Wednesday, February 22, 2017

So Is Mine

Caught Up The Creek Without A Paddle Nor Umbrella

Monday night, I had neglected to check any weather reports.
The people in the front row (except the token homeless guy in the middle) were behind the decision...

This turned out to be an oversight of the magnitude of forgetting my harmonica or guitar pick.
It started raining during about my 3rd song, and didn't let up until after I had wrapped myself and guitar as best I could in a trash bag and ridden home. I had only made a few bucks.
To add insult to injury, it had stopped raining by the time I encountered David the water jug player on Canal Street, so I hung out because I was in a generous mood and was even going to smoke a joint with him. 

Farewell To Valerie Party, 1:00 PM, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday, I was up and in attendance for the going away party of Valerie, whose position of "building director" has come under the knife.

I had seen Valerie here and there in my travels, and found her likeable and with a sense of humor, but was never really cognizant of of her exact commission here, thinking that perhaps "director" was how they referred to the assistant building manager.

I felt a twinge of guilt over the fact that I haven't been participating in very many "community" activities.

People were tearfully getting up at the party and saying things like: "Sacred Heart isn't just an apartment building; it's a community, and Valerie is to be thanked for fostering that feeling," etc.

I suppose that, had I really put an effort into the Sacred Heart Chorus, and brought as much skill as I could to it; it could have turned into a "Sound of Music" type moment. The guy from wherever shows up to hand Valerie her severance papers, and just then he hears the strains of beautiful a Capella singing and looks to the recreation room to see myself and a bunch of drunken skeezers singing the title track to that very movie in sweet, lilting harmony, which brings him to tears and he rips up the papers and tosses them in her office waste basket. "Keep up the good work, Valerie. You've done such fabulous work with these skeezers, I'm impressed. We'll find the money in the budget somewhere; maybe keep cutting the hot water off on Friday evenings like we've been doing..."

Then, I got busy with recording some music in the afternoon, finding that during those hours, I feel much less sensitive about disturbing anyone else in the building. One of the neighbors had his stereo cranked pretty high, and so I figured that it was open season on the decibel level.

Then, having decided that I was taking that night off, was on my computer until pretty late in the evening and then recorded more music during the hours that I typically play. I must have dozed off around 2 in the morning, because...

Wednesday, February 22

I woke up and it was 10 o' clock in the morning.

Wednesday morning.

Thursday through Fat Tuesday is going to be a stretch of time where the Mardi Gras is going to hit whatever its peak is going to be for 2017, a year when there was a noticeable dropoff in tourist numbers, right after the last shooting incident.

Cosmic Connection

A couple days ago, I downloaded the album "Darkstar," by David Bowie, his last one, released in 2016. I couldn't help listening for clues in its music that the artist knew that he was nearing the end of his life, as he would be gone less than a year after the recording of it.

Then, I was looking to grab some more music off the net before leaving the computer room, and realized that my new laptop, while it had already about 30 hours of music in it, had nothing from The Grateful Dead, or Elvis Costello, a couple of my favorites.

I tried to think of one particular Elvis Costello song to grab, and the song "Doll Revolution" came to mind. 

I searched for it in and found no instances of it. But, there was a "full album" entry for an album that I hardly knew existed, entitled: "Cruel Smile." 

I downloaded that while looking it up on Wikipedia to see just what kind of gem of an album I was getting. Was it one of the ones that Elvis purposefully made into a piece of crap to get back at a record company that had screwed him in the fine print of some contract, required him to release something on their label within a certain time frame under penalty of losing a bunch of royalties? That might account for the fact that I had never heard of the release; that, and the fact that during the 40 years that Elvis has been releasing music, there were stretches of years at a time when I lost track of the guy.

I stopped running out and buying the latest Costello album "as soon as it came out" back in 1986, after the release of "Goodbye Cruel World," which was the first such "intentional piece of crap," hastily made in order to fulfill a quota, the "cruel world" being the recording industry that he was extricating himself from, and trying to snub. 

The cover is supposed to be a play upon that character in a (Kurt Vonnegut, I think) novel, ("Cat's Cradle?") who poses at the top of a cliff in the position of thumbing his nose at the world, and then drops "Ice 9" into the ocean, freezing all the water in the world and solidifying himself in the process in that pose. (One of the intentional "throwaways" on that disc, "I Want You," ironically became one of Elvis' all time classics).

Wikipedia reported that the particular album was made of "B sides, outtakes and alternate versions" of songs from the "When I Was Cruel" album sessions. That was one that I had borrowed from the library in Jacksonville, Florida and had listened to for however many weeks you could keep a disc out, back in 2004.

