Sunday, August 30, 2015

Deliciously Smooth Bourbon For The Eyes

I'm Ready To Stand Up
I have been working on my stand up comedy routine; mostly by turning the sound recorder on on my phone and recording snippets of jokes, as I think of them.
Jokes like: "I've been here 4 years and I find that the people here are generally pretty nice; unless you corner them.."
"My last paying job was as a suicide bomber. I really sucked at it, though. I couldn't blow myself up to save my life. They fired me. (In Middle Eastern dialect) "You no work! You fired! You no do job!"
"I used to live under the premise that nothing is the way it seems; but now I've discovered that is only seems to be that way..." (that one is my tribute to Steven Wright).
I can see myself doing stand up comedy relatively soon. Having watched the entire series of "Louie," a show which aired on FX, and which has one more season coming, I read somewhere (Wiki), I have been inspired, on several different levels.
One of which is, frankly, the way the audiences at his shows laughed at stuff which just wasn't sidesplitting funny, but was rather just amusing. The guy sitting and reading the Sunday comics with a bemused grin on his face would understand.
A Doo Wop Flavored Blues Type Thing
And, I have been having more comic thoughts come to me lately, along with music for them.
Today, I started on a song that's theme is: "Some pervert is probably taking a video of you on his phone right now...."
That one is going to be a doo wop flavored blues type thing....
$32.50 Saturday
I went out and played last night, after having gone to Wal-Mart on an all day bus pass, and having replaced the solar powered spotlight which some skeezer took off the lawn by the Sacred Heart Apartments, where it had been charging in yesterdays sunlight.
I walked past the discount liquor cart; working on 11 days sober.
They had fifths of Jim Beam's 90 proof whiskey. It looked so delicious behind its label....

What a handsome bottle.
And it's discount cart at Wal-Mart price was $10.
That's right; a 24 dollar M.S.V.P. bottle of 90 proof (mind you) whiskey for 10 bucks plus tax.
I had left the apartment with 44 dollars on me.
10 bucks a bottle, plus tax.
I could buy one just to take advantage of the savings, and just keep it in my kitchen cabinet for when I might have guests...sure, I would be able to offer any future guests a shot of fine bourbon....I left the apartment with 44 dollars, didn't I..?
I spent about a minute staring at the bottle, wondering how whomever the artist was who rendered the label could have succeeded so wildly in making something that is like deliciously smooth bourbon for the eyes....
Then I went and paid for the solar powered light, pleasantly surprised to be charged 7 dollars and change, rather than the $10.93 which the first one had set me back.
Then I got bananas, grape juice and fruit and vegetable energy from V8, a Campbell Soup company product.
My 44 bucks was down to 24, then I cut that down to 14 with the purchase of guitar strings at Louisiana Music Factory; walked across the street to the side of the Checkpoint Charlie bar where I tried to get a nickel of weed (the first one in a week) but wound up getting a dime, as that was the smallest amount that the tie dye wearing guy sitting and leaning against the wall would sell.
So, I started at the Lilly Pad with 4 dollars and change, after having had 54 dollars 2 days prior.
The bud has, in the past, clouded my memory a bit; making me forget a next chord occasionally; and messed with my perception of time so that I might end a song after the second verse, feeling as if I had been playing it for 5 or 6 minutes, and long enough; when I had only been playing for a minute and 25 seconds....
I was on high alert for this and only took a few small puffs of what was promised to me to be "Girl Scout Cookie" weed.
Things worked like a charm.
I played for a couple hours and made $32.50; clumps of it coming after particularly "focused" sections of music which I enjoyed myself. I'm trying to play using less effort, lately.
I knocked off around 11:45; very early for a Saturday night, but I am trying to pace myself and spread myself to things other than busking, such as composing and recording.
I would be waking up with about 34 bucks, after having consumed a turkey quarter, a can of coconut milk and some Oriental stir fry vegetables, like bamboo and baby corn and bean sprout type stuff.
Now it is Sunday evening, and I have repeated the process of buying coconut cream and bananas, because I felt better this morning than I have since about 10 days ago when I f***ed it up by eating that Styrofoam full of restaurant food that tourists gave me. That was the Sunday 13 days ago when I was drunk and scarped it down like a hungry pig.
Tonight at midnight will make 13 days without a drop of Jim Beam Devils Cut or anything else....

Friday, August 28, 2015

46 Dollar Thursday

10 Dollar Friday
Thursday night, I played for 2 hours and made about 38 bucks, right at my average.
Then I got another 8 bucks for posing for this picture for 3 photographers from New Jersey.

The slow season will be officially over next week when the decadence festival arrives.
Friday night, the tourists seemed to be of the same kind as they were two weeks prior; walking by and ignoring.
One skeezer tried to work a couple right in front of me; and the couple wound up telling him that they just didn't have any money; then the guy looked at me and said; "I wish I had some for you; sorry."
And so that is probably the reality. There are people here taking advantage of discount tourism packages because they are not rich and because it is the slow season. I was happy to have made the 10 bucks.
Plus, there is a tendency for either Friday or Saturday to be a good night, but not both. I will try to put in my 3 hours tonight.
I have completed 11 days without drinking and have about 50 bucks in my pocket to show for it. I would have more, but I ran my food card out with a whole week left in the month, and have been buying my food every day with cash; plus my energy drinks and cigarettes.
I now go to get a new set of guitar strings; and a new solar powered light, as some skeezer here at Sacred Heart Apartments has finally stolen mine from the spot where I set it outside in the sun to charge during the day.
What is a skeezer going to do with a light which only comes on in the dark and needs to be recharged in the sunlight? I think a skeezer is just genetically programmed to take anything that is not nailed down. "It's a material object and I'm going to snag it; and that's that!" thinks the skeezer.
That's going to cost me 10 bucks to replace, and then I will need to find a spot that is in full sunlight but is hidden from skeezers.
The problem is that skeezers have nothing better to do than watch people to see where they go and what they are doing, and they will follow after me to find out why I walked over to a certain spot and then came right back out; just in case I hid something.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

$21.67 Per Hour Wednesday

Working On 9th Day Sober
I am out of time here in the computer room....
I played for an hour and a half last night and made $32.50
I'm going to try to play for more than an hour and a half tonight; I get bored; and it really becomes like work at a certain point...
I need to have a manager yelling: "You've got 10 minutes to drink an energy drink and have a smoke and then get back to the Dylan song!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Waiting For Decadence To Return

  • 21 Dollar Monday
  • 8th Day Sober At Midnight Tonight
  • Israelis Check In
United States
United Kingdom

Yesterday (Monday) I left for the Quarter relatively early, arriving at the Lilly Pad at about 8:30PM.

