Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mailing The Portrait

  • Harmonica Book Huge
  • 45 Dollar Saturday Follows 1 Dollar Friday
  • First Attempts Made With New Art Supplies

...just trying to see what the pens and pencils are capable of -not claiming this to be art...
Last night, I had that same feeling as if I might not make a cent and that same emptiness and lack of inspiration inside, that I have had before, as I rode the bike trail into the quarter; telling myself that I could just turn around and go back home if I didn't like the look of things. No obligations, no stress, no dire need of money.

But, I had spent myself down to about 4 dollars; not enough to cover postage on the portrait that I want to mail to Jennifer in Aurora, Illinois. I had spent it on cigarettes and weed. Thus, I actually did have the pressure to make back enough money to send the thing.

After having shown up at to post office without the address on me Friday, and then having gotten there too late on this Saturday, I knew I couldn't mail it until Monday, which would give me Saturday night and Sunday (if necessary) to make enough to cover the postage on a 4 ounce? package. I used to think that I was setting myself up for failure by doing this. Now I feel like I was setting the stage for myself to shine; to play inspired music because I was playing for postage money for sending a gift. It would hover around me like an aura; my purpose that is. All I know is that is better than feeling like I'm setting myself up for failure.

Like other times when I had that insecure feeling on my way out, it crossed my mind to stay in and try to conserve the 11 dollars that I had, which should have been enough to cover the postage; but not much else...

Portrait Still Not Sent

I had overslept and had missed the closing of the post office at 1 PM. I woke up at 1:30 PM., having not thought that I needed an alarm to wake me up so I could go and mail the portrait.

The portrait is looming large in importance to me; representing almost a year of sobriety and my ability to conceive of a project, and follow through with it.

I had thought that I had reached a plateau after a few months sober, where things wouldn't get any easier just by dint of my having quit drinking. But, there are some things that seem to be only "coming back" to me at this point of almost a year sober.

My attitude, stress level and musical ability have all appreciated slightly in just the past couple of months.

Can I get a "that's passable for your first ever attempt at using these materials" from someone?
Everything worked together in symphony.

Even Travis having crashed at my place for 10 days had a positive effect on my music, as he is about 20 years younger than I and, in my musical probings into what seemed to entertain him as I sat and played in my living room over a bowl, I found myself more comfortable with the tourists in his age group that walked past me.

Travis is from New York, which is kind of like the other New Orleans, as far as art and culture and all that; San Francisco being the other one.

I feel confident that I could busk alright in San Fran, however, not if the gays of which a big chunk of that population are as oblivious to tipping as they are when they come here for the Decadence Festival...

I guess I felt more "cosmopolitan" after having hung out with a New Yorker.

45 Dollar Saturday

Saturday night, I was at the Lilly Pad at the incredibly, for me, early hour of 8:09 PM.
My biggest fear was that I was going to be spent at 9:30, around the time I usually arrive, and that the traffic would be only picking up by then.

Blown Away By Harmonica Book

I tuned up and played "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," on the guitar and harmonica.
Having pored through just the first few chapters of the Mel Bay harmonica book that Alex in California had sent me, gave me the full C major scale, and in a way that I could picture it, in regards to the written note. I was already "sounding out" the same notes but, somehow seeing the music written on a staff satisfies "that" portion of the brain, or something.

I guess the book reminds me that those are "musical" notes that are coming out of the harmonica and that it isn't (all) mumbo jumbo, and that a simple melody like the "Have Yourself..." song, over the "right" chords can sound nice to people.

The book is going to become very useful; I can tell. When I first opened it, I went to the very last page. As long as I have been using method books, the very last page seems to usually have on it a piece of music that is intended to weave together all the lessons and present them into kind of a "graduation recital" piece, or a final exam. This is especially true if the there are subsequent volumes of method books. It is usually a beautiful piece of music that is a reward to the student for having persevered, as well as a "make sure you can play this before going on to grade x," type of thing.

