Monday, February 27, 2017

Working Three Shifts!

I'm listening to Joe Satriani at half speed, through the Audacity sound editor.

It is almost sunrise on this Monday morning.

I have a pretty good amount of cash stuffed into my tip jar, which I haven't unfolded yet, to look for larger bills interleaved with the ones, etc.

It was a Sunday night before Fat Tuesday that started out, anything but auspiciously.

I got into the Quarter in the late afternoon, and posted the Daniel Beaudoin video at the Starbucks.

At 8 PM, Starbucks closed. At about 8:20 PM, I was finally out the door of the place.

There were so many people crowded along the parade line that there was no room to swing the Starbucks door open outward. Once enough people had been prodded into moving, mostly by the barista, who wanted more than anyone, to get us out, for the door to be opened. It was still about a 5 to 10 minute wait between individuals being able to push their way into the mob; a mob who were posted up and had their heels dug in, ready to lurch for something thrown off a float. These people had stood there for hours and established their territory in spots where they would be at an advantage in catching free stuff thrown off of floats.

So, there was a whole lot of, "excuse me; excuse me" being said by the people who left before me, and some "excuse me, sorry" from myself, adding the apology on account of my having a large backpack and a guitar on my shoulders, and pushing a bike.

Boy, was I ever glad to make it about 100 yards to Common Street and the open road, so I could hop on the bike and make my way around the whole spectacle and back into the Quarter.

Since Starbucks closed so early, I was at the Lilly Pad a little before 9 PM, to survey it. It was no dice on the busking. Lafitt's PA system sounded really nice and loud and clear. I would buy the same kind of speakers that they had, if I were to ever have a warehouse to rehearse in, where I could match the volume of a nightclub.

I went down by the Quartermaster, a bit out of my element, but, with a brand new harmonica, was able to filter out of the hundreds a little group of tippers, and made 85 bucks in probably a little over 3 hours of actual playing.

I took breaks, at two points in the night when I really couldn't see myself playing any more but then changed my mind after taking 10 minutes to drink a coffee and eat a couple Reese's Dark cups at the Quartermaster. The staff there finally got to hear me play, after seeing me in there pretty steadily the past few years, always with the guitar on my back. Michelle cheered from the doorway on one of her cigarette breaks, after I had finished a song. She is the one who doesn't charge me for my coffee.

There was a 20 dollar bill that was folded up so well that I, at first, didn't notice any of the trappings of it being larger than a one, when it was sitting in the jar in front of me as I played.

I did see a little body language from the guy who had dropped it when he turned and looked back at me after he had walked the number of paces that would have given me time to have noticed it and would have just been opening my mouth to utter "oh, thanks!" to him. He kind of gave me a thumbs up.

The bill was wadded into the size of a strawberry.

I think the guy might have been giving me the thumbs up, knowing that at the time, I didn't know that he had thrown a 20, but knowing that I would unfurl it later and say "wow, cool!" and understand what the thumbs up had been about.

Just a theory. Just trying to play busker psychologist a bit...

And there were 4 five dollar bills, and 41 one dollar bills and 4 something in change....
So, that would account for about 25 people tipping me, factoring in one guy who placed twelve one dollar bills in my jar, and a few others who threw more than a buck. This was out of about 1,500 souls who walked past during the 5 hours that I played with about 20 minutes of "break time" taken out.

I definitely owe the 85 dollar night to the fact that I had pushed myself back out to play another set twice. After I had pushed myself out there for the last hour, I made about 25 bucks.

Tonight, as I sit here and it is 8:42 PM, I suppose I prepare to go out with the new harmonica and play at the same spot by the Quartermaster. It's possible that some other musician might try to grab it. There is a lady who lives directly across from that corner who came out at a little after midnight one night and said "Come on, It's after midnight and we're trying to sleep!" to me. A couple of traveling kids with guitars whom I saw Sunday night mentioned her having run them off.
She never came out. I had tried to soften my playing after midnight a bit.

Last night's 25 tippers out of about 1,500 people seemed like a decent ratio, considering the way I was reading the crowd.

They seemed very much on guard for the most part, certainly not ready to tip someone just because they are out there and just because they are working. I can respect that, actually.

There were a couple instances of me hearing one voice out of a group of young men approaching saying, in one case: "No, sorry!"

This was said from a distance, and meant, of course, that they had spotted me and the one was perhaps voicing his sentiments at the sight of what he believed could be someone trying to get money out of them.

