Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tablet Studio

Myself testing out Howard's tablet's micropone Left is a link to a recording I made on Howard's Tablet. I believe this is the one where I had reduced the gain on the thing to -8 db; which yielded the best playback sound; at least on my home stereo. It remains to be heard what the quality will be coming from the free mp3 hosting site that I use

If I were to take the tablet into the smoking room, here at Sacred Heart Apartments, I might get a reverberation good enough to be able to put the songs on a CD. I know one other street musician whose CD is just himself, sitting in a quiet area behind a restaurant that was closed at the time, and playing and singing into a little recorder, probably not much different in capabilities from Howard's tablet.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Howard's Thursday Visit

There was a phone call Thursday morning, from the front desk informing me that Howard was here to see me.
He told me that they had missed me on Christmas, over at the house.

I had planned upon going over in the evening to watch the late football game, but, perhaps Christmas is done early on that morning, and I had missed all of the gift swapping and lunch with them.

Howard presented me with a large Monster Energy drink (left) which I immediately popped open, as he had stirred me at 11 in the morning when I had only about 4 hours of sleep in...

He then asked me the favor of figuring out what a tablet that he was given for Christmas was good for, handing it to me and telling me that I could return it to him on New Years Day, when I came over to watch football.

I brought it to Starbucks, where it instantly connected to the Internet through their wi-fi.
At the apartment, I can see a few "available" connections, but they are all password protected.

To answer Howard's inquiry, I think that, living out in Gretna, Louisiana, as he does, if he were to turn the device on in his room, he would be lucky to get maybe a few "available" connections, perhaps from the bar right next door to them, or from a nearby house where someone has their own router.

I think that Howard will have to get a router and then acquire the wi-fi signal through a cable company. His tablet is a Samsung which is worth about 40 dollars, and perhaps even less than that, now that the 6.0 "Marshmallow" Android operating system has replaced the 5.0 "Lollipop" one which is on Howard's device.

So, that's about all I will be able to tell Howard when I see him and hand him back the tablet that he got for Christmas. That, plus how to turn the thing on and navigate a few menus. I'm not sure exactly what he wants it for, maybe just looking up things online.

Not likely that he will ever use the camera, or the sound recorder.
I tested out the sound recorder and, after adjusting the input gain, was able to make a pretty decent recording of myself playing a couple songs.

I have saved it onto the hard drive of this Sacred Heart computer that I am on. If I make a few more, I'll save them, too.

While the quality is not up to today's standards, the thing sounds better than any AM radio broadcast, and as good as the best cassette recorders pre-1980's could muster.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Rambler

A Half Turn's Worth

You got to know when to post 'em, know when to save them...
In No Particular Order (a stream of consciousness ramble)
...there's not a rain cloud in sight on the weather map; I can't use that as an excuse to stay in and not feel like I'm missing any great opportunity..

I haven't slept yet after last night...

last night I had a can of salmon and then was still hungry and made rice and then was still hungry later and ate the rest of the "natural" peanut butter...

I stayed up drawing and reading and listening to music...

I got back from the Family Dollar just now; oh, I ordered a new harmonica and two new sets of strings and used the "2 day ground" delivery option....

I wimped out and got another Suzuki Folkmaster; they were undergoing a "price drop," and were $12.08, about 5 dollars off...

I don't know if it has to do with Donald Trump, it's a Chinese made harmonica; maybe the Chinese are trying to dump their inventory and grab as many U.S. dollars before January 21st as they can...

or whatever day the inauguration is...

Obama played "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," by Stevie Wonder, which paean, I thought, was a nod to the African Americans who did put him in office; they were sending around vans to run people from the projects to the polls; but they never came back 8 years later to scoot them over there to vote against Trump, and so, there you have it...

I think Trump will have them pump the theme from the movie Caddy Shack out of the speakers right after he kisses the bride, so to speak. 

I got Harold the cat almost 2 dollars worth of food, and I got a can of mackerel and one of green peas, for myself...

.at the Family Dollar..

I wonder if mackerel get snubbed by other fish in the sea for being $1.69 a can; I can see some fish that are 18 bucks a pound swimming by them with their swords in the air...

...something about the season of winter that makes the body want more fats of the kind that allow mackerel to swim in pretty chilly waters; I used to eat a lot more nuts in trail mix when I was homeless in the winter, especially when I was in Federal Way, Washington...

beautiful country...

I was there 2 weeks before I knew that Mt. Ranier was within our view; one day the fog cleared and there was a postcard shot of the mountain...

I didn't get blank CDs to record more music; I really need to "finish" with the music I already have i.e. give it all at least 3 or 4 listens unless it is undeniably garbage upon the first listen...

Neil Young jamming with Pearl Jam comes to mind; a version of "Keep On Rocking In The Free World," with an ad nauseum Neil Young style, warbly, straining so much with emotion that you can hear it in the out-of-tuned-ness, guitar solo which went 14 minutes past the point when the soloists reached a crecendo, ostensibly exhausting the possibilities of the 3 chords in the refrain, and then became like climbers who had ascended the mountain and who were now at the peak, repeatedly jumping off the ground trying to crescendo more....

There is no sign of rain...

...I haven't slept but am feeling the rush of energy that I get at the same time each night now, whether I am planning to busk or not...I'm used to being fully awake between 10 PM and 2 AM if at no other time of any day....

...the Fender "Blues De Ville" harmonica that I wanted to get for 33 bucks -twice as much as the Susuki Folkmaster and thus promising some empirical improvement over it- was only "in stock" in a few select keys, with C major not being one of them. The key of C ships "by 1/10/17" or, not for another 3 weeks...

I thought about this logically.

First: Whenever I get a harp in a key different from the old one, I very rarely ever use the old worn out one again. I might get a wild hare to, perhaps for wanting to play a certain song in that key; but a few notes in, I remember why it was time to replace that harp. So, getting a different key would not give me 2 harmonicas that I could play
Second: The Mel Bay Harmonica Method book that I have is written in the key of C and has the appropriate accompaniment. Too much is to be gained through studying that book, and since it is a doe, ray, me type of rudimentary study, I might as well get the doe-ray-me type of harmonica...almost everything Mozart wrote before the age of 8 was in the key of C. I rest my case.

It's 9:21. I have books to read, art to draw, music to study, mackerel to eat, but. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go out and play. "Just give it an hour," I will tell myself.

It takes me like 21 minutes to be at the Lilly Pad, and working for 2 and a half of the 24 hours in a day ain't a whole lot to ask..., I only have provisions for one day. It's the little bit that I've been making each night which has kept me from having to tap in to the 60 dollars that I put on my credit card...

