Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Facing The Music

I Have been trying to work on the problem with the site that hosts the music that I upload.
The only way I have been able to play anything back is to click on the "download mp3" button and then choose "open with media player" and then wait almost a minute for the thing to start to play.
And, nobody else has listened to the last Dylan song that I posted; probably because the "listen" button doesn't do anything.
I need to find another site or open another account with those guys.
I had thought it might have something to do with copy writing; because in the past, if I posted a song under an existing name, like "China Cat Sunflower" the site would warn me that it was copy written material, and they were going to close my account unless I removed it.
I got around that by naming songs such things as "China Cat Jam."
I don't know, and I don't have time to figure it out now.
30 Dollar Tuesday
Last night, I managed to break the dry spell, money-wise; with the help of a 20 dollar tip at one point during the hour and 45 minutes that I played while "braving" the cold (of about 50 degrees).
This was good.
I still have not documented the post Mardi Gras farce, which saw me resume drinking after having gone 15 days without.
I dropped a 50 dollar bill somewhere, somehow, on the 3rd day of the resumption of drinking; which was the Friday after fat Tuesday.
And, I really haven't caught this blog up from about that point, mainly out of feelings of shame and disgust and disappointment.
When I dropped that 50 on the ground in a drunken stupor, or when I peeled off 10 dollar bills (with the 50 folded in half and concealed within) when I bought a 10 dollar sack of weed outside the Unique Boutique on Friday...(I wondered later about the tone of voice with which the guy gushed: "Thank You!!!" as I was walking away with my dime of "kind bud") it was not so devastating to think about. It was almost a relief to know that no 50 dollar drinking binge awaited me.
But it also meant that I had dropped my 25 dollar juicer on the ground (or given it to the weed guy) along with a new harmonica, toilet paper, dish soap, another jigsaw puzzle, light bulbs and art supplies; which was what I was en route to get; before getting bogged down by the 1.75 liter bottle of Absolut Vodka (a 60 dollar value) which I had gotten for 20 dollars off a guy who just magically came out of the woodwork selling it, on the very night that I went back to drinking (see the post entitled: "Maybe There Really Is a Devil" for more on that happenstance).
Starbucks is closing gotta go....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To Pay For The Shipping

 There is a more extensive post coming; but I am pressed for time......

I have been vexed over my failure to be able to post up any music to this blog using my prior mp3 hosting site. The only thing that I can think of to attribute this to is my recent deletions of several recordings that I have listened to and deemed "garbage," given my current environment with the Snowball microphone and the peace of mind which I enjoy within my apartment, where I don't fear that someone will conk me over the head with a 2X4 and steal my laptop when I am in the middle of trying to render a song.
Ever since I deleted those old recordings, I have been able to apparently post up new stuff; but not be able to play them back.
I might have to open another account with them under a different e-mail address; or go to another "free" mp3 hosting site.
I really should just wait until I have gotten my CD entirely mastered and then just mail copies out to specific people, using the money that I garner from selling them alongside myself as I busk, to pay for the shipping.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

There Probably Is A Devil

I drank the Skyy vodka; and then, I came into town on a shopping trip; I had a long list of things that I wanted to apply the wad of money in obtaining.
I managed to buy 36 batteries for the spotlight; a brass slide for the guitar; and I obtained two very good towels from the VA center; a string holding peg for the guitar, which has been eluding me; and; I got a 1.75 liter bottle of Absolut vodka off of a street guy; on the very night that I had drank the Skyy and then gone into town.
I wasn't busking that night. There were 2 very cold nights.
I had run into David the water jug player on Canal Street and I was just drunk enough, and just carrying about 187 dollars enough to have jumped at the opportunity to purchase a 50 dollar bottle of vodka for 20 dollars.
David sure was encouraging; he knows a good deal (for me) when he sees it, I guess.
I brought the thing home with me and placed it on the coffee table; thinking "What if Darren (one of the other tenants; who skeezed 2 cigarettes off me my first day here) were to see this sitting on my coffee table. 
The Dylan Song (click; hear)
I Hope the link above works; it is an attempt to recreate my street sound....But, it isn't working for me when I click on it.
An Horrible Day
Clicking the link above bring you to a cover song which represents the latest in sound quality; which I have been able to achieve so far.
There were about 5 songs that were equal candidates to be put on this blog; but; this one is simple and I did it after having had quite the misfortune the previous day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Look, I Drank The Skyye Vodka

I sat in the EnVie Cafe until it was pretty late; and then I stepped out into cold air which stung my fingers. I could remember playing in such temperatures when I had nothing else to do but go under a dock to sleep; something I am starting to miss.
I also miss my connection with nature and the way the rats would crawl up on me and I would pet them...I am thinking of giving up my apartment....
Not really.
Mardi Gras is over; and I have amassed a certain amount of money right around 200 bucks. It seems a pittance; and if I don't continue to make decent money in the coming weeks then it will in retrospect be a pittance.
Today, I wrote out an extensive itinerary; all of which I have accomplished so far. I went to the trolley stop and purchased an all day pass, then got off at the Big Easy store and bought a newspaper, along with a pint of brandy.
Last night, after having gone the whole festival sober, I drank the vodka, mixed with pickle juice, and stayed up until sunrise; and embarked upon the mission that I am on now. My purpose for stopping at this library was to do this post, and to burn a couple albums to my little jump drive, and then to use my all day bus pass to go to the music store and Wal-Mart and then back home.\
I am recording some of my best material in my home studio; and I am about to focus upon that; but will come out and busk to keep solvent.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Orleans Fat Tuesday Nudity

(I am trying to break the record for most hits upon this blog)
Ά Ash Wednesday And A New Moon 
Answer To Comments Section
 Now's the time to at the very least look into one of those mic and Bluetooth setups like street preachers use because then you can stop straining your voice. You gotta croon, bro. I'm normally anti amplification, but except for opera, voice has been aided since it was possible, almost 100 years ago, and street-shouting is out.

