Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Wake Of Jake

32 Dollar Friday
I woke up Friday morning with about 16 dollars in my pocket. It was what was left of the-jar-that-can-never-be-touched.
I spent it down to about 8 dollars with the usual purchases of cigarettes, a half pint of whiskey and a chaser for the whiskey.
I left the Royal Blend after yesterdays post at its closing time of 6 p.m.
I walked up Royal Street, to Rouses Market, where I exchanged a couple bucks off my food card for a 24 oz. can of Modelo Beer, then saw Mark* across the street playing blues on his Seagull acoustic guitar, with his girlfriend (who looks like a blend of Japanese and ?) by his side.
He motioned me over and, holding his pint of whiskey out to me, asked for a cigarette.
I took a swig, gave them a cigarette, then decided to smoke he and his girlfriend "up" with the remainder of my weed.
The "Jake" spot by day, before it was a gallery
This soon put me in the mood to walk one more block to the Jake spot and play, especially after Mark hinted that he needed to make some money.
That is a tough spot to make money at, as people are accustomed to seeing a much bigger "production" there than Mark and his girlfriend who looks like a blend of Japanese and ?, such as Doreens Jazz Band.
But, Mark is a trooper and puts in several hours a night there, after the heavyweights (excuse the pun) leave.
I remember him counting out what looked like 12 single bills one time and saying "Not bad for a Wednesday." I had to bite my tongue, because that was shortly after I had gotten the $170 tip at the Lilly spot from the guy who played my guitar and broke a string in the process.."Oh, my...I've put you out of business; I'm so!"
I have decided that, since the Lilly spot doesn't start hopping until almost midnight, that the Jake spot might be the answer to the "where to play from 7 p.m. until after the horse cops ride by Lillys at 10 p.m." problem.
This time, it looked like he was pretty much broke, but had the pint bottle to trade sips off of for cigarettes.
I feel sorry for him, because he knows some cool blues songs and sings them well, but he is like a white elephant, or maybe a pink elephant or whatever the expression is; on that corner there.
I always downplay the amount of money that I make, and never flash any in front of them; but I always catch his girlfriend eying me when I emerge from Rouses Market holding a 3 dollar can of Modelo beer.
The gallery was still open at the Jake spot.
Inside was the guy who had told me about Jake passing away the same night that I had gotten the impulse to play on his spot.
He said that something was going to be done to memorialize Jake, and that he would notify me about it -a "second line" parade, he said.
I don't really know what a second line parade is; maybe I could die and find out....
I sat by the red door and wailed away and had about 8 singles thrown between my two circling plastic sharks (which have, for now, replaced the tiposaurus) and then, finally, after a harmonica/guitar solo on Shakedown Street, by The Grateful Dead, which pushed me to my limit (not much of a shove) I looked down to see that a 20 dollar bill had magically appeared amongst them.
I had played for about an hour and made 30 bucks.
It had crossed my mind, while I was playing that the curator may have thought it callous of me to have usurped Jakes spot before it had even cooled off from his body heat.
Then I would think that I was playing my heart out in Jakes memory.
Then, I would remember that Jake used to wait until the place closed before he started to play (after 7:30 p.m.) and think that I might be bothering the guy; and so went my imaginings as I wailed away...but I made 30 bucks...
Then, it was back to Rouses Market and past Mark and his girlfriend, who appeared to have about 3 or 4 dollars in their case.
I hid the Modelo in my pack before I came out of the store, ashamed of my opulence.
*Brian Hudson told me once that Dorise (of Tanya and Dorise) owns properties and rents rooms to people "by the day," and that Mark is one of those people.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Friday Afternoons Quick Rant

Jake played next to the red door (far left)

Thursday morning has been historically the point in the week when I "hit bottom" financially.
I can remember getting my first couple Hurricanes on credit from Sam at The Unique Boutique, as recently as a year ago, before going out and usually making at least enough to pay him back, buy a couple more and pocket about 7 or 8 bucks..
I have had about a month long streak of not waking up broke. Since acquiring the Indiana guitar; actually.
Thursday morning, I had $3.25, after making the minimum deposit of 35 cents into the-jar-which-will-never-be-touched.
I had slept rather fitfully, after having eaten glazed yams and corn with cold cuts of ham, sauteed in olive and sesame oils with garlic powder, salt, pepper etc.
I woke up at one point with an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, thinking about the 5 dollar chip which I had carried around for almost two weeks, which was now gone.
The 11 Black Matter
The "coincidence" which I blogged about yesterday was actually higher in
When Sue, the Colombian Lady and I went into the casino almost 2 years ago now, I had wanted to bet, but didn't because of the minimum of $25, and the number which came up that time was the same one which "jumped out at me" when I walked up and took my first close up look at a roulette wheel
"What are those green numbers and what do they mean?"
"Well, can I play the green zero?"
"There is a minimum bet of 25 dollars..."
A bit too rich for my blood at the time...
Then, the green zero came up.*
Then, being drunk, I said something like "I would have let it ride on black 11," before Sue and I walked off.
People scurried to place bets on black 11, apparently ready to suspend their judgment of a homeless looking drunk guy with a Colombian lady with a cat in a cat carrier in tow when it comes to "luck." I guess Lady Luck comes in different disguises...
We left before finding out if we had been good luck charms or not...
Then, after getting this 5 dollar chip 2 weeks ago, I had attempted to place it on black, but was rebuffed by the same 25 dollar minimum.
It came up black 11. I would have won.
Then, today, after finding a table where one could bet as little as 5 dollars, I placed the chip on black and it came up black 11 (again).
But, then I lost it to a black 6 after I bet it on blogged about already.
11 Dollar Thursday Night
Thursday evening I tapped into the-jar-that-will-never-be-touched for about 13 bucks over the coarse of the night (I had thrown it in my backpack before coming out; seriously considering carrying only $3.25 on me, but deciding to borrow against the jar instead).
Something told me to play at the spot vacated by Jake (who was reportedly suffering from cancer, and who had not been seen there in weeks; after having been a fixture there for years).
I played at "Jakes spot" and was thrown about 8 or 9 dollars, an amount made more significant by the the fact that there were musicians to my left and my right, less than 100 feet away.
I was wailing on the harmonica and only did two songs: "Golden Slumbers," by The Beatles, and"Wild World," by Cat Stevens, both with extended harmonica solos.
I was taking advantage of the distance from Barnaby (with his aversion to the harmonica) to "let it rip."
After I finished and walked past the girl 100 feet away who plays a harp (a real harp, but a miniature one) said "Your harmonica sounded really good."
Regardless of what Barnaby say's, I feel like I can always make at least something with my harmonica playing.
I still owe the jar 17 is Friday afternoon. It has been raining all day, with especially hard downpours early this morning which caused me to actually re-arrange the rocks under the drain spout because I was being splashed...heavy downpours.
I hope to play tonight and will probably start at the Jake spot.
I learned this morning that Jake died.
He died 3 days ago, on the night when I first felt compelled to play at his spot, as if it was calling to me with a red carpet rolled out.
I think I play as well there as anywhere, especially since I don't have residents (who have extended the courtesy of letting me jam in their neighborhood and who might have aversions to the harmonica) to worry about there. And, now the spirit of Jake is there for me. I was one of the few people whom he got along with, I think.....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Morning At 5 O' Clock