...I'll need spotlight batteries, a new spotlight soon, my bike is making a clicking noise in the back tire area, perhaps I need a new wheel...

Should I come up with an ad to rent my couch again? I need a new vacuum cleaner...
I've got toilet paper, no lavender Epsom salts to soak in, though....

Harold has been scratching around the outside of his ears; I need to perhaps go in his ears with a Q-Tip lathered in vinegar, or is it olive oil, in case he has mites....

If I don't go out tonight....

never mind, I'll drag myself out there on no sleep; might even play well...I become wide awake around busking time each night; kind of proves that I'm conditioned for at least something...

For the first time in my life, I have adjusted the "truss rod" in a guitar.

Another guy who lives here and just bought a guitar, lent me a hex wrench. I loosened the rod on mine and a concave curve in the neck which had been visible became almost flattened. The guy told me that the goal is to have a slightly concave bend in the neck. I could see how this might give the neck a little torque or leverage in pulling back against the strings and send the vibrations into the body better....

I'll have to see how it plays will be like the princess feeling a pea under her mattress if I can sense a difference because I only gave the rod a half turn in the loosening direction....

I'm a person of minuscule incremental adjustments...

...a ship doesn't just point itself in the exact direction of a distant port and sail in a straight line; it is constantly being corrected with little half turns of the wheel, or whatever its seafaring name is. I have made my first half turn of the rod...

I'm hoping that lower string action will be the outcome of the adjustments...and, of course, I'm going to search Youtube for "Adjusting the truss rod on an acoustic guitar."

I loosened my strings before turning the hex nut. I just figured that adjusting something that has tension on it might be a no-no.

The prudent thing would be to not even touch the thing until I "know what I'm doing," after watching a couple videos on the subject: "Do not, I repeat, do not EVER loosen your strings before adjusting the truss rod. The tension is necessary in order to...."

But hey, some strange old dude who lives at Sacred Heart Apartments gave me the low down; and I trust him about a half turn's worth...

This just in (right): I guess I was wise in only giving a half turn...something told me, no more right now...

The Return Of the Two

Last night, I got to the Lilly Pad with Monster Energy drink in hand to discover that a guy was sitting on the stoop.

It was a guy whom I had seen before, who had refused to move from the stoop that time, and who had sat there, listening to music through headphones as I played my ass of, 3 feet from him.

He could have sat anywhere else and listened to his own music, but had refused to move, even after I had nicely explained that if affects my business negatively when someone is sitting there, on the grounds that he had been there first.

That first time, maybe about 3 months ago, I hadn't called Lilly. It was a slow night and it was already late.

This time I called.

He had refused to move again and told me that he had been there first.

I told him that that spot was the only one that I could play at, to which he replied that that wasn't his problem.

I told him that I had permission from the lady that owned the property.

"I know her, too." he said.

About 5 minutes after I had notified Lilly about the situation, the window opened behind the shutter behind the guy's head, and the voice of Chantilly (Lilly's older daughter) said: "Um, could you please move, I'm trying to...?" and she hadn't even gotten the word "sleep" out before the guy apologized obsequiously, then moved off to the next stoop, to try to sell his weed, as that's what he had said he was up to.
The Return Of The Couple From Fort Worth

The couple from Fort Worth, Texas defied the odds by actually coming back the next night after telling me that they would do so. "We'll come by tomorrow night, and we'll have more money for you," the guy had said.

They hung out and I played.

The guy said he was looking for some weed, and I directed him to the guy on the other stoop. Maybe that will be some salve for the relationship between myself and rainbow hat guy, I thought.

The guy went and bought weed while his girlfriend stayed close to me and was quite adamantly insisting that I play some music by the band called "Disturbed."

I didn't know any Disturbed music, but began to quiz her about the qualities of their music, in hopes that I could play something by a band that is kindred to them.

She seemed pretty drunk, and I noticed that she looked a lot like Britney Spears, or Jamie Lynn Spears or Jessica Simpson or Ashlee Simpson, I'm not sure which.

 She had straight(ened) blond hair and a pretty well "made over" face, anyways.
Ashlee Simpson

Jamie Lynn Spears
Most tourist who say they are going to return the next night never do, so it was unusual to see the couple again.

I played for a while while they hung out but I think they only wound up putting a dollar in my jar; after having made a special trip to come hear me again. They might have been so drunk and stoned that they plumb forgot to tip me. I guess they might return again tonight...
Jessica Simpson
Britney Spears
She didn't look much like Iggy Azalea at all, though...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Early To Rise

Tuesday's Comic
The daily comic is a depiction of one of the highlights of my 10 dollar Monday one day after Christmas.

Never having gone to sleep is one way to be up early in the morning.

I'm at the computer room at the opening of it, 6 AM.

I now know that there are a couple guys, who live here, who are on the computers from 6 AM until the room closes at 8 PM.

I got home from busking and drew the cartoon to the left, having dug into it before even making coffee or smoking a bowl.

I made 10 bucks.

I had mainly decided to hit the Lilly Pad and play after I had spent the last of my cash on weed, after having run into a skinny kind of Cajun-like young man on the block that David The Water Jug Player hangs out on; though I didn't see that particular worthy. I know that they know that I know David and so I trusted that they wouldn't rip me off on that block. David would take that as a personal slight.

I had 9 bucks and a good mind to just get a sack for 5 and then return home with enough money to do laundry and other things to do like eat and perhaps draw cartoons. But the kid sold me a 5 dollar sack and then offered a second one for an additional 4 bucks.

Having gotten an offer I couldn't refuse, I just bent myself to the Lilly Pad.

It was so close by and it seemed like a waste to go home and smoke a bowl and then put on an excellent concert for Harold the cat, whose tip would be to walk over to his bowl and eat from it, rather than whomever might be out walking on Bourbon Street on the day after Christmas which happened to be a Monday.

I was curious about what kind of folks I might meet.

The Couple From Fort Worth

There was a cool couple from Fort Worth, Texas, early twenties with the lady kind of stylishly dressed wearing boots too thin to be cowgirl boots, like she was going to a fine establishment and the guy dressed a little more like he was going to a monster truck rally.

The guy said that he had tried to no avail to play the guitar and harmonica together, and in fact to play the guitar and sing together. He was asking me a lot of musical questions about it.

I gave him the juggling analogy. It's like juggling...either you're doing it perfectly or your dropping the balls, you can't be a sloppy juggler.

I gave him the diving analogy.

Playing both instruments simultaneously is like being a kid on the high diving board, too scared to jump; telling his muscles to make him jump but being stopped by some unseen subconscious fear. You have to not be afraid of sounding bad and jump into it.

I gave him the roller coaster analogy after both he and the lady had confessed a great fear of performing in public.

