Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Johnny Thing Crashes And Burns

Well, upon the 12th day of Johnny's stay at my place, we went out together, headed towards the Lilly Pad.
Johnny had decided to blow off playing anywhere on Royal Street (where "the money is") and to accompany me to the Lilly Pad, where we were going to try to break my single night record of $213, by splitting more than $426.
I could tell that Johnny was in a bad mood, right from the start.
He had nothing nice to say about the guys that work at the "Eat Well" store right down the street from me -guys whom I have become quite friendly with; and then had nothing nice to say about the guys that work at the "Big Easy" store down the street, where we stopped because the first store was out of Johnny's preferred brand of cigarettes.
Then, he had nothing nice to say about the cable car drivers, as we tooled our way into the Quarter.

Then, I went into the Unique Grocery Store, where I was intent upon purchasing rum, instead of the nasty, cheap vodka that I had been swilling down the whole week.

Yes, somehow the presence of Johnny at my place had driven me to drink -the drive wasn't long, I could have walked- but, there I was, inside the Unique Grocery, asking the guy that stands guard over the liquor case, how much the little half pints of rum were. He had to bring the bottles to the register to be scanned by one of the Ethiopians who man them.
These same Ethiopians have been helping me to learn their language, and we have had many helpful (to me) discussions about grammar and the like; with them teaching me additional phrases, such as "see you tomorrow," in Ethiopian.
Johnny was outside, on the sidewalk, his cart loaded with his amp and his milk crates in hand.
He became impatient.
I rejected the first bottle of rum, it being $6.99, plus tax, and was in the process of having a second bottle, which looked cheaper because it was on the bottom shelf, and was named "Bayou Rum," probably, I thought, by some local distiller, scanned when Johnny yelled from the sidewalk out front something to the effect of "What's the problem, why are you taking so long, you've been in there for 20 minutes, what's wrong with you?!?"
Well, for one thing: I have worked very hard to make this life for me which I live, and it is a life free from someone yelling to me, as if they are my boss, the above.
I enjoyed every one of those 20 minutes; learning Ethiopian and the prices of rum (the "Bayou Rum" was a dollar more than the other, by the way -I decided to just get the cheap swill that I always get) and I was just enjoying the slow paced "I'll get there when I get there" cadence of my life, which I have come to enjoy.
Johnny yelled, yet again, from outside the store.
I shook my head and gave him a look which I hoped conveyed the message of "It's been a long time since I worked for someone who was in a position to yell at me, telling me to hurry up."
I finally (after 20 minutes, according to Johnny who timed it) left the store, and was apprised by him that he had been very uncomfortable standing in front of the Unique Grocery store, stating that it was "trouble," and that no less than 3 people had panhandled him.
Reading between the lines, I imagined that Johnny's biggest fear about standing in front of the store while I learned the Ethiopian tongue was that someone would recognize him as a heroin addict and make him an offer that he couldn't refuse, against the 400 dollars in his pocket, which he had amassed in order to go to New York.
"I don't even want to stand out here. When I go into the store, I get what I need and just get the f*** out of the area, I don't stand around," said Johnny, and then added that he thought that I was being "inconsiderate" by taking so long in the store, when I knew that he was squirming in discomfort out front.
It was then that it occurred to me that Johnny might see the whole world in regards to his own interests. I was supposed to have hurried in and out of the store where I have habitually kind of hung out in and chatted with the staff, probably out of procrastinating in going out to play.
Johnny wasn't in the mood to procrastinate.
He told me, after I had hinted that I might not even be in the mood to play at all that night, at that point, that he was all about business, and that he had scuttled other plans to come into the Quarter early to grab a spot on Royal Street, where he would make whatever amount of money; before coming to meet up with me at the Lilly Pad.
"I need to make 100 bucks tonight, so I can go to New York and show up with 100 bucks in my pocket," he said.
It was at this point that I realized that I had unwittingly put myself in kind of a binding contract with Johnny. He had waited until 7 PM, to accompany me to the Lilly spot, putting all of his eggs in that basket; and probably thinking about the 160 dollars that we had split the night before, after 4 hours of playing together, and kind of holding me to my casually stated "promise" that we would play for 7 hours there and try to break my record of $213 (each) for one night.
When time began to elapse, he became quite insistent upon me hurrying myself and very short tempered about every little thing that I did which delayed us. 
For example, when we passed Mr. B's restaurant (which is world famous, in case you didn't know, or have never heard of it) to see if the little Lillies (Chantilly or Angelique) were on duty in there, pausing to glance through the front window for a few seconds; Johnny was "all over me," asking me why I was pausing to look in a restaurant (when he needed to get out and make 100 dollars).
"I like to see if the little Lillies are working, and whether or not I should expect to see them at the playing spot around 11 o'clock on their way into the house, that's all...I just like to peek in there on my way by..."
"Oh, they work there?" asked Johnny.
I couldn't help thinking that I was giving him a piece of information that he was ultimately going to use to try to wrest the Lilly spot from me. 
Perhaps on a particular night when some rich tourist comes along and offers to buy the equally well dressed Johnny dinner, he would suggest that particular restaurant, only so that the girls would see him hobnobbing with the rich and famous and conclude that he was just the kind of guy whom they would be proud of seeing on their front step every night playing music -sorry Daniel, but we're social climbers.
I was thinking this way because I was beginning to think that Johnny B. was all about Johnny B, and nobody else.
For one thing; he hates everybody.
Everybody not named Johnny B. (and probably really hates other people who happen to also be named Johnny B. How dare they?!?).
I am not naive enough to think that I am the only guy in the world whom he thinks the world of (and who just happens to be letting him crash at my place) after hearing him trash everybody in our path; from the security officers at the exit door of Sacred Heart Apartments; to the cashiers at the stores where we had stopped; the cable car drivers ("all they have to know is 'stop' and 'go," a monkey could do the job") people outside the Unique Grocery ("They're just trouble"), and then each musician that we encountered along Royal Street.
Jay, the really loud singer ("He's the biggest liar in the world"), Jessie, the grizzled old guy with the cowboy hat, Christina Friis ("She's using a backing track; that makes me sick; is that what New Orleans has come to? an expletive, expletive, expletive (young lady) singing along with a expletive expletive backup track?!?....Louis Armstrong is rolling in his grave!).
He lumped the other "karaoke guy" (whom I haven't blogged about yet) into the argument. 
Tanya and Dorise (I don't listen to them at all; I can't stand them. It's just a Chinese chick playing the vocal melody to a song over a rhythm guitar!).
Brian Hudson (I've heard him; his songs aren't that good).
And then, he spewed venom toward the "Hillbilly" band that was playing across from Rouses Market, just leaving them with a simple: "I hate that shit," and then, we were soon at the Lilly spot.
He did stop to greet the black guy who plays harmonica along with a recorded backing track, who was at the spot where he usually plays, across from the Hotel Monteleone, but that was probably because he had probably phoned the guy earlier and "given" the spot to him, after he had decided to put all his eggs in one basket and rely upon myself, and the Lilly Pad, in order to get the 100 dollars that he needed.