  • 3 Day Drought
  • Chip Lost
  • Karrie Gone?

I woke up kind of depressed, and starting to see a correlation between my moods and the amounts of money that I am managing to make.
3 days of shitty earnings in busking had whittled my cash supply down to 10 dollars; almost even.
I still had the 5 dollar casino chip, though.
The "3%" Jar-that-will-never-be-touched, hit about 25 dollars after I dropped the minimum deposit of 35 cents into it; effectively verifying that, in the past month or so, I have been unable to prosper upon 97% percent of everything I made.
11 Black
I decided to take the route up Canal Street, past Harrahs Casino.
The previous day, I had been told "Not today," by the security  guy at the front podium.
I hadn't argued, because I knew that he must have had carte blanche in rejecting anyone whom he thought was going to come in there and pick ashtrays and scoop up unfinished drinks but not gamble away anything in return.
I did walk over to another more important looking employee, within the sight of the security guy, who looked on with a smug smile as if to say "He's gonna tell you the same thing!"
After briefly complaining about being barred entry, I pulled my Starbucks card out of my wallet and showed it to her, saying: "I have a Starbucks card," and then held the $5 chip in my hand like a badge and said "And chips." 
She was at a loss for what to say "I don't know..." but my hope was that the security guy would think that I was flashing some kind of credentials and that he may have just barred some kind of undercover agent from the Gaming Commission (or something) from the casino; and had screwed up ...Didn't you get the memo?!?
I do stuff like that.
My previous trip there, I had sat in Starbucks charging my phone but not buying anything. I HAD tried to bet the $5 chip on black, though, but there had been a 25 dollar minimum at that (weekend) time.
The Coincidences

My first forray into Harrahs, I was with Sue the Colombian lady. I had tried to play a number, but was bebuffed by the mimimum bet thing...
I was stopped by the dealer, and informed of the minimum.
It came up black 11.....gee, I would have won...
Today, I found the 5 dollar minimum table and was able to place the chip on black.
Coincidence #1: It came up black 11, again.
I then had 10 dollars and probably should have taken a 10 dollar chip to carry around with me for a couple of weeks like I did the 5 dollar one; until it started to feel lucky.
I instead bet the 10 dollar chip on red; and lost when it came up black 6. Maybe the guy meant put it on black, perpetually.
I left; having been wiped out. I felt like there were 100 eyes upon me as I made my way across the football field sized carpet toward the exit. They could see in my walk that I had just been wiped out. I struggled to keep my head somewhat up.
Coincidence #2:
I got here to the library and signed up for this computer with 35 minutes to wait for it.
I wandered over to the "new releases" book table and happened to pick up a book by  a self-help specialist, and flipped it open to a page with the heading of "Coincidences," and read a bit about them; still thinking about how much of a coincidence the Black 11 was.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not Today

It is Tuesday morning and Daniel has woken up with a tinge of numbness down his right arm and decided, at 11:45 a.m. to sleep no more, but rather to sit up and drink some instant coffee and start his day.
The Natchez is docked and the voices of excited passengers can be heard coming from the uppermost deck, which is out of his line of sight.
Soon, the calliope plays, advertising the floating tourist magnet, so out of tune that it cannot be ignored.
Daniel has to take a crap and doesn't want to wait until he gets to some restroom in the quarter.
He starts to climb the rock embankment of the adjacent segment of the dock, trying to get as high up (and out of sight of the Natchez) and as far away from the place where he lay as possible.
The trumpet player sitting in his usual spot on a bench on the river walk about 200 feet away begins to play "Itsy bitsy spider," as Daniel ascends.
He is passing under one of the pipes which drain the rainfall off of the dock when the trumpeter gets to the "down came the rain and washed the spider out," part. Daniel figures that there is a family with a young child passing the bench where he is.
Then, high up under the dock, far away from where he sleeps, but almost (actually?) in sight of the horn player, Daniel begins to do his "business,"
The trumpeter switches to "Here Comes The Bride," while this is in process.
Then, after Daniel grabs a wad of toilet paper and is applying it to "the task," horn guy breaks into "He's Got The Whole World In His Hand."
Daniel comes out after the boat leaves, goes to Harrahs Casino where he is told: "Not Today!" by the security guy at the entrance, effectively telling him that he cannot enter the casino.
Daniel still has the 5 dollar chip