Here's a more recent picture of the "Flyer Comet" roller coaster

It goes as follows:

When I was 10 years old, I was afraid to go on the roller coaster at Whalom Park in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Bobby Curtis was not afraid at all.

He was 14, and had ridden the thing something like 70 times (according to his count).

I thought, then, that Bobby Curtis was 70 times braver than myself. He had dared the devil 70 times to my zero times.

But then, I eventually got up the courage to strap myself in to one of the seats on the roller coaster (which was one of the older ones in the nation and, hence, made out of wood; wood that had to be manipulated by wood technicians periodically, though, despite their efforts there was always a spot somewhere along the track where the cars get shucked sideways, giving a rude shock to the riders) and I took the ride.

I enjoyed the ride, and was no longer afraid to go on the thing but rather scurried back into line to go on it again.

It was then that I realized that Bobby had not been 70 times braver than I, only one time braver -the "one time" he first went on the roller coaster.

So, you see, performing in public can involve fear beforehand, but a feeling of exhilaration, after a successful performance will be the reward,  I wrapped up the roller coaster analogy with.

Try as they did, they could never quite work out the smoothest angles (right) and there was always a spot in a curve somewhere when the Flyer Comet would really be flying and the cars would be redirected in such a way that it would come annoyingly close to snapping the necks of the riders.
It seemed to always come at the end of a turn, as if they weren't arcing quite enough as they laid the track around the bend and then had to abruptly correct the problem in order to mate the track with the one on the other side of the curve.

Does that make sense?

By the way; why not just name your local roller coaster something that rhymes with vomit; to make it easier for people to nickname it.

The couple from Fort Worth promised to come back tonight "with more money," after expressing their regrets of not having been able to throw more into the tiposaurus' jar then.

I had gone backwards financially, on a day that saw me spend 9 bucks on weed, 2 bucks on food for Harold the cat, 8 more on water and energy drinks, 2 on coffee and chocolate, 50 cents on a Pick 3 ticket...50 cents for a banana...and 7 bucks on cigarettes.

Gosh, it's a good thing I don't drink; because that can become expensive.
Enough to scare the wits out of a 10 year old...

So, I prepare, on this Tuesday, to invest into my music business by ordering another harmonica and some strings. I also might see if they also sell those little plastic pegs that hold the strings in, so that I can fix up the "second" guitar that I have, which was given to me by Tim, my caseworker.

It is an Oscar Schmidt brand, made by, or for, Washburn.

I can tell that it is a pretty fine instrument and is plausibly better than the Takamine that I play every night. It is heavy, which indicates sturdy wood, I guess.

I haven't really played it with all its strings on it.

I am hoping that, at some point in the future, I'll be able to use it to record, in order to mix its tone in with the Takamine

It can also be inspiring to switch guitars, as different ones lend themselves to different things. It is common for a person to write a song immediately upon picking up a strange guitar for the first time. You discover how the guitar differs in feel from your own and, even though the thing might have deficiencies in other regards, it will almost always make playing a certain way easier than it is on your familiar old instrument.

For example, a guitar that has a much thinner neck might inspire you to compose a slide guitar riff, because, just maybe, having your fingertips closer to your palms might just imposture you to play your best slide. For example. I look forward to stringing up the Oscar Schmidt acoustic, though. It is ostensibly my backup guitar.

In this sense, Tim, by having given it to me has provided me with some sense of security which helps me to adjust to apartment life more readily. I could have something terrible happen to my Takamine and still be out busking the next night with the backup guitar.

In the meantime, I think I am going to buy a Fender "Blues DeVille" harmonica through

It is 33 bucks.

I somehow get a good feeling just from the looks of it.

It is promised to live up to "Fender" standards, as far as its sound. It has phosphor bronze reeds. And they are replaceable!

I can get one and still have money left for a set of strings or two and those pegs to fix up the other guitar.

33 bucks gets me in the door and, once inside, I'll be able to perpetually buy the equivalent of a brand new Fender DeVille with each purchase of a new reed plate at under 20 bucks.

This is a critical strategic budgetary move for me; one which I must pounce upon while I have the means to. There is little doubt in my mind that I almost double my income with the addition of the harmonica to the acoustic guitar and vocals. So, the harmonica being here to stay, I must make such arrangements which will pay off in the long run.

I'm going to just have to decide which key to get and then send away on this Tuesday. This will allow the thing to get here before perhaps New Years Eve.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ben, There; Done That

The past week or so, I have been messing around with drawings of Ben Franklin.

Originally, I was going to use him in a cartoon; have him walk up to me at the Lilly Pad and tip me ("I heard ye from the corner and enjoyed thine melodies.") advising me, as he did, to: "Save a couple of them, because a penny saved is a penny earned!"

The setup for the joke, of course, being the reader thinking: "Yeah, a few pennies would have been a decent tip in Ben's mind...ha ha ha"

Then, of course, the last frame would show me with a coin price magazine saying something like, "A 1796 half penny in fine condition; $2,500! yahoo!!"

5 Dollar Christmas Night

When it (Christmas Day) was all said and done, I had pedaled into the Quarter, and set up and played for a while.

There was light to medium traffic, which was still skulking by at about 12:30 AM, when I decided to pack up and go to the Quartermaster for coffee and a piece of chocolate and a can of food for Harold the cat.

Getting home, I discovered that I had made just enough to cover the 3 dollar energy drink plus the items above, with the 5 dollars that I had made.

I was just about out of cigarettes, out of weed, and had no food waiting for me at the apartment.
I probably should have played for another hour. Some of my best nights saw me making only 5 bucks the first couple hours and then having a 70 dollar hour after begrudgingly deciding to play longer...

But, I had put the entire 60 dollars that my mom had sent in a Christmas card, on my prepaid American Express Serve® card, where neither rust nor moth nor weed dealer could destroy it. And had put the 20 dollar bill that I had left over from the 39 dollar Christmas Eve in a jar in the kitchen before I had left, keeping just 7 single dollar bills on me; trying to maintain my more customary frame of mind: "I've only got 7 bucks, I need to be frugal," rather than "I can splurge a bit because I came into a hundred bucks over the holiday."

I got home and worked on the latest Ben Franklin drawing. Until about 9 AM this (Monday) morning.

