Friday, June 30, 2017

Thursday Night Fights

30 Dollar Monday
25 Dollar Tuesday
1 Dollar Wednesday
29 Dollar Thursday

And now, it is Friday.

Thursday around noon, I was woken up by Rose, who was wanting to borrow money on this the last day of the month. She would be getting her money in a mere 12 hours, and would pay me back double whatever I lent.
I had to shake off the cobwebs and think for a bit...

...Oh, yeah, I had a one dollar night last night...

"No, I'm so broke, I'm ready to crush up the rest of my empty cans and run them over to the scrap metal place to get maybe 3 bucks, so I can get cat food for Harold, and maybe and energy drink to propel me right back out to play some more as soon as the sun goes down..."

Her call reminded me that, as broke as I had been the whole month, I did have 15 bucks coming from them, a mere 12 hours from then.

That kind of gave me a safety net, thinking that if I had another 1 dollar night, I could knock on their door when I got back and get the 15 bucks.

I didn't have enough for a shot of kratom, so I would be forced into an experiment upon taking it one night, but not the next.

Rose showed up around 3 PM, and gave me a dog food sized can of cat food, of a brand that I didn't recognize. The can was dented but not breached.

That gave me the additional peace of mind of knowing that Harold would be fed and I would have at least 15 bucks, as I went out, arriving at the Lilly Pad just before 10PM.

I was playing my ass off for not very many people. There were sporadic groups of black people passing by, signaling that the "Essence Fest" was about to go down.

This is the time of year that I usually do better than a lot of other buskers, who complain that the black people don't tip. It is often the case, I believe, that the black people can sense when a busker is pandering to them by dusting off whatever Motown they know and presenting it.

Last night, a good portion of the young black people passed by, with one guy laying a 20 dollar bill on the "tiposaurus" sign.

He said the equivalent of "not my particular style of music, but it's 'real'" while doing so.

Tonight, in a couple of hours, I will go out to see what a Friday night brings.

Lilly called me the next day after we had walked and sat together by the river.
"You should have called me," she said.

This made me realize that Lilly perhaps saw the occasion as being more of a traditional "date" than I had.

It was nice to have come out through Lilly's Gate onto Bourbon Street and looked to my left to see Rochelle playing on the other stoop, and more specifically, to have her see me pushing my bike out Lilly's gate with my backpack on.

Lilly (artist's conception)
It was just after sundown, and we had returned from our jaunt and slipped past her as she was busy with someone who was petting her dog or something.
Rochelle could have easily thought that I had spent the night with Lilly, and was just then re-emerging after having slept off our lovemaking.

As soon as she saw me, she asked: "Can I just play a couple more songs?"
This was a departure from her objections over my having arrived at the same time the night before.

She definitely inferred that I probably had Lillian in my back pocket.
"Oh, I'm not ready to play yet; last night was way to early..." the last part brought a visible sigh of relief from her.

"By eleven, I was sick of playing, and that's the time I should have been starting..."

"Yeah," she smiled.

The trouble was, after Rochelle left, I went on to have the 6 dollar Saturday already blogged about and lamented over...

Then Lilly called the next day, reminding me that I should have called.
Shouldn't I have sent flowers with a note thanking her for a wonderful evening?

An In-Between Post

The following, I wrote Thursday evening, before going out and making the 29 bucks...

Hey, blogsters, the yipper checking in here.

"The Yipper" is a name that is as close to a stage name as I have, at this point.
A name is important enough for guys to have changed theirs from infamous things like Robert Zimmerman, and of course, John Dusseldorf, who became John Denver, and then took things even a step further, by singing about mountains in Colorado, and the "high," that I'm sure all the oxegen deprived citizens there enjoy.

But, you could feel the fresh air in your lungs, as John Denver sang about fresh and pure things, and he became ingrained in the music consuming public's minds, strumming his acoustic guitar at the summit of one of the Rocky Mountains.

In his case, it was a brand of music. Finger picked guitar parts that utilized capos, making the chord forms accessible to the novice, and so the songs got played around more campfires and at more frat parties, etc. and the feeling that you should have been home yesterday became contagious and I'm sure Mr. Dusseldorf's lifetime earnings, and rankings among similar artists will further affirm that.

So, I have enough music now, to cut and paste and edit it down (cause certain backbone sections to repeat themselves while different stuff goes on over them, etc.) to a pretty solid CD length production.

Now, I need to either just use my real name, Daniel McKenna, or do what Richard Starkey, Norma Jean Baker, Gordon Sumner (Sting) and whoever Marylyn Manson used to be, did, which is to come up with a name like Marylyn Manson to market my music under?

I have some data that I can use, perhaps. I guess the idea is to match the name to what I sound like, or to whatever mountain range I sit atop when I make my recordings.

The data is the fact that; back in 1989, when I had a full fledged 4 track cassette recording studio with effects at my disposal, and would spend the lions share of each day making musical recordings; I would often pop the "final mix down" cassette into my Pinto's 350 watts system and ride around the campus.

Upon pulling up to an intersection or something where there were a lot of students within earshot, which was anywhere within 75 feet of the Pinto, I would often turn the music down somewhat and yell over it: "Do you know who this is; I know I've heard it before and I can't remember where...?"

Brian Eno

To which, the students seemed for the most part eager to show off the breadth of their musical knowledge and would begin to yell out their guesses; assuming of coursed, that should they get it right, it would jog my memory and I would yell: "THAT'S who it is, thank you!! My brother in Boston gets these albums from a certain store and they're all stuff that was released in small numbers..." or something.

And, so, I can certainly try to find a name that say's "Brian Eno," or maybe a name that sounds like "Brian Eno" about as much as my music sound's like his.

They also guessed that I was The Psychedelic Furs, old R.E.M. from "basement" tapes, and one guy was adamant that what he was hearing was an obscure bootleg Pink Floyd recording; him being a Pink Floyd expert, and all; probably made when they were tripping on acid...

But, there is also the visual element. Do I LOOK anything like Brian Eno?

One young lady was pretty succinct the other night in telling me of my remarkable resemblance to Neil Young, both in appearance and sound.

From now on, then, it won't be Daniel McKenna and his harmonious harmonica at the Lilly Pad.
Ryan Skeeno?

Neil is a name that kind of puts one in the mind of Neil Armstrong, the fist guy to walk on the moon.

And, if you think of it, Neil Young is kind of the "hero" figure; coming to the rescue of the farmers, doing other benefit work to save people; protesting things on behalf of us all.

Neil is Canadian, so there might have been a bit of a preemptive strike by his A&R people, against his being perceived as being a foreigner and making "foreign" music.

Foreign music has to be as good as ABBA for it to sell in the states, the British Invasion notwithstanding.

In the same way, Jerry Garcia is portrayed in front of an American flag in some stock photos, and even wearing an Uncle Sam hat in another. Of course this is because mainstream all-American corn fed kids are going to shy away from "Spanish" music, and so Jerry Garcia's publicity people were guarding against that perception. Maybe one Santana was enough...

I don't think that I have to struggle against any anti Scottish bias by being Daniel McKenna; but about...

Daniel Sonne...?

Conrad Pistachio?
Luke Cryder?
Rudyard King?
Ryan Reno?
Denny Young?
Neil McKenna?

A gruesome discovery

Thursday night, I had poured some of the can of food that Rose had given me onto Harold's plate.

It was then that I saw a cockroach scurry away from what had been under the plate.

Just out of curiosity, I pulled open the draw from a table/desk that I had stood upright to use as a sound blocker, next to which I set Harold's food every day.

I exposed a veritable city of roaches, which had taken up residence in that drawer that I never opened because it contained things that I had no use for but didn't want to throw away.

I began to attack, with a wet sponge in each hand, killing a couple dozen of them; shaking the drawer to stir its contents, ultimately just dumping it out and then pounding away at them as they scurried.
Harold just put his nose in the food and ate diligently, as I worked up a sweat. It's almost like he knew that this was not a time to complain about the food.

After most of them lay splattered on the hardwood floor, there would be stragglers- ones that had initially hidden and were making a break for it.
It was 20 minutes before I felt that I had killed them all.

It was disgusting, and, I wound up getting some of the carnage on the knees of my jeans.

If there is one thing I would have done over, it would have been to have changed out of those jeans; because I was getting whiffs of cat food turned into roach shit and then re-eaten and shit out again all night, and was worried that the tourists could smell it, too. If it weren't for a 20 dollar tip, it would have been a 9 dollar night.

I heard that roaches could live for up to five days after they're dead....

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blog Grinding To A Halt?

