Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween On The Horizon

6 Dollar Monday
8 Dollar Tuesday
25 Dollar Wednesday

Yesterday, I walked into the quarter with 75 cents on me.
I stopped at The Unique Grocery store, where I repeated for the third day in a row my request for a half pint of whiskey; with the balance (after I applied the 75 cents) to be lent to me, with 2 AM agreed upon as the end of the term.

Tuesday night, I had walked in there with a dollar.

"Ah, you are 25 cents less than yesterday," remarked the Ethiopian cashier in good nature.

"Yes, but I bought catfish and a can of coconut milk after I finished last night, so I am actually ahead a bit, since I am nourished..."

Trick Or Treat?

Halloween is coming Saturday, to supposedly "save the day."
"There will be loads of people out," I have been promised by many. I haven't gone back in yearly increments in this blog to see if All Saints Day has been a trick or a treat; in the past.

Back To Last Night
Having only a half pint insured that my playing was loose, yet not sloppy, and I had made about 15 bucks by the time that I decided to run to the Quartermaster for a second half pint.

Returning to the Lilly Pad and playing for about another hour, yielded only about 5 more dollars. I may have gotten a little bit sloppy.

It was 12:46 AM, and I had 14 minutes to make it to Rouses Market before they locked the door.
I did so and they locked the door behind me as I left with a piece of chicken which had been reduced in price, a gallon of "drinking" water and a small can of tomato paste, totaling $3.17, I believe it was.
Once outside, I struck up a conversation with a very tall (6' 6") Cuban guy who had kind of curly reddish brown hair which made him look not very Cuban.

He wound up being from Montpelier, Vermont, via Cuba.

I wound up breaking my guitar out to play "Comfortably Numb," by Pink Floyd for him and a passing guy threw 5 dollars on my case during it.

I gave the guy directions to where his camper was parked. He had strayed at least 3 miles from it and was headed in the wrong direction when I encountered him.

He walked with me all the way to Canal Street, as that was his correct direction, where we encountered David the Water Jug Player, who struck up an animated conversation with the tall Cuban guy, not even seeing myself standing nearby, through the vodka haze.

It was amusing to see the way David probably interacts with everybody he encounters there, on his spot; Canal Street.

I have invited him to jam at the Lilly Pad, but he never has wanted to leave his comfort zone -funny, using the word "comfort" in referring to Canal Street.

He enjoys interacting and haggling with both the tourists and the plethora of  skeezers there, and I guess he feels that the less than 10 bucks that he might make in a whole evening is sufficient, given the enhanced experience.

He will, once in a blue moon be sporting a 50 dollar bill (and lavishing gifts upon his friends) which proves that the big tippers can be found even on Canal Street where they have to walk past a skeezer every 60 feet, on average.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Slow Drag

It has been slow the past couple of days.
Monday, it rained most of the day and into the evening, but it cleared up in time for me to play for almost nobody.
I had gotten a half pint of Heaven Hill whiskey, on credit from the Unique Grocery, and then had made only enough in an hour and a half of playing ($6.50) to pay back Uniques, get another beer and take the trolley home.
Tuesday night, I made about 9 dollars, which was just enough to repeat the process, only with some catfish fillets and a can of coconut milk thrown into the mix.
This morning, I woke up with the same 75 cents on my coffee table which I had the previous morning.
It is slightly depressing, and perhaps the worst aspect of it all is the fact that the only thought that lifts my spirits, as I embark upon the 2 mile walk, is the thought of the half pint of whiskey that I can get fronted to me, and the half smoked cigarettes that I might scrounge up.
Mom, if you are reading this; it would be OK with me if you sent a little more birthday money, as you had mentioned you might. The mail was delivered without a problem to my little cubby hole of a mailbox.
Tim the violinist wants to buy my amp from me, at the going rate for a used one of 200 dollars. This would give me some money in the short term to help me get my CD produced in time for Christmas; but then I would have to spend 200 bucks to replace it.
In the meantime, he is going to give me 10 bucks tomorrow as rent on the thing....

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rained In

 It has stopped raining on this Monday, and I probably should go out and play, as the 26 bucks that I made on Saturday night has dwindled down to about 4.
Karrie Me Back
Recently, one of the biological daughters of Karrie has surfaced, having found my blog, with its 200 or so references to her, to be the major source of all things Karrie on the Internet.
I have dug up these other 2 photos out of the blog which I had before this one.
The blog was deleted, but the photos lived on in Picassa photos dot com....
I am out of time, but I hope Karrie's daughter, who is now 21 and in a position to contact her, enjoys these pictures from a time when Karrie and I were quite the item...just ask any cop in St. Augustine, Florida...LOL

Thursday, October 22, 2015

26 Dollar Saturday

It is almost closing time at the computer room here; I am off to watch football with Howard and might just take (yet) another night off from busking.
I definitely need to set some financial goals and commit to x amount of hours per week of playing...
26 Dollar Saturday
I got to the Lilly Pad at 10:30 and by 12:06 AM, I had burned out and lost my desire to play any more, even though I was on a 22 dollar per hour "pace."
I need to stop smoking that ambition-be-gone, I guess
Today (Sunday) is is raining pretty persistently out there. I will run to the store for a cheap bottle of wine and back to watch Sunday Night Football with Howard.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

50 Dollar Saturday

I arrived into the Quarter at around 8 PM, after having walked there.
I had woken up with $2.65 on my coffee table after having done the unthinkable, in taking Friday night off from busking. The 3rd night off in a row.

I had drank wine and recorded music all day Friday and wound up feeling paranoid and insecure after smoking some bud.

