Saturday, January 28, 2017

200 Minutes Of Entertainment

$187 Friday

It was 2:51 when I looked at my phone as I packed up at the Lilly Pad after having what would amount to a 187 dollar outing.

I had left my new friend Bobby's apartment, telling him against his mild misgivings, that I was indeed on my way out to play on this 49 degree Friday night. "I'll be happy with 41 dollars," I said; adjusting my customary low expectations for inflation.

I'm not sure why that figure popped into my head, probably because I was thinking that it would perhaps be just a couple of individuals, albeit with 20 dollars tips, who would make up the bulk of my workload, on such a cold night.

Cold outside temperatures can be a mild impediment to ambition.

I certainly wanted to get there earlier than the 11:30 that I had arrived on Thursday night, to make 2 dollars in the next hour and a half. Friday night should be busier and the activity should continue well into the morning, I thought to myself as the opportunity to do continued to shrink as time slipped by.

I seem to recall, just a few years ago, remarking to myself that every night of the week was like a Friday here, in that regard. I think my best money night ever at the Lilly Pad, was a Tuesday
I was waiting only for my clothes to come out of the dryer at 9:30, and figured I could be at the Lilly Pad and playing within an hour of that.

I ate some butter beans in tomato sauce.

My clothes came out damp.

It was my own fault. I had left the dryer (which I never use, because stuff hung in the apartment takes only an average of 10 hours to dry) on the "medium" setting that whomever had used it before me had left it on.

I surmised that this might have been done, by someone familiar with the machine, for a reason such as the high setting being so high as to scorch and singe and shrink clothing. In a building where the showers range from "barely cool enough to get under, if you first stand outside the stream of water and spread it over your skin to numb it some" to "scalding," this was not a far stretch.

But, on a night that was 49 degrees and on its way to 43, the clothes came out damp and gave me pause to think about cancelling the whole busking endeavor.

I had about 30 bucks on my plastic card, a dollar in cash and another forty coming in 5 days from Rose.

I decided that I was going to go out, if to do nothing more than take whatever presented itself.

Third Or Fourth Best Night Ever

I sat down and was just tuning the guitar and smoking the tuning bit of weed when up walked a kind of rolly-polly bespectacled guy in his early twenties.

He was looking for weed.

He said he was from a place in Ohio that was nothing but farmland, didn't even have a "center of town" kind of place, was "nothing but cows," and that he had decided not to try to bring any weed with him on the flight from there.

Then he reminded me that there is some kind of auto dealer's convention in town, by telling me that he was some kind of auto dealer. How he managed to sell vehicles to cows, I didn't press him upon. He left me 20 dollars after I had shared my tuning up bowl with him.

Then, soon, another guy threw 20 bucks, after I had finished the next song.

I had started my jar off with one of my own dollars and so, there sat the jar in front of me with exactly 41 dollars in it, as I played and my thoughts meandered to my having told my new friend Bobby that I would be happy with that amount. It crossed my mind that I might not make any more money and that soon the temperature will have dropped to a point where I decide to knock off and return home with the 41 dollars.

But then, another guy came along, not too tall and with a light jacket over a button up shirt and with a spiked type haircut, and asked if he could sit and listen.

I played and we talked in between, he handed me a 20 at one point, which I pocketed.

He turned out to be Troy, from Canada (which explained the light jacket and his apparent comfort with sitting down on a brick step) who was another auto dealer tourist.

After talking about a range of things for a while, there was still not a song that had come to my mind that I thought he would like.

He had complicated things by asking me if I played anything by the Canadian (I'll take his word for it) band called "Tragically Hip."

This led to me admitting that I hadn't heard of them, but then I added that their name was interesting, and pointed out Elvis Costello's use of the term as part of a description of Elvis Presley, in his song: "Town Cryer."
"Others use the splendor of their trembling lip;
They're so teddy bear tender and tragically hip." -Declan McManus (Elvis Costello)
"I'm pretty sure that it is a play upon the fact that Presley (the pelvis) was originally filmed in a way that wouldn't reveal his hips, was notorious for them, and that he was kind of a "hip" guy who came to a kind of tragic end," I told Troy, from Canada, who said that enjoyed the insight and stored that particular lyric on his phone.

 Coffee Helper

Somehow there was enough of a segue into one of my original songs, after I took an educated guess at which one of mine might call to mind the band Tragically Hip the most.

I played "Crazy About A Crazy Girl," a few more people stopping to listen during it and tipping and, to make a long story short, I had hit a certain nail on the head with the song, it became apparent after Troy told me that he had a daughter of about the age of the girl in my song and that he was reminded  of her through it.

"I'm that millionaire," he said, referring to the father of the girl in my song, as he apparently emptied his wallet of its remaining cash. "Here's a hundred and twenty five," he said, handing me that amount, and thanking me wholeheartedly for having let him hang out. The Neil Young stuff that I was playing in order to appeal to his Canadian sensibilities had been bringing in other tips.

All told, it was a $187 night, which is the third or fourth highest amount that I have made at the Lilly Pad.

All kinds of distractions combined in a way that I had arrived at the exact time; 11:30 PM; that I had been trying to beat. But, I played for 3 hours and 20 minutes.

That is about $56/hr. Unless you average in all the previous hours and 2 dollar nights....

I still went to the same store and bought a 77 cent can of cat food, and a $1.14 dark chocolate Reese's to tame the coffee, which I'm still glad that Michelle the cashier brews every night, even if needs a bit of coffee helper. And then I rode home.

Now it is Saturday evening, I need to keep the pedal to the metal. I'm going to throw most of my money onto my prepaid card, reserving for myself only the amount that I would typically have on me after a typical night without millionaires showing up.

I also need to not let the temperature (the same as last night) keep me from going out, because there are tourists out there from places that by comparison make this weather seem only "a little brisk, but really nice," to them.

1 comment:

alex carter said...


I know even some real "mugwumps" of buskers out here have told me of $100+ nights, and a banjoist I know has broken the $1000 mark, during the depths of this last Depression no less, playing near "tax time" in front of a post office in Palo Alto.

At least in my town there are so many weird conventions coming through that you never know what you'll get. One weekend it may be a lot of "furries", here for one of the largest "furry" conventions in the world, next week or even mid-week it may indeed be people who sell cars to cows.

I guess it's all a matter of simply putting the hours in.