Wednesday, November 25, 2015

10 Dollar Tuesday

I only played a couple of hours Tuesday night.
It was slow just like Monday had been. I got a 5 dollar bill during one particular jam; and a few singles.
I did a lot of improvising on my own stuff, and was tuned to a B flat harmonica, which added another level of unfamiliarity to anything I did; as it was all a key lower than what you might hear on the radio...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Bottom Of The Barrel

0 Dollar Monday
It is 7:30 PM on this Tuesday night.
It is 58 degrees out and feels like 58 degrees, according to the weather site. The 11 mile per hour breeze is annoying as hell to a busker, who has to be ready to chase money down the street that may have missed the tip jar.
Last night, I made nothing at all after about an hour of playing when I saw maybe 20 people walk past who weren't skeezing or checking the trash bins for unfinished drinks.
I had stood outside a bar and watched the Patriots finish off the Buffalo Bills at about 11 PM; the Patriots games being one of the few indulgences that I allow myself to be drawn away from busking by. 
I thought that I played well; and that was some kind of solace to me; I did my part, but the money just wasn't to be had. I was under the influence of about 10 mg. of hydrocodone which I had gotten from Howard.
Howard has undergone his second surgical procedure in about as many weeks, and the VA has given him another batch of free narcotics. The first procedure was a double hernia fixup; and then, they flipped him over this most recent time and removed a cyst from his back.
He gives me the pills and offers to split 50/50 whatever I can get for them on the "market." Perhaps because of his Dutch heritage, and his upbringing, he chooses to tough out the pain, rather than rely upon medication.
The market consists of one particular lady that lives here, who has a boyfriend who will spend 100 dollars on 30 of the things. This makes it safe for me to deal in narcotics. I guess this is just one more way to benefit from the situation here.
And, they gave me a turkey last night. A whole turkey, just thawed out, which I overcooked, thinking that turkeys needed to sit in the oven for hours and hours, based upon my childhood memories of my mother getting up at 5 AM Thanksgiving morning and taking the next 8 hours to prepare the spread of food that would be consumed at around noon, an hour before the football games were to kick off.
I should have treated it as just a large chicken and used my same cooking instincts, but I set the oven for 275 degrees and left it in the oven until I could smell roasted turkey meat in the next room. By then it was too late, and I now have about 15 pounds of dry, stringy meat that Harold the cat even turns its nose up at. I guess I will force it down as a food source that gives no pleasure, but still nourishes.
It may have been a cheap, low quality turkey to begin with, if there is such a thing.
The lady with the boyfriend told me to keep the fact that I had the pills quiet; as there are residents here who might jump a person trying to steal what they think might be pain pills on them. Of course there are those types of people here, at the bottom of the barrel.
I have never really been a "pill head," but tried a couple just to see what they were all about. They didn't take away from my musical ability, and gave me an overall feeling of "well being," but I could tell that it was a false sense.
I brought 3 of them with me into the Quarter to use as emergency backup resources, should I have not made a cent and needed trolley fare; I sold 2 of them for 5 bucks and then used the money for a couple beers and to get home.
I very much want to post up music to replace the "crappy recordings made outdoors" in the sidebar of this blog.
I am thinking of taking all the little snippets of partial songs that I have and putting them together with a voice over, in order to make a mock "documentary," about a fictional self that I will create.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Staggering Friday

  • Friday Fall Off
  • $17.50 Saturday

Friday morning, I hadn't slept in 24 hours, and was off to pick up the Thanksgiving offering, using the voucher that Howard won.

I took the bus over there and was confounded to discover that the bulk of the box contained Avon items (as mentioned in their flyer) for women. Lipstick, nail polish, foundation, and other types of lotions and potions, designed for women.

There were 4 boxes given to each, and I was able to whittle mine down to just the largest box, containing most of the canned food, and one good bottle of conditioning shampoo, several travel-sized antiperspirants, a few boxes of razor cartridges (which will require the purchase of a Shick razor handle in order to utilize) and that was about it. I set the box of Honey Nut and Oats cereal on top of the box, intending to give it to Howard, and was back at the apartment to drop the stuff off at about 11 AM.

Somehow having not slept for a day was the trigger for me to stop and get a small bottle of red wine, which I drank, effectively breaking a 7 day fast with it.

The next chore was to use the all day bus pass that I had to go to the music store to get a Stagg harmonica, the kind that I paid 14 bucks for, and which outlasted the 10 dollar ones by 4 times, and sounded better to boot.

