Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fixing Everything

Guitar Fixed
I was able to wind the 3rd string of the guitar "backwards," or counterclockwise, and tighten it up to the "correct" pitch of G.
It is ready to go; sounds great with new strings on it, and now all I want to do tonight (Wednesday) is practice a bit on the harmonica, breaking it in in the process, and studying the Harmonica Method book that Alex In California sent me about a year ago now, I think.
By memorizing the notes on it, I'll be able to fake my way through any piece of music that I know the underlying chords to.
Laptop Not Fixed
Work on my CD has been put on hold until I solve the "you need to load the kernel first" problem on the laptop.
I popped my old hard drive into the thing, and that is why I'm using it now. But the Thinkpad "thinks" that it's a Toshiba Satellite when it boots up, and makes me feel like I am back in 2015.
It is a wonderland of glitches.
The Thinkpad's wider screen makes everyone in any photo look wide and fat, for example.

Audacity Ready?

Well, after running an update on the Windows 8 that the Thinkpad is now running, I am able to do a lot more with it; most importantly, the Audacity now recognizes the Snowball microphone, and so I am ready to go with recording music, in my environment that I can now make quiet by shutting the valve off on my air conditioner. I haven't gotten any complaints by neighbors, so I don't think I'm shutting water circulation off to the whole building.
As it sits now, I am flat broke. I could have gone to donate plasma, but I really felt a little weak still from the last time. Rose and Ed will pay me back 40 bucks as soon as they wake up tomorrow, and then I can go sell my plasma for another 30 bucks, after having one more day of recovery from Tuesday's bleeding.
And, I can go out and busk, as soon as I finish typing this and take the trolley back to the apartment on the all day pass that expires at 10:44 PM, and hopefully at least repeat last (Wednesday) night's feat of making 9 bucks in about an hour of playing.
The brand new Susuki Harpmaster sounds amazing.
I was able to break it in slowly, as there were hardly any tourists out, with the hurricane still looming in the area. I'm sure a lot of people have postponed trips to here, since the storm can turn on a dime and still hit us.
Using the old hard drive makes me feel like I am back in 2015, because all of the songs I recorded back then are sitting on the desktop, along with photos, etc.
I wasn't too disgusted with recordings I made over a year ago...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Everything Is Broken

I was as happy as a lark, early Monday morning, after having left the Uxi Duxi at their 8 PM closing time, bought eggs and flour and brown sugar at the big Rouses Market on Carollton St, which I dropped off at the apartment, at which time I noticed that it was 9:45 PM, and decided, why not go out and busk, since I had only 5 bucks, but had food for myself and Harold.
I played the old, beat up harmonica in the key of A, pushing myself to transpose some songs that I knew into that key ala Tanya and Dorise (Dorise claimed that they played in all 12 keys on any given day) taking advantage of the fact that I am not smoking pot now, and so can think better as far as keeping a 6 chord progression in my head, and things like that.
The rain stayed away.
I think I made just 8 bucks, but it was a promising outing which made me think that if it were a busy night, I could have made a hundred.
Monday came, and I was up first thing in the morning about 3 o' clock in the afternoon, and went over to the food stamp place, where I was handed a piece of paper and a pen and allowed to write a note to my caseworker, explaining that I work 30 hours per month and not per week, and they will hopefully increase my amount back to the 194 which typically ran out with about 10 to 12 days left on the month.
Then, I blew off a trip to the plasma donation place, even though I had spent my last 3 bucks on a shot of kratom.
I would go home and put the new strings on the guitar and start to break in the Susuki Harpmaster harmonica.
When putting the new strings on, one of the tuning machines which had begun to be difficult to turn, snapped a cog inside of it, rendering my guitar useless; as I sat there with new strings and a new harmonica (and potentially no way to earn the money to fix the guitar). This is why we set aside money and why we tell skeezers that, even though they just witnessed us pulling out a wad of money, we can't spare any...  
This set Tuesday up to be a farce.
My all day bus pass expired at 3:39 PM.
I had a hard time waking up after less than 8 hours of sleep because, in preparation for donating plasma, I had eaten a lot of pancakes that I made with the flour and water and eggs and brown sugar and coconut oil. This made me lethargic upon waking up with plenty of time to make it to the plasma place, and I wound up sleeping until a bit after 2 PM.
I didn't feel quite myself until after a cup of coffee and a lot of shaking off of cobwebs.
They weigh you at the Octapharma place, and I had been almost ashamed of my weight being 130 pounds the first couple times I went there. This equated to 128 pounds, minus the heavy combat boots that I wear every time I go near black neighborhoods; this was the weight at which I graduated from high school at, as a skinny kid who was waiting to "fill out," or "come around," or have some kind of growth spurt, and hadn't yet learned that I wasn't gaining any weight because my body was rejecting the allergens that I was living off of, as part of the American diet ("If you don't drink at least an 8 ounce glass of milk three times a day; you'll be walking down the street one day and the bones in your legs will just snap in half").
10 years after that, I was 143 pounds of mostly muscle and living off of high protein; high carbohydrate, high nitrogen concoctions that came out of GNC, and never set foot inside any kind of "food place," at all.
This (Tuesday) afternoon, I weighed in at (133 pounds, minus the boots) up, 3 pounds over the last 5 days.
The pancakes would never have made my list of approved foods back in the 143 pound days, but the kratom that I do, besides inhibiting signals to the pleasure center (taking the joy out of heroin for those that use it that way) seems to kick down any allergic reactions that might have plagued me in the past -eggs used to make my scalp itch and give me dandruff; and eventually the skin that I scratched would break and I'd have scars that my hair-dresser would mention to me in the nicest way possible, as part of her duty as a hair-dresser.
Being brainwashed the American way she, of course, might recommend some kind of Selsun Blue shampoo or soaking my head in tar oil. But, if I stopped eating eggs (maybe just the yolks, I never delineated between them and the whites as being the cause) the problem would clear up in a couple weeks.
But, the kratom seems to allow me to be more tolerant of foods.
Before I left the apartment, I kept finding little things to do, so that it was almost 3 PM. before I walked out the door; went all the way to the trolley stop and then(D'oh!) had to go all the way back to get my umbrella . The hurricane had kind of slipped my mind, as it had been clear when I walked out, though it was raining earlier in the day; encouraging me to stay in bed and get a full "night's"rest -it was running down my window in sheets so it was like looking at Canal Street through a waterfall in the morning.
Then, I got to the bus stop, where I was informed by a (smiling annoyingly also) black lady that the 115 had just left.
Then, she added: "It's gonna be a while."
It wasn't going to be a while, it was going to be 20 minutes, and my all day pass would still be good. But, her words led me to believe that the 115 was running at 45 minute intervals, like it does sometimes (Sundays) maybe because of the hurricane, who knows.
I decided that, by the time it came, my pass would have just expired, and I would be informed by another smiling annoyingly black lady or man behind the wheel that I would have to buy another one, or I couldn't ride.
I decided that I would try to skeeze the 75 cents that I was lacking, rather than put myself in a position to be refused entry onto a bus full of black people who would be smiling annoyingly over the spectacle.
But, I refused to skeeze a perfect stranger, as there was someone asking for something on every single block.
I walked about a quarter mile to the Unique Grocery, where I stop after every night of busking and have not asked for any credit in a couple years, since I drank.
The one particular Ethiopian cashier that I am most friendly with wasn't working, and there were 3 long lines in front of all 3 cashiers. I decided not to put them in the position of wanting to lend me 75 cents but fearing the backlash from a gaggle of skeezers who might protest: "When I'm 10 cents short you tell me to get on down the road, I thought you didn't lend no money!"
I walked another 3 blocks to the Gallery of French art where Bilal works. He lent me 5 bucks for strings about 2 years ago, when I drank, and I had paid him back $7.50, the next evening, telling him that I had invested the 5 bucks in raw materials (strings) and added value to them (by playing music on them) and that I was paying him back with interest.
Bilal doesn't work until Thursday night, I was informed.
Then, I walked another 3 blocks to the Rouses Market, past beggar, after heroin addict, after dog skeezer, after child skeezer (a child instead of a dog beside them) telling them all, truthfully at least, that, no I didn't have a dollar...
I had 75 cents to my name. I would not ask a stranger.
None of the night cashiers that I see every night had come on yet.
I walked to the coffee shop where my Isriali friend, Ester works, whom I used to see all the time at the trolley stop at 2 AM. Ester didn't work until Thursday.
I continued on, reaching a distance of 12 blocks from the bus stop where I needed to catch a ride to the plasma place before it closed at 7 PM. It was almost 4 PM when one of the delivery drivers for the Quartermaster, whom I see a lot there when I get coffee and cat food after knocking off every night, lent me  the 75 cents.
He asked me what I needed it for, more because he couldn't imagine anything costing only 75 cents. I told him about my bus pass that was probably expiring as I stood there talking to him, and how I would rather walk 2 miles for 75 cents than allow a black driver the opportunity to publicly turn me away from the bus that everyone knows goes to the plasma donation place, and that would be the only place a white boy would be going on it; there's a perfectly good Wal-Mart on "this" side of the river that you don't have to travel 7 miles to...
I walked the mile and a half back to the bus stop where I was informed by another black lady, who smiled when she said it, that I had "just missed it," again.
"Of course, I just missed it." These are just coincidences. If I had grabbed a copy of the schedule, I wouldn't be having this problem, I thought to myself.
I made it to the plasma place. If I hadn't gone back for my umbrella, I probably would have been too  wet to donate: "You can't be dripping on all the equipment like that!, and my laptop in my backpack might have been destroyed. It's a hurricane, after all. I was worried that the power was going to go out before I got to donate and make my 30 dollars. Then I really would have been up the creek without a paddle -in Gretna, 7 miles from home, flat broke in a hurricane with a bridge that it is illegal to walk across separating me from it. But 3 pounds heavier, to look at the bright side...
Then, I was having a glitch with the laptop as I was being drained of my blood proteins. I thought that it might be that their wireless signal was compromised by the storm. I rebooted the thing.
A message came up telling me that needed to "load the kernel."
I think this means that I had deleted the single most important file on a Linux system the last time I upgraded. I deleted the wrong "old kernel" and hadn't noticed it for 2 weeks because I had never shut the laptop off in 2 weeks, only "suspend"ed it.
Rebooting it left it useless. Like my guitar with the broken machine.
I can go Thursday to donate more plasma for another 30 bucks, and Rose and Ed are going to pay me 40 bucks on Friday, and I can rig my guitar by winding the broken tuner in the opposite of its intended direction and be able to tune it to the right pitch.
I have done this before and it is a fix that only lasts for a couple sets of strings. By then, I should have made enough money with the brand new harmonica to pay for a new machine; I might be able to order on online right now, if they sell them singly...
I had better go and look into these things...

