Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's All Connected

What Becomes Of The 94 Dollar Tip
"Don't F*** Me!!"
When we last left Daniel, he had just gotten a 94 dollar tip from a guy who came across as his "Cousin Vinnie," who described the tip as an investment which he was making in Daniels music, and made it clear to him that, although he was a very nice guy; nobody f*** him over without "repercussions."
Understanding the mans concerns, Daniel continued to play, after the man walked off.
Part of him was thinking that it would not look good to Vinnie, if he were to pack up right away and leave the spot (can't wait to hit that crack pipe...) and another part was actually in the mood to play more music.
Axiom In Action
Daniel had been making a concerted effort to improve his playing technique over the past month or so; which involved his going back to the basics of practicing scales and keeping with his Buskers Axiom #1:
"Seek ye first to sound good; and all other things will be added unto you."
He played with an ease which sprung from the knowledge that he now had a nice hat; was looking forward to getting amplified; and had enough money in his pocket to alleviate his concern over weather or not the tourists were going to throw him anything.
As a result, he switched to some music which he hadn't done in a while; and wound up stuffing some more bills to the ones in his pocket.
A Stripper Shows Herself
Before going to the Bourbon Street spot, Daniel was walking down Royal Street and was mildly surprised to see that the Christina and Brian Duo was not on the corner of Saint Louis Street.
Seeing that the business was still open, there wouldn't be anyone playing right in the doorway, but it wouldn't be unusual to see someone off to the side a bit; playing there and waiting to move into the doorway later.
He sat down and took the spot; hat on head and pretty much flat broke (this was a prelude to the 94 dollar tip).
"Play Some Dylan!!"