Monday, March 24, 2014

Not So Much In Pennies

2 Dollar Sunday, If That...
Maya In Santa Monica
I stayed under the dock until the 2 p.m. cruise left; reading and writing a bit and drinking a Rip It Energy drink.
I had 66 dollars, plus the 5 dollar casino chip, which I am going to bet on black at the roulette table, one of these days.
I emerged and walked up Saint Louis Street, past Tanya and Dorise and to The Unique Boutique where I capitalized upon their 2 for $6 special on half pints of E&J Brandy, grabbing "one for today and one for tomorrow" (ostensibly).
Then, I went across the street to get batteries for my spotlight which, along with instant lighting briquettes is becoming one of my "major" expenses.
Lilly was just coming out of the store and talking in Portuguese on her phone and we talked a bit; her promising (once again) to come out and sit next to me on the stoop as I played.
A man standing behind me, as I counted out pennies on the Walgreens counter; offered to buy my batteries; saving me $8.50.
One wonders if being seen talking to Lilly had anything to do with that. Both of her daughters work at an upscale restaurant diagonally across the street; and Lilly is there every night to chaperon them home.
Jar Hits $22.64
I was counting out pennies because I have been trying to launder them out of the "3%" jar, and was attempting to get rid of 10 of the nuisances.
I've been pulling out change and replacing ones with fives. The jar could hold 10 thousand dollars in 100 dollar bills; but not so much in pennies....
The man behind me might have thought that I was spending every last cent of my money on them.
I had already taken a gulp off of my brandy right in front of the guy as I waited in line (something one can do in NOLA) but I still felt a bit guilty accepting his charity...if you've got money for liquor; then you've got money for batteries!
Then, I walked up Canal Street towards the Jamaican herb dealers, and encountered Maya Glasgow playing in front of McDonalds. 
She is a fair singer and novice guitar player, but she is also female (see above) and from Los Angelos and is a college student and had made about 50 dollars. She told me she had only made 20 to my 35 the previous (Saturday) day.
She would out-earn me 50 to 2 on this particular Sunday, though.
I wound up spending about 26 bucks the whole day, capped off by the 10 dollar purchase of a bag of briquettes along with a 24 oz. Tecate beer on the way to the dock at about midnight.
Musically, I thought I wailed pretty well on the harmonica, fueled by brandy and herb
My plans to travel are starting to solidify and take the shape of me moving to the sign spot to sleep, now that the 2 light blankets there are enough for the current temperatures, and from where it would be easy to get up early in the morning and go to a nearby off ramp and busk with the harmonica and guitar around my neck.
This would hopefully help me acquire traveling money in that apropos setting; and give me the satisfaction of bumping a skeezer off of the spot; who would sit somewhere and watch and sulk and mentally count the money that people handed me with the "at least you're not just sitting there with a sign" appellation attached; so that he could try to skeeze some off me...Damn, it looked like you were cleaning up out there, say, I'm trying to get a hamburger and.....
Other than that, it is Monday afternoon and this should be a day of rest and recreation other than busking, but the 24 dollar setback of yesterday kind of stings even though I have batteries and briquettes to show for it...
I suppose that I will put in at least a couple hours of work tonight, to put a finger in the hole in the dike, depending upon what the brandy and herb mandates...
The "quinsy" in my throat has been lingering; almost going away but then coming back, lately. I have also been getting numbness in either one or both arms in the morning; possibly from the thing pressing on a nerve in my neck.
Busker In London whom I hope owns a metal detector!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Two Circling Sharks

35 Dollar Saturday
Lilly spot has been beset by skeezers, lately, but they seem to all understand that, when I arrive they need to leave...
It is Sunday and I have 5 minutes to post this.
I did pretty well last night compared to other buskers that I have compared notes with, being careful to pussyfoot around the question of "Where did you play?" after telling them that I made 35 bucks to their 20 bucks...
I bought batteries for the spotlight and am tempted to spend 16 bucks on a micro SD chip reader so that I can once again post pictures here which I took myself; such as one of my latest replacement for the tiposaurus i.e. two plastic sharks circling the tip hat...hey, 35 dollars can't all be wrong....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday After St. Patricks Day

Wednesday After St. Patricks Day
Flashback Photo...
I woke up with about 44 dollars (20 less than Tuesday morning) on me; but had a brand new harmonica in the key of F to show for the previous day..
The girders were lined with food and condiments; I had drank a Bob Marley relaxation drink in the middle of the night; and then switched to pineapple juice which had kept at about 60 degrees, as that was the mean temperature.
Plans for the day were pretty simple: pack all the dirty clothes which were at that spot into my pack, so that I could add them to the ones at the sign spot, so that a trip to the laundromat will be simplified; and find some fresh cardboard to re-do my signs, which have become dog-eared; throw one of the boxes of crackers into my pack so I could feed the pigeons (which still pine for Sue the Colombian Lady and still come around when they see a human being there) and to post to this blog and to basically try to make it as good a Wednesday as can be.
I have spent time reading (the daily paper, which will perform a second function after I stuff shreds of it in the gaps between the rocks which I recline upon) and writing and working upon my finger picking skills and it has been a semi-productive day already.

