Saturday, April 27, 2013

Music News, Reviews and Recipes

This is a re-working
of a previous post and doesn't even catch me up all the high jinks of the past weekend...
I look forward to putting a new screen on my laptop, so I can go back to spending 5 hours daily on it; instead of the 2 hours that I get here at the library...

Saturday through Monday was pretty much spent either hanging out or jamming with the likes of Tanya and Dorise, Brian Hudson and Christina Friis, and a few other un-noteworthies...
The Jazz Fest is in town.
Billy Joel is going to pretty much be the "big shot."
88% of the population has a Billy Joel song that they like....
Funny enough, I myself have Billy Joel songs that I like; but that is not what I think about when I think about his music.
I think about the fact that he is one of the few artists who has songs that I hate.
I can tell if a song is "terrible" like the band was just learning it and they had to stop in the middle because something went terribly wrong...
Those songs I don't hate.
The Reason I Hate The Billy Joel Songs That I Hate
The reason is that those songs all, with the exception of one, come from what I will call Billys "Christy Brinkley" era.
He is giving guys dating tips.
"Tell Her About It," guys (tell her all your crazy dreams; give her every reason to accept that you're for real) -that's how you keep a supermodel purring...
Thanks, Bill; the next time I am involved with the likes of Christy, I'll remember to tell her all about it...
Unless it's a tender moment. In that case, I'll leave a tender moment alone.
He knows how supermodels think; he is doing us a public service...I guess he got tired of the "How do you do it?" question about his then wife; and decided to answer it once and for all; with his lame lyrics...
Don't go to extremes, either, guys...
And I'll leave you with another caution from the guy who is set to go onstage in about 2 hours, here in New Orleans at the Jazz Fest.
Sometimes the time just isn't right to tell the girl a comical line; just to keep the moment light...
No wise-cracks at the moment of penetration right, Bill?
Anyways...I have digressed; but I hate those songs.
Hummus Among Us
I got up this morning and I layed there for a little while and contemplated the goat cheese which I had eaten the previous night.
I had chosen it based upon its color; probably seeing it as being similar in hue to feta cheese, which I enjoy (in moderation) immensely.
So I wound up subconciously grabbing a lump of goat cheese as the main course of what was to become a splended meal, through the providence of the people who were and have  been giving away free samples of hummus.
There's Hummus Among Us
These people don't care that they already gave you 2 just 10 minutes ago; I think they are just trying to give away all of their hummus samples and then just "chill."
I came past them; near the ferry terminal across the street from Harrahs Casino which is where they frequent; and I said "I've been living on hummus for 3 days and I feel great!" and I gesticulated like one who has had a religious awakening, or something.
And, they still said "Well, here's two more hummus samples," and delivered!
To make a long story short; I stumbled upon, through this particular serendipity, one of the greatest recipes to ever come out of NOLA!
It is what I will call my "Goat Cheese And Hummus Excursion".
The Recipe
Worlds Largest Batch Of Hummus, Jerusalem
The recipe is pretty simple: Peel the Seran Wrap off of the goat cheese and, using a plastic knife, scoop up some goat cheese and then scoop up some hummus, which will stick to the goat cheese because the goat cheese is thicker. Then, just eat it*
*salt and pepper and sesame oil and hot sauce optional; ginger might be good....
So, Now, I prepare to go out in the street and play music.
Last Night
Last night was pretty much a ridiculous farce. I wound up getting 20 bucks from a guy who was sympathetic to me being run off by the cops at 8:08 p.m.
I totally had forgotten time (to me, it was just "Old Times," if you get my drift) and was playing at the accursed hour, instead of having waited for that accursed hour and the horse cops to pass through, clearing the streets of all performers before permanently disappearing into the night.
I had been talking to Barnaby, who was in great spirits due to his new job and who was in posession of great spirits in the form of Beefeaters gin; and who was pretty liberal in offering me some as he sat on one of his three steps and chatted to a woman who was sitting on one of the other three.
The woman said she had recognized me and that she had thought at the time that my music was good enough so that I shouldn't have need the "the sign" which I had.
Interesting things about signs: a rare amount of people are offended by them.
What's My Sign?
For the most part though, I would say that my sign which says:
Free Music 40% - 60% Off
Tonight Only
All Songs Must Go"
has been a sign which has made me money.
The one that said:
"Street Musician Stimulus Package (with an arrow pointing to the case)"
did pretty well, taking into account the number of people who said "I like that sign" when dropping money in the case.
I think my music is generic enough at times (a lot of them actually) where people  (they just step out of a bar where a guy is doing a pretty good Dylan song; and they walk past me on the sidewalk doing the same; and the sign catches their eye more than the music;
And with this in mind and my computer time dwindling: This is my latest sign:
"I don't know anything at all about jazz but I can fake it"
People have actually put 20 dollar bills on top of the sign which sat on the sidewalk, instead of in the guitar case; which to me, clearly states "I like your sign." (better than my music, even ?!?)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hats Off To The Weekend

