Sunday, May 31, 2015

The First Step

I Drink Moderately
On what would be the 18th day without drinking, I bought a 200ml bottle of tequila at Wal-Mart in celebration of having acquired the speakers for my laptop.
The speakers are very nice and have a very sweet range at a healthy volume where there is a full range of sound without distortion.
Plus, they have the ability to be cranked to room filling volume, albeit with a lot of crappy distortion, but they can blare.
The tequila seemed to do almost nothing to me, upon my 18th day of a juice fast.
My impulse to buy more, as I made my way to the Lilly Spot, I was able to shunt by telling myself, or asking: "Why do I want to spend money to have more of what I have already, which is no feelings of euphoria, and rather just a slight feeling of loss of inhibition, bordering on erosion of motor skills?"
I played my way out of the funk; and an hour later, I had sobered up at the Lilly Pad, and was playing fine...that was the 42 dollar night; a few fives, and one ten by a young guy who said: "You are awesome."
I need to now try to capture my present sound by recording it; perhaps set up my mic and just busk into it; placing the mic for the best balance of guitar and vocal and harp -certainly would be the fastest way to knock it out...3 minutes to record a 3 minute song...
Yesterday (Saturday) was what turned out to be an attempt to relive Friday; with the exception of arriving too late at the notary service next to Wal-Mart.
I woke at 2 PM, and it took me 4 hours to make it to the notary place. It's amazing how long it takes to sit at the edge of the bed, close your eyes and take a deep breath and contemplate the questions of the day; then make and drink some green tea, and then look at the clock to see that over an hour has transpired.
After having had the 42 dollar Friday night, and amount which almost completely replaced what I had spent on the speakers before going out to play; I was poised to go after the juicer, after I paid the 10 bucks to the notary guy.
That left me 54 bucks; but, the juicer that I had my eye on was sold out and they refused to sell me the one on display.
I repeated Friday insofar as my movements, but I made it to the Lilly Pad earlier, played from almost 10 PM until almost 1:30, and made 25 bucks; but got a lot of complements about my harmonica playing/guitar playing "that's, a really good combination," said one guy.

And so, it is Sunday. It has rained a lot of the day; I went to the Family Dollar and got some potting soil, a half gallon of grape juice, and some cat food.

The cat food is for some wild cats that live under an abandoned and boarded up house which has been raised off the ground a couple of feet upon cinder blocks, leaving plenty of cat space.

I have it in the back of my mind that I might entice one of the cats to become my house pet; the food is the first step...

"'Til next time, blog readers!!"

Saturday, May 30, 2015

39 Dollar Friday

After having gone to the Wal-Mart, arriving just too late to get my letter notarized, but having bought the computer speakers, returned home to drop them off and then grab my guitar; I made it to the Lilly Pad at around 10:50 PM, and played until 1:30 and made the above amount ($14.60/hr).
Now, I am in the same boat, trying to make it to Wal-Mart to get the letter notarized. It is 4:38, and off I go.

Friday, May 29, 2015

42 Dollar Thursday

A Trip To The Wal-Mart
It is Friday afternoon.
A 42 dollar Thursday night, which ran just short of 3 hours, and which has brought my coffers up to about $77.88* has me poised to get an all day bus pass in a little while, then go to the Wal-Mart, next door to which is The Notary Shoppe.
It is already past 4 PM.
I had set my alarm, at 6 AM, ahead to about 1 PM, thinking that I would have to scurry to a notary to get the letter notarized, so that I won't have to go through job training school under threat of losing my food stamps.
I overslept, after the alarm somehow hadn't gone off, or I slept through it.
A call to The Notary Shoppe has me breathing easier, as they are open until 7 PM. And they are open tomorrow (Saturday).
I have the $77.88, and reasonable expectations of making more tonight, as my playing is now consistently in tune (thanks to the Snark tuner) and pretty consistent in quality, since I'm not drinking (nor did I smoke weed last night, but that was by the grace of God, because He knows I looked for it a couple times).
So, maybe the money will flow consistently.
This is the 18th day of the juice fast. I am still waiting for all of the "chronic" soreness to go out of my neck. I notice that I tense those muscles up when I take a drag off a cigarette, something that I might not have (noticed) had I not reached this state of detoxification.
*I am throwing a bit of change, here and there into my current version of the "4%" jar, which I once put into practice. It is a 1% jar at this point.
I am seriously thinking of getting the 45 dollar, 25 watt speakers at Wal-Mart; which I could plug right into my laptop and then be able to listen to my extensive music library while walking around the apartment, not tethered to headphones.
They would make it easier to learn new songs by playing along to them, without having to do so with one cup of the headphones half off one ear, to balance the guitar with the music.
And they would make it easier for me to gauge how my own mix downs are going to sound through peoples stereos.
Mixing music through headphones so that it will sound good through loudspeakers is probably beyond the scope of my ability. I think even most recording studios have huge speakers as monitors, which they will crank up upon playback, to mimic the levels that the end consumer might listen at. 
25 watts sounds like a decent amount of volume for the square footage of my place, and the low to moderate leakiness of the walls here.
The only thing hindering me is the knowledge that there are always going to be better deals on Craigs List, or E-Bay.
Walking into Wal-Mart and plunking down the full retail price makes me feel like I am being impatient, umpulsive and paying for instant gratification, rather than waiting 3 to 5 days for the shipping of the same speakers at half the price.
 Same thing with a juicer. Wal-Mart has one for just under 50 bucks.
The healthy way for me to come off this fast, whenever I do (tonight will make 18 days) would be to start by juicing raw vegetables and fruits.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I Chew On The Idea Of Eating

