Sunday, February 19, 2017


  • Thursday Through Saturday Off
  • Bongo
  • A Remote Recording Location
There are some "larger" issues that are bothering me, such as the meaning of life.

It's kind of like Mardi Gras.

I came into the Quarter this morning, feeling that it might very well be a dud of a Mardi Gras this year.

So many skeezers have tooled up for it. A lot of people are planning upon going around and selling beads and trinkets and paraphernalia; and there is nothing as depressing as a bunch of left over, almost worthless at face value stuff, that wasn't sold, after the party is over. They don't seem to know how to handle disappointment here, except to take it out on the white man.

I saw all of the local skeezers, standing behind the crowds, looking like a bunch of pick pockets.

Friday night, I could hear the sounds of car tires on a wet road shushing past on Canal Street, and I knew what to expect when I peeked through my blinds. I wasn't surprised to see puddles in the parking lot, dancing with ripples from raindrops pelting them.

I knew that I could still go out and make some money, even if I just sat on Lilly's stoop under the over-hang "waiting for it to stop." People drunk enough to be partying in the rain can be decent tippers, and there are always those who will tip just because they can see that you are "out of business" because of the weather.

But, I put all my eggs in the Saturday basket, and stayed in Friday night working on Perl programming, out of the book that I got from the library.

The book is 20 years newer than the other "Perl Programming" one that I have, and so I was surprised to see so many things that were familiar to me from the older books -same examples, like creating a "Cat" class with attributes like "name" and "fir color" and a meow() method that can be invoked, to teach "object-oriented" programming . A lot of it has just been reprinted because I guess it is a mouse trap that hasn't needed improving the past 20 years.

A lot of the updates have to do with making it a "higher level" language. 

Before (25 years ago) one might have constructed a table by using lines of code to specify where it is to be placed on the page; its width, how many rows, and what kind data (numbers, strings, etc.) it will contain, as well as making sure it is a separate entity from the rest of the page, with a border around it, perhaps. Now, one can just use the tables that have already been coded, by calling a put-a-table-right-here type of function from "tables" library.

It's all going to lead to "computer programming experts" who will be able to write amazing applications that will run on a mobile phone, but when if their system crashes, will have to call someone who actually understands computers (and maybe knows Fortran) to fix it.

It's similar to the way this new generation is learning to play the guitar by using paint-by-numbers tablature, or playing a video game where the strings of the guitar are represented on a screen and the correct notes come floating down them like aliens and you score points based upon how closely you "hit" them.

The video games are an amazing learning tool, though. Jerry the cook has one set up on a large screen and sits there with his electric guitar and is playing stuff after taking the guitar up less than a year ago that I couldn't play until my 2nd or 3rd year. Of course, Jerry played the clarinet in his high school band, so his results probably aren't typical.

I stayed up so late into Saturday, that I wound up skipping that night, too. That could have been a $200 night.

I had woken up at 7:30 PM, after maybe 4 hours of sleep.

I should have cracked open the Monster Energy drink in front of me, guzzled it down, and then waited about 5 minutes, to be full of "energy" and on my way to the Lilly Pad to play from about 8:30 until as long as I could stand it, if the money was good.

But, I set the alarm on my phone for 8:40 PM, and went back to sleep.

The alarm went off at 9:40 PM, even though the phone read an hour earlier. I think that has to do with daylight savings and the fact that I haven't paid to hook my free government phone up to any kind of service that would automatically change the time for it.

At that time, feeling dead tired and disoriented, I went back to sleep.

I got up at 3 this (Sunday) morning, thinking of it as being up bright and early, telling myself that I had needed the sleep, and trying not to feel too sick about how much money I had passed up on a Saturday night during Mardi Gras at the Lilly Pad. And to push the thought out of my head that some other musician came along and saw the spot empty, played and made the 200 dollars and is now going to be there ready to fight over the spot when I go back...

I'm at Starbucks now. I brought my guitar and harmonica, but didn't throw my sharks and tip bucket in the backpack with the laptop and Perl book, having learned my lesson about books pressing upon sharks and driving their noses into weak spots in screens; cracking them. I'm not ready to have a gray line running across my display that's always going to be right on top of whatever I'm trying to see.

My mood has been absolutely crappy, lately. There is really no excuse for it. True, I live in a city where the attempted theft of other people's happiness is a pastime practiced by a large segment of the population, but, ultimately "no one can steal your joy; unless you let them..."

This morning, I was so sure I was going to go out and find that my bike had been stolen that I was already cussing out the low-life derelicts who "stole" it. I had positioned it by the front gate, so I wouldn't have to wrestle it, along with all my gear, down the stairs and out the door. It stayed out there all night after I had gone back to sleep. It is the 19th of February, and the checks and the crack have run out for the month around Sacred Heart Apartments; a very risky time to leave a bike outside all night.

It was there, though, and I hopped on and headed here.