Response (To Alex In California): After dropping 25 bucks on the juicer; which will fortify me immediately with health benefits, I plan upon going after an amp and a mic; but rather than jump on Royal Street with them; at least right away; I will use it to boost my vocals and add a bit of reverberation at the Lilly spot; bringing my voice up comfortably over the guitar but only increasing the overall volume by a few decibels. The payoff will be in that I can get right up on the mic and reproduce vocalists like Rick Ocasek, of the band The Cars, who basically kind of warbles and groans; or even some of the more subtle Elvis Costello stuff like "Beyond Belief," which is a nice melody, but it is as if he is singing it in someones ear, as if the lyrics are a secret.
It is already Fat Tuesday; the day before Ash Wednesday; and the last day of Mardi Gras; the last hurrah and the last chance to tip street musicians; ostensibly in a lump sum to bring them current for the whole carnival.

It will be the "we've been hearing you all week, and you sounded good; we hope to see you next year" 20 dollar bills falling to the tiposaurus, I hope.

I did not play last (Monday) night; I slept.

Sleeping Schedule Inverted For my part, I have inverted my sleeping schedule by sleeping from 2:30 PM, Monday, until just now, 2:55 AM, Fat Tuesday. Three hours into the day to end all days of the festival.

I worked on, and completed, the jigsaw puzzle, finding to my dismay that it is missing 2 (out of a thousand) pieces. I had planned upon using it and future puzzles as wall art, by stiffening them with Jigsaw Puzzle Glue©* and then hanging them at various places on the walls here.

*I think that, instead of paying like 4 bucks for a bottle of Jigsaw Puzzle Glue, which comes with its own glue brush affixed to the inside lid, and is made "specifically" for gluing puzzle pieces together, I can just get a 69 cent bottle of Elmers Glue, water it down some, and then use a 59 cent watercolor brush to spread it. Puzzle glue, at 4 bucks a pop, looks suspiciously like watered down Elmers; the object being to dilute it so it won't go on and dry too thickly, possibly clouding the image behind it.

It has been raining off and on, just like it did Sunday (7 Dollar Sunday, for those keeping a tally) and my window is cold to the touch, supporting the weatherman's theory that it would be in the low 40's (and raining off and on) now.
On The Puzzle (left): The 2 missing pieces out of 1,000 are in the green bow of the woman in the foreground; and on the hard wood floor, bottom right.
҉ Money
 Having gotten enough sleep, I am now in a position to do the "marathon" set of busking; where I will try to break my record (of about 5 and a half hours) as being the longest that I have ever gone in a day, since I came to New Orleans 3 and a half years ago.

ה Health I have gone 14 days without drinking; and Fat Tuesday, upon completion, would make 15...

But, I have an almost full 375ml bottle of Skyy Vodka, sitting on the bed stand of the bed where I don't sleep; it is the bottle that I don't drink. It would make a great gift for David the water jug player; who normally drinks Skol vodka; from the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. I have already made a gift to him of the blue guitar; the very same "Skyye" blue, and there would be something very cosmic about me giving him that excellent vodka which costs 4 times that of what he drinks.

He might even (if he drops acid) see a connection between myself and my blue gifts to him. Then, if he were to run into "Blue" the stripper friend of mine; and she were to ask him if he had seen me; and he were to respond: "Yeah, I saw him earlier"...he gave me a blue bottle of vodka...and she were to reply: "Well, if you see him again, will you tell him that Blue is looking for him?" then that would be cool, and he would really be getting his moneys worth out of the acid; with THAT additional mind blowing.

Ancient History: 1998 I was once on a vodka "kick," back in 1998/1999. I was living with the Russians at the time. Nina, my wife, (by an arranged financial agreement) who was 4 years my elder; and her son, Michael, 22 at the time.

I will retro-fit some of that history into this blog when I have the time to fluff out those years at the end of the last century; a time when becoming a busker in New Orleans was not even yet a gleam in my eye.

But there was vodka; and plenty of it.

To the Russians credit, they did enjoy their vodka, but in metered portions. During any given meal, an average of 4 or 5 toasts would be performed when the 50ml drams would be clinked together over some gibberish in Russian (which, by the end of a year I was starting to get the gist of), followed by "Daviy!" (which I already knew meant: "Let's go") right before the swallowing. They would often bite into a pickle and then inhale the essence of the same pickle immediately thereafter, as a chaser. These toasts would come at intervals which basically followed the 4 or 5 courses of the meal. Then, the table being cleared; strong coffee and tea and "tort," or cake would be set out; and a nod would be given towards sobering up a bit, before the revelers endeavored to drive home.

I became a connoisseur of vodka, learning that the Smirnov no. 21 (at about 12 bucks a bottle) was the everyday table vodka to go with everyday meals; but brands such as Absolut, Ketel One, Three Olives, Stolichnaya, and a brand that has a beautiful stained glass-like "painting" that can be seen through the vodka thats name escapes me.."Cathedral?" (all 20 or 30 something a bottle) were broken out upon special occasions.

It seemed like we had 2 or 3 "special occasions" each week at our residence ("Tonight we having party; is Marat's Birthday...") given the natural holidays like Christmas and New Years, added to all the family celebrations. And so, I became a connoisseur of vodka. Until one day; and this kind of brings things to the present.

In all of my trips to the liquor store to try a different expensive vodka (Nina had a bottomless purse) I one day was attracted to Skyy vodka, which is made in San Francisco and comes in a blue bottle.

The young guy working at the store told me that a popular way to serve Skky vodka was "frozen."

You put the blue bottle in the freezer where it would sit but the vodka wouldn't freeze. I suppose its temperature would drop down to freezing, or below, if that's physically possible; but it would remain liquid; and you would drink it that way.

At the time; after a couple month long affair with vodka, I was starting to wonder if the kinks in my neck that I often woke up with were related to vodka, which is made from grain, but one doesn't know which grains -could be corn, or wheat or even potato.