After the day of drinking had turned into the night of lethargy and slow motion; I sat there, paralyzed and daydreaming and vacillating between going out or not; until I succumbed to an early bedtime and a promise to myself to get a fresh start the next day. The "alcoholics promise."

As the clock ticked I, at some point, convinced myself that it was too late to go out and busk, even though I could have been there by 11:30 PM, and played through the most lucrative time slot at the Lilly Pad.

That logic didn't make sense, but I was pretty much "out of it," and subconsciously arranging things so that I would wake up without any money for alcohol nor weed. Their ambition killing effect is not helping me at all.

I had taken Wednesday and Thursday nights off, also.

Tuesday, the day after my birthday, a check of the mailbox that I have recently been issued revealed a card from my mom, along with well wishes and a 20 dollar bill.

Amped Up 

Getting to the Quarter with 24 dollars on me, I ran into Tim Todd the violinist who is renting my amp and who threw another 10 dollars to me.

I hope to have the amp up and running by Mardi Gras, with microphone, mic stand, cable  and some kind of little pull cart to tote the stuff.

I'll have to get a good set of rechargeable batteries.

And I will most likely take the trolley into town each night that I use it; more of "the cost of doing business."

Tim seems to have no qualms about paying 5 bucks per night for the thing.

We have settled upon the terms of basically about 15 bucks per week; as I decided to charge him only on the nights that he actually uses the thing -for "wear and tear." If it is just sitting in his apartment (instead of mine) then I don't charge him. It's a gentleman's agreement.

That works out well, because he gets to maintain possession of it, meaning that I am not forced to cough up half of the 5 dollars each night to transport it on the trolley; and am not put in the position of having to find him to deliver it to him.

He moves around, due to the availability of playing spots and will send his girlfriend as a scout to return with information such as "Tanya and Dorise just left to go play a wedding, their spot is open; I'll go hold it."

I could easily wind up chasing him around, carrying the thing, along with my other stuff, up and down Royal Street, just to unburden myself of it.

Tim uses the amp in tandem with an identical one that he owns; just so he can run in stereo.

That seems like a lot of expense just to widen the sound and make the echoes and reverberations bounce around from left to right, something which is lost on a lot of listeners; but Tim is trying to take his game to the Tanya and Dorise level, and they are in full blown, surround sound stereo in perfect equalization (having had professional sound engineers by trade happen along to hear them and to make suggestions in how to mix their sound) and now there is no drop off in sound quality for people just leaving T and D, and then encountering him.
Plus, the violin is one of those instruments that you can busk with for a long session; and Tim has gone 8 hours before (when he needed 500 dollars that day).
But the amp really pays for itself, I think, through the fact that Tim plays better when he is manning the stereo rig with his sound bouncing around left to right; putting more energy into his playing and reaping rewards that way.
Last night, I made 50 bucks while playing moderately intoxicated on just a half pint of whiskey.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Busking For Drug Money

  • Prescriptions Cost 38 Dollars
  • I Have A 38 Dollar Saturday Night
More later...

I was full of energy last night, at about 8 PM.
The Saints were playing in the Superdome and the weather was almost perfect, but I dallied around the apartment until such a point that I figured that I could always go out and play the next day.
I will never know how much I would have made after a Saints victory, and then a stint at the Lilly Pad.
I will never know.....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Blasting The University Medical Center

It is Saturday afternoon, and I am about to put my sweater on and walk up to the Rite Aid with the prescriptions in hand that I was given at about 2 AM, as I was discharged from the University Medical Center, after having been there for 13 hours, missing a night of busking (which could have at least paid for the antibiotics).
A Beautiful New Facility If You Have Insurance
People have often asked me; sometimes those who sit down next to me at the Lilly Pad; wanting to know the story of how a guy who seems "so intelligent" wound up playing music on the street; "What are you going to do if you ever get sick?"

The intuitive answer was always that, in living such a low stress life, doing something so creative and life affirming; channeling positive energy, I just don't get sick. I might even quote Bob Dylan: "An artist never stumbles, because she has no place to fall..."
It was always my theory that, while homeless and sleeping outdoors, my senses were heightened and I was extra responsive to my instincts, in tune with nature (to include my body) and had a healthy dose of adrenaline in my veins, ready to snap me awake at the sound of a twig breaking nearby, and keeping my muscles toned and my eyesight sharp for purposes of survival.
It is also my theory (only a theory at this point) that apartment living has dulled those senses and allowed me to atrophy, lowered my resistance and taken my out of my element.
It could just coincidence, or the fact that I am aging, that in recent months I have been battling flare ups of the eczema that I once thought that I had concurred through diet and exercise and (apropos to this article) stress reduction; in the form of waking up cozy and dry and warm with the birds chirping in place of an alarm and the sun in place of the clock and my body telling me whether to roll back over and sleep some more, or to get up and do whatever I feel like. And that, the past week, I have developed an abscessed tooth on both sides of my mouth. The fact that they are on both sides makes me think that it is a systemic thing.

At the hospital, during my 10th hour there, a dentist drained, or rather half drained, it seems, the abscessed areas. It seems like, in squeezing them to try to get the fluid out through a tiny needle and into a syringe, he squeezed some in the other direction, into my jaw, as now there is some swelling under my chin where there wasn't before.

I am sure that, when I get to the Rite Aid with $1.65 in my pocket in a little while, I will be told that the prescriptions will be more than $1.65 to fill.

But the hospiThis will insulate the hospital from any repercussions related to any half assed treatment that I might have received there. We prescribed him medications, and if he couldn't afford them, well that's not our problem.

There is a notice posted right in the emergency waiting room stating that by law, anyone with a medical emergency cannot be refused treatment.

