Monday, July 22, 2013

Geez! (final draft)

This morning, I woke up broke.

I had decided to spend what little I made Sunday on a pack of cigarettes and the rest on beer, and then just go to bed; by midnight.
"Homeless"
So, I picked up a heavy styrofoam container with the word "homeless" written upon it; which had been placed upon a trash receptacle on Decatur Street, during the one minute that I had spent inside Sydneys making good upon my self-promise to spend my last cent on a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Triple IPA Ale, stuffed it in my pack and started towards my sleeping spot, using a well lit route which is under video surveillance the entire way, and which promised lots of tobacco, thrown on the ground by people who took one puff and then walked around a corner to find themselves right in front of a famous attraction like Pat O' Brians restaurant/lounge.
The Trash Can Out Front Is One Of The Best In The Quarter
For Half Full Drinks ***** (rating: 5 hobos)
A 5 Star Bar
Pats is good for drinks, too.
The place that sells Hand Grenades is a mere two blocks away; and people usually only have gotten a few sips off of them when they notice "Oh, look! It's O' Briens...we're here!"
Pats doesn't allow outside drinks inside; which is a good formula for producing free alcohol.
Staying drunk in NOLA is not a problem.
Not staying drunk is, though...
I like to think that the person; who placed the food outside Sydneys, rather than in the trash; saw me pass and, given the sparcity of the foot traffic and the fact that the tourists would never think of touching it; placed it there for me.
I've been around for about 2 years and always have something friendly or hopefully amusing to say to the folks who stand outside the businesses, trying to coax people inside

Where Do I Fit In??
I hadn't felt like playing music very much at all the entire night.
I often stopped right in the middle of a song because I wasn't "feeling" it.
I reminded myself of Elvis Costello during his infamous stint on Saturday Night Live when he stopped the band after a few bars and told the audience "I'm sorry, but there's no reason for us to be doing this song," before starting a different one.
A Real Bummer
The bums were ridiculous.
When I went to The Unique Boutique to get the cigarettes and a beer, I took the money out of my back pocket to straighten the bills out (and face them all the same side up) and count them. I had just wadded them together and shoved them in my pocket, when I was done playing; as I usually do.
The reason is that, if I were to sit there and organize them, it would give the low life people a few seconds to form some kind of strategy to try to hustle me.
If there is more than a pocket full of bills, I will lay my guitar on top of them, zip up the case and be gone within a matter of seconds.
That allows only enough time for one of them to announce "He leaving!" to someone who is sitting right beside him (loud enough for me to hear a half block away) giving away the fact that they have an "interest" in me and making it easy for my to make sure they don't follow me.
So, I unfolded the money in front of The Unique Boutique, preparing to go inside; stacking the (5) bills in my hand and realizing with dread that, after buying cigarettes and a Hurricane Lager, I would be left with only change to re-start my case with.
This is not a good thing; because it often leads to a case full of only change at the end of the night. ...I guess a quarter or two is the appropriate tip for these guys...
I hadn't even pocketed the money when there appeared in front of me a droopy old black lady, who said "Give me a dollar," and held out her hand.
"I don't have any money at all," I replied, hoping that my sardonic tone would register upon her.
I expected her to say something like: "I just saw you with some money! Don't try to tell me that you don't have no money!"
I was eager to reply: "No, you're seeing things" or "What I have is none of your business, what are you looking in my hands for, anyways?!?"
"I Was Talking To Him, Man!!"
Instead, she seemed to accept that response; not taking it literally.
"I just want a dollar because it's my birthday. I can't have a dollar on my birthday?"
The look on her face said that she couldn't believe that someone wouldn't give her one of his 5 dollars on her (excuse me) birthday!
I suddenly remembered that I had seen her before and it had been her "birthday" that day too.
I went into the store without saying anything further.
At the register there was a guy behind me whom I vaguely recognized.
He gave me a fist bump as if we were old friends and asked me how it was going or something, and then asked me if I would buy the beer he was holding for him "It's only a dollar," he said.
"No, I barely have enough for my own."
The cashier rang up my Hurricane and pack of Pall Mall Reds in the box.
"Mind if I get one of those?" asked my buddy behind me.
"Geez, I haven't even opened them yet and you want one!" I said before walking outside.
As I stood on the sidewalk opening them, the guy, who had just thrown his dollar (which he had wanted to be my dollar) on the counter and hustled outside right after me, was standing at my elbow, looking expectant.
Then, another guy walked up and started to say something to me.
The first guy said to him "Hey, I'm talking to him right now!" in a "back off" tone of voice.
It was as if he was ready to fight over who would get to panhandle me for a cigarette.
"Oh, I don't give my cigarettes away," I finally said, after the guy had stood there watching me unwrap the cellophane, and pull the little tin foil thing out, and then walk over to deposit them in the trash; and then slowly take one cigarette out and fish my lighter out and light one...
Going Nowhere
I just encountered some travelling kids outside the library.
They told me good things about California; such as their experiences working as marijuana pickers on "the mountain," as well as some good things about "touring," by which they meant following a band around the country. A band such as Further (a Grateful Dead clone band).
They told me to check out Ashville, North Carolina on my way to visit Massachusetts "for street music."
I have a warrant out of Raleigh, which is "do not extradite" from outside the state. It is an 8 year old warrant.
I believe that they would bring me to court, but that the prosecutors might not be able to prosecute me on it. The arresting officer and only witness may have retired by now...
Still, I might skip Ashville, North Carolina for now....


2 comments:

Alex said...

It looks like the better life there is just bummin' it, quit distracting yourself with music and just be a professional bum. The lines like "It's my birfday" can work for you too, or tell a tale about being stranded and needing money for the Greyhound to get back to the Northeast - I think your accent if you still have one will bring in the cash that way. Free drinks, free booze, etc. Do a bit of boxing training so any of your fellow bums get cheeky, you just clock 'em. You could change the title of this blog to "My Life As A Professional Bum" and you'd get way more viewers too. I know this last because there is/was a blog by a guy who was nearly homeless, called "Make Money Panhandling" and while it wasn't really a course in doing just that, he did relate his panhandling experiences, cab driver experiences etc. The title really pulled 'em in.

Alex said...

Indeed, there's jobs in the pot patches .... I'd probably do that work, have connections ... but you get paid in cash and pot, sometimes just in pot, and I don't smoke the stuff.