The Skkye Was The Limit

My first shot of frozen Skky vodka made me feel kind of queasy and I could almost feel my neck wanting to stiffen up. I put the bottle back in the freezer and left it there.

That was when I quit drinking vodka (16 years ago) and went back to red wine as my nightly staple. The blue bottle sat there in the freezer for months, being shuffled in and out of the way of other frozen things in there. I never did finish it; and it was eventually probably given to one of Michaels less savory guests from the latter period of my stay there after Michael had discovered American drugs and the pedigree of his visitors trended downward. But that is another story for another time.

So now, I have sitting in my apartment a bottle of Skyye Vodka, either a symbol of quitting; or; the bottle could be sitting there saying: "You never finished me, Daniel. I sat in the freezer for months until Michael traded me for crack. That guy in the store who told you to serve me ice cold was a fool (he doesn't work there anymore, you know). You never gave me a chance, try me at room can look out your window at the pretty Fat Tuesday parades as you do. It's been 16 years, Daniel...finish me off!!"

I am pretty sure that any of you readers who are recovered alcoholics (and you can remain anonymous; just use your first name) would tell me to get the bottle out of my apartment immediately; as if it were a bomb which mercifully has not detonated and detroyed the place; yet.

It is now 4:30 AM, and I am very well rested. I think I needed the sleep because, after having given up upon the jigsaw puzzle when my progress slowed way down; I woke up and snapped the remaining 75 pieces or so into place in short order.

The sun will rise in less than 2 hours; and, if I were to decide to run to the Big Easy Market (7 minutes walk away) and back; I am sure that the skies would already be starting to lighten up, making me feel safer, to offset the dangers in the pack of fresh cigarettes which would be in my pocket on the way back.

6AM I have returned from the store; it was pretty cold out. My fingers were stinging, indicating temperatures at or below 40 degrees.
A rare aspect showing Lilly spot, left of green hedge

My plans to play a lot today, into tonight, will have to revolve around the thermometer. The forcast high, of somewhere in the 50's will be OK, until the high pressure sets in, with its cooler temperatures. It will depend a lot upon the amount of foot traffic out there, whether or not I just sit there with the guitar, after it becomes too cold to play; and gather in a few tips for at least making and effort, or by playing the simplest 3 chord songs that I can pull off when the temperature is in the high 30's. ("Take It Easy," by The Eagles or "Knocking On Heavens Door," by Bob Dylan, perhaps).

I have put my backpack, heavy jacket and one hoodie in the wash, and may follow them with a second load of the rest of my stuff, minus what I am wearing.

As soon as they are dry; I am good to go into the Quarter, where I may try to find a new (to me) and interesting "daytime" spot to play at; or I might just take my chances at the Lilly spot. There certainly might be people who are hanging out at Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern, since a lot of them have had all week to discover it.

At midnight, the police do a "ceremonial" sweeping of Bourbon Street, at the commencement of Ash Wednesday, kind of mixing church and state; and the street does kind of thin out after that. People in the know will get their partying done before then; and I might have a pretty good 6PM til midnight shift. Or, perhaps people will vacate the business end of Bourbon at midnight, but not being content to stop partying then, will seek refuge at Lafitts, where the tentacles of the public spectacle of the police ceremoniously running the people away, don't reach.

Who knows. I don't remember what happened last year and the year before.

In my 14 days without drinking, I have seen more pot just magically appear out of nowhere, have not been able to curtail my tobacco use, and I sit up from the time I get home at 2 in the morning, until well after sunup, drinking a lot of strong coffee.
Full Beers, everywhere...

When I go out; the thing I look forward to most; on my way to sitting next to a bottle of fruit juice and playing music for drunk people; is the energy drink that I will buy along the way. And these too, have morphed from the sugar free 0 calorie ones, which I took in for their B vitamins and their other mystic herbs like milk thistle and saw palmetto, guarana and (probably the only "real" active ingredient) caffeine -and which tasted good to a guy who had been living on water for 3 days- into the coffee flavored ones, loaded with heavy cream and sugar, and with the vitamins and herbs added as almost an afterthought. These are delicious, of course (and at 3 bucks a pop, they should be) but are targeted towards the heavy cream and sugar addict who started young with almost a whole box of Count Chocula cereal in milk (which would end up being chocolate milk in the bottom of the bowl) and now, as an adult, still can't let go...

The life-affirming diet which I started with fruit juice only, then distilled water only, has eroded to the point where, last night, I cracked open one of the cans of "cooked beef" (ingredients: beef, salt) that came in the big box of cans that Travers had given me on the night when we retrieved Howard from the woods; and ate some, along with my pasta and vegetables.

I woke up kind of lethargic, kind of achy, kind of depressed, in a manner similar to what was common when I was drinking; at about 10PM, with about 6 hours of sleep under my belt and time still to hop a cable car and be at the Lilly spot for the prime hours; but decided to sleep it off. The rain pelting my window, and its coldness to the touch sealed the deal.

It is now 5 AM, Fat Tuesday; and I contemplate the run to the store for cigarettes and an energy drink.

I will take a hot bath and then meditate; and hopefully settle upon a strategy for facing the day. I will need batteries for the spotlights; but cannot think much past that; oh, and a set list of songs that I know but often forget that I know, when I am trying to fill more than 5 hours with playing.

The washer should have stopped by now; and I can smell the potatoes baking in my oven. I am using the timer for the dual purpose of baking the potatoes and timing my laundry, so that I can tend to it as soon as the machines stop; so as to save time. I hope I don't wind up with wet clothes and burned potatoes, though...

I just ran to the corner bar for more quarters for the dryer and it is pretty darned chilly and raw out.

I will go into the Quarter and look around, but first I will don many layers of freshly washed and dried clothes. 

