Saturday, December 13, 2014

It Will Be One Year To The Day

I Leave Leslie's
One Year Ago, Tomorrow
Last night, after Leslie had become a jerk for the second night in a row, I left his house with as much of my stuff on my back as I felt worth carrying.
He followed me outside, cussing me out and calling me every name that he could think of, as I walked off.
It was an exact re-enactment of the scene which took place 364 days ago, on December 14th, 2013. That night we had fought in the street.
There ensued a period of 8 months, during which I didn't speak to him, and avoided him.
It took him until September to worm his way back into my confidence; invite me to crash at his place (while my possessions at both the sign spot and the dock were pillaged by other homeless sorts, who had noted my absence, and helped themselves to them; effectively slamming a door behind me; or burning a bridge, if you will; by making it harder for me to return to outdoor living).
Thursday, after Leslie had gotten his paycheck of about 400 dollars; he went to The Guitar Center and purchased a mandolin.
"Purple Heart" 49% Complete (click here)
He doesn't really (tune, nor) play the mandolin; I discovered.
He just has had an obsession of sorts with the diminutive instrument.
I think he may have traded his bongos in towards the mandolin; because their absence was conspicuous at the house.

Purple Heart
...will eventually contain the verses about the fact that "Fred" in the song has a purple heart which he keeps in his backpack.
It is an ambitious project; but I am keeping it fresh in my mind...

Thursday night, when Leslie arrived with the mandolin; he showed it to me, then handed it to me.
I plucked a few notes on it; then handed it back, telling him that I really didn't know how to tune it.
I then went to the back room where I put my headphones on and cranked up some of my music which I was mixing.
I gradually became aware of a certain vibration in the room; and lifting the cups off my ears revealed Leslie to be in the middle of an angry, drunken rant; just like the one that he delivered himself of just one day short of a year ago.
Apparently the mandolin came from the store out of tune; and he was blaming me for having thrown it out when I plucked it a few times then tuned a pair of strings to be in unison with each other -that is about the extent of my knowledge of mandolins.
I hadn't helped matters by telling him that I didn't know how to tune mandolins. "You don't know how to tune it; don't touch it!! Do you see me messing with your tuning pegs on your guitar?!?"
He had ranted for probably 15 minutes on the matter, which I thankfully hadn't heard, because of the headphones.
I am sure that everything he was saying was calculated to anger me; and probably would have resulted in me attacking him physically, had I sat there and listened to the whole thing.
He has a talent for getting under the skin of someone; which involves attacking them verbally, focusing upon areas which are a "soft spot" for the person that he is berating.
He kept coming back to the words "ignorant" and "retard," and implying that I shouldn't touch his mandolin because I have absolutely no knowledge on the matter, know nothing about tuning instruments, etc.
How a person can do irreparable damage to a mandolin by tweaking the tuning on one string is something that he didn't elaborate upon. It just seemed like he had been offended somehow; perhaps because I had only given it a cursory look and then handed it back to him; and then went to work on my own music. He had been talking about getting "the mandolin" for weeks, now; commencing when he started working.
When I woke up in the morning, he was gone.
Around noon, he arrived back, with Steven and Rob in tow, and a gallon of wine and a 6-pack of malt liquor.
He seemed mildly surprised to find me still there; although my bags were packed and by the door.
He apologized, saying that he had been "out of line" and "a jerk," and told me that I could touch the mandolin whenever I wanted to.
But, after a day when he and Steven and Rob all rendered themselves incapacitated with alcohol (Rob had to go outside once, due to sickness) with his crappy radio cranked up on a weakly tuned (of course the antenna had snapped off) Classic Rock station; so that my recording music was not an option; he woke up in the evening and took up the exact same rant "Don't you ever touch my mandolin!," "Who do you think you are?!?" and then started to threaten my guitar.
Of course he started to threaten my guitar, using all of his talent for getting into peoples psyches; using the things that they value most as inroads.
He said that he was going to mess up my guitar "whether you like it or not" and made a motion towards it.
I was glad that Steven and Rob were in the house; and now wide awake, due to Leslie's hysterics.
Steven was under the misguided impression that Leslie had "a heart of gold," and "the purest of intentions," and had told me just that, recently.
I was able to grab my stuff and walk past the deranged lunatic, and out of the house, passing through the living room, and uttering the interrogative: "See?" to a befuddled looking Steven on the way out.
They were there when he had apologized, then told me that I could touch the mandolin whenever I wanted to; and now he was back on the rant...
I Didn't Play
I took the bus into the Quarter, with 13 dollars in my pocket; and a determination to sleep at the sign spot.
A knock at the door to the Veaux Carre Baptist Church on Dauphine Street produced a blanket, which I stuffed into my pack and which became proof against the temperatures in the low 50's which I eventually encountered.
My share of the gallon of wine had put me out of sorts and I was not in the mood to busk.
Tonight will be the second night of my absence from his place.
He will have enough of the 400 dollars (minus whatever a fine mandolin costs, along with enough alcohol to appreciate it) left in order to keep "friends" around, whom he might meet and invite to his house. That is just his heart of gold, and his purest of intentions in action, I guess.
Then, like in the Glen Campbell song: "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," -by the time I get to the sign spot, he'll be rising; and he'll cry just to think I would really leave him.
The Johnny B. Alternative
I ran into Johnny B., who has repeatedly invited me to crash at his place; but Johnny was "booked up for the weekend," probably hosting someone who was paying him a little bit of rent to stay there; so they expect some space and some privacy; and not to have someone else there, on such short notice.
"Talk to me Monday," said Johnny.
No Suzy Q.
Listening through the recordings that I made at the house; as I just did, here at Starbucks; I wasn't satisfied. 7 and a half minutes of me (click here) at Leslie's House
Recording has to be done in a methodical way.
The first half hour can be spent just tuning the guitar; settling upon a tempo, and laying down a "click track," as a guide for all the ensuing parts; and writing out charts with the bars and measures and repeat signs and chord changes spelled out.
Very rarely does a spontaneous, drunk and high, jam session produce a "coherent" result -"Suzy Q." by Creedence Clearwater Revival notwithstanding. ...We were all at a bar getting drunk and snorting lines and we wound up hopping in the car; driving to the studio and cutting that song in one take....
The Tipitina Alternative
There is a place where a musicians co-op of sorts resides with the name of Tipitinas.
Supposedly (for a monthly fee of $15) one can avail himself to sound-proof rooms, microphones and laptops running "Garage Band," or "Cakewalk" recording software, and even the engineering/producing expertise of "Al;" whomever he is.
And, I would bet there aren't people poking their heads into the studios shouting "What makes you think you have the right to mess with my mandolin, you ignorant retard!?!"

