Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Earlier The Better

It's only a quarter past 6 PM, and I am about to step outside, call Lilly as I walk to the trolley, and then arrive before 7 PM at the Lilly Pad.

Last night, after spending about 40 bucks, 17 of it at Wal-Mart (bold writing pens, plant light, toothpaste, energy drink, peanut butter, jelly) I made it to the Lilly Pad at 11 PM, to observe that the same accordion player and his same sign holding girlfriend were, not on Lilly's stoop, where they had passed out the last time, allowing me to play while they slept for 3 hours and make good money, but were about 30 feet down from my spot on the other side, in between me and Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop Tavern.

This is a spot that Lilly was able to run another group away from about 6 months ago, by threatening to call the owner of that bar, after the (guitar player with a tambourine on his foot playing) guy had told her that she didn't own the sidewalk.

I kept this card up my sleeve, as it was 11 PM on a Wednesday night. There were people out, and there were at least 3 good hours of playing.

I would make more than the semi skilled accordion player sitting in the dark, but that isn't really the point. The point is that Lilly is trying to afford me an opportunity to make a living, and she feels that I thus have the right to fight for the spot.

She came out of her house just as I had arrived and set up my spotlight. At that time the guy wasn't playing, but, as soon as I had illuminated my area, he began to moan out a melody.
"I could go tell them to move," said Lilly.
"No," said Chantilly, who suggested that I just play under the spotlight. where I used to.
"No, there isn't that much left in the night, I'll just get here earlier tomorrow," I said.
"Yeah, get here earlier," said Lilly.

It is 6:27 PM, and I am off for the spot.

I am keeping Lilly and the owner of the bar up my sleeve, but am not ruling out retrieving Johnny B. from Royal Street at about midnight, when it will be dying off, and asking him if he wants to do an "unplugged" set at the Lilly Pad, and then the two of us being well lit and just drowning the guy out.
Johnny would also be able to take things to the next, or, "New York busker on methadone treatment" level, should things get dicey.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

$850 A Month Busking

  • 50 Dollar Sunday
  • Monday Off
  • 13 Dollar Tuesday

It is Tuesday night, and I took Monday night off, hoping to catch up on sleep and be up bright and early to go to Wal-Mart and get a plant light, and look for a certain ink pen that I like, which has the only 1.6 mm. gage ball that I have ever seen on a pen and which is marketed as "bold," by the Bic people.
They have been very hard to find and actually one of the reasons that I consider getting some kind of prepaid VISA so that I can order the pens online.

I am sitting on over 100 dollars, and the 1% jar is current back to March 13th, 2016.

I just want to sit and stew and plot and plan rather than "recklessly" go out and buy things that might be able to wait until after the laptop is replaced before their acquisition.

I caught up on sleep by sleeping most of this (Tues)day, and now it is time to consider going out to busk, hoping to add 30-35 bucks to my laptop fund.

Of course, I am at the stage now where, for just x amount more, I can get a "better" laptop.

I have almost an advantage in the fact that I have no need to play 3-Dimensional games in virtual space, and that "yesterday's" technology will run the Audacity studio as well, from my perspective, as the laptop that is 100 bucks more...

Besides, who want's to hear my crappy music even clearer ?!? LOL!!!!

So, at this point, I have enough for a laptop, but I don't want to go a week without food, with lightbulbs burning out leaving me groping in the dark for toilet paper that isn't there; just so I can replace the laptop at the very soonest; because, with a new laptop to occupy me, I'm sure my busking hours are going to shrink.

Then, I will have the task in front of me of getting the stuff off my defunct laptop's drive and onto the new machine; so that I can have access to the last year's production of music, for one thing...

Sitting On A Hundred Bucks

I am back from making 13 bucks Tuesday night, rather than the 30 to 35 that I wanted to add to my laptop fund.

I am going to be more patient about the laptop and really try to find a not too used one, maybe another Toshiba Satellite, because I am familiar with it.

I need razors, toothpaste, a plant light, potting soil, bold ball point pens, some kind of tape to put on the back of a jigsaw puzzle that I completed, so that I can hang it on the wall as to Wal-Mart, with my guitar and pack on me, so I can go straight to busking afterwards...I can get the heavy bag of potting soil in the morning from the neighborhood store....

Sunday, April 24, 2016

8:03 PM

It's that time...I will make my earliest arrival in the Quarter in at least a couple months....
Someone dropping a hit of acid in my tip jar might have been the highlight of last night see: $29 Saturday, coming soon....

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Crissy The Crusty Skeezer

I had the forebodings which had spurred me to write yesterday's post devoted mostly to the fear of someone making a hostile takeover bid for the Lilly Pad.
I was trying to be there at the earliest possible time, after a...

$42 Thursday

Thursday night, I had arrived there at midnight, after having stayed in, waiting for the rain to stop.
I was using the time to alternate between the two activities of:

A: Picking Harold the cat up from the spot in front of the door where he sat furiously meowing to go outside, and carrying him to the other side of the room to hold him up in front of the window, showing him the scene outside and pointing out to him that "It's raining outside, Harold!"
This seemed to water down his enthusiasm for going out there.

B: poring through the Beatles Complete Scores book, looking for more songs to learn, as one can never really know too many Beatles songs.

I planned to do this for as long as the puddles outside danced under the direction of the raindrops hitting them.

At around 11 PM, I put Harold outside, then left for the Quarter with "She's Leaving Home," by the Beatles in my repertoire, and hoping that like-minded tourists would also be coming out to take advantage of the rain stoppage.

Arriving at the Lilly Pad at midnight, I played for what I thought was a pretty long set. Pulling out my phone, I learned that I had actually played for 57 minutes. That was some good weed. Time moves more slowly in my own world, I guess.

But there were 42 dollars in the jar, hardly any of which I had seen go in. Really good weed.
closing my eyes when playing the harp removes possible distractions, too.

$69 Friday

So, I sort of congratulated myself as I walked past the "Jesus shadow" clock at Royal and Orleans Streets, to see that it read 10:40 PM.

My 24 hour trolley pass expired at 2:52 AM, giving me almost 4 hours of playing time. Still, I had that foreboding...

Getting to the Lilly Pad, I noticed a figure standing on the side of the stoop opposite to where I play.
It was a female, who stood rather still and stared forward.

Then, as I was putting my stuff down, a large George Foreman-looking black man approached, before I had even unpacked and asked me if I lived "there," pointing to the gate.

He wasn't apparently satisfied with the answer that my "girlfriend" did. (I take a bit of liberty with Lilly, in that regard).

He was claiming that he was a police officer.

"Then call in and ask to speak with officer Adams; he'll tell you that I have the go ahead to play here."
"He'll tell you!"

(I might as well drop the name of the last cop to have arrested me here, back in 2013, since he is a veteran on the force and likely to be known to a long time skeezer
I further ran through the spiel about my having been given permission to play there, the mention of which specific got him to back off a bit, saying: "Oh, you're gonna play music, well, go ahead, I'm sorry..." As if he were in a position to tell me to go ahead or not.

I embarked upon my third night with the new 50 dollar harmonica in the key of C, with which I had already made 8 dollars and 42 dollars the previous 2 nights.

Then, George Foreman became The Guy Who Sits Next To You And Tries To Get People To Stop And Listen And Tip. I think Alex In California, a reader of this blog; called them "bottlers."

The last time, there were 3 of them whom I was able to get to leave after enduring 45 minutes when only 1 dollar went into my jar.

"We're the ones that made you that dollar!" one of them had ejaculated.

...yeah, instead of the average of 12 dollars that I usually make in the same amount of time, without any "help" at all....