Addendum: I am now at EnVie Cafe. I am on my second double espresso.
They are doing a thriving business; so much so that one of the barristers was visibly stressed out; didn't laugh at my jokes; nor give a little bit of ice to a guy who walked up and asked. They were selling a lot of their alcoholic coffee drinks. I hadn't even noticed that they had them; I guess they downplay them by the time I usually arrive around midnight. Coffee and whiskey; coffee and shnapps.....
I am soon going to the Lilly spot to test the waters i.e. to see if I can move my fingers; and how generous the tourists are; in that order...

Words: 2,407

Monday, February 16, 2015

I Play Until 4 AM

85 Dollar Saturday

I still didn't get to the Lilly spot and start playing until after 12:30, even after having left the apartment at 9 sharp, en route.

I wound up walking the whole way as, the streets and sidewalks were strewn with post parade trash; it was hard to walk because of the beads laying everywhere. Crews were working with rakes and trash bags; and there was a small tractor with a scoop in front, pushing stuff along the street. The cable cars were definitely not running.

I had left the apartment with $18.40 in spending money, and dropped a buck on a Rip-It energy drink at the Big Easy Market, which is a 7 minute walk from the apartment, which would make it about 25 minutes from there into the Quarter, and another 7 to the EnVie Cafe.

So, doing the walking math, I could have been at EnVie by 9:40; but posted at 11:23 PM, so I lost an hour somewhere. ﴾

Probably when I splurged on a Monster energy drink at The Unique Grocery; then milled about; seeing if any of the weed dealers would approach me. None did.

Ж I somehow walked into the EnVie Cafe at around 11:00 (and have done the same tonight) and was there for just 25 minutes.

I went to the Checkpoint Charlie area at about 11:30, recalling the nature of that area; and noting that my new coffee/blogging hang out is just one block away.

A tall thin young man, dressed in a black jacket with black pants and with his head shaved told me that "nobody is selling nicks out here," after I told him that I had 5 dollars.

"Well, is anybody right here with dimes, or is it a walk to somewhere?"

It was a walk for his hand to one of his pockets, where he fumbled for a while, then bent over and placed an object underneath a large plastic lid to a wide mouthed bottle or something, which was at his feet.

I squatted down, and pretended to tie my shoe while grabbing what was under the plastic lid; then pretended to scratch my nose while sniffing what had been under the plastic lid; judging its mass at the same time. I then layed 10 one dollar bills, folded together near my foot; then stood up and stepped backwards a pace, allowing the shaven headed young man to move forward a pace; placing a foot over the folded bills, probably allowing him to judge the thickness of them at the same time.

I walked off, towards the Lilly spot; leaving him to apparently tie one of his shoes.

It was 12:30 when I was at The Quartermaster, spending myself down to about $1.50 with the purchase of a large can of iced green tea. Energy drinks, espresso, weed...where does the money go?

I Play Until 4 AM

It was the large can of iced green tea which sat next to me as I played under the influence of what turned out to be "the blueberry," which is one in a sea of nicknames for bud around here. It smells, and tastes, like blueberries; or like Boo Berry cereal, more accurately.

I made 85 dollars in the 3 hours and 20 minutes that I played; sparked by one 50 dollar bill from a group of young African Americans who shot a video of themselves rapping over a vamp which I played; I guess they were happy with it; and (of course) they are going to post it to YouTube, where I will never see it.

I am pretty sure that they had partaken of some "blueberry," themselves. Or some "kush," "fire," "gas," ,"chronic" or maybe just some of "the good," who knows..?

Again, the guy had to point out to me the fact that he had put a 50 in the tiposaurus' jar. I had been in total concentration when it had been put in there; in the zone.

I wonder if I do some kind of magical trance kind of thing which makes money materialize, and I could to it right now to make money appear on the coffee table in front of me; or do I have to actually play instruments and sing?

Other small groups came along; and I was actually able to hold some of their attentions for a few minutes. The Takamine has new strings on it; and sounds good. There is still a kind of hum close to the Lilly spot, and I continue to step out into the street to tune the guitar.

I am thinking of getting an electronic tuner; it would make tuning "a snap," and would be "accurate."

I always had taken pride in being able to tune without the aid of one; and I have had plenty of guitars with quirks to them whereby, if you tune them "perfectly," then they will be slightly out of tune as you play, due to the neck and the frets, etc.

I have had to slightly flatten strings, so that they would be in tune while fretted.

But, it has been taking me too long to fine tune; and a lot of money has walked past, in the meantimes.

ػ The Skyye Is The Limit

As I was packing up my stuff, I saw, sitting on Lilly's stoop, an almost full bottle of Skyye vodka. I had told a few of the groups of tourists that I hadn't been drinking (for 13 days now) when they had offered me drinks. One of them absentmindedly, I guess, left an almost full 500ml bottle of sky (a 20 dollar value) just sitting there.

I stuffed it in my backpack; thinking that I could at least give it to David the water jug player. The bottle is the same color as the blue guitar which I gave him after I had gotten the Takamine.

Now the bottle sits on a table in my bedroom where I don't sleep. I finished off a bottle of olives last night, leaving in the jar my favorite mixer for vodka or gin, olive juice; and had to smile at how the ingredients for one of my favorite drinks (the Dirty Martini) had conspired to be with me after I had completed 13 days sober.

Cautiously Optimistic Sunday Other than that, it is now approaching 1 AM, on a Sunday night. A Sunday night 2 days before Fat Tuesday; and one upon which I can reasonably expect to play until 4 AM again. There is a light drizzle falling outside. It is pretty warm, perhaps 58 degrees, also.

Words: 1,101

Saturday, February 14, 2015

There Must Be Money Here

  • EnVie Cafe At 10:45
  • 71 Dollar Friday
  • The scene that greeted me
    through my window
  • Saturday Arrival 2 Hours Earlier

71 Dollars In Less Than 2 Hours

Here was the scene out my window; as I left for the Quarter on foot; the trolleys are kind of not running, due to the congestion.