Now, it is Monday again, one week since my last post.
I am having trouble condensing the entire past week into a post; figuring out what to highlight.
  • I Try Methadone
  • I Go On A Date With Lilly
  • Ears 10% Better
  • A Kratom Bar Opens Right Up The Street
...are all options...

One thing is the same; I'm down to "less than ten bucks," again, as, I believe the little bit of change that I have in my pocket, qualifies.
And, like last Monday, I'm going out to play again, rather than stay in working on something else, trying to convince myself that it's more important than money.

All of it can take a back seat to busking, with the possible exception of making a recording good enough to be burned right onto a CD, and sold the next night as a "single" (to include a "B" side, which I would have the liberty of making a bit more ragged, maybe with glitches, to distinguish it from the "A" side).

And, that recording isn't going to be made until I find my way either into the church that is next door to us, and has been pretty much defunct since hurricane Katrina, or the rectory building behind it, to use as a recording studio.
The sad thing is that, I can sing out more freely at the Lilly Pad than I can in my own apartment.

There is a claustrophobia that I feel in my apartment and, though it is self-created and I'll have to deal with it through self analysis; it exists.

It's kind of like a nameless negativity that permeates the atmosphere and manifests itself in things as simple as; if I really belt out a song with a devil may care attitude, I will be raising my volume level and attracting attention to myself; basically advertising the fact that I'm home and inviting a knock upon my door from someone looking for a cigarette, or something.

If I were to refuse them the cigarette and go back to music, then I would be saddled with a certain amount of guilt as, the better I was sounding, the more of a shame it would translate into for me to have been "blessed" with this ability (which surely garners me plenty of material rewards) and to give no cigarettes or dollar bills "back" to those not so "blessed."

And so the result is a paranoia where, just like the Monty Python's Flying Circus character who imagined that there was an 800 foot long hedgehog chasing him around (and calling his name, I believe) I imagine skeezers outside my door, as I try to sing an play unbridled by anxiety, listening to the sound coming through my door and saying things to each other like: "You know he making money out there; playing like that; he probably make a couple hundred a night...and then you see how he be over a dollar, or a cigarette...It's a plain shame, God have mercy upon his soul..."

I suppose that it's my hope to be so successful one day that I could give them each a dollar upon my arrival home each night and not sweat it; but that day hasn't come. I just bought Harold the cat a bag of dry food that he might not like as much as the stuff that costs twice as much.

But, I have used places to record music before where I didn't have any qualms about letting it rip, like a brick building where I could turn a bass guitar up all the way through a 4 X 10" speaker cabinet and my friend could "just barely hear it" from across the street.

There is always going to be the issue of whether or not this is a "cop out" on my part, and that I am going to have to develop a thick skin and bite the bullet and learn how to sing like a bird, blocking out distractions and focusing upon my art. To slay the dragon of negativity by pushing back with my music, answering hatred with love. Some people would further expound that I should be trying to use my music to uplift the fellow residents, and heal them.

Then, of course, I could go the Voodoo rout, burn a lot of sage in my place and perform a musical exorcism.

It might be easier to get myself into the abandoned building in such a way that I could cover my tracks by closing it back up without leaving any evidence of tampering, and then do my recording there; away from any audience.

The only drawback of this, I have found is that human interaction is a double edged sword, and some of the best musical performances come about as an attempt to entertain perhaps one particular and dear friend; and having the right people around can be a plus.

Using the secluded studio, one should at least envision a certain audience, so that the performance isn't too "antiseptic." I have enough contact with live audiences through busking that the sheen of them won't have rubbed off upon my retreating into an abandoned building.

My ears are maybe 10 percent better, with the hearing starting to come back in the left one, though it is still constantly ringing.
I'm a week away from my appointment with the Ear Nose and Throat specialists.
The only thing I haven't done is buy the third round of ear drops prescribed to me, which were "carbonic peroxide," and which are indicated only for the removal of ear wax. They would have been $6.99, plus tax, over the counter.

Sunday night, I made about 14 bucks in a bit over 2 hours.
This was after having made only 6 bucks Saturday night; upon returning from my date with Lilly, when we walked along the river to a Starbucks, and then sat on a bench facing the river and talked.

Blog Post After Sunday Night:

As Sunday evening turned into Monday morning, I began to play "Monday, Monday," by The Mamas And The Papas. I might have added about 2 more dollars to my jar, bringing its total to about 14 bucks after about 2 and a half hours of being on the spot and at least making some sound come out of the guitar and harmonica.

I am starting to develop techniques whereby I can play for long stretches of time at kind of an idle, and be able to slip into a familiar melody or something, during the few seconds that someone is walking past. This way, I still catch the people who hide behind SUVs on the other side of the street and listen, without feeling personally involved, for a while before emerging to hopefully come across the street and throw me something.

But, after having only made 6 bucks on a Saturday night that I cut short because the tourists were starting to annoy me, I almost had to go out again on Sunday night.

Sunday night produced a pack of cigarettes, a gallon of distilled water, some bananas, a Monster Energy drink and 3 dollars and change left over; for a shot of kratom in the morning, from the kratom bar that just opened up the street.
Yes, a kratom bar has opened about a mile up Canal Street, by the cemetaries.
The place is called Uxi Duxi (how to pronounce that is as egnimatic as how to pronounce "kratom," itself -they pronounce it to rhyme with "atom").

Within 6 weeks, I have gone from asking what kratom was, to having walked into a local bar and knocked back a shot of it.

I had to smile when I saw that their hours of operation were until 8 PM. What say's "good kratom here," like the staff's being willing to work a few extra hours into the evening.

The place was a big kava server as well as a kratom bar, and was painted a very probably Tiawanese shade of green on the outside, and had purplish overtones everywhere. Under a glass case were various items like a bundle of sage, which, when burned produces a profound insence-like scent, and other things like bundles of sage.

A bookshelf contained books on Wicca and on Kabalah and on "devination," and such.

How kratom became integral to all that is an intriguing question.

There was also set up a stage area where a couple of amps, a timpani drum with a torn head, an electric bass missing a string, a thing that looked like an electric zither and a full drum kit all resided.

The girl who was working behind the counter today was kind of like a doctor, able to discern which of the variety of kratom leafs, a person such as myself was suited for.

I told her that the problem had been that my mood had taken a turn for the worse the night before and I had not played for a third hour after having had two slow ones.

She settled upon a red kratom, the kind that is the most popular in the world, according to her, and what she would use as a starting point in zeroing in on which exact strain suits me the most.

Before I had gotten to the place, having taken an alternate route, using the side street which runs parallel to Canal Street, I had passed one of the many cemeteries that are in that area and are a tourist attraction.

This one was much more modern looking than the others, and had sharply struck names on the headstones, which I could read, as I coasted by on my bike. There were several names visible, as the stones didn't seem to be lined up in strict rows; I had just seen a name on a stone and it had reminded me of someone I knew when I was lightly smacked on the side of my face by a low hanging sprig of crepe myrtle flowers. The cemeteries are a tourist attraction partly because they are supposedly haunted; and that could have been the spirit of the guy trying to get my attention.

Saturday Night's Post

I'm making a "great list" of all the songs that I have ever played or might ever play, this is the task of the night.

I, once again became tired of playing the only songs that seemed to come to mind. Thinking of them in terms of what key they are in, with regard to the harp has been a hindrance.

Tonight, I went to the Lilly Pad early, and encountered Rochelle there. She is the 20 year old or so girl who plays the ukelele and sings quite loudly, I must say. I heard her from a good 125 yards away, as I approached with milk crate in hand.

She is kind of attractive, but in a butch kind of way; has kind of a young boyish face, maybe kind of like Hillary Clinton looked at 19; if Ms. Rodham had dyed her hair a pinkish blond.

Rochelle is one of those girls who dye their hair blond despite the fact that all the other tones of color on their bodies kind of clash with it.

Sure, she has lightened her eyebrows a bit, but the color of her eyes and lips and especially the splashes of freckles on her cheeks belie her blondness and her overall appearance is of a chestnut brown haired girl who has been bleached somehow, perhaps in a giant washing machine.

She really doesn't have a great voice; just a bellowing one; as if she believes that singing good and loud is singing "good" (and loud). There is really not much of a lilt to it; and she seems to put every song in the same key; probably dictated by the chords she is limited to, on the ukelele, so that she is in the range where she can belt them out.

Annie Lennox or Rochelle
There is a definite lesbian overtone to her, reminiscent of Indigo Girls, Four Non-Blonds, Mellisa Ethridge, or Annie Lennox, the Erythmatics lead singer -my impressions only, your lesbians may vary...