I remember enjoying it, despite the hardships that I faced back then, working out of the labor pool and sleeping in my car, listening to it on my car stereo. The music brought back memories.

Flashback: 2004

To clarify, I enjoyed it when not being harassed by Jacksonville police, who seemed to think that someone sleeping in a car was easy pickings for them, with a license that they could run through their computer, a tag on the car that they already ran from a distance before approaching with flashlights and guns drawn, and a car that they could search, as if the secrets of the person's soul might be under the passenger seat.

I remember one such pair of cops who came and put a spotlight on me and then started our conversation with something like: "Have you been smoking crack; because you seem nervous?"
They were licking their lips over the prospect of searching my car, which was probably like a candy store to them, as it had all my possessions in it (plus an Elvis Costello CD that I was only borrowing).

It was then that I started to get the notion that some guys are probably attracted to work in law enforcement because they are nosy by nature and have thus found a way to legally rifle through people's personal belongings, with nothing being sacred; journals, photographs, your choice of music..."Oh, look, we've got a poet here! 'Drifting Smoke,' by Daniel McKenna; let me read it aloud! I think we know what kind of smoke he's talking about, yuck, yuck yuck!"

Of course the officers found something that they could arrest me for, if they really wanted to.
"You've got this warrant up in North Carolina, we could hold you for up to 30 days while we see if they want to come pick you up. Are you sure you haven't been smoking crack because you seem even more nervous now. You might as well tell us, because we're going to search your car (based upon our suspicions over your nervousness when having a bright light shone in your face and guns pointed at you) and find it anyways..."

"Look, I'm sleeping here in my car and working out of the labor pool right up the street (what labor pool isn't in a crack infested area?). In approximately 5 hours I'm supposed to be on the job site to work all day planting trees in the hot sun for $6.75 an hour. 

If I try to stay in motels, it would eat up all the money I make.

If you want to create an arrest, then you can take me to jail.

I'll lose the job, and you can have my car towed for $105, then impounded at $30 a day at some lot where the workers will break into it and take the stereo and all my stuff while it's there.

Then, when I get out, if I can't pile up money fast enough, against trying to stay fed and clean with no car to sleep in or to get to a job with -that's if they'll even send me on another job after I don't show up in 5 hours- to outpace the accumulating impound fee, then, I'll lose the car and all my possessions.
They can auction it off to some opportunist (you might consider that before you rip all the spark plug wires out and drain the oil; to make it harder for me to do whatever it is that you're sure that I'm doing but which you can't prove). 

Then, you'll see me on foot soon, with only the bag on my back, starting from scratch at the labor pool after having lost everything that I've worked the past few years for.

Can you do that for me, officers? I mean, gee, Would you? Could you?

I'm vulnerable, you might as well take advantage.

I'm not like the undocumented immigrants that you tell to "just get out of here," after they tell you that they don't have any ID and you don't want to deal with the b.s. of getting a translator, not being able to read them their rights because they technically don't have any, and then having to call the 'I.C.E' Immigration people, who are so swamped that you don't want to add to their burden.
I'm an American Citizen (whose grandfather fought in France in 1917, and whose father in Korea in the 1950's, by the way) and I have plenty of pertinent documentation which would make it a snap to put me in jail.

In fact, I work for the $6.75 per hour, and pay taxes out of it; instead of the $14 cash that the illegal immigrants get under the table, just because I'm a citizen; and a good one who follows the rules and works with the system."

I wasn't arrested that time. They handed me my ID and walked off, after I had started to add that I was a college graduate with an English degree, and that I would surely spend my time in the jail cell articulating all the above in a letter to the editor of the local newspaper and any one else to whom it may concern, etc.

So, I listened to the "Dark Star" album by Bowie, then put on the Costello disc, which opened the floodgates for the above memories.

How soon we forget, or repress, such things.

If a Dickensian "ghost of possibilities" were to have materialized in that parking lot and asked: "How would you like to ditch all this, move into an apartment in New Orleans, have your rent paid for, and be able to play your guitar in the French Quarter for $6.75 per hour on your worst nights, and 3 times that, on average?"

I would have replied: "That would be like a dream come true."

Of the kind of thing that I would write down as part of an exercise in a self help book, when prompted to: "Take 10 minutes to imagine that you could have anything you wanted, with unlimited possibilities, and you couldn't be denied it; and write a detailed paragraph describing your ideal situation. Be very specific, include all the senses in the description. Dream big. If you were guaranteed to get it; what would you wish for?" as an exercise in "visualization."