17th Day of Juice Fast...
  • 31 Dollar Friday
  • 19 Dollar Saturday
  • $5.25 Sunday
  • Rained Out Monday
  • 16 Dollar Tuesday
  • $12.50 Wednesday
13 days sober are in the books.
At 10 PM this evening, I reached the milestone of 13 days without alcohol nor coffee.
On the evening of the 12th day (Saturday) I broke up the foursome of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and weed, further; reducing it to 2 items, by smoking weed.
Alcohol and coffee are still "alive" in the game of "Can I Stay Off It?"
New Weed Guy
It turns out that a particular older black guy who is skinny, and sits often on Lilly's stoop opposite to me sells weed. At least he's not skeezing.
He is the same guy who was sitting there the night that the new kid in town set up and was busking next to Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern; and the one who Lilly, after running the kid off, enlisted to keep an eye on me. "I know you sit here a lot and I never say anything to you; and I don't mind you staying here, but will you keep a watch in case that guy and his friends come back and try to mess with Daniel?"
I was packing up Saturday night at about 1:30, to take what I was thinking would be a 20 minute break, when he spoke up, asking me if I was leaving. "No, just taking a break..."
"That's what I need too; a break," he said, and then reiterated what he had said the previous Saturday: "Don't worry; ain't nobody gonna mess with you here."
Then, as I was walking away, he kind of mumbled something in which the word "weed" stood out.
5 dollars and an especially large (just for me) bud, and a trip to the corner store for rolling papers and 5 minutes sitting on some other stoop smoking, later, I was back on the stoop to play another 45 minutes, or so.
There was rain in the forecast for Sunday, and so I thought that I should strike while the iron was hot, and get in as much busking as I could that night.
I had needed a break, though, feeling like I had for the moment, run out of talent.
I chose another stoop to smoke because Lilly seems to be against marijuana; certainly with regards to her daughters; who might be led down the road to promiscuity (or, led to step out of their front door and walk to the right, to use a metaphor) if their resolves were ever weakened by the hallucinogenic.
This is undoubtedly why the weed guy had kept me in the dark about his activities all this time; and why he had mumbled the word "weed," thinking that Lilly and I might be of the same mind on the subject of the "whacky tobaccy;" and that I might inform her and get him thrown off of the stoop. Although, I would lose a bodyguard in that scenario.
The iron was only luke warm, as I made just a few more dollars before knocking off at 2:45 AM, Sunday morning.
Health And Science
I am on a juice fast right now; 13 days in.
I came back to the apartment, looking forward to the grape juice that I had picked up at CVS off of my food card; the card that I am about to be put through the ringer for (beginning 7 days from now).
Note Concerning Job1 Job Acquisition School
I believe that had I intentionally flunked the reading test, they would have said "Sorry, you aren't eligible for the skills seminar. You don't have the opportunity to come here at 9 AM every day for two straight weeks, and stay until 3 PM each day (learning God knows what).
To boil my hypotheses down, I had concluded that the "Job" classes, if they are not a test to see who can manage to merely show up daily and do God knows what for 6 hours; and thereby qualify themselves for actual decent jobs that the agency would be happy to connect them to; then they are either A: a ploy to weed off of the food stamp program as many people as possible (by knowing that a portion of the people on food stamps are on food stamps because they are f***-ups; and they are going to f-up somewhere along the two week line and then, BAM! the state will be able to save another 194 bucks times 3, after they close his account for 90 days (the penalty for failure to comply with the program -The irony, of course being, the program is ostensibly there to protect the true f***-ups against starvation because; how are they going to hold a job if they can't even make it to some boring class for two weeks straight, without missing a day? They NEED food stamps).
B: Just a means for the people that work there to keep their cushy government jobs by pushing their pencils, and they could care less who has to take the classes, and who gets out of them by telling them the right things.
I mean to call them and ask somebody what the deal is with losing your food money for 3 months if you refuse a job that you are offered. Then, I need to ask my caseworker here if I would have to start paying rent should I take the minimum wage job that they might offer me; and how much would I have to pay.
Howard has to pay one third of his income in rent.
If I worked 40 hours per week at minimum wage; a rough estimate would have me paying over 300 bucks per month for rent; in order to continue getting 194 bucks in food each month; but wait; if I was making money, then, they would probably reduce my food benefits to the 140 per month that Howard gets. So I would be set back 160 bucks a month and have to work 40 hours per week at a minimum wage job, to make it happen.
I Test My Hypotheses: OK, I Called Them, But First...