This has been an experiment in drawing techniques.
The Has Bens
OK, This one, I did just by sitting with the pad and pencil in my hand and gazing at one of the fake 100 dollar bills that Alex In California had sent me as part of an art supply laden package.
I didn't move the bill; I drew it the way I might sketch someone at the airport or some other place where people are held captive; waiting.
I suppose this is an indication of whatever "raw ability" I have, and probably the reason that I have always felt that I could draw "pretty well" if I took my time; but not well enough to consider a career as an artist..
Then Again; Ben, Again

For this one, I used the simple tool of a ruler to measure things as much as possible -the distance between the eyes, the distance from bottom lip to chin, etc. Being able to walk up to someone who is waiting for a flight at the airport and make measurements on their face with a small plastic ruler "Excuse, me a second, ma'am.." would help me in this regard...
And, then on the 3rd attempt (Is this your final Franklin?) I used a "graph" technique, after seeing an example of such among the "pencil drawing technique" videos on Youtube.
My squares were 3 times the size of the ones that I had drawn onto one of the fake bills as a reference. I could experiment with different ratios. Of course, the smaller the squares on the original, the more they would have to be blown up and accuracy could be lost that way. I found that using the corners and midpoints of the boxes as references, was the most helpful. And it's important to at least be conscious of the neighboring squares, as confirmation that you are still on track.
I made the mistake of drawing one box in the wrong place, but luckily noticed, before I went too far, that I was putting an eyeball near the bottom of the nose.
The only way I could get more accuracy, I guess, would be to use the technique that I have already developed on my own, which would entail making a copy of a fake bill, then blowing it up times 3. Then I would have a 1:1 aspect.
But then to use the graph technique in combination with that, might produce some of my most lifelike drawings ever.
It's almost 10 PM, on the Monday after Christmas.
I'm going out, and will strap my guitar and gear on, just to have them handy.
Gosh, I wish I drank. Tonight would be a great night to walk up to David the Water Jug player with a fifth of Absolut Vodka, and say: "Happy holidays, buddy" while passing it to him.
I'll do the next best thing; buy the weed if any is around. I'll bring just 12 bucks with me...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Lilly Little Christmas

11 Dollar Christmas Eve

I had gotten to the Lilly Pad before 10 PM.

Lilly had called and told me that some other musician was playing on the spot. She wanted to make sure that I was planning upon playing there before making an attempt at running him off.

I considered it an irony to have to fight on Christmas Eve over a busking spot, where to play "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

I still had a feeling in the pit of my stomach as I neared the corner of St. Phillips and Bourbon, with my ears peeled for anything that sounded like a busker.

The piano guy in Lafitt's has a guitar which he uses on a song or two and was doing one of those songs as I neared there.

The reverberation and other effects on the guitar, though, told me that it wasn't a busker.

I was worried about the "character" of any busker who might defy Lilly and would still be there, ready to defy anyone who tried to move him.

I had nothing to worry about, as it turned out ...the power of Lilly... the spot was unoccupied, except for a group of 4 tourists who were using the stoop as the backdrop for a selfie. I figured that they could be my first customers if I set up quickly enough and then started playing.

There weren't a lot of people out, it was still early. I had set out for the spot immediately after Lilly had called me to tell me that she was about to go out and run the guy off.

I'm not sure why, since, if she ran him off he wouldn't be likely to return, but I suppose I wanted to show up soon in case she were to have told him that she didn't mind him playing until her friend, whom she had promised the spot to, were to arrive.

In that case, I wouldn't want to allow him so much time that he might land a 20 dollar tip or two, the likelihood of which increases from the lull through which he was sitting until reaching its crescendo at around 2 AM.

Money changes everything, as Cindy Lauper sang. I could see him trying to beg for "just one more hour" in that case -an hour that wouldn't be measured by standard chronometer...

I played well enough, I thought. The 11 bucks that I made were from just about 11 single people.

Lilly came by at around eleven and told me that she had opened her shutter and told the guy that he was too loud, whereupon the guy had said "Oh, I'm sorry," and then had left..

Should I go out, tonight?

I think I will go out, ostensibly to pick up a few groceries and just leisurely pedal through the Quarter to see how it looks; and I'll have my guitar and gear with me, ready to play if I feel like it.

I'm not really even sure what is open for food selling, except for the Banks Meat Store store, run by Muslims.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Cartoon

This is the cartoon of last night that I drew after I had gotten home.
It was a 39 dollar Friday night, that had started out pretty slow the first hour. I played for about three and a half hours.
Ten of the dollars was from Lynda, a resident who lives almost across from where I play.
I had gotten a card from my mom that had sixty dollars in it and a suggestion that I find someone to share the "true meaning" of Christmas with, on that day; tomorrow.
I am planning upon going over to Howard Westra's to hang out and watch football (I'll have to get him some kind of gift...a bag of Cheetoz and a 2-liter of Pepsi would be the easiest) and share the true meaning of Christmas.
I now go out to see what is open and then probably to busk on this Christmas Eve.
Perhaps tonight it will come...

Friday, December 23, 2016

No Sign Of Amp Man

Guy With Amp Not At Lilly Pad

I left for the Lilly Pad early enough so that, if I were to encounter amplifier guy, I would be able to phone Lilly early enough so that she would have an easier time (wouldn't have to get any thugs out of bed?) doing whatever it is that she does to make people seemingly magically disappear.

It is quite possible that money is worshiped so devoutly here that a property owner of the magnitude of Lilly and her ex-husband wields a lot of power.
Exercising this power falls in line with Lilly's aptitudes, and gives her an opportunity to come out in her regalia and put her empire in order, so to speak.

Amp man was nowhere in sight, as I pulled up at the almost late hour of a little before eleven.

I was so late because, by the time I got off this computer after yesterday's post, it was almost 10 PM. The room having not had the 8 PM closing time enforced upon it by the particular security guard at large, I blissfully typed away, after having told Lilly that I planned to start playing before nine-thirty, until at least that time had arrived.

Then, I really wanted to get a Monster Energy drink, off of my food stamp card, virtually spending it down to nothing, on December 22nd, with 13 days to "starve" until the next apportionment of the taxes that I paid into the system when I worked full time all the way up until about the age of 45, would be added to its balance.

There was kind of a feeling of closure in just spending the last of the food money on an energy drink. The whole feeling that I had when thinking that an energy drink was a frivolous waste of money that could otherwise go towards two whole boxes of macaroni and cheese, and that they were going to be the extravagance that would be my undoing; that feeling just went away for lack of a better thing to do, after I looked at my balance and mumbled, 23 cents...until January 5th...oh, well...and then cracked open the energy drink. It would make me play uptempo and snappy and help me think of witty lines on the fly and would pay for itself several times over, perhaps, I thought.

I sipped the drink on the sidewalk on Canal, within view of where David the Water Jug Player often lurks. He is easy to pick out from among his ilk for his habit of rocking from side to side a bit when he stands. That might be because he has one "bad" leg and (actually) uses a cane (for something other than a skeezing prop). He might be trying to distribute his weight equally between his two legs rather than favor the stronger one, as a means of bringing the bad one up to speed.