Monday, August 28, 2017

The New Harmonica Arrives

My in-house phone rang at about noon.
No rain, yet, no tourists

I had about 6 hours of sleep to my credit, having lied down at about sunup, after having drawn back the curtains to afford the plants on the window sill the light from the rising sun. One of the "drawbacks" of apartment A110 is that direct sunlight only comes through the windows during the 7 months of summer, and only for a couple hours each morning.

But, I have found the way to silence the heating and air conditioning unit by shutting a valve. I think the purpose of the hose running through it is to draw off condensation from the air conditioner's condenser in the summer and to send hot water through in the winter. The latter would seem to better utilize the fire hose like pressure that it seems to be under, which causes the annoying hiss...

I didn't answer the phone, thinking that there was a good chance that it would be Rose calling to borrow more money. I had 11 dollars on my coffee table and couldn't begin to think about what I might need it for on this Monday when the weather forecast warned of the possibility of non-stop rain, due to hurricane Harvey which is in the area.

I would most likely remember something that I needed it for, as soon as Rose had gone off with it.

I needed a 3 dollar all-day bus pass, so that I could go to the food stamp office to request a hearing on my case, and then to go across the river to sell blood plasma, after having failed to do so on Sunday.

I went out and made 8 bucks Sunday night, twice as much as on Saturday night, when I noticed a lot of gay men with their non-tipping ways walking around holding hands.

I was very leery about playing last (Sunday) night, thinking that it would be more of the same and that I might be in line to make 2 dollars for my efforts. But I was in a good enough mood to not care about money. Howard had given me 20 dollars during my visit, after I had mentioned having put all my eggs in one basket, counting upon the 30 bucks of plasma money, and that I was returning to New Orleans with a dollar and change in my pocket and would have to go out and play for queers if I was hoping to eat that night.

But, I had a squeaky old harmonica and rusty strings; one of which having already snapped and then been "nigger rigged" back into playability. So, I had a limited offering musically; so they might only be getting 2 dollars worth of it; if there is to be any justice.

Rose borrowed my phone Sunday morning.
I had 357 minutes on it. "I hardly ever call anyone," I had told her, as I stood there, shaking off sleepiness.

She had woken me up at 9 AM, asking to borrow the thing "for a couple hours." If I had been fully awake, I might have asked her if she intended to use a couple hours worth of minutes off the thing. Sure, the 250 minutes per month that I get for free, because it is a government supplied "life-line" phone, do roll over and accumulate, but that doesn't mean that I want to just give them away. I might want to call my mom and talk for a couple hours myself some day.
Rose returned the phone to me, with about 60 minutes having been burned off the thing. She apologized, behind some excuse that sounded lame, and then told me "if you don't use the minutes, you lose them at end of the month, because they don't roll over."

