker side and I decided to take the ferry across the river; even as broke as I was; instead of trying to become a fountain of joy and music.
It was after I saw a blond haired lady of about 30 playing on Royal Street with an acoustic guitar through an amplifier; and I realized that I wanted to shoot her in the head, point-blank range with a pistol; and, of course I didn't even know her; that I decided that nothing good was probably going to come out of hanging around the "slow" quarter.
She sounded as though she had never gotten any criticism from anyone her entire life; and her lilting care-free melodies over simple chords transposed by a capo to keep them simple in any key; were those of somebody who has heard "you're so good," her whole life and has been coddled and nurtured and has grown to understand that a female can get away with the most simple arrangements and that their music is automatically "beautiful" as long as they can hold a note (the higher the better) and infuse it with a shaky (hence vulnerable sounding) tremolo which befits the inevitable subject matter of "If I could only have him then my world would be right," and if they are beautiful to look at, then the deal is sealed.
She wasn't especially beautiful; no more beautiful than Taylor Swift; to whom comparisons were no doubt drawn. Another artist who does so well; (for a girl). Females aren't held to the same standards; I get that. That is why a Tanya Huang is such a diamond in the rough...
Little things are bothering me. Dirty clothes; a pain in my right arm; the fact that I'm not in the mood to hear my own music...little things....

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Couple of Parades Tonight

I played last night on Bourbon and Decatur Streets.
At first, I was headed for the ferry and was going to call it a night; eat and sleep and wake up broke; drink coffee and start fresh in the morning.
But, it was relatively early and I hit Bourbon Street and played until I had a couple bucks; to go with the 12 cents that I started with.
Off to the Unique Boutique, which was a walk all the way across the quarter; during which I got to see a lot of other performers; one of which I overheard to say: "I wish I had a cigarette" and none of them seemed to have had made much of anything.
There are some very good musicians here; and bands playing in the street that sound like they have been playing together for years. "Hillbilly" music is prevalent up and down Royal Street; with washboards and tub basses and the usual banjo; guitar; mandolin; fiddle being noticeable.
A lot of musicians are trying to hold onto spots for the upcoming feeding frenzy; which might start within the week; and are occupying them all day for very little in the way of tips; so that they will have established themselves "Hey, man; we've been on this spot all week" by the time that the 100 dollar bills start coming down like confetti; in a week or so.
After chugging down two beers, I found myself on Decatur Street, where about 7 bucks somehow found their way into my case. I was just trying to play as well as I could; but decided that it would be "Grateful Dead night" before I even sat down (in a recessed storefront; so as not to obstruct any passageways).
I figured the only way to go about busking in between the countless others was to distinguish myself by playing what few others were.

Tonight will be Friday night and I should probably consider the very same spot.
I sure hope that the coming season brings enough money so that I can hook up my other laptop; get a USB cable for the Obama phone; so that I can use the photos on this blog; and then maybe enough to travel.
I am tired of seeing nice oak wood laying around in places and not having a nice campsite to enjoy cooking on it and sitting next to the embers of.
And I kind of miss Sue, the Colombian Lady.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Playing Spots Going Fast

It is Thursday; here in New Orleans.
I didn't play much at all last night; and I don't think I even made anything. 
There are groups of musicians playing in spots and hardly making anything; but they are holding the spots; playing long hours just to eek out enough to survive; and holding the spot until the Superbowl crowd arrives and then the Mardi Gras crowd.
I just couldn't do it. I couldn't play for 8 hours yesterday; just to eek out enough to survive.
I got some English Muffins and some Mozzarella cheese and some lettuce and some sliced turkey and went back to the ferry spot and ate and stayed up reading a Tess Garritsen novel until I fell asleep.
I woke up in the middle of the night and drank some cran-apple juice and then went back to sleep  And that is about all the excitement from NOLA.
I ran into Steven, the shaman type guy; who; gave me a cigarette, but then, upon seeing me preparing one of my turkey and cheese on English Muffin sandwiches said "Cool!" in a way which sounded to me like "Cool, I've found some food, here, through the agency of my friend."
He even asked me if the food had been "free."
"No, I just paid for it at Rouses," I said.
Then, as I sat there trying to eat a sandwich and sensing the irony of the fact that, as I had been bracing myself for some bum to approach me and ask me for some of my food; it was my "friend" who was standing there; watching me eat and only walking off after it seemed that I wasn't going to offer him any.
It is just the fact of being taken for granted, which bothered me; plus; I'm not going to go picking through trash cans when I run out of food; as much as he does.
So, I go out there now; pretty much broke but with new strings...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lost Will To Blog?