It doesn't say that they must be seen any time soon, nor that answering the question of "Do you have any insurance?" in the negative will not push your case to the bottom of the pile.
I had the sense to bring A: a sweater and B: my laptop, loaded with e-books to read and a word processor to write yesterday's blog post with.
I had left the place after "registering" to run errands for almost two hours.
Returning there and learning that my name had not yet been called for "triage," told me that this time had been a wise use of time.
Since I was then told: "but it won't be long" I sat and spent another hour and a half writing yesterdays blog post, still in as positive a mood (as can be gleaned by the tone of it) as could be expected of one whose jaws were swollen like a squirrel with its cheeks full of nuts and was in pain that I would describe to them as "5 on a scale of 1 to 10," when asked.
I was called into triage, then sent out to wait "not very long unless someone with a more critical condition arrives and is put in front of you." I was agreeable to this, remembering the time that I went to an emergency room, bleeding from a leg wound and was almost immediately given a bandage for it (and wound up being "in and out" of the place in 11 hours).
I was then fitted with an "I.V." out of which tubes, several vials of blood were drawn.
I was then told that I must wait in a certain room for them to come and take me somewhere where a C.A.T. scan would be done to determine the extent of the abscessed areas.
I began to wait in this area, amusing myself however I could between my laptop and the TV on the wall, when it was not showing laughable garbage.
There was some kind of drama on it for about an hour, which had actors and dialogue that were almost a parody of the show called "The Shield," which had actors and dialogue and situations that were almost a parody of those C.S.I shows.
There was one point in the show where one character, who was some kind of federal agent who looked like a fashion model and was an expert in martial arts, asked another character something like: "Why would he do something like that?" And it seemed so natural, that I almost expected the other character to answer: "That's just how bad this script is, honey," and was almost surprised when he didn't.
Maybe that was the tooth pain talking, because it was increasing. I guess in a way I was glad that I had already come to the emergency room, or I would certainly would have been leaving my apartment for it by then.
I asked the nurse wearing light green for a couple of aspirins, and was told that they didn't want to give me anything before I had the C.A.T. scan that I had been waiting 2 hours for.
Finally I had the C.A.T. scan.
I returned to the same room and asked for a couple of aspirin again. It seemed like the iodine from the C.A.T. scan had sensitized the nerves around the abscess, and it was hurting enough to make it hard to enjoy the football game that I was watching on
"No, iodine won't do that," I was told by the nurse in light green, and, as if to punish me for thinking so, another hour and a half went by without any aspirin or Tylenol showing up.
At one point, I stuck my head out and the nurse in light green was not at her station. There was another employee in dark blue.
"Yes, I heard you ask her for something for pain, let me see..." she said as she went to a touch-screen and hit a few buttons.
"No, she hasn't put in for it yet."
At that point, it started to seem like a twisted game.
Did the nurse have me pegged for someone without insurance, who was going to have to apply for financial assistance ...if he was a solid citizen, he would have had dental checkups every 6 months and would never have an abscessed tooth; those are for skeezers; let him suffer...?
I felt trapped. I was told that if I left, I would have to restart the whole process (that I was now 8 hours into) all over again.
I started to wonder if the nurse in light green was, at her core, a sadistic person who chose her profession not out of a desire to help and heal, but to avail herself to the opportunity to torture certain segments of society. Perhaps she had had it up to her neck with hospital skeezers and tired of giving treatment to those who had no insurance nor any money; and I happened to fit the bill (excuse the pun).
I was finally ushered into a room with a bed and given a gown, etc. and told by the nurse in light green: "I'm going to give you something to address your pain issues."
She left, and another 20 minutes went by. I suppose they want to give me plenty of time to change into my gown, so as to not invade my privacy, I thought.
Stronger Than Morphine
Then, the nurse in dark blue came in and explained to me that I was going to (10 hours after my arrival at the hospital) be given something for pain which started with d-o-l (like Doloroxin).
"Have you ever had it before?" She seemed to be scrutinizing me.
She went on to say that it was VERY strong, "stronger than morphine" so strong that they had had to wait until I was lying on the bed and not in the room with the TV.
It seemed like she was trying to offer it in the way of reconciliation over the fact that it had been about 4 hours since my pain level had reached the point where I had actually bothered them for something.
I couldn't help thinking, especially as she seemed to be trying to read my face, that she was looking to see how excited I would become at the mention of the drug..."...stronger than morphine....
Do a lot of street people purposely make their teeth become abscessed just to get a hit of it?

