Saturday, September 5, 2015

Not So Fabulous Friday

13 Cent Friday
"You should play for us for free because we're fabulous!"
"I don't have any tip money; where would I keep it?"
The most messed up Friday in a long while, began with me waking up about a half hour before my alarm was to sound in the afternoon, and drinking coffee and packing up my gear to take along with me to the music store, where I would buy a new set of strings out of what was left of the 18 bucks that I had made Thursday night.

I set the alarm to give me 2 hours to make a trek which would only take 1 hour even if I walked out the door and just missed the trolley; and then got off the trolley downtown and just missed the #11 bus to the music store.

At least that worked out right, although it took me almost 2 hours to get there, what with the coffee brewing and the packing and the deciding that it was time to cut some of the dreds out of my hair with a pair of haircutters scissors which I had found laying in the road near the Lilly Pad the previous night.

I had walked home that night, to save the $1.25 trolley fare, stopping at the Big Easy gas station and convenience store where I bought a can of coconut milk for $3.24.

Once home, I made soup out of it, adding potatoes out of a can, and ate it, noting that I was less than 24 hours away from having my food card charged with $194; then stayed up watching episodes of Twin Peaks off of my hard drive, then took a bath and got to sleep some time around sunup.

The First Thing Goes Wrong

Waking up before the alarm was to sound on about 5 hours of sleep, I went outside to find that the skies were overcast and my solar powered spotlight had only gotten a half assed charge.

I spent 3 bucks on an all day bus/trolley pass, and then got to the Music Express, where I encountered the two guys that work there, out front smoking cigarettes.

I think New Orleans has got to have the highest per capita rate of cigarette smokers in the nation. I think also that it is bourne of having to live with the stress of having your fortunes up in the air, dependent upon a factor which is out of your control; namely, the tourists.

The presence or absence of them, along with their spending or not spending is the tide that raises or lowers all boats here. It's nerve wracking and most people need cigarettes to cope.

I walked up and answered the question of: "What do you need?" by telling them "Strings," and then added the detail that I had broken 3 the previous night.

"That must mean, at least, that they are consistent throughout in quality; if they all break at the same time," I joked.

"Which kind did you get?" asked one of them.

"I usually get the ones that are on sale for $5.99," I said, inwardly hoping that they still had them at that price.

I was told that I needed to "step up" to the Martin "Marquis" strings, rather than the plain old Martins, and they even sold me a set of them at the same price of the ones that broke on night 5 of usage, so that I could try them. Next time they will be 2 bucks more.

The Second Thing That Went Wrong

One drawback was that I also "stepped up" in string gauge, since they apparently only had the "Marquis" brand in the much heavier size of .13mm.

I had used that gauge for years, thinking that the heavier strings would last longer, and that this was a benefit that I was reaping for having strengthened my fingers up through daily playing.

It was along the same avenue of complaining to the same guys at the same store about how I could only play 3 hours a night before my fingertips began to sting; that I discovered lighter guage strings; "extra light," to be exact.

"You need to step down to lighter strings..."

And, although at first I thought they were a bit twangy and too easy to throw out of tune by pressing too hard on them; I soon learned to play using much less pressure; hence, more effortlessly. And I began to understand how Dorise Blackmon can play all day using nylon strings, which require even less pressure.

The Third Thing That Went Wrong

So, I sat at the bus stop, putting my heavy strings on, and putting my pick, which I usually keep wedged in between the strings, down on the bench while I did so.

The bus appeared suddenly, and there the pick remained after I hastily grabbed everything else and flagged the thing down and got on.

I didn't notice until I had gotten to the Lilly Pad at one of my earliest times ever.

It was just getting dark and the place was swarming with gay men, here for the Southern Decadence Festival.

The Fourth Thing That Went Wrong

Noticing that I had no pick, I packed all my stuff up and made a beeline for the Lousiana Music Factory, arriving just after 8 PM, to find it closed.

I wound up getting a pick from a young black guy who was playing on Decatur Street, but it was a cheap flimsy pick of the kind that they give away at music stores like the one that's logo was on the thing.
The Fifth Thing (the rest of the night) That Went Wrong.

I got back to the Lilly Pad and set up again and played; and made nothing.