I slept most of the day, being up until dawn working on the puzzle and such.

I made 71 dollars in an hour and 45 minutes last night; a lot of it was from "the friend of the guy who wants to play your guitar."

He could see that his friend was enjoying himself and the Takamine, and threw me 20 bucks.

Before that, I had gotten another 20 while ripping up a harmonica solo.

I was in EnVie Cafe until they closed at 1 AM, and not at the Lilly spot until about 15 minutes later; but wound up playing until 3 AM, despite the fact that it meant a walk home, as the last trolley is at 2:30 AM.

I almost should have played until sunup, as there was still a crowd as I packed up at 3.

Beauty Secret #3: Don't Sleep
My plan then, was to play a lot longer today (Saturday) and I am in position to do so, it being about 8:30 PM now, and myself just needing to walk the 40 minute walk to EnVie, and post this up quickly; maybe over just one espresso; and then play the Lilly spot on this 12th day without alcohol; for as long as I can go. When I get tired of it; or feel that I have run out of ideas; I will just sit there and wait for either inspiration; or a request; or the guy who wants to play your guitar (for 20 dollars).

And, this is my quick post. There will be plenty of time after Fat Tuesday to blog; and to do just about anything else, when it is not keeping me from a potential .$50/hr. busking.

The key of C harmonica still has all its holes working; and my 2 spotlights have fresh batteries; yowsa!

I am thinking (left) that, after I go out now and play from 11:20 PM until 4? AyM, and see what that yields; I must consider doing a marathon set of 12 hours ala Tanya and Dorise, perhaps from noon on Fat Tuesday until after midnight on thin Wednesday. Even if I spend long intervals just sitting there with the guitar. People DO come along and say: "What have you got?" and usually throw a tip, even if what you've got isn't their cup of tea. I can be pretty much assured, due to my physical appearance and presence that people are expecting to hear pretty much what comes out of me; there is a lot of "upside" by dint of my still appearing like a homeless traveling musician; and there are a lot of crappy homeless traveling musicians in town for the festivities; that the tourists tend to draw the line somewhere beneath me, when it comes to whom to tip.
A lot of them tell me to "keep on doing what you're doing."
Now, it's off to the Lilly spot, where I pray there is not already a musician set up; some out of town sort, who has set up there just because he saw me there, and concluded: This is another spot where musicians play; there must be money here...

Words: 303

EnVie Cafe at Midnight

11th Day Sober In The Books
I am at EnVie Cafe, it is about midnight.

I slept all day, after having been up all night, working on "Purple Heart," a song which is slated to be on the CD, which I am working on. I also completed about 20% of the jigsaw puzzle.

Waking up at 6 PM was not such a crisis, as I no longer have to deal with the 9 PM closing time of Starbucks, having now the 1 AM closing time of EnVie to deal with. The walk to EnVie is a full 12 blocks further than Starbucks, but when I emerge from it, I am only a 4 minutes walk to the Lilly spot, which is my usual destination upon leaving Starbucks.

But, after leaving Starbucks, I usually walked Royal Street, past a dozen street musicians, and this could put a strain upon me time-wise, stopping to chat with each one of them usurping up to an hour of my busking time. Plus, they are never a reliable indicator of how busy the Lilly spot will be; and are often a backwards indicator. The 44 dollar night that I had there took place, as a matter of fact, after I had walked a length of Royal Street and had been asked for a cigarette by Reggie, a guy who sits and sings with only his hand clapping for accompaniment.

If I stay here until closing time, I guess I will afterwards play the Lilly spot from about 1:15 AM, until about 2:15, and then get a cable car back home.

Unity is having some kind of pot luck meal tomorrow, as part of Mardi Gras. There is all kinds of stuff sitting in the median of Canal Street by the apartments which would indicate that a parade is to pass by tomorrow. Tents, tables, grills and bleachers were strewn along the way as I walked here, earlier.

That is about all that is on my mind; I want to make some kind of money in the hour or so that I plan to play; on my 11th day sober.

I'm planning upon coming out tomorrow (Saturday) which is forecast to be warmer than the 45 degrees now, and sunny.

I am falling into the same trap as the last time that I was sober for 12 days. That time, I decided to drink because I was procrastinating on my recording project; smoking weed (which can make me feel insecure and self conscious, or make me start to invent a new song which I never finish, rather than work on the 12 or so which I have already started) and I was thinking that a good bottle of red wine would get the creative juices flowing; but instead, it was kind of like adding water to my gas tank, so to speak; with diminishing returns; and recordings which I ultimately erased and did over; sober.

So, that is where it stands; let me run this through the Perl program and then add a couple pictures manually; and then see if there is any money out there on a cold Friday night after a couple of Mardi Gras parades have ran.

History would affirm that there will be at least one guy who wants to play my guitar and will drop me 10 bucks; or a group that wants to sing together on a familiar tune, like "Hey Jude," by the Beatles and will drop me some cash.

Words: 575

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Peace of a Puzzle

He is still there, staring at you...
  • 43 Dollar Wednesday
  • A Case of Caseworkers
  • Day 10 Sober
I am at a new coffee house, shown, which is about 4 blocks from the Lilly spot.
I am taking the luxury of having made 43 dollars last night as a cause to sit here and blog, as they are open until 1 AM, being right on Decatur Street, which doesn't sleep much, if ever.
Plus, there is a cold wind blowing in, and it is forecast to be at about the freezing level for tonight's low. There weren't many people out, even the parade route seemed to be populated by a subdued amount of revelers.
Back to yesterday, though...

Yesterday, (Wednesday) I was up all day, working on stuff, and dealing with 2 different case worker types.

I only slept from 5 PM until 7 PM, before starting the night..

I was working on music related things, until such a time that I decided to stay up until the caseworkers office opened; then go there to see what the paperwork was all about, which they had knocked upon my door the previous day about, wanting me to fill out; but then retracting the request, upon my informing them that I had just gone to sleep an hour prior.