All I had asked for, 4 hours earlier, were a couple of aspirin; and now she seemed to be testing me, seeing if I would become like the crack whore who, as she is spitting a stranger's semen into the sink is only thinking: "I'm gonna get high, I'm gonna get high!"
I just wanted the pain to go away and was encouraged by the implication that such a strong pain med might mean that they were going to do some serious oral surgery on me. Like just ripping that tooth right out of my head with a pair of pliers; give me the pliers, I'll do it myself.
"I'll Be Back In A Second"
"I'll be back with that in a second," said the nurse in dark blue.
Of course, after a second went by, I didn't expect the door to swing back open and her to reenter. After about 5 minutes, I began to think it about time for someone to be "back in a second."
My jaw began to throb as if the pain knew that it had only "a second" more to make an impression upon me.
After about 20 minutes of thinking that the pain was going to be knocked out shortly, when she hadn't returned, I just said aloud to the closed door: "You got me again!"
I was really harboring suspicions that the nurses were being sadistic.
I was going to open the door and say (to whichever nurse was there) in as nice a way as possible: "You know, if you think you might reasonably be back in a half hour, it would be nice if you wouldn't tell a patient: 'I'll be back in a second.'" or:  "You know, I could run down to The Big Easy Market and grab some Tylenol and probably be back here in time."
Nurse Chews Me Out Over Teeth
Then the nurse in light green came in and informed me that the results were back from the C.A.T scan and that I had a very large abscess of some kind, and then she chastised me for having let it go so long, and referred to the missed appointment back in February, which she had record of "You could have gotten it taken care of back then."
I told her that I had had too many questions, such as "How am I going to chew if they pulled those teeth out."
She told me that I could have asked all those questions then, and that I shouldn't have been a "no show." I almost asked her if that was why she made me suffer for 4 hours, but it didn't, as she was the one holding the scalpel.
She told me that I was going to be seen by a very nice oral surgeon, who liked to help patients, and who was going to give me the care I needed.
Then, she left, and another 15 minutes went by.
I can only think that there was some kind of change in their plan, because I was whisked off to another room, where another young man in dark blue finally gave me the pain medication in my I.V.
I got the impression that he enjoyed seeing patients reaction to whatever this new drug was which is stronger than morphine.
He let it drip into me and I slowly started to feel light-headed, not quite "faint" but close enough to annoy me, and not quite "high," and I could still feel pain around my tooth, though it was lessened.
It reminded me of the first time that I tried crack and wasn't overly impressed by it.
I reasoned that the fact that so many people become addicted to it is because so many people have been abused since birth and have led such miserable lives that they have never felt truly happy and cannot even amuse themselves with simple things.
The artificial happiness from the drug becomes like an epiphany to them; and they are feeling happy (or confident or powerful) for the first time in their miserable lives.
The young Asian guy in dark blue who had given me the drug asked: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you describe your pain.
I felt high, but not as high as I do in the middle of playing guitar and harmonica on a good night, but I could understand how some people could become addicted to heroin and its ilk, and felt sorry for them for their not being able to achieve the feeling naturally.
"I can still kind of feel the pain, but it's not so bad; I'm a little dizzy, but not quite faint," I said, in such a lackluster tone I guess, that he started to check the tubes on my arm to make sure that the wonder liquid had actually gone into me. He almost seemed disappointed as if he is used to people saying "Wow, I'm high as a kite! I like this hospital! Got any that I can take home?!? Yuck yuck yuck!"
Then, instead of the promised oral surgeon who really cared about her patients and who was going to give me the care I needed, in came a skinny white guy in light green, who introduced himself as a dentist and who reminded me of a guy whom I used to work with, delivering pizza.
I'm not sure that this guy might not make a better pizza deliveryman, because he worked on me, numbing the area(s) and supposedly "draining" the abscesses.
They released me after giving me 3 prescriptions which I haven't even looked into the cost of filling yet, and with a face that is still about half as swollen as it was before I went into the hospital.
There is barely any pain anymore, but there was barely any pain when my face had swollen up to this point on its way to the point where I sought medical attention.
I suppose that if I don't at least get the antibiotics then there is a danger that it will swell again.
I might have to busk for antibiotics tonight, with a half swollen jawbone.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hospital Skeezers

I woke up Wednesday, determined to start another period of sobriety, after having slept fitfully, waking up periodically in the throes of feelings of guilt and shame. Did I really sit there on my spot, spewing anger and looking at every young African American as if he might be the next one to grab my tips and run?

The teeth that had been bothering me a couple weeks prior, but then had stopped, causing me to put the chore of calling around to set up a dental appointment on the back burner; started bothering me again.

The problem had been under the surface, more in the jaw than the gums, but has flared up, giving me another compelling reason to go on a health kick.

I know that tooth problems have systemic "roots" and that the liver somehow factors into things.

This was told to me by a Buddhist lady who was a practitioner of "eastern" medicine, but it somehow rings true with me. After all, aren't the months or years without toothaches attributable to the body's being able to fight off the offending bacteria, and isn't it a weakening of the immune system which allows a foreign object which gets forced down below the gum line to reek havoc, and turn into an abscess? Like I say, it makes sense to me.

I had started drinking on a night when I had a toothache, and now, 2 weeks later, I woke up this (Wednesday) morning looking like a squirrel with its cheeks full of nuts, and feeling feverish.

I am at the University Medical Center, and have been here for about 4 hours, in the emergency waiting room. I have been put through "triage" at a "medium" level, perhaps due to my having told them that I was in pain.

I don't see anyone else, out of the other couple dozen people here, oozing blood or having seizures.

On Hospital Skeezers

Most of them seem like the types who, in my prejudiced eyes, I see as "hospital skeezers."

Hospital skeezers are almost always seen, even in public, wearing the turquoise colored scrubs and a plastic wristband.

They seem focused upon the task of garnering a "disability" check each month, knowing which clinics to go to, and how to act and what to say to which doctors. They very often have narcotics for sale on the street. Muscle relaxers, Vicodin, you name it. They know that the existence of "mysterious back pain" is something which cannot be proven or disproven by x-rays or other tests; and I suppose they know that if the pain fails to improve or worsens, the doctor will "step up" the medication to something which has a higher street value.

This requires the hospital skeezers to pursue a busy schedule of arranging transportation, keeping appointments, visiting lawyers, "specialists" (in mysterious back pain and bad feet) etc., and it seems like a lot of them don't even have time to change out of their scrubs, and so you see them on Canal Street at night very often, passed out drunk on the sidewalk -a vision in turquoise.

This is not just my frustration talking; over having to wait all day to be seen and, most likely, given antibiotics (and told not to use alcohol in conjunction with them).

The Icy Stares

The icy stares that I have been getting from the other "patients" remind me of those I got when I used to go to the labor pool, where there were invariably guys there who had outstanding warrants, or who might have even jumped bail somewhere, and who might be wondering if their particular situation "warranted" the county extending its dragnet to where they were. And seeing a bespectacled white guy arouses suspicion.

