Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Burkina Faso Checks In (under construction)

  • Zero Dollar Wednesday Night
  • Rick, From Austin
  • "Austin" And "Boston" Jam
For only the 2nd or 3rd time since my arrival in the Big Easy, coming up on 3 years ago, I had a goose egg, as far as tips... and not even much in the way of gifts of tobacco or booze.
There was a 19 mile per hour (according to sources) wind raging.
I walked down Royal Street, and found a full drink in a tall, plastic cup shaped into a figurine, which I was pleased to find was tequila based. Earlier, I had hung out with Barnaby, and Laura* and her husband, who were sitting on his stoop.
I had gone into debt 2 dollars at Rouses Market, on a 24 oz. Tecate, and then, as I was tossing the empty can away outside Laffits Blacksmith Shop Tavern ("...the oldest bar in America..." in connection with, no horse was ever shod, as the business was only a front for the fencing of pirated booty) I found an absinthe based drink "sitting there," and that is what I was sipping on when I walked over to Barnabys stoop.
*Laura is Barnabys landlady, who lives in the other half of his condo (or the other quarter, as there are a couple small apartments in the rear).
I wanted to show off the "shark carrier" which I had found, and put to use as such. 
I think the thing, which is made out of a black nylon, was designed to be an inexpensive recorder carrier; except *said in a whiny Jerry Seinfeld voice* Do you really need a shoulder strap to carry a recorder?!?
To free your hands up for texting, yes.
They wound up giving me a martini, as we chatted about subjects beginning with the shark carrier and ranging forward from there. I learned that the blue sharks originated from a bar in the warehouse district which served a "shark attack" drink (always something lethal sounding...) and that is probably why they are such a rare find, here in the quarter.
So, I had no money or cigarettes or weed, but a good alcohol buzz as I encountered Rick, from Austin, Texas, busking near Rouses Market, whom I had ecountered the previous night, when he had informed me that we had been previously acquainted and had had a conversation or two, "the last time I was here about 6 months ago". ...I'm terrible with faces except the one of Jim Beam on the back of the bottle, or the Zig Zag man, Rick....
Rick had made 7 dollars and was 50 cents short of a bag of weed, as he put it "...I've got $19.50."

I was struck by a couple of things, about Rick, who is a diminutive guy of about 5 foot 3 and 120 pounds, who was carrying a great amount of baggage including his guitar, which made his 36 year old, bearded and with a reddish splotchy rash about his neck and upper chest and a general ruddiness to his face which matched his reddish curly hair which was just unkempt enough to match the rest of his appearance, body, look even more diminutive; and who would emit groans and sighs evincing his struggles with such baggage, and complain about neck pain periodically.
I was struck by the apparent satisfaction in which he basked over having made "7 dollars" (myself having made zero is an irony not lost upon myself). 
This made me wonder about how Rick did as a busker, in general, to be pleased over a 7 dollar night.
The second thing which struck me was that he was going to spend his last farthing upon this weed, and that that seemed just fine with him. Here is someone who isn't worried about having money for food.

He gave me a cigarette. He hasn't drank in 8 months, he said -said he used to drink  "5 or 6" Four Loco beverages a night.**
**Those are 24 ounces at 12 percent alcohol content {6 times 24 = 144 ounces, multiplied by .12 and it is equivalent to about 18 standard "drinks."
But, now he doesn't drink.
And, I think that admirable; and won't judge his spending all his money on herb...

I broke out my guitar to show Rick one of my original songs; and a lady came across the street and handed me 2 dollars. "There you go, said Rick, who now only had a 7 to 2 lead upon me, money-wise. 

