Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday Night In The Quarter

Finding Dimes
A New String
Leslie Calls
A New Light
20 Dollar Night
ID In The Works
Picking Up Pennies
3 Years Ago Today
When I rode the freight train,  just about 3 years ago, from Mobile, Alabama to here; I followed the instructions which had been given to me by a hobo.
I jumped off when it stopped at Reed Road, and then walked up Reed Road, until I had gotten to Chef Monateur Highway, where I saw the diner that he had mentioned; and the convenience store sitting across the street diagonal to it.
It was almost 1 o' clock in the morning -not a good hour to be white and carrying a guitar and a backpack in that neighborhood, but one can't be picky about which train to hop, due to their availability.
Rail yards, like hospitals often (and The White House, I've heard) are invariably situated in "bad" neighborhoods; probably because the property values are slumping due to the constant sounds of locomotives humming and boxcars clanging together as they couple (I don't know what the White House' excuse is...).
I had my first couple of New Orleans experiences when I got to the convenience store.
The first of which was finding five (5) pennies laying on the ground in the parking lot, which I picked up, wondering as I did if they portended Great Wealth here.
The second was when I then asked a black man, who was milling about that store at 1 o' clock in the morning, which direction the French Quarter was in, and he pointed me in the wrong direction. I wondered what that portended.
(I caught the error by asking the workers inside the store the same question. Oh, hell no, ain't nothing that way for another 20 miles! He told you that?!? and the rest of that story is in that particular post from August of 2010)
Buy crack behind Obamas back; right around back!!
The point of today's story is that, I continued to pick pennies off of the ground here (even the "bad luck" ones laying face down) and to keep a casual tally of them; and in 3 years, I have picked up approximately $13.20. I may not have gained a lot of sense during that time span, but I have gained a lot of cents. *groan*
And Now, Dimes
The past month or so, I have started to find 1 dime per day, laying on the ground somewhere. Only one, yet hardly a day has passed when I haven't found one. I'm not sure if this is a sign of an improving economy or not.
I got to Starbucks to make yesterdays post, and laying by the side of the road was a crumbled fast-food bag, a few fries and 2 dimes. An omen?
That gave me a grand total of $9.90, as I left there and hit the Unique Grocery store for my first beer of the day. I consumed it as I stood talking to Jay (the guy who sings really loud), returned for a second one and then headed for Louisiana Music Factory, to replace my broken string.
I intended to spend 2 bucks on the string and then find a very cheap spotlight as a temporary replacement for the one which I lost Wednesday night.
I decided to walk Bourbon Street, instead of taking my habitual route down Royal Street. Stopping to talk to every street musician and tarot card reader along the way, plus whomever is hanging around at Rouses Market could have made me miss the closing of the music store.
Someone handed me a cold beer as I was about in the 500 block of that storied street; my third one.
Leslie T.
Then, I began to get text messages from Leslie Thompson. The first one which I noticed was almost an hour old and said something like "F*** it, I guess you're not answering ~?"
He wanted to get a sack of weed and to hang out -the usual- and he wanted to know where I was.
I was at the very opposite end of the quarter.
This did not daunt him. I told him that I was leaving the music store and heading to Sydneys (for my 4th beer).
I got there to find Jason (the guy who had given me the first dog which I had; the Shetland; and who works there) hanging out in front with "Shaman," who is kind of a skeezer, but who talks to tourists and entertains them, giving them something in return for their money. They were preparing to go across the street and smoke a joint by the Joan of Arc statue.
Jason bought me my 4th beer.
Then, up walked Leslie, who introduced himself as "Leslie T." to my friends.
Leslie had money, and offered to go inside and get us each a beer, which he did (my 5th, if you're keeping score).
I had switched to Pabst Blue Ribbon by then, which is not as strong as most, as it would be my 5th one of a night which had barely even started. It was about 8:30 p.m.
The four of us smoked and drank by the Joan of Arc statue.
True to form, Leslie was "the life of the party," and even bought Shaman a pack of cigarettes and all of us another beer before he became somewhat addled and wanted nothing more than to get on the bus, go back to his apartment and crash.
I left there, addled enough myself to have forgotten about the spotlight until I was all the way to the Lilly spot.
I played there, on her other stoop, which is a little better illuminated, and made nothing in about 45 minutes; until such a time that Lilly and her younger daughter, Angelique emerged from out the gate with Lilly asking me why I was playing on that particular stoop which is closer to where her soon-to-be-ex husband sleeps.
He can't see over there, mother...
I told her about losing my spotlight.
"He can't see," said Angelique in defense of me, yet Lilly still asked me to move to the other stoop, whereupon I decided to take my 6-beers-and-a-joint self off to find another spotlight.
I left, and started heading towards the Walgreens which is open all night, to resume my search.
20 Dollar Jam
I ran into a young guy who had an acoustic guitar and we wound up jamming on a couple songs, the first one being "Black Magic Woman."
A woman came by and asking if the empty hat in front of us was our hat, placed money in it.
We finished the song and she asked "Do you know any Creedence? Come on, I just put 35 dollars in your hat...I want to hear some Creedence!"
That was good news; that she had just put 35 bucks in the hat; and that she wanted to hear Creedence.
A couple verses of "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" had her walking off a satisfied customer.
The young guy handed me the 20 dollar bill, saying that he was well satisfied with the 15 dollars, which is an amount that he has never made in the short time that he has been busking.
I think we made a pretty good combination, with him just trying to play a simple rhythm part and myself playing the "Carlos" part. The woman just heard the end result and didn't seem to distinguish between us.