It was also a quick way for me to ascertain if the book was going to be too easy for me. If "Jingle Bells" had been on the last page this might have been the case. But there was some advanced chord melody studies of the type that I had just been getting into as a 4th year self taught harp player; the stuff that I had been intending to sit down and make sense out of. Some day.

Plus, there is a wealth of music that is known worldwide. The book puts into context the little insert that comes with every harmonica which basically tells you which notes come out of which holes. By setting setting them against chordal accompaniment, it does this.

Playing along on the guitar, I can get instant feedback as to whether or not I'm blowing into the right hole, for example. I can't say enough about the Mel Bay book. Plus,it's fun!

Tips seemed to be coming in steadily, with several people telling me that I sounded good, and just as many telling me to "keep playing,"or "keep doing what you're doing."

Friday night had been 43 degrees, and I had only made a dollar. There were a good amount of people out, despite the cold, but they just weren't the tipping kind. And I had no malice towards them, at all. 

I wonder if it is evident from watching me that I am trying my ass off just to hold it all (guitar chords, harmonica notes, lyrics, improvisations) together. Maybe it seems like I might be on to something, but the only way to know would be for me to keep at it...

I Play For A Near Record 4 And A Half Hours

Lynda DePanicis, a resident who, along with her husband, owns the house that Barnaby had been renting one side of, came over and gave me a 10 dollar bill and a hug. This was after maybe 45 minutes of playing.
Just hours before hugging me...

I was glad that I was playing the Christmas song, and it might have been that which impelled her to bless me that way.

I guess I could say it would have only been a 35 dollar night if not for her tip, but it was a product of my having played in her neighborhood almost every night for 3 years, and so I will count it among my nightly earnings.

Being seen getting a hug from Lynda, in all her finery, may have had something to do with the very next group of tourists stopping to listen to me. Things like that just elevate one's status in the eyes of the world. "I guess this guy isn't a nuisance, if the residents are hugging him...."

The Quartermaster people have been nice to me, giving me free coffee and a little piece of chocolate, during my nightly visit after I return the milk crate that I sit on, to them.

Things have really been coming my way, I must say.

Alex In California sent the art supplies. Ben my friend in Boston has sent some tee shirts. Bongo the resident here gave me some tee shirts. The Lidgleys have said that a Christmas parcel is to come.

I'm trying to allow myself to feel happy, rather than like something bad has got to happen eventually, to even things out.


alex carter said...

I'm glad you're so happy with the harmonica book. I had some store credit at a used book store here and I was able to get it for 5 bucks that didn't even feel like real bucks.

The drawings look fine. You'd not believe how badly the average person draws.

It's cold here, and raining about half the time. It rained steadily all day yesterday. Today it didn't rain, just gloomy, tomorrow will be OK to go out but rain expected tomorrow night.

This is all bad for busking, or caricature-drawing, or much of anything. Maybe it's no wonder my caricature-artist pals didn't come up this year.

alex carter said...

Are you using a scanner to put pictures of your drawings on here?

I've got a pretty good camera but I can't seem to get good photos of drawings with it, so I guess I'm going to buy a scanner and use that - on my new blog.

In fact, since I'm just going to keep going with the drawing blog, you might want to remove the "busking in silicon valley" link entirely, or replace it with a link to my new one, but it won't be about busking.

Daniel McKenna said...

I don't know the url to your drawing blog; and I don't see it listed anywhere under "other blogs by..."
By the way...
I have been taking pictures of my drawing just using the built in "web cam" on this lenovo computer at Sacred Heart; there's usually a tell tale part of a finger seen holding them lol
In a funny way, the poor quality of the camera gives almost an air-brushed aspect to them...

alex carter said...

OK it exists at but the internet won't admit it exists. So might at well forget about it.

Once I'm rolling I plan to open a Subreddit on Reddit, and in the meantime I'd rather not have much traffic or interest.

In a decade, the Internet will be this thing people used to have, anyway. It will exist, will be theoretically usable, but people will be back to word-of-mouth and written letters.