I had one little nugget of the bud that I had gotten the night before, when the time that I took to get it allowed the amplified guy to come along and plop himself down at the Lilly Pad.

That definitely means that if I didn't smoke weed, I would have had one less problem. That could be God talking.  How well I played later, after smoking, might have been more what He was trying to say....

I had offered amplifier guy a toke and he had accepted. He seems like a fallout from the 60's. He might think that it is the equipment that makes the busker; that being the first thing out of his mouth to me: "I'm testing out some new gear!"

Time to go out on this Friday night, two days before Christmas...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dividing Up Territory

  • Lilly Pad Encroached Upon
  • Card Sent To Mom

The zip code of my mom; I memorized off of a label that has been sitting on my bureau since I tore it off the envelope that the Christmas card she had sent me last year came in.

Every time I have ever mailed her anything, I've double checked that label, once having had to change her house number from 817 to 871. My memory being more trustworthy after almost a year sober, I committed her address to memory and then made a beeline for the post office.

I had about 40 minutes to make it there when I woke up.

I had about 35 minutes as I laced my boots while the coffee heated up in the microwave. I wasn't going to bring the cup with me, so draining it before I left would be the biggest time consuming activity, one that I would have to multitask other things with.

I pulled off the three shirts that I had slept in, and put on clean dry shirts, not wasting time to make sure they were the colors that I wanted to wear in order to express myself; grabbed a pen to put in the pocket of the jacket that was going to go over everything else, regardless of its color; put the card in another pocket of it, etc, and was "soon" on my way.

I had about 8 minutes to make it there at the time I finally began pedaling.

Before I left, I had thought "Oh, yeah, take a few photos of the card before you send it off. You don't have to post any on this blog until after mom has gotten the original..." which I did.

Then, I remembered that I had locked my bike in spot A, rather than B or C, and had to walk across the parking lot to get it. All these activities run time off the clock, of course.

Then, I encountered Bongo who was walking along the sidewalk about half way to the post office, whom I had to tell that I had four minutes to get to.

Biblical Proportions

I made it through the door and got in the back of the line, to write my sentiment on the card, while the line inched forward.

"How much more would it be to send this Express?" I asked the mail lady who had locked the door behind me.

"About twenty one dollars," she said.

"OK, thanks."

I had figured that it would be at least ten times as much as a stamp to get a card there by Saturday.  I guess I'm not surprised that it is forty times more; I always did wonder how the post office could get a letter to Elilakok, Alaska (zip code 00001)* and charge just 43 cents. Those sled dogs must eat at least a couple cans each of Alpo, plus you have to pay the carrier.

And how many post cards "...Still well below zero and dark all the time; miss you; wish you were here..." would she have to be carrying to defray the cost?

My attempt the previous (Wednesday before Christmas) night to make enough money to send my mom's card by express, priority, super mail fell short.

I arrived at the Lilly Pad at around 10 PM.

As soon as I did so, I heard the raucous sound of an acoustic guitar being played through an amp coming from about 10 feet from where I have been playing "for four years."

I walked over to discover a rather pleasant, kind of oddball white guy of about my age, perhaps, who, upon seeing me standing in front of him holding a milk crate with a guitar strapped to me, seemed to pick up the intensity of his playing. He might have thought that I was a local musician who had stopped to check him out because I had never seen him before.

I had never seen him before, but given the difficulty that I have in memorizing faces (the ones that I see for the first time seem to be becoming more and mores like composites of people I already know) plus the fact that I really can avow to having seen another guy "just like him" in the Quarter, I thought I might have seen him before.

He put his nose to the grindstone, not stopping to chat with me, but rather continued to flail away on the guitar, playing a rhythm that was half interesting, one of those "easy guitar" progressions that uses open strings.

"I'm giving some new equipment a test run," was all he said to me, with a smile.

He continued to conduct the test, and I continued to stand there holding a milk crate. At one point, after I realized that the simple chord progression was not going to vary, I went and placed the crate where it has sat almost every night the past four years.

I needed to get a word in to him, somewhere.

He started singing along to the now boring progression. This helped it slightly, until it was evident that his scratch, slightly out of tune guitar was making his lyrics unintelligible. Not a good match for the Lilly Pad.

I considered calling Lilly, but first decided to talk to him.

"Oh, so you're saying that this is your spot? No problem. I can understand how it takes a while to work into a spot. I'll move. I just wish I hadn't set up all this already, I wish you had gotten here 15 minutes ago..."

Yeah, I had taken an excursion to get a bud off of a weed guy. If I hadn't done that, I would have been set up and playing when he had walked by.

Any further utterances that I tried to make were met with: "You don't have to explain, I'm moving."

He seemed like perhaps a retired guy who was busking for some other reason than making a living or getting his art "out there."

I was glad that I didn't have to take the "next" step of calling Lilly.

He said he had just arrived in New Orleans (he didn't even know where Harrah's Casino was, after I had suggested that he and his amp might do well there) and was only staying until the day after Christmas.

I tried to tell him that Christmas has not been, in recent history, a really booming time of year here.
Bourbon Street faces a lot of competition from open sleigh rides, chestnut roasting, lighting of trees and the malls. Probably most notably, the malls.

I was thinking, looking at his amp, which really was too loud for Lilly's block that his time there was going to be short, whether I did anything, or not.

It was an unusually quiet night on Bourbon Street.

I started playing. He slowly packed up his stuff and listened to me for a while, complemented me on one of my songs and then left.

He may have been hanging around to see if I would be suitable to jam with; if my music was "up his alley." I had tried (musically) to disappear into my own alley and out of his sight.  

I though to myself that I had probably just run a guy off, so that I could get the 7 or 8 dollars that might be all there was to be made, for myself. He walked past me a couple times, in each direction, toting his gear.

I had just about the above amount in my jar a couple hours later when, just after midnight, he returned, set up diagonal to the bar, and began to play with his amp way up in volume.

All I could think was that he was one of those "Jekyll" types of drinkers, who had gone off, made a few dollars somewhere, gotten drunk and was now returning with a vengeance. that my head is clear with the whiskey and I think about it, I think I need to just blow the guy off the block with my equipment!

He was loud and stayed on basically one chord the whole time, E minor.

I was able to play the same thing as him, with his guitar sounding like he was sitting three feet to my left, and sing stuff like "Really, an amp? In this neighborhood, an amp?!? Really?!?" and made a few bucks that way.

Within 15 minutes of this display of apparent disregard for me, one of the cops in the little golf carts with the flashing red and blue lights on top stopped across from Lafitt's. He stood next to his cart, as the guy continued to blast away.

It occurred to me that he might just be positioning himself to pounce upon the first call of complaint that came in from a resident.