16 Dollar Tuesday
Tuesday night, I went out and played, having switched to spring water only on this, the 16th day of the fast. I felt commensurately weak, physically, but my spirits remained high and, I had blown off the idea of smoking weed, so I wasn't insecure and paranoid, nor  laboring under any of the other side effects of that hallucinogen. The happy busker always makes some money.
I had gotten a Snark® guitar tuner from Dorise Blackmon, after I had talked to her Sunday night, and asked her if she had "any old tuners laying around" that she might sell to me cheaply. She was out and about Tuesday and met me at the thrift store which is near her house and gave it to me. I had bought a 4 pack of light bulbs for a dollar, and a wall clock for 3 dollars.
What a difference a tuner makes. Set it and forget it and focus upon the music. I had never used a tuner before in 8 years of busking.
"All my guitars now, have tuners built in, so I never use it," said Dorise.
I tuned up and made 16 bucks in the two hours between 10:30 PM and 12:30 AM, which I was happy with, because there was a sparse crowd; and I am playing and singing my best.
I Chew On The Idea Of Eating
I was thinking that it might be time to start eating. A lot of the chronic pain in my cervical spine has diminished, but hasn't totally gone away; and eczema is almost a non factor.
I wasn't sure if I would start by eating apples, by the bushel, or brown rice only, for the next few days. I should consider going 40 days, like the heavyweights, such as Jesus did*.
*I have my doubts about that figure, considering that "40" was used biblical to mean "I can't count because this is the first century and education just isn't what it will be 2,000 years from now but, it was a hell of a long time; like 40 days!"
The danger with breaking the fast rears its head in the fact that I am craving brown rice and warm sake right now -seems like heaven now.
I Test My Hypothesis About Job1
One of my personality flaws has always been the reluctance to, and hence procrastination in getting on the phone and calling around, to acquire information and to save myself trips and to avert surprises, by getting the scoop right from the horses mouth; rather than relying upon, say, a letter which I had received.
I have a friend named Donna, who uses her phone prodigiously. If she were to receive a bill in the mail, she would immediately call the issuer, to alleviate any minimal wonder she might have "Hi, I just got my bill, and I just want to make sure it's right.." or, before the first day of school, calling the school to make sure that her kids bus stop will still be in the same spot, in case they had neglected to send her a notice. She got a lot of peace of mind out of using her phone that way.
Myself, I have always been the opposite. I think that, if I call people, they might say something that I don't want to hear, and I will no longer be able to hope for the best; having gotten the worst, right from the horses mouth. It's as if; what I don't know can't hurt me.
And so, I am very reluctant to get on the phone. A lot of times I think that I could make matters worse by saying the wrong thing.
But, this morning, I called the number on the letter which told me that I needed to show up at Job1 on Monday morning.
The phone only rang once before it was picked up by a guy who sounded so relaxed that, adding the fact that I heard no background noise at all, I thought I had dialed the wrong number.
I explained that I had gotten the letter, and he basically asked me what I needed to know; kind of curtly. I wondered if I heard in his tone of voice: "Go ahead; try to get out of it. Ain't happenin'. We got you by the short hairs, Unity apartment dweller!"
I just started talking and explaining my situation and voicing my concerns.
He assured me that they weren't a staffing agency and that they were not going to find a job to try to foist upon me. He added that they didn't want to help get me a job that I didn't want, but rather one that I did want, one which would help me along in my "career."
He said that the 60 hours would be devoted to more than just teaching me how to fill out a job application; it would involve creating a resume and doing practice interviews, and such.
He did concede that one aspect of the program was to weed people off of food stamps. He mentioned some politicians who "think they are all mooches."
I told him that, when I did work, I made much better than minimum wage, but that the (computer) skills that I utilized then, have become obsolete.
It's kind of funny that the "breakthrough" for me came after I made a random comment. I said something like: "Oh, I was worried that they were going to tell me that I needed to be at the marina in the morning, wearing hip boots and ready to clean tar out of the bottom of barges...if I valued my $194/mo. in food benefits."
"Actually, there's pretty good money in that but, yeah, I understand what you are saying..."
Then, I mentioned that I used to work out of the labor pool in Jacksonville, Florida, as "recently" as 2006, but then the new house market dried up and the labor pool jobs along with it. "And that's when I became a musician."
"You're a musician?"
"Well, then, you work. Do you do gigs?"
"No, I play on Bourbon Street with a tip bucket out."
"And, is that how you make your living?"
"That's where all the money that's in my pocket has come from for the last 8 years."
Then, the nice man, who described himself as "a liberal socialist" at one point, told me to write a letter stating that I worked 40 hours (his words) a week as a street musician; then get the letter notarized, then bring it to them before the start of classes on Monday; and I will be exempted from the program.
No threats of being cut off for not walking the line; no income to report to the apartment people; life back to normal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'm Going Out There!

Wish me luck.
I am famished upon this 9th day without eating; but; upon this 9th day without drinking booze; I feel a calm within my soul.
A calm within my soul...
He Who Doesn't Work Doesn't Eat (at least not off the government)
I made it to my appointment at exactly 10PM this morning, no thanks to Tim, my caseworker, who offered me a ride, and then took about 4 wrong turns, trying to find the place (we almost wound up in Mississippi). I could have beaten us there on foot LOL!
More distressing news: I am now scheduled, based upon my stellar performance on the reading test (48 out of 50), to enroll in their job training classes; which start on June 1st.
They run for 10 consecutive days!!
They run from 9AM until 3PM for 10 consecutive days!
There is a 45 minute lunch break in the middle.
How it is going to require 60 hours to teach me how to find a job is beyond me. That's what I get for knowing how to read and comprehend. D'oh!
And, should they find a suitable job (above minimum wage) and I refuse to take it; I lose my benefits. I would then have no minimum wage job AND no food card. And, if I fall below 30 hours per week; there will be consequences...
This is a backlash from having been given a Unity apartment, I am sure.
But, they don't know about the busking, which is under the table, and figure that I am just sitting around doing nothing all day.
No Pets
It is time for me to think about upping my ante; getting the amp and microphone working; putting together a stage setup -a rug, a stool, an umbrella over my head, a bunch of Mardi Gras trinkets to adorn my case, humorous signs, etc. and a cart to tote it all; and then try to make enough money that I can tell them to stuff their minimum wage 30+ hours a week job where the sun doesn't shine; like under my umbrella.
That would free me up to travel, also.
Now Playing
I am thinking that it would be cool to have like a huge Rolodex of placards showing a picture of the artist, the song title, and a brief descriptive paragraph about the song "....This is the song that John Lennon was working on in the studio the night he was murdered..." type of thing.
It (the Rolodex) could go under the head of: "Now Playing," and I could flip the cards to whatever song I was doing. I could have one card with just my picture and the words "One Of My Originals" on it. Not as good as a dog, but I'm not sure that I am allowed pets at the Sacred Heart Apartments...

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

I Just got back from the Quarter; it is 1:50 AM.
My alarm is set to go off at 8:50 AM
I left the Lilly Pad just before midnight, intent upon being in bed an hour ago, but, I was captivated by the Stanley Cup playoff game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks, which was in triple overtime. I hadn't really watched hockey since the early 70's, when the Boston Bruins were winning the cup with Bobby Orr on the team.
The way they are playing the game now, these teams would smoke the old Bruins off the ice.
I had played for 2 and a half hours and made just about 11 bucks.
6 of them came from a couple that stopped and chatted for about 45 minutes.
The girl (who sang along and harmonized pretty well) was wearing frankincense and myrrh. I asked her if it was sandalwood when I first smelled it.
There was more money out there, after midnight; but probably not enough to warrant cutting into my sleeping time.
One cool thing that happened was: after I played my last song, "Candle In The Wind," by Elton John, and was packing up; I heard the piano player inside Lafitts playing it.
Someone who had stepped out for a cigarette must have heard me; and then gone in and requested it. Unless it was a coincidence...