I generally feel bad whenever I show up and she is there. Lilly, who considers her "a nice girl," has told her that I had first dibs on the spot, and in the past she seemed willing to leave as soon as I got there, and appreciative to have been able to play there from whatever time until I show up, usually around 10PM.

She usually has a pretty impressive pile of money in her case at that time. 
She generally makes around 100 bucks a day, before I come along and make half of that (in half the time) at night.

Typically, she begins to plunk her ukelele and sing, and, within minutes, a few young men are standing around her, oogling her, thinking whatever, and then, ultimately trying to impress her with a display of wealth in the form of at least a 5 dollar tip. She has a dog, too.

However, this evening, she didn't seem to have much in her case, and she was visibly upset.

"I wasn't expecting you to get here this early..."

"I thought we had this arrangement, where I would play during the day, and you would come at night..."

This was kind of like a testing of the waters for her; This was the time that I could have reminded her that Lilly had given me the spot whenever I wanted it, and that she has even encouraged me to come out in the early afternoons and do so; after seeing the block jammed with people at that hour because of some daytime event, perhaps.

And those are the hours that Rochelle has been free to rack up her hundred bucks.

She probably plays somewhere in the morning, and then does the Lilly Pad from mid afternoon, through the dinner hours, and probably has put in close to 8 hours of busking at the point when I show up. She usually just moves down about 100 yards and continues; which she did last night.

When I was homeless, I would often play from about 7:30 AM, until almost noon, on Decatur Street.

I can hear her from there, but she is no louder than the piano guy at the bar. It is good that she is able to do that. It is like a mine-field down the block that way.

There are residents who will instantly run off any musician that they hear, and who all seem to live in the rooms situated right behind their stoops.

Rochelle sits so that she is directly facing a business, "Nola Poboys." This eliminates the problem of any resident feeling that she is "right across from," and thus encroaching upon, them.

"I very rarely show up this early, and, to tell you the truth, after I make enough money to buy new batteries, I probably won't be here before nightfall again; I just need to catch up after not being able to hear for a couple weeks," I said.
"I'm trying to get an apartment," she said, before going off in a huff.
In A Huff

It is the end of the night, and I kind of feel bad. It was a pretty bad night, generally speaking. There were a good amount of tourists, but they all seemed to be tight with their money.

It was like they were a huge group from some country where you would never see a street musician, because nobody would tip them because that's just the way people from that country are. It has its roots in their history, I'm sure...

Sometimes it is like that, and it is hard to continue to play hard then.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Catching Up

It is Monday, and I have less than 10 bucks, so, I am going to repeat last night's actions and busk for a couple hours at the Lilly Pad.

That netted me 15 bucks, starting at about 9:30PM, and playing for about 2 hours.
Monday night promises to be about the same, but I could use the 15 bucks.

Today's Quiz
What famous album cover did I distort pretty badly to produce the work to the left?
Answer below...

I can't see getting anything accomplished at home during those same hours that is any more important than getting some money flowing.
The strings that I ordered arrived, but I think I'll throw them in the backpack and continue to play on the one's that I have on now. Any one of them is due to break tonight.

As far as harmonicas; I'm playing on an old one that is in the key of G, from back in the days when I could afford to have harps in 2 different keys.

Three weeks of reduced wages due to impaired hearing have taken their toll.

My ears are better, with the right one being clear enough so that I can hear my fingers being rubbed together about and inch from the ear -that is some kind of test of hearing, though I can't remember where I "heard" it- and my left one still being plugged up and ringing.

I can just barely busk.

People were telling me that I sounded good, last night, with one young lady stipulating "very" good.

It's quite possible that, in focusing upon the fundamental tones, which are the ones that vibrate in the head, I am achieving more accurate pitches and the harmonics (that are muffled out to me) are taking care of themselves.

I now understand what Ludwig Van Beethoven's "deafness" was probably about. Along with the legend of him placing his hand on the piano and being able to "hear" that way.

When I rest my chin on the top of the guitar, I hear it probably about 3 times louder than when I take it away, so, this tells me that my hearing isn't "back" yet.

The latest trip to the hospital (the third one in a month) had them releasing me with a prescription for a Claritin type of drug, and yet a third kind of ear drop.
This ear drop stuff is "carbonic peroxide," and is 7 bucks for a small bottle, "over the counter," and I haven't bought it yet.

My friend Lancaster said that carbonic peroxide was "the stuff" that had worked miracles on his ears, when he was younger and an avid surfer.

Of course, he was the one who had originally told me that I needed to ram a Q-tip as far as I could into the ear that was blocked "you'll know it when you hit the ear drum," an action that may have made matters worse at the time.

Answer to Quiz:

The work to the left was made by scrambling the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.
You just have to look at it closely. LOL!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Quaker

I'm in Starbucks; it is Sunday night, a couple days after the house majority whip guy was shot on the baseball field, and the same day that a U.S. led coalition shot down a plane in Syria.

Closer to home, as I sat here a bit earlier, the crazy looking skinny black guy who is sitting next to me with one of his legs in spasmodic motion asked me for the code to unlock the restroom.

I have seen nervous looking people who rhythmically tap a foot or make one of their knees hop; but this guy is almost epileptic in that one leg.

When he first entered, he came straight over to me and asked me for the code.

"I don't know," I told him. "I haven't had to use the bathroom..."

He then wanted me to pause what I was doing, and go up to the counter and ask one of the baristas for it.

If he asked, they would inform him that he needed to make a purchase.

So, he wanted me to get up, walk over to the counter, out of view of my guitar and my laptop and my backpack, for however long it took me to get the attention of the girl, just so I could give the code to someone who had not made a purchase, and for whose shitting on the floor I would be blamed for, as I would be the last person to have asked for the code.

"I'm busy right now, just go up and ask them..."

He mumbled something, but I feigned being "busy right now" by burying my nose in the laptop.

It was then that he took a seat about 6 feet down the bench from me, and began the annoying quaking of his leg. He put it up on one of the footstools and began the almost comical "try to ignore this and stay busy" twitching of it.

I can only think that he is angry and figures that he is going to distract me, and exact his revenge that way.

Either that, or he is contemplating trying to suddenly grab this laptop and run out the door with it, and he is just getting his leg warmed up.

It's odd how he approached me looking for the code, but has not asked anyone else; not even people who apparently know it, because they are coming out of the restroom.

"I really have to go to the bathroom," he had told me, as if that was going to motivate me. He said it in his best "I need to cook my patetti" voice, I imagine.

They will tell you in any Salesmanship 101 seminar worth its salt, not to attempt to create value in the product by telling the prospective customer what is in it for you, the salesman. "Man, one more sale and I make my monthly bonus; please buy the car, sir!"

I'm tired of lying skeezers, that is all.
As I sit here writing, he as since gotten into the restroom, and has been in there the past 20 minutes. He didn't "really have to go to the bathroom," he really had to go in there and do whatever it is he's doing. But, he had to lie, I guess.

Yeah, I suppose Starbucks thinks that it would be a courtesy to the people who have plunked down almost 10 bucks for a beverage, if the (only) bathroom was available.

The GIMP Editor 

The image to the left, I did by applying special effects to, and manipulating, the next photo, of the Mel Bay Guitar Method book covers....(below)
 OK, One More...
This one, was, of course, a re-working of the photo of "Uncle" Louie which appeared in the newspaper along with the story of him being arrested for a murder that he apparently committed 43 years ago.
The New Orleans police are a bit slow in getting around to things like sifting through old fingerprints...
And, yeah, the hat is kind of a "hangman" symbol...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Harold And I's Ears

My ears are still stuffed up and ringing.

Third Visit To Hospital For Ears

I am going on a juice fast and have stopped taking Kratom.
I am also going to eat one more time, before the fast, the meal which was my go-to meal for years, during which I was so healthy that it was a pleasure just to lay back and enjoy being in my own body.

That would be sea bass fried/smoked over a red oak fire in olive oil with garlic and basil, and steamed broccoli and, for like 12 straight years, a bottle of red wine. Actually, 7/8ths of a bottle -I drank down to about the bottom of the label, re-corked it, and that was it for the night. The last couple gulps, below the label, would be used for comparison against whatever different kind of cheap red wine I got the next night, in my never ending search for the best value in red wines.

I would have put the fish on tin foil that was curled up at the edges, and then doused it in olive oil and apple cider vinegar, to marinate it while I was building the fire, which be subsequently allowed to flame up and then die down to a bed of embers, whereupon small pieces of wood would be added so when they caught on fire it would only flare up about 6 inches. This was the perfect cooking/smoking fire, and the fish would get to marinate for almost a half hour while waiting for it to come about.

