|Pretty Darned Close (to art, that is..)|
|The Real Rick From Austin|
I send Rick off for Austin.
This afternoon, at about 3:30 p.m., Rick emerged from under the dock, on his way to the Megabus stop, with a ticket for passage to Houston on his person, to go with a heavily laden backpack, a blue sleeping bag, the same shade as mine, and a blue guitar, the same shade as mine.
His plan is to stop in Houston long enough to make an additional 7 dollars for a ticket to Austin, where he has lived for 18 years; he is 36.
I told him that he had chanced to come to NOLA during the worst 4 day period that I have seen in 3 years, as far as tips were concerned.
The weather has been really nice, though. "Austin is hot 9 months out of the year," he said.
We exchanged Facebook names and phone numbers. I invited him to crash under the dock his last night here; or I should say, his last day here as, we were up until almost daylight, after I had busked for about 3 hours and made 6 dollars and 1 cent.
A nice young couple from British Colombia, Canada had sat on Lillys stoop and chatted with me for at least one of the hours, effectively blocking the tip jar; but more accurately, giving the tourists, who have been stingy all week, a chance to slip by while I was preoccupied, with their wallets intact.
John, as that was the guys name, eventually said that "Break On Through To The Other Side," by The Doors, was his favorite song, and so it may have seemed predestined that they stop and chat when they walked up and heard me playing "Light My Fire," by that same quartet. I could see them hesitate before sitting down; I had one dollar between the sharks after playing for about and hour; and at that point, I was ready to ask them for just 35 cents, so that I could get a 16 oz. Steel Reserve and call it a night.
Megan, as that was the young ladies name, handed me a bill, which I thanked them for, without looking at, and stashed under the one that I had.
It turned out to be a 5, which I appreciated them for; given that, in Canada, it would have been an 8 dollar and 43 cent bill (They had probably felt the "pinch" upon exchanging their Queen Elizabeths for George Washingtons; and this might be part of the reason the tourists seem so cheap this week -if they are mostly from Canada) [note to Great Britain: Send more Lidgleys with their pound notes LOL!].
And the pack of smokes and one beer that I redeemed the 5 for for was priceless.
This was after running into Rick From Austin, by Rouses Market on Royal Street. It looked like he had his own 6 dollars in his case, next to his cardboard sign which proclaimed "Texas bound."
He had plenty of good weed, though; something which didn't come to light (excuse the pun) until after I had smoked the last of mine with him.
He had gotten upset after I hadn't loaned him the 3 dollars which he needed in order to leave here today.
He got it anyways, New Orleans style "...there's like a Spirit here..."
He walked off, mad over the fact that I had proposed that we busk at the Lilly spot for a half hour to see if the 3 dollars materialized; rather than just hand it to him out of the 7 dollars which I had made at that point -I thought that that would be a character building opportunity and would bolster his confidence in his ability to make ends meet off of his music alone...just asking for it would be taking the easy way out. I always feel 100% better after I "get out there" and earn what I need, rather than hit someone up for a loan; and that has a lot to do with my attitude towards skeezers in general.
But Rick marches to a different drummer (excuse the pun) and was probably more interested in ascertaining that he had found a true friend in me, one whom he was musically compatible with; had a "connection" with (not to mention a guitar and sleeping bag of the exact same colors) and who would value that friendship over 3 of his 7 dollars, especially given that he was in a bind and too proud to ask a stranger for money. It wouldn't be skeezing, in that case, given his nature and his circumstances, but the skeezee wouldn't know that.
So, he had walked off angry; but then calmed down a bit and was at the point of forgiving me when, at the next corner, a lady walked over to him and handed him 2 dollars, then he was able to make the other one by playing; and is on the 4:45 p.m. Megabus bound for Houston as I type this.
I called the customer service line and informed them that I had registered through louisianaworks.net and was thus, actively seeking employment in cyberspace, and my caseworker is supposed to call me, yet again, within the next 2 days...or on my 17th day without having any money on my card. There is some truth to the rumour that they make people jump through these hoops, counting upon some of them giving up; or passing away through starvation...
Rick and I had grabbed a lot of food out of the Rouses Market trash at about 2 a.m., and took it to my spot when there was plenty of darkness left in the night to hide the smoke from the driftwood fire which I soon had going.
He spoiled his appetite by eating a large chocolate fudge cake with M&Ms on the top and never got around to warming up the red beans and sausage over rice which he had been looking forward to.
I threw it away this afternoon, having had my fill of a pork loin steak, simmered in vinegar and real butter and ("add a little bit of water," advised Rick, who is a cook; "It's called 'braizing' and some of the best steaks in the world are done that way...") water, with a huge kale caesar salad wilted on top with a few chopped up tomatoes.