9 Dollar Tuesday
Last night, I sat down with the brand new harmonica in the key of F, and had quickly reacquainted myself with the various keys which work well with it, at the Lilly spot.
There was just not enough foot traffic, if you subtracted skeezers, to warrant my continuing to play; even by 10 p.m.
I wound up moving to a spot on Royal Street, the one vacated by Jake, who plays guitar and harmonica and whom I was told was dead by one person; and alive but sick by another.
I somehow had about 9 dollars thrown to me; along with the good feeling which came by knowing that on "the street of a musician on every stinking corner," I had made 9 dollars.
Then, I realized that I had played until midnight, and I headed for Rouses Market.
I found a lot of swordfish, which had exceeded its expiration date by minutes. As well as a lot of
sandwiches (which I relinquished to a guy who had walked up and expressed an interest in sandwiches), two containers of sushi out of a bag which was laden with what I would guess to be 20 pounds of it; boxes of crackers and multi-grain cookies which must have been too wholesome to have sold; and a bunch of raw meat which owed its presence to the butchers lack of attention to detail as they slashed and lopped away.
Swordfish is a pretty tough fish, which probably warrants it an extension of the typical expiration date, but it is treated like every other fish at Rouses Market.
I headed for The Unique Boutique for a large beer to sip while I tended the fire and flipped swordfish steaks.
I had 8 blocks to walk, but had only traversed 3 before I found a strong drink, nearly untouched and just "sitting there."
I had 3 tin foil basting pans full, which I alternately put on and off the fire and was able to wrap up the leftovers and remove them to the highest girder (one which the rats have not yet been able to get to) where they will be ready to reheat tonight, should nothing else materialize on this Wednesday night.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monday After St. Patricks Day

Let me save myself 1,000 words...
  • Busking Cut Short Due To Cold
  • New Harmonica Today
  • Recording CD at Shermans?
Saint Patricks Day was pretty cold.
It was only forecast to go down into the low 50's, but my stinging fingers told me, by about 8 p.m. that it was in the low 40's.
I headed for Harrahs Casino, it being too early to try to crawl under the dock, what with the Natchez still being abuzz as a floating party, and the heightened security being present accordingly.
I went to the roulette tables, of which I only saw 3 (which seems strange in a casino the size of 2 football fields) and was actually approaching to lay my 5 dollar chip on "black," before I noticed the "15 dollar min." on a red LED display on the table.
It came up black. 13 black.
I asked around and was informed that at the roulette tables, one CAN bet as little as 5 dollars, but it didn't become clear to me when this is possible. They might have groups of people commandeer the table and up the bet to keep riff raff away, I don't know...
So, I almost bet the 5 dollar chip, and just may tonight...


I woke up with about 73 bucks yesterday morning; I woke up with about 63 this morning.
I had played the Lilly spot continuing putting the various harmonicas through their paces, discarding most of them; and resolving to get a new harp, first thing (this) morning.
I have gotten a brand new Hohner "Ol' Standby," in the key of F.
This is the same "one" which Dorise gave me, almost a year ago now. I guess I am going back to review what I have learned and might just try to replace harps in the order in which I acquired them.
I have half a mind to call Sherman in Baton Rouge to see if I could lay down some tracks on his .WAV audio recorder and at least get started on the project of having a CD of my own stuff...

Monday, March 17, 2014

No Ice Cream Sunday

  • 48 Dollar Sunday
  • Chip Not Bet Yet
  • I Work Royal Street
Sunday Expenditures
$4.00 Vodka
$2.00 Coffee
$5.43 Batteries
$8.00 Briquettes
$5.00 Herb
$5.00 Misc. Stuff
I started out $29.43 in the hole, Sunday.
I had realized, after "Saturday In The Dark," that I would have to shop for AAA batteries, and was able to buy a 4 pack and get 4 free at Walgreens.
I was headed towards the Lilly spot, when, at Rouses Market, Doreens Jazz Band was just packing up.
Paul offered me the spot. "There you go, Daniel, wide should play right there," he said, pointing to the spot across the street where Matt from The Hokum Highrollers did well the previous night, with his suitcase drum, tambourine and service counter bell and his resonator guitar which is twice as loud as mine.
Well, I did set up there, and did my best to entertain Doreen and her band (maybe inflate my stock with them) as they broke down their stuff.
After about 15 minutes, I hadn't gotten a dollar. But, I hadn't actually seeded my case or put up any of my "stage."
"I usually do pretty well here, playing solo," Paul said before he rode off on his bike.
This encouraged me to persist for at least another song, and, after I seeded my case with 3 of my own dollars, I had another 5 or 6 thrown to me (and felt like I could have gotten more had the particular harmonica which I had on my neck not been one of the worst clogged of all the ones I have) by the fickle Royal Street tourists; and I considered the "gig" a success.
Then, after a run to The Unique Boutique, I ran into Christina Friis on the corner of Royal and Saint Louis Street. She asked me if I would watch that "Boardwalk/Park Place" spot while she ran to Rouses Market and back.
I watched the spot and made 3 dollars playing during the 10 minutes that she was gone.
Then, I arrived at the Lilly Spot, finished off the pint of vodka which I had, and somehow made another 40 dollars, along with too many free drinks to finish, under my brightly lit spotlight hung in the vines overhead.
I was wadding up the money and shoving it in my back pocket.
At one point, some water came from under the gate from Lillys estate and before I realized it, my whole back side had been drenched.
I ended the night with a sodden wad of bills which felt like a hockey puck in my back pocket which wound up being about 80 bucks after it was unfurled.
I went an bought the 8 dollar bag of instant light charcoal; found some food to go with the pasta which I planned upon cooking under the dock, then found a syringe laying in the alley behind Hotel Monteleone, and a few feet from it, about 25 dollars worth of weed. It was just one one those days...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday In The Dark