I was disappointed to find that the Staggs were marked $24.99, and nobody could figure out how I had gotten one for 10 bucks less, unless it was because the (new) manager of the store had sold it to me along with other stuff, like the Stagg tuner and a set of strings, and might have been giving me 10 bucks off the whole package, attributing it to the harp being reduced.

I had 21 bucks on me.

The wouldn't budge on the price of the thing, so I wound up spending just 4 bucks with them on a set of strings out of the discount box, and then going across the street for a 4 dollar bottle of Fish Eye Shiraz, which I sipped on the way back to the neighborhood.

This made me hungry, and after running to the store for food for myself and the cat, which I am temporarily naming "Harold," I stuffed my face with spinach and boiled potatoes.

I didn't go out to busk, as the Shiraz really started to drag me down, and, after such a long fasting and cleansing period, had me shitfaced in no time. I started to stagger towards the Lilly Pad, but only got as far as the corner of Royal and Iberville, where Troy the guitarist and harmonica player who looks enough like me that we are sometimes confused by people, was there smoking some really "loud" weed with Jay the Really Loud singer.

They smoked me up and then let me keep the roach, which was as potent as a whole joint of regular stuff (which isn't as loud) and then it started to sprinkle, so, in my euphoric state I returned to the apartment.

I made a desert out of the box of cereal that I had been saving for Howard.

The whole box.

I guess I was craving starch and sugar. When I was a kid I would eat almost a whole box of cereal at one sitting; and so maybe I was reverting to my childhood, using the cereal as comfort food.

I found a harmonica in the key of B flat that I had thrown into a desk drawer which I use as a graveyard for harmonicas. It too was missing a note but the ones that worked sounded better than the ones that worked on the 10 dollar one that I had blown out in one night, as this one was one of the Marine Band harps that Leslie Thompson had bought for me about a year ago, during the fiasco of me trying to live at his house, just a few weeks short of me getting into Sacred Heart Apartments.

I went out and played with it Saturday night, after tuning my guitar down two half steps to match it; and, after a first hour when I might have made only 4 bucks, I rallied in the next 45 minutes and left at about 1:30 AM about $17.50 to "the good." I only drank a half pint of brandy while I played.

Sunday (now)
I now go for cat food and litter and wine and food for myself (although there might be some overlap between myself and Harold the cat, as I plan to have fish tonight) and then I plan to take Harold to see Howard, as the latter and I watch Sunday Night Football, which has become a weekly indulgence  that keeps me from busking on this one night; unless I want to start a bit late, say 11 PM.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's For My Cat!!