I felt great after eating it and was ready to do my pull ups and sit ups and exercises with heavy rocks; but then finished off the butter by applying it to a loaf of 9 grain bread, eating half and then falling asleep.
I woke up with 2 dollars and 48 cents, as the drought continues.
I am going to have to pack all my clothes and sleep at the sign spot, perhaps tomorrow night, so as to be in position to go to the VA Center, take a hot shower, get laundry done and pick up a hygiene kit which contains, most notably, a razor.
I am pinning my hopes upon and warding off depression by thinking about emerging Friday with clean clothes on a clean body and with 189 dollars on my food card, so I won't have to risk getting dirty by digging through any trash for a night.
Anything else which comes along would be a bonus.
There is irony in the fact that, now would be a good time to travel and perhaps see family and friends in New England, because it is so dead here -so dead that one is hard-pressed to come up with any money to travel with, even though now would be such a good time to do so...
I used up about a buck and a half in batteries for my spotlight, in making the 6 dollars and 1 cent last night; not to mention, brought my strings one day closer to death and put some more wear on the harmonica and sweated more into my nasty clothes.
I could have been a glowing example to the skeezers of a man who is sensible and prudent enough to salt away money during the boon, in anticipation of times like these. I could be walking Bourbon Street in clean new clothes and shiney shoes, with a stylish haircut; smoking American Spirits and having better odds of making anything in these lean times by playing brand new Marine Band harps over shiny new strings.
I had 208 dollars (more than half of them one dollar bills -comprising an obscene wad almost as thick as a brick) the day I bought this laptop and an mp3 player/recorder, etc. That brick could have greased my way through this past week...but maybe a lot of that would just be vanity and maybe the skeezers are proof against shining examples in general...
These things might serve me better in the long run (I've become a "blogging fool" of late; for what THAT'S worth...and have captured audio of such things as Rick and I showcasing our musical compatibility) and it's probably not my commission to be whipping out an obscene wad of bills, in clean new clothes, but after too much drinking, and announcing: "See what you all could have if you can just kick that heroin habit!" to the Skeezers of Bourbon.
This guy skeezed me just minutes ago.
Coming upon me; he must have thought "What have I here?" I was at a spot where people go to smoke weed.
"How's it going?" Scoping out my cigarette pack.
"Great. Nobody's bothering me or asking for anything. I come here to get away from the bums..."
Seeing my laptop: "Are you outdoors?" ...Do you pass out drunk anywhere with that next to you at night?
"I've got a few places to crash..."
"Do you smoke weed?" The spot where I was plugged in is littered with blunt wrappers; but wasn't a couple weeks ago when I plugged in my Android phone and hid it under the mulch; from where it disappeared within a couple hours.
"I don't use illegal drugs, sir!" I said, firmly, leaving him room to think that I might be a cop or something.
"I didn't even know there was a plug here" ...so, I couldn't have been the one who pocketed your Android phone a couple weeks ago; that is, if you even had one stolen...I don't know.
I motioned to the outlet with my hand. There it is. An outlet. Now you know...
"There's one over there, too," Why don't you go sit over there and admire that one...
"What do you do with your music?"
"I load it.up to my website." ...and I'm really busy right now, too...
"How long does that take?" I knew what he was getting at; he was wondering if my mp3 player was some kind of expensive I-Phone device.
He was now sitting close enough to me; uninvited; to be able to snatch the thing and run with it; and was actually looking around, as if to see if anyone was watching. Do these derelicts realize how transparent their motives are?!? It's the sociopaths who are oblivious to the feelings of others that give themselves away like that.
I moved the thing into my pack and then took upon myself a "I'm really busy right now" attitude, and eventually he fell asleep (shown, courtesy of my mp3 player which is better at doing that than taking pictures).
The laptop is a skeezer magnet. If a guitar on your back indicates that you are making money and can spare change and cigarettes; a laptop is a guitar on steroids...
|He was wearing "Not even considering working" flip-flops/pillows|
And so now, I have the laptop charged, along with the phone for the food stamp lady...some will give up; some will starve to death; others won't have their phone charged when the call comes in..sorry... and will sit outside PJs Coffee, drinking a McDonalds coffee (I have $1.96 left on a gift card) and posting this up quickly.
Then, I will spend my last dollar on the first beer of the day and head towards the Lilly spot where I will start the sharks out with worthless tokens and shiny foreign coins and perhaps this will be a Wednesday night that will belie history and produce more than 7 or 8 dollars (I'm not sure that I wouldn't settle for the 7 dollars right now in leau of playing LOL!).
Other than that, let me cut this short, if that is possible at this point...