I have an appointment at 

 the above tomorrow.
I was afraid that they were going to reduce my food benefits; since I am no longer homeless.
They didn't, but I am now required to pursue employment.
Hey, bring it on.
Since I average about 15 bucks per hour busking, it would be a waste of time to work too many hours at a minimum wage job, in one sense; but the work would be half as hard for half the money.
It is the "further requirements" that I am worried about...
It would be nice to work, say, 20 hours at Krystals, or wherever,  and have a steady $120 per week coming in; come rain or shine; and it would make busking totally optional; and that's when the best money comes in busking -when the guy is just sitting there enjoying himself, with no pressure on him to produce. The enjoyment is contageous.
The 5 dollar tip that I got last night came from a lady who said to her husband: "He's not intrusive; he's just sitting there enjoying himself," in arguing for the money from him.
After walking the length of Bourbon Street, an unobtrusive person is a breath of fresh air....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

8 Days, I Haven't 8

It's 3:30 PM on this Tuesday. I ran to the church up the street which has a food bank, getting there right around noon, in time to get a bag of spaghetti and two cans of vegetables, and a can of chicken breast with no soy oil in it; after having mentioned my aversion to soy, in reference to the spaghetti sauce which they now distribute, which is no longer the olive oil based variety. The nice lady substituted the chicken for the 4 cheese sauce with soy oil (which I would have just given to Howard, had I gotten saddled with). That food all just goes into my cabinet, to be stored until such a time that I start to eat again.

You find the coolest hats on the ground in NOLA!

I am still feeling bad about having Lilly run the other busker out of the neighborhood Saturday night.

I ran into Brian Hudson last night on the corner of Royal and St. Peters streets on my way to the Lilly Pad.

He was just packing up.

I told him about the incident with the other busker, and his take on the matter was that we buskers need to defend our spots and act like we own them; and we compared notes on the phenomenon whereby we are sensitive artists/assholes; here in New Orleans; out of necessity. "Playing on the street here hardens you," he said.

He told me of another episode of Dorise haven gotten in the face of Jonah the Kora player; who had gotten to Tanya and her spot early and set up and played there; and then turned the spot over to him, when he showed up just before Dorise did.

"We're here; you can't give the spot to Brian," said Dorise. But Jonah already had.

Brian stood his ground and set up and played, but, like myself on Saturday night, was unable to concentrate and get into his "zone."

On Saturday night, as I rounded the corner onto Bourbon Street I saw, sitting between my spot and Lafitt's, a guy with a guitar which was still in its case.

I set up my stuff and hadn't played a minute when I heard the sound of the guitar, which was loud enough that I thought it was a resonator. I also heard the tambourine which he had affixed to one of his feet and was tapping along with the music.

My first thought was that I wished that I had followed an intuition that I had had earlier that night about showing up early that night. I had planned upon being there at 7:30 PM. It was closer to 11PM when I arrived.

I packed up and started thinking about another spot, and that I would just arrive early the next night.

If he came later and tried to set up over me, then there would be a problem and I would ring Lilly's doorbell.

I walked over to him; guitar on my shoulder and said, kind of in the tone of an apology: "I saw you with your guitar; but I didn't know you were playing."

He introduced himself as Travis and said that he was new in town.

He was accompanied by a friend, who knew my name, and who has been here a while.

If he has been here a while and knew my name, then he probably knew that I played that spot every night.

He might have suggested it to his friend, who was new in town if they had been passing by, on their way to Frenchmen Street, and saw that there was no other busker there.

Frenchmen Street is a hotbed of busking activity. Too noisy for myself, but a hotbed of busking activity. On that street one must compete with brass bands and their ilk.

Some buskers don't mind playing for just those within earshot, say 8 feet or closer to them, and just shouting out punk rock and other loud music.

They rely upon their visual "appeal" and whatever they have going for them in that area (tattoos, dogs, hobo clothing, guitars painted exotically) and their "outgoing" personalities. If the tourists that they accost don't want to hear a song then, they might offer to stand on their head in order to entertain them, or to guzzle a beer in less than 3 seconds, type of thing...

It could be that the busker and his new friend were on their way to that scene; and spotting Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop Tavern and saw the potential to make money; and the friend who knew my name might have said something like: "There's a dude that usually plays over there, but I don't see him."

I am conjecturing.

We made small talk about where we were each from (myself, Massachusetts; him, "all over") and what kind of music we each played.

He actually played excellent busking music; loud and familiar stuff, and seemed to know a bunch of songs; able to accommodate a wide variety of requests. The tambourine on his foot was a nice touch too, and reminded me that I used to strap my shaker to one of my feet, but had fallen out of the habit.

He asked for a sip off of the bottle of water that I was holding. I cautioned him that it was water, and not vodka, which was fine with him.

"If if was vodka, I'd be asking for a sip," said the friend. "I could tell by the bottle that it wasn't."

I could tell by that statement that his friend was a skeezer.

To make a long story short, I ceded the spot to him; blaming myself for not having followed my impulse to arrive early that night; and I moved down to in front of the lawyers condo -the same lawyer that had asked me to stop playing there a couple years ago because I kept going past the 10 PM quitting time that he had also asked me to observe.

I figure that that was 2 years ago; and that it was only one night; and it was Saturday night and the street was swarming with people.

I played for a while and made a couple dollars, when Lilly appeared with one of her daughters, on the way to get the other one.

She admonished me not to play there.

Apparently, she had come to some sort of compromise with the guy in allowing me to just move down a bit away from him but continue to play in the area.

"Don't play here, Daniel. It's going to cause problems with that guy..."

"Well, I can't play up there because I'll clash with those guys that are set up by Lafitt's."

"Just go up there and play over them!"

"That's not going to be good for either one of us; the people are just going to hear two songs playing at the same time."

"I'll deal with him," said Lilly, and then went off to get her other daughter; to return in a half hour.

That was the time; in hindsight; that I might have considered just going to one of my old haunts like Decatur Street and letting the guy play there and resolving to get there earlier the next night.

I was kind of hoping that the Lafitt's people would come out and tell them that they were too close to their entrance, or that the piano player would start to play and drown them out. For some reason the piano player was not there that night.

If they then moved down to my exact spot it would be a simple matter for Lilly to just tell them to get off her property.

I went back to the guy, whose name was Travis, to give him a heads up that Lilly had told me to move back to my spot.

"Who's Lilly?" asked Travis.

I noticed that he was scooping handfuls of money out of his case.

"She's the lady that owns a lot of this property, who's been letting me play over there for the past couple years."

"Well, she doesn't own the sidewalk. Look, I'm here to work! I'm not leaving!," he said, stuffing money in his pocket and leaving just a few bills in his case.

I could understand how he felt; perhaps as if he had discovered a gold mine, and now felt threatened.