The Flute Player Guy
There is a black guy who plays the flute and has been doing so for years. He has a shaven head; is about 50 but looks 35 and has been all around the world living on his busking abilities.
He has a skill set which puts him in proximity to being the Tanya Huang of the flute.
He can rip through a solo and make the songs very recognizable while spicing them up a lot.
He was tearing it up across from Rouses Market and I wound up talking to him.
We got on the subject of the very same Santana song that I had made 20 bucks off of.
"Do you play it in D minor?" asked the flute guy.
"Yeah," I said and then took my guitar out to demonstrate.
We played for about 45 minutes with myself trying to take the role of a Dorise Blackmon type of player.
"I like the way you strum," he said after we had finished.
We sounded good because I was in tune with my harp which put me in tune with his flute.
We only had a dollar thrown to us, but it was from another musician, a very good singer who is a kind of heavyset black girl in her early twenties.
"You guys sound good together," she said.
As Rouses Market was within 20 minutes of closing by then, there were few other people to hear us; except for the people who were waiting to tear into the trash bins; and they aren't typically (excuse the pun) the best audience.
Needless to say; I am (re)familiarizing myself with the music of Jethro Tull; and have "California Dreaming" in my back pocket, for when I run into him again.
Some Kind Of Oxymoron, Or Something...
Leslie T. has been calling me. He wants me to get a sack and then take the bus to his apartment. He sounded drunk already. I have to go to court tomorrow on a charge of trespassing under the dock (something I didn't blog about because I was too depressed to blog about anything at the time) and it would be a recipe for disaster if Leslie were to flip out on me like he has done every single time, so far.
I am hoping that the trespassing incident will get the ball rolling, once again, towards the Unity people finding housing for me ...otherwise he is going to be out there, trespassing, your honor...
Being there on time in clean clothes and sober is and crashing at Leslies' place is some kind of oxymoron or oil and water; and mutually exclusive....
The Security Guard At The Windham
Yesterday, as I was cutting through the lower level of the garage at the hotel named above, there were a couple of older women sitting on the bench in the smoking area.
One of them asked me if I was hungry. I wasn't terribly hungry, but after she proffered a fat hotdog type thing (one quarter eaten) and said "I can't eat another bite; I'm stuffed. I'm just going to throw it away; do you want it?" I took the thing.
Suddenly the door flew open and out came the security lady whom I had thought that I had a decent relationship with, who basically asserted that I had pan-handled "her" guests and that if I returned there, I would be going to jail.
At that time, I didn't even have the energy to try to explain that the lady had offered me the food.
Today, one whole day later; this same guard made it a point to walk across the street from the hotel to where I stood outside Uniques and tell me "If you ever do that shit again; you will be going to jail, I guarantee it! You've got that guitar on your back and you're a grown man; you should be able to make your own money and you don't need to be begging my guests!"
I started to explain that the lady had offered me the food and that it was going to go to waste, but she held her hand up and cut me off, saying "I don't want to hear it!"
Here we were, right across the street from Uniques.
I got pissed off, and said in the loudest voice I could muster: "I don't beg, I never beg: I HATE panhandlers; I hate their guts; I've been here for 3 years and I have NEVER asked anyone for anything for free, only a weak pussy who can't make his way in the world would do that; and I have never given them a cent; that would only encourage them!
It got worse.
She didn't want to hear me. She went inside the hotel. I yelled "You are a cunt!!" Since she couldn't hear me.
A black guy standing on the other side of the street told me that he wanted to talk to me.
He was dressed like and looked like a cab driver. All the cab drivers are from the same middle eastern country and dress and look the same.
He got in my face and told me that he was a police officer and that he could take me to jail if he wanted to. He told me that I needed to "stop messing" with the female security guard across the street who is white, but whose dialect sounds ghetto, who had falsely accused me of panhandling "her" guests.
I asked him which Police Academy he had graduated from.
He replied "New York," and then looked at me expectantly.
I asked "Bronx, Yonkers, Queens, Brooklyn?" at which point, he told me that I needed to stop talking shit. (?)
Then, I realized what he was doing. He was trying to be the big black superhero for the benefit of the security guard, who had come back outside and was watching as this guy placed his hand on my shoulder and started to point down the street, saying as he did, that I needed to walk that way.
"Really? what if my business takes me the other way?" I asked.
Then, he began to point that way and said "Bye!" all for the benefit of the white female security guard. He wanted to make it look to her like he was running me off of a public sidewalk.
I walked away to a distance from where it was appropriate for me to raise my voice, and said sarcastically "Yeah, I'm leaving because you said to; no other reason! Then I added: "Is this your way of trying to pick up a white woman?!?"
I could have gone on; but I didn't. I had some things that I could have said.
I think she wanted me to say something that would have allowed her to call the law on me; like (insert thing that would make her)
She was trying to provoke me.
If she is so much against people panhandling, then she has plenty of fish to fry, right across the street at Uniques.

1 comment:

alex carter said...

Flute is not a bad instrument, it takes a LOT of air. It actually takes a greater volume of air than the tuba. What it does not take is a lot of air-pressure, if it needed that too, I guess it'd be unplayable. But whereas you see little creeps like Max Karnofsky ("My Life In Jazz" online) and Chet Baker (98-lb heroin-addicted weakling) and myself able to play trumpet, good flutists tend to be big guys - it's just a matter of lung volume apparently.

A flute player who can "beat box" is something the public just eats up. They love it, I'm kinda "eh, OK..." but the public just eats that shit up.