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.


alex carter said...

One time I was plying my "awareness ribbon" trade in Santa Cruz and paused from my usual constant moving kind of near a gal sitting with a sign. "I'm trying to hold this sign here" she said, the way a New Yorker will say "I'm walking here". It was pretty funny.

Some kind of tchotkes, some kind of knicknacks that you can have for people would help. You could have stickers made, just about anything. I'd probably cash in in New Orleans with my awareness ribbons, and no 6 hours of traveling each day to sell 'em.

You need to keep going with this page because there is literally only one other blog by a busker, Marvin Naylor in England. Just you and him, out of a whole planet of 7 billion or so people. So yeah, keep it up. Maybe you can offer some goodie if people send you $X by paypal, if you get a paypal set up.

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alex carter said...

You have a headline about trying methadone, but you've not told us about your trial of said methadone. Did you nod off on methadone before you got a chance to write about it?

Daniel McKenna said...

LOL will tell the story, but it is thumbs down on the stuff;
I haven't asked for any more...
It was touted as the greatest thing that would make me want to just play and play; it I thought kratom did that, wait 'til I try THIS stuff.
I puked about 7 times and hiccuped for the whole next 2 days...
The final verdict will be when I listen back to the tapes I made; I was having fun spitting out Captain Beefheart type word salad, I remember that; but then it didn't propel me out to busk for 6 straight hours and make a lot of money; only to the toilet bowl every half hour or so
There's a reason I was never a heroin or other opiate addict, I guess...
My friend "the junkie," though; just gave up cigarettes cold turkey one we all have our strengths and weaknesses, I guess....methodoned, not a musical drug....

alex carter said...

Haha thanks for the follow-up.

There's a type of cough syrup that people abuse, anything with "tussin" and "DM" in the name, it's got dexomethormin (or something like that) in it so I tried abusing it and ... it doesn't do anything to me. Expensive shit too. So, that's not for me. Frankly I'm glad. Why in hell would I want to abuse cough syrup anyway??