In my prejudiced eyes, they see me as a potential inspector from an insurance company that they are trying to skeeze, perhaps trying to get a photo of them out of their wheelchair and walking around or just some kind of agent from some kind of narcotics division.

You've just read: 673 words.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Glad Tuesday's Gone

The Implosion

Yesterday, Tuesday was a wasted day, both literally and figuratively.

I had woken up in the morning with half a bottle of Fish Eye Cabernet sitting upon my dresser, which I soon tapped into, after having had a brief coffee wake up.

I was up early enough to go to the church on the corner for their Tuesday morning (9-11 AM) food bank distribution, where I talked to the volunteers, whom I hadn't seen in a few months, then left with a bag containing spaghetti, sauce and 2 cans of vegetables.

They also gave me a container of organic soy milk.

I had been planning upon embarking upon a juice fast, one which would culminate upon the new moon which falls upon my birthday this year. I figured that I could settle the matter of whether I am intolerant of soybeans in general, or just the partially hydrogenated oil, or just the non organic beans, which might be grown in some unique pesticide that bothers me. After a 5 or 6 days juice fast, the reaction to the introduction of  organic soy milk, as my first "food," should be pretty definitive.
The rest of  the events of Tuesday kind of sealed the deal and convinced me to embark upon the juice fast, which I started this morning, and which is important in regards to the quitting of alcohol consumption that goes along with it.

I want to have a CD ready to mail to friends and family for Christmas this year; that is my goal; and I think I will accomplish it; even if the disc only has 2 songs on it.

I had gone to the church for food after having consumed the half bottle of wine, and had slight tinges of guilt over them smelling it on me and figuring that I could have spent the same money on food, rather than wine, and that they were enabling me.

Leaving there, I walked the almost mile to the Eat Well Market, to get a half pint of brandy, planning upon working on music all afternoon, and then going out to busk at night.

There were two men sitting in front of the Eat Well Market, one of which was Carlos, whose apartment is diagonally across the hall from mine, and whom I am civil with.

The other guy was someone whom I didn't recognize as being a French Quarter skeezer, until he re-enacted the skeeze that I had seen before.

I don't know if he has moved into our building or not, but he was sitting there with Carlos, and when I walked up to them, Carlos extended his hand to me and we shook. Then the other guy who looked kind of Latino, but had eyes that seemed to be the wrong color, either too blue or too green, extended his hand to me.

When I shook it, he pulled me towards him, in an unsettling gesture, that had me shifting my feet to maintain my balance.

Carlos and he made small talk with me, with his friend referring to the bag of food in my hand. "Oh, you got yourself a food bag, good," he said.

In retrospect, I think he was saying this as a ploy; trying to remind me that I had just been the recipient of charity to mentally prepare me to be skeezed.
Carlos took a sip off of a half pint of some liquor.

I had reached the point where I figured that I had better things to do than to continue and stand there, talking to them, and I guess Carlos' buddy sensed this, and lowering his voice, as if taking me into his confidence asked me if I could help he and Carlos to get a half pint, as if I hadn't noticed that Carlos was already sipping off one. He added "I hate to beg."

"Sorry," I told him "I went out yesterday and bought new guitar strings and then stayed in and watched football; I'm pretty tapped out," I told him.

Then he reminded me of where I had seen him before when he raised his voice, no longer trying to take me into his confidence and exclaimed "You're not going to help us?!?" as if this shocked him, even though I had told him that I was low on cash and had caught him lying about needing a half pint of liquor (a second or third one, maybe).
I went into the store and got my own half pint of brandy, which I poured into an Arizona Energy drink before exiting.

Then, the guy made his signature gesture of holding his hands out to his sides with the palms upturned, while boring into me with his eyes with an expression on his face which read "Where's my money?!?"

"What's up?," he asked as I walked past them.

"Just, this," I replied, referring to the fact that myself walking up the sidewalk was what was "up."
Then, he erased all doubt in my mind that he was the skeezer who used to sit on the corner of Iberville and Royal Streets in the Quarter when he started hurling insults and cusses at my back as I walked away.

There Are Three
He is actually the third guy who lives at Sacred Heart Apartments, or who hangs out there, who does exactly that -beg for money and then cuss the guy up and down if he declines.

Carlos must have told him that I make great money busking, as he is one of the people that I had told the story to about the couple that tipped me 140 bucks, and then started to change their minds and ask for some back, a couple months ago.

I'm sure that Carlos' only take on that whole situation was: "People be givin' him hundreds of dollars."
That would make me the biggest jerk in the world for not helping the lying skeezer, I guess.

Then, back at my apartment, I was visited by Tim, my caseworker whom I played some of my recent recordings for; ones that I am not satisfied with, personally, because I can hear the drunkenness in which state I had recorded them. I sipped the brandy while talking to him.

Then, as I was escorting him out the door, in the hallway was another skeezer, who has done a similar thing (telling me to step outside the building and fight after he had asked -excuse me; told- me to give him a couple dollars). "I need a beer!" he had said, that time, in a tone that implied that this was a very serious condition for him; and that I should cut the crap and hand him 2 (of the 48) dollars that he had caught a glimpse of me counting.

He is a medium built black a bit on the lanky side about an inch taller than me and in his early 30's or so.

He was accompanied by another guy who lives on the 4th floor, named Darren, who once told me that if I gave him one of my cigarettes, he would run up to his room and then return with 50 cents to give me for it.

It wasn't so much the amount of the money, but the feeling that I had been had that bothered me after he didn't return.

"He is going to tell me, the next time that he sees me that he had come back with the 50 cents, but had just missed me; no matter how long was the time that I had waited for him. And, now I had happened to catch him without 50 cents" Is what I thought about Darren.