I had juiced some cabbage, tomatoes and onion with Serrano pepper, and used it to wash down a couple baked potatoes.
I hadn't even tuned up when up walked the piano player from Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop Tavern and offered me 5 dollars if he could videotape me playing my "Carcass Song."
I accepted the 5 bucks, and then, not being warmed up at all, really hacked the song to pieces.
There was a bit of nervousness over being recorded, and the fact that I couldn't take back anything that I played.
I should have asked him if he could start the video over again after I got the riff right.
I wound up playing until about 11:30 PM, making a total of 20 dollars, then ran to the store for a Bawls energy drink, returning to make only one more dollar in about 15 minutes, before deciding to divide my time between busking and stuff that I could do at home.

A Nickel Is Worth A Thousand Words

I got on the trolley, which was being driven by a black lady, who has shot her mouth off to me in the past.

I think she is just the type of person who likes to be confrontational, the way New Yorkers are often portrayed; being in each others faces and appearing to those not anointed in the ways of the city to be on the verge of coming to blows.

I think the last time, she was on me about not having my money ready when I boarded and having to fish it out of my pocket.

I also think that, on that particular occasion I had had to dash across the street just in time to catch the thing before she pulled off.

She is not one to pull off; she waited for me, and then berated me for not having my money ready.

If she really wanted to be a jerk, she could have pulled off, but she seemed to welcome the opportunity to give me crap.

"I just noticed you coming and ran across the street; I didn't even have time to organize my money."

"You know you're gonna take the trolley, you should have set $1.25 aside before even heading for Canal Street!"

Last night, I dropped what I was 99.9% sure was $1.25.

I put the coins in individually, rather than by the hand full. The machine will sort them out if dumped in the latter way.

As I was going towards a seat, the automated voice said: "Your change is encoded on card," which is what it say's when you put more than the fare in.

I thought that there was an outside possibility that there could have been a dime hiding behind the nickel (I put in 2 dimes and 1 nickel) so I turned around to go back and get the card, thinking that there might be 5 cents on it.

The lady went off on me: "What are you doing, that isn't your change! You put a dollar 25 in there! You know you did! Why are you trying to get money that isn't yours!"

Then a guy who was sitting up front told her: "He thought that he accidentally dropped an extra coin in there."

"No, he knows how much he dropped in there; he's just trying to get over!," said the trolley lady.

It really bothers me when anybody presumes to know what I am thinking; that may be an issue that I could work out in therapy someday; but for now it really bugs me to hear someone say "He knows what he's doing" about me.

I said something to the effect of: "Why did the machine tell me that I had change, if I didn't?"
She said that she had pressed "the button" and that's why a change card had come out.

"Are you questioning my integrity," I asked.

"Are you questioning mine?" she asked.

I pulled a dime out of my pocket, and said: "Do you want a dime? I'll give you a dime if a nickel is so important to you!"

"You're the one trying to get over on a nickel," she said.

I was actually getting pretty pissed off at her and on the verge of saying something like: "Just shut up and push stop and go, can you handle that?"

We got to my stop and, as I went to exit, I'm sure she was prepared for me to say something snide or flip her off on my way out.

Instead, I pointed to the Sacred Heart building and said: "There's my free apartment, have a good one!"

She was saying something that I didn't catch as I walked off.

It could very well be that she is just struggling to make ends meet by pushing stop and go; and the thought of me living in a free apartment and going into the Quarter and making twice as much per hour as she playing music infuriates her.

How she would know all that is because gossip and rumors abound along the trolley lines. 

The drivers seem to pass the time by delving into the business of the passengers that they see every day. Some people are just gossips; I hear them telling stories about other people whenever their mouths are moving.
The story of the couple who were high on coke and tipped me $125 that one night -a story which I (unwittingly) told a few people; may have taken on a life of it's own and become exaggerated, so that perhaps after I got off the trolley one night, and she mused out loud to one of her gossip buddy riders, fishing for gossip: "He rides almost every night with that guitar on his back..."

He could have responded with something like: "Oh, he makes bank! I heard that he gets 150 dollar tips; and he don't pay no bills at all; he's in the veterans apartments."

At which point, she could have decided that the best she could do would be to provoke me verbally in hopes that she could get me barred from riding the trolley, should I lose me cool and verbally assault her.

Some people think that way; but I'm not presumptuous enough to say that I'm sure that she thinks that way; like she is sure that I was trying to get a change card (for a nickel) that I wasn't entitled to.

It could also be that she was headed for the station on her last run of the night and wanted a soda from the machine there, and didn't have enough change, and so, hit the change button in order to steal it from the company. I could have told her that I knew that that was what she was up to; to give her a taste of her own medicine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Holy Guacomole

7 Days Sober
Food For Thought

Yesterday, (Monday) I woke up and began working on my 7th day without alcohol.
I had taken Sunday night off from busking, as I felt physically weak after not having eaten for 6 days.
I went to the Ideal Market, where I decided that I would break that fast with "something."
I bought a large avocado, a few tomatoes, an onion, and a Serrano pepper, $2.68 total.
In the late afternoon, I knocked out a quick recording of a song which was written by a high school friend, who became a college friend of mine.
I had been straining my memory to recall the verses of that song, which I last played in 1985.