So, I could see George's skeeze coming from a mile away.

I told him: "I don't need anyone doing that," in response to his sitting next to me and yelling "Come check this out, this is good music; this is New Orleans street music; come drop him a buck or two!", this is New Orleans street hustle; by George...

And I especially didn't need him hollering at every female who was walking by; what kind of cop does that?

All the while the crusty looking female stood to his right, almost lifelessly.

I decided to just go ahead and do what I normally do, thinking that maybe if I played well enough, George would get the idea that maybe I am a professional who has indeed been playing there for 3 years, and that maybe indeed the owner had given me permission to be there, and had OK'd it with the police force of which he claimed to be a member of.

He asked me, at one point, if I knew anybody who was looking for the drug ecstasy. I guess he wanted to bust them.

Determined to not let him cramp my style, I began to tune the guitar while smoking the one skinny joint that I had.

Half way through this joint undertaking, I heard him say: "Hey, pass the weed!" we're friends now...


"Is that weed?"

"I don't know, it's just some tobacco I rolled up; I don't know what it is..." and after letting a second tick off the clock, added: "officer."

Then, realising the pickle that he had put himself in by having claimed to be a cop, and then saying: "Pass the weed," he tried to back track, but did so poorly.

"That's right, I can't believe you're smoking a joint right in front of me!"

Was he going to try to confiscate it, promising me that I would do no jail time if I just come clean and hand it over to him?!?

He then picked up the intensity of his skeezing, to the point where he was oblivious to my texting to Lilly: "guy selling drugs at spot."

I then packed up my stuff and walked over to the other gate, that Lilly usually comes and goes from.
As I passed them, I heard him say to the form of the crusty female: "See, that's how you do it!"
I stood at the gate in order to intercept Lilly before she had to go anywhere near them. Just them seeing me talking to here would, I hoped, lend enough credibility to my story to get them to leave without her having to get more involved.

Then, I got a text: "Just play your guitar," followed soon by another: "I'm in bed already."
I made a voice call and pleaded with her to "just stick your head out," telling her that the guy had challenged my claim that I knew the owner of the house.

"OK, I'll do that," said Lilly.

About a minute into my waiting for her to come out, I observed the big guy standing up and grabbing his drink and then vacating the stoop.

He was walking in my direction with the hitherto nonmoving crusty looking female skulking along in his wake.

Crissy The Crusty Skeezer (sung to the tune of Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer???) 

As they came closer and the light from the lamp post under which I first played about 3 years ago began to illuminate them, and after he had walked past giving me a dead-eye stare, I recognized the female behind him as none other than Crissy, as that was what Leslie Thompson had called her. For, to be sure, while she may not have run in the same circles as he, they both went in circles around the liquor store, and so it was inevitable that they bump into each other.

"That's Crissy," Leslie had said in response to my having said:
Leslie in his working days

"There's that brain-dead moron who walks around with absolutely no expression on her face whatsoever."

I added: "She's totally ignored me, except for like 3 or 4 times, and each one of those times it was the nasally, squeaky 'Do you have any change?' The tone of her voice is already set to modulate into 'Then, what good are you?' upon any negative reply."

That's Crissy.

Ignore-leans Revisited

It used to bother me a lot more, being ignored.

Back when I was calling this city ignore leans, and held up as one of the most egregious form of rudeness, the returning of my "How'r ya doin'? with nothing at all, not even an eye blink.

Since then I have learned that the phenomenon was the fruit of all the tireless labor that the skeezeers have put in, and that they, not the ignorers, fer to blame for the changing of the meaning of the word "hello" from "greetings" to "Can you help me out with a few dollars?"

The ignoring bothered me so much that I once fought back, as such:

I encountered what I have since come to know as a textbook skeezer, right down to the baseball cap with the Red Sox logo, even though he probably didn't even like baseball, much less the Boston Red Sox, and had found the cap on the ground somewhere and, wow, just as his White Sox cap was starting to get threadbare.

And the clashing hues that bedecked him, after he had passed out drunk and overslept on the morning of The Great Clothing Giveaway and all they had to offer him when he got there, in the way of replacing the shorts that his scrotum was then hanging out of, was something in a shade somewhere in between any two recognizable colors and which could be categorized as either one, as long as the color named is is prefaced with "puke" (puke-green, for example)  which didn't go very well with his only shirt.

And the "...better'n walkin' 'round barefoot, I guess..." sneakers which he found somewhere that made it look like he had duck feet.

I was pretty new in New Orleans, and I had said something to the guy, as we waited for a light to change; something about the Red Sox.

No acknowledgement came from him; he stared ahead.

Having been conditioned to expect more civility from people, I persisted with something like: "I grew up near Boston, that's why I say that..."

Still, he didn't seem to see nor hear me.

I then pulled whatever money I had from my pocket and asked: "Do you need some money?"

Well his head then turned towards me and he actually looked at me and his mouth began to move; probably so that he could give me whatever pat response that he has on tap for situations involving someone offering money out of the blue; most likely a "just don't screw it up, ol' skeezbo" strategy ...just say: "Yes sir, I really am a little down and out now"...Don't even say 'God bless you' -lots of atheists out there; I could screw it up! 
I wonder if he is going to say "You look like you could use this," like the last few guys...these must be my lucky shorts, because that started happening right after i got them...

Before he could get a word out of his mouth, I cut him off with: "Oh, you heard that, did you? I thought you were deaf" and then I stuffed my money back in my pocket and walked off.

And that was in the same era when I started to see whom is now known to me as Crissy, in my travels around the Quarter. Ignoring me as she walked by, expressionlessly.

I began to utter the words: "brain dead moron" at first to myself, and then gradually louder to the point where she probably could hear me.

I had determined that she came into the Quarter each and every night, from somewhere, bent upon getting as drunk apparently, as possible. She drug herself from one living soul to the next asking "Do you have any change?" in between making runs to the Unique Grocery Store to purchase whiskey with change, and she could often be seen digging in the trash cans that line Bourbon Street looking for unfinished drinks that had landed upright, and it was rumoured that, as a last resort, Chrissy would walk up to some poor soul and just snatch a drink out of their hands.

And, if all this has failed to paint her as intriguing, let me add that, by looking at her face, one can tell that she was at one time pretty.

I have recently had a change of heart and have stopped saying "brain dead moron" at the sight of her.

It probably began the time that I chanced upon her at the dumpster outside Popeyes Chicken.

The place had just closed, and so I knew that one of the topmost bags would contain the chicken which had sat on the heating rack waiting for last minute guests who never materialized, and then had been bagged up and thrown out.

One only has to use his hand as a heat sensor to locate the mother lode and, being armed with the knowledge that they use one kind of bag (black) for trash and another (opaque) for the leftover chicken, simplifies things further.

I was there to get food for Harold the cat. I had just gotten him and was having some concerns over how much it was going to cost me to feed him and was already exploring ways to feed him at no cost -call it "the cigarette butt picking up mentality."

As I walked down the short alley called Exchange Place, wearing new clothes, my backpack full of good "people" food, and my pocket with some cash in it; I couldn't help thinking about the days when I would go there to drunkenly stuff my face so that all of my cash would be available for further drinking.

I was feeling slightly embarrassed, hoping nobody would spot me and say: "Is that you, Daniel? What happened? I heard you were doing god..."

I realized then, that I had indeed changed and had shifted ever so slightly towards the mentality of those who say: "How can anyone live like that?" and away from the mentality of those who live like that.

I was ready to proclaim "It's for my cat!" to anyone who came along.

And, there was Crissy at the dumpster. She had dug through all the wrong bags (brain dead...oh, never mind) and had procured only scraps that had been bitten into.