After he had left the computer room, where he had accosted me with his deal, another computer room patron told me: "He ain't coming back with no 50 cents. He always say's that. The money is always up in his room. He's gotten me a few times with that; but not no more..."
A Petty Skeezer
What a petty skeezer (...the worst kind) I thought.

I still grab whole bags of dog food off Royal Street when I see them, and leave them (anonymously...well, maybe not anymore now....) outside of Darren's door late at night; for he has a dog.

The whole, unopened bags of good dog food are left there by dog skeezers, who make so much money sitting there all day with their dogs and their signs that they can't be bothered toting the stuff.
Some tourists actually run into Rouses Market and spend good money on it, and then present it to the skeezers, as gifts to the dogs, that they think might otherwise not get fed if they gave them money instead.

Along with all the Styrofoams of "people food," that they accumulate, and the bottle of liquor that they will pick up on their way to the hotel, with their "homeless, hungry and broke," signs tucked under their arms -it's just too much for them to carry.

Maybe their dogs have become finicky, and they have plenty of the kind of food that the dog loves at the hotel; who knows; but there have been a few unopened bags of Alpo or Purina dog food out there lately and I have taken 20 seconds to stop and stuff them my backpack. I have left them outside Darren's door
Talk about "Love your enemy..."

But, back to the Skeezer Story:

I have a gallon bottle of Absolut Vodka which is full of water, and which I use as a doorstop.
As those two worthies had stopped to wait for the elevator and were chatting with Tim, I couldn't help testing them, in a way.

I grabbed the vodka bottle full of water and, stepping out my door just far enough so they could see me, hoisted it to my lips and pretended to take a swig and to be listening to the conversation between them and Tim.

Neither one of them diverted their gaze to the bottle, maybe so that the caseworker wouldn't catch them fixating upon it, so the could perpetrate the fraud that they aren't drunks, perhaps.

But, then Tim left by the staircase, the 2 got on the elevator, and I returned inside my apartment.
2 minutes later there was a knock at my door.I opened it to come face to face with Darren, who actually put one hand on my door, as if to prevent me from closing it upon him, and who asked me if I minded if he came in and "hung out" for a few minutes -wanted to see what I had done with the apartment; couldn't wait to hear me play my guitar in the acoustics of the apartment...whatever, it seemed.

"I'm kinda pressed for time, I talked to Tim for a while and now I have to get going..."

Then, Darren cut to the chase: "Hey, can I get a pull?"
"I have the shakes," he lied.

I had seen him drinking malt liquor earlier, and he had even told me that he was "loaded," and so this obvious lie recalled to me the previous skeeze with the cigarette, and I shook my head in disbelief and said something like: "No, man!" and closed the door on him.

It serves him right.

But, to put a positive spin on the events of the day, I became firm in my resolve to go on the fast and abstinence just seeing how petty people can be.

Tiposaurus Robbed 

And, then, at night, at the Lilly Pad, and after only about 45 minutes of playing, some young black kid in a group of 4 or 5 people, snatched the money (about 8 bucks) out of my jar and ran down the street, while the other members of his group made feeble efforts to act as if they were no party to it. "Why you want to do that to the man?' asked one female who could have been his older sister.

As outraged over his actions as she and the rest of the group may have been, none of them returned with any money or any apologies or any excuses for him "He needs to learn not to do that..."
The final straw had been laid upon the camels back at that point.

I was drunk enough, after having finished the brandy; that I just felt like I couldn't play any longer. I tried a few songs, but just kept stopping and trying to calm myself down.

I eventually started telling people "Some little  n**** ran off with my money..."

That was definitely the hard liquor talking; and some people merely replied "niggers come in all colors," or words to that effect. I was burning with rage, but in the back of my mind, I knew my best course would be to continue as if nothing had happened, and soon I would have recovered the 8 dollars; but it was too high a hill to climb. I suppose that is the mental state of the skeezers that cuss people up and down over not giving them booze money.

I knew, at least, that it was time to just get the hell out of there with the 3 bucks that I still had left.
I wasn't going to be doing any stirring rendition of "Everything Is Beautiful," at that point, and I had just enough sense to know that I was drunk and angry, my playing had become sloppy, and I risked  embarrassing myself to the point that I might need to exercise damage control the next day; or would have gotten myself attacked.

The up side is that I have no desire to get drunk on this my first day sober (again). I could use a cigarette but that is another animal.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Free Ride

Come on and take a free ride.

I was up early enough Monday, after having having had an 18 dollar Sunday night after I skipped Saturday night after having had a 67 dollar Friday night.

Friday night was so wild that I only this (Tuesday) morning discovered another 3 dollars inside my guitar, when I was shaking it, looking for my pick, which wound up being on my almost pick colored couch.

I remembered that, on Friday night, a guy came along and sat by me, who had a 4 year old boy with him. The boy drew some attention and comments from a few tourists who evinced mild shock over seeing a toddler on Bourbon Street at nearly midnight. I had made enough money at that point that I merely saw an opportunity to take a break while the little boy made toys of my sharks, and, of course, the tiposaurus. The father told him to leave them alone, as they were part of my stage setup, but I told them it was OK, even as the boy pulled the tiposaurus out of the jar and then played with the money, over the renewed protests of the dad. He stuffed 3 bills into the sound hole of my guitar, at one point.

"That's good," I said. "I'll forget that they're in there and some day when I'm flat broke, I'll find them, and they will pay for my trolley rides and save me a two mile walk..."

Well, I found them this morning, and now I have 7 dollars and 48 cents in cash, but am up early (10 AM) and will run to the church on the corner to grab a food bag out of their food bank which they open every Tuesday morning for a few hours.