I was surprised that the piano player had still not started to play inside the bar; nor had the management come out and told him to move away.

I had a real decision to make, as I sat on Lilly's stoop, knowing that she would be back soon with both of her daughters; and had told me that she would deal with the guy.

I even thought about going into the bar to see if any of the staff asked me how I was doing, whereupon I would reply that I was having a bad night because there was some guy playing right by my regular spot, thinking that the response might be something like: "Oh yeah, I didn't know that. No, we don't allow anyone to block our entrance. I'll go run him off."

Then, I thought to myself: Would it be the end of the world if I went and played at a different location? I'm not spending money on booze and cigarettes and weed, so, a few dollars less at the end of the night, in the worst case wouldn't be a tragedy.

But then, would the guy make a habit of showing up every night there?

The Lilly spot is great because Lafitt's is the last stop for a lot of revelers, who have walked the length of Bourbon Street and it is one of the few places where a busker can make money at 3 in the morning.

Plus, the tourists, upon leaving there, know how much money they have left over from the night before they head back to the hotel; and they can surmise that the guy busking there is the very last one (of two dozen) that they are going to see. Plus, they have reached the apex of drunkeness for the night, at that point.

All this adds up to the potential for great late night tips.

Travers would probably make a killing. With the new laws prohibiting smoking inside of bars here in New Orleans, people have to step outside.
And there he would be, jamming on loud familiar songs a few feet away from them.
It was a great business model for the guy, and I admired his busking skills and his business acumen; and I worried that it would become an addiction to him...what if he became friendly with the bartenders and they told him that he could play there every night?

What kind of pull does Lilly have with the bar people?

I thought about all this, as I sat on the stoop, not playing, but potentially waiting for Lilly to return and "deal with him."

I wondered if that was right, on my part. I put myself in the shoes of the guy...of course, I wouldn't want to be run off of a spot, especially if I was making good money.
It is a residential neighborhood and busking is technically not even allowed. I am able to by the intervention of Lilly and the grace of Barnaby and Charlie and Bruce and Linda and the guy who lives directly across from me and Alan, who lives in the same building and who trained one of the spotlights on his condo on my spot once "I figured you could use a little light"...

There is a curfew on Bourbon Street against performers playing past 8 PM, but the cops just pass by me; having been spoken to by Lilly.
I don't know what she said to them, but they just go on through, allowing me to exceed the curfew by 8 hours if I have the energy.
I thought that, if I took the night off from the spot then the new guy might just get ticketed ($100) by the cops when they came through; and that might dampen his enthusiasm for making a habit of playing there.
All of this became a mute point.

Lilly came back with her two daughters in tow. I could tell that she was in her own "zone."
Her youngest one, Angelique, remained by me and she and and Chantilly walked over to where the guy was.
I couldn't hear what was being said, despite the fact that I could tell that the voices were rising.
It crossed my mind that the guy, who is not much bigger than me, might become violent with Lilly; though there was a good sized crowd of people hanging around their immediate area.
Angelique said to me: "You need to defend your spot, instead of letting my mother do it for you."
I told her that I had spoken with the guy, and tried to warn him that he was technically not supposed to be there, etc. and that was all I could do, outside of attacking him physically.
With that thought came an increase in the volume of the voices, and then Travers stood up and yelled: "You can have your f***ing spot!" and began to pack up.

I walked over to try to mollify him somewhat; but what I got was his friend, who knew my name telling me; "You're an asshole," and then refusing to listen to anything I said, and telling me to never speak to him again as long as we both shall live.
This was echoed by a second guy, who had joined him, who was drinking off of a Four Loco® (very strong -makes people crazy; hence the "loco").
I went back to Angelique and gave her my opinion: "They're mad because they were planning to drink off the money the guy made."
Travers and his friend(s) left.
"Go ahead and play," said Lilly as she let herself through the gate behind me.

I set up and started to play; wondering how I was going to shake off the drama and make music.

The guy from the condo across from me; the one who had trained his spotlight on my spot, opened his door and stood in the doorway watching me for about a half hour. Lilly must have called him.

It was hard for me to concentrate nor get in my "zone," just as it had been for Brian (to bring this full circle).

I feared some kind of retribution, like one of Travers drunken friends or friends of friends coming by and trying to smash my guitar.

I also felt kind of low; as if I had unfairly wielded the power of Lilly against an innocent busker. I have certainly been on the "other end of the stick" in this world, where it isn't what you know, but who you know.

But, I may have saved the guy from a hundred dollar ticket, too.


I was up by 11:50 after having slept about 6 hours; after having played the Lilly Pad from about 10:15 until 12:30 and made about 11 dollars and change.

I was playing "Monday, Monday," by The Mamas And The Papas; a song which I play on Mondays, and which has not gotten me many tips at all.
I had no harmonica, as my last one had died, for all practical purposes..
I am on the 9th day of the fast and cleanse, but am still smoking just a few cigarettes per day; buying them individually off of people for quarters.
I drank a bottle of Naked® kale blazer® (Kale Flavored 8 Juice Blend) as I sat at the stop, waiting for the 1:25 AM streetcar and reading the newspaper.
It actually caused me to have perceptible dreams; the way that going to sleep on a full stomach used to do; back when I ate. It has been 9 days without having anything to bite into; and I have recovered about 75% from everything that ailed me before going on the cleanse.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Coming Soon:
I Do A Terrible Thing Saturday In Evoking Lilly To Run Off Another Busker Who Had Set Up Right By The Lilly Pad

Today; I spruced up the Karrie Bio with a bit more writing; and haven't gotten to the above.
That story is going to require a quiet couple hours to flesh out.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Friday, Continued

Yeah, and so, I started playing Friday night; totally sober, without even having caffeine and not even smoking cigarettes...
Along comes the devil.
My first dollar tip came after I had just taken the guitar out and hadn't even fine tuned it.
A couple of tourists stopped in front of me, a guy and his wife. The guy looked at me, as if to say: "Well, what have you got?"
I played the Beatles song "Do You Want To Know A Secret."
I could hear the guy singing along a bit and nudging his wife a bit: "Beatles, honey..."
That produced a dollar, which was good.
It was good because I had spent myself down to less than the price of a cable car ride and, should I had made nothing the whole night; I would have been walking the 2 miles back to the apartment, after not having eaten in 4 days.
Then, I continued to play and had my head down, looking at the guitar neck when someone else threw something in my case.
"Thank you," I said, in between singing.
I looked over and, there in the case next to the dollar, which was my cable car ride, was 2 cigarettes.
I couldn't stand it; and smoked one and put the other in my backpack.
Then, the next person to stop and listen a while and tell me that I sounded good, went on to add: "I don't have any cash, man, I wish I did, but; do you want a cigarette?
They might as well have been red and had horns and been carrying pitchforks. 4 Days without cigarettes; shot to hell; excuse the pun....