"Yes, they do," I corrected her; kind of annoyed because she was obviously lying to me. She had contradicted herself, also, in telling me that her sister lived far away and so they never got to see each other and had to communicate by phone, and then said "Don't worry, it's a local call," after I asked, just out of curiosity, where, in fact she lived.
So, I didn't answer the call at noon, thinking that she might have wanted some more of the 297 minutes that are still left on my phone.
It pisses me off to encounter the attitude, prevalent in skeezers, that, if you get something for free, like the minutes on an "Obama phone," you should be totally liberal in doling it out.

It recalls to mind, Louise the tarot card reader, whom I let stay in my apartment as a "guest" for 10 days; standing in my parlor on the 10th day, yelling to me that she had just as much right to the apartment as I did, and telling me that she was going to cook a meal on my stove and then take a long hot shower, whether I liked it or not.
"I joined the army and could have been sent into battle and died, Louise, and you didn't..."
"I can't hear you over the shower, Daniel, you're wasting your breath..."
As I was leaving at around 4 PM, after having woken up for the final time, the security lady at the front desk informed me that I had received a package and that she had tried to call me at around noon.

I decided to leave it at the front desk, as I was on my way to the food stamp office to protest my benefits having been reduced from194 to 137 dollars "I mis-spoke when I said that I busked for 30 hours per week; I should have said "per month," and was planning upon then going across the river to sell my blood plasma.

I figured that the new harmonica and guitar strings would be safer there, than in my possession as I walked through the ghetto of Gretna.

Now, I am having slight misgivings. Now that the all-black security personnel are able to link my face to the parcel, it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't disappear somehow. "I just left the desk to use the restroom for 10 minutes. It was here when I left. I know I didn't take it..."

I get a voucher to pay for my rent, and I get food stamps; I don't need a brand new 30 dollar harmonica too; especially when there are niggas here that are truly struggling, in a way that a white man could never understand, type of thing...

Music, And The Road Trip

So, assuming that I can have a couple good nights busking, using brand new strings and harmonica, and can stockpile a couple weeks worth of food for Harold the cat, I should be able to hop a freight train out of Oliver yard next week, and try to visit friends and family in New England.
My conversation with Wendell the flute player has provided me with the intelligence that, while I have been having perennial shitty Christmases in New Orleans, money-wise, he has been making an annual pilgrimage to San Jose, California to play his flute and has returned each year with "at least a thousand dollars" in his pocket.
I can see myself having similar luck in Boston, Massachusetts.
Has Every Right To My Shower!
Alex In California

The subject came around to a sometimes reader of this blog, Alex in California.

"Alex is just a good hearted person. I play in front of a Starbucks out there and he'll always go inside and get me a coffee or a snack; just a good hearted guy; he can't play that trumpet worth a darn, but he's just a nice person," said Wendell the flute player.
"Oh, he's terrible," he added.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Kratom Time

I have just about enough time to get a shot of kratom before the place closes in 17 minutes.
I have just returned from visiting Howard, who was watching football on this Sunday afternoon.
He was surprised to see me again: "Wow, two weeks in a row!"
I had to temper his gratitude a bit by telling him that I had come across the river to go to the plasma place, only to learn that they close at 2 PM on Sundays. Of course, I showed up at 2:03 PM.
"They closed!," said a large older black man who had just come out of the place after having the door locked behind him. Of course he said it with a smile. All I could say was: "Good thing I still have some money left," to deprive him of the satisfaction of thinking that he was witnessing a white boy who was flat broke and had been counting upon the plasma money.
I am never secure in the knowledge that a plasma selling expedition will be a success. There just seem to be too many variables, between the buses that can stop running if the single lane on-ramp to the bridge is blocked by a car wreck, and of course all other kinds of things that the imagination can come up with under the "prepare for the worst" category.
Would the lab have received word from another lab that a mysterious molecule was found in my blood that is found only in the mytogyna specioso leaf (kratom) which grows in Taiwan?
Would I slip up and tell one of the vigilant staff there that I felt tired after a weekend of busking "Oh, we can take a donation from you if you feel tired; that's not healthy...?"
Would my boots be too wet from walking through the rain soaked grass to be allowed into any of the reclining couches used by donors?
Would the place have been unexpectedly closed down after an outbreak of some blood bourne virus that may be traceable back to the plasma donated at the place?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trash In Pig Latin Is Ashtray

I Play Sans Harmonica

I'm at the Uxi Duxi, having had the revelation in the title of this post...
I am watching the clock closely, as I need to be coming out of the plasma lab (with 30 dollars) with enough time to spare to make it to the bus stop, a 10 minute walk away, by the time my 24 hour bus pass expires, at 8:22 PM.
That will not be a concern if I make it in there before they close.
Tonight is the night of the Floyd Merriweather vs. McConnel fight.
To make it in there before they close, I have about a 10 minute walk from the Uxi Duxi to the street car, a 15 minute trolley ride, and then what could be up to a 45 minute wait for the 115 bus across the river, and then a half hour ride to the Wal-Mart in the ghetto of Gretna, Louisianna, and finally a 10 minute walk to the plasma place that apparently lets people in right up to 1 minute before closing at 7 PM.
So, that has me scrambling to gulp down the rest of my kratom and get going.
I made $34.50 in about 75 minutes last night, after having forgotten my harmonica at the apartment.
The brand new Suzuki harp did not arrive today (Saturday).
I lent Rose and Ed 29 dollars and told them they only had to pay me back 40 bucks on Friday when their money is guaranteed by the government, to come in.
She offered to pay me back the usual "double" amount, but I guess I kind of had a heart, and told her that I didn't have to gouge them for 100%...
And having been chastised for "loan sharking," by at least one blog reader, I have decided to be less like the infamous Shyloh in Shakespere and reduce their rate to 50% interest, over 6 days, or about 3,500% APR...

Being able to make money with just the guitar and my voice, like in the old days 6 years ago was priceless, in terms of feeling secure as I get ready to embark on a trip.

I saw Wendell the flute player last night and we talked for about a half hour.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

Thursday Evening

And now it is Thursday evening.

"Ain't no way I'm gonna be at Wal-Mart in no 15 minutes," said the friendly bus driver to me as I got on the 115 across from the library.

I'm going to be showing up at the plasma place about 15 minutes before they are scheduled to close at 7 PM.

But, if they are open until that time, then they would have to take me in, I suppose. I imagine they are typically there an hour past their closing time to allow for people to be drained who walk in at that time...I'll see...

10 Minutes Before Closing

I walked in the Octaplasma place at 7:50 PM. There was an employee manning the door, waiting to lock it at exactly 8 PM.

I am glad that, I assume it is company policy for them not to close early.

Unlike the Family Dollar store at the corner of Broad Avenue and Canal streets, which I have arrived at 11 minutes before the "official" closing time, to find locked up and the employees inside scrambling to wrap up their tasks so they can leave.

11 minutes earlier than they would be otherwise.

Really, 11 minutes are that important? As important as whatever it is that the person who might have jogged a half mile in order to make it there on time needs? Like batteries for a spotlight so he can play under illumination and make 3 times as much as he would sitting in the dark?