Yesterday, I took a long voyage during which I encountered good fortune.

With 21 dollars on me, I planned to get an all day bus pass for 3 bucks, a bottle of wine for another 3 dollars and change, and then ride the trolley to the bus that would take me to the music store, way out on Magazine Street.

The mention of this plan to Tim, my caseworker, as he stopped by the computer room, where I was deleting a months worth of mostly spam from my e-mail box, and downloading some lyrics for R.E.M. songs (that bands vocals being usually buried in the mix and impossible to discern -who can pick out all the words to "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" for example) produced a free all day bus pass from him. "You're allowed one per month," said Tim. Permanent Assisted Housing has its perks.

"Termination" Notice For Howard

At the same time, Howard stopped by and asked me if I had gotten the same letter from the housing authority, which he described as a "termination" letter, which came along with an application. He said that a couple guys from upstairs had gotten them also. One, he described as an upstanding guy who paid his rent on time, the other as having had drug related issues, which enshrouded the letter in further mystery to him.

I told him to tell Tim the caseworker about the letter, but he said that he didn't want to "make a big ruckus" over it. I assured him that it was not something that Tim shouldn't know about. It's not as if Tim would say, "You should have buried it and not brought it to my attention; now we have to evict you, because we have knowledge of it and now have no choice.

I took my free all day bus pass (a 3 dollar value) and walked down the street where I bought a half pint of brandy (a 4 dollar value) and arrived at the music store with 17 bucks still on me and where I was told by the staff there, after having chatted and joked around with them a bit, that there were some acoustic strings in the "discount" box; a box that I had been told only contained electric strings upon a prior visit, when I was ready to plunk down 10 bucks for strings. The discount box strings are $4.35 out the door, and I was able to find a set of Ernie Ball "super slinky" acoustic strings, which derive their slinkiness by being super thin -.10 gage, as a matter of fact.

I left there before they were about to close at 6 PM, and decided to capitalize upon my all day bus pass by staying on the trolley until it took me a couple blocks from the Rouses Market where I loaded up on about 65 dollars and 30 pounds worth of food off of my card; a load that would have been a bitch to tote the .75 mile back to the apartment.

While in the store, I was looking at a tenderloin steak which had been "reduced" to half price, which was $11 per pound.

A large black man in white overalls was straightening up the case nearby me and I remarked to him: "Wow, 11 bucks per pound is half price; so this is normally..."

"22, yeah," he finished my sentence.

"There must be some rich people in this world. I need a better job," I joked.

"Let me see that, I'll fix it for you," said the meat department manager type guy.

And fix it, he did. He soon emerged from out back and handed me the 22 dollar steak with a $3.46 price tag on it. First the free bus pass, then the 4 dollar strings, and now the steak.

Somebody of thing was watching over me yesterday.

A couple notes on that:

In the morning, I had gotten a text saying "Happy Birthday, love Lia"

My birthday is in 6 days, and I wondered if it was someone who knew me, and called the sender, who turned out to be a lady who had intended the message for whomever had previously owned my phone, before I got it from one of those "free phone with 250 minutes free per month" tents that are set up around town, where the only requirement is that the recipient is either on food stamps or medicare.

I have always thought that the phones were a mechanism by which the government tallies an unofficial census of the homeless and others who have fallen through the cracks and basically never encounter a census taker, unless that official goes under the wharf to count heads, for example. Offer the homeless people free phones and you will be able to add them to the census figures by counting the number of phones issued. And, I think that, politically, a state has more clout in Washington the more residents it has to "represent" there. Nothing is free in this world, as my dad used to say to me.

The only thing I paid cash for was a 4 dollar bottle of wine, which I sipped as I ate the tenderloi
You've just read: 1160 words.

Monday, October 5, 2015


You know, I think it would be a blessing if my "lease" here was somehow terminated and I could once again return to the life of living by the Mississippi River, and coming out from under the dock with a mission and ready to sing songs that have a certain integrity, as they are not me trying to copy some artist who sang about the life; but have sprung from the life...
That being said, Howard, along with a few other residents here has gotten a "termination notice" which I couldn't enlighten him about the meaning of, and which a few others upstairs have gotten.
We don't know what it means.
I really feel like I don't want to live here until I die; even though each night before I go to sleep, I arrange the things around me, so as to make an excellent photo for the coroners office...
I kind of hope that they throw me out of here, so I can return to the life of the homeless musician, whom people were enamored of and whose songs had true meaning.
But, that being said, I am determined to release a Christmas album, giving myself a timeline to complete the CD that I have been forever talking about releasing and which I will mail to friends and family as a Christmas gift.....
That doesn't leave me much time, but....

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Teeth In A Glass

Nigeria Checks In

United States       33


It is Thursday afternoon. I have just slept about 3 and a half hours, having set my alarm for 5:30 PM, in order to acquire 8 full hours of sleep, yet, I was up at 1 PM, full of energy and unable to go back to sleep.

13 Dollar Wednesday

I Begin With Nothing

Yesterday, I was flat broke, after having spent the exactly $3.24 on my coffee table in the morning on a $3.27 bottle of wine (she let me slide on the 3 cents).
I sat and listened to some of the recordings that I had made and saved, during the last 24 day period of sobriety that I enjoyed. My drunken self is blown away by the abilities of my sober self; yet, it is funny that, when I recorded the things, they hadn't "done" anything for me in an artistic sense, and I am lucky that I even saved them; in an obscure folder called "demos" that I have on my hard drive.

Then, before the sun went down, I started my walk towards the Lilly Pad, absolutely penniless.

Of course I ran into David the Water Jug Player, who almost instantly asked me if I had any weed; and then who asked me if I had any money for weed after I answered in the negative, and then who stood there as if lost for words after I told him that I had run myself flat broke and would not eat nor smoke nor ride the trolley home if I didn't make anything that night.