This particular (this) morning, I stayed up, rather than risk having them knock on my door when I was in my deepest R.E.M. cycle.

I headed them off at the pass, by going to the office at 9 AM, and answered questions regarding what my "goals" were, as they pertained to having a dwelling. (i.e. how was my government subsidised place going to help me to be all that I can be).

The converse, or next, question was specific to the obstacles which I could possibly foresee creeping up, which might threaten my long term goals in light of having a dwelling. This question seemed to imply that a person could somehow fall prey to some ill fortune which would bring to ruin their long term goals, which having permanent, assisted, housing are there to help facilitate.

I suppose that a guy vegetating in his place
on the couch in front of the TV, eating himself into obesity and dying an early death would be a disappointment to the tax payers, and the agencies set up to help the veterans.

I wasn't sure how to answer the first, so I asked: "You mean, like, now that I have all that closet space I can build up a wardrobe and really knock 'em dead on job interviews?"

"Perfect!" said Tim, my case manager, his pen already in motion, documenting my "response."

And, there were about a dozen questions; and I'm not sure if they are ever going to be read by anyone "higher up" than Tim, my caseworker.

The question about obstacles was peculiar, in that it was paraphrased as "What could come along which could cause you mess up in your goal to stay housed permanently?"

Tim acted like he didn't understand the question, either. Perhaps someone higher up is just trying to make Tim stay busy.

It is a small price of "rent" to pay to have the ever concerned for my happiness caseworkers knock (every Monday morning, at least, it seems) upon my door to check up upon me.

I think they might be under the onus of arming someone with some quantifiable justification for the tax dollars being spent to give disabled veterans "permanent, 'assisted'* living."

*It was some similar word; meaning that there would be a building manager, an assistant building manager, a building director, an assistant building director; a maintenance guy; and about 5 caseworkers, each assigned to check up upon a group of us.

If my permanent housing could eventually facilitate the attainment of my goals and fulfillment of my dreams (and it is documented in a file cabinet somewhere) then we are cooking with gas; and the system is working.

Tim asked me for a time-frame, for the long term goals that I think having permanent housing are going to help me realize.

"If I tell you, like: In 2 weeks, I hope to already have 10 applications in; then in 2 weeks; you'll have to come knocking on my door to see if I succeeded in my goal, right?"

"Right." ....good point.... "I would say that, within a couple years, Tim, I ...."

I was very wide awake after answering the 12 questions, one of which brought the jigsaw puzzle which I could now work on, to reduce my stress, thanks to having a dwelling; to the table, so to speak.

That prompted Tim to mention that "The Goodwill has jigsaw puzzles," and I decided to stay awake longer.

Tim was soon dropping me off there, with 83 dollars in my pocket, on his way to go do something else.

The Juicer*

 There was a Jack LaLane, "Power Express (or something)" juicer in there with a $22.99 price tag on it. I want it.

I am gambling that it will still be there, further into Mardi Gras, when I will hopefully have more than 83 dollars on me, and when buying it won't swallow up a quarter of my funds in one gulp. But, I do want the juicer.

I also want to go online and try to find a rudimentary manual for it; just in case there is some trick to using the Jack LaLane juicer which is not intuitive. The thing is just sitting there, as is, with "you figure it out" written all over it.

Sure, you just turn the thing on; make sure the blades are whirling around at great speed; and the thing is probably making a lot of noise; then remove the pusher thing, stuff your fruit and/or vegetables into the space vacated by the pusher; then use the pusher to force the fruits and vegetables against the whirling blades; and juice will come forth out of it somewhere; and pulp will wind up caught in some filter. In there, somewhere.

I think I will investigate it more, and perhaps try to take it apart some, to see if I can intuit how it is going to make juice and if it has all the parts required to do so. I'm pretty sure it originally came with a Jack LaLane juice catching plastic bin, belonging underneath the spout, wherever that was on the thing.

I suppose I could always return it, if it doesn't turn carrots into juice.

One thing I wonder is, if the blades go dull on those things, or if they are guaranteed "for life."

I think that Jack said that a juicer can extend your life (when he was alive) and so that would be all the more impressive a guarantee. Still, I can see carrots wearing down a tungsten steel blade, over time.
43 Dollar Wednesday

I guess the best I can hope for, when I spend my $22.99 plus tax on it; is that the previous owners hardly ever used it, because they bought it upon impulse after Jack LaLane, in his leotards, talked them into it, using a lot of "before and after" photos, and actual testimonies, in the process; and then they just got too lazy (and that's basically why they are obese; because they are lazy...) to open the thing after each use and clean out the pulp, then wash the pulp out of each and every part, in hot soapy water, to include the whirling blades; then PUT IT BACK TOGETHER (forget about it) and the Jack LaLane Power Express juicer just sat there on the formica counter, in between the breadbox and the toaster. That's the best I can hope for.

I want the thing; and now after a:

44 Dollar Wednesday (and 9 days alcohol free) I have over a hundred bucks on me, and I might be ready to pounce upon it.

Do you know how much carrot juice is (like 5 bucks a quart!) and how cheap carrots are? And, you can bake like, pies, out of the pith that you scrape out of it, after each use. I want it. 
*I have gone online to discover that the juicer is at least a 75 dollar value, and even found some new ones selling for 100 dollars. The blades ARE guaranteed for life; and it is purported to be "quiet" and "clean."

I also want a battery for this laptop, so that, for one thing, I can go around the Quarter, capturing live audio with my Snowball microphone, of the different street performers and work them all into some kind of collage of a song; maybe like a "remake" of Revolution #9, by The Beatles, only with Tanya Huang, instead of Yoko Ono, featured...

I left the juicer there, and was ready to leave, thinking that Tim, my caseworker, may have seen jigsaw puzzles at some other place, when I spotted the one and only jigsaw puzzle in the place, on a shelf laden with venetian blinds and other window shading things.