  • Hat Lost
  • Weekend Spent Listening
  • i-find i-phone
I lost my hat about a week ago.
Opinion has been divided about my new hatless apsect.
Tanya Huang (left) has said "We need to get you a new hat," after looking at me with a frown.
Dorise (right) has said "Your natural hair looks good; you don't need to cover it with a hat." and that Tanyas opinion was just "the opinion of one person." ...well, so is yours, Dorise...
Paul (of Doreens Jazz Band) has said that the hatless look is good for when I am just walking around, but that a hat helps tips when performing.
And I would like to post pictures of my new hatless look and probably would be able to if I hadn't sold the i-phone last night...
i-am an idiot?
I found an i-phone laying on Royal Street last (Tuesday) night.
I picked it up and stood in the area for a minute to see if someone came and asked "Did anyone find an i-phone laying in the street?"
Nobody did, and an investigation of the phone revealed it to be brand new without even pictures or music or messages on it.
I approched one of the street sweepers, a Spanish lady whom I have spoken with a few times in the past, to ask her opinion of what I should do with the phone -how much could I sell it for, etc. -
Her eyes lit up when she saw it and she just about grabbed it from me and seemed to think that I was turning it in to her -her being a street sweeper, and maybe myself thinking that it is part of their job to put things that they find while sweeping into a "lost and found" box or something -
"You give to me?" she asked.
I told her that I had found it; but that I was going to try to find the owner and contact him/her. Maybe they would give me a reward; or maybe I would negotiate a reward before even agreeing to meet them somewhere and return the thing.
I went to show her that the phone was alive and well and I turned it on; only to have the battery die at that exact moment and the screen go blank.
"No, is broken, this is trash; I give you 5 dollars," said the Spanish street sweeper whom I had been friendly with a few times.
...if it is "trash and no good;" why are you offering 5 dollars?...I thought.
Then I thought that she was playing me for a fool and thought that I was the class of person to jump at 5 dollars; seeing not the forest for the 5 beers.
I told her that the phone had just been working, and I had seen it with my own eyes, but that the battery was down to one bar and it had just quit.
I suggested that I would charge the thing up and show it to her again the next day.
"I'll buy it from you!" said a guy with a crew cut; who offered 10 dollars.
I hesitated and he upped his offer to 20 bucks; which is what I sold the thing for; thinking that he was going to have to pay to have it unlocked and then pay for activation etc; and that the actual phone itself was pretty worthless otherwise.
I was also trying to show the Spanish lady that if she had given me any "reasonable" offer on the $350 phone, rather than take me for a fool, then she could have gotten it for pennies on the dollar.
Well, word soon spread that I (had) had an i-phone for sale and I was approached by at least a couple other Spanish guys who work at Hotel Montleone, and who it seems are in communication with every other Spanish person in the Quarter.
"You have i-phone for sale?"
"No, I sold it."
"To the lady?"
"No, she didn't believe me when I told her that it worked fine; she offered me 5 bucks." I said.
They walked off; clearly disappointed.
I guess those phones are prized by people; perhaps the same way that certain brands of sneakers are.
I got back to the camp and was informed by Rob that he would have given me 60 dollars for it.
I was kicking myself all morning over it. I could have kept it myself and used it for loading pictures to this blog, even.
But then I heard that there is a store on Broad Street which pays only 25 dollars for i-phones and that many people chose sell the ones that they find on the street for that; because if the phone is reported stolen then the person holding it faces a considerable jail sentence; due to the price ($350) of the new phone constituting more than a civil charge.
Thunderstorm Today
There is supposed to be a thunderstorm today and I can hear it rumbling outside already.

Monday, April 22, 2013

And so, I left the library at around 4 p.m.
I had 44 cents on me.
I walked the sidestreets around Bourbon, looking for a drink to put me in the mood to play.
There was a time when I would have sat down and began to play music for my first beer of the night, but I have actually found it to be quicker to walk the perimeter of Bourbon Street looking for drinks which people sipped then discarded (12 dollars down the drain...)within the view of the first person like myself to come along.
I soon found a big cup of what tasted and looked like (red) some mixologists attempt to make a "Hurricane." This particular one was too heavy on the tequila, which was just fine with me but probably repulsed the faint of heart person who ditched it.
This curcuitous route took me past certain street performers on Royal Street, such as Brian Hudson and Christina Friis; and another guy further down, who looks to be about 49 years old (and a little burned out,) and who plays an acoustic guitar through an amp and sings things like James Taylor and other recognizable stuff.
He is an alright musician but, in my opinion, he doesn't bring any of his own artistry into the performance of the songs.
He doesn't seem bumbed out when singing "Fire And Rain," for example; and he doesn't really emanate the kind of reverance that one might hold for a friendship when singing "You've Got A Friend."
His message seems to be: "Hey, I put on new strings and have fresh batteries in my amp, and I'm sure you know these songs; so come on with the tips, dammit!"
I Get My First Beer
I walked all the way to the far end of the Quarter, to a spot where I know that some homeless person, probably a pan handler, sleeps.
I say, probably a pan handler, because the person tends to leave a lot of change scattered amongst the gravel by the side of the trolley tracks where he/she sleeps.
Sure enough, I found about 60 cents on the ground.
I started to make my way towards the Unique Boutique, thinking that I would have my first beer and then continue to Canal Street to play.
Royal Street just seemed like an uphill battle, and the thought of trying to take my place amongst the other performers and out perform them or otherwise divert the attention of people was not appealing to me.
I got a Hurricane Lager and then went to the Rubenstiens spot and played for about an hour.
One guy stood and listened for a while and, when I was packing my stuff up after only making a handful of change, he came over and handed me 20 bucks and told me that he appreciated my talent and all the hard work that surely must have gone into the honing of my technique.
We talked for a while and then he offered to buy me a beer.
We went to the Unique Boutique, by way of another curcuitous route which took us around a block which had been roped off by the police because a mysterious backpack had been left somewhere and an anonymous phone call made, claiming that the backpack was going to explode and turn Canal Street into another Boylston Street (the site of the bombings in Boston).
The guy bought me a whole 6 pack of my favorite brew; and told me that he was going to get me some new strings and would give them to me tonight, at one of the spots which I told him that I was likely to be at.
I started for the ferry terminal, sipping one of the beers and carrying the other 5.
It actually crossed my mind to find someone who seemed desperate for a beer and give him one; but then I thought that "desperate" just means too lazy to do anything to add value to the lives of others; and that the dynamic was likely to turn towards him saying something like "Give me another one; you've got a whole 6 pack!" or some other thing which might cause me to come upside his head with the bottle I was holding...
I missed the last ferry by minutes and headed for the dock to sleep.
This was fortuitous, as, I soon began to hear the sound of rainfall on the river.
I thought about Howard across the river saying "Oh, wow!," as if he thought it could never rain here, and grabbing his stuff up to run with it for the shelter of the ferry terminal. (there is a perfectly good bridge right by the terminal; in fact the very one which cars traverse to board the ferry, which I need to point out to Howard; it has been right there in front of our noses the whole time; but I only recently jumped the low wall of the levy and investigated it and found it to be dry; even after a rainstorm).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Month Flying By

The month is flying by.
I am ready to officially get rid of the extra blanket; which allowed me to sleep in temperatures below freezing.
"Let's Get You Out Of The Elements..."