It is the same thing as me saying "Sorry, I don't have a dollar, and I don't have a cigarette," out loud as soon as I see a potential skeezer walking towards me, before he even skeezes me. But, I don't say it loud enough for the skeezer to hear me (I have done that before, back when I drank, and had more than one of them -especially the black ones- angrily snap back at me "I didn't ask you for no dollar or no cigarette!"

But, there is no danger in heckling a street musician.

I was happy to have gotten a few of them, some of those 41 single bills, to change their minds. It's cool to have overcome how I must have looked to the guy from a distance, looked like I wasn't going to sound good at all, and then to have sounded good enough. Anything is better than thinking that busking is just totally random...

There were a lot of people (let's say 20%) who were trying to find Bourbon Street, having walked from whatever place they had rented because it was "within walking distance of the French Quarter" and, as is typical, here in 2017, had their attentions fixed upon the screens of their smart phones, wanting to believe that the GPS application had not erred, and after ruling out the human error of their phone being upside down, vocalized loudly: "It say's that way; Bourbon is that way...I guess we should go that way..." sounding like a cry for help, and all this taking place while all kinds of perfectly good human beings are walking to and fro right in front of them, whom they could simply ask if "this is Bourbon Street," but, I'm afraid that, here in 2017, they choose not to.

This is out of fear of giving a skeezer an inroad to lay his skeeze into him. "...Some of these other guys out here would have pointed you the wrong way and then robbed you as soon as you got around that corner; but I ain't like that, I look out for other people, I help them; just like I expect others to help me out when I'm trying to get a hamburger, like right now, that's all; if you can afford it...and remember, I didn't jump you!"

The Royal Street Effect

Then there was another section (10%) that were coming from the business end of Bourbon Street, who had just run the gauntlet, and might even have been skeezed out of 20 dollars by one of the "shoe" guys ("I bet you I can tell you where you got your shoes; I'll even tell you what city and what street!") and they might have even experienced the Royal Street Effect whereby tourists, after sallying forth from their hotels to explore, come across a street performer, and are entertained and think it's really neat and feel compelled to support the artist, being aware that he is part of what New Orleans is all about, etc. and they throw him a nice ten or twenty.

Then, they walk another block and encounter a group of musicians who are even "better." Perhaps they are playing the exact kind of Bluegrass, or something, that these tourists from Tennessee, right near West Virginia really love.

And they then kind of wish that they hadn't thrown the first guy a whole ten bucks, because they really want to show these guys (and there's 11 of them, if you count the girl tap dancing) some Tennessee right near West Virginia love, and so they throw them, too, a twenty.

"Well, that's about all the money we had for tipping musicians," they are thinking, as they come across Tanya and Dorise.

This phenomenon also occurs on Bourbon Street, to the detriment of all of the middle skeezers, who are encroached upon by tourists who have by then put their guards up.

It doesn't mitigate until they get to me, and it is obvious that I'm "the last one." There, sitting outside the last stop bar. It's possible that some tip the first couple performers they see, then Tanya and Dorise, and then myself, with nobody in between.

Tanya Tucker or Loretta Lynn, I forget which, once crystallized her thoughts on success in the music business as: "Be first; be the best; or be different."

To that, I might add, "or be last."

So, yeah. Tomorrow will be the Monday before Fat Tuesday.

I fried a few eggs and ate them last night, and am about to have some more. I'm taking this Mardi Gras thing to heart, with such food orgys. Bachus would be proud.

I suppose I could start the juice fast on Wednesday, as that is the first day of lent that the Mardi Gras leads up to. It would be a very Catholic fasting schedule.

Flashback 2010: Mobile, Alabama

I have fasted during Rhamadan before, but totally by accident. I just happened to be in jail that August and had decided to fast.

To put a spiritual spin on the whole incarceration experience, fasting falls right into play. You're not going to be required to do anything more than lay on your bunk and read all day, no heavy lifting, what better time to deprive the body of material sustinance, and try to reconnect with the spiritual?

It's not like you're going to have to work a labor pool ticket shoveling rocks on an empty stomach that day.

And as far as physical strength being important for the purpose of fending off physical aggression in captivity, there is no need to worry, because, by not eating you acquire food to use as currency, thus becoming a rich man, with bodyguards and everything.

It's not uncommon to hear someone exclaim an offer of: "I've got my whole tray for a Snickers bar!" on any given night, when the dinner is something he doesn't really like and he would rather have a sugar rush.