I was in the middle of texting Lilly about the situation when a police SUV showed up and parked behind the golf cart. The two officers then stood around while the guy played. The guy wasn't a great musician. I didn't see anyone cross the street from the bar to be any closer to him.

I sent off my text to Lilly: "The guy (she had seen him when she arrived home, when he had been packing up, and her and Angelique had paused and waved to me, as if to ask if there was a problem. I had just waved back, as if I was fine. He was leaving, after all) is back and he's blasting his amp across from the bar. The police are here but they are just standing there; maybe they need to have a complaint lodged by a resident before they can do anything?"

I hit "send."

Within about 10 minutes a second golf cart type cop thing arrived, out of which stepped a cop whose girth and the way he carried it said "Sergent or higher."

He walked over to the guy.

The "music" stopped.

I don't know what was exchanged, but he never resumed playing, but rather sat there and listened to myself, whom I thought was in pretty good form, albeit enhanced by some of Jerry's weed. After a while he walked past, not saying anything. I was in the middle of a song which I didn't interrupt to speak to him.

Him setting up like that and drowning me out was a pretty uncool thing to do. It doesn't surprise me that (probably before he drank) he was overboard in his deference to me and willingness to get out of the way "say no more, I'm gone, I'm gone" only to do a complete "180" like he had. I seem to recall more than one alcoholic to exhibit that type of behavior. It's almost as if they (such as Leslie Thompson) are conserving every ounce of their hostility. Their seeming to be so sweet and nice and deferential is actually just the lack of the evil that they are saving for when they will need it the most -in the middle of their drunken rage.

I left there thinking that it was probably a good thing that it had been so dead. Maybe the guy will decide not to even stick around until the day after Christmas.

Hopefully whatever the cops told him will deter him from trying the same thing tonight. It's almost time (right now) to go out there.

I called Lilly this afternoon. She hadn't texted me back.

"Tell me about it..." was how she answered the phone.

I told her about it. Someone else had told me that I could call the French Quarter "flash" patrols -the ones in the golf carts- anonymously, on a mobile phone; and could even snap a photo and include some text with it ("this guy right here is way too loud and disturbing me...").

"Someone told me that I could just call the...." I began to say to Lilly.

"No, call me..." she interjected.

Lilly sees police as a last resort.

*Yeah, the zip codes with the low numbers are in New England, with places in Maine having like 00500 as theirs. I can imagine that the U.S. Postal Service divvied out the numbers before Alaska and Hawaii were even sparkles in politician's myopic eyes. Thinking that California was the end of the line "nothin' but ocean after this..." they probably gave them the penultimate zip codes in the 99501 type of range.

Then, they were like, "now what are we gonna do?" in 1948 when Alaska became a state.
I think that they took the very low zip codes 00001-00120 from places in Maine and applied them to Alaska, sort of like spackling compound, after they realized that they had a problem. Condensing a whole bunch of Moose and caribou that are in different zip codes into one zone was probably the decision that they went with...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Through Rain Or Snow, Sleet Or Hail

Card has "snowballs chance in hell" of arriving on time
It looks like I'm going to have to use some kind of "Priority" mail to perhaps get the Christmas card to my mom by Saturday.

I had my alarm set for 1:11 PM.

I never set the thing to go off at conventional times, like right on the hour, or fifteen minutes before. That reminds me too much of societal conventions, I guess. Like the court date when you have to be there at 8 AM sharp or they will issue a failure to appear warrant and, of course, regular "9 to 5" jobs.

I only had about 4 hours of sleep in, when it went off, which made me hit snooze repeatedly. This was something that I had thought about as I sat up reading the night before.

Eventually, after a snooze alarm had failed to stir me, I woke up with only a half hour to make it to the Post office before it closed at 4:30 PM, sharp. Again.

Fishing For The "Merry Christmas" Tip

"I enjoyed that song..."
I guess it is incumbent upon me to go out and busk on this Wednesday night when it is forecast to be in the 50's and to make enough to render the extra postage for "priority" mail insignificant.

I am happy that the shortest day and the longest night of the year has arrived, and am looking forward to two minutes of extra light each of the coming days. In the doldrums of winter, a man clings to anything positive and uplifting.

This is my third day without smoking any weed.

Last night I was feeling the focus of mental energy that comes with being free of certain substances.

Jail Story: 1992 

I was reminded of when I was in jail (one of the first times) and some of the other inmates, who had been out on the streets getting high on one thing or another 24/7 since they were old enough to reach an ashtray on a coffee table or unscrew a gas cap, were having epiphanies and revelations, after maybe the first couple weeks of their lives when they were getting three meals a day, eight hours of sleep and not being high on one thing or another 24/7.

There is kind of a false bravado and an over reaching of sorts that goes on.

There was a young black kid a couple cells down from me who I heard one night, telling the guard who was making his rounds at about two in the morning, "You know, I think when I get out of here I'm gonna become a record producer!"

And then, to underscore the seriousness of his intentions, added: "It's gonna be hard..."

He had gotten hold of a little FM radio and a set of headphones of the kind sold through the commissary, by trading his upcoming breakfast tray to another inmate, perhaps.

He was feeling the rush of mental clarity and focused energy that comes on day x of sobriety, and which has a counterpart on day x of a water fast.

People who actually do achieve things like becoming record producers are fueled by this, which is almost one and the same with a "passion" for what they are doing.

It's a kind of false sense in that, given the extremes of having what it takes to build skyscrapers or produce records and having what it takes to become high on one thing or another 24/7, most people's nature falls somewhere between. It is a worthwhile goal to be "predominately" the former.

The kid was just hearing how sweet music sounds after the absence of it for a couple weeks (outside of whatever was playing on the radio in the van that took him to the courthouse and back to the jail) and was over reacting.
The sound you're referring to? That's a pencil raked across jail cell bars!!

Sure, he could very well become a record producer if he were to continue sober and getting eight hours of sleep each night and good nutrition.

"Uh huh," grunted the guard who was making his rounds and who had probably seen his share of record producer hopefuls leave the jail only to return a few months later, a little more strung out and maybe just a bit less grandiose in their visions of "when I get out of here" once they reach that point of detox: "I'm gonna go stay with my sister on the other side of town so I won't be around the same people all the time and I'll work out of the labor pool until I get my G.E.D., then I'll try to get hired on with the Parks Department, that way I can be there for my kids..." That's more like it. 

"Do you even know the first thing about how records are produced?" I thought to myself from my own cell before replacing my own headphones.

So, last night, I sat reading on my bed.

I read for a lot longer than I would have had my attention been drifting on weed.