Homeless Court
Let's Ride This Out
I went to Homeless Court Wednesday,  more than 2 hours late.
They had slipped my mind; that group which was going to try to find me free housing; when I went to sleep Tuesday night; and, consequently I didn't set my alarm.
They extended me one more month, to give me a chance to interview with the nice councelors, which I did today.
The (female) City Attorney/ procecutor, said "I don't think we can help him," at first; but then after I had talked to a Unity worker and set up an appointment, she said "Let's ride this out and see if we can get him housing."
The Persisting Question
The Unity people are in favor of people putting down roots.
The whole city of New Orleans is still depleted from Hurricane Katrina, after which half the population uprooted.
But; my councelor put the burden on me to decide weather or not I want to put down roots here in New Orleans.
He said that it sounded like I have had a very interesting 12 years of homelessness and that I have seen a lot of cool places and he suggested that I might become bored with any one place in particular....
"Just something to think about," he said and then told me that he would talk to me again before my next court date. He will visit me in the stand of cedar trees in Algiers; which I drew him a map to. (It just might be part of the application process that he verify that I indeed sleep outdoors...)
And that is about it, for now..

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pan Handle With Care

Here is my latest way of "panhandling," using as an illustration something that happened this morning; which I have just stumbled upon, blindly..

I'm walking along Iberville Street; there is a black man coming down the sidewalk in front of me and a tourist behind me....
the black guy is holding a cold can of Cobra Malt Liquour...he asks me for a cigarette...

I tell him "last one" ...he asks the tourist behind me for a cigarette...the tourist doesn't smoke....

I turn around to the tourist (and I suppose engage in my "hustle") saying with a grin: "Gee, I guess he had been walking around asking everybody for a buck for a Cobra; and now he is working on a cigarette...."

Then, I added: "I know when I'm flat broke, I take that as a cue to give up my distructive habits for a while..."

"Thank you!," agrees the tourist and hands me 20 bucks...

So, I guess when I'm flat broke in NOLA there is still no noticable interuption of the practice of destructive habits....
3 Dollars
Last night, I sat and played on Bourbon Street across from Barnaby's for just about the hour leading up to the 8 o' clock curfew.
Yet another random person came out of one of the condos on Sunday night; and read me the riot act about the 8 o' clock curfew.
She was kind of a "butch" type female (dressed masculinely and with short cropped hair) and I really got the feeling that she wanted me to grovel and maybe say something like "Please, this is my only way to make a living; I'm hungry.."
She had disappeared, then re-emerged after I had played for about a half hour and said: "Ok, you can play until 9 p.m., No later!!"
I guess she was giving me a break; I left anyways

Monday, April 15, 2013


And so, it is Monday morning.
The weekend, I spent a lot of time stopping to visit with other street performers.
I realise that "busking" for me has to take upon it a certain complexion; and it is truly the person who feels sorry for a musician in the sense of: "...Well, why are you playing way down here?....oh, I guess so people can hear you, eh?" that is going to be my bread and butter until some such point that I put together some kind of high wattage spectacle fit for Royal Street; or become a one-man-band.
Friday night, I ran into Brad and was able to give him the 5 dollars which I have owed him since the night, about a week ago; that we played together and made 10 bucks in about an hour; but then, I left to go find a certain Jamaican, whom I never did find and then, I consequently decided not to walk all the way back to the "red door" spot on Decatur; where Brad was going to move to...
My debts paid, Brad and I played for at least a good hour; stubbornly.
I say "stubbornly" because; for each of our own reasons; we played all spontaneously composed improvisation; with myself following Brads home-spun guitar chords which are evolved from his random way of tuning the instrument.
We split about 8 dollars; which wasn't bad because we basically had 99% of the people walk past; and one guy out of the crowd who hung around and listened for a while and threw us 5 bucks and told us that our music was awesome...
He could have been tripping on acid or a big fan of Sonic Youth (who tuned their guitars to whatever notes they felt like tuning them to and had to switch guitars in between almost every song to the guitar that the song was written on).
I seem to be waking up with around 10 bucks in my pocket every morning lately; just treading water.
At the same time; I have Homeless Court coming up on Wednesday (17th), and will have to see what kind of "help" they may offer me.
Meanwhile, Sunday night, Tanya and Dorise had a crowd of about 100 people around them on Royal Street when I walked up.
There was a young lady singing; who had a very good voice and perfect intonation.
The crowd was overly enthusiastic about the young lady; who was taking the spotlight away from Tanyas violin for that moment in time. I had the suspicion the the girl; who looked to be a mixture of exotic island blood, ir maybe Brazilian, had gone on Twitter and tweeted all of her friends to show up on Royal Street and cheer for her.
It just didn't seem like she had attracted random people to stand around like that.
As I stood there, myself, behind  a wall of people; I actually saw and heard tourists stopping there because there was already a crowd and they sensed that something fantastic was going on. "Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd..."
There was a basket passed through the crowd which was designated as being for tips for the young singer which was seperate from the baskets for Tanya and Dorise...
So, I was thinking that; all the money that went into the tip baskets for the hour that the girl sang was going to Tanya and Dorise; and then people who had already donated to the whole group, perhaps thinking that it was to be divided amongst them; were passed the basket which was just for the girl; and might have had the feeling that they were being "double dipped."
I had the feeling that it was just the razor sharp business acumen of Tanya and Dorise which had assured them of making just as much if not more while the girl was singing and then they had nothing to lose through the instrument of the supplemental basket...
I have pretty much learned by now that Tanya makes as much money as a practicing physician in an average city.
I Wonder
Watching her drive up Sunday morning on a scooter with her amplifier in the basket; wearing designer clothing and sunglasses like she stepped off the pages of Vogue; I realised that the black guy who had been hanging out there; holding the spot for them was right when he said "You're talking to a rich lady, did you know that?"
Tanya opened a little purse which was crammed with bills and gave the guy 5 dollars for having watched the spot for a couple hours. I wasn't trying to stare, but 100 dollar bills kind of grab the attention, based upon their unique shade of color or something...
It crossed my mind that Tanya is probably "laughing all the way to the bank" and probably feels kind of patronising of the people who are so easily blown away by her playing such things as "Freebird," on the violin.
I wonder if she goes home and locks the door; disconects her phone; put on classical music; logs on to a website and invests her money in the Chinese stock market; and gives her smile a rest for the night....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beach Music