24 Dollar Wednesday
New Harp A Disappointment
I took the trolley into the Quarter Wednesday evening, after having been rained out the previous day. I had $1.75 on me as I stepped off at Royal Street.
The 25 Cent Matter
I was immediately skeezed by none other than Carlos, who lives right on my floor, diagonally across the hall from me at Sacred Heart.
This was a test of my discipline in serving Krsna, and acting out of love without worrying over the fruits of actions; such as I have been reading about lately in the Bhagavad Gita, as I have been fasting the past 6 days.
He wanted 50 cents "to get home" on the trolley, he said.
I was pretty sure that he had skeezed a lot more than that, in order to get drunk and maybe even buy weed, but here he was, literally my biblical neighbor, asking me for 50 cents.
That would have left me 25 cents short of my own ride home, should I go out and not make a cent, and I told him so.
"Don't worry about it; I'll get it from somewhere," he said, sounding sincere.
I took a few steps away and then returned to give him a quarter, thinking that it would at least cut the amount that he would have to skeeze in half.
He accepted it graciously and seemed to take me at my word when I said that it was all I could give him and still have trolley fare home. I was physically weak on my 6th day of fasting and walking the 2 miles home would be more strenuous than usual.
At least he didn't argue: "You're gonna make some money out there, guaranteed, come on, give me the whole 50 cents."
I really did feel like I was of very little faith to fear that I might not even make 25 cents with a brand new harmonica and sober.
Then, I walked Royal Street, past all my habitual stops for alcohol and cigarettes, and encountered Tim the violinist on the corner of St. Louis Street.
He is the one who is buying my amp at 50 bucks a week.
He told me that he had some money for me; and I had to smile when he asked me if he could just give me half of the agreed upon amount, citing that he needed to turn his phone on and a few other things.
The 25 cent matter with Carlos seemed suddenly trivial. I couldn't help wonder if, had I given Carlos the whole 50 cents, would Tim have given me the whole 50 bucks?
I finally got to use the new harmonica. I had broken it in a bit and it had sounded good; it came tuned to A440, unlike the Stagg brand that I had been using which was 1% sharp at A444.
I was 5 days sober and had only a gallon jug of distilled water by my side as I started to play at about 9:40 PM.
I started out playing the few songs that I knew in the key of A, and was able to make 24 bucks, 20 of which came when I was playing "Tangled Up In Blue," by Bob Dylan, and then I soon ran out of material and started to repeat stuff.
And then, as I broke it in further, by reaching for higher and lower notes, I  noticed that the 11 dollar "New Orleans Special" was not as good as the 14 dollar Stagg brand had been. Some of the notes sounded unevenly and others wouldn't sound unless I tilted the angle of my mouth. I guess I just got a bad one, and had thrown out the receipt before realizing it. Something had told me to hold on to the receipt because the harp had been picked off the pile of about a dozen at the music store by one of the female employees whom I get the idea doesn't really like me.
I was also uncomfortable singing all of my key of G material one step higher; it just doesn't sound like the original recording, something that I think helps a cover song, even though most listeners don't have perfect pitch.
I knocked off after a 24 dollar hour; and bought some more water and some cat food.
I got the brilliant idea, as I walked back on Royal Street, to go back to my dumpster diving ways for the sake of the cat, and found a nice breast of Popeye's chicken that some patron had taken only one bite out of. I wrapped it in plastic and stuffed it in my backpack. I still had the can of "cat" food, but wanted to introduce the chicken to see if the cat would eat it, or even prefer it to Friskies brand, at 69 cents a can.
As I dug through the dumpster, I was beset by feelings of embarrassment, as if street people might see me and think: "I thought he was doing good and had an apartment and everything; he's certainly wearing some nicer clothes..."
I felt like yelling "It's for my cat; it's for my cat!" How the mighty homeless have fallen...
I know people say that cats can choke on bones; but I don't really want a pet that is that stupid, anyways, so choke away...
How the heck did cats evolve over billions of years to their present incarnation if they choke on bones. I think there were a lot of bones out there, millions of centuries ago....
I have been on the fast for 6 days now.
Thanksgiving Givings
Of course, then, I was one of the winners in the raffling off of 30 "Thanksgiving" meals here at Sacred Heart. I am to pick it up next Wednesday in the multipurpose room. I would be on my 12th day of fasting at that point.
This was one of two Thanksgiving give-aways which Sacred Heart Apartments have been chosen to be the recipient of.
Howard won the other raffle for a voucher from Homefront Harvest to receive "up to 50 pounds of food, necessities, and Avon products -total value of over $250.
He slid the thing under my door with a note telling me that I could have it.
That one needs to be picked up in 2 days (this Friday).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"To The Life!!"

Here it is, Wednesday evening.
I skipped busking yesterday; although I did go to the Lilly Pad, arriving around 11 PM.
I had an all day bus/trolley pass; and so I had nothing to lose in that regard by taking a trip into the Quarter.
Heavy rain was in the forecast, but when it hadn't started by 9:45 PM, when it was supposed to; I hopped on the trolley. There was a light mist coming down as I waited for it.
"Don't fight it, Daniel!!"

Arriving at the Lilly Pad and setting up seemed to bring the rain into fruition, as it started to drizzle just hard enough to wet a guitar in a matter of time.
I walked to the Quartermaster, upon this 5th day of fasting, thinking that I would get the only thing that I was consuming: water. I had $5.85 left of the 27 dollars that I had made Monday night.
I blew off buying a bottle of water, thinking that for half the price, I would get a whole gallon at Rouses Market, which was closer to the trolley stop.
So, I never played a note, and went back to the apartment with the brand new harmonica in the key of A still not even broken in.
I passed David the Water Jug player, whom I informed of being on my 4th day sober, after he mentioned not seeing me for a few days.
This brought an almost angry reaction out of him.
"I'll drink to that!!"
He basically told me that I was playing games with myself; "not with anyone out here;" and seemed to imply that, since I "was" an alcoholic like he, that I was ultimately just going to go back to drinking myself to death, and so why make things harder by wasting time on these stretches of sobriety which ultimately always end.
He told me that he himself had made peace with God and believed that his name was written in the Book of Life and that he and the Lord had an understanding that he was just going to drink himself blind every night and pass out for the night on the bench of a trolley stop, but he is still one of God's children.
The trolley drivers all know to not stop for the skinny old black guy who is laying prone with a guitar wedged between the bench and the Plexiglas, should he be the only one at the stop.
David suggested, since I have an apartment which is paid for, that I not even walk around the Quarter with a backpack and a guitar on my back, but rather, get a haircut and a job.
He was pretty drunk, as usual, and I really think that he has some kind of paranoid suspicion that I quit drinking in order to deprive him of my company, and ultimately my generosity; as I have been much more prone to show up with a bottle (obviously) to offer him a gulp off of, when I was drunk; and much more prone to spend half of the money that I made that night on a sack of weed to share with him in that state.
The implication was that I shouldn't even busk at all if I am not living "the life" and doing it in the spirit of debauchery.
I told him that, on just my first night back playing sober, I had made enough to get a new harmonica, plus feed the cat; which I then told him about.
I also alluded to the fact that Dorise Blackmon hasn't touched a drop in 20+ years "...and she's doing pretty well..."
"Well, you talk the talk, but let's see if you can walk the walk," he then added, as I monitored myself for signs that he was trying to lay some kind of psychology upon me that might lead me to say: "You know, you're right; why fight it!" and then skip off to The Unique Grocery, to return with a pint of vodka to share with him, after proposing a toast: "To The Life!!!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back On Track

