Thursday, October 13, 2016

54, Is It?

  • I Try Embedding An Image Into This Blog
  • Birthday Card Arrives
  • Elvis Costello 3 Days Away

Against my better judgement, because I think that it is linked to a page outside this blog; a page that is going to have to be fetched and loaded into its place below from a source other than Blogger, which might slow down the loading of the blog, or might, in the case of Google Maps having technical problems, appear as a big blank with an "unable to load" frowning face logo (which might even depict tear drops falling from its eyes) I have linked to a map of Tipitina's studio.
Tipitinas, I have found you...Disguised very well as a defunct motel and a self storage business, Tipitinas (offering "practice space for bands" among other music related things) has been right in front of my nose the whole 5 years that I have been in New Orleans.

I had given up, after having looked the place up to discover that it is on the corner of Tulane and Carrollton Streets, and having other musicians having told me that "It's right on the corner of Tulane and Carrollton," and then having gone to that corner and said (half out loud because New Orleans makes people talk to themselves) "Ain't nothing here except a Burger King and that defunct motel over there with the self storage place behind it..."

The above picture is my way of defending myself against people whom might say that I couldn't have been looking very hard for the place, to never have found it in 5 years. Would you have known that the above is a recording studio? It bears mentioning that the murals of Louis Armstrong et. al. are not really a clue, as they are ubiquitous around here.

Guide Jim

Maybe this is a case of:  "When the artist is ready; the studio will appear."

I had run into Jim the artist yesterday; myself 250 days sober; he in his 9th year without a drop.

The very first time that I tried to quit drinking about 2 years ago, now, and had made it through my first scary night, I "chanced" upon Jim, who was by the "Jesus shadow" clock on Royal Street, packing his art materials into the back of a van.

For some reason, I volunteered the information that I had just played my first whole night sober, and that it hadn't killed me. I guess I wanted to tell somebody; and was probably looking for praise and congratulations from somebody, with some encouragement thrown in, and maybe even a bit of advice.

Jim, who was a stranger to me at the time, and looked familiar only in the sense of being "another one of the artists around Jackson Square whom I'd probably seen before but wasn't sure," probably looked back at me as being another one of the street musicians that he had probably seen before but wasn't sure and could have done the "Ignore-leans" thing and not even acknowledged my comment.

Or, if he was wrapping up a bad night, could have modified it to shouting: "What makes you think I give a f*** that you played all night sober!!"

But, I felt good enough at the time about having made it through my first night without drinking to take that chance. An artist in front of the Jesus shadow seemed as appropriate a sounding board as any.

That night, I had been tempted 3 times, resisting each one in turn, before embarked upon what was to be a lucrative night.

First, a well dressed gentleman stopped and listened for a few seconds, threw a tip in my jar and then stopping in the middle of turning away, opened his jacket to reveal a beer, an expensive "microbrewery" type beer. "Do you want this, I'm on a gluten free diet, and this probably has gluten in it, I wasn't thinking about that when I bought it?"

I turned it down, and added that I too, was tinkering with my diet, having fasted on juice for 4 days and was at that time trying to quit drinking.

He apologized profusely, telling me that he thought it was "cool" that I was trying sobriety.

Another young lady came by soon afterwards and placed an almost full Hurricane drink next to my tip jar "I don't have any cash, but, this is too sweet for me, I only took a sip off a straw; if you want it." I gave that drink to the next skeezer to come along... "Just don't sit here next to me and drink it..."

Then, a couple young guys had come along with one of them asking me if I drank.

"No, not really," I had said, wondering to myself why I had added the "not really," unless it really meant: "Why, what did you have in mind?"

"Oh, because I have this plastic card that's good for 50 dollars worth of drinks at Pat O' Brien's. I thought I was going to go back there tonight, but we're doing something different and I won't get a chance to use it 'cause we're flying out in the morning..."

"No, thanks anyways..."

As if on cue, a mysterious gentleman approached and laid a 20 dollar bill in my tip jar, even though I wasn't even playing.

It could have been a coincidence, or it could have been the enactment of a real live spiritual event, whereby I had been tested the biblical number of 3 times, and had passed; and, rather than hearing a cock crowing had I taken all 3 drinks, I got 20 bucks.

In the ensuing days, I started to entertain the notion that I was doing people some kind of service by remaining sober; like a designated driver in the musical sense. As if God could have me playing the right song in the right key at the right speed with the right words, in a way that would speak personally to someone who is walking past; but not if I was drunk and trying to do my own thing.