When I left the library yesterday afternoon, I didn't have time to make it to either of the music stores before they closed.
I drifted in the direction of Canal Street, where I played for about a half hour, made nothing, and then was told by a cop that I couldn't play there. It was the cop that seems to only work Monday through Thursday.
I have found a copy of the book which I want to give to Tanya Huang.
It was shortly after I had met her almost 2 years ago; that she complimented me upon my vocabulary and asked me if I would recommend a book to her.
Initially, I had mentioned "Great Expectations," by Charles Dickens, but she wrinkled her nose and told me that she had had to read it in high school; and didn't enjoy the experience.
Now, 2 years later, I had determined that Beach Music, by Pat Conroy is the perfect book, and I have found a copy, only, it is missing its front cover. (It might be a "stripped" book, for which neither the publisher nor the writer has received compensation, but, I suppose if Tanya really likes it, she could mail Mr. Conroy a check...).
I have drawn a picture of Tanya and made a substitute cover for the book, with the words "Tanyas personal copy" appended to the title; and I just need to tape it on there and hopefully give her the book tomorrow.
Laundry Day
It is Thursday and it rained cats and dogs earlier this afternoon.
Howard was up and out of the stand of trees at about 6 a.m, his usual time. It had begun sprinkling then, but stopped long enough to allow me to sleep until almost noon.
I bagged up all my laundry, thinking that I will go to The Clothes Spin and wash and dry them after I leave here; but now am starting to feel cheap and that I might try to get them done for free at The Rebuild Center tomorrow, rather than spend about 7 bucks doing them today...
Samsung To Be Hidden
The entire screen is out on the Samsung laptop, meaning that it is useless except as a means to charge up my mp3 player. And also meaning that I need to wrap it in a water-tight bag and hide it very well somewhere, until such a time that I have the money to get another screen on E-Bay...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Latest New Spot

Monday night, I walked the Quarter; seeing cops giving tickets to street musicians; and hearing street musicians warn me that the cops were "on a rampage," as one put it, and I thought about playing on Canal Street; but saw the whole street lined by cops.
They were there so that the people associated with the women's college basketball championship would be very safe when, after the game was over, they sallied forth in the direcition of either Bourbon Street, the casino, or both.
To the credit of the fans of both UConn and Louisville; they didn't riot after the game.
I decided not to play, deciding that the little bit of money in my pocket gave me a pass; and that certain segments of society tend to be over protective of college students; the girls especially; and so I used the bit of cash that I had saved as a "get out of jeopardy" card; had a few drinks and then went across the river.
Tuesday Night
As I had blogged about that afternoon, I was in very little mood to play music; and I attributed it to fatigue.
Somehow the one night of interrupted sleep last week factored in.
I went, anyway, and walked Royal Street and immediately got the sense that trade was slow in live music.
The final game of the womens college basketball championship was in progress; from which would flow a veritable tsunami of fans after the champion was crowned.
By, the way; before last night, I had only met two people named Lance. One was pretty cool, the second one was an ignorant jerk.
Last night, the universe in its infinite wisdom proffered  a tie breaker, I guess.
I was sitting on Canal Street with my guitar still in the case and propped next to me and thinking hard about what I would be playing if I even felt like doing it...
The tsunami hadn't started yet; there were just sporatic groups of ingoring, scowling and jabbering in foreign tongues, people walking past.
I was sipping on a Hurricane Lager; and it felt like flipping a coin.
Maybe the Hurricane would put me in the mood to take out the guitar and play; or maybe not.
Maybe saving the strings for a time when there was a "better" crowd would be prudent...
My Second Largest Tip Ever
Then, a guy in his twenties with a shaven head came by and was standing not too far from me and talking on his (whatever it was that took the picture above) phone.
I normally would have gotten the guitar out, just on the chance that he was hanging out for a moment to see if I was about to start playing. If it weren't for the added deterent of my ragged guitar case; which I have to bind with bungee cords and rope, and which it sometimes takes up to a minute to unknot, I probably would have took it out and at least plucked something rudimentary.
But, alas, such was the cynical state of mind that I was in; that I just sat there; waiting for inspiration to strike; or not...
The guy, whose name turned out to be Lance, was very curious about my existence and had a lot of intelligently worded questions about the logistics of being homeless; and how I basically managed it in the French Quarter.
I was able to give him a synopsis of what should be an upcoming book of mine: "Homelessness For Dummies" and made it a point to point out that the French Quarter has been about the most challenging environment to be homeless in.
To make a long story short; he wasn't  trying to "save" me; which is something that crossed my mind. This isn't to say that he wasn't a very good and spiritual man.
He was in town for a convention of some sorts. He works for some kind of group which focuses on something like the connection between the mind and the physiology.
I spent a lot of time discussing the "rules" for being homeless as I have divined them througout the past 12 years.
I think he really had a thirst for knowledge about the lifestyle; and encountering myself must have been a boon; since I can draw upon so many years of "experience," and point him to this very blog; for more insights and anecdotes.