We got to the Lilly spot, and I set up the spotlights, and then broke out my guitar and played a little bit, while Johnny set up his microphone and his amp and his milk crates.

He doesn't employ anything like my "tiposaurus," or any other gimmicks. There is little doubt in my mind that, behind my back, he would decry the use of such a gimmick, saying something like "I don't need some cute little sign, or a plastic lizard; that shit is lame; if you need a plastic lizard to make money; then you need to find another profession." Yeah, I think he would say something very similar behind my back.

Again; beware of people that apparently hate everybody in the world; but think that you, for some reason, are "the greatest."

We began to play. 
I could tell that Johnny wasn't really enjoying himself.
He had said earlier, in response to me hinting that I wasn't even sure that I was in the mood to play; that he himself played whether or not he was in the mood to or not; because he was a professional; and then added that that was where the two of us differed; and why we could ultimately never form a partnership.
He also threw the fact of my alcohol usage into that discussion.
It was hard for me to keep a straight face when the heroin addict told me that alcohol was holding me back and keeping me from realizing my dreams.
...what if my dream is to be shitfaced every day, Johnny?....
To Be Continued....
Coming Next: Johnny Run Off By Barnaby And His Girlfriend Charlie, Probably After They Heard Him Snap His Finger And Tell Me "Hit It, Daniel" As If He Was The Big Star And I Was Just There To Enhance His Stuff With A Solo Here And There; And Due To Their Fine Tuned Intuition About The General Nature Of People, Barnaby Being A Substance Abuse Counsellor For Example.

No comments: