Friday, July 29, 2016

God In The Ordinary World

$7.50 Thursday

I asked my next door neighbor for a handful of dry cat food Thursday afternoon, before getting on my bike to ride to the Lilly Pad, hoping to get there early and play for a long time.

Poor Man's Ashtray 

I had just returned from the store with a can of wet food after I had scrounged 2 dimes and 17 pennies from off my coffee table, many of which were under a layer of cigar ashes (sometimes I am too lazy to get up and find a suitable ashtray, so in order that I don't mar the artificial wood surface of the coffee table that came free with the apartment, I will often arrange a few pennies to form a "cigar pad." I know that copper is a good conductor of heat, and so I stack the pennies 2 or 3 high in a way that I can lean the cigar so its fiery tip is elevated a fraction of an inch off of the metal. Even so, I know that there is hardly, if any, copper in modern pennies, I don't have time to check their dates. At that point it would be easier to get up and find some kind of ashtray.

In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc).

So, I had shaken the ashes off of my last pennies and bought Harold a can of food, the 37 cent kind.

The Smoke Ring

I didn't have any weed and was, in fact, in debt 5 bucks for the last bud that I had fronted me.

The bright side of that, I thought, was that I stood a better chance of playing for a longer session, without the time distorting effect of the weed in play; and figured that playing without the "benefit" of either alcohol or weed might be an experience that I have to go through, at some kind of spiritual level, to "work out my karma," and perhaps teach myself that I can indeed achieve the same state of "bliss" without any crutches; and will eventually wind up doing so and maybe I have been subconsciously bringing about my financial ruin to force myself to do so.

The Internal Debate

This has been an ongoing internal debate, and was a recurrent blog theme throughout the period when I was drinking nightly, but the "catch 22" of it is I am more prone to see the world through mystical eyes and in terms of things like "working out my karma," after I have smoked some good weed. In the stark morning light it can seem almost silly.

So, the cycle I am caught in is: Smoke weed because it feels like a mundane, brutally boring day of stark realities in black and white, that could be helped by it...get stoned and have the experience of the world magically opening up and making you aware of the presence of God in everything; then quitting smoking weed because, with that realization, God seems to be telling you that you no longer need it; and then eventually smoking weed again because after a time away from it, the "rational" mind conjectures that you had just hallucinated the whole "God" thing because you were stoned.

The only way to definitively lay the conflict to rest is to quit; just quit using everything; and then to try to find God in the ordinary world.

So, I got to the Quarter and pulled up to the Quartermaster Market where I usually grab a milk crate to sit on.

There was a police SUV parked in front with officers waiting inside it for their food to be prepared. It was 2 black officers, a male and a female, and they seemed to be preoccupied with something on the laptop screen in front of them; something amusing, judging by the way the were laughing.

Across the street on a step sat none other than my weed dealer, "Bob" who asked me how I had been doing. I told him about my miserable 2 and 4 dollar nights and that I hadn't forgotten that I owe him 5 bucks. He is a beginning guitar student himself at about the age of 35.

"I wish those cops would leave, so I can light this," he said and I noticed that he had his glass pipe in his hand. "I hope they just get their food and go and don't sit there and eat..."

A minute later, he said "F*** it," and lit the pipe, hit it and then passed it to me. There is a God for the ordinary world, I thought.

It was kind of titillating to be ascertaining that the cops had their attentions diverted before toking off the pipe as they sat 20 feet away.

It is common knowledge that the cops don't prosecute weed smokers, especially when they have grilled beef and cheese burritos in their hands, and also because, with the number of people coming from other states where pot is legal, and having in their possessions licenses to smoke, basically, they don't want to bother with the additional layer of sorting out who can smoke it medicinally and who can't. Plus, they smell it every night wherever they go in the Quarter; one of them even smelled it, I'm sure, after he got out of the vehicle to throw their trash away when they were done.
The $7.50
Then, I played and wound up making the above amount and wound up knocking off before midnight after only 2 hours. My brain felt fried at that point. There weren't many people out.


alex carter said...

Totally cool having your address posted on here, next time I'm at Starving Musician maybe I'll grab a fistful of guitar picks or see a killer deal on strings and send you a surprise package.

I think you are right, I might as well just get a sax and play "Sanford & Son" instead of having people chase me off for playing drums, and badly (at first) at that. Whereas, even simple stuff like "Amazing Grace" and "This Little Light Of Mine" played on sax will bring in the dollars, extra bonus points if the tempo's not all fucked up. Leroy downtown gets by fine w/o the extra bonus points lol. Those tunes (and too many like them) are the equivalent of playing slow paradiddles on the drums, which would get me shut down, but Oh, no, a little "Saints Go Marching In" or "Simple Gifts" and watch the dollars come in.

And I really need those dollars to come in, because while it looks like I'm sitting pretty now, nothing ever lasts. Something happens to my employer and I'm going to be looking for a dock to sleep under. And they don't have those here.

alex carter said...

I save my copper pennies as a sort of a hobby. I found a 1945 one day, and a 1946 the next day, how cool is that? I have about 250 of them these days.

Daniel McKenna said...

The coolest thing about old pennies that are worn smooth but not marred is that they were, back then (1937) actually worth picking up off the ground and putting them in your pocket.
Right now, pennies are getting thrown in parking lots, stepped on and scuffed, and run over by cars, I've seen more brand new shiny 2016 pennies that are almost unrecognizable as such; now it the time to grab older pennies that haven't been destroyed out of neglect yet
Making it 70 years without being tossed in a McDonald's parking lot is quite a feat for that '37 penny that only has a few nicks around Abe's chin...those coppers will be seeing a surge in their numismatic value; I predict (mark my words if you will) Imagine how many got melted down during the war-produced spike in copper to around $3.50 a pound not too many years ago...

Daniel McKenna said...

Let me jump the gun; "...but a pound of pennies would be more than $3.50 in face value, Mr. Street Musician Daniel..."
Yes, but who said they were gotten at face value.
If Joe has a ton of pennies that he has been saving since 1950, then his ton of pennies is worth 7 thousand bucks; or he can sit and roll them; and then try to find a bank that will take 14,000 rolls of pennies "'re sure there's 50 in each one, and no washers, sir?"
And wind up selling them at a loss somewhere around what the supermarket change machine would yield if Joe wheel-barrelled (sp?) them up there.

alex carter said...

I save the copper ones for fun and throw away the zinc ones, and generally nickels too, in a game I call "nickel flickel". That involves flicking the pennies and nickels somewhere.