27 Dollar Monday Timely
After having tested the cat Sunday evening, by leaving it alone in the apartment for the first time; and having had it pass the test by not crying so loud so as to call attention to itself, or having scratched out a patch of wood from the door in an attempt to claw its way out; I left it alone Monday night, for what would be about 6 hours.

Passed The Test...
I used all of my cash to take the street car into the Quarter. I was properly weak on the 3rd day of fasting; and properly broke after 3 days of not working, out of fear that one of the Quarter demons would possess me and make me drink.

 A demon has done this in the past.

The time that I was 18 days sober and came upon a cardboard box with an unopened fifth of Chivas Regal scotch (with a ribbon wrapped around it, no less) just sitting there, next to a trash can comes to mind.

The likelihood then is that there had been some kind of party inside the place (which was like an art gallery/ear ring store) and that there had probably been a makeshift bar set up and that the people who showed up turned out to be non drinkers, along with the hosts of the event, and when the occasion ended and there was still an unopened bottle of scotch, and since Christmas was right around the corner, they decided: "Let's just leave it out by the trash can; one of the street people will surely make use of it; here, I'll even put a ribbon around it...Merry Christmas, skeezers!!"

But, I had taken 3 nights off, in order to steel myself against any such shenanigans by the Quarter demons.

I even had to include a nickel in my street car fare which I had doubts about the usefulness of. It was corroded and misshapen and scratched, as if it had been dug up from where it had been buried for years and then placed in the road to be run over by a few vehicles. It was literally my last nickel, and I had refrained from taking it with me because I was pretty sure that I would get the "coin not valid" voice-over from the street car coin receptor.

I had found that copy of the Bhagavat Gida (sp?) on the morning of the day that I got the cat, which is the exact same color as the jacket of the book (prompting me to wonder if the cat is another incarnation of Krsna) and had found some solace in flipping through it with my eyes randomly? 
landing upon verses which were fortifying to a person who was fasting and who was going out to play music without concern for any "fruits" that might come of it.

It was true that I really wanted a new harmonica and, as I walked Royal Street, chanting Hare Krishna under my breath, I felt like I was going out to play solely out of love for whomever might hear me, and for litter and a can of food out of love for the cat; but I was already cringing at the thought of trying to play around the one hole in the harmonica that had blown way out of tune.

I ran into Tim the violinist, who had bought my amp from me under the agreement that he would pay me 50 bucks a week until the price of a new one (300 dollars) had been paid to me, and he told me that his phone had been disconnected the past week or so.

This was probably a good thing, because on those last couple days before I quit drinking, I had gone out early in the mornings and had had terrible luck making any (drinking) money, and had certainly left him messages to the effect of: "Can I meet you somewhere and get some money from you?"
I had mentioned in the texts, the harmonica being out of tune, the guitar strings being old, the battery on the tuner being weak, the solar powered spotlight being stolen, and I suppose he already knew that I also "needed" cigarettes and alcohol.

But, he didn't get the messages, and here I was on my 4th day sober and not really feeling the pinch to make any more than my trolley fare home; everything else would be a bonus.

He started to tell me that he had been struggling to make his rent, but would try to catch up with me as soon as possible on the money. After I mentioned the above, he reached into his pocket and handed me $1.50 in change.