The Present
Now, I go out into the chilly night with 5 dollars in my pocket and will play at the Lilly spot without the aid of my spotlight, but with the fortuitously placed Christmas decorations on the house across the street as a gift of light from Alan and his housemate.
All the time spent dealing with Leslie has caused me to neglect the pursuit of my own Unity housing unit. That is something which never seemed to cross his mind, along with stocking his house with electricity, food, toilet paper, towels, a vacuum cleaner, or anything else that doesn't go in a glass or in a glass pipe...
Somehow Leslie's agenda of "get drunk and pass out as quickly as possible each day" turned out to be incompatible with my goal of getting as much work as possible done on recording a CD and staying sober as far into the day as is prudent, to aid that purpose.


Alex said...

The mandolin is tuned just like a violin that's why those old fiddlers like it. Sadly I can't tune one by ear because a ukulele is My Dog Has Fleas and a banjo is most often Up Town Down Town but I don't know any tune that goes in fifths but its identical to violin an incredibly popular instrument so there are pitch pipes for violin tuning.

Get your own bousing if you can is that answer for you... By bousi g I mean housing g and arrange your life so absolutely NO computers are involved... I live for the day the old Sun Studios will scratch acetate again.

Daniel McKenna said...

Just poking around on the mandolin has opened my ears to it; and now, it seems like I am picking it out of music everywhere; like "Black Water," by the Doobie Brothers, which I heard last night...
It adds "sparkle" to a mix, I think.
The next "thing" for Leslie is going to be a trumpet; then he will have bongos, mandolin and trumpet to hardly ever play -a few blasts of notes after getting drunk but before passing out each day; which is a small window of opportunity, maybe 3 hours between 4:30 and 7:30 PM.
The idea of me making a cool CD with mandolin and bongos added is like a mirage in the desert which a parched person sees; and never reaches.
And vinyl records are popular still especially around here; and as evidenced by The Guitar Center's "Gift Idea" catalogue having a few pages devoted to turntables. $800 turntables, nonetheless...
Albums are around $28 per disc (Beatles "Revolver," for example -but it is a fresh pressing off the original masters...I wouldn't be surprised, though if computers are being used to "re-master" them; but a needle in a grove still does things that computers can't reproduce, try as they might
I remember cringing in '73 when I had to pay almost 10 dollars for the double album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" when a single disc was just under 5 bucks...

Alex said...

The Fry's electronics up the street has a whole aisle of vinyl records

BTW you and Leslie are like an old married couple ha ha!