|What instrument do you play?|
After the debacle which was Wednesday night, when I had run into David the water jug player, who had passed me a bottle of vodka (in lieu of a handshake) upon greeting me; and whom I jammed with on noisy Canal Street, only to see the proceeds go towards more vodka and weed; I woke up Thursday morning with 38 cents in my pocket; and a resolve to go on (another) water fast and to eschew alcohol.
Blessings Flow Like Water
People who don't believe in "a higher power" believe in coincidences.
I had only a 20 ounce bottle of spring water (and 38 cents to my credit; along with a 2 dollar debt to Sam at The Unique Grocery) as I walked down Canal Street, towards my playing spot -do not pass The Unique Grocery; do not collect a beer.
I decided that I would alter my habitual route to get there, as I was trying to alter the habit which had been hindering me recently.
I knew that I had subconsciously made myself broke (and even run up the debt) to protect myself from myself. My greatest concern was what I was going to do with any money that I might make that night.
My Sole Is Restored
Before I had strayed from the habitual route; I came upon Alex Rainbow, the doorman at one of the swank hotels which name escapes me; whom I have walked past several times before, and whom I have had conversations with.
I told him about my resolve to stay dry that day.
I was detailing the previous evenings debacle, when all the proceeds from busking had gone towards dissipation; and about how I was going to take an alternate route to my playing spot, to avoid certain people and certain temptations.
"Some people think that; if they have 10 dollars, then, they have 10 dollars worth of booze and drugs; and if they have 20 dollars, then they have 20 dollars for booze and drugs, etc..." I complained.
This seemed to have attracted the attention of a black man, who was standing nearby, wearing the uniform of a bellhop or a valet from the same hotel, and sun glasses.
I went on to say that I had woken up slightly depressed; realizing, in the sobering light of day, that I could have used money to replace a broken string on the Takamine; and for a bottle of Gorilla Glue to repair the sole of my right sneaker; and for, "you know; stuff like that."
The bellhop walked over to me after I had mentioned the glue and, retrieving a bottle of Gorilla Glue from his pocket said: "I've got you!" and proceeded to glue the sole back onto my sneaker. I noticed wedding ring on his hand.
"There you go," said Alex.
Alex asked me what size shoe I wore; offering me a pair which he was "trying to get rid of."
I walked on, thinking that I would go easy on the busking when I got to the Lilly spot. I would drink my water and play as well as the mood that I could conjure up inspired. I didn't expect to feel like playing without the fortification of a couple beers to loosen me up.
I walked Dauphine Street, instead of my usual Royal Street.
It was about 7 p.m. and Thursday Night Football was close to kicking off.
I poked my nose into the doorway of the 801 Royal Bar to see who was playing.
I then walked a couple blocks to where John the classical guitarist was playing.
I talked to him a while; petting his dog; and telling him that I was back on a water fast and not planning to drink alcohol that night.
"The only thing is I only have a 20 ounce bottle," I said.
By that time the game had kicked off; and I decided to go around the corner and down a couple blocks to the MRB bar, where I could stand outside and watch for a while. I wasn't in a hurry to get to the Lilly spot to find out if I could summon up the urge to play music and sip water.
I went around the corner and was half way to the bar, when I saw, sitting on the front step of a guy who walks past my playing spot often, and who might even read this blog; a full gallon of spring water.
Karlie From Astoria
A woman named Karlie came outside and asked me what kind of music I played, and a conversation ensued.
She said that she is from Astoria, Oregon. She and her new husband, who was inside, were on their honeymoon.
I told her about my water fast and how I was almost reluctant to go and make money busking because I was afraid that I would run to the beer store at the first drop of a couple dollars.
I really think that she had been considering giving me some money, as we had had a pretty long conversation about ourselves; but she gave me a few cigarettes anyways. She also encouraged me to "keep doing good," as I walked off towards the Lilly spot.
The encouragement seemed to have an effect. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to run to Sydneys at the first sight of money.
The First Sight Of Money
I rounded the corner at St. Phillips and Bourbon Streets and espied a couple people sitting on Lillys stoop.
From the distance of a half block; I couldn't tell if they were skeezers or not. Will I have to send a text message to Lilly, asking her to come out and sweep her stoop of them?
When I got there, I discovered a young man and woman whose status of tourists was confirmed when the young man asked me, in an Irish brogue, "Is this Bourbon Street?"
I get that question a lot as, people whose Google Maps had led them to the street from the Esplanade Avenue direction, wonder where all the neon lights and craziness is.
I gave them an overview of the layout of the street, then mentioned that I played at that more quiet end because I am not amplified, and because I had the blessings of the residents around me.
"Nobody ever thought of playing this spot because it is so dark, but, I put my spotlight up in the vines overhead, and turn it into a prime spot; right next to Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern, which is the last 'must see' stop on Bourbon Street.
|"Is this Bourbon Street?|
Their names were Keith and Diedre and they were from Dublin, Ireland.
They were very curious about my lifestyle, and evinced surprise over the fact that I was homeless; and even more over the fact that I was homeless and had a degree in English with a Music minor. "Get out of here!!" said Keith after I had told them that.
We talked for about a half hour; during which time I played them "Best of My Love," by The Eagles, and during which time a skeezer approached and interupted the conversation by asking the couple if they could help out "a true homless man with a dollar." He was an older black guy; and seemed drunk; and the type who asks everything on two legs for a hand out.
Keith said: "Well..." and was reaching for his wallet when the skeezer appended "I really need a couple of dollars..." He didn't acknowledge me at all.
I was smiling inside when I heard the clink of a couple of coins going into the skeezers outstretched hand and Keith saying: "That's all I have, buddy."
"Thank you," said the skeezer, in mild disgust, as he went off.
"You're welcome," said Keith, to which I added my own "You're welcome!" a bit louder; as if he should have been thanking me too for allowing him to skeeze someone I was talking to at my spot.
I filled the two in on "skeezers," as they would soon be headed towards the skeezing side of Bourbon Street; and with the personal agenda of spreading my word overseas to Ireland.
It would be cool if I were watching a movie made in Ireland one day and heard someone referred to as a skeezer.
"Oh, we have skeezers in Dublin, too!"
Diedre asked me a couple times if they were keeping me from what I do; and if they were sitting on my spot.
"No, my spotlight falls over here..and it doesn't really pick up here until about 9:30."
They left 10 dollars with me, after asking if it were OK if they gave me "a couple dollars." It was the "couple of dollars" that the skeezer didn't get.
I was sober and played and sang well and knocked off after an hour with 19 dollars.
I walked down Bourbon Street; my gallon jug of water like a talisman; taking me through the mud and the blood and the beer.
I found just the right foods for staying sober at Rouses Market.
Clean Guy "Johnny B" Back In Town
I ran into The Clean Guy, who is back in town; and now has an amplifier. He had made 50 dollars. "You need to get an amp, Daniel," said the clean guy.
He still looks like Steve Martin with Jeff Gordons eyes (left) and was wearing a dinner jacket, slacks and leather shoes.