You know, I could quit smoking altogether and have my whole library read in a couple months, then start a regular working schedule until my novel is done.. I thought to myself as I closed the book. Then, realizing what was going on in my brain after three days off pot, I caught myself before going on to think: ..and then see about becoming a record producer...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Feels Like 52

The temperature is 51 degrees or, 3 degrees below the "low" which was forecast for the night.

I stayed in Monday (last) night, when temperatures hit a low somewhere around 35 degrees (2 Celsius) in the small hours of the morning.

Harold the cat had not been scratching at the door to go outside, as if he knew what was waiting for him out there. At the same time, he seemed to be a bit uncomfortable in the 74 degrees that I have set my thermostat to.

I used to play in front of a Kangaroo store on Baymeadows Road in Jacksonville, Florida where there was the time and temperature flashing from a bank sign across the street.

As the minutes went by and the temperature dropped, it was at some point around 38 degrees (3.3 Celsius) that I would first drop the pick, due to finger numbness.

One strange phenomenon was my ability to continue playing when I couldn't feel anything below the wrist. I was sending the signals from my brain to my fingers, telling them what to do, but getting no feedback.

Any temperature below 38 degrees became physically painful to play in. Any stoppage would allow the guitar's neck to cool down from whatever temperature the body's warmth had been able to boost it to, against the air temperature, and so the only way to play below 40 degrees is continuously.

Tonight, I could go out and manage to play, but it would probably be counter-productive in that, whatever I made on such a Tuesday night would be offset by wear on the strings and harmonica, and the coffee and chocolate and energy drink that I would buy during the course of the night.

It's a good night to stay in and draw more Christmas cards. I drew one that I am going to send to my mom last night, but won't post it here until it physically arrives there in Massachusetts, so as to not spoil any surprise, should she check this blog to ascertain that I'm still alive.

Theme For The Day

I woke up at 3:30 PM, realizing that, if I were to send the Christmas card off to my mom, I would have to get to the post office as soon as possible and then probably stand in line for close to an hour to mail it.

I would have to buy a stamped envelope, once there.

Also, I hadn't personalized it by writing anything to go with the "sentiment" that came with the card.

Pondering these things, while I made coffee and tried to decide in what order I was going to don about 7 layers of clothing, I let enough time go by that I soon blew of the idea, as I then had less than a half hour to get to the post office.

I can wake up early enough and with ambition and drive, feeling that the whole day is ahead of me. Then, at a certain time of day (when I used to invariably have my first drink) I begin to become preoccupied with my chariot turning into a pumpkin, so to speak.

There was a feature on NPR radio that played while I sipped my coffee.

It was about the increase incidence of opioid addiction in senior citizens.

"These people grew up in an era when being addicted to drugs was something evil," said the reporter, alluding to the shame that came along with the predicament that those members of the Silent Generation had found themselves in.

The person interviewed, who was a retired lawyer and pillar of society said: "all I thought about were the pills and when the next one was coming. I knew I was in trouble."

He said that he had just been following his doctor's instructions, after having surgery done on an infected ear, but afterwards feeling no alleviation of the pain.

"I'm a rule follower," he said, alluding again to the era in which he grew up in where being addicted to drugs was something evil; but following rules was good.

It had taken him a week to ultimately get over his withdrawals, and now he is crusading to warn others of how addicting Oxycontin et. al. can be.

It is another feather in the cap of he and his generation that he had been able to come to the conclusion that he was "in trouble"after he found that he had to take more and more of the stuff to get the same "relief."

A "millenial" would probably only see the problem of how to be able to afford such megadoses by finding a way to purchase them online, through a Chinese website, or something. They would be "in trouble" if they couldn't make that happen.
How am I going to get more money, for more...?

I guess this ties in with the fact that I have gone a couple days now without smoking weed.

What the Silent Generation-er had said reminded me of how I had remonstrated over having hunted David the Water Jug player down Saturday night, so that I could smoke a few puffs of weed before going out to play.

I guess I have some of the same sensibility and wherewithal to tell myself: "Really? You can't go out and play music for people unless you're stoned. Really?"

So, I'll be staying in tonight with Harold the cat, drawing perhaps one or two more Christmas cards.  I'll be waiting for it to be "much warmer than today" tomorrow, as promised by the weather website.

This will give me a few days without smoking weed, and take care of any withdrawals (that some insist are non-existent with pot) that might be lingering and, as I approach the one year anniversary of when I quit drinking, maybe I can add "ambition be gone" to the list of things that I have quit.
It doesn't seem likely, but neither did quitting the booze.

"Oh, I'm gonna drink again. I can't read Hemingway and get that sense, that I always do from him, that "the good life" naturally includes consumption of some of the best wines and ports and scotches on the planet, to go along with the best food and company; without realizing that I will drink again, it's only a matter of time..." was my belief for months after going sober.

If doctors tell me that I have 3 days to live then, yeah, I'll probably break my piggy bank* for a bottle of Chivas Regal...might even give a swig to one of the resident skeezers....

*If you're thinking "you got 3 days to live? why not just snatch up a couple bottles and run out of the store with them?" then you are probably not a member of the Silent Generation.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How To Economize Time

The Idea

I woke up with the idea of going out to buy a few stamped envelopes, into which I will stuff what will suffice as Christmas cards, before mailing them off, pronto.

My Latest Drawing #1

How To Draw The Blackness Of Space?

Then, I got the idea that I will stay in tonight, and draw "Christmas cards" and then will find a way to print them out and mail them instead of whatever cards I might buy at the Family Dollar.*

*unless, upon a perusal of them when I'm getting Harold the cat some food there in about a half hour from right now, I see one that just has the potential to be so hilarious (with some modification) and that comes in a pack of at least a dozen for the $1.09, then I might buy some...since they do come with envelopes...

Compressing Time

I basically am going to compress time by posting my answer to a comment made yesterday as the beginning to this post.
The Whole Foods in Charlottesville, (which, for disclosure, I usually visited with a huge backpack on) was very much more intense in this regard, where customers there often exhibited body language that bespoke, "what is he doing in here, he needs some new boot laces before he needs a small container of organic carrot-raisin salad at $14.99/lb.
You see people in there who seem to feel that, for you to even speak to them, you should have been introduced, by one of their respected friends, first.
My opinion of Whole Foods is that there is, in me at least, a desire to see food of every variety imaginable in abundance. The maple syrup is not far from the orange lentils. Tired of plain ol' greenish brown lentils? There is always a lurking intuition in me that, if I could just get a good enough dose of some trace element, say through a few sticks of wild boar jerky, then I might discover a mental clarity and feeling of well being that is astounding.
But, I see a lot of people in there buying organic corn flour, exotic cheeses, oils of rare nuts, salt from the sea, exotic spices and a bottle or four of wine in an interesting looking bottle; and thus, they are doing better for themselves than the guy with the bag of Cheetoz and the pint of Wild Irish Rose, by trading up on all the ingredients;So, yeah, I see a lot of earthy-crunchy Howards there; in my eyes LOL
It would be possible to imagine that Whole Foods jacks up their prices so that only the wealthy can subsist on groceries out of the place, and then meticulously destroys any excess food, as a way of rewarding the wealthy for having attained their status, and punishing anybody whose consciously made life choice is to pick food out of the garbage rather than to "just set your mind on that money and go out there and get it; take night courses for God's sake; I know people who did; that woman over by the bakery, as a matter of fact." (We worked hard to be able to afford to pour maple syrup on our orange lentils; and we're not going to just give it away to people who aren't, in our opinions, even trying) type of thing...