I would put a grill cover over it so that it would cook just as much from the hot air and smoke that it was trapped in as from the heat from the embers below.

Healthiest diet that I've discovered
Something like this...

I used my ear to adjust the cooking temperature. I would try to let it go for about 20 minutes with the sputtering of the olive oil sounding like a babbling brook. If it sounded more like a white water river, I would pull some wood off the fire below it. I cooked at night, most of the time and so, learned to cook by sound.

I'm going to skip the red wine. If I had enough cash to get a bottle of non alcoholic stuff (about $12) I would, just to more accurately reconstruct the meal that I ate almost every night for 12 years when I was very healthy and went out each day to do landscaping work in the Florida summer sun.  And I might have to skip the red oak fire, but am not giving up on that idea just yet. I might walk around the neighborhood in the Latino section and find someone who is already grilling, whom I could ask if I can put my fish (pescado) on their grill (parilla) for about 20 minutes (minutos).

I believe that if I get a small grill of my own, I can use it in the lot adjacent to the Sacred Heart parking lot, where grilling is proscribed. The lot is where the closed down Sacred Heart church sits, and is kind of roped off.

I think that the buildings where we live, which used to be the Sacred Heart school (my building) and a convent (Lancaster, my weed guy's building) were the ones that were bought in order to be used to house homeless veterans and their ilk. The church and another building (a rectory) were not part of the deal, although the former might have made a nice recreation center for us -take out the pews; put in a basketball court; hang a backboard over the crucified Jesus- and I'm not sure if it is incumbent upon the security detail which work here as "courtesy" officers to enforce any trespassing issues surrounding the empty, boarded up church and rectory.

I'm going to try to get into the rectory building, in order to use it for recording music. There, I would be able to warm up like Pavarotti without being besotted with a "fuck you, in advance" mindset towards anyone who might bang on a floor or wall with a broomstick.

It isn't as tightly secured on the side that faces us, as it is on the side that faces Lopez Street. This stands to reason, as our parking lot is fenced in, acting as a front-line defense.

There is one door on the former rectory which is covered in plywood, probably three quarters of an inch thick. I plan to cut through the wood down one side of it, close to the edge, and then to screw in a few hinges, so that the plywood could be closed back up like a door, leaving the appearance that it is still boarded up tightly and hasn't been breached, so that nobody would suspect anyone of using the place as a recording studio.

I would be bringing my own "juice" in the form of my laptop battery, and maybe an led flashlight to use at night, away from any windows, of course.

I'll make it so I can close and lock the plywood behind me, so as to not be unpleasantly surprised by skeezers coming in behind me.

Now, I have stiffness in my neck; and have gone through a period of about 12 hours, where I felt quite lousy.

My ears are in a constantly ringing and half hearing state. They just feel warm and fuzzy and puffed up with fluid, like I just came out of a loud rock concert and am back in my quiet room. It's kind of comfortable, ironically, since I might be losing my hearing.

I am starting to have a strong suspicion that Kratom might compromise the body's defenses against certain things. Or that it might, more directly, cause a fluid build up behind the eardrums of some "patients."

The question would be: "Do the benefits of Kratom outweigh the drawbacks?"

Obviously, hearing loss in a musician might be considered a no-brainer for discontinuing its use.

The fact that I can sit down and type away at however many words per minute for 11 hours straight, pumping out a 14,000 word story with hardly a revision on the stuff, pausing only to refill my coffee cup, doesn't necessarily recommend it; at least not until a re-reading of the story from the distance of a few days later reveals it to be a pretty good one.

Tonight, I will have gone 3 days without any kratom.

I still sit here typing away, and shooing away like flies, any distracting thoughts or impulses to stop writing and do something else.

If I were working on a song, it would be the same discipline. It might not be evident from listening to the last song I posted, with the video of my drawings; but that represented about 9 hours of "solid" work. And when the sun came up, and the computer room opened, and it was time for me to upload the thing and put it on this blog, I was still chomping at the bit to re-do several parts of it, tweaking each measure; that could have gone on until sundown.

So, I wonder if I am still under the influence of the stuff.

I felt so dead tired the past couple days, after having busked Friday and Saturday nights with maybe 3 hours of sleep in between; but having taken a couple grams each night before leaving out on my bike.

I reminded myself of a guy I once knew who would lay on his bed moaning and groaning, and not eating, for 2 or 3 days every so often, withdrawing from heroin. He was the type of guy who could get pretty strung out on the stuff and then put himself through the ringer of withdrawal, take a shower, put on clean clothes and then go back into society for a few weeks or even months, until the next time; if there is such a type of guy.

I'm sure the "pros" like my friend Lancaster would tell you: "You can do that for a while, but it'll get you in the end; and you'll wind up stealing heavy equipment off construction sites in broad daylight and trying to sell it on the street."

Such is life.

I was hooked on the peanut flavored marshmallow candy called "Circus Peanuts," when I was about 10 years old. I found them so delicious that I begged my mom to get me some when she went grocery shopping. She didn't disappoint, and in fact, delivered big time, as the market only had the candy by the big "party size" bag.

And, so there I was, with a whole bag of my favorite candy at the time.

I ate about 3 quarters of the bag; became sick of the things; never finished the bag; and haven't eaten another Circus Peanut since.

Maybe that is how this Kratom story will end.

I wound up feeling pretty good by about noon, after I had gone to the Family Dollar and had gotten a Monster Energy drink, which I consumed, shortly before starting to feel better.

I'm wondering if there is any kind of withdrawal from it. It stands to reason that one is always robbing Peter to pay Paul when dealing with any kind of thing that one puts in the body.

With persistent alcohol consumption there develops a situation where the person wakes up as an inversion of who he was before passing out drunk the night before.

He might have been caught up in the euphoric state of drunkenness and "resolved" to be up bright and early and to go see about a job, or something; and then woke up feeling like his brain had coagulated like Jello into a slow thinking, slow moving, barely jiggling mass; his extroverted personality had gone into a deep sleep, and his body ached, because his threshold of pain had come down commensurate with his blood/alcohol level and now he was feeling pain and recalling things like: "Oh, yeah; I punched that wall, didn't I; when the bouncer wouldn't let me in the club 'cause he said I was too 'intoxicated.'"

And so, he blows off the job search and goes back to sleep, only to awaken in the early afternoon, ridden by guilt over having gotten drunk again, and messed up another opportunity

And then finds that after a couple drinks he feels better.

The difference with Kratom is waking up and seeing a pile of money in front of you because you played like a machine for 5 or 6 straight hours, rather than seeing no money but bruises on your body that you can't account for.

And there is the wondering why your ears have been stuffed up and ringing throughout the entire month since you first started messing with Kratom...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Hearing Now

  • 59 Dollar Friday
  • 24 Dollar Saturday
  • Sunday Off

Monday morning, bright and early, up and ready to jog to the Family Dollar for cat food, and for exercise.

From the Kratom Series of GIMP art

I "needed the rest," I suppose, as I had been too lazy to hop on my bike and go out to get cat food for Harold's 2 AM feeding.

Choosing not to go out and play last (Sunday) night caused a bit of guilt in me, especially when thinking that now is the time that I need to save up for my trip up north, which I should embark upon within the next 3 weeks.

At the bare minimum, I need to supply Rose and Ed with enough cat food and litter box stuff for a few weeks.

I haven't talked to them about me giving them my key so that they could allow Harold to continue his routine, letting him in before they go to bed, putting food and fresh water out for him, and then basically locking him in for the night, and letting him out in morning.

I am sure that they will jump on the opportunity. The key to my place will be a resource for them, and I wouldn't put it past them to rent it out for 20 bucks a night, here and there, on the sly (to include myself). But, I am sure that they would have "vetted" the people, and wouldn't allow anyone that they hardly know into the place. That would be the main "risk" in that arrangement. I'm not comfortable with leaving Harold outside the whole (4?) weeks, even if Rose was to be placing food out there for him regularly.

My attention has been drawn to the lottery, lately. Myself having been playing number 427 on the Pick 3 for almost the whole year, 50 cents a day. The number hasn't come up since December 2, 2009. It statistically should have come up 2.6 times since then. I realize though that, even beginning to play at such a time in the number's history doesn't make the odds any less crappy. But, it's hard to stop playing such a number. There is a feeling that it would be a forefeiture of all that I have paid into the system so far.

Every employee at The Unique Grocery knows that 427 is my number (I'm even thinking of composing a little ditty about the number that I can pull my guitar off my back and sing when I'm in there getting my ticket) and so, it wouldn't escape their notice if it came up one night, and they would undoubtedly greet me when I came in with great enthusiasm, but cautious enthusiasm, as they know that I will occasionally "gamble" by not playing the thing, so as to put the 50 cents in my pocket.