So, I started at the Lilly Pad with my ride home already assured.

I was glad that I was sober, as I was able to work around the blown hole on the harmonica, and a few one dollar bills started to flow. And, they flowed in the good way of having come from people who had walked past me a few yards, but then returned to throw a tip.

Then, as has happened on the previous 4 or 5 nights which were my first night playing sober, a lady came by and placed a 20 dollar bill in the jar, said "You sound good," and walked on.

That was a new harmonica, a bag of kitty litter, a can of cat food, and an all day bus pass, which I am using today.

Then, also in line with the previous 4 or 5 first nights playing sober, it was not long before a young lady came by; listened a bit, and then asked me "Do you smoke weed?"

I don't know if this is a hump that I need to get over, or a wall to break through; or if I have done nothing since the last sober time except make a big circle leading right back to the same junction; the same fork in the road.

I'm not sure that there are not two demigods that actually duke it out with each other over the souls of people, with one of them trying to get the person drunk, and the other working under the premise that weed is the way to go.

I have heard "learned spiritual" people say that weed opens ones heart, whereas alcohol closes it down and increases the persons bondage to the material world.

And it is true that the term "demon" alcohol has been coined, whereas a whole Rastafarian "religion" embraces "one love," and marijuana. 

 I guess I wouldn't find out where the other road leads this night, because I said "Yeah. I'm not drinking (nor eating) but I guess I could smoke..."

We each took a hit, where after she became paranoid upon seeing "a large group of people" coming down Bourbon towards us. She was from some place where the Law was a lot stricter concerning pot. The irony of Louisiana pot laws are that they are SO harsh that they are rarely enforced, I tried to tell her; not even the cops "believe" in them.

Her name turned out to be Koreine, and she wanted to sing a couple songs with me.

We sang a couple of cover tunes, Cat Stevens and The Beatles and she harmonized pretty well.

I hadn't been trying to impress her with my playing, just to try to make sure she was having fun; as I wasn't worrying about the fruits of my actions, because of all the Bhagavat Gida reading I had been doing.

Then, she kind of surprised me by asking me if she could play a song on my guitar before she left.
I handed her the guitar and she broke into an almost professional sounding original song of hers that was kind of in the flavor of  a mixture of Bonnie Raitt and Alanis Morsette.

I felt a little bit taken back.

"That was sweet," I said. "You've inspired me. I realize now that I could have been putting a lot more into it, after hearing you."

"No, you sounded good."

"I have originals too, but I usually play covers until I make enough money to 'cover' my expenses"
She handed me back the guitar and, since I was up about 25 bucks and had covered expenses, I played a couple of my originals, featuring my "latest" one, which I have about 85% down (and I blamed the other 15% on: "that was really good weed").

We exchanged phone numbers and she said that she wanted to keep in touch "because I'm a singer/songwriter and I'm always trying to hook up with others."

And, so, I came home a hero to the cat which has not yet been named (but that probably will wind up with a name out of the Bhagavad Gita) bearing fresh litter and a fancy tuna feast.

I had 22 bucks when I woke up and headed out to get the new harmonica and another can of cat food.  

That's how it stands now.
 Key of A, Egh?
I was intrigued to learn that the "New Orleans Special," which was really the only harp in my price range, was only available in the key of A, and not C, like the last few times. They seem to get them in batches of a single key.

It all just seems like divine intervention; in this time of fasting and reading the Bhagavad Gita. I'm going to be brushing up on the key of A major and F# minor and B minor, and E blues; whether I like it or not...

It is Tuesday night, and "heavy" rain is in the forecast. Rose, the lady who gave me the cat asked me if she could borrow 4 dollars. I returned with exactly 5 dollars and 35 cents from my trip to the music store; and if it rains heavily I won't be able to work; but what else do I have to spend money on?
It is another test of my ability to serve Krisna and not sweat the material world...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Claws In The Lease Agreement

Well, here is the situation.

Here they come for that deposit!

I have a cat.

I was staying in Saturday night, after about 36 hours sober, and not wanting to face the temptation of the Quarter.

I heard some loud meowing outside my door and opened it to see Rose, a fellow resident, holding a gold cat which she said had been abandoned outside by someone.

I told her that I had been trying to coax one of the neighborhood stray cats to befriend me by leaving food for it; but had not been regular enough in my efforts for the cat to be able to expect me at any certain time of the day, and so I hadn't seen it very often.

She soon knocked on my door, holding the cat, a box full of liter and a small paper bag of food.