I quickly located the good bag, guessing correctly that it would have been only half heartedly "hidden" (so the homeless wouldn't find it and wind up leaving bones all over the parking lot)

I gave Crissy some pointers on how to find the leftover bag, by feeling for its heat.

I pulled the bag up, tore it open, and pulled out for Harold the cat a whole fried chicken breast.

Chrissy lunged. "That's mine!" she shrieked (wow, something other than "Do you have any change," I thought).

She tried to grab the chicken from me. I was starting to believe the drink snatching rumor.

A struggle ensued, and I was able to wrest it from her talon like grasp.

Why I fought for it when I had seen that there was plenty more in the bag was, apart from having a bit of fun with her, for another reason , the merit of which was elucidated by the gusto with which she went about devouring the pieces that she did get.

When I walked up, she had been tentatively chewing on pieces with almost a wince on her usually expressionless face, as if she felt like she was eating trash that nobody wanted. After seeing that I had been willing to fight over the chicken from the opaque bag, she seemed to have deemed it more worthy of being eaten and the wincing aspect left her face and it returned to being expressionless.

That was when I stopped mumbling "brain dead moron" when I saw her.

I wondered if she felt like a worthless piece of trash and, if so, is it because nobody ever fought over her.

Then a few weeks after that, I saw her in front of the Unique Grocery Store. She has been barred (or 86'ed) from that establishment for some reason, and must now rely upon someone coming along who might take her money into the store to get her a half pint of Heaven Hill whiskey, rather than just take her money.

None of the worthies in front of the store with her fit the bill, apparently. Or, likely they have all been barred for their own atrocities.

Upon seeing me approaching Chrissy made a beeline to me. She seemed to be sighing with relief, as she handed me money without any signs of reservation and asked me to get her a half pint of Heaven Hill and a pack of Top Hat menthol cigars.

"This is for Christina, isn't it?" asked Sampson, one of the Ethiopian cashiers.

"Yup, how did you guess?"

"Because she every day buy same thing." 

Then he looked at me, like a man with the wisdom to construct a pyramid that's height is exactly 1/1,000,000th of the distance to the sun, and shook his head as if to communicate: "Watch out for her; she's crazy."

No, she's Crissy.

Bringing It All Back Home

And so, to bring the story back to the present, after that diversion to introduce Chrissy:

I stood at Lilly's gate, waiting for her to come out and run them away, but they got up and left of their own volition, with the George Foreman looking guy staring me down as he walked past.
I had just recognized that what had been a motionless figure in the shadows was Crissy.

11:05 PM, Friday

"Hey, Chrissy," I said.

"Do you have any change?" she asked.

"He ain't gonna give you shit!" bellowed George Foreman, still fuming over the joint, I guess.
Off they went.

I hurriedly pulled out my phone to call Lilly off before she got dressed and came out for nothing with the text: "He left."

A minute later she texted back: "I know because I knocked on the window."

"You're a genius!" was my goodnight text to Lilly.

I set up again and started what would turn out to be a 3 and a half hour "set" which would net me $69.

..To be continued
-coming up: A second bottler?!?

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Nicest Way

I am the only one in the computer room, which will close in about 35 minutes.

By then, I should be on my way into the Quarter.

Since it is Jazzfest time, the likeliness of someone being at the Lilly Pad when I get there is increased about 40%.

If I show up to "claim" the spot at almost midnight (like I did last night) it will be even more likely that some "traveling kid" might be there, having started a migration from Royal Street, perhaps, which starts to empty out around midnight, towards Frenchmen Street, which keeps hopping until much later.
Coming upon the Lilly Pad midway through his journey, the traveling kid with the banjo might see that Lafitt's Blacksmith Shop Tavern is in full swing and on course to keep hopping until much later, and might park himself there, and (God forbid) immediately get a 20+ dollar tip from some patron.

Then, he could think my claim to the spot, just another Bourbon Street hustle, unless I produce the evidence of Lilly coming out (at such a late hour).

Really, I don't have to worry so much because, without the banjo player having his own spotlight to put some light on his feet (excuse the pun), he will be laboring mostly in vain, as, stepping out of the candle-lit bar and staring down Bourbon into the glare, the tourist will only see him in vague silhouette, his banjo looking more like a shotgun than anything else, and will cross to the other side of the street, leaving him to resort to shouting out "Hey, can you spare a dollar?!?" which he can do just as well anywhere other than the Lilly Pad.

I do worry about getting there and seeing some performer lit up as if in a jewelry case by a portable light, with a circle of tourists already around him. That would feel like I was running he, and his audience, off. Lilly would do it, though. I've seen her in action. She would do it in "the nicest" way, too.

But, if I got there at midnight and saw that, I would probably let it go. That is a problem so much more easily solved just after sundown, when Barnaby might be out on his stoop, Alan and his poodles on his; Linda and Bruce from the other side of Barnaby's dwelling out walking their dog, the college aged kids who seem to be renting the house behind me and to the left whom I have become friendly with coming in and out; and Lilly coming out on her way to go get Angelique and Chantilly, to escort them back home through the Quarter.

So, it is almost 8 PM. It is still daylight, as we are well on our way to the summer solstice...

I want to run to the store for spotlight batteries, potting soil, water, catfood, energy drink.... 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Week Of Jazzfest Weekend Leaves Me Weakened

It is crunch time; this is where the rubber meets the road, when the going gets tough the tough get going; I'm behind the 8 ball, back against the wall and up against it....fighting an uphill battle with my work cut out for me, it's time to put up or shut up, and it's time to rock and roll.

I just spent 50 bucks on a harmonica; 5 on a new set of strings, and had bought an all day bus pass in order to facilitate it.

Now, my laptop fund is down to about 8 bucks, but I am geared with the apparatus which was making me 30 bucks an hour during the last "fest," the French Quarter Festival, and now the time has arrived for another fest. It is Jazzfest weekend, here in New Orleans.

I walked Royal Street on my way back from the music store, and saw every corner occupied by performers, and thanked God for the Lilly Pad....

I have also started to mix a bit of dry food in with the canned stuff that I have been feeding Harold, my cat; so it is crunch time for him, too.

8 Dollar Wednesday

It was a weird Wednesday night.

I left for the Quarter earlier than I have in a long time.

After getting off the trolley, earlier than I have in a long time, I struck up a conversation with a guy who turned out to be "Hutch," from Blacksburg, Virginia.

I guess the conversation was interesting enough to keep him alongside of me all the way to the Lilly Pad (9 blocks) where I played the new strings on the guitar along with the new harmonica, much to his apparent enjoyment.

He kept asking me if he was hurting my business by hanging around.

I told him that it was still early and I wasn't missing out on much.

Had he thrown me just 5 bucks after hanging around for about 20 minutes, I probably would have been ahead of the game, but he threw a single dollar in the jar to go with the 2 of my own that I had used to seed it.

That was the story of the night. The Marine Band "1893" harp in the key of C sounds great; and I am taking the "breaking in" instructions very seriously this time. I even had a glass of ice water to rinse my mouth out after sipping off the Red Bull that Hutch had gotten for me out of Lafitt's; so that no sugary residue would find its way to the reeds.

I'm not surprised that I made only 8 bucks after having spent almost all my money that day.
There is some kind of cosmic law that influences that phenomenon.
What I'm waiting for now is a night so good that I will think to myself: "...and I was worrying about a measly 50 dollar harmonica?!?..."

It is Thursday now, and one day closer to Jazzfest Weekend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sacred Heart Intuition

A pretty much harmonica-less Monday night yielded $34 after about 2 hours of playing.
I had to lean on originals that I am still composing but have some verses for already.
One guy threw a 20 in the jar; helping me to avert a 14 dollar outing.