So, I was glad when Jim, the artist said: "Outstanding!" and extended a hand for me to shake, introduced himself as Jim, and telling me that he was 8 years sober himself, after I had told him that I had made it through 8 days (it was my first night attempting to busk, after having sat at home for that long, juice fasting and hoping that the enthusiasm for playing, which had previously been a product of slugging down 48 ounces of malt liquor, would return to me).

After the 28 days sober, and the discovery of the bottle of Chivas Regal, and the resumption of drinking I, of course, came around a corner one night in mid sip off a beer and almost ran into Jim; who had just shaken his head and walked on.
"I made it 28 days, but then found a bottle of..." I yelled after him; trailing off after it seemed that he wasn't listening.

I would run into him again, on about the 12th day of another stab at it. "You really should go to AA meetings. Some people can quit on their own, but they are rare..." he had told me.

Without the fasting factored in, I would agree with him. I think the people who could eat an excellent steak dinner and not wash it down with beer, are as rare as the steak might be.

So, it had meaning to me, because I believe in spiritual things (aware of the irony that them being against my better judgement is the whole point of them) that I had run into Jim at the Dollar Tree right across the street from the studio that I had been looking for for 5 years.

He said that he had just gotten back in town, after having visited his mother who has Parkinson's disease.

After this subtle reference to the fact that life can seem short, and as if acting out the notion, he said that he had to run, as he was in the middle of a recording session across the street, and had an electric bass player waiting for him, or something; and ran off.

"...When you have attained 250 days without a drop, a new world of creativity will open up to you. You will find an outlet for creative expression in collaboration with similar minded artists; but you need to just toss that little vial of "bitters" that David the water jug player gave you..."

In Other News, And, The Next Day

Yes, instead of clicking on "publish," yesterday, after having written the above, I merely saved it as a draft.
So, this post will span 2 days.

I have avoided this approach to posting in the past because a lot of times the stuff that I would write communicated a sense of hope of something perhaps great, happening the next day.

Then, when that next day is done and, the hope was not only not fulfilled, but had fizzled out to an uninteresting conclusion, yet I hadn't yet published the post expressing the hope that this great thing would not only come to pass, but would make an interesting story; I was often up against the decision of whether or not to even post the one that I had saved as a draft.

9 Dollar Wednesday

Just the fact that I had gotten out and played last night, is a feather in my cap, I feel.

I was so sure in the evening that I was going to take the night off.

I had "Shindler's List," both VHS tapes of it, waiting to be watched, a whole tilapia fish marinating in vinegar and olive oil, lavender bath salts, and the new CD player, loaded with The Beach Boys disc, AND, I had gotten a letter from my mom, received right at about the midpoint of my birthday.
It was right around noon when I checked for mail, to find it laying there, in an otherwise empty box.

Mom Sends Card, Letter, Money

I believe my mom has given me a birthday card each year of my life, hand delivering the first few through the lingering smoke of freshly blown out candles, mailing the rest. I may not have gotten one in 1999, as I was newly arrived in Federal Way, Washington; without an address, but I don't remember exactly. She may have sleuth-ed me out and gotten a card to me.
The box had been empty the prior day.

I started to worry a bit, thinking that since mom knows that, under normal circumstances, it takes x amount of days for a card to be delivered to me from Massachusetts, she would not give the U.S. Postal Service the benefit of the doubt and would mail the card early enough to allow them to perform at the lowest, in their competency range; and still get the card to me by my birthday.
I wondered if she was alright, and then kicked myself a bit for not having called.
Mom usually puts money in with the card/letter.

I certainly hadn't wanted to call right before the day, as if to remind her that is was almost my birthday, an of how slow the past couple months have been here.

Over the years, the amount of money has fluctuated, and has always been kind of a reflection of "the times" And, as the tide lifts and lowers all ships together, the amount of money has retained a pretty consistently static value, through feast and famine.

It crested during the "Internet Boom" of the late 90's, after mom had made a killing in the stock market, and may have sent 300 dollars.

I was driving a cab in Phoenix that year, playing the same stock market as much as I could, and accumulating a fair amount money; but it was very timely (allowing me to shell out to see Jeff Beck live at the Symphony Hall, for one thing) and was a boost very consistent with the 20 dollars which may have come in 2008, when I was living in a tent in the woods of Jacksonville, Florida, and paying for the luxury through busking, in an age when I, like many others, couldn't even find work smacking lime rock with a sledge hammer at $6.75/hr.