So, they took me in at Octapharma, and I sold my plasma and walked out of there at about 8:35 with 30 dollars credited to my plasma card.

A few odds and ends like food for myself and Harold the cat at Wal-Mart later, and that balance had been carved down to 17 dollars and change.

Then I purchased a gallon of spring water, and got 10 dollars cash back, which drained all but 3 bucks off of the thing, like blood proteins out of my veins.

The spring water is necessary because they are doing construction on Canal Street, involving pipes that are 180 years old and they are encountering a lot of lead, which is being stirred up by their activities and has become measurable in the tap water "that we all drink."

The construction has also closed down a stretch of Canal Street so that I have to walk the last half mile to the Uxi Duxi kava kava bar, where I have been blogging from lately.

It will take probably a few months of posting almost daily in order to recoup the readership which dropped off over the period of a month or so when I was only posting once a week.

You've just read: 460 words. POWERED BY ↁ DANIEL-SOFT TEXT 

But, wait, There's more...
Friday Evening: Tropical Storm Harvey Nearby
I'm at the Uxi Duxi, which is my go-to blogging spot now. At least I will now post almost daily, I suppose, as this has become a daily routine.
Food Stamp Glitch
When I spoke to someone from the food stamp office as part of my yearly evaluation, I made the mistake of telling her that I was a self employed busker who worked 30 hours per week.
I should have said "per month."

I got a letter stating that my monthly food allocation would be reduced to 137 bucks per month, down from $194.
As it is, my food money runs out with about 12 days left on the typical month.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Looting Skeezers

The screws turned.
Reporting live from the kratom bar...

The 3 dollar screwdriver from the dollar store, the one that included the strange 6-tipped screw head which isn't a Phillips head, fit like a hand in a glove, and the screws in the plywood sealing an entrance to the abandoned building that used to be a rectory, (above) turned quite easily, as if the wood around them had begun to rot perhaps a bit.

I left a couple of them in there to hold the plywood in place, since I'm not ready to go in there just yet.

The next phase of the operation will involve the actual door that is behind the wood. I'm hoping that the plywood had been nailed in place because otherwise one could open the door and walk right in..

The church has been abandoned since hurricane Katrina, after probably having been looted by skeezers hoping to find golden chalices, or statues they could pawn; or, more optimistically and to give the skeezer more credit, by one who wanted to have the biggest friggin' squat of all, and who found a way inside and began living in there.

"All I really found, that I can use,
was this handkerchief..." -looting skeezer

I don't know the specifics of the local post-Katrina history, but I know that more than half of the population never came back, after having gotten the hell out of here, and recent events have provided evidence that would suggest that this particular neighborhood, is prone to flooding, to say the very least and; since our building had a 2 foot deep moat around it on all 4 sides after a heavy rainfall; it would seem likely that, with the levy breaking, this area would be a candidate for the 12 foot deep waters of lore.

It also wouldn't surprise me if that cash strapped institution, the Catholic Church, didn't see that particular act of God as an opportunity to dump off a property that they might have been heavily in arrears upon. I can remember sitting somewhere in some huge, ornate Catholic church and having it whispered to me by someone in the know, something like: "This church is 450 thousand dollars in debt..."

But, the buildings that are Sacred Heart Apartments, had apparently been "Malta Place, senior residence" before the hurricane.

I've actually made myself curious and might look up some kind of flood map to see how deep the waters actually got here, where Sacred Heart Apartments now sit. I know such maps exist because I saw one somewhere when I had been staying at Leslie Thompson's place near the University of New Orleans about 8 miles to the east of us. Leslie Thompson's whole neighborhood was shaded a greenish blue, to indicate that it had been in about 10 feet of standing water, I remember seeing; and thinking that it seemed appropriate that such a depreciated property would be seen fit for the likes of Mr. Thompson, an his mental disabilities.

You've just read: 473 words. POWERED BY ↁ DANIEL-SOFT TEXT SOLUTIONS ↁ

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Mind And Body

  • Plasma Money Timely
  • Mom Sends 60 Bucks
  • New Bike Or Road Trip Pondered

Will Somebody Please Send Me One Of These
In The Key Of C? Thanks

Wow, as I sit here on the bus, I am reassuring myself that I turned out alright, my parents raised me well, and "smart is as smart" does. I don't have to work another day in my life. I'm "retired" at 54, if I want to look at it that way.

The red lever, nestled between hoses
I must have done something right.
I think I have this blog to thank, to a large degree.

After starting it in 2006, it has done a couple of things.
One of which was to make me accountable for my actions, since, "at the end of the day," I would have to blog about them.
It started out as a journal.

No matter how boring my life was on the surface, I was going to try to give it an interesting twist.

Even when I was a day laborer, going to the labor pool to make $6.75 per hour demolishing things with a sledgehammer, or digging holes to be stuffed with the root balls of trees, there would always be something humorous or interesting that came up during the day.

Money For The Slow Season

I called my mom with the intention of just saying hello, since I hadn't spoken to her in a while. She must have sensed that I could use money, because, though I hadn't asked, 60 bucks arrived in an envelope Monday.

Not Another Decadence Festival, No

I had "Thanks Be To Thee," by Handel in my head as I went to the mailbox.
"Thanks be to God," mom had put in the letter that enveloped the money.
Now, I am in a position to make good on the promise I made to myself to never endure another "Southern Decadence," festival in New Orleans.

The festival is the first week of September. I blogged extensively last year and the year before about the 10,000 or so gay men that arrive each year and don't tip at all. "Me tip?!? Are you serious?!? People tip me, just because I'm so fabulous; he should be happy just to be able to play for me!," type of thing.....

I have just sold my plasma for the second time, with 3 days in between. The rules are that you can donate every 2 days, but Sunday, after having donated Thursday, the thought of doing so made me feel queasy. I didn't feel like I had replenished all of my blood proteins.

It is recommended that one eat a protein laden meal before donating, but, since I feel best when on a mostly vegetarian diet, I didn't want to throw the baby out of with the bathwater, and feel lousy because of the animal protein, rather than weak and famished from having my blood proteins leached from me.

The staff at the Octaplasma place are 99% black. I'm treated like a second class citizen there, but it is tempered by the fact that the staff at least have some education and/or training and aren't totally ignorant.

There was one worker who appeared Latina, but who hadn't responded to my "hola!," and who spoke ghetto-like language when she did open her mouth.

This makes a woman seem obtuse and retarded to me. This is a throwback to when I was a kid and we were taught not to use words like "ain't" or double negatives like "I didn't get none," with the reason being that it would make us sound uncouth, uneducated and poor -everything we were trying to distance ourselves from.

Offsetting Events

I got to the Wal-Mart with 30 dollars on my plasma card to go with the 5 dollars cash in my pocket. Busking had only been producing around 10 bucks a night.
I was famished, having had my blood proteins drained. I walked through the food section, too hungry to decide what to buy, so I just grabbed some bananas and a mango. Then I went to get Harold a can of cat food. It was 48 cents. The same can is 72 cents at the Quartermaster.