One of the (all Ethiopian) workers in there has given me the advice to skip playing every now and then, following my hunches, but then to parlay that money into the next ticket that I do play.

That makes a lot of sense to me, as a matter of fact. After having dodged a bullet by seeing a number other than mine come up on a night when I didn't play, I could double up on the next night's play.

Another attempt to visually describe Kratom...

But there have been nights when I just didn't feel the vibe of the number, but played anyways, thinking about the nights I had gone out busking when I wasn't feeling anything, that turned out to be "magical" ones. But when the number came up as far from 427 as can be; like 959; I realized that my gut had been right.

Funny how "Though shalt not gamble" never found its way onto Moses' tablets.

Other than that and it is Monday and my ears are still ringing and my hearing hovers around 50%.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Audacity, GIMP, Openshot and Kratom Jam

I was looking at the constellations the other night and Gemini the Twins were just above the horizon at about 11 PM, and, I don't know if it had anything to do with that angle, but I noticed something that I never had before, the one on the right has a nice ass... I've never seen them right above the horizon like that, and upright; I couldn't help but think: "Who am I that God is mindful of me?"
Being on a planet that is orbiting a star gives us a shifting view of the constellation as we see it from different tangents along the 585 million mile circuit. It is a very slight change of perspective, given that all of the stars that comprise Gemini are light years away, but if watched at super time-lapsed speed, the twin on the left is definitely shaking that thing! 
Right now, it is Friday morning and I am as broke as can be.

I took the last $7.02 off my green card last night at the Walgreen's for a pack of American Spirit cigarettes. I have about a hundred bucks on my food card, so I'm not going to starve, but my ears are still not back to normal.

I went back to the emergency room, Wednesday night, since I could use their wi-fi, and so, waiting really wasn't a problem at all. I got some work done, studying the GIMP book in between seeing nurses and doctors.

I was seen by a young blond haired lady who was a cross between Goldie Hawn and Lauren Tewes in appearance; and who said she was a student.

She also said that my left ear was infected; which is the opposite side of the original problem.

I was not given any more antibiotics; for whatever reason, but a prescription for more drops, 10 in each ear once a day for a week.

My hearing is good enough to busk now, I would say, which is hopefully just in time to save myself from ruin.

The money I make has to go directly into a reserve for new strings. I'll send off for a couple sets, and set aside 10 bucks in case I break one before they arrive in "2 to 3 business days." And then, I want to upgrade from the harmonicas in G and A that I've been playing since the Special 20 blew a note (I need to open the case and see what the reed looks like -snapped off entirely, or just jammed with a pot seed or something)

I have stopped taking Kratom the past couple days. I am still noticing "symptoms," that might be evidence that it is still in my system, though; such as having stayed up the entire 48 hours after I stopped taking Kratom, working basically non-stop on projects; the video that I am posting here being one of the ones. I felt like I could further polish up the video, editing the song, singing over notes that went out of pitch (after having deliberated over whether it was "just the style," and that is should be kind of out of pitch for effect) and then, this morning, getting the idea to jot down on a chart which images play over which measures of the song, and then to go back and re-sing the whole song, replacing existing lyrics with some that refer more to the photos (putting some kind of lyrical jab at Tulip was the original impetus [see "The Tulip Story" in the sidebar for more on that worthy]).

But, then, I would have to go back and match the background voices to the new lyrics and all the instruments would have to be added, and another day would go by, and, well, I decided that the backbone of the song had kind of a scoliosis to begin with (the measures weren't counted out symmetrically) and so to work tediously on improving it, without correcting the glitch in the timing that occurs about 2:50 into it (and that would be tedious work, getting 16 tracks to line up with the new layout) was not really worth it, as the song can stand as a "fledgling" version, so as to echo the theme of my being into only the 5th hour of the "Learn GIMP in 24 Hours," book, seen in the video.

Working on a song that has a mismatched number of measures is like building a sand castle that you know the tide is going to come in and wash away in a few hours, but you still pour your heart into it...

Kratom Nourishes The Appendix

But, that is the thing; I'm kind of amped to keep pouring energy into these projects; not even stopping to blog about them. That is why I'm going to post up this video and then go right back to work on the next, and better, one.

The GIMP has very powerful video making capabilities.

Running vocals through a pitch transducer at this point
to get that nice, melting head sound quality...
Understanding that video is just a quick succession of single still photos makes it easy to envision the possibilities of it.

So far, I can see on the horizon, the making of a song called "My Head Is Melting," and then syncing it up with what I have learned so far on the GIMP.

I was considering that my hearing might "miraculously" become clear almost overnight after stopping the Kratom, but that hasn't happened yet, nor have I lost my almost "crystal meth" drive to accomplish, in general.

I'm thinking of riding my bike out to the Botanical Garden, which is in City Park, for example, and filching a tiny plant or a bulb off something; I'm sure they have some exotic specimens that would look really cool in a pot on my windowsill... I should do my quarter mile jog, also.

I don't even think I have enough pennies for a 38 cent can of food for Harold the cat.

Maybe I should drop everything and go straight to the Lilly Pad, it being noon right now, and start jamming in the afternoon sun.

I'm sure I would make 38 cents.

I feel pretty driven right now. I was going to go out tonight and do the 10PM til 2AM shift. I still have some Kratom left. I should just go and play and only take the Kratom if I feel my ambition wear off, like a fever breaking, and myself coming down and just wanting to sleep, or something. But what if I yawned just then and my ears popped open and I could hear the ticking of my watch.

Then would I take the Kratom because I know it would make me play hard for the next 5 or 6 hours??

And wake up the next morning with stuffed ears?

It seems like a magical world -one where you can go into the Unique Grocery Store and notice some interesting packages, with the cryptic name of Kratom, next to all the sexual enhancement products and on the other side of the herbal energy products , and then try some to find that it "focuses you in," and gives you a sense of purpose and the ability to concentrate completely; and it drastically reduces your anxiety, and its only 11 bucks for a 4 day supply... 

I smoke only half as many cigarettes when I take Kratom; I think smoking cigarettes is a response to anxiety.

It's as if I conjured up the product, and it appeared on the shelf at the Unique Grocery Store as, not a figment, but a manifestation of my imagination.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

One nagging thought that I have though, is this: Every drug that you see advertised on daytime TV, which seems to be every commercial which isn't for "slip and fall attorneys" who are in cahoots with doctors; has an incredulous and almost comical "side effects disclaimer," inserted somewhere. 

One of them that I saw -I kid you not- imparted the information: "In rare cases, fatalities have occurred," and then, without missing a beat the spokesman followed that with: "So ask your doctor if (whatever) is right for you!"

My point is that, since every legal (through prescription) drug comes with a laundry list of adverse reactions that seem to vary so much; with Jane only experiencing a dry mouth while Jack goes ahead and croaks on the stuff, dependent upon the individual subjects, that it makes me believe that Kratom could do just about anything for me...and...against me, perhaps. 

I can imagine the voice-over: "Kratom can weaken the immunity systems of some individuals, and increase their risk of contracting certain viruses; if you experience frequent ear infections; tell your doctor..." type of thing...

It might not be evident that I have been writing at an accelerated pace lately, from this blog. But that is because I haven't even been slowing down to post, and have been having a hard time deciding when to cut something off, call it finished, and stop turning anecdotes into novels. When I finally post some things, they will be well over 50 pages in length.

I have actually written something that is going to be novel-length as soon as I finish it, which might be a couple weeks from now. It will go into my, purportedly short, stories sidebar.  

I should be freaking out over not even having enough money for cat food, less than 7 hours before Harold will be meowing for it, but I feel like I could just go into the Quarter and make money, almost guaranteed. Of course, rain could put a damper on things...

Contrast this with my "old" credo of "I go out there with no expectations at all; I might not make a penny. I'm psychologically prepared to just play for fun."

I do expect to have fun today, though; it's 78 degrees and partly cloudy, not too humid.

Gosh, if I drank, this would be the perfect time to get a small bottle of Jim Beam Black to set next to me on Lilly's stoop. She might even come out and I could offer her a couple shots....Oh, yeah, I don't even have enough money for cat food, I almost forgot....

Can you hear me, Daniel?
Epilogue: Lauren Tewes was "Julie," on the 70's TV series "The Love Boat," she was the cruise "director" I think...

It's a regular party with the "Stellarium"program that I downloaded....