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stormy Friday

Yesterday, I almost decided not to go into the Quarter to play.

It was about 9 PM, and I was sitting on my bed, thinking that I needed one more night of water fasting and rest to put everything to right.
4 Days Without Booze, Cigarettes of Coffee

But then I thought that, like the sick person whose ailment lingers longer if he sits around waiting to get better, it would be better for me to get back and work my way through it.
In the back of my mind I was wondering if I just wanted to go into the Quarter because I would find tobacco there.

I took the street car into the Quarter, feeling so out of sorts that I didn't even want to look anybody in the eye along the way. My skin is slowly healing from the rash of eczema which had attacked me the week before; but, as is always the case; as the skin underneath heals, the skin on top peels; and one can look worse before looking better.
I was trying to make a beeline to the semi darkness of the Lilly Pad, where I would hang my spotlights in such a way that my face would be in the shadow of the brim of my hat.
I wanted money for things like laundry, and potting soil for the few plants that I have which have become "pot-bound" and for a mop of some kind for the apartment -not for booze or cigarettes or weed. This made going into the Quarter highly optional.
As I was sitting there on my bed at 9PM; I told myself what has become my mantra since getting the apartment: "If it sucks, I'll just get back on the cable car and come right back..."
Just as I was getting off the cable car at Canal and Bourbon streets, a few drops of rain started to fall.
I wondered if this was the universe telling me to get on the next car to take me back home where I would drink spring water and catch up on reading and writing and song practicing.
The rain stopped, but there was thunder and lightning in the sky as I walked down Chartres Street, and a moderate cool breeze from behind me.
I was feeling a lot of anger, for some reason. Skeezers seemed to be everywhere.
All the half smoked cigarettes on the ground were wet -the universe, again?
I got to the Lilly Pad to see a group of 3 skeezers in between my spot and Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern. Their sign said: "Need money for beer and weed."
On Lillys other stoop sat a lady of about 50 years old who had some kind of sign of her own.
I no sooner had my guitar out when it started to rain pretty heavily.
I put it back in the case and sat on the stoop; as tourists scurried past; some of them voicing their displeasure over the fact that, because they had to go around me, they were forced to walk under a stream of water which was coming from a hole in Lilly's gutter.
(Lilly cannot fix the hole in the gutter without getting some kind of special permit; because the building is historic, and no kind of modernization is allowed, because it would mar the "period" aspect of the neighborhood. She would probably have to patch the thing using 18th century materials, or very good replicas of such).
I again considered running for the cable car as soon as the rain let up.
The old lady with the sign was doing a thriving business. I saw a few people, all of them males, stop and give her money; all of them speaking to her in a patronizing tone, as if saying: "Here you go, you poor thing..."
I was going to tell the lady "You can have this, I'm going home," as I walked past her on the way home.
She has been there before and always leaves for another spot as soon as I start to play. I don't know if Lilly has anything to do with that; but she does sit in front of her house.
Soon, a black guy on a bike arrived and stopped in front of the lady. Then I could smell marijuana. Then I saw the lady give the guy some money, whereupon he rode off. Probably to get the heroin, I couldn't help thinking. Those guys could have been handing her 10 and 20 dollar bills.
The guy on the bike seemed absolutely giddy as he rode past tourists, greeting them and making lighthearted comments and laughing.
It stopped raining and I went and got a dry piece of cardboard to sit on and set up my lights and began to play.
I was playing well, and sober; and instantly got a dollar 10 seconds into the first song ("Do You Want To Know A Secret," by The Beatles).
Then another skeezer whom I have had encounters with before, came an sat on Lillys stoop next to me.
He had come and sat there before.

The first time, he was drunk and listened for a while, then tipped me a dollar or two.

The next time, he sat there for a while, and after I began to pack up and call it a night because I was making anything with him there; and he noticed me leaving, he asked me for 2 dollars.

When I told him that I hadn't made that much that night (with him sitting there) he got angry and told me that he tipped me "all the time," and that he now just wanted 2 dollars (back).
I think I had said something like: "Well, were they tips, or were they loans?"

He returned a couple weeks ago and promptly nodded off. I moved to the other stoop that time, because, again, the tips stopped flowing; probably because it looked to people like we were partners, of some sort, and that he was nodding off on heroin, so I too was probably on it.

Last night, I think he was intentionally sitting there; because he didn't say a word, just sat there.

I didn't recognize him, before I had played a couple songs. He might have expected me to say something like: "Dude, I asked you not to just sit there and block my tip jar," and wondered why I didn't. But, he soon nodded off.

I went to the other stoop and made about 11 bucks; which I was alright with, considering the wet conditions; and the fact that I had forgotten to bring my tiposaurus and its sign, and the fact that I was then only a few feet from the lady with the sign and the pout on her face.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Spiritual Weapons Locked And Loaded

God's will is that we are not controlled by anything but His Spirit, and fasting (combined with prayer) helps us be much more sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit (as well as being more obedient to God's Word).  It also moves the Holy Spirit to be more inclined to be responsive to US. -from one of the websites
I am feeling much better now, working on my 4th day without drinking, without coffee, and without cigarettes; except for the one that I ran out at three in the morning to bum from a girl at the bar up the street a block from the apartment; and a puff or two here and there from ones that I find on the sidewalk on my way to the nearby Rouses Market for juice and water.
I have also picked up some "detox" type of tea, which has burdock root, and about 12 other herbs in it.