"Do You Believe In Paradise" -Bill Lenfest

"You live at the end of a shadowy street.
Don't you know that cobblestone is hard on the feet
With your hazy morning eyes and your serendipity style
Your New England accent, and your L.A. smile

Your father's afraid of living; he say's life's become too cheap
Your mother wants it easy; she wants to go in her sleep
Your sister and her boyfriend; they are digging up my grave
They want to resurrect me; but I never will be saved

Do you believe in paradise?
Do you believe it's true?
I've had enough of your visions
You're stuck in this wasteland too

Images of sunlight and the visions of the past
visions that you prayed for but knew would never last
The stained glass window you gaze through to see the universe
You see the lines that divide us all but can't tell which side is worse

Now go unto your doctors because they know what you need
But starlight falls on silent swings where pretty children bleed
But the more you manage to learn about the time that you're alive
The more you know about the jungle the better the chance to survive

(2nd chorus)

"...nothing old; nothing new
no reason to follow the son
nothing borrowed; nothing blue
how can we explain what we've done to everyone..."

Now listen to the Spanish man, and the words he said
Let them all divide your mind but stay inside your head
And your sister and her boyfriend they are giving me last rites

That is all that I can remember of the song from 30 years ago; and I have trouble remembering what all I did two days ago, Sunday....

There is another verse that I can't (yet) remember the first line of:

It echoes distant laughter that you heard in better days
It sounds like rusty church bells or the crack of brittle ice
But here at last within your arms I've found my paradise

I do believe in paradise
I do believe it's true
I want all of your visions
I want to get out of this wasteland too..."

I knocked out a recording of it over a drum track with guitar, vocal and bass, in about an hour and a half, and then went into the Quarter, where I found an almost deserted Bourbon Street, but managed to make $6.75 off of the 20 or so people who walked past me.
It was hard to get motivated; partly because I was hindered by a skin reaction to what I had eaten.
After 6 days on a liquid diet, the guacamole that I had made by juicing the tomato and onion and pepper and then mashing the avocado into; sat in my intestines like a sluggish river.
I was tempted to drink alcohol just to numb myself of the sensation.

Today, I have gotten all the same ingredients, but have substituted a potato for the avocado...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Race For The Trolley

11 Dollar Saturday
All of the trolley drivers are black, and I have noticed that, when they are beginning to pull off and a black person is spotted running towards it; trying to catch it; that driver will invariably stop and reopen the doors to admit that person; even if it means letting him board in the middle of a busy intersection where the thing might be holding up traffic.

Last night, as I raced toward the thing, making sure that I could see the drivers head in the side-view mirror (so he could see me) and was within a few yards of catching up to it; the thing just pulled away, leaving me to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.

There is no way the driver didn't see me; and if he didn't, he shouldn't be driving a trolley because he is a danger to run over someone whom he doesn't notice.

I have heard the same complaint from other white people.

Can't we all just get along???

I continue to sing and play at a high level, as I am working on my 6th day sober.
I plan upon intensive vocal practice sessions singing along with Elvis Costello and perhaps Brian Sipe of R.E.M, at the beginning of the coming week.

It felt good to have 11 people tell me that I sounded good last night with my brand new strings, to the tune of one dollar each, as I played for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

This means that I will most certainly be back at it this (Sunday) night.


The juice fasting continues, and I haven't drank alcohol in what will become 6 days at midnight tonight.

I weathered the temptation to do so during my trip to the music store yesterday. My mouth was watering over the thought of a bottle of red wine.

I am going to try to grow an avocado.

The 50 bucks that I made Friday and Saturday has been whittled down, as follows:

A bottle of Simply Apple juice ($4.80)
Repaying loan to the Unique Grocery ($1.50)
Trolley Home ($1.25)
Repaying loan to Howard ($3.50)
Perrier water ($1.50)
All day bus pass ($3.00)
2 NRG drinks ($3.25)
Guitar strings ($6.54)
Guitar string pegs ($3.00)
A gallon of distilled water ($1.08)
A bag of potting soil ($1.08)
A newspaper (.75)
Toothpaste ($1.08)
Dish washing liquid ($1.08)

This leaves about 18 bucks in my pocket and my food card is down to about 21 bucks with 13 days to go in the month. There just wouldn't have been, it turns out, much money for alcohol if I had been drinking (especially factoring in that I most likely would have made less than the 50 bucks had I been smashed).
I guess I will busk some tonight...
And after I do my laundry, I will hang it to dry in my apartment, saving $1.25.

Sluggish Skin Recovery
It is a good time to live on distilled water at about a dollar a day. I drink apple juice when I am busking, because one can become a bit too weak on water alone.

I am waiting for my skin to totally clear up and will try to stay on the fast until it is almost there.
There is a balance between stopping the intake of toxins by fasting and supplying the needed nutrition for the repairing of the damaged skin.

The fasting is like the demolition or "gutting" of a building; while the healthy diet is like the restoration of the inside of that building.

I am still trying to figure out what caused my eczema to flair up after I had gone 18 days without food, but then had the dry rash come back with a vengeance, soon after I started eating and drinking again. Especially after years of excellent health on pretty much the same diet.

I would hate to think that I am allergic to my free apartment, and need to move back into the great outdoors with its fresh air and its stimulation of the survival instinct which raises adrenaline levels in the blood. Maybe when I was homeless I was in "fight" mode; and in my cozy apartment I am in "flee" mode...

Exercise has seemed to help; on the adrenaline tip...

One theory I have is that, perhaps the whole tilapia fish that I started eating daily along with the fruits and vegetables that I juiced may have come from the waters near the "BP" gulf oil spill, and since I was baking and eating them whole; skin and all; and eating the skin, I may have been absorbing something.