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Once A Week Post, These Days

  • Ears 50% After Two Weeks (ringing right now)
  • Saturday Night: 18 Bucks
  • Sunday Night 18 More
  • Post not proof-read; possible mistakes in text
  • Kratom And Hearing Loss? 
    "Kratom" leaf
I Stopped in front of Walgreen's on Canal Street, thinking about going in and spending some of the 18 bucks that I had made, Saturday night. 
I had been playing with stuffed up ears. I have had the condition for a couple of weeks now.

I started taking Kratom around the time my ears became warm and fuzzy and ringing.

But then remembered that I had food at the apartment; I had gone with Rose and Ed in the Rose and Ed-mobile, to the Winn Dixie about a mile up the road on Carollton Street.

Rose had called and woken me up at just about the point that I had attained 8 hours of sleep, or 5:30 in the afternoon.

She said that she had gotten some cat "wormer" and had paid 7 bucks for it, and, didn't need it. She only wanted "3 or 4 dollars" for it.


My ears have been just clear enough for me to go out and busk. It is actually a bonus that I have been pushing myself to sound louder and trying material that can be done so, such as "House of the Rising Sun," which can be either done in a low-down kind of Otis Redding way, or a full-out Animals (the band) way, an octave higher.

I made 44 bucks Friday night, on my first night back from the ear infection.

This was timely, as I was able to apply it to the gaping hole in the dam that was leaking the lake of money which was the $120 that Rose and Ed had paid me back that morning.

My weed bill with Lancaster (not his real name) in building C was at 60 dollars.

This had slowly accrued over a period of at least a couple months.

The 8 nights that I took off from busking because of the ear infection fell in the week before I was to get the Rose and Ed money, and so I was able to borrow weed against that expected windfall, and, hence, spent the week pretty stoned, doing all kinds of projects that would probably go faster, but wouldn't be as much fun, if I wasn't.

In so many ways, music is God's way of providing for his children who can't do anything else, like fly a jet plane, because they are too stoned.

I have just gotten the idea for a project to make a "list" of the top ten rock and roll songs that were recorded by musicians that had just smoked a joint.

For regrettable legal reasons, this information may have been kept under wraps (excuse the pun) by a lot of artists. 
There's the stoner in the lower left corner
hiding behind shades...

Jeff "skunk"* Baxter (Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan) the guitarist said about the guitar solo on the song "Dependin' On You," from the Doobie Brother's "Minute By Minute" album; this after having broken down another solo to the level of what modalities he used; "That one was one where I just smoked a joint and then sat back and let it fly..."

*"skunk" is a nickname for a potent kind of pot that has a bit of a smell similar to the pole cat; but so does Heineken beer if you let a bottle warm up and then re-refrigerate it...
I feel in my very fiber that John Lennon's insistence that the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," was NOT about, nor inspired by, L.S.D. is a bunch of B.S.
I might even be tied to some clause in a contract that he unwittingly signed, stipulating that the "image" of the band shall be preserved as a lovable bunch of mop-tops who sing about holding hands, and are wholesome and good.

If John were to say that he was tripping his teeth out when he wrote it; maybe he would have been found to be in breach of that contract and would reap no gain from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Beatles "experimented with drugs," it has been documented (admitted) by them.

I also ,sensibly, experimented with acid enough to have seen rocking-horse people eating marshmallow pies, and the only way that the song was truly inspired by a drawing by John's then toddler daughter which had been hung on the refrigerator, as John firmly and steadily asserted, is if it was a Freudian slip that occurred when, after she told him she had named it "Lucy, in the sky, with diamonds," he was struck by an impulse to write a song; after subliminally seeing LSD in the title; and it was his subconscious mind's way of saying "What's with all the LSD? about the drawing, not conscious of his subconscious mind's recognition of the initials in its name.

It also occurred to me that, perhaps at school, some kids may have told the girl: "I heard your dad takes L.S.D," and that was as close as she wanted to get to actually asking him if he did. But that is about as far as this blog will go into the psychology of a the family of a guy who I only know from listening to his records.

I knocked on Rose and Ed's door at about 8 PM, coffee in hand, and after having "woken up," some.

I had boiled some marrow bones early Saturday morning, and had enjoyed a thick broth of marrow, after having poured some "vegetarian" beans into it. But then I piled on by eating bananas with peanut butter, with the result being that I slept like a rock, and still felt like a rock after I had finally called it a night's sleep a bit before 9 PM.

The surge of energy that I always get at that time, from years (4) of going out to play at about that time every night, was enough to lift me to a sitting position and propel me into the kitchen to put coffee on.

I had decided, after having slept about 2 hours on the matter, to buy the cat wormer stuff off of Rose and Ed.

It crossed my mind that it had occurred to Rose, upon seeing Harold the cat in his skinny state with a lack-luster coat, to take the initiative in purchasing the worming stuff and that she was either going to administer it to him without my knowledge, but in good faith, to Harold, or to entrust me with being able to administer it to him by giving it to me, and then that she had deemed it prudent to offer the stuff to me at half its market price. That way, I would most likely jump at the chance to save money on something that I would like to use on Harold, since it can't hurt him even if he doesn't have roundworms, as Rose suspects he does. That way, she would be lighting a fire under me to get using the stuff immediately, and she herself would only pay half the price of the stuff. She claimed to have had the receipt, by the way...

So, I gave them 5 bucks for the worm stuff, then came back to the apartment.

I ran over to Lancaster's and spent 10 bucks on bud, and then ran into Rose and Ed, who were getting into the Rose and Ed-mobile.

They were going to Winn Dixie, the said, then asked if I wanted to come along.

I figured, why not? I'm going to want to eat something, and we would be back to the building in time for me to leave to go out busking delayed by maybe a half hour at the most. It was Saturday night, but it had rained off and on the whole day, and it was about a coin toss' odds of getting drenched by being outside for 5 hours.

The Rose and Ed mobile was a portrait of themselves.

It has been in and out of the repair shop just about as much as they each had been in and out of hospitals.

"Learn GIMP in 24 Hours:" Hour 0

The front driver's side window is missing. It's an SUV. I have never looked at it closely enough to see what exact make it is; I guess my attention is always drawn to things that need repair or inflating on the thing whenever I walk by where it usually sits in the parking lot.

"Is this an automatic?" I asked Ed, after noticing (and feeling) that the motor had reved up to about 3,000 rpm's before it was shifted down to a lower gear, either by Ed or (see above).


"'Cause it revved up pretty high in second gear,"

"Yeah, the transmission needs adjustment," said Ed, and I could feel a ripple go through the atmosphere, as if the transmission's needing adjusting, along with the driver's side window needing replacing might be a source of anxiety for the couple.

Before we had left the parking lot, a black lady of about 50 had approached and offered 10 dollars to Rose and Ed to drop her off at a certain block. "Where they just had the shooting," I added, as a way of putting in my 2 cents, after the woman had given Ed directions to the block, which was actually not too far out of our way, and had redirected our trip along a triangle with each of its sides being a mile.

The lady spent most of the trip yelling into her phone out of which could be heard a voice yelling on the other end. It was the most "ghetto" kind of language which was almost comic against the backdrop of her having presented herself very demurely and almost graciously, calling to mind a grandmother, to ask if Ed wanted to make 10 bucks as a stand-in Uber driver.

It was a meek, quiet, unassuming and pleasant lady who occupied the seat next to me; until she answered her phone about a quarter way into the trip to drop her off. Then, her volume level tripled and she began to let fly, as I said, some pretty vintage ghetto jargon, with "She a ho!" being one of the highlights, in my opinion. At one point she released a volley of "So what you sayin?"s of which I counted at least 8, in a machine-gun style while whoever was on the other end kept right up with her and said what she was saying. It was like a high level ping-pong match where the ball is ghetto jargon, and they slashed back and forth, trying to maybe put a little English on it...

"She a ho!" I said, after we had dropped her off at "my block," making Ed and Rose laugh.

"No, I'm just repeating what she said on the phone," I said, laughing myself.

"What ever happened to "I'll call you back in a few minutes, right now I'm in a vehicle with 3 other people, and I'm yelling as loud as I can?'"

I thought about it later and, I think the fact that she hadn't heard about the shooting a few days earlier in a place that she had adamantly insisted was her neighborhood and her people, meant that she might have been lying, and that, coupled with her phone call it paints a picture of an older black lady that might have feared that we might be crazy white people that were going to hold her prisoner and torture her, and she was trying to make it seem like, where we were going, she had a lot of friends, and that, as evidenced by the phone conversation, she was from the deep down hood, and the were 100 percent ghetto friends; so just bring her to her destination and don't mess with her, no little side excursions for Ed and I to pin her down in the back of the SUV while Rose, wearing a halloween mask, did her with a strap-on dildo -or whatever white people do to her kind -it's been so long since I've read any "crime" magazines...

