Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Lone Surviving Vice (updated)

24 Dollar Friday

I went out and played last night.
For lack of any picture to go with the post....
The night almost followed a blueprint for everything that could and would go wrong in a night of busking.
It almost seemed like, I needed to get back on my bike and leave, to return in 5 or 10 minutes; then I might have reset the whole evening and broken the pattern.

Art

"The Cool Thing To Do Guy" hangs on the wall in my room.
I have entertained the idea of moving to a different room.
The more I decorate my apartment with artwork and, especially if I reach the finger painting on the wall stage, the more of an investment in time an energy that will have to be redirected, both in the removal of from the old and the careful placing in the new; which takes time, sometimes.

Also, I believe that as a "disabled veteran," and not strictly a "chronically homeless" nor "mentally ill" resident (although both are debatable) I have to reside in building A, where I now do.
And I have a bottom floor. What difference does that make when you have an elevator?
Plenty.
First, I really have a low tolerance of burning electrical energy when I could scoot up the 3? flights of stairs, and get a quick burst of aerobic energy; and so, I would be too guilty to ride the elevator.
Plus, the elevator does take some time; perhaps 20 seconds to reach the top floor and open its doors -more if there is some skeezer getting on at the second floor (just to go up one floor, yes. These are the people that I have to pick up the slack for by conserving elevator energy myself).
By the time the elevator reached the floor and I reached my room, I could have been inside my present place and had Harold's cat food already half on his plate.
This makes a difference in a situation where you forget something and have to run inside "real quick" and grab it. Elevators; a walk down a corridor....makes running to my restroom from the computer room more of a hassle.
Plus, my caseworker, Tim, who sees the insides of a lot of the apartments has told me that he thinks mine is the best one. I have a bathtub, but not all of them do. Howard didn't have one in his room, in the same building. He also mentioned my view.
I am not convinced that my view is that great. I look out on Canal Street, and I get to see people walking past on the sidewalk, and people waiting at the trolley stop across the street (occasionally a college aged Asian one, but mostly a variety of people from the India House hostel around the corner, who tend to be "international," and come in strange shapes and sizes characteristics of their mother countries).
I get to see skeezers bent forward at the waist skulking towards the rising sun as if being pushed by an invisible hand towards the store that opens and sells beer at sunrise. And then to see them on the way back, one of them opened, five still in the bag, loosened up a bit, not so bent over at the waist.
And I get to hear the sounds of traffic through the only moderately sound dense window.
The apartments that I want to move to, which face the sun a lot more of the year, also look out upon the side of building B to the right, building C straight ahead, and the Sacred Heart Catholic church, built in 1895, and now defunct to the left (there is a sign on the front door which basically tells people that the church is closed and to go pray somewhere else).
Now, as far as privacy goes, the chance of someone in either of those buildings (or cloistered away in the solitary church) having a pair of binoculars -and they wouldn't even have to be good ones- would necessitate my using a level of care as far as things such as nudity, profanity, drug use and violence that I don't feel that I have to use in my present situation, facing Canal Street. If throwing open my blinds to let the sun shine in is my thing, then I would have to be prepared to have skeezers gawking at me.
A bigger concern though is the HVAC unit that is constantly roaring, sending 119 apartments hot water and cooling the air of parts of the building. God only knows how much of that sound bleeds into the apartments on that side. In the parking lot it is almost loud enough to make you want to speak up a bit when talking.
Before I go trading my apartment with a bathtub for one with more sunlight, I would need to take a listen to see how many (nonstop) decibels I would be subjecting myself to.
The noise reduction on the Audacity sound editor actually works best with sounds that are consistent, like the HVAC unit, rather than more random like the sounds of different vehicles; but the noise reduction inside the human head might not be sufficient to keep a person from going "HVAC sound crazy."

The Trip

I was thinking, after I knocked off last night, that I would take my journey to the north beginning within a couple of days.
Then, I thought about needing toilet paper and dish soap and enough cat food to last Harold a couple weeks (I couldn't just throw him to the mercy of the residents here, some of whom have tried to feed him in the past; as evidenced by such uneaten things laying on the sidewalk as hot dogs, and even a dish full of cooked Lima beans once) and a new harmonica.
It was either buy the cat food and hit the road, wiping my ass as best I could along the way, and using the "first" 20 dollars I made for a new harmonica from whatever music store is in the area; or making my apartment more comfortable planning to stay here another few days, in hopes of making enough to further my cause, rather than wipe out what little traveling money I have.

Open Mic At Checkpoint Charlie

Something tells me that my latest stuff would go over well at Checkpoint Charlie, which has an open mic night on Sunday nights. There is even a tip jar on the stage. I kind of feel that I want to play there this Sunday, just to kind of establish myself as the artist I have become in my 4 years in New Orleans and maybe the Great Music Spirit will give me a "going away gift."


$24 Friday Night, Continued...

After a half hour, I hadn't made anything; plus the people walking past were all too familiar in their dress, their mannerisms and their speech.

They were, for the most part, in town for a bachelorette party or something similar.

They were "familiar" to me, because I'm afraid I was once one of them.

They were somewhat rich, or rather, were from rich parents.

They have had everything provided for them since birth and haven't had to work for any of it.
Try as the parents might have to instill a work ethic in them; perhaps by giving them chores to do in exchange for an allowance; they have ultimately been sold upon the idea that they will never really have to work, their whole lives.
"I used to be one of them..."
College graduates, they are happy to know, use their brains instead of their brawn, to make a few decisions, sitting in a comfy chair behind a desk.