He gave me the second biggest tip that I have made since I began busking.

I Own The Missing Bike
I got back across the river and paid Rob the balance of what I owed him for the bike which I had taken possession of and which was stolen an hour later off Bourbon Street.
Where To Invest
I am having an inner debate over how to spend that money in a way which will have it invested most wisely.
The decision to pay Rob off first came out of the fact that we had made a deal and I took the bike and was going to make payments on it. It wasn't Robs fault that it was soon thereafter stolen. I didn't want him to suspect foul play; and, the guy sleeps 25 feet away from me and I think that, making things right at home (much like charity) "starts at home..."
Even though, had I went and gotten an amplifier and let Rob wait another week; I may have been able to pay him several times over...
If I get new clothes, I will probably see a small increase in the money that I make.
If I get a new guitar case; I will be able to take my instrument out with a quick zip and play songs for those random tourists one might encounter who might say "Let's hear something,"
If I get another harmonica and neck brace, I will increase my income 50% (I have found), but I will be playing it in ragged clothes and still carrying my guitar around half falling out of its case...(but not for long...)
I will be patient and call both music stores in town asking about things like used cases and such....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fine Tuned RADAR

Tuesday morning.
Sorry, We Have No Pockets...

I woke up broke and with strings ready to break on the guitar; but I HAD managed to pay Rob 15 dollars towards the bike which I may never ride, over the weekend.
The college womens "final 4" is taking place in town and will conclude this evening.
I suppose I will plop myself down somewhere and go through the motions, trying to get a tip out of them; seems a "tall" order, though...

I woke up thinking about Tanya Huang.
Tanya had asked me "So, how are you doing?" when I encountered her Sunday morning; as she was eating what I told her was too heavy a meal for such a hot day; and preparing to play. "It could make you sleepy..."
She looked truly concerned about me, as I had her to myself for a minute; a  little tired; and there was a motherly tone about her, and a vibe which reminded me of when an old ex-girlfriend asked me the same question when I was seeing her for the first time in a few years; and a vibe which I used to get from Sue, (the Colombian lady).
It seemed genuine, at any rate.
Most people clear out and let her eat her food in peace; but she told me (when I was about to do so) that she liked to talk and eat at the same time. That may be a "Chinese" thing....
I wanted to tell her "It depends upon how you measure sucess," (and that just the fact that she was concerned about me had me doing better instantly).
There was a weariness about her, perhaps because she was coming off of three consecutive 12-hour days.
I came back by their spot; after making some money on Bourbon Street, and stopped to listen.
They had an audience of about 30 people around them.
At one point, Tanya turned her body so that the neck of her violin was pointed at me like a rifle barrel, so that I could see down the strings at her fingerings and what she was doing with the bow; and she was looking me in the eyes.
I didn't know what to make of that, unless she was trying to convey "look how easy this is; you should be able to get it together..." or was trying to cast a musical spell upon me and transfer some of her talent telekinetically...I don't know...
But, after aknowledging her gaze with my best attempt at a little smile (my face is becoming solidified into "the NOLA scowl;" as a reaction to the environment here; and I literally have to "crack" one and can hear sinews straining and bones creaking) I looked to a group of tourists on my left and noticed a girl of about 10 years in age, staring at me and who then looked back at Tanya, and then back at me; and I wondered if anything had gone right over my head, but which was picked up by the fine-tuned RADAR which 10 year old girls come equipped with.
Time To Work
To every thing there is a time and a place and a purpose; and though I don't feel like playing music; I guess I must, like the guy who has to make the doughnuts everymorning..