Rick plays in a very technically oriented manner; 
-very uptempo, like myself who combats boredom by speeding a song up so much that it, once again, demands full attention and keeps it interesting; but, unlike myself; doing inventions of his own and hardly anything recognizable; and that might have something to do with his thinking that making 7 dollars is good. 
Playing a super fast Stairway To Heaven would be my personal bet over shooting a sheet of paper with a sawed off shotgun and then putting it in a player piano and cranking the speed up; really cranking it up.
But he was also using a lot of chord shapes which he really didn't know the makeup of, from a music theory standpoint; and thus doesn't know where the same chords lie elsewhere on the neck; impeding him from venturing beyond those few and leaving him to his ear and his instincts and his guile.
His music seems to be calculated to impress the listener in a technical aspect; combining some tricky and speedily executed picking techniques, along with some unusual chord shapes which he wasn't the first to discover.
One of his riffs works off of a chord which is simply an "add 9" chord; but it is not a simple add 9 chord; it is a particular inversion of that simple chord which requires the fingers to become positioned as in a Twister game from hell. (Move it up 4 frets and it becomes simple, as open strings can be introduced, though.
We Play The Lilly Spot Friday Night
That being said, Rick is a very cool guy, and has a gentlemanly air which I have seen in other guys from Texas.
I invited him to play at the Lilly spot last night.
I was excited about the prospects of us jamming on some Grateful Dead songs, as we had the previous night, outside Harrahs Casinos where we went to get out of the wind, which was blowing at 19 miles per hour.
I invited Rick to crash under the dock; we got there 3 hours before sunup.
Rick had been apprehensive; as we walked along the river; asking me how much further at one point and stopping to put down his stuff and rest once, before we got there.
Most of his misgivings seemed to dissolve after we got to my sleeping spot where the 19 mile per hour winds outside were barely causing my candles to flicker, and where I soon had some fresh fish (in salad dressing; I'm still out of olive oil) cooking over a fire.
We moved some rocks around and made space for us both to sleep; stayed up until the sun rose, talking about everything from ourselves, to "wait until you see the sunrise reflected off the river in about 45 minutes..." and other topics. I vouched for the rats as being fine gentlerats and above biting; but kept 3 candles going, anyway.
I had only the 2 dollars which the lady had handed me, the previous evening. Rick spotted me cigarettes, saying that it was worth it to him to have a place "so cool" to crash.
We emerged at about 4 p.m. after a full 8 hours of sleep
We got to the spot before 6 p.m., and started playing.
I was well experienced with the time slot we were in; and think of it as the "7 or 8 dollar" shift.
We played for a little over an hour, when we split $5.90; I ran to Sydneys for my first beer of the night; and Rick remained at the spot to watch the stuff and busk solo while I was gone.
I got back and put the spotlight up, as night had fallen while I was running to Sydneys; noticed that Rick hadn't made anything; and we resumed playing until 11:30, when we split another 14 dollars and took a break; so I could get my second 24 oz. beer of the night. "You're not an out of control drunk if you've made it to 11:30 on just one beer," Rick, who hasn't drank in 8 months, complemented me.
Earlier that (Wednes)day,
 I made it to the food stamp office to request that my case worker call for my "phone interview," so that maybe I can have food money in a couple days.
I am thinking about doing another juice fast (Doctor Christopher recommends 3 or 4 annually; so I might be squeezing them close together) and trying to conquer the cigarette and weed vices in the process.
"You need to eat food. Quality food, lots of meat and veggies, and knock off the sugary stuff like energy drinks etc."-Alex In California

Somebody in Burkina Faso read my blog last night.
Yes, I had to Google it. It wasn't there when I studied Africa in 8th grade; with good ol' Chad (one city, an oasis, in the middle of a desert -the capital, of course) and lake Titticaca, lots of puerile snickers over THAT lake...
Thursday Night, Continued
Rick and I walked down Bourbon Street in the general direction of my beer at The Unique Boutique, and his sack of weed, further up Canal street.
I suggested that we veer off of Bourbon and proceed on Royal Street before we entered the skeezing blocks, which begin around 600.
I explained that it might only take the sight of me to jog a skeezers memory of seeing me in Starbucks on this very laptop, perhaps when he was working his "I've been sober for 4 years, ma'am, I'm just trying to get a cup of coffee" hustle outside the window; and the skeezer could turn to a hustler and say: "There you go, you're next fix is probably right in that backpack..."
I then offered a comparison between the 5 year old boy who, upon seeing a candy bar in a store persists with "Mommy, mommy, I want a candy bar!" and is ready to throw a temper tantrum if denied; with the skeezers on Bourbon Street.
We walked Royal Street, instead. "Just don't let them see you; that's half the battle..."
Playing from about 12:45 til about 2 a.m, produced another 27 dollars between us.
I felt like I could have made the same amount solo, and was thus taking a 50% pay cut.
I could see groups of tourists become interested in our sound, as Rick plays pretty quickly and energetically; and I have been able to "hang" with him; but then, I could see them wanting for vocals to start; of the song to become familiar and I could see them throw a polite 2 or 3 dollars but then wander off.
I couldn't help thinking that they were starving for The Carcass Song....
We went back under the dock where Rick kept mentioning how happy he was, the way things had turned out.
I kind of felt like the music that we played, while maybe interesting on one level; was lacking in lyrical content.
When I did my original stuff, Rick kind of faded into the background.

1 comment:

alex carter said...

Why would you go on a fast AGAIN?? You're meth-addict skinny, must be even skinnier from the last fast, and you're going to try to get skinnier still?

You need to eat food. Quality food, lots of meat and veggies, and knock off the sugary stuff like energy drinks etc.