After we got the thing calmed down (it had been meowing constantly and shaking with fear) she left it to me, and by the next morning it was acting as if it owned the place.

Some of the drawbacks of having the cat, besides the fact that there is a 50 dollar "pet deposit" levied against us residents, became apparent when I realized that the liter box would have to be emptied and refilled at least every other day, and that the cat was going to scratch up the furniture and everything else that it could sink its claws into. My fake-leather covered chairs would be particularly vulnerable to having visible damage done to them.

The thing is still pretty much a kitten, and I will eventually be able to establish some sort of communication with it, in order to train it to not destroy the furniture; I just didn't want to be swatting it on the nose with a newspaper and yelling "no" at this early stage in acclimating it to the apartment. I was trying to calm it down.

I will be able to get a note from my doctor, claimed Rose, which could state that the cat provides the medical functions of staving off depression and lowering my blood pressure and would then be able to have the pet deposit waived.

Another Tie To Apartment

Of course, this is one more thing which kind of ties me to the apartment and pushes into the background the dream of hopping a train with only a backpack and a guitar and seeing the world; but I guess I could do that with a cat in tow.

Also, if I were to tell my caseworker that I planned to be away for 6 months or so, but intended to come back; the apartment might be waiting for me if I did so.

I am just a bit concerned about how my eczema, which I had made a non factor, through diet and exercise and stress free living with plenty of fresh air and sunlight, over the past 10 years, has flared up during the 9 months that I have been living here.

I have read up on the subject quite extensively on line and have seen at least one account from a guy who had pretty bad eczema only when he was living in a certain house, which cleared up when he moved away (the eczema, not the house).

I have reasoned that, in this new dwelling, I am not getting as much sunlight as I was when homeless.

I probably don't have as much adrenaline in my bloodstream as I did when I had to sleep with my guitar tied around my arm and a weapon within reach and would wake up at the sound of a twig snapping.

I wasn't shopping at the same market, where the produce may have different pesticides on it.

And, I wasn't eating any microwaved food. At all. I mention this because, I have also seen articles by people who claim that a microwave oven somehow (excuse the pun) "turns" food toxic.

The Sixth Third Day Sober This Past Year
I'm on another juice fast, and have been since I had my last beer, 80 hours ago, now. I feel better already, and now I just have to go out tomorrow (Monday) night to play for cat food and liter and other non alcoholic purchases. 
I am thinking of replacing the third solar light that has been stolen with one which will run off of batteries that I can charge in the apartment using the free electricity that I get. 
The solar idea was really cool, free energy from the sun -I got quite a charge out of that- but someone seems to be waiting for me to replace the stolen ones so he can steal them also; probably has a regular customer telling him "Yeah, I could use a few more lights, I'll give you a pack of smokes for each one..." 
Sacred Heart skeezers have nothing better to do than that

Am trying to quit smoking at the same time, and struggling. 
"Smoking" is either chain smoking or not smoking at all. Funny how drinking for me kind of becomes either waking up in the morning and having to look around the room for clues as to what happened the previous night (do I still have my guitar? did I bring home any money?) or not drinking a drop...

You've just read: 746 words.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Not To Mention Cigarettes

Tell Me, Have You Seen Her?
It is Friday morning; I was up at 4:30 AM and decided to try to play at an off ramp of I-10, even though I can hardly be heard there.
The first time I played there, I made 13 bucks in about an hour and was looking to do the same, Thursday morning, but only wound up with 2 bucks.
I went to Decatur Street and played some more and wound up with 6 dollars by about 10 AM, and decided to just go home. I never went back out that night.
I got to sleep right after sundown, and after eating a pretty good meal.
I had the feeling that I would have made something had I gone out and played.
Now, I am at the library, for the first time in months. One of the reasons that I came here was to see if Karrie was around.
I want to print out a picture of her off my blog and then show it to the security guards at the front desk, asking them if they had been seeing her lately.
I got to the off ramp at the relatively early hour of 6 AM, and there was already a skeezer standing there, holding a blank piece of cardboard.
I tried to ask him if was "working" there, "flying a sign," but the heavily accented mumbling that he returned made me think that the reason that there was nothing written on his sign was that he knew not enough English in order to write any on it.
It sounded like he said that he was trying to get 2 dollars (the price of a 25 ounce can of Bush beer).
I walked on and was surprised and disgusted to see skeezers set up all over the place with their signs and their dogs.
There just weren't enough people in sight at that early hour, and I walked all the way to the Decatur spot where I had played the previous morning, passing the Lilly Pad along the way, which was pretty desolate.
Making my way back to Canal Street, I noticed that the traffic of pedestrians was picking up, as it was 8 AM, and I wound up sitting by Harrah's Casino, at a spot where I used to play late night, before I got the Lilly Pad. I used to consider it a pretty much guaranteed 15 dollars after midnight.
This morning, I got $2.75 in about an hour of playing, when I noticed that the traffic noise was pretty bad, and that a couple notes on my harp were pretty bad, and that my strings sounded pretty dull.
All this was stuff that I should have addressed when I had about 60 bucks a week ago.
Now I have 50 cents, because I bought a beer on my way to this library, and now, I might try to hook up with Tim the violinist, who is buying my amp off me and who said he would give me 50 bucks a week towards it. It has been almost a week, and I am really hating the out of tune note or two on the harp and the dull strings, and the lack of a spotlight, which has me playing daytime hours and being reminded of how much drudgery that is; with the skeezers every 100 feet, and the tourists not anywhere near being drunken and satiated with food and on their way back to the hotel, but rather, just venturing out and holding on to their money.
Tanya and Dorise will make a killing, and most others will wind up saying that they did "alright," and then add something like "I broke 20 dollars," but then also mention the copious amounts of free food and drinks that people left them, not to mention cigarettes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Free Day