The cat food rang up at 53 cents.

I handed the young, plump, dumb looking cashier a dollar bill. She looked like the type that talks loudly with a mouth full of food.

She grabbed it and then quickly hit a button on her register; the draw slid open.

"Here, I've got the 3 cents," I said, holding them out to her.

 She stood staring at the register, frozen for a moment.

It was 53 cents and I was giving her $1.03. Pretty simple math.

She started scooping change from her draw and handed me back 7 pennies (including the 3 that I had just handed her), a nickel, a dime and a quarter.

"I gave you 3 pennies, so that I could get 2 quarters as change; I have to take the bus," I said.

She stared dumbly at me with her mouth slightly open, as if I had spoken a language that she didn't understand. She never said a thing.

Her register was telling her to give me back 47 cents, and she was going to do so, like a trained monkey. She couldn't seem to comprehend why I had told her "I've got the 3 cents."

I was one of the only white people in the store.

"The reason I gave you the 3 cents is so I could get 2 quarters back," I repeated. "To make it easier for you," I added.

She continued to stand there, frozen and staring at me.

I was about to add: "It's simple arithmetic," but just gave up.

"Never mind, the bus takes pennies," I said, eliciting another dumb stare.

I felt like asking to see the manager; holding up the line behind me, just to shed light upon the fact that a store that would never hire myself, for whatever reason, was employing cashiers who couldn't do 5 grade math. The all black people behind me would be a captive audience as I complained to the manager. The manager would probably be able to do the math.
"I hate that kind of white boy," they would probably say about me and my rocket science mathematics as soon as I was out of earshot.

Gretna Wal-Mart; More Fun Than A Barrel Full Of Monkeys

The store is in a ghetto type location, surrounded by "projects," and of course the plasma donation/selling place.

There had been a chubby little black boy running around shirtless (classless, if you ask me) and another mother with a young boy who was acting up doing karate type moves, spinning and kicking and chopping at the air.
He seemed to want me to notice him.

I ignored him, and looked at the prices on the bags of basmati rice, instead.
He spun and kicked and chopped his way closer to me to the point where it would be very distracting to most people.

"Can't you control your kid?" I was ready to ask the mother. But the mother wasn't telling him anything like "Come over here and stop bothering that man," leading me to think that she was complicit in him "messing with me."

It was as if the 99% black people in the store were emboldened to give the white guy a hard time, due to the advantage of their numbers.

I had gotten in line behind one of the only other whites, a guy about my age.
When was heard a loud shriek coming from the general area of the toy section, I said to him: "Man, if I screamed like that in a store, my mother would have given me something to scream about."

The guy smiled a little and nodded, but didn't say anything. I could feel the derisive looks of all the blacks around me within earshot.

"He probably can't get a toy that he wants and so he's screaming," I went on.
"Of course, now you can't hit a kid because it's not politically correct." More derisive looks, as if the words "politically correct" were fraught with hidden meaning.

Their attitude was starting to accomplish its purpose as I was getting irritated.
"Things need to go back to the way they were back then," I finished with, truly intending to refer to President Trump's "make America Great again," vow, since it seemed like every word out of my mouth had been a veiled code for that.

I had an overall unpleasant experience shopping at that particular Wal-Mart. Every aisle I walked through, I had to either dodge carts being pushed by black people, or else walk right into them, because they weren't swerving. It didn't do me any good to quip "Ess-cuse me," sarcastically.

I can see why my folks tried to give me a good education so that I could be above all of that, and shop at a store in the good white section of town, where things might cost a little more, but it's worth the extra cost.

Time to go out on the road
On The Other Hand...

But, then, that evening a young black lady at Wal-Green's gave me whatever I bought at half price. "I gave you a discount, sweetie," she said. For no apparent reason.
She seemed like a college student.

With the 30 bucks from the plasma, plus the 10 I made, I knocked off Saturday night, thinking that I won't play again until I have a brand spankin' new harmonica and new strings.

That is where I stand now, on this Tuesday afternoon.

I'm at the kratom bar, and will walk a half mile to the pet food store after leaving here.

I am ready to break into the abandoned building to use it as a studio.

Sure, my apartment can be silenced now with the turn of a lever, but that doesn't do anything about my paranoia of being listened to and judged by the neighbors through whose walls my screaming vocals would be audible, musical warts and all.

Now that I haven't smoked pot for 5 days, that is improving.

Eddie Van Halen said in a late 70's interview that he didn't smoke weed because it made him "insecure and insane." I think I suffer from a bit of that, myself.

The irony is that my weed dealer, Lancaster, had been giving me super deals on the stuff, keeping me baked to the point where I was getting up and vegging in the morning, forgetting to take care of things as the days passed, and then overeating and passing out at night, while my apartment became messier and no work on my CD was getting accomplished.

Then, he was the one that turned around and made comments about the squalor that I lived in, and how it was a sign that my life just wasn't working. He told me that if I cleaned my place top to bottom, I would feel much better about myself; it would stave off depression and my attitude would improve.

All of this has come to pass after I quit smoking the weed that he was selling me for cheap. I guess cleaning "my place" from top to bottom begins with my mind and body...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Huge Discovery

I wish I knew why this blog is read
by almost as many people in France, as the U.S.
so that I could give them more of what they crave...

United States
Blessed Silence

In poking around inside my Carrier heating and air conditioning unit, I discovered a lever, which I might not have seen before because from the angle it sits at, it doesn't look like a lever.
"Decibels" is an actual specification on the things!
It shuts the water flow through one of the hoses, which are labeled "in" and "out."
As I rotated it, the pitch of the sound changed and diminished and, finally stopped. A blessed silence filled the room. I could hear the silence.

It was kind of like the silence you become aware of when you are taking a shower and the water is hitting your head and ears full blast and then you shut it off; and suddenly, you can hear yourself breathing...

There was the faint sound of a trolley passing by coming from across the street, and then, as I sat on my couch, I heard the refrigerator kick on in the kitchen. "I can unplug the thing when I record music," I thought. Having all the meat in the freezer go rancid would be a fair trade-off should a recording project be going so well that I lose track of time..."
I am still going to try to get into the abandoned building that used to be a rectory, as I can imagine its top floor being almost professional studio quality silence.

I've seen old black and white photos of The Beatles in the Abbey Road Studios, and a lot of times there would just be a sound baffling board in between John and Paul, so that maybe a tiny bit of each other's vocals would bleed through their respective microphones.

This was most likely compensated for by the "immediacy" of being able to sync up with each other and feel each other breathing, etc.

The proof is in the pudding when you put on their albums.

So, I am kind of ecstatic over the fact that I can shut the valve off in the unit and the sound metering on the Audacity display even reflects the change in background noise.