And, so the accumulation of 3 trays for each day that you fast gives you the buying power of 3 Snickers bars per day. With that kind of money, people will work for you. They will appear with all kinds of things that you may lack. How easy to trade the next morning's breakfast for an extra sweatshirt in that chilly-ass place, when you're not going to eat it anyways. Like to read the newspaper? Give #63 your cheeseburger every Friday night, and he'll make sure you're the second person to get the paper, as soon as he's done reading it; and he doesn't do the crossword. etc.

So, I was fasting, and at one point, I was in the neighbor's cell, probably picking out of his book collection in exchange for grits and eggs in the morning, and he had a Koran.

He told me that I could certainly borrow the Koran, and that it had been given to him by a guy in the cell at the very end, who looked kind of Jamaican to me.

I skimmed through the Koran over the next week or so while I fasted, and this after actually praying to Jesus over whether or not I should. Jesus really seemed to give a resounding thumbs up, as if to say that we all needed to understand each other.

I found that there was a lot of overlapping of truth between it and the Christian bible, though I can't remember specifics now, 7 years later.

But, I remember that, only a couple days or so after I broke my fast, and my appetite was returning, I was visited by the Jamaican looking guy, who handed me his tray, and told me that "something," or something, had told him to do so. I started to ask him if he at least wanted something off of it, but he shook his head and went back to his cell.

I thought that was pretty cosmic at the time, but, now that I think of it, he could have found out I was fasting through the grapevine..

But, I have never started a fast to coincide with lent. Long ass anecdote just to restate that point, I guess.

OK, I have just returned to the keyboard after having feasted on an egg dish that I just invented:

Honey Mustard Huevos

My dish looked similar to this one I Googled

1. Fry 4 eggs, in olive oil; so that the yolk is still runny and the bottoms are golden brown, not black.
2. Set pan aside to cool before sprinkling salt and pepper on the eggs.
3. Pour honey on the eggs.
4. Put a splash of horseradish mustard on them.
5. Put paprika on them.
6. Enjoy!!

I'll tell you what; they are out of this world!

Evidently, he had begun a fast of his own.


alex carter said...

Anyone in their right mind gets out the Yellow Pages that's in the drawer in the desk or night stand in the hotel, looks at the maps in there, and figures out the "lay of the land" and memorizes it so when they go out they know where they are and can find things. If you live in an area, then it's the Thomas Guide in most places, some places it's the "Gazetteer" and in Hawaii it's Bryan's Sectional Maps. But phone books are good for having maps in them too.

"Be Last" can work .... I used to buy and sell at electronics surplus swap meets and used to feel bad about not getting there super-early every time, until I realized that the good stuff percolates out at an even rate all through the day, mainly because the sellers don't know shit about setting up displays and often some really good stuff won't even get taken out to put where people can see it until the last hour or so. So "be last" can sure work.

alex carter said...

That dish you found is interesting, because it's boiled eggs that appear to have then been bakes or fried.

Daniel McKenna said...

Yeah, maybe a camera is coming soon for me, nothing fancy, less than $30, so that I can take a picture of my actual egg dish, which prepares in under a minute plus the time it takes to fry the eggs...
A schoolteacher guy I met on the ferry was talking about how kids these days are not bothering to remember things that they learn, only getting better at finding the info on their smart, could these young tourists have decided not to rely upon their memories, which, in their esteem is less reliable than their phones? Or (my guess) do they have such pride in their latest high tech gadgets and the status that just the mere possession of imparts, that the are thinking: "I pay extra every month for full GPS based coverage through the GuideDog app, and supposedly I can even have it highlight where my friends are on the map; can't wait to play with that feature...I could ask someone for directions, but that would ruin the little "video game" experience I'm having in trying to find Lafitt's...

Daniel McKenna said...

*I mean, maybe I'll buy a camera soon for under $30
That first line read like a skeeze for a camera; nothin' fancy, any camera would do...'preciate it!
Now that I think of it; I'm going to try to find one for under $10 online...something that has "yesterday's" specs on it, like VGA quality pictures; how friggin clear does my egg dish need to be to make my readers mouth's water, 20 megapixels?

alex carter said...

Skeeze up a camera, honestly, photos you take would be great on this blog. Or, skeeze up any sort of a smart phone, those have decent cameras in them and even without a plan will generally work where there's wifi, and you can hook one up to your computer somehow and take pics with it.