I will say, though, from the ones that I have perused in the past; that the kind of people who do those kind of things are often almost indistinguishable in appearance from a long-haired street musician and two pill heads; I'll concede that...

It was a bit after 10:30 when we got back to the apartments, so I placed the bag containing instant oatmeal, 2 cans of cat food, a half gallon of apple juice and a yam, down on the kitchen counter and then hit the ground running in an effort to go directly out and play. I managed to leave before a half hour had passed, after having run through the checklist.

Note, the Hohner Special 20 harmonica has gotten one of it's holes plugged up, after about 2 months of use. I would, and hopefully can, buy another one.

These 3 or 4 days (Sunday through Wednesday) I like to spend working on writing and drawing and recording music, along with reading and studying.

I was in the Goodwill store Saturday morning, and was able to find some CD's (Johnny Cash, a tribute to John Lennon by sundry musicians, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony "No. 6," along with a book on XML and another one on the GIMP image manipulation program that I have been trying, without the aid of any kind of book or manual, to learn, without any success for a while now.

The CD's were 99 cents each, the books; 50 cents each.

It was a cosmic occasion, as I saw, in the CD rack, a copy of Elvis Costello's "King of America," and then, there was a CD that would change my life. Actually any CD that I might have gotten would have changed my life, as I would eventually listen to it, rather than do something else with my life...but.

The CD was an Amnesty International campaign compilation of different artists doing John Lennon songs, named "Instant Karma," and all the proceeds were to go towards saving Darfur. It came out around 2003 and is evidence that, at that time I must not have been listening to many news broadcasts, 'cause I've never heard of the place.

Yoko Ono wrote a paragraph in the liner notes giving the endeavor her blessings.

A few notes on the CD:

The highlight of the double CD, was no surprise to me, by being Christina Aguilera singing "Mother," and being up to the task of rendering the "scream therapy" crescendo, made famous by Mr. Lennon.

The dismal low point was a vapid rendition of "Power To The People," done by The Black Eyes Peas, with what I guess is a prerequisite for them, rap section in the middle, where an intelligent artist may have freestyled some lyrics pertinent to what John Lennon was talking about, politically.

Instead, what sounded like a puffed up (and who I imagined to look like M.C. Hammer, after he had ballooned up to about 300 pounds, had mismanaged away all his "You Can't Touch This" money, and who appeared in any subsequent photos wearing a deer in the headlights expression, as if the camera was the tax collector) on his own ego rapper, just yelled the word "power" repeatedly. It was apparent that he was just "rapping" about power, in general, having no idea what the original song was about. He would pause, as if trying to think of something, at one point uttering the "You've got to be kidding me," rhyme of "It's the hour for power!," before spitting out a few more repetitions of the word "power," and then pausing again, perhaps searching for words like sour, dour, tower, flower or even flour, which all must have eluded him. In his mind, he might have been personifying the word by emphsizing the "pow," as if he was having visions of inciting the crowd to swing their fists and take up arms; "POWer, POWer, POWer!" That seemed to be about how deep his ideology was.

A band I had never heard of before named: The Flaming Lips did a version of "(Just like) Starting Over," that was as "artistically" done as the original.

There was also a Johnny Cash CD called: "The Legend of Johnny Cash," still in the plastic wrapper, which has, I guess, what are his 21 best songs on it, to include the Nine Inch Nails song, "Hurt," which he released not long before he passed away. Johnny Cash songs are good for a busker to have in his repertoire. They are requested every so often and always, it seems, by someone who looks like he is ready to throw a large tip, should you prove to know "Hey, Porter" all the way through with even the little guitar lick thrown in correctly between the verses.

I will have to listen to the disc before commenting more.

But, when I think of Johhny Cash, I always think back to a time in 1981.

I had just completed Army basic training, and had been sent to complete my "Advanced Individual Training," or A.I.T, to become a combat medic, at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas.

My Army experience, at that point, had gone from being subject to 8 weeks of basic training during the winter months at Fort Dix, in New Jersey, where I remember having to get out of a warm sleeping bag in the dark at 4 AM, and then don an ice cold uniform, while trying not to become entangled with my "buddy," Boyd who was attempting to do the same thing in the same "two man" pup tent. And I can remember, while changing out of the tee shirt that I had slept in (because it would be moist) the bare skin of my back touching the fabric of the tent which was coated with ice from the frozen condensation from our having breathed in it on that 20 degree night. When the shock from the cold went through me, I kind of intuitively sensed that I had just then gone through what would be the worst part of basic training...

Then, in early May, I stepped off the plane in San Antonio, and thought that I must have been right underneath one of the turbine engines, and could feel it's heat; but, looking up, I saw only the sun. It was the hottest sunlight that I had ever felt, having never left New England before then, and I felt like I was in a tropical paradise.

The army regimen had softened, with us being woken at 5 AM, rather than an hour earlier, and us being let out of training at 3:30 in the afternoon, free to do as we pleased, until bedtime and the 10PM. headcount.

I spent a lot of time in the base library, attached by cheap rubber cupped headphones to one of the phonographs, having culled from the eclectic mix of music the same stuff that I listened to at home. Cranking up the album "Rocks," by Aerosmith to the point where the librarian tapped me on the shoulder and aprised me of the fact that one of the shortcomings of the cheap, vinyl cupped headphones (that probably cost the government 500 dollars per pair) was that they leaked and that he could hear Aerosmith "Rocks" all the way over behind the counter where he was stationed.

There was, what seemed to me, a disproportionately large "Country and Western" section in that library. I knew nothing about it. It was all Ringo Starr singing "Act Naturally," to me.

Then, I noticed one of the female trainees sitting a couple tables down from me, listening to music and crying.

Upon noticing me looking at her, she lifted the cups off her ears, and said: "I'm sorry, but this just makes me so homesick.."

I just smiled, a little bit in awe of music's transcendental power, and a little bit wondering if being overcome by homesickness was a sign of weakness and if she was going to crack under pressure, start bawling and get us all killed somewhere down the road...

I became curious, though, and walked over by her and actually had to rotate my head at a rate of 45 times a second in order to get a bead on the label and there, spinning around like a sock in a dryer was the name: Johnny Cash.

I had heard the name before, and was pretty sure that people revered him, but didn't think anyone actually listened to him; and here was this girl crying. She must be from some place in between Kentucky and West Virginia, I remember thinking...

"You're crying because a guy named his son Sue?"

(laughs) "No..."

Then I realized that there really wasn't any music that would make me feel equally homesick, because when we were listening to rock and roll as kids, it seemed to be something that kids everywhere were participating in; it wasn't a Fitchburg, Massachusetts thing exclusively; and outside of English bands singing: "Oh, Boston, you're my home..." there wasn't much there.

So, I look forward to listening to the Cash CD, and maybe trying to guess which song it was on the girl's turntable.

I think that, since country songs focus a lot on family and relationships, and that it was shared from one generation to the next (unlike rock-n-roll which was turned up in order to torture parents whose music you, in turn, hated) that it is more likely that Johnny's songs would make someone feel homesick, than The Cars greatest hits.

Music was just more integral to the lives of those people who listen to Johnny Cash, I concluded then.

Then, I went and found a "Teach Yourself GIMP in 24 hours," book, along with an XML book -just what I needed to pick up from the college bookstore.

It is Monday, the 5th. My food stamp card was charged today. The day's arrival came swiftly. The months are flying by fast, which means the years are, too. I wonder if Johnny Cash has a song about that...

Tuesday, The 6th.

It is Tuesday morning, 2 AM.

I just got back from making maybe 4 dollars playing for a smattering of tourists, one of whom was a young lady, who put some change in my jar, appologizing for having no more and wishing out loud that she had had a 20 dollar bill "because you're killing it!," she added.

There have been a few nights like that in the past couple months, when I went home with maybe 25 bucks, after having almost gotten more "...I could swear I had another twenty, somewhere..."

I went out because my green card is just above 10 dollars and I have less than that in cash.

My plans to get a new harmonica and a few other things have been sidetracked.

The bigger picture shows these recent nights to be harbingers of "the slow season," which didn't used to officially begin until around the time Tanya and Dorise left in search of greener pastures, usually the last week of June, which is less than a month from now.

Making only 4 dollars on a Monday night started me thinking that, I should try to load up on the busking hours during the weekends and then go on the road, so as not to be here for much of the slow season. Even if I busk my way up the east coast to see my family in Massachusetts, upon leaving there, I wouldn't have to come straight back to New Orleans; perhaps I could continue north to Burlington, Vermont, which buzzes with August activity; that being the only month when its a hot for them 85 degrees during the day and remains in the 70's at night. It's about the only dose of "summer" they get, while at the same time, New Orleans is hot and humid and oppressive and avoided by wealthy tourists who can arrange their itinerary so as to be in Burlington, attending a Phish concert/festival or something at that time.