It was impossible to take that noise out of the music without reducing the "h" sounds in my voice, and any breathing in between. Speaking of The Beatles, I wouldn't be able to do John Lennon's famous breath sounds in the song "Girl," off of Rubber Soul(?) using the noise reduction because it sounds too much like my heating and air conditioning unit.

There is a possibility that the units are daisy-chained so that the flow through mine continues through a pipe to the apartments upstairs, and that, by cutting it off I am stopping the flow through the whole building, but fuck them. My recordings are more important than the comfort of anyone else in Sacred Heart Apartments.

The guy directly above me is a small black guy who wears a shaved head and who originally had Harold, my cat.

He is the one that put Harold out in the parking lot, after taking in a roommate who was allergic to cats, or just didn't like them, or something.

He is kind of mentally ill (or is doing a good job of faking it in order to keep his housing "voucher") and was feeding Harold Vienna Sausages and other things that the cat still has an aversion to. He is always seen wearing headphones. I have thought about doing the same thing so that I could walk around without being skeezed.
If a skeezer has the audacity to tap me on the shoulder while I'm bobbing my head to "the music," then he is in line for a sarcastic response anyways.


I am in the market for a razor sharp knife which is designed to be a self-defense weapon.
I'm going to Google "knife fighting maneuvers," also.
It's a sign of the times.

I walk through New Orleans at 2 AM with a guitar and backpack on me, for crying out loud. The reason I haven't been jumped is probably because thugs assume I'm carrying something protective, otherwise I would never have the balls to just do that...

I might just slash someone across the throat who looks like the insolent piece of shit on the right.
"Close enough," right?

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Day Trip To Gretna, Louisiana

It is Friday, and 90 degrees out.

Howard And I Have Been Through A Lot

I will probably go out and busk. I've got about 11 bucks left over from the money I got for my plasma yesterday.

I was up at 6:30 AM; in response to ? alerts by the alarm on my phone, which was set for 6 AM, sharp.

I have always avoided setting alarms exactly on the hour, feeling that this is done by people who are following a "convention," and doing things such as leaving "an hour before you have to be 'there'" when they have to be anywhere.

A lot of people who fly will leave their house 2 hours before their flight is scheduled to leave in order to allow for any contingencies, etc, even if they already have thier flight booked and are 20 minutes from the airport during normal traffic conditions.

This is the first time perhaps in my life that I set an alarm right on the hour.

When I was in high school, I had to leave the house at 6:54 AM or so, in order to catch the bus at 7 at a corner 2 tenths of a mile away.

I think I started the school year setting my clock radio for 6:07 AM. This gave me 23 minutes to pick matching shirt, tie, slacks and "sports" jacket from my closet, don them, grab my books and be at the breakfast table.

My dad had given me an assortment of least 40 ties from his closet which were draped over the pole in my closet in a bunch so that it was nearly impossible to pull one out without knocking at least a couple others falling to the floor. They were ones that he had probably accumulated over a lifetime of birthdays and other occasions where a tie was "the perfect gift (for under 20 bucks)" and they were all "conservative." He wouldn't send me off to Catholic school with a martini glass and olive depicted on my tie, or dollar signs or any such gimmick.

He retained those on his own tie rack, along with some more expensive ones made from silk and such. The idea was that a $120 tie would not match the standard cotton shirt and "student" jacket etc. that I was wearing; I would need the whole package -single thread hand sewn silk shirt ($100) to tie with it, etc.

I, along with most of my contemporaries needed room to "grow," also. The silk ties were for after we had graduated from good colleges and were making the big bucks, then they would wrap everything up and put an exclamation point on it.

Still, my dad was usually all for me wanting to wear one of the ties off his rack "Sure, be very carefull, though, this is a very expensive tie..."

He was probably pleased that I seemed to be chomping at the bit to dress for success, assuaging his fear that I might end up a homeless street musician.

Little did he know that I was trying to make an artistic statement through the way that particular tie would match my outfit.

But, by sophomore year, I had started to pick out the outfit that I would wear the night before, and lay it over the back of a chair. This allowed me to push my advance my alarm due to the time this saved me, which was quite considerable. I eventually had it set at 6:21 AM, but then backed it off to 6:19 after realizing that the former left me no time to even stare out the window and daydream for even a couple minutes.

WBZ fm was one of only 4 or 5 fm stations on the dial in 1977, before people realized that stereo music with "no static at all" was preferable to AM with its monophonic low fidelity signal and its interference. The trade off was that you couldn't pick up a station 700 miles away, but who want's to be able to hear a report about the traffic in Washington D.C. when sitting in Massachusetts?

But, WBZ FM was just getting off the ground and was only manned by a live DJ during business hours. The rest of the time, though, they didn't go off the air, but just played pre-recorded music. It was the same music for at least my entire sophmore year.

When my clock radio alarm was set for 6:07, it popped on during the intro to "Wheel In The Sky," by Journey, then came a few pre-recorded commercials to pay for it all, before "Blue Bayou," by Linda Ronstadt would begin to play at 6:17 every morning. My mom grew to like that song from hearing it emanating from my room every morning, and eventually asked me what it was.

So, yesterday morning was the first time that I had ever set an alarm to go off on the hour. And it is almost ironic that it didn't work, as I first stirred at 6:30 after the phone had been trying to wake me up periodicallly for a half hour.

This was because I wanted to be on the 7 AM bus to go over the river to the plasma donation place, having suffered through 2 days of arriving there too late to be taken in as a new donor.

I now understand why they had turned me away at 2 PM, even though they are open for another 5 hours.

I signed in at 8:41 AM and was there about 6 hours before I was finally drained of 690 millileters of plasma and had 30 dollars credited to an Octoplasma Visa debit card, which I walked about a mile through the 95 degree heat with, back to the Wal-Mart where the bus stop was located.

I had gambled. If, for some reason, they had refused me as a donor, I would have been stranded across the Mississipi River with nothing but an expired all day bus pass to my name.

This would have occurred if I answered one out of their battery of questions "wrong."

It was easy for me to be honest about the fact that I hadn't had sex with another man in the past 12 months, hadn't been in The Sudan in the same period, nor shared a needle with anyone who had, but, I lied about ever having had C.O.P.D., or having visited an emergency room in the past year. The respiratory problem was the result of having breathed in the feather dust of a black caped night heron under a wharf, but I couldn't imagine them saying: "Oh, in that case it doesn't count."

I still felt a little bit disingenuous.

My whole body was checked for needle "tracks" by a nice lady, who had inspirational religious messages hanging in her cubicle. I found it easy to talk to her, and was very glad that I had washed me feet and put on clean socks before embarking upon my trek. It seems like a long journey, but, with a day pass, I really only have to walk 200 feet to the trolley and then another 200 yards from where it lets me off to the 115 "Tullis" bus, and then about a half mile to the plasma place; it just feels like going to another country due to my perception of it.