 4 Years Ago, Today
I was in Ocala, Florida, and sang with a gospel choir in which I was the only caucasian; Karrie was in the midst of spending 47 days in jail in Saint Augustine; and I was playing the off ramp and sending her money, here and there....
  • 20 Dollar Setback
  • Capo Replaced
  • Brass Band Sets Up On Me
I Haven't Put The Chip On Black Yet...

My exodus from under the dock came at around noon.
73 dollars were in my pocket, and I headed in the direction of The French Market, where a dealer in things musical has a table set up regularly.
He carries harmonicas, from a 5 dollar toy, up to 50 dollar Lee Oskars and Hohner Marine Bands, and harps in "natural minor" keys, also 50 bucks.
A couple blocks up the street is the new location of The Louisiana Music Factory, which carries Hohner Ol' Standby harps for 12 dollars, which is less than the guy at the French Market charges. The market guy is the one with the 5 dollar guitar strings which "suck, but they're only 5 bucks."
I had my mind set on getting a harmonica in the key of B, and then dropping my guitar down one half step so that I could play as if in the familiar key of C, but would be sounding one half step lower, giving songs that everyone has heard a million times a slight wrinkle; and giving me that much more room to hit the high notes vocally. But it wasn't to "Be."
He didn't have any harps in the key of B.
I needed to think.
Did I want to replace a key which I already had; or to get a new and different key?
I decided to get a capo instead ($10); which would allow me to put all the harps that I own through the paces by moving the capo around; and then I would decide upon which harp to get.
5 Dollar Saturday
I had forgotten to get batteries for my spotlight.
I pondered making a run to get some; but decided to move further down towards the forbidden zone, closer to the spotlight which I used to play directly under but which has been declared a no busking zone by the lawyer guy whose condo it sits in front of.
A loud brass band began to play in front of Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern; and persisted until the point that I tuned to their B flat and jammed along; audible to anyone within about 15 feet or closer.
I actually had 5 dollars thrown to me by those who leaned their ear in and heard that I was pretty much in sync with the horn tooters up the street. They were a little bit "tonally challenged" and came close to falling apart in a few spots, but these spots were when the sum of us sounded like a Grateful Dead space jam...
I Still Have The Chip
So, this morning, I made the minimum deposit to the "3%" jar, and now I ponder getting batteries for the spotlight. And then making new signs, as mine have become tattered, and then maybe getting to the Lilly spot before I even have to use the spotlight, as in pretty soon....
Or maybe spending myself down to under 40 dollars with the purchase of a brand new Hohner "New Orleans Special" harp in the key of C...I can work it with the capo...
If things get too bad, I will go out in the morning and play guitar and harp at the off-ramp near The Rebuild Center where there is usually someone (sitting) there holding a "hungry" sign in between running to the center for the free meals, of course.
I Might Just Hit The Highway
This has always been a good formula for me, as people have said "At least you're doing something," as they handed me an average of 35 bucks per least that is how it worked in Jacksonville and Saint Augustine, Florida.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Thursday That Was Yesterday

Inauspicious Start
After posting to this blog at the library, having already spent the 30 dollars down
to 22, on my way to spending it down to about 17; I walked Royal Street, encountering a guy playing and singing the blues near the police station along the way.
He was singing the "I haven't made a dollar; this is my own money.." blues.
I recognized him as someone named "Dick" and cannot remember his last name now; but remember him being referred to as "the legendary Dick (something)" in the label on a picture of him which I had come across by Googling "New Orleans Street Musicians."
It was discouraging to see a legend not getting any tips; but...that is Royal Street for you; where "just a guy with a guitar" had better be just Chet Atkins with a guitar; or at least have a little more "going on" (see below).
I couldn't find that particular picture of Dick but, lo and behold, found this gem above, taken by Fred Miranda (about 40 years ago on Kodak black and white film) a pretty good photographer in my opinion with a nose for finding interesting subjects LOL!
Matt (from "Yes, Ma'am" or "The Hokum Highrollers" -depending upon who else is present) seemed to be doing better across from Rouses Market.
Or, The Slick Skillet Serenaders, depending upon who else shows up...