The laptop savings jar is now around $82, which gives me an idea.

Last night, I lent 5 bucks to a couple of other residents in the building that I have gotten to know and trust.
They are both disabled, both get checks on the first of the month, and have paid me back (with interest) in my former dealings with them.
The lady, whom I will call "Rose," had repeatedly assured me that they were "good for it," when borrowing the 5 bucks, and indeed, I think their combined "disability" checks are close to 2 grand a month, and who knows what kind of rabbit from a hat trick they are able to do with their lease; so it shouldn't be a problem getting my 45 back in about 11 days now.

And this is probably about the time that I will be ready to buy a new laptop, and so the 80 bucks in my jar is really not "working" for me; just sitting there, waiting for another 50 or so to be thrown on top of it.

I have busked every one of the past 10 nights.

It has taken a week to save the $80, but I really need to whittle it down with the purchase of a new harmonica.

The next time I see Rose, and if she should reiterate her promise to pay me back, I might mention that the money came out of savings that I wasn't going to need it until around the first of the month, and then add that I only have around 80 bucks and am going to need another 50 in order to replace the laptop.

I am willing to bet that, before the end of the month, an offer will be made to borrow the 80 and pay me back 100. Call it "Sacred Heart Intuition."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't Burry Me Yet

Laptop On Back Burner
$34 Saturday
$11 Sunday

The difference between Friday and Saturday nights take home pay from busking, and last (Sunday) night's, turned out to be the single tips of 20 dollars each that came on those former nights.
After having exhausted all of my harmonicas by the end of Sunday night, (and knocking off early, rather than continue with just guitar and vocal), I have decided to be patient about my long term goal of replacing my laptop with something like the:
  • $117.00
    Was: $123.16
  • Buy It Now
  • Free shipping that I have found after less than 2 minutes of searching on E-Bay.
It is for a Dell "Latitude," running Windows 7, and has a "DVD burner," which is something that my current machine never had from the git-go.

My jar hit the amount of $88 after Saturday night, but is back to about $65, as I ponder going out to busk on a Monday night, minus a harmonica.

E-Commerce And The Necessity of Some Sort Of Plastic Card

It is a sign of the times that, in order for me to use my money most efficiently, I will have to purchase a debit card for around 5 dollars, then watch the balance on it shrink by another 5 dollars within 36 hours of the time that I "activate," it; and then, go from there.

I need to ask around a bit about which card to get.

It would allow me to send away for guitar strings at the price of $2.50 per pack from "Musicians Friend," rather than pay $9.80 per set at the music store in town, for example.....

I just don't want to get stuck with a card that I will have to buy my way out of continuing to hold, somewhere in the future....or have $4.99 taken as a monthly fee for the rest of my life, burying me in debt....

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Work On Quality

I got to the Lilly Pad pretty late, again last (Friday) night.

I left with just trolley fare on me and spent my ride home money on an energy drink.

The busking was OK, I made $34 in about 2 hours, knocking off at 1:30 AM.

I discovered the limitations of the harmonica that I was using and resolved to get a new one, even if it sets back the plans to get a new laptop.

I'm not in a super hurry to replace the laptop. I feel that, ironically, I become a better musician when I have no way to record the results; maybe because I am "void of all attachments" in that situation, or something equally mystical sounding.

And, I agree with one reader who had basically suggested something I paraphrase as: Work on the quality of your music so that others will want to record it; rather than working on recording your music.

I'm on a better sleep schedule now, as I am not staying up 24 hours at a time working on things on the laptop. A newspaper and a bit of reading, and I am off to sleep hours earlier than I would be had the thing been functional and had I decided to pore over the "Dictionary of Idioms" off my hard drive or something equally diverting and time consuming.

I have about 60 bucks in a jar, independent of the "1% Jar" (which is current to about a month ago), and this amount has been rising a bit more and falling a bit less over recent time.
Busking every day of the week, if only for 2 hours on a given day, has seemed to tip the scales in favor of being able save money.

It is too late to get a new harmonica before playing tonight.
I was out on Canal Street, hanging out with David the water jug player, until after the last trolley had run. I got in at about 4:30 AM.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Things Starting To Snowball

$45 Wednesday ($36/hr.)

With a 60% chance of rain looming, I got on the street car at almost 11 PM, thinking that I would play for a couple hours at the Lilly Pad, rather than stay in the apartment, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, and opening up my laptop with the screwdriver that I had gotten.
All that was left sitting and waiting for me, giving me something to look forward to, as I made my way out.
I brought 7 dollars with me, leaving 8 in a jar at home.
I texted Lilly at 11 PM: "Sending my love; I am going to try to play some before it rains."
I got to the Unique Grocery Store, where, before I went in, I encountered a middle aged white guy who was standing nearby a black guy and who asked: "Do you have a lighter?"

"Yes," I said.

"Can I buy it from you for 5 bucks?"

"Sure," I said.

The black guy started to say: "Why you wanna give him 5 bucks when you can go in there and buy a new one for..."

And, the guy stopped him by saying: "It's alright," or something.

It was his way of supporting a street musician and getting a lighter in the process. I could see that; but the (skeezer, I'm assuming) didn't get it.

"Thanks," I said, pocketing the 5. "I'm not sure I'm gonna make anything tonight if it starts raining..."

I checked my phone, while walking down Royal Street. There was a message from Lilly.
The only text showing was: "Please do," which I thought was encouragement from her to play for a while before it rained.
Clicking on the full text, though, revealed: Please don't get caught in the rain, tonight is a bad night, you should stay in...(I'm paraphrasing)

I played for only 1 hour and 15 minutes and netted 45 bucks, to go with the profits from the sale of my lighter.

One couple of guys had stopped while I was playing "People Are Strange," by The Doors.

They started to sing along, and then one began to shoot video on his phone, while the other assumed a position by my side (close enough so that I was bumping him with each strum) and sang along.

They threw 20 dollars in my jar, which I quickly pocketed.

One of them asked: "Is this a good spot?" which seemed like an oxymoron (or something) as he had just tipped me the 20.

I explained that I was not at a particularly "dangerous" spot, unless you factor in the danger of someone snatching the 20 and running away with it.

As the video rolled, after they had asked for "more Doors," the guy next to me started to improvise lyrics over the "Light My Fire," chords that I was playing (substituting blank my blank for the original lyrics).

He must have thought that they were risque, as he kept glancing left and right nervously before singing them.

To demonstrate to him that "risque" is a relative term and that he needed not feel embarrassed, I jumped in and finished one of his lines, with something Bourbon Street appropriate, which brought laughter and another 10 dollar bill, which was handed to me, with the advice: "Here, put this in your pocket, too."

Answer To Comment

From Alex In California

You keep a cig tucked behind your ear, or a pack with cig or three in it in your pocket or rolled up shirt sleeve.

the cigs are prepared:

Take a horsehair and stick it into the cig so the 2nd or 3rd puff in, YUK!
Where ever am I going to find horse hair?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Favorited And Followed

The Snowball Song has busted out huge with at least 4 people having listened to, shared and in a couple cases "favorited" it.
Week of April 04, 2016 to April 11, 2016
yipper yipper
  • Views: 252
  • Plays: 38
Followers: 71

I woke up this wednesday at the "habitual" time of around 12:30 PM.