  A blend of Organic Red Clover with Burdock and Dandelion supports the liver in eliminating toxins. Finally, we add Fennel and Cinnamon Bark that can help maintain circulation and healthy digestion. Enjoy Healthy Fasting as a tasty addition to your dieting or fasting program!*
The asterisk, of course, points to the fact that the FDA has not "evaluated"  this statement.
Of course they don't want to evaluate it because they are being paid off by lobbyists for the beef producing cartels; and the McDonalds of the world to keep their mouths shut.

And so, in about 6 hours I will have made it 4 days without a drink; and I will grit my teeth and go out to play in the Quarter without taking my lighter with me. Why would I need a lighter, I don't smoke, right?

I am going to play at the Lilly Pad with only a gallon jug of water besides me. I have taken 4 days off from playing. Lilly is going to ask me where I have been, probably, and tell me that she was worried.

I really felt that I needed to relax and detoxify. I don't know what had gotten into me, but I was suffering from the worst eczema that I have had in a long time; and I knew it was from something that I was doing daily, because the attacks kind of ebbed and flowed in a 24 hour cycle.

It could be that the cheap dollar store instant coffee that I had been mega-dosing has got some additive or pesticide residue in it; or it could be tied to the cheap gin and vodka that I had been overusing each night (combined with the fact that I wasn't consuming much nutrition the week that my food card ran out; except for whatever I was mixing the booze with).

And my caseworker Tim, who doesn't smoke, suggested that "It could be the smoking."

It is probably due to some complex chemical reaction whereby the cheap gin hit the tar from the cigarettes which was stuck to my throat and produced a chemical which the cheap instant coffee converted into a carcinogen; and maybe this detox has come just in the nick of time.

It seemed to be taking forever to feel any relief, hence the 4 days off from busking.


I realized that I had left God out of the equation, and that I usually fasted and prayed or meditated in conjunction with it, but this time I was just fasting "scientifically" and was having at the depressing dreams and feelings of fear and doubt.
Busk At Your Own Risk

Then, last night, I Googled "fasting to quit smoking," just for the heck of it; and was amazed at how many other people had discovered fasting as either the quickest, or the only, way to accomplish that.

I copied about 25 pages from a few sites and took them back on my data stick to my room, where I sat on my bed and read them from my laptop, while alternately sipping Yogi fasting tea, and apple juice.

I finally prayed, sometime during the morning.

It could be coincidence, but, on my way to Rouses Market and back, about an hour ago, it seemed like everybody was smiling and greeting me. I had picked up a gallon of distilled water, a small bottle of green juice; and a gallon of apple juice; and the Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea.
Fasting is costing me more at the grocery store than eating was....

It might be a decent night busking after all. I have had the same $4.89 on me since Monday night, when I spent myself down to that amount with the purchase of the last half pint of rum....

Or, it might be a rain-out of a night. Hopefully I will make at least enough for the cable car each way, in between raindrops.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Walking Away

This is the 4th day of the fast and the 3rd without a drink.

I slept last night; after not wanting to go out and busk after 24 hours without sleep, due to the insomnia, which seems to come along with the first day or two of sobriety and/or fasting.

I woke up this (Thursday) morning at around 4:30 AM, in a depressed state of mind, after having had depressing dreams.

In the last dream, I was sitting in my room, depressed; and then woke out of it; to be sitting in my room depressed.

People always ask a depressed person what is bothering them, to which the initial impulse of the person is to say: "If I knew why I was depressed, I could figure out myself how to get over it."

In my case, it is partly due to the withdrawals from alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and weed, though, it had started to creep up on me when I was still drinking, and was one of the reasons I stopped.

I have been spending time during these 3 days off from busking, watching what are going to be the last episodes of the Late Night With David Letterman shows before he retires.

The shows, of course, are full of nostalgia, for them, and for me, also.

The very first time I saw the show, was probably during its first season, when I was about 19.

I remembered how fresh and exciting and different the show was; and I continued to watch it, through the 80's, often setting the timer on the VCR at my parents house to record it, when it came on at 12:30 AM.

It was always one of the dreams in the back of my mind to appear on the Letterman show, either as a musical act, or to promote a book or a film which I had made.

Watching this last week of episodes kind of signals the end of that dream.

I never made it onto the Letterman show; and now I never will. That is final now...and a bit depressing.

It was also depressing to see the lineup of guests who were in their primes when they appeared 30 something years ago, and I saw them on the show, but who are now showing up to pay tribute and to reminisce, and who have been ravaged by time.

Don Rickles needed assistance to get to the chair by Dave's desk.

Cher made an appearance looking like the 70 something year old that she must be; and when she spoke, there was that quivering raspy sound to her voice which the very aged often get.

It is hard to imagine that she still sings; at least not in concert.

And then there were people like Steve Martin, whom we idolised when we were in high school; and who still has a thriving career, but only because he began building it 40 years ago.

Paul Simon recently said something to the effect that he didn't see himself having another album on the charts; the reason being that there were so many younger people in the business "who want it more," as he put it.

It was all fodder for a lot of soul searching.

It really hit home that I was once younger and "wanted it more;" seeing clips from shows that I originally watched when I was 19.

Some of them I watched with Ted Broughey, a friend of mine who played drums in a band that I played the bass guitar in.

We were at his parents house at 12:30 in the morning, after returning from a gig and with the TV turned down so as not to awaken anybody.

We watched with a youthful optimist and a feeling that "that" could be us, maybe in a year or two, playing with Paul Scheafer and the band on the Letterman show.

I had almost forgotten that feeling that we had. If the phone had rung then, and it was our band leader telling us that the manager of the club wanted us to set up and play for another 3 hours for a private party; we would have packed the drums and amps into the van and rushed over there; laughing all the way; not even worrying about what the pay was going to be.
Now, the feeling is that David Letterman is ready to hang it up -he just wants to go to Montana and get away from it all; and that he had learned that there are other things more important in life than fame and success in "major league" show business.

That was a depressing reality for a guy who is still going out at the age of 52, thinking that something might come of it, and that he can still achieve something in life. "Something" of the sort that Dave is fed up with and ready to walk away from; at only 8 years my senior.

The "If you're gonna do anything with your life; you would have done it already!" demon was floating around the ceiling of my apartment, keeping me awake...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Now Jay

And now Jay, the really loud singer wants to crash at my place for 10? days.
Terms have not been discussed.....

Typical second day of juice fast.