It was $1.99 and looks like it must have gone for well over 10 dollars, retail. It is 1,000 sturdy, fully interlocking pieces.

Another Case of Interruption
I grabbed some unlined colored paper, for making music charts for recording, for another dollar, and then, went back to the apartment, just in time to run into Davaughn, who is not my Unity caseworker, but is my "Volunteers of America" facilitator.

He wanted to take me to his office so that we could send off for a copy of my birth cirtificate, which is necessary for them to have, in order to have my deposit paid upon my place, through their agency.

After returning from there, I was up for a while longer; long enough to have gotten the jigsaw puzzle started; and wasn't asleep until 5 PM, just one hour before I usually leave on the evenings blogging and busking excursion.

Somehow my internal biological clock had me physically ready, upon waking up an hour later; to run to Starbucks to blog; and then to the Lilly spot.

Is was a Wednesday; but there were a couple of Mardi Gras parades slated.

I wasn't on a cable car until a quarter 'til 8 PM, thinking that I would be at Starbucks by 8; except the cable car dropped us off short of the parade scene, leaving me a 5 minute walk which would cut into my blogging time.

I would order a double espresso, once there; having time to plug in the laptop and let it boot up, before one of the barristers yelled "espresso doppio!"

The cable car discharged us right across the street from where they sell pot all the time. There were cops everywhere, and nobody "appeared" to be selling any.

I had taken about 16 dollars with me; or what I had made the night before. Worst case would be that I would only wipe out one days production, should I spend it all and then not make anything back.

I went into Starbucks; after fighting my way through the throngs of people; all pressed against the barricades along the route, waiting for the floats and the marchers and the bands and the livestock.

Painted faced children were abundant; playing catch with objects which they had caught off of floats; the vendors, usual ones and extra ones that have materialized for the carnival season; selling Mardi Gras related paraphernalia -a lot of things which lit up; like small Frisbees with strobing LED lights affixed to them; there were everywhere the beer holding parents of the kids; people were representing different positions on the globe with their tee shirts (I saw an Iowa shirt on a guy, for example; and there were plenty of early twenties British people taking in the festivities) and behind it all; leaning against the store fronts, watching everything from the vantage point of being well behind the line of parade watchers, and not trying to catch any beads or strobing Frisbees; and in their usual skeezing spots; were the skeezers; standing there, looking left and looking right, always quick with a "You got another one of those?" to smokers one and all, and basically working the hustle of trying to strike up a conversation with people; get the people to like them and, optimally, have the people voluntarily give them money. Keeping "Hey, I'll be honest with you; I'm outdoors right now" at the ready.

I have no problem with that particular "hustle," and in fact it dawned upon me later, as I was walking up Royal Street towards the Lilly spot; that conversation is something that has been pretty good to me in my busking life. Some skeezer once said, and I heard him; something like: If you can get them to laugh; you're probably gonna get paid.

A double espresso, a short time to blog, and then I was walking up Canal Street, looking for weed; then looping back down to the Unique Grocery to get a Rip-It energy drink, after not finding it; then retrying Canal Street with success; grabbing a second energy drink, a pack of cigarettes and then, heading toward the Lilly spot, in a 13 dollar hole, with about 3 bucks on me.

Once there, I noted not a whole lot of people.

I had only made about 4 bucks, when a group of young British guys came along, who said that they were stunt men, in town for the local filming of yet another movie which will be set in New Orleans.

They made about the 10th request of my life upon me to play "Wonderwall," by Oasis.

I was able to fake my way through it, because, each of the other 9 times, after telling the people that I was sorry that I didn't know "Wonderwall," but that it is right near the top of my list of songs to learn, in my quiet after moments, I took the guitar out and tried to figure out "how does that song go, anyways" and made little bits of progress here and there.

I faked it to their satisfaction, and they wound up giving me 40 dollars, after having hung out around me, chatting and blocking anyone else from my tip jar.

I was generally disappointed with the trouble I was having tuning the guitar. I am starting to think that the electrical box, right off my right shoulder where I sit; emits some electro-magnetic hum which makes it very difficult to tune a guitar there. It is noticeably easier if I just step a few feet away from it.

That may be another reason, along with the darkness of it, that nobody else had claimed the Lilly spot before I came along 3 years ago, now.

I knocked off at about 1:30, which should have meant that I played for 3 and a half hours to make the 44 dollars, but, in truth, I shouldn't count the hour when the nice folks were standing in front of my tip jar so that other tourists had to cut a wide swath around them and it.

As I start my 10th day without a drop of alcohol; I look forward to having the luxury (i.e. the money) to put in a few solid days of work on the CD, which has not yet a title.

It is supposed to be much colder today (Thursday).

I need to go, in a couple hours, on yet another errand to get the social security card from the mail room at The Rebuild Center.

DeVaughn is going to give me a ride over there.

Words: 2,452

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

16 Dollar Tuesday

I Buy A Puzzle

An uneventful Tuesday saw me coming into the Quarter in the evening, after having been up all night, recording guitar and shaker parts, for a song in my "Bum Suite."

I posted to this blog and then played for about 2 hours, starting at 10:10 PM , making the above amount, but having spent it on energy drinks; 4 pairs of socks; a sack of weed and a pack of cigarettes.

I am on my 9th day without drinking, though.

I was up all night, and in the morning, went to the Goodwill store, looking for a juicer, a jigsaw puzzle, books on Perl programming, and possibly a little radio, so that I can walk around my place listening to it; and not be tethered to ear buds.

To the right is what the completed 1,000 piece puzzle will look like. It was the only jigsaw puzzle at the Goodwill Store, but seems to be high quality, with thick pieces.

I am now at Starbucks, which is closing in 5 minutes and really can't think of what I can accomplish here.