It has been almost a year and a half since I slept under the wharf where the Natchez steamboat would wake me up at 10 AM with its calliope, before steaming away at 11 AM, to return at some time around 1 PM, give (usually) or take a few minutes.
So, this had been the time that I had get up, pack up and run up to the CVS for my first energy drink of the day.&nbsp

I still wake up at around that time, even though now I often have only 3 or 4 hours of sleep in me then, and so resume sleeping until about 3 PM, which is another time that I seem to wake up at frequently, without the aid of an alarm clock.

Having found out that the problem with my laptop is not the AC adapter, I now am on a mission to get a small screwdriver, so that I can open the thing up. I have rationalized away my fear that, upon opening it, all the parts are going to explode out of the thing like those paper and spring snakes that fly from canisters, making a loud "boing!," and sending tiny computer parts to every corner of the room. That only happens with Swiss watches, right?
There is rain in the forecast, to include "heavy thunderstorms."
I went out last (Tuesday) night and played from 10 PM until just about 3 hours later, and made 16 dollars in the process.
I am back to using the C Major harmonica, that the Lidgleys of London had sent me, with its one missing reed, as it is a Marine Band "soloist," and  the remaining notes on it sound better than the remaining notes on the G Major Hohner (Ol' Standby) with its own missing reed, or the E Flat Major Marine Band with its 2 or 3 (I lost count) missing reeds.
Plus, being in the key of C Major, it opens up a whole world of "easy" songs that I know. I don't think I could have done yet another 20 minute "extended" version of "Scarlet Begonias/Fire On The Mountain," by The Grateful Dead; to fill that vacuum in my E-Flat repertoire.
Game Over?
The 16 Dollar night could have been "better," had I the lack of scruples to take advantage of a fairly inebriated lady named Heidi who, at first stood about 10 feet away, towards Lilly's other stoop, making me wonder, since I couldn't see her too well in the glare from the lamp post where I used to play, if she were related to the travelling kids who had made some inroads into encroaching upon the Lilly Pad; and had to be run off, in one case, by Lilly; and who had fallen asleep on the opposite stoop, in the other case.
Someone had apparently lit a small fire at the spot where I sit, as evidenced by a small pile of ashes and several unburned ends of stick matches, arranged in a teepee like configuration.
It looked to me, when I discovered it Monday night, after the French Quarter Festival had run its coarse, and the kids might have left to hop a train headed for the next big "walking around with your dogs and your signs asking everybody for something for free" event somewhere, that perhaps some kind of ritual had taken place. The conflagration may have been part of a dog skeezing, dirty, traveling, Rainbow kid ritual, with the objective being the placing of a hex upon the Lilly Pad.
I stopped playing at one point, when I was just playing familiar chords in the key of the harp and making up lyrics as I went along.
"You're doing good; keep going!," said the lady from the glare of light who would turn out to be Heidi.
She walked over and, saying: "I don't have any more money," bent down to put a dollar in the tiposaurus' jar, and then added: "Well, I do have more, but you stopped playing..." As she was saying this, a bill fell to the sidewalk behind her. A five, I noticed.
I pointed it out to her, though, rather than hoping that she walked away without noticing it.
She just shrugged her shoulders, as if disowning herself of it. I put it on my guitar case between myself and the stoop, where she sat down; giving her the option of taking it back or not.
A closer look revealed a lady who seemed pretty well dressed and well made over. The tattoos which had made me wonder at a distance if she were linked to the traveling kids, up close looked more like works of art, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had been done by a famous and expensive "ink"er somewhere.
Even her somewhat mystical "goddess of the night" appearance, seemed to have been carefully crafted and sculpted and pampered, and not an outcrop of her being known as "the witch of the trailer park" somewhere.
I wound up playing for her for about a half hour for the 6 bucks that she wound up leaving.

During that time she had reached a few times for a cigarette lighter which she kept in the pocket of a little purse that was bulging with something the color of the new large bills. I probably could have tried to skeeze her, because I think that she became so engrossed in the music and conversation that it never crossed her mind to leave me a big chunk of cash. I might have grabbed my tip jar, looked in it and then sighed: "Not a very good money night..." but just didn't.
Of course, a skeezer came along.
First off, the sight of anyone stopping for a busker is a heads up to them that the person at least probably has money, and not only that, has demonstrated a certain propensity to give to someone; anyone.
That may have been borne out of appreciation for the music, or it may be that the person is generous in a more general sense; which is where that skeezer would come in.
They almost can't resist. The thought that the woman may be inebriated enough to be unknowingly dropping money on the sidewalk, for example, is just too powerful in them.
The guy was a young black man, fairly large and dressed in kind of a college basketball style getup.
The first thing that he did was offer me his hand to shake.
Skeezers do this because there are certain nerve receptors in the brain that are triggered by the act of shaking hands; that have been conditioned through a lifetime of experiences of shaking hands with someone whom is respected, or whom one wants to show respect to.

He complimented my playing, verbally, not by throwing a tip. And, then, satisfied that he had dispatched with me, took his seat beside Heidi on the other side of me and began to skeeze.
I soon heard Heidi tell him that she didn't have any cash on her.
"Good for her," I thought.
Heidi must have been sophisticated and cosmopolitan enough to have known how to take away any hope in him of skeezing her, as, within less than a minute, he stood up and prepared to leave. But not before coming back to me and asking me for a cigarette. ...they just have to get something; anything, it seems, I thought.
I told him that I only had a couple left, to last the rest of the night "..'til I can get to a store..."
;">Of course, I said this to test him to see if he was sociopathic enough to take one of a guy's last two cigarettes; and so that I could say the word "store," to remind him of where cigarettes really come from -not the stork, and not whomever you see smoking in public.
"Come on, I know you have a cigarette," he persisted, with a half a glance towards my tip jar that had maybe 9 dollars in it, and the conspicuous absence of any half glance towards Heidi, (whom he by now, must have gleaned was a worldly, sophisticated lady able to see right through his skeeze) which was meant to say, without words, "I know she gonna break you off something."
But, I was offended by his questioning my integrity in relating to him that I only had a couple left; and I held my ground.
Another "subtle" glance at the tiposaurus jar.  ....yeah, I know you can snatch my jar with the 9 bucks in it and run down the street in your basketball shoes...
"Well, let me get the rest of that one..." he said of the one in my mouth.
Unbelievable; they just have to get something; anything; for free

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Order Of The Day

Yeah, I am at the library on the computer and not on my laptop at Starbucks because the laptop is still dead.
Radio Shock
I woke up out of a kind of depressing dream. In the dream, my music teacher from college was encouraging me about my music, saying that it was valid, or something...
It was still a kind of depressed feeling, but it was easy to shake off by just making a decision to.
I told myself to get up and sip coffee and do my exercises (I have 2 gallon jugs of water on each end of a bamboo pole of about 6 feet long that I use to do curls and "military presses") and then to get busy on the chores of :
A: Going to the food stamp place to ask them why I never got the phone call to do the interview which must be done every 6 months, pertaining to "re-determination," which I did, and:
B: Taking the laptop to Radio Shack, reminding them that I had bought it there, and asking them if I could plug a good AC adapter into it, to determine whether or not my (under $20) adapter is the problem.
The problem was that it wasn't.
A brand new adapter out of the box, green light glowing and all, failed to cause the white light to come on.
So, it seems that the white light is not there to tell one that the laptop is plugged in to a good outlet and is getting 19 volts to the thing, but rather that the thing is "on" and "running."
So the 19 volts must have to make it to another juncture, further inside, where some of it is routed to the white LED which tells the world that it is on.
I'm Going In There!
My next step will be to open the thing up and try to determine how far the power makes it past the input connector. Maybe there is a fuse. It would make sense to put the power "indicator" after any fuse that might blow, I guess.
I am probably going to make a "poor man's voltmeter" out of a guitar string and a flashlight bulb, an go poking around inside the thing, provided I can get the screws off the back. Otherwise I might have to poke around the pawn shops for the right screwdriver.
This will be a halfhearted effort and I won't be worried to much if I make matters worse by opening the back (i.e. having a couple extra parts leftover on the outside, after I replace the back cover).
I am leaning towards looking for a replacement that I can pop my hard drive into and go from there. The CD/DVD drive never worked on the thing from the time that I bought it
There is a rather large scratch in the screen from where some of the keys on the keyboard pressed into it after some of the heavy groceries in my backpack pressed upon it.
And, it of course fell off my desk and onto the floor, after I stepped on the cord and yanked it there, and this ruined one of the USB ports that the Snowball microphone was plugged into, and bent but didn't break the very same input that power does not seem to be getting past now.
So, whatever money that I was going to use to get a Visa Debit card so that I could use it to order parts, will now probably go into new strings and a new harmonica.
A guy came along last night with a ukulele and shot a video of us jamming and then gave me the Youtube address where he intended to post it.
I went there this morning and saw a 6 minute video of him walking around the Quarter and containing about 5 seconds of he and myself doing "What a Wonderful World," while a graphic popped up, saying "Jammed with this guy..."
It was right at the spot where I sing: "...not a bad world," in place of the original lyrics, and another popped up and said "nailed it" then.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Festivity Embracement