Another theory is that maybe the carrots that I was juicing in abundance; because they are so cheap; had some kind of pesticide in their outer skin (which I never took the time to scrape off).

And yet another theory is that maybe one particular molar that has cracked in my right lower jaw has allowed a lead based filling to come in contact with my flesh, causing lead to bleed into my system. The rash seems to spring forth from the throat area, with soreness in my "small spine" area in the back of my neck.

The only way to test that last theory would be to go ahead and have the tooth pulled, as was suggested by the last dentist that I saw, about 8 months ago, now; the one who suggested that I have all of my teeth pulled out.

I am procrastinating upon that; and probably will procrastinate until such a time that questions like: "Then, how am I going to eat?" have been answered to my satisfaction (does medicaide cover dentures?) or until such a time that I develop a toothache bad enough to keep me awake at night.
And then, the last theory is that cigarette smoking is the cause.

I'm going to go with the contaminated fish or carrot theory, since everything else on the list, I have been doing for years with no such problems. Whatever it is; it seems to get all the way into my spinal fluid, in order to irritate my brain stem so; and in order to linger.

It used to be that I could eat a whole bag of corn chips with hot salsa and flush out, in one day, some ill advised meal that I might have eaten... 

You readers remember the decadence festival, don't you?

Come September

September will usher in the Southern Decadence Festival; which is pretty much a gay event; and which has annually fallen upon the first week of the month and has fallen right into my hands, so to speak, as I play at the Lilly Pad, which is in the heart of the gay half of the Quarter. It is only Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern (a must see tourist stop) that brings the straights anywhere near me.

It is my time to shine.

And to polish up my David Bowie, Elton John, Boy George, George Michaels etc. material so it shines, along with me.

God let me be three weeks sober by then; I will make a killing.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Certain Skeezers

39 Dollar Friday
Friday, I woke up early in the morning, after 3 days of detoxifying when I didn't go out to play.

I was staying away from the Quarter until such a time that I felt that I could resist the temptation to turn my first tip money into alcohol.

I walked there, not even having the money for the trolley.

The strings on my guitar were rusty and I knew that they could break at any second; and so I set my expectations low; I was content to just make a dollar and 25 cents in order to ride the trolley home.

I walked Royal Street and was greeted by the sight of a very thin crowd; and heard the complaints of a few musicians about how dead it was.

I got to the Lilly Pad and set up and was pleased to find that I was in a good mood.
I looked at my phone before starting to play. It was 7:59 PM.

I planned upon measuring the exact time that I played, in order to figure out how much I made per hour; and starting at exactly 8 PM simplified the process.

Within minutes I had my trolley fare, breathed a sigh of relief, and then actually began to enjoy myself.

I played with the attitude of trying to entertain whomever was walking past, rather than trying to get them to throw a tip.

It seemed to work.

At one point, a couple of young ladies stopped and offered me a hard cider.

After I explained that I was working on my 4th day sober; they congratulated me; one of them saying that she would tip me but she didn't have any cash.

We talked a bit about juice fasting, which she was familiar with, and praised as being "good for you."

They asked me if I was going to be back tomorrow (tonight) and after I told them I would, she said:

"We're going to be back tomorrow. Be sober, and we'll give you something."

Another group of 3 came and sat on Lilly's stoop and listened.

After I played a wailing harmonica solo over "Maryjane's Last Dance," by Tom Petty, one of them handed me ten bucks, and another stuffed what looked like 4 or 5 ones into my jar.
Instantly, a traveling kid type materialized in front of me. He was wearing sandals and had the scruffy look of someone who didn't have a job; unless his job entailed him working out of sight of the public, like in a coal mine.

"You play harmonica?"

The harmonica was around my neck.

The timing of his having stopped right as I was being tipped about 15 bucks had me on high alert for a skeeze.

He told me that he played guitar, but that he had broken a string on his, which wasn't on his person.

He wanted to play my guitar, "and you play harmonica."

I told him that my strings were on the verge of snapping.

He understood that, and didn't persist, but went on to explain that he had only planned upon being in town for a couple days, but that his ride had abandoned him, and he was waiting to hop a train out to Montgomery, Alabama.

He was flat broke (hint, hint).

He had really only been hoping to make some beer money before his string broke (hint, hint).

"It looks like you're doing pretty good," he said, looking at my tip jar (hint, hint).
He asked me if I had an extra D string.

That was actually the only one that I didn't have a backup for, and I told him so.
I told him that I had played many times with various strings broken, and had even composed music for guitar minus one or more strings (hint, hint).

He had never thought of trying that, he said.

I couldn't get over the timing of his having shown up just as I was being handed money; and couldn't shake the feeling that everything he was saying to me was a veiled skeeze, and so I told him that I needed to get back to work (hint, hint) and, to his credit, he walked off after pleasantly wishing me a good night.

Then, I actually started to feel bad, as if I could have given him a dollar and not missed it. I had balked at that because he had said that he wanted to buy beer. Being on my 4th day sober; I might have had some residual crankiness and took it out on him in that regard. If I can't drink; nobody can!
He wasn't asking me for anything except to jam along with me, in which case he would have earned half of any tips that we made; and he was just informing me about the dire situation that he was in; offering me the chance to show compassion, but not skeezing me outright.
I kept playing after he walked off; but I felt like a bit of my joy had evaporated, replaced by guilt. I mean, I had been doing "pretty good."

I played on, in that state of mind but didn't make any more money the next 15 minutes or so, before I broke a string.

The D string; the only one I hadn't a replacement for, and the one that he had broken on his guitar.

Over the course of the past few weeks when I had been drinking, I had plenty of money which could have gone towards putting a backup set of strings in my pack; but my sins had revisited me.

I think it was karma; I should have given him a buck or two.