Monday, April 8, 2013

The First Weekend In April

  • 30 Dollar Per Mile Bike Ride
  • 50 Dollar Weekend
Thursday, as I stepped off the ferry and walked up Canal Street, it had slipped my mind that I had agreed to pay Ron 30 dollars for a bike; which was locked up by the casino under the watchfull eye of some camera; and the combination of the lock having been given to me, I was free to take possession of it.
I made it all the way to the Unique Boutique before I remembered and doubled back to get the thing.
Ron, The Surfer
"I Have A Bike I Can Sell You..."
Ron is "the new guy" who sleeps under the stand of cedar trees with Howard and I.
Howard and he have established a pretty good rapport and Howard has lent Ron money which has been paid back to him.
Ron is like 56 years old, but still has plans to bicycle to California; he has a lot of tattoos and is a surfer.
He once surfed at a spot in Hawaii which is called something like "The Pipeline" and, though he didn't fall in the water and become turned into minced meat by the force of the waves raking him along the underwater coral; he had his surf board broken by a person who informed him that only "professional" surfers were allowed to even surf that particilar beach and that they all had to sign a legal form in advance of surfing that beach; which freed any and all concerned parties from liability if the surfer should go underwater and become turned into minced meat by the force of the waves raking his body along the coral formations; like putting swiss cheese through a grate.
So, Ron had this bike.
It was his second bike.
He works at a bicycle shop, a few hours a week.
Buy Here, Pay Here
Stoker, Readers; Readers, Stoker
He told me that I could make payments upon it and begin to ride it right away.
A bike pays for itself many times over.
I could theoretically be at a playing spot and have 5 bucks in my case after riding the bike there by the time I would just be walking up.
Plus, the energy saved by using the wheel instead of the feet would itself be an asset.
I had a bike more than a year ago (before it was stolen) and it had been very useful.
I rode it, pretty much straight to my playing spot on Bourbon Street and leaned it right up against the front of Barnaby's condo, right across from me in plain sight.*
*When I first met Barnaby, after he had come out and sat on his steps with his guitar in hand; and I had walked across the street to talk to him, I kept glancing back at my stuff on the other side.
Noticing this action, Barnaby said something to the effect of "Don't worry about your stuff; nobody is going to steal anything here; and he laughed a bit.
I had the aforementioned lock, of course, but I didn't want to put it right on the light pole in front of me because that particular pole already constricts the sidewalk; and the addition of a bike locked to it might constrict it to the point that it might look unpassable to approching tourists, who might veer off onto the street (and out of the magnetic pull of my music) in order to get around the whole mess, of which I would be part.
You Shouldn't Have To Look At The Notes
To make a long story short, it was probably the first time that I looked down at my fret board as I played, to find a note or a chord, about 15 minutes into my set; that someone or some thing made off with the bike.
It was a nice bike and had riden very well along the mile from the casino to there.
I played on and thought that I was playing better, fueled by the whole incident.
My prime concern that I am going to see the very person who stole it; as that person is surely one of the pan handlers who "works" that area; and, not being sure of his guilt, will have to be freindly to him; or be seen as a person who can't be civil to someone whom, on surface at least, has done him no harm.
That is the worst part of the whole ordeal.
The positive is that I now don't feel like I am being anal retentive when I snatch up every bill larger than a one that goes in my case and pocket it...
The Next (Friday) afternoon, I played for about an hour and a half at that very spot and got one tip, a 20 dollar bill.
I was playing Grateful Dead and thought that I was doing it justice.
Seeing a new set of srings and then some in the tip, I began to play as if I was trying to finish my strings off; just let them snap and get it over with. I was able to bump my playing up to the next micro level by taking that approach, and I learned something, musically.
I was also happy to have gotten paid where I had gotten ripped off the night before...
Paying For A Bike I May Never Again Ride
I was taking a break from that when I ran into Ron, on my way to Sydneys.
He asked me with no small measure of concern, where the bike was.
*The previous night, after having it stolen, especially in such an embarrassing manner, I wasn't ready to tell Ron about it. Since I hadn't even made the first payment on it and didn't want him to think that I was trying to scam him in some way ...I got to the rack and it was already gone, bro, I SWEAR!....
I had just told him that the thing rode great and that he had given me a good deal on it, trying to fake enthusiasm.
It was then that I was able to give him 10 dollars and tell him that I was going to honor our deal even though the bike was gone; (and he could see that now).
A Tanya And Dorise Weekend
I kept returning to Tanya and Dorise like a moth to a flame, (or a buglight, depending upon your perspective).
They have been on a binge of Mariah Carey music; were playing one of her songs when I walked up; and I was soon informed by Dorise that I had "started the whole thing" the night that I walked up and wound up singing "Love Takes Time," throughout which Tanya played with her eyes closed and a smile beaming on her face.
I guess Tanya is the boss of their operation and so Mariah Carey it was, this past weekend.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Lost "Ben Jernigan" Post

Ben, The Paramedic
Ben, the paramedic, who has made previous appearances on this blog, as "Ben, the ambulance driver," (until he informed me of his true title) was in town with a lady friend whose name I've probably only been told a few times.
They were here to see the Eric Clapton concert somewhere in town.
Ben is an excellent guitarist; and the one who single handedly sold me on the "open G" guitar tuning which is used by the likes of Ben, the paramedic; who has played in Nashville, with the likes of Willie Nelson.
I don't know if hanging around the are of The Unique Boutique was part of their strategy for running into me, but we met in front of Wal-Greens on Royal Street (the one that I once thought had been bought out by the R&B artist Al Green. after the "W" burned out).
They took a picture and asked me where I was going to be later, but I couldn't form a clear picture of where I might be at any given time later on that Saturday night.
I did play at the spot on Royal which Tanya and Dorise vacated, but that was not at great length.
Yesterday afternoon, I played on Bourbon Street, across from Barnaby's condo.
Barnaby has just landed a job, he told me.
"I know that feeling; I had it in 2006," I told him.
He is going to work for some organization very similar in scope to Unity; and he is going to "council addicts" among other things.
I had a notion of Unity sending me to Barnaby as part of my evaluation to see if I qualify for an empty house.
I made almost 10 bucks and then took a break; returned about a half hour later as it was getting dark; but didn't make anything in the 45 minutes or so that I played.
So, I went on my way down Royal Street past the guy who plays an electric guitar through a little Roland Cube amp and who used to have a stuffed moose in his guitar case; and who wrote a song called "Mr. Moose" which he sang  whenever people asked him what the deal with the stuffed moose was; which they inevitably didl..
Well, Mr. Moose, as soon as he saw me; pointed in the direction of Rouses Market and said: "There ain't no one up there!"
And. he said it with an incredulity as if he thought that some group; of musicians must have taken ill or something or there was a grave misunderstanding of the time allotment and they each thought that the other group; was there.
I walked on and figured, why not sit on that particular coveted spot.
It was actually slow enough to be about as quiet as it gets there.
I played and had a few people stand and listen; as they are prone to do at that location; and brought my money total up; to about 20 bucks for the whole day; which ran about 8 hours.