As far as Wednesday goes, I was just as happy to have evidence that my mom had been alive as recently as the post-marked date, and was well enough to write.

The instance of a 54 year old still getting money from his mother on his birthday, I will not discuss here..

There was a card and a nice letter in the envelope. And 40 dollars. 

I had just given Ed and Rose "5 dollars" off the balance I owe on the TV, in the form of a 7 dollar pack of American Spirit cigarettes, with 3 of them taken out for myself.

This left me with only 2 dollars and change, which is what I had on me when I got the 40 dollar birthday gift.

Thus, it was a feather in my cap when I still got on my bike at 10:30 PM with my guitar on my back, and began pedaling towards the Lilly Pad, as if I had only 2 dollars and change to my name.
A whole tilapia, a movie and a soak in the tub could wait 3 or 4 more hours.
Plus, I felt very liberated in knowing that I could set up and play whatever I felt like, having put money on the green card, which is just like cash everywhere where American Express is taken...

9 Dollar Night

One very nice lady, named Carly, had come and sat listening to me, and seemed to warm up to me after I had substituted an ad lib line in whatever song I was doing.

She wound up throwing me 5 bucks, to go with the 4 singles that I had gotten after an hour and a half, on a Wednesday night; which is typically an unpredictable night of any week.

I was happy to have gone out and produced a positive 9 dollar flow, rather than having stayed home and eaten away at, both literally and figuratively; the 42 dollars in my pocket.

Tipitina's Some More

I need to drop into the Tipitina's place, and investigate it.

In the back of my mind, I don't rule out the possibility of my going there in the afternoon to "investigate" the place, only to emerge, sweaty and "a good kind of" tired, later in the evening, carrying a few copies of a CD that I had just recorded. 

Oxygen Tanks, Check!

And, so, I guess the reason that I haven't ran there, first thing in the morning, any of these past couple mornings, is that I am waiting until I have both brand new strings on my guitar, which I intend to bring with me, along with the harmonica; and I also have added a verse or two to each of my original songs that I have in mind for the upcoming CD (tentatively entitled: "Sealed For Your Protection")

It's ("it" being the Tipitina's matter) kind of like: Do I want to go check out Mount Everest up close, since I'm right in the neighborhood; even though I'm very likely to be drawn into climbing it; especially if I foray over the initial few yards of the trail, while encountering other enthusiastic climbers?


alex carter said...

I'm glad you found Tipitina's, and I don't think anyone would suspect it's in that building. If I were there and needed to find it badly, I'd literally post an ad on Craig's List, offering $20 or $30 to anyone who can personally escort me there, guiding me to the lobby, the cash *only* being handed out when a representative of Tipitina's tells me I'm in Tipitina's and can prove it, by handing me a Tipitina's business card or some such.

I've known a ton of places like this. There is, or was, one electronics place just off of "Central Expressway" in Santa Clara that I'm convinced the employees are airlifted in and out of by helicopter since there's no physical way in or out of the enclosure the building is in. No roads go to it - no roads that a normal person can find, anyway. If I wanted to do business with them, I'd have to look up the names of some employees and then "social engineer" one or another of them to, for suitable compensation of course, show me the secret way in. But they deal, or dealt, in surplus telephone equipment anyway and I always found that difficult to make money on.

Most electronics surplus places are like this. Very very difficult to find. You have to know someone, who vouches for you, and then, maybe, you can do business with them. It's a very weird field.

Daniel McKenna said...

There was a gym in Gardner mass, where you had to go around to the back and there was a staircase leading to a plain brown door with no sign at all.
The guy said that it was because guys like Mr. Massachusetts worked out there and wanted their privacy...
I guess being Mr. Massachusetts doesn't pay enough to be able to put a private gym in your house, and so this place was the next best thing...I was told about it and went there and the guy who owned/ran it asked me how I found out about it; and tried to imply that just anyone can't walk in and join; there are big time body builders that like to work out there because only a few people know about the place; I guess the guy approved me; because he took my money and gave me a tour of the place...There was a really hot chick who competed in the Miss Massachusetts contests, whom I saw every once in a while -she was there every day, but I was only there every once in a while LOL; but, yeah, I think they sold surplus phone equipment out of the place, too LOL

alex carter said...

Maybe Mr. Massachusetts liked to get away from the ol' ball and chain AKA the wife and kids? Or, it was a place to not only work out but make connections for various things like .... privately paid for modeling sessions, stuff like that, that bodybuilders do to make extra money.