A Beer From Barnaby

It was nice to get to the area and see Barnaby sitting on his stoop talking to Charlie (a female Charlie) whom he was engaged to marry a couple months ago, but whom he had broken up with.

But, they are still friends and I chatted with them, and Barnaby gave me a beer, which I sat down with and started playing.

There weren't many people out.

Tuesday morning, after I had played on the off ramp of the Interstate for about an hour and made 13 bucks, I did make it to the VA to inquire about dental care.

Reality Bites
They handed me the card for the dentist who had examined me back in January and concluded that I should have all my teeth removed and replaced with dentures.
I will probably have to be examined again, x-rays and all, since 9 months has passed since then, after I balked at having all my teeth removed; feeling that it was irreversible, holding out the long shot hope that I will win the lottery and be able to restore my own teeth rather than remove them, and not ready to accept the fact that I am getting old nor take on the vestige of age, namely dentures.
I have always felt young, and still do. Just 6 years ago, when I was in St. Augustine, Florida, my friends were mostly teenagers and we would run around and hop fences and sneak into places and hang out and play music and party, and most of them knew I was older, but figured me for late 20's at most.
Having my teeth in a glass on my bed-stand would be too much of a "reality check" for someone my emotion age, and so 9 months has passed, and I never followed up on my referral to LSU University hospital's dental clinic for removal of #19, #21, #16, #12 etc., and "deep cleaning" of #23.
But then came the toothache of a couple weeks ago and the swelling of the jaw, which teetered on receding or swelling further for a while, but then receded; mostly based upon my knowledge of using neck massage and hot showers and diet (no red meat or anything else that taxes the liver) to help the thing go away.
The worst thing is to lay there in agony, believing that you need a dentist. The best thing is to work the blood flow to the affected area and to exercise vigorously to spur the immune system and put some adrenaline in the bloodstream.
But, I went and talked to the VA doctors, who assured me that they wouldn't just pull all my teeth out and then leave me to my own devices as far as chewing food was concerned. Dentures are included with the deal.
My other concern was that the dentures would almost certainly not be the exact dimensions of the teeth that I once had, and would change my appearance, perhaps for the worse. Maybe I would look more like a woodchuck than ever before.
And I was concerned that they would change my speech and/or singing, maybe even give me a lisp when I talked and/or sang.
But, all those concerns notwithstanding, dentures would surely look better than my natural teeth at this point, even if a little fake looking. The last time a doctor checked my throat pursuant to a bronchitis complaint, he told me that I had that ailment and then, as an aside, said: "You definitely need some dental work."
Not to belabor the point; as I have now forgotten what I started writing about here.
All Dressed Up

Oh, yeah: While at the VA, I got access to their clothing distribution room, where there was also a cart loaded with books, about which I was told "grab all you want." I loaded my backpack down with about 20 pounds of books, and grabbed a nice pair of black cotton pants and a very nice button up shirt to go with them.
The 13 bucks that I had made that morning on the ramp were not enough to make me feel like I would spent $1.25 on the trolley, so I walked back to my apartment under the weight of the books.
That night, when I got to the Lilly Pad, I was as dressed up as much as I ever had been, wearing the new shirt and pants. I had actually thought about changing into more grungy duds, like a tank top and holey jeans, thinking that that might be part of my shtick as "the lonely homeless troubadour," and that it might have been garnering me tips and attracting those types who want to sit next to me and hear my life story; but I tried the new clothes as an experiment.
One thing that I can say is that I got the idea that people, especially one young lady who did a double take upon me and then enthusiastically walked over to hear me play; expected me to sound more polished and professional and/or jazzy because of the fact that I was dressed up.
I suppose if I was playing something like ragtime guitar, I would always be dressed up like Harry Connick Jr., or even Tom Waits.

Or like Johnny B., yikes...
The particular young lady mentioned, walked off after hearing me play whatever Beatles song or whatever that I was doing; and in my mind I thought that it was because I was over dressed for the material that I was doing.
I think that I should look like a skeezer and surprise people by actually having some ability, rather than look like I am gigging inside Preservation Hall and have just stepped out during my break to busk just for the goof of it.
Just my opinion.
Somebody did tell me that, the better dressed you are, the more money you will make; citing "human nature" as his reason.
I will have to experiment further with the new shirt and pants.
Maybe a guy wearing a tuxedo and playing "Creep," by Radiohead or its ilk would be a hit at the Lilly Pad. That is just part of the allure of busking; the fact that you never really know why someone just threw you a 20 dollar tip. It could have been because the word that you just sang was the very word that the person had in his head at that instant, as he thought through something, or it could have been because of anything.
That's why it is important to "just be yourself," as it saves you a lot of energy that is wasted by second guessing everything. I can remember changing my shirt from a black one to a white one once, when I wasn't getting any tips. That kind of crap hearkens to those baseball players who have been wearing the same pair of underwear for the past 12 years; and will continue to do so, as long as their batting average stays above .250 LOL!!!!
"Are you here to watch football?"
It is Thursday evening, and my choice is whether or not to watch football with Howard, or to go out and busk.
I can to both, if I want to get to the Lilly Pad at about 11 PM, after the game ends.
One of my best night ever there started at 1:30 AM and went until almost 4, and netted me around 85 dollars. It probably wasn't a Thursday, but one never could be that the words you are singing are in peoples heads at that instant as they walk past.
In general; the better your skills are; the more money you will make. Tanya and Dorise might concur with that statement. That just about cements me in to my 16 dollar per hour average, unless my skills erode (or my harmonica goes out of tune, or I break strings).