I caught the ferry; after making a distorted recording on the west bank terminal which had some fleeting moments of good jamming on it.
I am holding myself to the standard of Tanya and Dorise now, and especially after having played at the spot that they have had a hand in making famous for people who like to stand and listen to street performers.
Bens Band
*Ben, the paramedic has a band; and they can be "liked" on Facebook.
"The Ben Jernigan Band from Mobile, Alabama" should be a search term that would put them near the top of the Google results...
I haven't been able to find his music though; except for a Youtube of his band doing "Folsom Prison Blues" live somewhere.
It was a well played version.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Didgeridoo Last Night?

  • Draught Ends
  • Rain Pours Down
Last night, I went almost straight to my Bourbon Street spot. I say "almost" straight; because I DID find some fine dark microbrewery beer in cups along the way; the kind of beer I love and that some Budweiser drinkers can't stomach...
Dumbed Down Setlist
I decided to abandon the music which I have recently been playing and which I have worked on to the point where I use them to showcase technique; and fast playing; I decided not to try to keep pace with Tanya Huang.
John Lennons words "I lose the beauty of the melody; until it sounds just like a symphony...) ("Rock And Roll Music") came to me.
I played songs more reliant upon good old fashioned strumming (the horns and the backup singers can be added later...) like "Things We Said Today," by The Beatles; and made 8 bucks rather quickly; breaking a 2 day drought; and took a break just as it was starting to sprinkle out.
Traveling Nowhere
I made it to Decatur Street and Sydneys; passing one group of "traveling kids," who seemed pretty content as if they had reached the end of their travels, with one miniature guitar between themselves and lots of white Styrofoam containers of food.
None of them were very friendly at all.
I never know how to walk past them; should I smile patronizingly as if to say "You'll get it; keep practicing... and try to buy a tuner," or is it proper etiquette to at least stop and hear a verse or two out of respect for fellow musicians?
Even gutter punks yelling, rather than singing, can be amusing, depending upon what they are yelling...
Somewhere Over Where The Rainbow Children Were
Walking Royal Street, towards Canal, there was another group of three dressed like travelling kids and they were standing there watching a street guy of about mid 50's in age; playing a mean blues scale on a white electric guitar plugged into an amp.
The amp was set on "full distortion," "full saturation," with the volume and every other button that I might not have mentioned turned to the "full" position; and wailing away was the skinny, baseball cap wearing guy whom I had seen before on the street; and who had then wanted to play my guitar badly enough to have followed me a few blocks to nearby the Marriot Hotel; and whom I had refused to let play the guitar; even after he had assured me that he was an excellent guitarist, who especially knew the technique of playing in such a way as to not break strings.
Well, there he was; playing a fully distorted blues scale, at The Clean Guys spot, as the doorman from the hotel across the street shook his head; and he turned and boldly looked me in the eye as I approached, with a countenance which read: "I TOLD you I was a rock and roll god, but you didn't believe me!"
One of the three travelling kids; perhaps the owner of the guitar; was wincing.
Theo The Didgerodoo-ist

I walked on, mumbling "So; you know a blues!" to myself.
I had only gotten a block when, I hear a voice behind me and turned to see perhaps the youngest of the 3 travelling kids, who was holding a long hollow piece of eucylyptus wood; and who asked "Do you want to jam?"
I looked at the thing that I would be jamming with; and must admit that it was a stronger recomendation of a jam session than the kid holding it was.
He was bare footed; 18 years old and named Theo it turned out; and had only been playing the eucylyptus tube for a month; but we made 11 bucks in about an hour; after I tuned to the thing.
Theo had a lot of rocks and crystals, and always seemed to keep one in his hand, as if usurping energy from it.
Theo talked about a guitarist whom he had seen (in San Francisco?) who was missing his arms; but played with his feet. He said that our feet were meant to be a lot more dextrous than most peoples are; and that shoes were to blame for this particular plight. Hence, his barefootedness.
He talked about hallucinogenic drug trips on the newest drugs, like synthetic LSD, and another one which went by initials (DMD?) and made a person feel at one with the universe, and told a story about an encounter in Savannah, Georgia with some aggressive cops, who tried to intimidate him but were unable to do so, due to the amount of cough syrup Theo had ingested prior to the encounter, which kept him nonplussed..
Lack Of Preparation Rears Its Head
Then, it started raining as Theo and I took our time walking down Royal Street.
He kept engaging himself in conversations with drunken street people whom I was sure were predatory and were trying to see what they could get out of the 18 year old, who was born in Oxford, Mississippi, who was a Rainbow Child and who had hitch-hiked to New Orleans from somewhere near the Alabama/Mississippi line after he and 4 others were thrown off of a freight train.
I bought some food at Rouses Market and then, to our mounting disappointment as we stood under their awning, waiting for the rain to let up; it didn't.
I got pretty wet walking to the dock; especially my feet; and, just preceeding my ducking under the thing; the rainfall intensified to a hideous level and I had to make one last dash for it.
I hadn't packed my blankets or my sweatshirt; but was able to stay just warm enough to drift into a fitful sleep. Every time I woke up it was still raining heavily with thunder and lightning to boot.
I had sliced roast beef and English muffins and a tomato and an apple and an energy drink for the morning in my pack, at least.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beatles Songs, Too; And Conspiracy Theories

  • It gets worse.
  • The Clean Guy Back In Town
  • More Brian Hudson
When we last left Daniel; he had spent most of Easter night drinking and walking around resenting the money that other people, in other positions, were making.
Nobody said "Happy Easter;" nobody tipped him for playing music.*
*In case you're wondering; yes, I myself did say "Happy Easter" to the sides of a few peoples heads...
Having almost a couple dollars on me; and having just discovered that my laptop had been rendered almost useless because the screen is messed up; I left the library and headed for Royal Street.
I had already picked up tobacco and a beer and was passing near The Hotel Montleone, when I saw none other than The Clean Guy; sitting in a foyer and playing a pretty decent guitar.
He looked like he had aged more than the year or so, since I last saw him, would warrant; but he was also devested of his "clean" dinner jacket and slacks and polished shoes, etc. and his hair was cut so close to his head as to prevent him from combing it into the "Steve Martin" style of 2012; and that may have given him a more aged apperarance.
He seemed to indicate that the reason he had left New Orleans about 9 months ago, and went to Daytona Beach, Florida was because he "just had to get away for a while" from certain habits which often age a person; If I was reading "between the lines" right.
He said that he made very good tips in Daytona Beach, and "of course there were beautiful girls everywhere; with Spring Break there..."