He was hitting a suitcase with a bass drum mallet with one foot and alternating between a supine tambourine and a bell of the kind that people ring for service in various places where the cashiers leave the area of the counter; with the other foot, while strumming a resonator guitar and singing loud (but not "barking" like some of the old timey blues singers do, or "howling" like some others).
He had what looked like a 100 dollar afternoon/evening in the making.
He was replacing a broken string with another from the 5 dollar per set type which are sold at the French Market. "Oh, I know; they suck; but they're only 5 bucks," he told me.
This illustrates the principle that, were I to be pulling in 100 dollars on a typical day; I would be using the finest strings and Marine Band harmonicas.
Poor Matt (with the black guitar above) probably has rent to pay and has to cut corners somewhere...
 45 Dollar Thursday
I went to the Lilly spot, where I slowly set up my stuff, while slowly sipping malt liquor, and was actually happy to have made 1 dollar and a handful of change in the first half hour.
I took a break, then returned and played longer. The tourists did seem to be "cheap" but more notably seemed to be involved in their own conversations and oblivious to music.
I packed up and moved closer to the lamp post in the "forbidden zone" by the lawyers condo after my spotlight dimmed, myself being out of batteries after having gone through 48 or them in the past couple months. 2 more dollars were soon mine.
Then, a group of three guys came along a little after 11 p.m.
"You're not playing?" asked one of them.
I explained that I had just been allowing the cops to go through on their nightly (lately) curfew check. "They overdo it, but if they are going to do it, they're a bit overdue."
They were able to entice me to take the guitar out by saying something like "We've got some money if you feel like playing," or some other sentence with the word "money" in it...
I don't remember exactly what I played, because I had gone into the "late night vodka haze," but I remember that they liked it and one of them handed me a fistful of money. It was literally crushed into a wad in his hand and I had to spread my fingers like they were in a catchers mitt in order to take it.
His manner either sent the message of "We've got money by the fistful! Here, have some..." or it sent the message: "This is all the money I've got on me; I just snatched it all out of my pocket.." or it made some statement about how he felt about U.S. currency, perhaps.
I stuffed it in my back pocket in reverse of the way he had pulled it out of his and didn't discover that it had been 42 dollars until I was under the dock by the fire counting it by the light of a candle which I had stolen from out of Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern; during one of my restroom runs. I'm now a thief.
Before I left, one of the gold painted men came along and sat down and asked me to play, which I did.
I had just put the guitar back in the case when the same cop who Lilly had spoken to came by; pointed at the gold painted man with a "get going" gesture; but only gave me a brief wave then drove off.
"Well, I'm not going to argue with that," said the gold man.
I soon followed suit, and was walking away just as Lilly and her 2 daughters were approaching.
"You saved my life the other night," I said.
"It's alright, Goodnight, I'm so tired, see you later, I love you" and scurry through the gate and out of sight they all three did...
I thought about how good a spot the Lilly spot actually is, especially for just a guy with a guitar -with a harmonica also, add 50% -and how lucky I was to have found it; and yet I am careful not to brag about it to people such as the legendary bluesman (except online here where 11 billion people can see it LOL!).
The Chip
I still have the 5 dollar chip from Harrahs Casino, and will put it on black one of these days....

I now go to either get an sd micro chip reader, so that I can post pictures here, like of the actual chip in my hand and not the stock photo above; or to get a new harmonica.
I put $1.40 into the "3%" jar, breaking a 3 day slump of minimum deposits; and I have only spent 2 dollars so far on this Friday that I decided to not start my day with vodka and juice, but rather a 2 dollar cup of coffee here at The Royal Blend, where I blog..
On The Horizon
I ponder more seriously than ever going on the road and traveling north to Massachusetts to see some people "good for the soul" who will take turns hosting me until each tires of it; it could take me all the way through the summer. And, of course busking along the way will be good for this blog...
A 45 dollar tip during such a slow season is a stroke of luck and should be looked at as a means of getting away from here, at least until things pick up, and not as a way to lay back and live off of it until the next big tip comes along. It will likely be gone long before then...
This Just In
I am at the library with 2 minutes of time on the computer; I have just printed out the sheet for "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," by Billy Joel and my uncanny intuition tells me that this could become one of my real show ,er, tourist stoppers in the future.
I can imagine getting a kazoo for the sax solo in the middle; Clarence Clemens rolling in his grave notwithstanding....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Giving Tipping Up For Lent

  • The Lull After The Carnival
  • 11 Dollar Monday
  • 15 Dollar Tuesday
  • 6 Dollar Wednesday
  • Tarentino Leaves on Bus
  • Red or Black For The Chip
I Still Have It; Ready to bet on black...
It is now Thursday.
The money has dwindled from 103 dollars, down to 30 dollars; but I have a brand new case on the guitar, and have gotten a charger for my Android phone, as well as a new set of strings, and the 5 dollar casino chip.
I am thinking of putting it upon "black" at the roulette table, as per the advice of the guy who gave it to me (He had offhandedly said "Hey, put it on black!" after I had mused: "Should I cash it in, or let it ride?")
Now I need a micro sd card reader ($15) to post pictures here, a capo, a new harmonica, and will soon need batteries for my spotlight. It would be good to have at least a 25 dollar Thursday night...
I have been able to stay faithful to the "3%" jar under my "mattress," though have only added the minimum deposit of 35 cents the past 3 days.
After kicking Tarentino to the curb Sunday night, I returned to the Lilly spot and played for only another hour before a cop stopped in front of me and pointed to his watch.
This same cop (a heavyset black Sargent) has done this a couple times before, but only during quiet seasons; between Mardi Gras and Jazzfests and French Quarter Festivals and the like. He doesn't ask for ID, nor write a ticket (anymore; I think Lilly has spoken with him before.
Lilly To The Rescue
Tuesday night,  a different cop arrived at 11 p.m. a younger black cop. He was following the book and taking the hard line; and was in the process of taking down my SSN, after telling me to stand where I was and "don't move," when up walked Lilly with Chantilly in tow.
"What's going on?" asked Lilly.
I made some joke about "I'll be banging out license plates," or something.
"No!" said Lilly.
She was then at his open window, as his pen paused in mid stroke upon his ticket book; and I heard snippets of "He's a nice guy; doesn't bother anybody; I know that there are laws on the books, I own this property and...etc.
I chatted with to Chantilly, rather than try to hear everything.
Soon, the officer drove off; seemingly with a sigh of relief.
Lilly and her daughter then just marched through their gate unceremoniously (as if the officer had delayed them long enough ) and disappeared; as if not wanting to be hugged and thanked profusely.
Wednesday (last) night, I played from about 9 p.m. until 11 p.m. and no cops even rode by.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blood In The Water