I feel disconnected with humanity, like I'm not "one of them."

I was saying "No, I don't have a dollar. No, I don't have a cigarette!" out loud to everyone whom I saw on my way here to Starbucks, though not after they were within earshot.

I think that is just a reaction to feeling that I might have missed out on a good money night, and now I want to take it out on the skeezers.


The latest idea that I have for getting some songs recorded is to invite "Bongo," who lives in building B, to bring his bongos over to my place and jam with me.

Assuming that his bongo playing is up to snuff, it would be a great way for me to knock out some of the songs that I want to put on a CD.

Since I would actually be performing the songs for his entertainment, as we played them, it would help me get past the fact that some of them are now "old hat" to me, and I might gain a fresh perspective on them vicariously through him.

It's also possible that he might infuse some life into them by coming up with interesting rhythms to give them a slightly different feel. Perhaps we could "bounce ideas off each other.

And it's also possible that he might be a lousy bongo player who doesn't keep a steady beat, who stops in the middle of a song when his mind drifts, who throws in out of tune backup vocals that can't be removed later without removing the bongos, or.....

It's worth a try.

I find myself stifled when I'm in the apartment alone. It seems like every little sound is amplified, and like, even when I'm talking to Harold the cat, I feel like my neighbor is sitting there analyzing whatever I'm saying. Sometimes I want to blast my stereo in the room next to him, so I can do my own stuff in "privacy" in the other room.

I have a feeling that smoking pot has a lot to do with that particular paranoia. Before, I would get drunk and even relish the fact that I was disturbing him, but then I would be making sloppy recordings.

It is a Catch-22.

The reason my songs come out lame is because I'm holding back, afraid of croaking them out more loudly, while the only way they are not going to sound lame is if  I belt them out like Percy Sledge.

Unless I do everything in a Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan or Lou Reed vocal style.

Somehow having Bongo over to jam would make the environment seem less sterile and bleak. There is strength in numbers.

"Look, Mommy, An Airplane!"

The other idea is to load my laptop and microphone into my backpack, shoulder my guitar, and then ride my bike a couple miles along the levee until I find a spot along the river where I can see for a mile in each direction and can just let it fly. I'm sure the occasional plane flying over head would be less offensive than the hiss of the air conditioner/heater in my apartment. I could always go into that Pink Floyd song at that point, the one where a child is heard to say "Look, mommy, an airplane!" at the beginning of.


alex carter said...

I'm actually pretty surprised you've been able to keep your bike outside without it disappearing, either whole or piece by piece; that's certainly what would happen to it here. Anyone with any sense keeps their bike indoors and no, not on a balcony or in a garage but really and truly indoors.

Daniel McKenna said...

Yeah, they probably think it's a trick; like I'm trying to get so and so evicted so I leave me bike with a flimsy cable lock on it...with a hidden camera nearby...something's not right, nobody leaves a bike outside, it's a setup! I must think they're stupid...

alex carter said...

If it's a bike you're going to get drunk/stoned and walk away from and lose downtown, no need to worry about it so much.

Daniel McKenna said...

Come to think of it (and now that I have a TV and can watch all the CSI shows that I want, this occurred to me) If the guy sells the bike before the police look at the surveillance video at Sacred Heart and then using sophisticated facial recognition software, put out an APB and find him and then send in officers to nab him, then they have to take him in for bike stealing but with no bike as evidence, so then they would have to put detectives to work out there trying to find witnesses who may have seen him with the bike and maybe even witnessed the transaction, and then subpeona them to trial, otherwise the kid is going to cop to a lesser charge and skate with a 30 day county bid and it will just turn stomachs to see such a travesty of justice...
So, it would really be a race against time that the New Orleans finest would be faced with; track him down before he dumps the bike off; they could dispatch helicopters to circle the area, maybe spot him on his way to one of the known drug areas nearby....

alex carter said...

I don't know if you're on the ground floor or not, but even if you don't have to carry it up and down stairs, I'd get a mountain bike and strip off any extra shit that's on it because you're going to carry your shit (backpack etc) on yourself, and you want the bike light and easy to take in/out of your apartment and up and down stairs if needed. Get a small rug you can park the bike on tip of so you don't crap up the carpet in your place.

I have a serious set of panniers on my bike, because I can keep it inside and I'm only having to roll it 10 feet or so from the front door here. And I can get serious amounts of shopping done. Even for busking, I have a backpack type trumpet case, actually it can be used with backpack type straps (sold separately) but I like using the single strap it came with, like a messenger bag. So I can take my bike downtown, with the trumpet in its case on my back, do a bunch of shopping and thus loading up the bags on the bike, and then do some busking. I was doing this year before last. Or, if I'm going someplace I'd not go on my bike like Mountain View, Palo Alto, or San Francisco, I take my messenger bag (a $150 Chrome that no way a destitute person would have so no need to make them leave it at the register...) and the trumpet in its regular case, on the bus/train/light rail.