Have I finally lost interest in the art of the blog?
For the past few days, and the first time in almost 7 years; I have not felt like posting. Every cell in my body has been transplanted by a new one in the past 7 years; a totally different physical person started this blog.
The reason could possibly be due to the 2 out of 3 miserable days, money wise, which befell me here in the week that everybody is saying is going to be the last slow week here.
After Friday they (long standing residents) say that "it" will turn into a frenzy of activity with 100 dollar bills blowing down the streets.
The 2 days have been interesting.
Yesterday a young guy on the ferry asked me to play my guitar on the ferry and, though I think it is technically against one of the rules of the ferry boat to do so, I played the first music of the morning; and the young man said that he enjoyed it and pointed out that I was playing "aggressively."
I explained that the 90 dollar Jasmine actually needs to be worked like a plow with a rusty blade and a sorry, sorry ass pulling it. (I might be the metaphorical ass in the scenario).
I was then able to switch gears and played over the chords to Eyes Of The World as delicately as a spring mist landing upon daisies in the morning.
The kid was very complimentary about my playing, which made me happy for the sake that I seemed able to warm up almost instantly and none of my notes I deemed to have been compromised due to my lack of dexterity; and/or the firing of nerve synapses; either in the regions that control imagination; or the regions that control dexterity.
"What 'Cha Got In That Case??"
He didn't give me a tip, though.
I recently read that the first human being that picked up a rock and used it as a tool to open a nut; set in motion a process of "selection" which favored the genes for dexterity and imagination.
Breaking nuts open with rocks doesn't pay much better now than it ever has; I would point out.
So, I went into the city (sure it was Monday; but it was Martin friggin' Luther King Jr. Day!) and I thought that I actually played well on Bourbon Street in the residential area. I was playing for the benefit of the people in the structure across the street from me at about the 1 o' clock position as I sit; who had sometimes come out upon their stoop and ate and drank and apparently listened to me before. I thought I have heard encouraging words reverberate down from that stoop.
So, I was playing for the benefit of those people, but it was early afternoon; as early as I have ever played at that spot.
I guess I might have had "Pride, In The Name Of Love" by the band U2 all polished up and (key dropped about 4 steps so that I can hit all the "Bono"s) ready to go, if I was a consummate professional who takes busking at least as seriously as if it were busting nuts open with rocks. I might have been able to "Early morning, April 4th..." my way to a dollar or two.
I still had the fresh 20 dollar bill, earned a couple days past on the same spot, just a little later in the day, in my pocket; but I was really trying to make more. I knew that the challenge was to remain on that spot and keep trying until something was made out of it; but... 
I Can Read Minds
I think every tourist that walked past was thinking this: "Let's just walk around and see where everything is located and kind of formulate a loose itinerary; then, we'll come out tonight and really paint the town red; and even throw Bob Weir a 5 spot, perhaps...

Monday, January 21, 2013


I played Saturday afternoon on Bourbon Street
Even Referee Is In The Way...
at the spot where I had gotten the most 20 dollar tips since coming here; and I got a 20 dollar tip and a handful of ones; and then it was time to think about Sundays football game between the Patriots and the Ravens.
I went across the river and slept.
Sunday was the day of the game.
Howard was at Felipe's Mexican Restaurant a few minutes before kickoff.
He had a bowl of chips and salsa in front of him. This would be the bowl that would be replenished and eaten from the entire duration of the game.
I felt like something was wrong and I basically had the same feeling that I have had in the past when the Patriots have lost; and lost in the same way. The other team was doing things that I thought might be problematic if not addressed; and, the things remained problematic even though they were surely addressed. 
And it turned out that the Patriots had no answer for the things and the other team ruined them.
The teams were evenly matched and the game turned upon a fumble by a Patriot who was knocked unconscious and a pass which was deflected in the air and landed right in the hands of the opposing players; and it turned upon a 4th down which the Patriots went for and failed to convert; and one can only wonder how the outcome of the game would have been effected it they had converted...
That is about all that this blog is going to go into about the championship game in which the Patriots lost and, like myself actually; I wonder how they are going to find the energy to strap on their helmets and give it another go next year; Iwonder that about the both of us.
Right now I am in Rouses and using their connection. I made no money today busking; nothing; and that was after passing by Tonya and Dorise and seeing a 100 dollar bill in one of their baskets; the basket was almost empty though; other than that bill. It (the basket) would hold about 550 thousand dollars in 100 dollar bills if the one that was in there was just the first in a stream of successive 100 dollar bills, and it was to become filled with them.
I was playing about as well as I ever have; and I am really starting to think that the music business is just b.s.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Guitars Ready To Play

It is Friday afternoon, and I feel that I should be out there busking.

Last night, I played for only the second time since being released from the jail one week ago.

After skipping the really cold day and enduring it wrapped in swaddling blankets; the temperature, according to was 51 degrees when I stepped out of the Starbucks; after blogging; and responding to some comments.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Thursday, Everybody

All 30 or so, of you....
Yesterday, Wednesday, was the coldest day that has transpired since our arrival here in "The Big Freezy."
The order of the day, make no bones about it; was the quest for thermal protection, to keep from freezing our bones off.
Busking was not an option; I have two broken strings, and one tuning machine which I have had to wind in the opposite of its intended direction; as it is stripped the other way; an improvisation which I have employed before and which I have found to be a short lived fix.
Not that I would not have played the 4 string guitar if the weather was permitting, I thought that I came up with some righteous jams on the Jasmine in that condition, Tuesday night on Decatur Street; and I even got a few people to stop and listen. Those people had "I wish I had a couple bucks to throw you, but I'm as broke as you" written on their faces and I made no money at all.
I Get My Mail
Deciding to avoid Stevens Hilton Hotel employee parking lot sleeping spot that night, I retired to the Simon Bolivar statue spot, grabbing the ramp which was not occupied by a supine Howard, whose snores were reverberating off of the granite walls.
Being thus situated, I was able to arise at 8 a.m.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dec. 27 Through Jan 15 (final draft!)

...He must be some famous writer; that weirdo keeps taking pictures of him....
This is the longest post that I have ever written in my blogging life; 6,703 words... 
Prologue: A Suggestion to Blogger
I wish that posts could be scrolled left and right, with the most recent to the right rather than on top, that way