It is Wednesday morning, right before Veterans Day, and close to Thanksgiving, a time that I wrote the song linked to the previous post.
I still have some more lyrics for it; and it will probably make my CD in some form similar to that version; I have decided to cut my losses and just forge ahead with the sound that I am getting in my little "studio" apartment and just call it my sound for this era of recording.
Last evening, I woke up in the dark, after having fallen asleep approximately 8 hours sooner, during daylight hours. I thought that it was Wednesday.
I decided to go into the Quarter, even though I would get there around midnight.
37 Dollar Monday
Monday night, I had gotten to the Lilly Pad at the relatively late hour of 11 PM and had netted 37 dollars, by the time I knocked off at around 2:30 AM.
One 20 dollar bill came from a woman who said that I sounded good, as she placed the bill face up upon the pile of about 7 singles that were in there.
I also had had a young guy come by who wanted to play my guitar, and who did so, after promising to throw me a tip, and who gave every indication of wanting to hang out and "jam" all night. I finally coaxed him away and discovered later that he had thrown 37 cents into my jar.
Last night, the streets were pretty barren at 1:30 AM, when I got to the Lilly Pad.
I decided not to play there but rather, took a circuitous route back to Canal Street which took me past Cafe Du Monde, which is near the top of the list of "must see" places, here in New Orleans, and which almost perpetually has musicians playing out front, and the quality of them seems to meet a certain standard. The only musicians getting away with playing "easy" stuff there, would be of the ilk of tuba players who are holding down an "authentic" brass type of ensemble.
I've seen guys playing guitar there who were doing stuff that I, admittedly, probably "couldn't" play; but it is also stuff that I have never devoted one hour of my life trying to play -like a guy playing "New York, New York" (you know, "Start spreading the news...") on a hollow body guitar and doing it in a Wes Montgomery, or a Joe Pass kind of style; something he may have been playing for 30 years.
But the point is that there are usually musicians in front of Cafe Du Monde who can hold their own, and buskers actually follow a schedule there, where Joe plays for 3 hours every Sunday morning from 9 AM until noon, for example, and then the trombone and acordian duo, for another example, take over.
So, at the hour of 2 AM, I broke out my guitar and harmonica, after seeing about 15 patrons, still seated and eating beignettes (sp?) -those hunks of fried dough spattered in powdered sugar, that are one of the "must eats" here in New Orleans.
Cafe Du Monde is world famous for them.
And so, I was able to play for a pretty nerve wracking 20 minutes that seemed longer, for the nice patrons, while the remaining waitstaff kind of twitched a bit and threw me a few glances, which I understood to mean: "Don't entertain them, it's 2 AM and we're trying to get the hell out of here and go home," and so I addressed that issue with the lyrics of my first improv, which I think the staff enjoyed. I think the lyrics were actually something like "Don't entertain them, we're trying to get out of here."
I was finally tipped 2 bucks by a guy who was leaving; making me realize that I probably wasn't going to get any tips except from someone who was leaving; and I was able to stretch my set to a Beatles Song or two, with harp solo and then threw in an original that I am working on for the CD; feeling that I was emulating Elvis Costello, or at least his fearlessness when it comes to making himself "vulnerable" when it comes to his repertoire.
Someone else tipped a couple bucks, and then, as there was only one table of people remaining, I began to pack up, whereupon one guy came over from that table, as if trying to catch me before I went off, and tipped me.
The icing on the beignet was when one of the green and white clad waitresses came over and gave me a dollar.
The acoustics were not bad there, and I think I would have regretted it "for the rest of my life," had I not jumped on the opportunity to play in front of the Cafe Du Monde. Tanya and Dorise even play there, every once in a while....
6 Dollar Tuesday
That made for just about a 6 dollar Tuesday night, but, considering that I started so late that every other busker had relinquished their claims on that famous spot, and that I had gotten one of the dollars from a waitress who works there, it was a satisfying night.
Plus, waking up thinking that it was Wednesday, when it was only Tuesday, kind of gives me a free day, the way I feel...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Not Tonight"

