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.

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