After he started to walk off without resenting me for not having taken his hints, and had wished me luck, I should have called him back over and said: "Here's a couple bucks; good luck catching your train."

It was 10:42 PM when the string snapped. I had $39.50 in my jar.
That was $14.63 per hour, just about my average.

I resolved to get to sleep early, get up early and get a new set of strings; and I have done so.

I saw Leslie Thompson sitting at a trolley stop near my apartment. The things you see on your 5th day sober....

I will watch a little football with Howard, and then use my all day trolley pass to be at the Lilly Pad in time for the anticipated visit from the two young ladies that will give me something if I am sober.

It was hell staying sober for my trip to the music store; I hate shopping sober; and I had my strongest temptation of the 4 days as I walked past a certain store that has very good inexpensive wine, with 36 dollars in my pocket.

The two young ladies were the crutch I needed.

Even though, I could have drank, and then chewed on a mint and then skeezed them...
I wouldn't do that, though; and I think I am going to relax my rules and maybe give to certain skeezers in certain situations, like the one detailed above....

Friday, August 21, 2015

3 Days Sober
Here I go with the 5th attempt in the last year to quit drinking.
According to my records, I went 6 days last October, then 8 days in January, then 26 days, March into April, and then 18 days again in May.
I haven't been busking, I have been sitting at home drinking apple juice (and now just distilled water) and catching up on things like cleaning the apartment, and reorganizing my hard drive; going through the 2,000 hours of music on it and deleting the garbage (Wilco, The Decemberists, The Replacements, etc.)
This blog should pick up; as I regain more mental energy; should I remain sober.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

At The End Of My Rope

Last (Monday) night, I set out on foot with a dollar and 50 cents on me, after a day of juice fasting which had me almost ready to try to play my first night sober in a couple months, now.
I couldn't make it past the Unique Grocery without going in and getting a half pint of Heaven Hill whiskey, half on credit.
I got to the Lilly Pad at 10:30 PM, and played for almost nobody, and made only a dollar.
The scarcity of tourists was equal to nights when it is raining hard, but it wasn't raining.
The whiskey hit me pretty hard after a day of juicing, and an almost full Hand Grenade that I found just sitting there, placed by the devil, didn't help to lift my spirits any.
By 12:30 AM, I had knocked off and was telling people things like: "I'm probably going to hang myself in my apartment," and other encouraging words.
The combination of alcohol and not making any money can wipe out, in one night, any confidence or optimism that I may have started out with.
But, there just weren't people out, and at least I still had money on my food card, which will be my juice and distilled water card the next few days; and had an apartment to go to, where I watched the full series of a TV show called "Louie," which came out on FX.
Tonight, I may try to play sober once again, now that I have no money at all, and have fished the limit of my credit with The Unique Grocery, and will be on my second day of juicing it.
I just need the will power to get over the 3 day "hump" and to the point where I am enjoying my sobriety and the clearer thinking, better memory, and the taking home of almost all that I may make. Along, of course, with the reduction of stress which comes when the monkey is off my back, and I don't feel like I HAVE to play, or I won't get my alcohol fix.
And, I'll be able to read and write and compose music with efficiency.
It's about time.
I haven't slept yet, 12 hours after having arrived home, now.
I watched a movie called "Selma," after watching the TV series.
Both were compelling enough to keep me awake and watching, although some of the humor in "Louie," was a bit crass and seemed intentionally so; in keeping with the current tolerance of people for shock "value."
That's about it; I would post a picture, but this computer doesn't have a mouse attached, and I'm not THAT good with using the hot keys to insert a picture.
Well, time for some apple juice, and maybe a warm bath, and then I might play tonight. Maybe the cosmos will reward me for one day of being sober; like it seems to have done each of the last 5? times that I have managed to do so.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Decision Time

I did it again.
I got to feeling so good on my diet of healthy stuff that, in a drunken binge, I scarfed down the Styrofoam of some kind of rice and bean gumbo that some tourists left me Sunday night.
The dry, prickly rash and the urge to crack my neck and wring the muscles as if they were a sponge full of toxins, has returned.
My decision tonight will be whether to stay in and juice fast, with no money for booze, or to go into the quarter and at least play for a while, so as to have money for things like maybe a small vacuum cleaner some day.
I hate playing when I feel dry and scaly, though, and usually spend the first of the money I make on whiskey to numb me as soon as I make it, in those instances.

Loud And Clear

I call Jay the really loud singer: "Jay The Really Loud Singer," but Marshall Richards, the "New Orleans Opera Guy" is either louder, or just sounds louder because he is clearer.
It's a matter of range also, in the way that a crow's caw might sound louder than a cow moos, but you can probably hear them both from as far away.
Marshall would be the crow in that scenario.
 Marshall has become a good friend of mine after his getting over a slight bout of the "if you don't do classical, you ain't s***" mentality.
He likes to drink, so we have that in common...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

On This Day In History

4 years ago today, I was in Mobile, Alabama and was hemming and hawing and planning to make my first foray into New Orleans, by hopping on a freight train bound for there.
I think I hemmed and hawed for about 2 weeks before I finally made that trip.
18 Dollar Friday
Yes, we are in the slow season.
The reason that I was checking previous posts was to confirm that it is always slow here in August.
I read about some 2 dollar days, and some 7 dollar days which occurred in the second half of August the past few years.
This made me feel a little better about the 18 dollar night which was last night at the Lilly Pad.
The Royal Street musicians were reportedly run off by the police last night, probably at the 10 PM "curfew" time. I was just starting the play then.
Jay the really loud singer seems to be wavering in his desire to become my roommate at 100 dollars per week, based upon what kind of night he is having. The night that he made 120 dollars, he was really wanting to get out of the house where he is staying; saying that there are needles laying around everywhere.
His housemate is a career panhandler, who will probably sit with his sign on Royal Street until the day that one of those needles becomes his undoing. He is skinny and sits with his dog, an empty dog dish, more than one sign, actually, and I see him every night. He needs a cart to pull all of his panhandling paraphernalia.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Not So Fast