I will be disappointed in myself if I don't go on some kind of tour in the near future. I promised myself that I wouldn't endure another Southern Decadence festival, which is something that is always pointed to as the turning point from the slow season into the busy one, and it may be that for bar owners and others, but as far as busking, I believe I have blogged for 2 or 3 straight years about the experience of gay man after gay man walking past me as I played, as if deriving some pleasure out of ignoring me; or maybe being truly transfixed upon having sex with men that they actually did not notice me; or whatever.

After talking to Barnaby Chancellor, who was the very first person whom I met in the residential block where I play, I had almost decided to play another one and to take it as a challenge to find a way to get their "queer as a three dollar bill" dollars.

"You're whining about not making any money, when you need to realize that you have nobody to blame except yourself; you're not doing a good enough job. Take my word for it, if you sat over there and played "It's Raining Men," (goes on to explain where the song is from or something) you would have a group of them around you, singing and dancing and throwing good money in your jar!" said Barnaby.

I could almost feel my dander rising and a resolve forming within me, and adrenaline building up in my veins as I reframed the situation as a challenge, and had almost decided: Barnaby is right; I just haven't cracked the code, solved the riddle. You never know how much money you might make naked (except for a jock-strap) and painted pink until you try it. ...Myself in my bathroom at almost 5 AM, rubbing the last of the pink off my face in the the foreground is the mound of money piled on the bed, a lot of it smeared with pink from when they stuck it under my jock-strap.....sure...

(and now that undulating blur effect that they use on screen to show a character waking from a dream)

"No, I'm taking off next August, Barnaby, if I possibly can."

That is really going to mean jumping out on the road as soon as I have a brand new Hohner Special 20, a couple sets of strings and, optimally, a camera of some kind to help document the trip on this blog. Waiting until I have amassed enough cash to feel "comfortable" traveling on probably won't be an option.

I might pick a night to play until 4 AM at the Lilly Pad and then, having my luggage with me, go from there right to a Megabus stop about 5 blocks away.

I would have locked my bike in the apartment, and I guess made some kind of arrangements for the care of Harold.

I could entrust Rose and Ed with the key to my apartment, so that they could actually let Harold in at his regular 2 AM feeding time, put dishes of food and water out for him, and then just lock him in for the night. He'll just eat and then clean himself and then lay down and sleep. They can open the apartment door at around noon, to see if Harold is indeed chomping at the bit to get outside, as is his routine.

I would be taking the only things of value, my laptop and my guitar, with me, leaving the bike behind, but I trust Rose and Ed; pretty much.

That would be the most Harold-friendly solution, as the thing might not really give a rat's ass who shows up to let him in and give him food, although, Rose not remaining there to be rubbed by its nose and to have attention demanded of, might put Harold in a funk. One of my fears is that the trip might turn into a 3 or 4 month excursion, but if it did, I suppose I could mail Rose and Ed more cash for cat food from Burlington, Vermont (where I have been staying and working on a CD with a group of musicians whom I met while busking there) or wherever.

The bike, and Harold; problems solved.

The other issue is the apartment, and how long a resident whom is recieving government assistance so that he can stay there, can not stay there.

One, if not the, basic premise behind the granting of money to get a chronically homeless person into a dwelling is the underlying determination that the person suffers from some kind of homeless-itis -the example of one guy who was given an apartment here, but who was soon seen no more there, having gone back to the same hedge by the casino where he used to lie down; after he had hustled and stayed drunk and high all night a couple blocks away, and then had made a circle around the casino collecting enough tobacco and alcohol to hunker down with.

In the morning, he would hop the trolley down to "The OZ" for their grits and eggs and sausage and orange juice breakfast, where he would encounter his friends, and a discussion would ensue, plans would be made " soon as that festival end, about 3, all that beer they got left over, if you got a cup or somethin' -I bring a 5 gallon bucket- they just give it away instead of dumping it out; but we have to be there a little early, you know, chill with the beer guys a little..."

business deals, too: " got an i-phone and a pocketbook, an empty wallet, some sunglasses and some chap stick for sale; how much for all of it...except the Chapstick?"

And, most of all, there would be a feeling of community; as people would come together, and the guy would have the sense that, should the worker have come out and raked the ashtrays clean around the casino a little early that morning, leaving him at a loss, there would be friends there to support him; ones who would understand that life had just thrown him a curve ball and who would rally around him; and, after all the cigarettes that they had gotten off of him almost every other day, they had better...

So, basically, that person had started to opt out of trying to get himself two miles up Canal Street and back each day, so he could sleep in his own bed with his own bathroom and kitchen, etc.

There wouldn't be food there; and he wouldn't have been allowed to take his load of open alcoholic drinks onto the street car, so...

His cardboard was only a few stumbling steps from where he skeezed, and if he needed anything in the middle of the night, he could just jump up and do a quick once-around of Harah's Casino; and would surely come back with tobaco, and maybe a "Skeezer Ice Tea" concocted of last sips; and hey, maybe a half a joint, money, who knows "A nigga might can find anything layin' around that casino!" to put it in the local vernacular...

And so, it is a life of wonder and excitement, awe and adventure; and mystery. Imagine the adrenaline he felt when he spotted something; sitting somewhere, up ahead; like on the little ledge around the plant bed behind one of the benches and it starts to look more and more like a wallet with each step he takes towards it! You can't get that kind of thrill just laying around Sacred Heart Apartments watching Seinfeld.

One of the questions I was asked by my caseworker Tim, as part of a yearly report of some kind; pursuant to my living arrangement was, in essence: "What are some of the dangers you could possibly foresee that might cause you to relapse into homelessness?"

One of the cool thing about being homeless was being able to locate yourself with perspective of whatever you wanted to do at sunrise. If you planned upon getting to the library as soon as it opened, how nice it is to open your eyes to see that you are only a short walk away from it.

I can remember one time when I was in Federal Way, Washington and I had a work ticket out of the temp place to work the next day, beginning quite early, like 7 AM, at a place about 15 miles from where my covert dwelling was, and so, rather than deal with the hassle of getting there in the morning, I stuffed a tent into my backpack and grabbed a bus at my leisure to the jobsite and was able to be asleep nearby, on a plush, grassy area, and when I woke up in the morning, I had about a 2 minute walk to the jobsite, having been able to sleep right up until about 25 minutes before work started.

That was one of the cool things about being homeless. I remember being able to pick an almost infinite amount of blackberries nearby where I had pitched my tent, as that particular berry was everywhere around Federal Way, Washington.

It seems like a lot of work, packing and unpacking a tent, setting it up, breaking it down, working the 10 hour shift (which was just driving vehicle after vehicle through a bay where they were bid upon, pretty easy work) and then taking the bus back to my covert dwelling.

But, I could live off of the 89 dollars for about 5 or 6 days; but never would; I would be back out there on another job, probably the next day. I saved up a thousand dollars over the 6 weeks or so that I was in Federal Way, Washington.

The proximity of the place to Mt. Ranier and many other natural attractions that involve hiking imparts a better connotation to a backpack there than one would have in, say, Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

So, thumbs up to the Peuget Sound area of the state of Washington, as a homeless destination. Heck, if I were to find that busking in Seattle was lucrative, I might be able to dig out my covert dwelling and use it for a while. It could only be gotten to by walking along the trunk of a tree that had fallen into a swampy area and then jumping off of it about halfway along its length onto a footstool sized area of terra firma from which another small hop could be made to another patch of ground which looked like it afforded only enough room to stand, with a barrier of cedar branches competing for the space.

But is was mainly comprised of one large limb which yielded to reveal a path which wound its way along the contour of the swamp until it dead ended into a spot which had swamp on one side, a 50 foot cliff on the other, and very thick and thorny and probably spidery vegetation everywhere in between.

I'm pretty sure that the tree that you had to walk along 17 years ago to find the path, has rotted away.

Fixing that place up, though, would give me some cheap accomodations and take the pressure off of me that my friend Colin feels, which is to come up with 100 dollars every night, so as to be able stay in a hotel, eat, and make bus fare for the next place.

I think I might pick Colin's brain a bit whenever I see him again, and maybe ask him to rate 50 U.S. cities by how good they are for busking. If memory serves me, I think he said that Seattle is so over run with skeezers that people are on their guard, or did he say that there was someone playing a uklele every 50 feet? I'll have to ask him, for an upcoming feature.

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