At that point in my life, I didn't even see a path to any such thing, although I had the self help book in my car, somewhere.

I was eventually thrown in jail about a year later, after my license had been suspended but I continued to drive.

Virginia was unable to fly me up there to serve the warrant because all of the airports were busy and the flights tied up with evacuating people out of New Orleans because there was a hurricane bearing down upon them named "Katrina." They wound up releasing me.

The second song on the Costello album was "Doll Revolution," the song that I had been after in the first place.

Then, I played the Grateful Dead show that I had picked pretty much at random, because the date of it, 7-13-84, had a nice ring to it.

It featured one of only 2 performances of "Dark Star" that the band played after 1970. "We're gonna do something special tonight; one night only," said Phil Lesh the bass player into the microphone before they launched into it.

The Bowie album named "Darkstar..."

Having chanced upon the "Doll Revolution" song that I had in my head but thought that I couldn't find...

And then the dead playing "Dark Star..."

It seemed to hint at a "cosmic connection" somehow.

Coincidences can be like that.

Harold the cat got his face messed up in a fight the same night I got mine shot with a paint ball. It's close to being healed up. So is mine.


alex carter said...

That's got to be one of your best photoshops, right up there with the one with you and Leslie boxing. Great stuff.

Yes, after years of working at it, you've certainly landed yourself in an ideal situation: Free everything, and all the time in the world to skeeze.

Have you even tried to find any open wifis around your apartment? It can't be as bad as San Jose, where there are effectively none, and you have to pay to be in a coffee shop etc to use wifi that's slower than the old dial-up.

Daniel McKenna said...

I'm glad someone noticed the Thompson/McKenna fight photoshop thing, There was a little bit of Providence involved in how our faces fit over the original boxer's, and the expressions on them wound up being perfect; the smile on Leslie's face fits so well his abusive "complex" whereby being beaten is at least getting attention...It's a "Oh, you DO care!" type of smile...the sick puppy, he. LOL

There is the signal from across the street from the eye surgeon's office; it is weak, but nothing that an amplified wi-fi repeater couldn't fix; it would be a matter of going there to ask them about the Lasik eye procedure and, at some point asking innocently: "Is there a password for your wi-fi?" Like I needed to go to the Medicaid website real quick to see if I'm covered for the procedure.
"Don't worry, you won't find me on the front porch playing video games on my tablet when you come in in the morning, yuck, yuck!" type of thing.
Then, I think I could rig up a battery pack to power a repeater that I could nail up in a tree along Canal Street, even if I have to borrow the Sacred Heart maintenance ladder, just high enough (and hidden by branches if possible) so a skeezer would need his own ladder to climb up and get it. I might even put it in a cluster of fake plants so he wouldn't see it in the first place. That would be one pretty cheap solution. But, after spending whatever money on the repeater, there is no guarantee that the doctor's office wouldn't change their router password every so often, as recommended; especially if they notice slower speeds due to me streaming video while they're trying to look up a patient's question that the doctor doesn't know the answer to, on the eye doctor medical journal website, or something.
That would be a lot of work, especially the tree climbing, for a few weeks of Internet in the comfort of my room.
I need to decide if that environment would be worth paying for, and then try to bite the bullet and be out there busking for my $44.43 per month broadband signal...
Being able to work all night on something, doing some of it on the bed, some on the couch, putting the laptop on the coffee table so I can sit Indian style on the rug because that's a more comfortable attitude to assume for drawing a cartoon. Having fresh coffee at hand, and being able to smoke -all part of the 44 dollar NOT having a black guy who has never spoken to you in your life other than to say "Give me a cigarette, boy!" and who doesn't own a pair of even the $2 kind of earbuds, on a computer 5 feet away that is cranking audio of some black lady decrying Donal Trump that you can't ignore because her ignorance is on such display that it is almost a marvel*
*Interviewer: "What do you think about the Dow Jones breaking an all time record this week?"
Ranting Woman: "I don't care about all that, I just know he's AGAINST us!!"

alex carter said...

With businesses, I have no problem asking the password "Oh, I want to compare your prices with some tile I was looking at online, I think yours is cheaper..." because a company's wifi won't be in use after business hours. And I'm mostly active during non-business hours, or could make sure I was, if I were using some business's wifi.

Except for the fact that you're incapable of budgeting, I'd recommend you just pay for internet and it sounds like it costs about half what it does where I am - where I am it's $100 a month or more.

And your final comment shows why it would be death for me to even visit New Orleans. I'm not black, and I'm not the right kind of white by which I mean a right-wing asshole.