  • New Blogging Approach Considered
  • The Change Skeezer
  • The Harmonica Blowout

Written Saturday;
My priority is to make it to the music store; I have one hour and 13 minutes to do so; I am to get strings; I played for a few minutes short of 3 hours last night and 47 dollars was mine, to consider using to get the laptop fixed.
Laptop Diagnosis
I am pretty sure that it is the power supply:
The day before, the circuit breaker was tripped in the room with the laptop running, and I had to reboot a song that I was editing, and had been editing for a long time, perhaps 12+ hours;
and so the thing heated up; especially since I had rotated the thing so that it was sitting on the corner of the dresser facing me, and I think in doing so I positioned the nubs on the front two corners so that they were hanging over the sides of the dresser and not propping the thing that critical eighth of an inch off the dresser.
It heated up and the breaker tripped and saved it from frying the power supply. Completely.
It weakened the power supply which then fried the next night while the laptop sat in "sleep" mode for a few hours.
One encouraging thing is that the fan never comes on and the drive never starts whirring, and, perhaps the biggest clue: The light telling me that the thing is plugged in never comes on.
If the problem was that my hard drive was crashed and all my music at risk, the computer would still at least tell me that it was plugged in.
So, I conclude that the very first stage of "power supply" is where the problem lies, if in fact the white light telling you that it is plugged in is a direct connection to the power coming in and not the function of some chip on the motherboard.
In either case, a new motherboard would give me access to my hard drive again, also, and for less than a new "cheap" laptop...I don't think it would be a drastic upgrade from the ol' Toshiba LOL!
Written Sunday
I made it to the music store yesterday, arriving about 10 minutes before they were to close, which is a time that is in constant flux, depending upon the presence or not of customers in the store. The guy arriving 5 minutes before their closing time may encounter the closed and locked gate and the employees inside not even turning their heads when he knocks on the window.
This, apparently can only be prevented by there being a customer inside, shopping and holding the place open for someone whom, at the time might be jogging down Chartres Street with a guitar and backpack on.
I spent almost all of the 50 bucks that I had made Friday night.
I had looked at the money as a possible way to get my laptop up and running as fast the arrival of some part in the mail and the purchase of the appropriate screwdriver might be.
As if the Good Lord had said: "Here's 50 bucks, get the laptop fixed so you can go back to your studio recording work, I especially like that song about your penis..." And, in the old "drinking" days, I would have been well advised to do just that: use the money immediately to solve that one biggest and most expensive problem, before the first drink is taken; especially before that.
But, I decided to have some faith in myself;
Faith in the prudence of "reinvesting" it.
Instant Skeezer
I took the 50 bucks, and some change out with me, and embarked upon my "quarter mile" run. It was early afternoon. As I started running, and the change in my pocket started chinking upon every step, I wished that I hadn't brought it with me; if I had to run more than a short distance, I think I would find some way to secure it so it wouldn't sound.

Approximately a minute and 20 seconds into my run, I came upon a guy walking towards me on the sidewalk.

He held out his hand, as if trying to stop me. "Excuse me," he said.

Here I was, jogging along, glancing at a stopwatch, and him apparently not realizing that I was busy with my exercise. It was reminiscent of the skeezers who will interrupt me in the middle of playing a song to try to skeeze money out of my tip jar. I veered around him.

As I passed, he asked: "Do you have some change?"

I had to think that, like my cat who knows the unique sound of my key ring jingling and will come running to the door, this guy has been skeezing change for so long (he was about 40-ish) that he can discriminate that the sound emanating from my pocket was being produced by change. As I approached at such a high velocity (1:45 quarter miles!) it must have excited his eye and filled him with the sense of urgency engendered by the fact that he would only have a short time to skeeze me as I flew by; and would have to match my pace with his tongue; or get me to stop.

My jogging action must have been causing the coins to crash together in my pocket, producing what must have sounded like cymbals in his ears, like a parade was coming; I guess he was caught up for a second.

But, less than 2 minutes into my day, I was skeezed, by a guy who tried to interrupt my routine. Wow.

 I bought a $4 bag of potting soil with fertilizer in it, so would gain some peace of mind, knowing that my stunted and, thinking about dying, plants could then be out of whatever soil they are now in, which came with the huge flower pot that I found one night in the Quarter. The dead plant that had been in it, which I did pull out and toss in the barrel that the whole thing was sitting next to; may have died because of that soil, my plants seem to have been telling me.

And I have been wincing every time I walked past them, knowing that the April sun should have them more perky than they appear to be. They appear to want to turn around and go back under the soil.

So, I spent 4 bucks on a bag of fertilized mix, and another 83 cents on a gourmet can of cat food for Harold, passing on the $2 bag of catnip, which I have recently discovered in that store.

I deemed the dying plants more of an "urgency" than getting Harold high on catnip. And I wasn't  deliberately trying to spend money that otherwise might fix the laptop.

I was running upon faith. Faith that my 50 dollar Friday night could be repeated the next (that) night.
I had decided that putting new strings on the Takamine and getting a brand new, albeit cheap, harmonica, would put me in the best position to do so.

So, I got the soil, the cat food, a $5 tube of flea killing goo to put on Harold, who is almost flea free, a small sack of weed and an energy drink, and made it to the music store to spend myself down to about 4 bucks, after dropping 25 there.

47 Dollar Saturday

I got to the Lilly Pad to find yet another musician playing on her other stoop..

He seemed to be in his 20's and was bearded and dressed like a traveling kid, playing an accordion and, by his side sat a girl who was holding a sign which begged for money.

I was there early, after having left the music store after it closed at 8 PM.

The guy argued that he had been there "every night" and had not seen me.

I told him that I hadn't been there that early in forever.

He told me that the only way that he was going to leave was if my "girlfriend," came out of the house and told him to leave.

I went for a walk around the block, calling Lilly while I walked. and running into the young Spanish guitarist, who is Portuguese, just like Lilly.

Lilly went out to run them away and discovered them both asleep.

"They're there, but they're asleep. Just come and play your music, and if they wake up and say anything, call me. And if they wake up and play, I'll come out and tell them to leave."