A young lady approach and, kneeling down next to Daniel, said: "Play something awesome! Play some Bob Dylan!"
She showed Daniel what she was carrying in a paper bag.
"I got these as a gift from work..."
And then ministered to Daniels perplexion, which must have showed on his face, by enlightening him with the addition of "They're dildos."
Daniel thought that they looked pretty space aged.
"...Babe, You're Bound To Fall..."
Daniel played "Like A Rolling Stone," by Bob Dylan, and the young ladys face lit up and she sang along.
After every other verse or so, Daniel felt compelled to stop and to explain the meaning to the girl.
In the back of his mind, he was forming an opinion that the girl might be living the part of the girl in the song who ...Once upon a time, looked so fine, threw the bums a dime (hey, that's Daniel in this instance!) in her prime...
The girl seemed eager to learn the undercurrents of meaning in the song.
It was Daniels way of being "fatherly" (since he was easily twice the girls age) and cautioning her through the song and its moral about what can happen to a girl that looks fine and is in her prime; but then falls.
She was soon on her way, after stuffing a wad of singles into Daniels backpack; (Daniel thought he counted 8 of them, but wasn't sure; having mixed them with other bills which were forthcoming) but not before ruminating out loud that she had always thought "Napolean in rags" (from the song) was a heroin dealer.
"No, he's actually a pimp, dear (hence the off color "language" that he used)."
Daniel thanked her; and recieved the answer "I strip for a living," to his inquiry as to exactly where on Bourbon Street she worked that gave employees dildos as gifts.
Baby Sitting
Then, enriched by what was probably 8 dollars, Daniel continued to play; and was hopeful that he was playing well at the time when up rode Christina Friis on a bicycle.
There was a look of innocent curiosity on her face, as if she wanted to ask a question but wanted to phrase it delicately. ....Umm, are you taking this spot for the night...If so, it's OK....
There was no vibe which Daniel could feel, which would make him think she was about to say something like: "What's the big idea; you know we like to play here; and it's a Friday night; and you yourself said you don't like to play Royal Street because you're not loud enough; I thought we were friends!" like similar exchanges that Daniel had heard exchanged between other famous street performers, whom will not be mentioned here.
This led Daniel to an interesting observation about about people in general, and Christina in particular.
"There are people who act very nicely towards others; despite the malicious thoughts that they are keeping at bay; and there are other people who act very nicely towards others; because of the nice thoughts that they have... "  -Daniel
Daniel concluded that Christina is the later, as is Brian to an extent; and that would probably the best way to explain the charisma which she and their group exudes...and what comes through in their music (and; because of the theme of this blog; it must be noted -in their tip basket, too).
It seemed like she might have been wanting the spot but was trying to find the right way to ask ("How long are you gonna be here?"?).
Daniels dual purpose in sitting there was to see if he could make any money there (with the addition of the hat) and to hold the spot for them, should they just be running late.
So, before Christina opened her mouth, he said: "I'm holding the spot," meaning, for them; but a little ambiguous.
I slight look of concern creased her brow. "You're holding it for somebody?"
"For you guys, if you showed up; I figured you might be running late; I was surprised not to see you here on a Friday night..."
She rode off to retrieve Brian; and they were soon setting their stage up; while Daniel continued to play; and in doing so; demonstrated to them how a guy playing unplugged on Royal Street struggles to make a dime (unless he catches a stripper at the right moment).
The duo threw Daniel 3 dollars after he finished one of his songs; Daniel thinks it may have been one of his originals; but he can't remember now....he thought that it was a nice way of saying "One from each of us; plus two halves that we glued together into a third..." Daniels mind often works that way.
Then, before he left, Brian handed him two more 5 dollar bills, saying "Thanks for spot holding."
Thus, after going from rags to 21 dollars, Daniel made his way towards his rendezvous with the 94 dollar tip; by way of Rouses Market, where he treated himself to a 24 oz. Strawberry Lime-A-Rita.*
*This is the same beverage which had had spent 45 days in the East Baton Rouge Prison for just admitting to the police that he had indeed drunk. He figured that the drink owed him...
Post Tip Stress Syndrome
It was with pockets stuffed with about $135 that Daniel finally left the Bourbon Street spot, 45 minutes past curfew time; and meandered towards Rouses Market, where he ran into Tanya and Dorise, who were packing up for the night.
"This guy came and gave me a big tip, but he warned me that if he walked up on me and I still had the same equipment, he was going to hit me in the face. And, 'it won't be pretty' he said." I said to Dorise.
Tanya was nearby, rolling up a cable, and at the words "hit me in the face," she looked up, and asked "What happened?"
Daniel repeated what he had told Dorise.
"I need to get like amplified or something..." he added.
"How much did he give you," asked Tanya.
"It was actually 94 bucks."
"So, basically a hundred dollar tip..." she mused, with no trace of amazement in her voice ...we get them all the time...
Daniel outlined his options for disbursing the tip, not limited to:
"A little 'cube' amp."
"Do you need a ride to the store to get it? On a day when I'm not working?" asked Tanya.
"Well, of course, then I would need a pickup for the guitar and a cable to plug it into the amp; and then I still wouldn't have my vocals amplified," lamented Daniel, but then had another thought.
"I could get the amp and a cheap microphone to go with it and both play and sing into the mic."
But then he thought better of that: "But it would be a really cheap microphone; given the money I would have left over...and I don't want to sound like a robot"
"I have a microphone that you could use," said the ever helpful, resourceful, effecient and diminutive Chinese violinist...
And so it was that Daniel went back across the river; planning to rise early and go to the music store for a cube amp....
A Wild Goose Chase
Sunday morning Daniel was up with the birds.
He started upon a route which would take him down Royal Street, where he hoped to run into Paul from Doreens Jazz Band. He would ask Pauls advice about how best to invest the tip money and avoid "complications" with Uncle Vinnie.
Unfortuantely, they were not to be seen along that street, as far as Rouses Market.
"They're playing Jazzfest," he was informed by the The Brooding Black Man Who Plays A Fender Acoustic Guitar, and who was holding the spot for Tanya and Dorise.
He then informed Daniel that The Guitar Center had for sale a combination of an acoustic guitar and a case as well as a small amplifier; all for 79 dollars.
But then, he gave Daniel erroneos directions for how to get to that particular store.
Daniel spent most of the day taking the street car to the end of its line and then trying to find where the "E3" (which is the bus that the brooding man told him to catch) stopped.
There was no "E3"
Another person at the bus stop gave him further erroneous directions and he was soon well out of New Orleans and into the city of Metarie, where there was no Guitar Center.
After paying more bus fare, he was dropped off near the Quarter and walked into town where he again encountered Tanya and Dorise playing by Rouses Market...
"I went on a wild goose chase," he said to Dorise.
"I wouldn't worry about that guy," she said, already anticipating Daniels foreboding about Cousin Vinnie.
The Arrival Of A Rival?
There is a young man who sometimes plays a weird percussion instrument with Tanya and Dorise.
The instrument looks like a wooden box, but can produce percussion sounds.
He was playing this thing along with the duo, and Daniel sat down to listen; and to drink Lime-A-Rita; resolving to either try to go back to The Guitar Center the next day; or to maybe try Webbs Bywater Music in the opposite direction.
Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to be mis-led, he thought. Maybe the combination of the guitar and case and amp for such a low price would have given me frustratingly cheap renditions of each.
He decided that he would talk to Paul at Webbs Bywater; a person whom he had heard described as a nice guy who bends over backwards to help the street musicians (i.e. has inexpensive stuff); and try to put the 94 dollar tip to the best use.
Little did he know that he would be helped with his decision through the agency of Tanya and the aforementioned young man who plays the weird percussion instrument.
By the time T&D ended their night, Daniel had finished his second 24 oz. Lime-A-Rita and was barely keeping his eyes open.
The Guy That Plays The Cajon Drum
It was at this point that the young percussionist turned to him and said: "I've never heard you play before, do you want to jam?"
And it was in this state of intoxication that Daniel said "Sure," and wrestled the Jasmine Guitar out of its ragged case and tried to jam along with the percussionist and his wooden box.
He began to play the rif for "The Music Never Stopped," by The Grateful Dead, and was instantly missing notes or missing strings entirely before attempting a solo over the changes, which produced more sloppy sounds.
He was aware that Tanya (violin virtuoso) was in and out of earshot as she volleyed between the van and the equipment which was strewn about the two jammers, and that she hadn't really ever heard him play; and the stabbing feeling of embarrassment was enough to permeate the Lime-A-Rita haze; and he decided to just stop; as a means of damage control; cut your losses and run, type of thing...
"I'm sorry, that last Lime-A-Rita really wiped me out, I can't even play..." said Daniel as he stopped abruptly and began to put his guitar back into the raggedy case. "I wasn't expecting to play tonight." I've got a big excursion planned for early morning...
A Curious Thing
Then, the young man did a curious thing.
He walked over and intercepted Tanya on her way to grab more equipment and playfully kissed her on the cheek and maybe murmered something to her.