I will say, though, that the prices in Whole Foods aren't so high as to preclude the average person who wants to make sacrifices in other areas of her life from subsisting out of there.

A healthy lifestyle that requires few calories to fuel can be sustained out of there, by a smoker who quits and then applies the surplus to their food bill, for example.

The Healthy Baby
"Mommy's going to get a special pumpkin carving knife in the store
that's safe for you kids to use."

I have a chance now, I guess, to reassess my attitude, 14 years down the road.

The store (right) in Charlottesville, Virginia, I had nicknamed "The Healthy Baby."

It just seemed to me that wealthy mothers had overrun that particular location, as every other cart had some tyke or two aboard, and that those mothers were attempting to "buy a healthy baby," as I put it.

Organic baby food, yes.

This was soccer mom country, where kids were steered clear of "all that sugar," and the best kids that money can raise, were raised. Money to buy a healthy baby.

Raising kids was the rage there. Many times I would sit at a coffee shop listening to one mother, who is holding a baby and gushing over it, to her friends, who were waiting with bated breath to hear about every exciting step of the pregnancy, along with how far along she is in her current one; and that Bobby is 5, Chloe 3, and can you believe that Ryan is going to be 2 in a couple weeks?!? All in a tone of voice that say's "Oh, I would recommend having a bunch of babies to anyone!!"
Husbands rarely came up in the conversation.
In the parking lot would be an SUV that is not cheap at all, a sign of having the luxury to have all the babies in the world.

I had a girlfriend at the time (2002) named Crissa, who had not been a healthy baby and who was in fact somehow the beneficiary of some kind of litigation with the state of California over some pesticide that was found in the water.

She had mental health issues. She first started paying attention to me after hearing me refer to the above store when saying to someone else, something like: "I'm going to run to the Healthy Baby, and get some (whatever)."

It turned out that she was living in a certain half-reality, medicated by a psychiatrist, and that when I had said "Healthy Baby," she had taken it as a communique from the universe and had decided, right then and there, that I was to be her boyfriend. I had already been kicked off of my spot by the reservoir where I had built an underground dwelling, and was sleeping in the tool shed behind the gas station where I worked the overnight shift, at the time.

She was half my age, at 20, and I wound up moving out of the tool shed and in with her and her mother, who was 20 years my senior. That might be one for the "my short stories" section of this blog; to come.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Waste, As The Gravest Of Human Sin

  • $12 Saturday
  • Cold And Rain Invades
  • Watching Patriots Game At Casino, Drinking Starbucks
  • Preparing to Try To Send Christmas Cards Out

There we go, let a little light in...

I just returned from the casino where I had gone, hoping to see a broadcast of the Patriots/Broncos game, but discovering upon arriving there that the "Masquerade" (night club?) section of the casino had been set up for what appeared to be a Saints game-watching party, with every set at every angle tuned to a broadcast of that (ho) hum-dinger of a contest; that I really didn't care about.

I had a chance to glance around at some of the other people who were, in many cases, reacting to the action on the screen. "Why do any of us care about football?" I thought, before leaving.

Back out into the wind and the rain and the chill.

The rain was coming down moderately hard. Enough to soak a man in about 15 minutes, I would say.

I ran for the trolley, which I had taken to get to the casino, leaving my bike locked to the rack at the apartments in the wind and the rain and the chill.

It was raining too hard for me to consider hopping off at Broad Street, where I could avail myself to whatever is within a short walk from there, everything from Whole Foods at the extreme left, next to the Dollar General, and then the Family Dollar, across from the Walgreen's. An ambitious walker can extend in the other direction to get to the Ideal Market, which is clean and efficiently run, and then to the Banks Meat market diagonal from it, which is run.

The Ideal food is inexpensive, but comes with the caveat that it is basically ready to eat. Stocking up on produce from there is not wise as, even their mangoes can be eaten right out of the store. I've had to toss a jalapeƱo pepper or two out because of mold spots on them a few days after buying them.
Where Whole Foods customers come from...

The Whole Foods is at the other extreme in some sense that is hard to pinpoint.

They are over staffed, to say the least. They not only have cheese-guy, but cheese guy is back there (behind the cheese section) with assistant cheese guys. Almost every aisle has an employee or three, busily stocking shelves and directing people to the chia seeds.

All these people are being paid by the customers who don't mind paying the Whole Food prices. I have seen mangoes in there marked at 3 times the price of the ones in the Ideal Market, a couple blocks away.

I think the Whole Food customers are also happy to be able to shop without having to rub elbows with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich set.

Judging by how much food I have seen on display in that store at just about closing time, and being pretty sure that they are going to make fresh batches of it all the next morning (it won't take that long with 30 people working on it) I have to shake my head over just how much excellent food they must destroy at the end of each and every day.

They will make a pot of something exotic, like a lobster gumbo or something and it will be like 22 dollars per pound and I will walk by shortly before they are to close, and see 80% of what they had made fresh that day, sitting there, a few minutes away from its date with the dumpster.

I guess the thought of homeless guys spooning the delicacies into their lazy mouths and washing it down with Steel Reserve is repulsive enough to them so that they employ a sealed off dumpster/compactor at the back of the store. I'm sure that it keeps rodents away, as well as homeless people.

Together Forever And Never Two Part

Meanwhile (right) I am studying, once again, the Bach Invention that I have played thousands of times.
I'm giving them a much more intense study now, paying attention to every pick stroke and going for maximum "cleanness."

According to an employee I talked to, they aren't allowed to take home food that would otherwise go to waste, either.

That is a shame in the sense that such a supplement could stretch the paychecks that they issue to those same employees and so those same employees could have a higher quality of life. It is spawned of a tacit suspicion that employees won't really try hard to sell all of that delicious stuff if they are hoping to take some home with them at the end of the night.

And the further irony is that the typical "earthy crunchy" type of Whole Foods employee would probably list "waste" as the gravest of human sin.