They then delegate the work to the high school drop outs in the sweat shop that they own, having borrowed the capital for it behind their family name and their parent's co-signature. Just sign here and you're in business.

They don't connect the dots between the busker and the tip jar and the fact that he is working.

He is like the plumber who shows up at their house whom they made fun of; or they guys who show up to clean the pool or paint. He's so dumb he couldn't go to college and so now he has to work with disgusting pipes; and those guys have to climb up on ladders and paint in the hot sun. Not, me. I'm gonna go to a good college and own my own business and have other people do all the work for me, and my life is just going to be non stop fun, with all the best toys, and going to all the cool places.
They somehow feel as though it is their birthright and that there was no luck at all involved in their being born into it; it was destiny -based upon who they are. Because it has always been that way; since they were born.

So, the busker is just someone whom they see yet don't really see.

If anything he is an opportunity for them to have some kind of fun. Not the proffered fun of having a requested song played, or of having a one composed that mentions their names or some other novel idea, but fun such as "Hey, when we walk by that dude playing guitar, let's everybody start singing our school song as loud as we can; so he can't even hear himself. That will be so fun!" or "When we walk past him let's say things really loud like 'It pays 180K, but I'm not sure I want move to Dallas' or something, just to make him feel like shit, hee hee."

And like the sheep that they might not realize that they actually are until their brains fully develop as late as the age of 24 in some of them, they were practicing the me-tooism, which in the negative sense would, I guess be me-neitherism in that; if one of them was going to walk past the busker without tipping then all of them were going to follow suit.

So, that was the majority of people out in my block of Bourbon, the rest were skeezers who were very agitated and quite aggressive and also feeling the pinch as he consensus among the sheep in regards to them was to "Just say 'Sorry, I only have plastic' and keep walking."

After a half hour of not making anything, I was visited by The Guy Who Comes Along And Sits Next To You, I Mean Almost Right On Top Of You.

He came along and sat on the electrical box that is so close to my right elbow that I have to be careful not to hit it when I strum the guitar.

He mentioned something about someone trying to kill him and nodded in the direction of the bar.
It was as if he was sitting right next to me as if I offered some kind of protection. Maybe he could tell what I was all about because of my musical setup, whereas anybody else could be in on the plot to kill him.

He eventually left.

Then a guy came along who was interested in knowing what I had seen going on in the block.

I told him not much, except for the guy who thought that someone wanted to kill him.

"Someone wanted to kill him, or he wanted to kill somebody?" he asked.

"He said that some people up there wanted to kill him, but I tried to tell him that it was probably a scare tactic just to get money out of him somehow; anyhow..."

"Thanks," he said and gave me my first tip of 5 dollars. There was something going on; either they had been ripped off trying to buy drugs and the second guy was seriously concerned about his friends life; or that his friend was going to grab his pistol out of the car and do some damage. Something was going on...

The Next Thing That Could And Would Go Wrong

Then a couple of heavyset girls walked past, with one of them falling down in the street about 15 feet from where I sat.

She didn't get up right away. In fact she didn't get up for the next hour, during which her friend sat by her prone body, talking to her, comforting her and being patient with her; giving her all the time she needed before she felt OK to try to stand up and resume walking.

And so, every skeezer, sensing perhaps an opportunity, just had to stop to check them out and make sure they were "alright" while in truth trying to ascertain just how drunk the 2 of them might be (to be falling down) and if they could take advantage of it. Maybe they were so drunk that they could be talked out of all their money or, since they were heavyset white girls, could be talked into going along with a black skeezer to his "place," where he might ply them with crack and perhaps turn them into crack whores in the space of one enchanting evening.

I was so glad to see that the one girl who hadn't fallen down was pretty street smart and was able to dispatch skeezer after skeezer who wanted to "help" with just a few words.

"Someone already tried them!" I yelled to the back of one that had been rebuffed.

"What?"

"Someone already tried them. They're not that drunk." ...you know exactly what I mean, skeezbo...

Then there were the few honest and decent people with genuine concern for the girl who was almost blocking traffic with her body and who also stopped with pure intentions.

For an hour they were there; making a busker incidental to their little drama. ...how can he play and sing while someone is dying right in front of him?

Then, a couple of Spanish speaking guys sat on Lilly's stoop. I played my only Spanish song. No response. Then they started talking loudly in Spanish, obviously oblivious to me.

"Amigos, Puedo Trabajar? Cuando mis amigos hay aqui, ninguno altarά para escuchar o damé dinero," I asked them in what must have made me sound like a 5 year old Latino.

They left, without leaving anything, even though they had talked over about 3 songs.

Then, a group of about 4 people showed up, wearing some kind of Scottish garb, and broke out bagpipes and played those bagpipes off and on for the next half hour.

I eventually decided to just keep plugging away and to keep a good attitude because the very next group to come along is totally different than the last group that passed, me-tooism notwithstanding, and somehow I was able to sift through the wheat and blow away the chaff and was surprised to find 24 dollars in my jar at the end of what also surprised me as being 3 hours of playing.

Now it is 3 PM Saturday and I haven't slept yet and probably won't.

I need to get toilet paper, dish soap, batteries and might as well get a 5 dollar sack of weed, since it will still leave me enough for a new cheap harmonica; as it is time for one; and it (the weed) is my lone surviving vice....

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