While I sat there, It dawned upon me that, if they refused me, I could walk about 4 miles to where Howard lives, and he would probably give me the bus fare to get back home. We had shared a blanket underneath a holly bush waiting for a train to hop out of Mobile, Alabama to come to New Orleans and had been through an awful lot. If there is one guy in all of Gretna, Louisianna that I might humbly try to skeeze a couple bucks off of, it would be him.

I still decided to drop in on ol' Howard, who was pleasantly surprised to see me.

He is a rich man now, having realized a 300% appreciation of the stocks that he has held since he worked at a prison as a chaplain for about 12 years.

"I never thought I'd be saying this but, thanks to...that nut in the White House..., I've made a ton of money this past year," he said.

He is about to embark upon a trip to see the Yukon and Alaska, traveling by rail; something he has always wanted to do. "If I don't do it now, I might never have another chance," he commented.

As I sat there, filling him in on the financial struggles which precipitated my trip to the plasma place, it crossed my mind that he might think was was there trying to skeeze him, who is probably worth about 100 grand now, and I had to guard my words, so as not to taint the purity of my motives in having dropped by.

"Money makes everything different," I overheard one guy at the plasma place telling another guy in reference to something.

Howard wanted my advice on the matter of his daughter, who is in California, and who has moved and won't give him her new address. He has been sending her 100 bucks for her birthday and for Christmas for years, and sent her $10,000 a while ago, and never got a "thank you" from her.

She seems to be hiding from him, and he suspects that it might be because she is a lesbian and is ashamed to tell him and possibly afraid that her partner might answer the phone and tell him. Howard is from that kind of family.

He told me that, when he was a conscientios objector during the Vietnam war, it caused a rift between he and his father, "but even though I don't agree with him, I still love him," he said, perhaps projecting onto the situation between his daughter and he.

I told him that, I too have been guilty of not showing gratitude towards my mother after she has sent money to bail me out of situations in the past. "I wound up thanking God that she sent the money, but never got around to phoning her," I told him. "I could imagine her thinking: 'I sent the money on Monday, he should have at least gotten it by now' and worrying that she may have misspelled the address or that someone stole it out of my mailbox or any other concern that I could have layed to rest with a simple phone call, but it's so easy to becomed consumed by the spending of the money '...I'm gonna run to the store and get a Starbucks Mocha energy drink, and quarters so I can finally do my laundry, and then to the dollar store, and...' before you realize it a few days have gone by and you haven't made the call and then you might just forget about it. It's probably an age-old phenomenon; where kids can't appreciate how important those two words are to parents..."

Howard agreed.

He told me about the time that he had encouraged her to go out for volleyball "Because some of these colleges want to see that you have some extra-curricular experiences" and she had retorted: "You're trying to make a jock out of me, dad!" and he still feels bad about that and a thousand other things that he is sifting through in his mind to explain why she seems to be hiding from him.

"I really never wanted a child; now that I think of it. If it was a son, I would never want him to have to go through something like I did with Vietnam, and..."

"Have you tried to find her on Facebook?"

"I'm completely lost when it comes to stuff like that..."

"I'll try to find her, and tell her it's OK if she's a lesbian, and that her dad wants to send her money for her birthday..."

"Ok. Leave out the lesbian part though, 'cause that's just one thing I thought of, I'm not sure..."

"Yeah, I was just kidding about the lesbian part."

He extended an invitation for me to go over there any Sunday, and especially if the Patriots are playing on TV, and I came back home, after I had gotten Harold the cat an expensive bag of Fancy Feast dry cat food and a couple cans in exotic flavors that he has never had at Wal-Mart. I don't imagine he will thank me with even a meow.
You've just read: 2,100 words.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Be Careful Who You Borrow From

  • The Alex In California Matter
  • The Power Of Three
  • Motivation
"You can pay me tomorrow..."

I started doing a shot of kratom just about every day, which cost me 3 dollars initially, and then $3.24 after they decided to put a tax on them, and finally $2.93 after they decided to give me a "local resident" discount.

This was fine, and I thought I could live with a daily bill of 3 dollars.
Of course, then Lancaster, my weed dealer, who is on methadone "treatment," and his roommate, who said he himself "was up to 36 grams at a time of that stuff; trying to get high," began to discourage me from "wasting money" on it.
"Kratom's great," said Nathaniel at the Uxi Duxi after I told him of my friends advice to me.

The kratom that I was taking was enough to focus my mind and give me a desire to work, but at a cost, perhaps. It was work for the sake of work. I wrote stuff that I never posted, and I began to doubt that anyone would want to read it.

I even lost some of my ability to converse with and bond to the tourists who came by when I was playing at an amazing level.

It reminded me of a movie called "Phenomenon," which starred an aged John Travolta and was about a guy who was endowed with supernatural abilities after being hit with a beam of light that came out of the sky. For example, during a short trip to visit a Spanish speaking man who was sick, John's character sped through a Spanish dictionary and then spoke fluently with the guy when they got there, and even cured him. Of course, by the end of the movie he had lost all his friends, and just wanted to go back to being his plain ol' self.

I was connecting the dots and visualizing music in new ways and playing fast and accurately. But, I had much less desire to share the music or to feel that it connected me with my fellow man at any level.
This kind of permeated everything I did. I began to view my fellow man as just animals. Ones that could walk and talk; big deal. Only better than cockroaches in our own opinions.

I still think that music is one of the finer arts, as it comes out of the fingertips and so must be one of the most delicate and intricate things that humans are capable of.

But, the feeling of awe kind of diminished.

In the meantime, one of my longtime blog readers has fallen away from reading, even though I was cranking out 14,000 words per sitting (but only posting bits of it) and my friend and weed dealer Lancaster slams the door in my face now, if I knock, and even Lilly, who had been calling me every other day, hasn't called in a week.

It seems like there is something different about me in their esteem and they don't like it, even if they can't put their finger on what it is.

But, maybe this is a better me; and all those relationships were fostered through my weaknesses. Maybe kratom is what an all knowing shrink would prescribe for me to counter "under performance." 

I would say: "Wait until you hear my CD and how much better I'm playing," but I fear I might record it and never bother to make copies of it, due to a "who cares?" belief.

Tanya Huang; The Last Frontier

Now that I am more like an unfeeling machine, perhaps I'll be partnering with Tanya Huang this fall, and earning 30 times as much money, and sharing her "It's just a bunch of notes to fill the tip jar that don't mean anything special" philosophy.

Had I been spending 6 bucks a day on a double shot, then I could have been accused of doing it to get a buzz, as that amount made me feel the way I did when I was taking the Vicodin that a dentist prescribed a few years ago.
And, the kratom taking entailed visits to the strange place that played strange  Burmese music and was redolent of incense, and where crystals, and mushrooms and things like bundles of sage which can be burned to ward off evil spirits were sold alongside shelves full of books on "divinity" and Wicca and creativity and that discipline that Madonna got herself into (Kabala?) which did wonders for her, I imagine, unless she was going to shed her slut persona anyways due to age and slowing down, and not spiritual reasons.
I think that, by just going to a place such as that, I may have opened the door into the "spiritual realm" which I have always found to be something which, the more you believe in, the more it exists.