  • Tanya Huangs Birthday
  • Another Tale of Skeezing
  • 6 Dollar Sunday
Monday (this) morning, I was basically up with the sun.
The clocks were just set ahead an hour and so I should have woken up in shock over how late it was; and where does the time go?, 
Strong Coffee In The Middle Of The Night
But, I had mixed up some instant coffee and water and honey in a bottle, before retiring (thinking that the elements, especially the honey, would totally dissolve overnight, making for a sweet wake up concoction) but had woken up thirsty, and gulped some down; realizing while doing so, that I had made it very strong, pouring the crystals as I did by candlelight alone.
(After I had gulped down half the bottle and then replaced what I had drained with fresh spring water, it turned out in the morning to still be very black).
This caused me to lie awake and experience feelings of rage over the fact that I had taken a 25 dollar step backwards financially the previous day, and about the fact that I felt like I had been skeezed by "Tarentino," (along with usual array of memories from the past which I wish I could erase; as in erase that very moment so that I can get to sleep...)
Around sundown, "Tarentino" showed up at the Lilly spot, with his guitar in hand. (see below)
Our First Jam
We had had a pretty decent jam on Saturday night, when I was delighted about how many Elvis Costello songs he knew (especially all the lyrics to) and how he had said "Any Beatles songs at all, and I'm down!" and then seemed to have been able to hang in and jam along, although he is a less experienced guitarist than I.
My guard was down, when he walked up Sunday night; but first, Sunday had to have begun, so...
Sunday Begins
I had woken up with 101 dollars on me.

I heard the sound of Tanya Huangs violin from well down Saint Louis Street as I approached Royal, fresh from under the dock.
I was thinking of splashing my face with hot water in the restroom of the hotel across the street from where they play; perhaps swindling a shave out of them, and some tissue*.
*I wipe down the sink and the area around it before I leave, often leaving it cleaner than I had found it; so the tissue is compensation for janitorial services performed.
When I hear the faint strains of a violin from a distance, my mind performs the same analysis, whereby, it has to be either Tanya; or someone playing professionally recorded classical music somewhere. 
At the corner, I discovered the duo playing; and Tanya with money pinned to her shirt in the traditional "New Orleans" style of "birthday" attire.
Sitting there, in the 4 chairs (instead of just 2) which now seem to be there when they play; were she and Dorise, Dennis*, and a young guy who seems to be hanging around them who makes change for people and generally keeps their CD rack from becoming disheveled.
*Dennis is a guy of about 55 years old, who dresses well, generally; and generally acts the gentleman.
He plays the violin and seems to have taken it up at a "late age," maybe after retiring from a successful career in neuro-surgery (but still chasing a dream of playing Rossini at Carnegie Hall).
He seems to be a disciple of Tanyas; he has jammed along with them (but drew some chastisement and well meant criticism from Dorise, the time I saw him do so).
He could be her romantic interest, for all I know.
He often occupies the chair right next to the lovely musician while she plays, with his own violin sitting next to him; in its case.

When I show up, he seems to become even more genteel and fastidious (as if, in my imagination to distinguish himself from I, who has just crawled out from under a dock).
He seems to be on the "Dorise" diet of bananas and trail mixes and tofu and organic juices and other delicacies known for their healthy properties.
When I show up again (and, maybe it's in my imagination) he seems to peel his bananas even more delicately and gracefully; as if he is able to do it without getting any banana goo on his fingers at all.
He may be of the opinion that the human body is something that; if you pour good things into it, good things will come out; like "investing" in ones health through the exorbitant prices levied for things such as fresh figs, organic pomegranate juice. et al.
If I had ever had an intelligent conversation with him, I may know, rather than just speculate, about these things.
But the overall vibe I get from him is that he is a connoisseur of the "finer things" in life, (Tanya Huang being in that category) and, perhaps is trying to represent himself to her as a worthy gentleman -who has even taken up the cause of trying to "better" her diet*, by example 
*It does amaze me to see her sustain a certain energy level throughout 12 hours of playing pretty much "all out," after she starts her day with greasy chicken and some kind of Asian soup; though I have heard her complain about being "tired" more than any youthful 37 year old (as of Sunday) should.
When I took my harmonica out once, to demonstrate to Dorise how one of the holes was plugged; I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a condescending smile (but maybe just in my imagination) animate the gentlemans face before I had even played a note. It seemed to hint ...this is not to be taken seriously...