Pretty Slow
Yesterday evening, I walked into the Quarter, so that I could use the 2 bucks that Howard lent me, along with some change that I had in the "1% jar" to get a half pint of whiskey.
Jay, the really loud singer reiterated his offer of 100 dollars per week to become my roommate, as I passed him on Royal Street.
I went and made about 17 bucks at the Lilly Pad.
Some light was shed upon the motives behind Lilly having asked me the previous night if I would play on her stoop "every night," along with her wishes that I would play longer into the night, perhaps until the sun rose.
After I set up, a man stepped out of a van from across the street, a Latino wearing a soccer shirt with the number "9" on it, who walked across the street and entered through Lilly's gate, not even pausing at it long enough to have used a key to unlock it. The gate had been opened.
I texted Lilly to inform her of the above.
She soon arrived and informed me that the man was doing some work upon her place.
She is feuding with the next door neighbor again, this time over some damage done to the wall in the alley between the two places. I guess she and the neighbor fight over the alley as if it were the Gaza Strip.
The guy was there to fix the wall (at midnight). I guess Lilly wanted me around in relation to that whole situation.
Recordings Found
I was happy, upon returning home, after walking there, stopping only at The Big Easy Market to buy a Heineken, to find that the "lost" recordings that I had made the previous night were on my little jump drive.
Since I had downloaded the cool drum beat onto the stick, the Audacity program chose the stick as the default location to save the finished "product." That would explain why I couldn't add effects to the tracks, as that would increase the size of the files; and the stick was pretty much full (Audacity folders are HUGE).
That is about it...I am going out to play tonight, probably the same time slot of 10 PM until 12:30; hoping to surpass the 17 dollars that I made last night, and banking upon the fact that the Saints are playing their first pre-season game tonight, and that may draw people to the bars, and then past my spot after the game ends around 10:30 PM.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rodent Control

Yesterdays post, with "Mouse Situation" in the title, drew moderate traffic to the blog (36 people, out of 2 billion Internet users).
I wonder if the distribution of the audience indicates that more people in the USA are concerned about rodent control issues than in other lands;

United States

Ever see the size of those Bulgarian mice?!?

No Whiskey In The Jar

I have Just hit Howard up for 2 dollars, so that I can ride into the Quarter.
Last night was slow, even for a Tuesday, and I got to the spot relatively late, and under the influence of a bottle of wine and a few sips of whiskey, and I found myself to be not in the mood to hear any music.

I felt like I could have accomplished more by staying at home and working on recording.

I had had only one person throw thirty five (35) cents in my jar -just about an historic low for a single tip, if you exclude the ones that throw one penny (because it's so hilarious) when I packed up, spent my last dime on a half pint of whiskey and then made the long walk home.

Once home, I actually made 4 recordings that I was proud of -then my Audacity program crashed.
I think it crashed because of something related to the drum track that I was playing along with; which was a "free" download off the Internet. If it came along with any code, I don't know, maybe spyware...Audacity would probably hang up like it did.

It was a snappy beat to which I came up with a pretty ambitious riff to go along with; and then improvised some lyrics that I was anxious to hear back. When I went to add effects, Audacity went into a state of "not responding." Since I had already saved each of the 4 songs in turn, before starting on the next one, I assumed it was OK to back out by clicking on "Do not recover projects," which I did -and I haven't seen my songs since.

The only one which survived was the lamest of the bunch; mainly "Take Me To The River," the Talking Heads version, which I did because the drum beat suggested it so strongly in an "I can name that tune in 3 beats" kind of way.

 Tonight promises to be as slow as last night.

The antidote will be to arrive a bit early; have no expectations; and to be in the mood to play for more than 20 minutes; not being drunk and moody may help on the last count.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Mouse Situation at Sacred Heart Apartments

The computers have been returned to the computer room, here at Sacred Heart Apartments.
It took them a couple weeks because there was an insurance claim involved (after some bozo on the second floor set the sprinkler system off).
I guess there turned out to be no major water damage to them, as the CPU's look to be the original ones; but each unit now has a new mouse. Kind of the equivalent of putting new mudflaps on a pickup truck. I guess the insurance company won that battle.
Now I should be able to blog more, since I don't have to tote my laptop around all night to facilitate such.
I plan upon reorganizing the blog; perhaps making the first 5 posts long enough to each encapsulate one decade from the 60's on up; and then perhaps doing a Readers Digest Condensed Books type thing on individual months thereafter...
I am still planning upon doing that kind of back-fill on the years before I had a blog; and interspersing some short stories in between posts to help make them both more relevant; and to shed more light on what was happening around the time period that the story is set in.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Maybe Only Americans Get The Tiposaurus

sI sit at Starbucks with less than a half hour to post; adhering to me regular schedule of late.
Yesterday, Sunday, I went out late in the evening.
It was almost midnight when I started to play at the Lilly Pad.
It was the typical Sunday night traffic.
The Royal Street musicians had been shutting down and packing up as I passed them along my way to the spot.
I had decided that I was just going to put in a few hours; come what may.
Stoker was surprised to hear that I "specialized" in Grateful Dead music; when the topic of music came up in our brief conversation, as he was packing up and complaining about the brief life that his Traynor amplifier had enjoyed; as it is crapping out already after 3 months of use. "Garbage from China that you buy and then have to send back 3 months later..." he said of it.
He expressed a desire to jam, based ostensibly upon our mutual love of Grateful Dead music; but possibly because the rumor of my having been tipped 145 dollars by one couple alone had reached his ears.
My purpose in relating that story was at least three fold.
I wanted the reassurance from all that what I had done was not skeezy, when I feigned to need to use a restroom and then disappeared out of the back door of Lafitts with the money.
Another was to put my local friends on alert to the danger that I may have subjected myself to, which was palpable that night, but a source of amusement in the light of the next day.
But, along with the reassurances and advice and opinions of my fellow buskers on the matter, was the placing of the seed in their minds: "145 bucks from just one couple, eh, where exactly did you say your spot was?" in the minds of some of them; possibly to include Stoker.
I played for just a bit over an hour for about 10 bucks; but was happy with it.
I had forgotten the tip jar and so had placed my seed money underneath the tiposaurus which sat atop it, next to its sign which assures people that it "rarely bites," and it was good to see people actually endure the exertion of bending down to lift the plastic figure and place the money underneath it.
The fact that some placed the money under a foot, others under the tail, and of course the one who stuffed a bill in its mouth (as one always seems to do) assured me that the concept of the tiposaurus had been grasped; and that I was being tipped in good nature. And made it feel like the nightmare of the past few days was over. Maybe only Americans "get" the tiposaurs.  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Running of the Red Dresses