Thursday Night Off
26 Dollar Friday
24 Dollar Halloween
Sunday Off
10 Dollar Monday

Thursday, I watched football with Howard, who was nervous about his pre-surgery appointment the next day, he has a double hernia, whatever that is.
Friday, I went out and played, as it seemed that people were going to celebrate Halloween upon that night, as rain was in the forecast for the actual day.
Halloween it rained all the way up until almost midnight.
I sat under the overhang by the Quartermaster and sipped whiskey, until such a time that I figured I could play across the street, under a roof that overlaps the sidewalk.
There were people sitting along that way in lawn chairs; they were renting a place next to the closed art gallery where I have played before, when it was too noisy at the Lilly Pad.
I made 24 bucks, after asking the people in the lawn chairs if it was OK if I played.
When I knocked off, one of them gave me 10 bucks and another woman thanked me for packing up at that point, as they were about to inform me that, although they enjoyed my music, some of them were about to retire for the night, behind the wall where I was wailing away on the harmonica.
Sunday: football at Howard's, and then a long conversation about things like fish, China and Howard's surgical procedure, slated for the next (Mon)day.
Monday afternoon, Howard knocked on my door and asked me if I had any pain pills. I had gotten some after they drained the abscessed teeth, but had sold the last 6 out of a bottle of 20 for 20 dollars to one of the residents here.
Howard had gotten a prescription for percocet (sp?), which he had not filled, after discovering that they would cost him 59 dollars "for just a few day," as he put it.
I told him that I could sell half of them to the same lady for the cost of the whole bottle, and he said that he might be interested in doing that, but sent me to the store for Ibuprofen, in the meantime.
Monday night, I played and made only 10 bucks, and also got a chip from Harrah's casino thrown in my jar.
I was pretty drunk at the end of the night and in the mood to try to double the value of the chip by placing it on black at the roulette table.
I was met at the front entrance by a young black guy who said "Not tonight" to me as soon as I walked in.
I had been told before that I couldn't enter there with my guitar and backpack, and that is understandable because A: they just don't have time to search backpacks and guitar cases and B: people carrying guitars and backpacks "probably" aren't going to be the kind of high rollers (like sheiks from Arabia) that they are trying to court.
I had been told this by another front door security guard, who had used the exact same "Not tonight" phrase. This made me see this kid as kind of a parrot, in that sense.
I got pissed off because the kid was framing the situation to imply that it was just a personal decision of his which had everything to do with me, but nothing to do with the stuff I was carrying.
I also got pissed off at the apparent enjoyment that the kid was getting from turning me away.
"Oh, it's because of the hat, right?" I asked, as a young (white) female employee stood by and grinned, apparently amused by the whole thing.
"Yup, it's the hat!" he said, as the girl giggled.
I was so pissed off that I almost threatened to kill him; I knew that had I took a few steps toward him, while uttering threats at him/them, he would have stopped smiling.
And, I was too drunk to realize that I could have turned the tables by saying "Listen, punk, you may have never seen me before, but I've been here a few times and sometimes they won't let my guitar and backpack in, but don't try to bullshit me like you have the power to turn people away at your discretion. If I go and drop this stuff off somewhere and come back, then let's see you say 'not tonight' then, we'll have a problem, you little punk bitch. And, you...Do I have to slap that smirk of your face, or are you going to start acting more professionally?"
Or words to that effect.
I figured, ultimately that a 1 dollar chip was not worth getting myself potentially barred "for life" from Harrah's Casino..
But I did decide to quit drinking again, compelled mainly by the level of anger that I had, which seemed to burn the alcohol out of my bloodstream.