On The Photo:
I took the eyes and eyebrows of Jeff Gordon (the NASCAR race car driver) and pasted them over Steve Martins to approximate what The Clean Guy, whose goes by "Johnny B." looked like to me; a year ago when I blogged about him.

Johnny B. gave me the 19 cents which I needed for my second Hurricane Lager, as the sun was setting and I made my way in the general direction of Bourbon Street and Barnabys spot.
"Excuse Me..."
I couldn't bring myself to ask a stranger. I thought about saying "I'm 19 cents short of a beer!" to nobody in particular as I walked; that way, I wouldn't have to say "excuse me" to anybody before asking them for 19 cents.
I think the reason that bums say "excuse me" is because their need of being excused by the person is a real one; and the bum actually should feel bad about imposing upon a persons time.
Johnny B. say's I'm Goode"
Johnny B. told me that I was a good musician and that he thinks my "comedic" stuff is my best. He added: "You just need to work through whatever issues you're having..."
Decatur Street?
I was walking down Decatur Street, after deciding that the 45 minutes that I had left before the curfew on Bourbon took effect; when I almost came upon Brad, the acoustic guitarist who doesn't read music nor know the names of the notes on the strings, but who tunes his instrument in a very unorthidox way based upon his ear; and then proceeds to play music unlike anyone has ever heard; but who is unable to accomodate any requests for songs familiar to people; and who I owe 5 dollars to; and I stopped short before he could see me, then crossed the road and disappeared.
I enjoy our jams together; but I just think he is a very one dimentional musician; and I didn't even like our odds of us making enough so that I could pay back the 5 bucks and then have some money left.
When I am playing a standard Beatles song, for example, his contribution diminishes as he grows very much softer and gingerly seems to be searching for notes; and when he is playing his very lively and fast paced syncopated rhythms using very exotic sounding chords spawned by his tunings; I am able to blend in and we sound very much like we are playing avante garde modal-Latin-influenced-jazz-fusion; and it is pretty cool, but...
People like to hear Beatles songs, too.
I went towards Canal Street
Canal Street
I didn't make a dime.
I decided to just get out of there and took the next to last ferry back over the river, mumbling and cussing and feeling like I was being pressured by some one or thing (Oh, I don't know.....SATAN?) trying to get me to snap and go off on someone or thing.
More Brian Hudson
How do you make 300 bucks per night on Royal Street?
How good do you have to sound? How interesting should your lyrics be? Does a Martin guitar make a difference?
Well, click on the link below Brian and, if I pasted it correctly you should hear almost exactly what his street sound has been here, these past couple weeks.
As I mentioned, his fingerpicked notes jump out of the speakers and down the street...
I've heard him do this song "The Shield" a few times and it is pretty representative of his "Paul Simon meets John Mayer in Austin Texas and they hang out with Don McClean" type of sound.
Nothing Matters
This morning, I woke up with nothing in my pocket.
I ran into a young very tall thin black man, who asked me if I wanted to sell my laptop. ...How do know I have a laptop?..
I told him that it needed a new screen.
The Energy To Be Lazy
I got across the river and went to Walgreens, where the cashier, an older short heavyset black lady got an error message on her computer screen; which very well could have meant that she keyed my 16 digit number in wrong; but she claimed that the problem arose because "energy drinks" aren't supposed to be bought with food stamp cards.
In the past, cashiers have re-keyed the number and it has almost always gone through the second time.
She didn't want to re-key the number. "I'm not going to keep putting it in!"
Her namecard said "A team member since 1983" on it. 30 years is a long time for a person too lazy to tap 16 digits on a screen to be with one company, I thought.
I went to the next Walgreens (there are 4 in the Quarter) and got the energy drink.
Today, A Bummer Already
Then, I was walking along Bourbon Street near Canal and there was a guy sitting in the classic begging position.
He sat with knees apart, a hand on each, looking left and right alternately, as if ready to pounce.
He locked onto me when I was 50 feet from him.
At 25 feet, I felt like I was being rudely stared at.
At 10 feet, he said "You got a cigarette?"
After I shook my head, the said: "Can I have the rest of that one?" referring to the one in my hand.Not That It Should Matter...
Now I am at the library and soon it will be evening and I will be faced with sitting somewhere and playing on strings which are ready to break; for perhaps nothing.
I guess I will stick with the Bourbon Street spot across from Barnabys
Tuesdays are the days when lesser musicians come out to take over the spots that the likes of Tanya and Dorise vacate.
T & D work 12 hours Thursday through Saturday and then 4 hours on Sunday; giving them a square 40 hour work week, and then 3 days off.
I have to admit that they are very professional and have a sound business plan.
Getting Ready For My DateWith my date in Homeless Court fast approaching, I can't help wonder if things aren't conspiring to have me there in a disheveled state; dirty and broke and perhaps even wet after walking there in lieau of paying for the bus.
Then, the judge can say: "Surely you must be miserable, living like (this)..." and then start the process of finding "housing" for me through any of the fine organizations which work in New Orleans toward that very end.