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.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Are you a skeezer magnet? Maybe looking like a skeezer attracts skeezers. I'm not sure how to keep super clean while living under a dock, but maybe a haircut and some of those cheap Bic razors and soap and water may repel them a bit.