Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Purple Heart

"Purple Heart," I wrote most of in about 2008.
Below is one of the videos that I shot using a reflection off of a TV screen in an otherwise darkened room. You can barely see me in it, and one of the lines in the song is "Fred" complaining "they can barely see me," and so that is what I'm going with.
There is a description of the song on the Youtube page that you have to "view on Youtube" to view.
It is basically a song I wrote for a songwriters competition in Fernandina Beach, Florida, which was in November of 2008, I believe. The "theme" of the competition was given as "purple heart." I had it about half done when the date of the open mic night rolled around. It is about 88% done now, nine years later.
It is Wednesday morning.

I was going to post up the video that I shot immediately upon waking up this morning.

This happened around the reasonable hour of 6 AM.

I had not gone out and busked the (Tuesday) night prior, having had a 10 dollar Monday night in about an hour of playing, and haven been given a bud of weed by Agent C* before having gone out.

I had returned and stayed up until past dawn, happy to have fed Harold the cat one of his favorite meals for the first time since before the rain and cold invaded us.

I had just laid my head down at about 9:30 AM, planning to sleep until just before sundown and then repeat what is becoming a "routine" of mine: ride down to the store for Harold's food and my Monster Energy drink, return and get on the computer, most likely to blog about how I really shouldn't be on the computer but rather, pedaling my way towards the Lilly Pad.

Busking the "usual" hours. 

Now that the weather has warmed up, it is at least comfortable to sit there and play for one's own amusement if nothing else. 

Monday night had been, as I had suspected it would be; a bit on the skeezy side, as it was the first pleasant night after a week or so of rain, cold and cold rain. The skeezers would be "behind on their bills," just like myself.

I had just arrived at the Lilly Pad when up walked a 50 something year old guy who didn't have skeezer written all over him, but it was in the fine print. He had some kind of backpack, and was carrying some bags, but was better dressed than typical "homeless" and could have been some other country's version of middle class. This crossed my mind after the first thing he did was ask me if we were on Bourbon Street.

I gave him directions to the more "crazy" end of the street and he seemed to be ready to walk off.

Then, he said that he "had to" hear me play a song. I hadn't even taken out the guitar, tuned it, nor set up any of my "stage."

Later, I would wonder if there was something in the manner that I had given him directions that made him say to himself: "Not so fast... maybe there's something to be skeezed right here..."

He promised to give me a dollar if I played a Neil Young song, and even started singing "Hey, Hey, My, My," to himself; one of the ones that I know pretty well.

I actually picked up the pace of setting up my stuff because of the dollar that he had promised. I was going to eventually set it up, anyways. It was a dead looking Monday night, despite the nice weather and his dollar represented at least a can of cat food.

As I tuned up the guitar, I kind of tested the guy by pulling out a cigarette. He didn't skeeze me.

Then I fired up a "tuning up joint" before tuning. Still no skeeze. He was hard to read.

I was trying to shake him out, put him under a microscope, try to get him to show his hand as a skeezer.

I had "Dude, I do this every night. I sit here, I burn a joint while I tune my guitar. I don't bring enough to pass around, and I bring just enough cigarettes to get me through to the end of the night. Now, I gave you directions to Canal Street, have a good night!" on the tip of my tongue, but he hadn't bitten.

Then, as tourists walked past as I tuned, he skeezed them.

He asked nobody in particular out of a group of three men walking past for 10 cents.

"No, sorry, no extra change..." came the memorized sounding reply.

"Not even ten cents?" pressed the guy who had been hard to read.

I could see what he was trying to do. He was trying to make them stop and converse. Any way, any how. He had put on the sheep's clothing of the guy only asking for ten cents. Once they stopped, then ol' silver tongue could take over. I was beginning to see his having asked me for directions as being part of a skeezing ruse, just another way to insinuate himself into a conversation.

He almost got them to stop. One of them, probably not seeing the "harm" in giving him just ten cents, started to before another mumbled something, and they continued on.

A young couple arrived and sat down on the side opposite the guy. This was just as I was telling the guy that I wasn't cool with panhandling at my playing spot.

I launched into the Neil Young song, now mostly for the benefit of the young couple, after hearing the guy say something about "harmonica."

The possible skeezer on the other side started singing along; badly. He actually threw me off at one point. A glance to the young couple revealed a "it must be hard to try to play over that" look on the face of the guy.

During the song, the 50 something guy had removed my tip jar from where it sat, illuminated and out of the way of errant feet, to the middle of the sidewalk where anyone "just walking along minding their own business" would now be presented with an obstacle.

It was also now where someone who might be in the middle of reading my "tiposaurus" sign (which now referred to nothing) might inadvertently kick it over. Stopping in the middle of a song to snatch up money before it might blow away, sucks.

I finished the song and the guy, who was no longer some other country's version of middle class in my estimation, and who had told me that he would give me a dollar if I played a Neil Young song blurted out: "Oh, man, I wish I had something to give you, that was great!"

He then insisted that I take a shirt from him, before handing me, out of one of his bags, what turned out to be a Catholic School boys uniform shirt (with the coat of arms and name of the school on the breast) which was in size "16." 

At that point, I cut the guy a bit of slack. ...You just can't fake some mental illness...

I do believe 16 to be the size that I wore in 9th grade, ...could I still get in to it? 

I took the shirt, thanked him for it and for having stopped by, then refreshed his memory upon the directions to Canal Street. "That way." 

I then asked his name, introduced myself, shook his hand, wished him luck -and did everything else that I could think of that people typically do before one of them walks far away.

"You must know some Dylan; I can sing that real good!"

 "Yeah, my thing is sitting here by myself; under the moon, you know; it's kind of like my hustle. Even when they (the couple) are done listening, I'll ask them to let me get back to the lonely troubadour shtick..."

I felt kind of snobbish; like I had thrown a party and invited cool, young, up-and-coming friends who would arrive bearing gifts, be interesting and liven up the festivities, but had just slammed the door in the face of a random old crazy guy because I worried that he was going to abuse the open bar, eat off the buffet with his hands, walk around bumming smokes and offend people's sensibilities in "Rasputin" kinds of ways and invariably destroy something by knocking it over or in the middle of clowning around with it (that's actually an antique globe not a beach ball, dude).

I struggled to find a way to tell the guy to "get the hell on," but in the same breath tell the couple: "you two are alright." I thought the skeezer might make an issue of that. He left, though. Miraculously. Thank whatever saint whose namesake school the shirt came from, I guess.

The couple wound up putting what turned out to be over three dollars in change in my bucket, after we had talked about Massachusetts and I had let the guy play my guitar. I got the sense that they left sooner than they might had they not heard me telling the skeezer that I preferred to sit there by myself.

They were probably out of cash, as evidenced by the change, and fearing that they were similarly blocking my tip jar; even though they weren't skeezing or singing along out of tune.

I had to admit this was technically true. It can feel cool to have a good looking young stylish couple hanging out, as if I become more of each through association. But, when they aren't tipping, the pile of money on the bed at the end of the evening doesn't look any larger, cooler, younger, or more in fashion.

*name changed to protect his identity

1 comment:

alex carter said...

It's a tried and true skeezing method to look like one of the "normies" so you can get in close to people and have their guard down, then turn a 10c hustle into the price of a hotel room.