After I left the Goodwill, I stopped a the Brown Derby, a little convenience store and bought some beans (which I have soaking) and some tomato sauce, and took note of the other stuff that they have there; notably; 15 pound boxes of frozen swai fish fillets. Their prices are pretty high, though.

I suppose I will be at the Lilly spot by about 9:30 PM, and I guess I will play, although I am not too enthusiastic; being on about 3 hours of sleep; but being out here because it is Mardi Gras, and there is a parade going on; and I will probably make some money.

I want to free myself up to record for several hours each of the coming days.

The Brown Derby had Yellow Tail wine on sale for $2.99 per bottle for a "summer" white wine with fruity flavors. It was tempting; having been up all night, to get one and then stay up all day working on music; but this particular project is going to tentatively be dedicated to sobriety; for however long it takes me to complete it

Words: 371

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Negative Gain

I Fall Off (Money-wise)

$10.45 Sunday A Guy Dies Outside Uniques

To The Extreme Left, He Was Found
Not a real whole lot to report on this early Monday morning.

Sunday was almost a day without a highlight.

The highlight may have been completing my 6th day without drinking alcohol.

I slept most of it, having been up until dawn; again.

I worked about an hour on a story that I am writing, which has about 14,000 words; and then worked for about 2 hours on a song that is going to be on my CD; playing the shaker (which I found laying by the sidewalk the other day; it is the kind that can be opened to fill the egg-sized enclosure with whatever one wants, to make the shaking sound -I use popcorn kernels) and working out a bass line on the "guitar digitally dropped down one octave."

Then, I spent at least another hour reading the newspaper. (It's important for me to know what Libya and Turkey are up to, right?)

And, to think that I am itching to get a jigsaw puzzle to put together, where will I find the time? I love jigsaw puzzles, and might look for about a 1,500 piece one; now that I have a nice large table, which I can put in front of a window, so that natural light falls upon it.

The last puzzle I put together; I did outdoors in Mobile, on a big piece of cardboard, under the holly bush where I was sleeping. By the time I had it nearly finished, I discovered that someone or some thing had stolen a few of the pieces. I suspect the birds; perhaps for use in their nests.

That was the time that Howard and I had to wait about 4 days before a train suitable for hopping on, to come back to New Orleans, stopped.

I was out the door a little after sundown.

I walked the half mile to the Dollar General store, where I returned the spotlight; bought some toilet paper and some hair repair conditioner (for overly dry hair) and then caught the cable car into the Quarter.

I only brought 18 dollars with me, leaving 60 in a jar at home in a kitchen cabinet (behind the popcorn, burglars).

I only had about 50 minutes to blog, once at Starbucks.

I left there and went to Walgreens to pick up a 3 pack of little LED flashlights for 6 bucks.

Then, it was off to the Lilly spot, where I wound up playing for about an hour and 45 minutes; making the above amount; but was very well lit; with the 2 lights trained upon me from the vines above working well.

I felt like I was leaving too early; at about 11:45; although it was looking more like an ordinary Sunday night than a Mardi Gras one.

I told myself that I was just dividing my time between busking and other things; like this.

It's hard to imagine what playing Tanya and Dorise lengths of hours (40 per week) would yield for me, financially.

If my "average" of 15/hr. held up; I guess I would be pulling in 600 dollars per week; but with very little time to do much else.

The jigsaw puzzle might collect dust in that scenario.

Plus, I would definitely need an amp, so that I could play using a lot less energy; saving wear and tear on the fingers and vocal chords.

I have spent the last hour improving my program to format this text. It is a behind the scenes fix, though.

It was crashing on paragraphs that only had one sentence with 3 words or less.

Like this one. Or this. It tried to make the first three words a random color and larger than the rest of the paragraph, but, when it ran out of words it tried to make "nothing" a different color and larger; then it went on to try to process the rest of the paragraph; which wasn't there, either.

I put in a test line to see if the paragraph had 3 words or less, and if it did, the words would be printed in a random color and larger, as usual, but then, it would execute a "next;" statement to make it jump out of the printing block, and go and get the next paragraph.

Yup. So far it is working; and the random colors are beautiful.

The next thing I want to do is make sure that it doesn't choose the same (or a very similar) random color for one paragraph as it did for the previous one.

I might get it to choose the first color randomly; and then use a fixed formula to alter each successive color, to move it a certain shade away from the last, but in a cycle that would repeat only every 255 paragraphs, or so...

This is why I am busking only so many hours per week; so I can work on stuff like that...

The payoff will come in the form of the time that I will save writing blog posts.

I might get it to choose the first color randomly; and then use a fixed formula to alter each successive color, to move it far away from the last, but in a cycle that would repeat only every 255 paragraphs, or so...

"You Might Know Him..."

On my way to take the 12:50 AM cable car, I noticed a lot of police cars with their lights flashing and pointed in every direction, in front of The Unique Grocery.

They were parked that way to shield from sight the spectacle of a body, draped with a white sheet, in one of the doorways of a closed business which almost always has someone sitting there, too drunk to stagger much further away from The Unique Grocery, nor to it, to get another bottle after successfully skeezing the money for one.

The cashier told me that someone sitting there had just died. "You may know him; he's always there," he said.

I'm not sure that I "knew" him; I'm sure our conversations, on my end were basically limited to: "Sorry, I'm pretty broke myself. I don't give away cigarettes, sorry." and "I've only got a few sips left, sorry."

"He drank TOO much," added the cashier. "Like a gallon of vodka, every day...every day!!"

The police told me to "move on," after I stopped to notice that the body, though draped in a white sheet, was still in a sitting up position and still seemed to have its hand out.

I then thought that the police were telling people to move on to preserve the dignity of the corpse, which is admirable; a skeezer is still a human being.

Next to the body was a canvas shopping bag with some stuff in it from the Mardi Gras parades. I wonder if it had crossed the guys mind that those might be the last beads ever tossed to him off of a float.

Words: 1,171