As early as I started; even after having gone to get a pick; and as late as I stayed (until after midnight when my food card was charged) all that went in to the tiposaurs jar was a bit of change. All night.

I watched gay couple after gay couple walk past; absorbed in their gay conversations; dressed like Village People; making gay jokes, calling each other "baby" and not even appearing to notice me at all.

A few of them stopped to listen and then walked on; a couple of them did the thing where they start to dig in their pockets as if fishing for a tip and then just walk off (psych!!) in order to be hilarious and to loosen their stools for gay sex, perhaps.

One guy was acting like he was going to tip me before his boyfriend nudged him and said something and they both walked off.

I couldn't help but think that they weren't so stupid as to not know that I was out there trying to make some money, and they en masse knew that they weren't giving me anything at all.

None of them said anything to me at all until I was retrieving a sandwich that some skeezer type had given me (probably so he could skeeze me in the future citing the fact that he had given me a sandwich once as the reason that I should give him a couple bucks) that I had thrown in the general direction of a trash can after discovering that the meat in it was a little bit "turned."

I was going to give to a cat which I discovered was in Lilly's alley after I noticed it's shadow coming from under the gate.

"No, don't eat it; it's garbage!" chimed one of the group of at least 100 gay men, none of which had thrown me even a dime. This brought laughter from the other 99.

"I'm going to give it to a cat that's behind the gate," I said, pointing to the shadow that it was casting on the sidewalk. "But I might as well eat out of the garbage because I've been playing my ass off for 3 hours and not one of you threw even threw me a dollar.

I heard giggling and something to the effect of "Oh, boo hoo hoo" from one of them; and I formed an opinion of them as a snobbish clique of like minded queers; giddy with all the privilege of being a member of that particular fraternity that looks out for one another, -they probably all have cushy jobs; gotten through the gay network (You're too fabulous to be living like this; you need some nice clothes on your cute little tushy; go see Phillip at the Hotel Royale; he'll get you on as a bartender; you'll be taking home almost a grand a week with tips. Tell him you're Keiths partner) and they probably think that it is my fault, because I am not gay and not eating of the forbidden fruit of the gay tree; that I would and should eat garbage; and why spoil it by tipping me even a dime.

After all, wasn't our gay bashing just as bad as what we did to the native Americans, and the blacks? It's payback time; don't tip him, please!

It was either that, or the fact that they were really just so into themselves and what they were wearing and what they were saying to each other and texting to each other that they really didn't even see nor hear me.

And, speaking of "they," I usually check myself before generalizing about people, thinking that the next person to come along is a completely different individual than the last one that came by, with his own unique makeup. But, in this case it was almost scary how the whole group of them seemed to be of one mind.

The usual guys who carry big "Jesus" signs and yell through megaphones were at large; telling the thousand gays in town that there was room in hell for them; and the gays were responding by taunting them: "Oh yeah, homosexuality is a sin, yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm gonna burn in hell, yeah, yeah, yeah..."

And one of them yelled: "Forgive us our trespasses. What about that?!?" at the guys with the Jesus signs. And one of them was shooting a video of the guys with the signs that said things like: "Ask me why you are going to hell," and one that said: "Your priest lied to you. Praying to Mary? Jesus in the Eucharist? The rosary???" He was wearing a big grin as he shot the video. I had the notion that he and his friends are going to watch it in the hotel room and roll on the carpet laughing before they have gay sex.

The reason that I mention the above is partly because I have a far fetched theory that maybe I am endowed with a holy spirit and have the gift of music and maybe they really are possessed by evil demons and they are going to burn in hell and they kind of know and fear it; and thus, cannot stand the sight nor sound of me.

That's the explanation that sits the best with me; after playing 3 hours for hundreds of openly gay men and not being thrown anything.*

*OK, I did mention "a bit of change" earlier; and to be fair to them, there was that. It was 13 cents. One dime, three pennies.

And, to be fair further; I wasn't exactly exuding love towards them, holy spirit notwithstanding. I wound up changing the words to "You Never Give Me Your Money," by The Beatles to:

"Fags never give me no money

they only walk by in funny ways

too absorbed in queer conversations

to tip me...." type of thing (the rest is unprintable)

You've just read: 1928 words.

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