I am on my second day of a juice fast, and, as with previous attempts; I had very little desire to go out and busk last (Monday) night.

I had been depressed in the morning; waking up with very little money; but with very little to spend money upon.
Sunday night was a very dismal busking night, but being drunk and sloppy didn't help matters.

I am having the typical insomnia at the start of this second day without drinking; having sat up and worked on a crossword puzzle for a couple hours, after having soaked in the tub for about an hour; after having downloaded a bunch of music to listen to while soaking in the tub; at one of the computers in the Sacred Heart Apartments computer room.

Some resident has been very busy downloading a lot of music and burning it onto the hard drive on computer #1.

I had just been thinking the past few days that I needed to try to find stuff by Prince (or the artist formerly known as Prince) and, there was about 10 hours of his music, which I copied to my data stick and then took back to my room to transfer to the laptop. I also got a lot of other black artists music; the Jacksons, Michael and Janet, Temptations, Albert Collins, and "ghetto classics" galore.

Here I am "live" (above). Overrated...

I don't feel too bad about going out to play tonight, but, I haven't slept yet, and my attitude may change after sleeping and having depressing dreams, as I did last night.

I think the ceilings are so high at the Sacred Heart Apartments to discourage residents from hanging themselves. By the time you go and find a ladder and then come back with it; you may have changed your mind.

I would like to watch some of the last episodes of Late Night With David Letterman, but they take place right during the prime time for busking. I might just have to watch them later from some archive. Watching things "live" is over-rated...the show is pre-recorded, anyways....


Friday, May 8, 2015

Hey, That's My Jacket!

It is Friday afternoon.
Banana Republic

I had just finished about a 2,000 word post a few minutes ago when the power went out for about one second (long enough to lose the whole thing) and then came back on.
It was as if the building were saying: "That's a very nice, well thought out and interesting post...I'll take that; thank you..."
Now I don't really have time to re-write it, as there is about one hour left of daylight; it is Friday night; I'm on the second day of a semi-juice fast which has me feeling better physically.
I have still been drinking in the evenings; but am drinking hard cider, which is made from the very same apple of which juice I have been drinking heavily.
I have had a few decent nights (40, 30 and 20 dollars each) but have been drinking and left each one feeling that I could have made more money if I had made better decisions; hadn't had to run to the restroom every 45 minutes; and had stayed out longer, rather than staggering off drunk a little after midnight, and had not spent 5 or 6 bucks on drink that night.

Wednesday night, I ran into Billy Willougby.
Billy, the way I depicted him in the previous post; after he had asked if he could share my cigarette; and then casually asked me a bit later if I was interested in buying any of the pills which he had had prescribed to him, due the the "hepatitis," which he was laboring under.
It turned out that it was not the contagious type; but not before I had lampooned ol' Billy with the cartoon to the left..... 

In my own mind, he was kind of always "silly" Billy Willoughby.
This was abetted by the fact that Billy wears a grin just about all of the time.
He walks around grinning.
It's a facial "tick" for lack of a better expression (excuse the pun).
By virtue of his always being grinning; a certain implied mirth (at least in my mind) is given to every utterance from him; and well, it just seems like he is kind of joking around all the time -the permanent grin, and all....

Silly Billy Willoughby told me that he had been denied a Unity apartment where I live, due to a 20+ year old armed robbery charge.
"You don't seem like the type..."
"I was young and stupid."
I felt fortunate that, even though I was once that young, I wasn't that stupid.
Billy showed me a large box of clothing which had been set outside of a doorway by someone whom he said had been evicted.
I stuffed my backpack with a nice Banana Republic® black leather jacket, another heavier American Rag Cie® black jacket, a front-zipping Kenneth Cole Reaction® sweater, and a shiny black pair of Nunn Bush black shoes.
These are "winter" clothes here (spring and fall up north) and I was definitely thinking of the future, say November, as I sweated in my tanktop on an 80 degree night to stuff them in my bag.
American Rag Cie
One of the benefits of not having to carry all my possessions on my back is having room for such booty.
And, November will be here "before you know it," as the expression goes.
I felt bad for Billy, who is still homeless, compared to myself, who not only has an apartment, but now has a closet full of expensive winter clothes.
But, if, when you feel bad because you are doing poorly it is of some consolation to think that there are others who are worse off than you; then the converse might be that when you feel bad (guilty) because you are doing  "so" well; you might just dwell upon those people who are doing better than you; in order that you might feel better.
Billy has his own karma to work out; meanwhile, I will be stepping out in style this fall; and on chilly summer nights.
There was a little 4 gig data stick in the pocket of one of the jackets which has a few files on it.
I may try to identify the owner of the clothes through it; and maybe at least give him a call. "I've got your jackets and sweater and shoes; is that cool?"
Better that, than to be walking in the Quarter some night and hear: "Hey, that's my jacket! What the f***?!?" from someone, and have only "Well, Billy Willoughby (the armed robber) said I could have them," as a rejoinder.

Kenneth Cole Reaction
The models are almost as indistinguishable from each other as the clothing....

I would like to thank Google, the search engine people for providing me with a means to find all 3 of the pieces of clothing that I grabbed from the box pointed out to me by Billy Willoughby*.

The strangest thing was that I only "Googled" Billy + Box of clothes, and, BAM! there were the 3 photos that I have posted here; in less than a second!
The 3 items that I have gotten; in a size only 1 up from mine.

*Billy Willoughby; has been referred to before in this blog.
And, yes; "How could his parents ever have given him that name?" came up as  a topic.
Even the proper form of: William Willoughby has holes in it -the repetition of the "will" syllable; and the fact that both the first and last names have 3 syllables work against it.
When a last name has many syllables, the first name needs to just make itself known (in one syllable).
Like Bo Willoughby, or Lou Willoughby.
Maybe Hank Willoughby.
All solid.
But, the multisyllabic ones like: Barnaby Willoughby, or Arsenio Willoughby...
Well, you can see where a last name with a lot of syllables is probably better off with a one syllable name before it,.
Give a kid the wrong first name, and he might grow up to be an armed robber. 


I used to be a blogging fool, but, lately I haven't felt the need to post whatever it is that I am going through; this is not necessarily a bad thing; I just may need to be going through some more interesting scenarios...