with only a half hour to post, I sit here at Starbucks.
The 170 dollar Friday that I had August 1st was followed by a famine, during which I couldn't help think that I had brought a curse upon myself by sneaking off with the people's money before they could possibly try to get it back from me.
What the tourists are in town for:

I had a 25 dollar Saturday, an 11 dollar Sunday, a 9 dollar Monday, 10 dollar Tuesday, 22 dollar Wednesday, and then Thursday I lost my "cool" for the first time in months.
I started playing around 10 PM, broke and using my 20 Peso Mexican bill and my 1,000 peso Colombian bill as seed money. The value of the two bills combined in American money: about 2 dollars.
I got a 5 dollar tip from a couple guys from Paris, during the hour and a half that I played.
I watched as at least 200 people walked past, not even looking my way, the rest of the time.
They seemed to be of the same ilk; similarly dressed and with the same hair styles; clean cut and "business" -like.
I really think that they were from some country where there are no street musicians.
I saw a few of them handing money to skeezers before they walked past me; as if I was a radio that someone had set on the sidewalk and turned on for the purpose of background music.
I took a break at midnight and spent the 5 bucks on whiskey, thinking that I would return and things would pick up before 4 AM.
It didn't.
After finishing the pint of whiskey and not making any money at all by 2 AM, even after, at one point, deciding that I was going to play my absolute best, as if I was playing for 100 people, and doing so for about 10 minutes that left me drenched in sweat.
I had become so accustomed to seeing money go into my jar out of the corner of my eye while in the middle of straining to play a melodic rhythm on the guitar and wail on the harmonica at the same time, that it seemed that something was terribly wrong when nothing happened.
I wondered if the two coke heads that had tipped me the week before might be connected figures with the local mafia and had put the word out to the Lafitts staff to advise all of their patrons not to tip me a cent.
I lost my cool and yelled things like "What if you worked all night and didn't make anything?" or sarcastically said: "Be sure not to give the musicians anything!" and things to that effect. "I can live on 5 dollars a day, that's alright!" comes to mind.
And, of course, I know that nobody is obligated to give me a cent, and that is the nature of the work that I have chosen; and the world does not owe me a living.
And I understand that if I had been sober the previous week, I would have so much money piled on my coffee table that I would be able to say in good nature: "Well, sometimes you just have days like this; it happens; you can't win 'em all!" and then go off whistling down Bourbon Street.
But the whiskey caught up to me and I lost it.
It was a sign that it is time for another "1 day sober; 2 days sober," etc.
Friday, I walked into the Quarter with $1.50 that I had bummed from Howard, and was able to get a pint from Sam at The Unique Grocery on "credit" for the balance. "You pay me tomorrow," said Sam.
This proves that if there is a will to get drunk, then there is a way to get drunk in NOLA.
Then, that Friday night began to play out just as Thursday night had.
Throngs of the same kind of people began to pass me without even turning their heads to look at me.
Finally a couple stopped, and I asked them point blank if they, and the rest of the tourists, were from some country where being a street musician is something shamefull.
"We're from Texas," they said, and wound up listening to a few songs, talking a while, and leaving me about 30 dollars as they left.
That was good because the rest of the night I made another 5 bucks off of about 500 tourists who walked past, without even looking at me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I just lugged my laptop almost 2 miles in my backpack through 90 degree heat and humidity and have arrived at Starbucks with enough time to re-read Monday's post and the comment(s) and to type this; and now they are closing.
The 170 dollars is down to $1.25 and a bus ticket.
It wasn't totally reckless spending, as I ate very well out of the Ideal Market; and, outside of an experiment in buying a huge jug of whiskey thinking that it would last 2 days and I would ultimately save money; but it only lasted one night, as "everyone" wanted a was pretty sensibly spent, on things like lotion....

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Harp New Strings New Tuner

170 Dollar Friday

Friday night, I went out with one dollar to start my tip jar out with.
The one dollar had come from my friend Tim, the violinist.