He may be kind of a musical elitist; who feels like there is The Violin.... and then there is "every other instrument"; with a harmonica being his quintessential "case in point," on that head.
Ooops, I'm sorry (I just totally slighted the Jews Harp, my bad...)
He may, as I've already proposed, have a romantic interest in Tanya..
George Blakmon (left)

But, whatever the reality; as I walked up upon the scene, I got a smile from Tanya, one from Dorise, an invitation to sit and join them from the young guy; and; pretty much a "Die!" look from Dennis.
I think he is civil towards me in front of Tanya in order to demonstrate that he is civil "in general."
If she esteems me to be her friend, then what would it profit him to be openly rude to me.
He had been at the ill-fated jam at CaseysInTheQuarter (now defunct) when I got to drunk, out of nervousness about jamming with Tanya, to have jammed very well with Tanya.
It turned out that Dennis had baked a cake for Tanya.
A chocolate fudge cake with 36 candles; a bit gooey, I thought, and not exactly made from organic tofu.
George Blackmon, Dorise' older brother; who is one of the best vocalists whom I have ever heard; showed up; as well as a lot of other people close to the duo; and Tanya might have intuited that a cake was close by and that "Happy Birthday," would be sung to her by those already standing around (like myself) and those hiding around the corner.
Perhaps just the pretention that I might be part of that "inner circle" of Tanyas friends; and may have even been invited there (or worse; had the date of her birth etched into my mind) to celebrate her special day; is what drew Dennis' scorn, I don't know.
Plus, I would be partaking of his cake!
George sang a couple more songs, notably "Careless Whispers," by George Michaels.
....but enough about him (if that is possible at this point....)
After The Birthday Party
I had run, after the birthday party, to Canal Street for a 5 dollar sack; but then subsequently run into a guy from Colorado who usually has the "killer" stuff -another 5 dollars spent...the things you run into when you have a wad of money in your pocket are akin to the things you see when you don't have your camera with you...
I Still Have The Chip
I went to the Lilly spot, where I planned to slowly warm up.
The Skeeze Is On
It seems funny how, when you have the above mentioned wad of money in your pocket, a certain element seems to be able to sense it; like a shark does blood in the water.
Around sundown, "Tarentino" showed up with his guitar in hand.
He apparently remembered my casual mentioning of where my spot is, the previous night..
Red Flag #1
The fact that he has only given me his street name has always been a tiny red flag for me.
I was happy to see him, initially, thinking about our previous jam session.
Red Flag #2
He immediately complained about only having made 3 dollars on Royal Street the previous night; kind of a tiny red flag, also....was he seeking me out because I make more money?
Red Flag #3
"We played better last night when we were drunk," he commented after we had started to warm up; while on the subject of tiny red flags...
He then noticed a drink sitting on a stoop about 100 feet away from us. He went and got it. It was a strong whiskey and coke.
We kind of started sharing it; I mean, I got a sip off it before he removed it from my sight.
"I have some weed, actually!" I said, remembering that I did.
I forgot about it while talking to a passing tourist.
Tarentino reminded me.
I packed a bowl and handed it to him.
He took a hit so large that he coughed his brains out amidst a big cloud of smoke for a few seconds before he handed it back to me empty.
Then a group of tourists came along whom I thought looked Latino.
"Habla Espanol?" I asked.
There were a few adults and a few kids.
I prepared to play "Duerme Te, Mi Nino," which is a Dominican Republican lulluby and about the only Spanish song which I know.
"I got you!" said Tarentino no sooner than he had grabbed his guitar and began to play a raggedy version of "La Bamba."
I actually had to stop him at that point by holding up my hand and saying "Dude, I had a certain song in mind," before launching into it.
I held the groups attention through the verses; they seemed to "comprende mi cancione" as I played. All eyes were upon me.
Tarentino was playing something; perhaps trying to find the key of the song; He sounded like he was "noodling around" at best but, mercifully soft. I was able to shut him out. If I had started a solo counting upon his remembering the 3 chords which I had just repeated a dozen times; I may have been in trouble.
I played what I thought was a very melodic solo; imagining the real chords in my head over whatever the guy to my right was playing. I was able to hit a pretty sweet spot in the middle of it; and 6 dollars went into my case almost instantaneously.
"It's whiskey time!" said Tarentino, taking me to task for having mentioned the previous evening that I would get the next bottle.
"Let me get another sip off that one we found before we run to the store," I said.
"Umm, there's a little bit of water and maybe some ice..." said my buddy, showing me the glass which had managed somehow to empty out while I had been playing the Dominican lullaby.
At that point, I just wanted to drag him to Sydneys to deliver on my promise, even if it meant spending the first 6 dollars made that night, which I felt that I had earned the whole of; and then to lose him.
He wasn't hard to drag. 
He showed a remarkable affinity for shadowing me as I walked the exact way that Leslie Thompson used to do (when I had cash) never letting more than 3 feet separate us, and taking his cue from me. 
It was like when you see a whole school of fish cutting through the water, and when one changes tack, they all do at the same time, as if following some signal.
I went into Sydneys and stood at the counter, ponder whether or not to just getting a half pint ("his" half) of whiskey; hand it to him and tell him to just keep the whole thing and to have a good night; catch you later.
I got a whole pint.
"Good Choice!!"
"Sorry it took so long, I couldn't decide between the half pint or the whole..." I said.
"Good choice!," said Tarentino espying the whole pint.
And with that utterance had echoed Leslie Thompson, who had said the exact same thing to me after I had purchased the "strongest" beer on the shelf at a particular store once. It was eerie.
He had an empty plastic cup at the ready.
I handed him the bottle and watched him pour the uncut liquor into the cup.
"Ooops, I guess I owe you some whiskey; I went past halfway," said the guy, who apparently isn't steady enough to be able to pour whiskey from a cup, back through the mouth of a bottle. That was the proverbial straw to go along with the proverbial camel.
I turned abruptly back toward the Lilly spot; just wanting to leave him behind.
He turned as abruptly (like those fish) and began matching my steps, thinking perhaps that the skeezing might have only just begun. Who knows how malleable my will might become after I drank my (less than) half of the whiskey.
"That's alright, I'm going to probably make enough money to replace the whiskey," I told him with regard to him "owing me" some, said in a tone which allowed no room for him to speculate that he was invited to join me.