They slept from about 9 PM until a bit after midnight, while I played, and then trudged past me without saying anything. They had seen me, while they were still awake, talking to Barnaby across the street from them, who had said: "Yeah, not a very good one!," kind of loudly after I had answered: "How's it going, Daniel," with: "Well, there's an accordion player on my spot."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back To The Lab

Laptop On The Blink
I have recently been thinking about the fact that my Toshiba Satellite was the cheapest laptop in Radio Shack, and was on sale, as if they were trying to liquidate the things...
It is a amazing to think that for $150 a laptop can be assembled, with all the individual parts having been manufactured and then put together and shipped, etc.
So, I was kind of prepared at some subconscious level for last evening, when I turned on the thing, to listen back to a recording that I had spent about 30 hours on; and the little yellow lights never came on, and then the white light (which basically tells me that the thing is plugged in) didn't come on after I re-plugged it in; in an attempt to "reset" the thing. A lot of computer problems can be remedied by just shutting the thing off and turning it back on...I guess, kind of like a person being "born again."
There had been some foreshadowing...
The previous night, as I was in the kitchen while the song that I was working on played on "infinite"* repeat in the bedroom (something I do because an idea might come to me about what might sound nice in a certain spot) the circuit breaker in the panel on the wall was tripped, shutting off the laptop and the rest of the electricity going to that particular room.
I reset it, but couldn't help wonder how something that was sitting undisturbed could suddenly cause a spike in current sufficient to trip the circuit breaker.
Then, as it was Wednesday night, and it was getting late, I decided to stay in and work on some things, even though I was down to less than 3 dollars in cash.
I was on my way out to run to the grocery store, in preparation for spending the night in, when I ran into another resident, a woman who was in her work uniform, whom I had spoken with a few times, mostly upon the subject of how it is to work a job in a city full of skeezers.
"Are you going out to play?" she asked.
"No, I thought I would take the night off, even though I feel guilty."
"There's a lot of people down there. I just came from the Quarter and it is packed; with the French Quarter Festival going on and everything. You'll probably make some money down there..."
This made me feel even more guilty, but I told myself that during a 3 or 4 day "festival," there can indeed be a lot of people in the streets, but that wouldn't mean that they are spending money. A lot of time that happens on the last day of it, especially if they had seen you out there the previous nights, but had not tipped you (more guilt).
So, had I gone out and made good money, I would have been returning early the next morning with perhaps enough money in my pocket to fix the laptop when I would have turned it on to discover it dead.
I do feel a resolve to go out and busk and even play when I don't really feel like it; just to get the money to recover the thing.
My electronics background tells me that the problem is the power supply.
I had been sleeping with a song playing on an "infinite" loop* which could easily have caused the thing to heat up, especially if it wasn't sitting so that it had adequate air flow through it.
Now that I think of it, the bottom of the thing has little nubs that raise it about an eighth of an inch off of whatever surface it sits on, and I had positioned it on the corner of my bureau, so that the screen would be facing me when I was at my microphone, and that might have blocked the vent...
This is a chance for me to consider the rhetorical question of "What did people do before laptops?"
Out of habit, I frequently made motions towards the device, to check something in my dictionary, or to even use the onscreen calculator, before stopping in my tracks with what will be my mantra in the next few days in my mind: "Oh, yeah, that's right; the thing is fried..."
*infinite until a part fries
My next step is to plug a known good power adaptor into it and hope that solves the problem (for under $20) before opening the thing up to inspect the power supply inside, which hopefully is a part that just screws in and out and can be found cheaply online.
There is no way I'm going to take it to a computer repair place and have them tell me (for a $60 "diagnostics fee" that the problem is a $10 power supply which they can replace for me at $27 for the supply, plus a $50 labor fee) what I basically already know. I'm sorry, the days of technically knowledgeable people making obscene amounts of money for doing almost nothing are over; unless they want to prey upon those who know absolutely nothing about electronics.
I might have to buy a screwdriver and maybe try to borrow a volt meter from someone, but I am 90% sure that the power supply threw the circuit breaker in the house when it started to fry, which probably saved it from totally frying, and then it hung on by a thread until last night.
I'm not stressing out too much, as I'm pretty sure my data is safe, and this will make me appreciate the thing more if and when I get it back up and running.
I had just recorded a pretty interesting piece of music, and now it might be a few weeks before I can hear it back.
I now go to run my quarter mile, come back with some cat food, and then, yeah, be at the Lilly Pad a bit early on this "people are everywhere because of the French Quarter Festival" occasion.
I had some good money nights a year ago during the event, which is street music oriented. I will be on a mission to fix the laptop this year; for now it is back to the Sacred Heart computer lab....

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Permanent Stoop Sitters

I've just gotten back to the apartment at the end of a Saturday that had anything but an auspicious start.

I was up early (a little after noon) after having stayed in Friday night hearing raindrops intermittently pelting my window and choosing to use the time to record a song by getting right up on the microphone so that I could turn the sensitivity down to the point where the sound of the rain was attenuated to the point where the "noise floor" on the compressor filtered it out.

It is the song called "Seeds," written by my high school friend, Ted Broughey, and it was the second song that I did a year ago after getting the Snowball microphone, and so, in keeping with my current schedule of re-doing everything that I was doing approximately a year ago, I need to finish this song before going on the the next one.

This has helped me to know what to work on, out of everything on my disc which was started and then abandoned after the next inspiration struck.

Now, each song that is being considered for the CD which has been in the works is in its own folder, and when inspiration has struck (perhaps a joint was smoked) I have used the same drum pattern to spawn the new creation, making "sister" songs, in a way.

I had a dollar and change on me, after having taken the night off from work, but not off from spending on cigarettes and food and cat food.

I decided to walk to the library to return especially the Elton John DVD, which is overdue and costing me a dollar a day, and then to the Lilly Pad, so that I could use my only dollar for an energy drink, which I sipped while I walked, with nothing but a one Euro coin in my pocket.

On my way to the library, I considered asking Sam at the Unique Grocery for an Arizona Energy drink on credit, when I got there, something which I haven't done (ask for credit) since before I stopped drinking.

The last time was probably on a night when I had walked the 2 miles into the Quarter so that I could spend the trolley fare on a beer at the first store that I encounter, The Big Easy Market, which doesn't know me well enough to extend credit, and I was dealing with him over a second beer "to get me going."

What a difference 97 days sober makes, I thought, as I walked along.

This made me think about Leslie Thompson whom I hadn't seen in ages.

I could picture him grovelling to Sam for the same thing -the language that he would use and the way he would contort and twist his body, as if to give more gravity to his pleas- assuring the big honcho that he had a check coming from somewhere soon.

My approach, minus the contortions, was to rely upon the fact that the staff there had seen me just about every night for the past 3 years at about the same time on my way out to play and then again at about the same time on my way back; always with some money on me, a condition which I chalked up to having played better because of the beer.

I had the library hours screwed up again, and it was closed and the Elton John DVD has cost me another dollar, and I haven't even watched it.

The place is open late on the weekdays, but closes earlier on the weekends; quite the opposite of businesses; go figure; and that had slipped my mind.

Getting to Starbucks with about an hour to use their wireless, I did so, spending the whole of it deleting junk and reading mail which had piled up over the 3 weeks since I last checked it.

Leaving there, I went across Canal Street, where I did not see David the water jug player, and thus, couldn't turn the tables on him by walking up and beating him to the punch with: "Please tell me you have some weed!" About 10% of the time he does, to his credit.

I looked in the Unique Grocery and saw two lines of at least a half dozen people with more milling about the goods, and decided not to ask Sam for credit, like myself and Leslie Thompson used to do. There would be too many potential witnesses of the street variety who might see it as a sign of weakness in Sam, should he acquiesce, and might even start to pester him; maybe even playing the race card: "Why can't I get a beer and pay you back later like ol' white boy there?!?"