I had smoked him up out of what was the remnants of my Thursday night, when I had made about 20 dollars, but then spent 10 on weed, and more on the usual.
I was playing and was ruing the fact that I was still playing the old harp with the few missing notes, when a couple came along, and sat by me and began to snort coke, profusely it seemed, as the sound of them vacuuming the stuff off of the little mirror that they had threatened to drown out the fine points of my music.
Within a minute or so of the snorting sounds, the lady turned to me and told me that what I had just played had been incredible and may have even been her favorite song.
She put a 100 dollar bill in my tip jar, it turned out, but I didn't see what it was when it went in. 
The way the night had been going, I wouldn't have been surprised if it were a one dollar bill. I had had people walk past and stop and tell me that I sounded awesome, or words to the effect, as they laid a single bill in my jar.
I played longer, and the woman placed more money in my jar.
At one point, she went off to use a restroom or something, leaving me with the guy that she was with, who was kind of burly and who told me that he was from "East L.A.,"
He asked me if I had any idea how much money he made each year.
I hazarded a good natur-ed guess of "450 Thousand a year."
"Try 3 million dollars," he replied.
Soon, the lady returned.
There was kind of a discussion between them; something about the powdered cocaine, I gleaned.
Then, a young, rather athletic looking black man arrived, and words were exchanged.
The guy said something to the black man, and then said something to the lady, of which I couldn't hear.
"I gave all my money to him (me)" she said, audible this time.
She wandered off with the black man, whereupon the guy who makes "try 3 million a year," actually turned to me and asked me for some of the money back.
But then the lady returned and he dropped the subject.immediately; leading me to believe that maybe she was the one who made the 3 million dollars.
I decided to take a break, after digging in the tip jar to whittle it down to an amount that I wouldn't cry over if some young punk ran off; and discovering that the lady had tipped me a 100 dollar bill, and then a 20, and then another 20.
I really felt like I should have been the man that I think that I am and said something to them like "Hey, I know you're partying and feeling pretty good, but did you really mean to tip me 150 dollars, I mean, I appreciate it, but a 20 dollar tip would have been fine with me."
I thought about saying that, but, then, wouldn't I be calling the guys integrity into question; he said he made 3 million dollars a year?
But it seemed clear that they had probably just bought an eight ball of coke for a hundred bucks and change, and then, in their exuberance, thrown me the balance of their money, misled by the false sense of security that the coke had given them that everything was beautiful and that it was going to last forever; that false sense that lasts for about 20 minutes; but it seems shorter....
I actually packed up and high tailed it to Lafitts, being careful not to make it look like I was trying to escape with money. I was.
I kind of had the sense that the lady was rich. Maybe the guy was some kind of giggolo who made "3 million a year" through the generosity of rich ladies who liked  burly guys...
I noticed that after the lady walked away with the young black guy who had "coke dealer" written all over him is when the guy seemed to press me with "Hey, could I get like 20 bucks back..we thought we had more money..."  but then, he would shut up when she returned.
"I gave him all my money," she said to him in a tone which sounded like: "And that's how I chose to spend it, rather than getting 'us' more coke; and so, deal with it!"
I went into Lafitt's, kind of like to hide; with my $170 in my pocket.
As I was leaving, I saw the guy conferring with a second young black guy who looked like a second coke dealer, and the body language that I saw didn't sit well with me.
The guy who had asked me for some of the money back had said something, and the young black guy in a tank top and expensive sneakers nodded to him and seemed to assure him of something, which, in my heightened state of consciousness could only have been: "Don't worry. Soon as his ass goes around that corner, I'll have your money back; and maybe a nice guitar for you!"
So, I went into Lafitts and struck up a mundane conversation with one of the waitresses about who the piano player had been that night. Then, I sneaked out of the side door and made a beeline for The Quartermaster, where I felt that I had friends that I had known for a couple years and who had known the French Quarter for a lot more than a couple years.
I explained my dilemma: A couple high on coke had thrown me all of their money and then started to come down and seemed to, at least on the part of the guy; want it back.
There was a young black guy with no shirt on standing outside, seemingly just waiting for something -perhaps for me to leave so he could follow me?
."Have you ever seen that dude that's just standing out there?"
They did. "He lives in the neighborhood; he comes here all the time; he's cool," they said. Cool for a guy who stands around with no shirt on, I think they meant.
So, I knocked off with 170 dollars, rather than try to play for more.
I told the story to a lot of people that I met along my way home; and they were just about unanimous in telling me words to the effect of: "You're a musician, you provided a service to them and they paid you for it. They have no more right asking you for the money back than they do going back to all the  bars that they had  been at and saying 'Look, those 18 dollar shots of Glenlivet were a little bit above our means and my girlfriend didn't realize what she was doing; could we have like 20 dollars back, please?"
And, by the grace of God, nobody that I told the story to turned around and said "They gave you 150 bucks?1? Damn! Hey let me get 10 dollars!" I really would have said "Fuck you," and walked away. I was worried for my least until the couple woke up the next morning with the entire memory of me erased....
I still felt kind of sleazy though, as if I had taken advantage of their altered state the same way a guy does who slips stuff in a girls drink and then basically rapes her.
I really was hoping that they are either only here for the weekend or that one of them really does make 3 million dollars a year and they were able to just chuckle over it in the morning, over their continental breakfast at the Hotel Monteleone.

The next day, I went to the music store and got a brand new harp, some brand new strings and a brand new tuner, not a Snark, but a Stagg.
I had a bottle of red wine and went out to play, expecting to be whacked by a disgruntled coke dealer, who would claim that it had been his money (technically, somehow) and that the lady had no right to spend it because it was his and he wanted it back; if I gave him back at least 50, then things would be cool.
At that point, I would have said: "Man, I don't even know what you're talking about; I make 100 dollar tips every night, I don't even remember who you're talking about."
I had a smooth night and recovered some of what I had spent that day.
I really felt like I should have spent the money kind of irresponsibly; given the circumstances of its source. I should have looked the lady in the eye and said, "Look, you gave me a very generous tip, are you sure you weren't a little extravagant?"
And at that point, she might have said: "I was high as a kite and I just gave you everything in my purse because I was feeling that Eric Clapton song as if angels in heaven were singing it just for me; but...yeah...I could use maybe 20 bucks back so I don't have to walk to the hotel."
Or, she could have said: "That is just so sweet of you to even think of my concerns, and, you know what; I'm gong to go around the corner to the ATM and grab you another 500 bucks (that's the most that the stupid bank lets me withdraw at one time; even though my boyfriend makes 3 million a year).
I really should have done that; but I didn't.
I think that...
may be becoming....
God, I can't even type the word.....
There I said I have to go vomit.....

The computer room is still shut down at theplace, and so these posts may become more sporadic