... figured the mere thought of motherhood repulsed her...
 Daniel felt some slight pangs of jeolousy which hadn't been visited upon him since he was 19 years old and lost a girl whom he was sweet upon to a rival who blatantly employed similar tactics...
I guess sometimes you aren't aware of your true feelings until a playful kiss exposes them....I thought that she might have no desire for a relationship; or that she was a lesbian; or that her family forbade her to marry anyone except a Chinese doctor; or that music has entirely supplanted her sex drive, or....
But, was it a tactic?
Had the percussionist seen that Daniel could barely keep his eyes open and seized the opportunity to try to make him look (sound) bad?
The Second Blessing
Daniel lay under the bushes that night; with the embers of the jealous feeling still glowing in his stomach; but was able to comfort himself by thinking of certain realities.
He saw Dorises face hovering before him saying; "Don't worry about that. He's just a good friend of ours and we probably wouldn't hang out with him if he was like that. He hadn't seen her in months.
You were just too drunk to play; it happens. You'll get 'em next time...and, as far as Tanya goes; you're not going to impress her even if you play Bachs Brandenburg Concertos with your feet; sbe likes you for your humor anyways; and do you know how many guys have come along and tried to amaze her with whatever they just aint' happening; relax...she is more likely to resent a guy who would play a game like that; even if that were the case..."
The Reason It Happened
He calmed down and fell asleep; telling himself as he drifted off that "there is a reason everything happens" and he would just have to wait for the next opportunity to say "Hey, let's finish that jam we started, now that I'm sober..." and it was as that image congealed in his mind (like a jello shot) that he had a revelation as to how to invest the 94 dollar tip.
He wouldn't try to amplify the Jasmine, which is on its last legs, even though more volume would equal more money. On an artistic level that wouldn't do.
"I Forgot About That One..."
He needed to play better and to sound better; and that would involve getting a new guitar...
He walked (to punish himself for drinking too much and embarassing himself in front of Tanya; even though that had led to the revelation that a new guitar was the way to go) all the way to Webbs Bywater Music store on Monday morning, where Paul, who was suffering "I'm sick as a dog, dude, I think I'm going to close and go home in a few minutes" initially said "All my used stuff is $299 and up."
"What about that Yamaha," asked Daniel, spotting one. "Is that the one that is $299?"
"Oh, I forgot about that," returned Paul. "That one, I could let go for $75. It had a cracked neck, but I fixed it and it is as good as new; in fact...."
And so, after a bit of haggling; Daniel left the store with a Yamaha F310 guitar (just like the one that his mother bought for him in 2006 to kick off his busking career after everything else slumped) and a new case for it, $80 lighter in the pocket. 
Stopping on Royal Street, he was congratulated on his purchase by Dorise, who said that she liked the neck.
It's All Connected
Daniel couldn't help connecting the cosmic dots between the gift he sent to his mother which arrived on her birthday; and then the phone call to her; when he heard about the troubles that the family was having, including a heart attack suffered by his brother; and then decided NOT to ask her for money; and then the received gift of the hat; and then the man (who looked a lot like his brother) who gave the 94 dollar tip and then the accidents which led him to the music store a few minutes before the guy was going to close; where the same kind of guitar which my mother once bought for me happened to be waiting; and the fact that Dorise liked the neck on it; and that one of the things that attracts me to Chinese girls is their necks.....It is all connected; somehow; thought Daniel...


  1. Wow long post.

    Your "how to busk for fun and profit" link is dead, dead, dead and has been for months.

    The internet is so bad here in San Jose that I'm only online once every 2-3 days lately, plus I'm only on about an hour or two at a time.

    But I'm blogging again because I've thought up the brilliant idea that I'll try getting some singing lessons and try out being a singer.

  2. Yeah, I sent a link to this post to Tanya and she read it...bless her heart
    I am trying to work out a trip to Burlington VT this summer;
    I actually have relatives there; but I would be like cousin Daniel who shows up and they say "I guess he's related to us..let's see his ID..."
    There is so much more money in other less competitive places; but the competition keeps your juices flowing here; I hope I will be pleasantly surprised when I try to play for people in another city who didn't just walk past Doreen and the Tanya and then Sal....
    But, who knows, I might be able to make the jump from there to CA more easily than from here....another 94 dollar tip tonight might help...


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