Speak Of The Devil

I decided to just start playing without an energy drink by my side, something which has replaced the two beers "to get me going," lately, and started heading for the Lily Pad.

Then, I looked across the street and saw none other than Leslie Thompson, the guy who had occupied that place in my thoughts earlier on.

He was smiling and dressed in the working attire of a bus boy, and waving me over.

I thought about pointing to the spot on my wrist where a watch would be and then hurrying my pace along, but decided "what the heck."

I have encountered him in the past, during my stretches of sobriety; usually when I am on the verge of drinking again; sort of like my guardian devil in that regard.

On one such occasion, which I blogged about, I had broken a dry spell of something like 12 days by getting a beer out of Uniques and, as I was looking down to pop it open as I walked down the sidewalk; I almost ran smack into Leslie, whom I hadn't seen the entire 12 days sober.

I walked over to see what he wanted; thinking that if he was just intent upon drinking with me, then I could use my 93 days without drinking as a shield to ward him off.

He basically has not changed at all. He is still the guy who never changes at all.

He started to say things that I had heard from him before; in the exact same words.

He was profusely grateful that I had come across the street to talk to him; as he was pretty sure that I hated him.

I told him that I didn't really hate anyone because, when we as humans do that, we are really just projecting the things which we hate in ourselves onto other people. I told him that rather than dwell upon the past, which can't be fixed, I was trying to focus on the future, which can be fixed; and I might have thrown out a couple more such platitudes.

I saw an almost imperceptible scowl alight upon his face when I mentioned that I had quit drinking

He told me that he respected my very much as a human being; mentioned that he had just started a job; asked me about my birthday, wasn't it in September? and he began a new thread of discussion every time that I started to leave.

"Well, I had better get out there and start playing."

He asked me more than once if I still played on Lilly's stoop.

Finally, I just had to cut him off in the middle of one of his stories and start to walk away; whereupon he became agitated and was looking at me with an expression which I had seen on his face before; on other occasions when I was walking away from him.

"You act like you don't want to talk to me, like you're trying to get away from me."

"No, it was good seeing you, I'm just running late, I wanted to be at Lilly's by 9:30."

Then, more of the same expression, which is somewhere between disbelief (like he wasn't buying the excuse that I was using to walk away) and introspection (as if searching his soul for any offense that he may have given as a reason that I might be walking away).

"I really have to get going, It's almost ten," I said before turning and walking away, half expecting him to start hurling insults at my back -the Jeckyl and Hyde aspect of him having thereby run its gammit in 10 minutes.

People leaving his presence seems to be an issue with him; afterall, he is the guy who used to imprison his friends in his house which was surrounded by barbed wire; ostensbly so that he would have company when he got home.

"Toxic," I thought to myself, noticing that my mood had dipped slightly after my encounter with him.

I got to the Lilly Pad to find two "dirty kids" sitting there.

One guy was playing a guitar and had a banjo neck protruding from his backpack. The other, a female sat holding some kind of sign.

I explained that I played at that spot every night and had been doing so for more than 2 years.

The guy seemed to understand, and even said: "You don't have to explain," and started to pack up his stuff.

Then, I was into my second song and they were still there. I thought that they might be enjoying the Grateful Dead that I was doing.

After about a half hour it became evident that I wasn't making any tip money outside of a dollar that a guy almost handed to one of them before seeing my tip jar.

I asked the guy his name.


"Um, didn't you say that you were heading out?"

Then, it was the girl who spoke up and told me that there were plenty of other places that I could play and that they had been there first.

I told them that they were in a residential block and really weren't supposed to be playing there without the permission of the property owner, which I had. I told them that Lilly had not only allowed me to play on her stoop; but she had cleared it with the police that patrolled the neighborhood. I cautioned them that if the cops did come by they wouldn't have the same protection and could get their IDs checked and their stuff searched.

The girl seemed to become more determined to stay there; and even started asking each tourist who walked past for a dollar.

The guy became philosophical, told me that I worried too much and that them being there wasn't hurting me in any way -the one dollar in my jar after a half hour of playing on a Saturday night notwithstanding.

So, I called Lilly, who answered from the restaurant where she was picking up her daughters. She said that she would tell them to leave.

I then played a while longer, maybe just to demonstrate to them how the tourists were crossing to the other side of the street so they wouldn't have to walk past what must have looked like 3 dirty kids.

"A group of people with one of them playing a guitar looks like they are just entertaining themselves; not like a guy trying to make a living," said the cashier at The Quartermaster.

I had gone there after decidng not to stay on the stoop until Lilly got home.

I figured that if I left and then a short time later, Lilly and her daughters arrived and Lilly said: "Excuse me, but I live here and could you please not sit on my step, my girls sleep right behind those windows and your talking will keep them up," (or something) then they would leave and they wouldn't connect it with me.

After I packed up and started towards the Quartermaster, the girl said something like: "See ya' wouldn't wanna be ya'" and I realized how effective it can be to humble oneself at times.

They were grinning like they had won the standoff and exchanging congratulatory looks and I had to act like the dog with its tail between its legs and go off with a "you win," resignation.

I could have waited for Lilly to arrive, who then would have had to explain to them that I could stay and play but that they weren't welcome, and what would that have given me, the opportunity to be the one to say "see ya' wouldn't want to be ya'?" This way was easier for Lilly.

And the dirty kids are none the wiser. They think that they made me leave, but then the owner of the house came home and made them leave. No connection between the two.

They will probably just travel on and be dirty somewhere else.

There is really something messed up about this generation of kids. To listen to them talk it is easy to gather that they are looking to roam the earth freely, on permanent vacation through the generosity of others.

Some of them say: "We're living off the waste of America!" but never stop to wonder: What if everyone decided to live like them?

"Excuse me, do you have a dollar?"

"No, I was going to ask you for one."

"How about you; do you have a dollar?"

"I was just going to ask you the same thing, too."

58 Dollar Night

After I hung around the Quartermaster and drank an Arizona Energy drink, I called Lilly again and was informed that they were packing up. There were a total of 4 of them by then; and a dog.

We agreed that it would be good if I waited until they were long gone before I reappeared.

So, it was about 12:30 AM when I sat down, after having spent the one dollar that I had made on the energy drink. I started my jar off with a 1,000 peso bill from Colombia, which I keep for that purpose, and had made 8 bucks when along came a guy who had met me a year ago and who, along with a friend, had asked me to sing a song which included the names of three of their friends back home.

The guy told me he had a 50 dollar bill and would trade it for whatever I had in my jar.

I was embarrassed over having only 8 bucks at 1 AM on a Saturday night, and so I explained about the dirty kids. He was sorry to hear about the incident "Yeah, I know what kind of kids you're talking about.." and took the 8 dollars in exchange for the 50.

I then made up a 42 dollar song which mentioned "Bo" and "Sadie" as much as possible.

I played until about 2:15 AM, making 16 more dollars, some of which coming from another guy who said that I had played a song for him last year, when he was in town.

So, there was about 45 bucks that I would never have seen, had I just decided to let the dirty kids have the spot.

"That's your spot. That's where you make your money. Don't let anyone else take it. If they won't leave, call me or text me," said Lilly.

I guess when you have an ace up your sleeve like that, you might as well use it.

Though I kind of feel like the third grader who went to the teacher and tattled on some other kids, or the kid who got his big brother to fight his battle for him; I also consider the fact that they knew darned well that I wasn't making anything at all with them sitting there, and that was probably their goal; so f*** them AND their dog.

You can't be territorial AND freely roaming the earth on permanent vacation through the generosity of others...

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