So, on the night my bike was stolen, before it had been, I had gone there and tried to pay for a $3 shot off my green American Express card.

The transaction wouldn't go through, and I had no cash.

"You can just pay me tomorrow," said Kia, who looks kind of like Annie Lennox, if Annie were a witch.

So, I left there, owing 3 dollars for a shot of kratom, with a slight dread that I would have a sub 3 dollar Saturday night.

When I encountered the skeezer looking guy sitting nearby the pole where I locked it, I also saw that there was a cigarette box laying in the road near the sidewalk.

I decided to test the guy. I picked up the pack and looked in it to see that it was empty; I also caught a grin on his face, while I was doing it, which told me that he had already looked in it and was probably the one who had tossed it where it lay. Being a skeezer, he couldn't resist the impulse to smile over my disappointment. It also probably warmed his heart to see a man so broke that he was looking in cigarette boxes.

But, it identified him as a low life, and I should have taken extra care in locking my bike, but I didn't.

The next day, after I had bought a 3 dollar all day bus pass and was on my way to pay back Kia for the shot from the day before, plus one for that day, it dawned upon me that, I had incurred yet another daily tab of 3 dollars, as that will be how I will have to get around until I get another bike.

I have half a mind to think that it is a cosmic debt which has to do with the fact that I borrowed 3 bucks from a witch and am now going to have to pay her back every day.
Be careful who you borrow from.
No Great Loss
It does hurt what feelings I have though, to have Alex In California just stop reading this blog altogether, saying that it is "no great loss."
It's like the saying: "Don't fault a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes," where Alex has kind of walked a mile in my shoes vicariously by reading along, and has decided indeed, to fault me.
Nothing To Lose
When I was in high school and ran track, my best ever quarter mile came when I was running the mile relay.

My teammates had fallen well behind, and, when I took the baton, the other runner was already making the turn around the oval.
This gave me a "nothing to lose" attitude, I suppose. I was actually happy about the situation. I think I would have felt silly giving it my all if I were in the lead.
The other team's guy really wasn't that fast, but he had about a 10 second lead on me. I focused on him and was able to block out almost everything else and go into a zone. I caught up to him right as the last turn went into the "stretch" and passed off the baton, giving our last leg guy about a 3 second lead.

I think they said it had been a 56.9 second quarter mile -about 15 seconds slower than the world record.

So, I guess I try to let myself fall behind, or put myself in situations where there is nothing to lose...

Monday In Search Of Income

I'm at a bus stop near the Wal-Mart which is across the river in Gretna, not too far from where my old friend Howard lives.

I would have dropped in to see him, had I the luxury of extra time, but since my bike got stolen Saturday night, my whole world has contracted to a circle within the radius of "walking distance."
Bike Stolen
I pulled up to the post where I normally lock my bike on Saturday night, after having just barely gotten guitar strings.

I had squeezed in one last errand of getting a second shot of kratom at the Uxi Duxi, which I gulped down right around 7:30 PM, a half hour before that kava bar closes, and a half hour before the Louisiana Music Factory does.
It took 19 minutes to get there from the Uxi Duxi; 11 minutes early, cool, right?

No, their wrought iron gate was closed and the "open" sign off.

I asked a customer who was coming out "Do you think they'll let me get just a set of guitar strings?," not wanting to barge my way in, thinking that that might bias them against me.

I called the store's number.

While it was ringing, the customer, who had gone back inside, emerged and said "They said it's OK."

This surprised me, and signified a change in the attitude that they had had towards me, ever since they moved the store from right across from the House of Blues, to across from the Checkpoint Charlie Bar, which is skeezer/traveling kid central. They turned from a friendly staff into one that ignored me, and would leave me standing in front of the harmonica case, as if they couldn't figure out that I might want to buy one, for as long as I wanted to stand there.

Then, instead of copping an attitude, I would walk over to the front counter and, in a friendly manner ask, "Say, could I get one of the harmonicas in the case?" as if I wasn't aware that I had been slighted, and perhaps needed that much time in order to decide which one I wanted.

This was intended to nullify whatever payoff they were getting from subjecting me to their passive aggression, and to actually dish some of it back, in my own way. Of course they were hoping I would become angry and would say anything that might qualify as cause for them to bar me from the store. That seems to be the ploy de-jure of a lot of people against skeezers.

I have to remind myself of the way it was in St. Augustine, Florida where I could only shop in select places, after having been barred from everywhere else, sometimes behind the reasoning of: "I own this business, and I decide who I want to do business with or not, and I don't want you in my store."

This was usually uttered by a foreigner, who should be thanking his lucky stars and kissing the ground because he is in this country, with all its special opportunities for someone like himself.

But, instead of being appreciative, he only demonstrates the mindset that went into making their country of origin one that they would eventually wanted to flee from.
Hard to tell that this is a "Tuba Skinny" concert, as, it appears he has culled the members of the band "Yes Ma'am" off Royal Street, I guess so it wouldn't just be the guy going "Ooom Pa Pa" for a couple hours.

Louisiana Music Factory without a doubt saw a backlash from their having changed locations to one across the street from the bar which touts itself as kind of a welcome center for migrant musicians; with a laundromat in the back and a stage that can be cleared to make room for any musician worth his salt who might approach from the direction of the railroad tracks.

There is also the strip of "neutral ground" in the median of Esplanade Street which has a history of being the place where the British and the French (I'm pretty sure) would meet to make treaties and such, with neither group being on the other's territory.

Rumor is that, even to this day, the cops won't mess with anyone who is there, as if they have no jurisdiction. But that is skeezer-lore.

Still, that particular median is often crammed with dogs, backpacks and traveling kids, enjoying this great country, living off the excess of the working class so it won't go to waste (on the people that worked hard for it) and going into the Lousiana Music Factory, overpowering the fragrance of vintage vinyl records with the smell of fermented funk, bringing in their equally funky dogs, which they have had certified as "seeing eye" or other "service" animals, giving them some kind of "right" to do so.

So, for the past few years, the staff there had been giving me the "backpack and guitar" treatment; lumping me in with the likes of anything from the neutral ground.

Which made it a pleasant surprise to be let in the store after they had snapped off the "open" light and had barred the entrance. It has perhaps taken them 2 years to notice that I don't smell or steal or panhandle the customers as they shop, etc. I like to think it is because one of the staff came by the Lilly Pad and heard me jamming and then said "Let this guy in, he's alright."

The neutral ground is where one drunken 17 or so year old a couple years ago had said: "Hey, pass me the guitar; I want to make some money," after I had stopped there to buy some weed off another older guy, who was cool enough and knowledgeable enough about music to have prompted me to take it out of the case and play him something.

I already blogged about this incident.

But the kid, who had probably been birthed during a Rainbow Gathering, became angry and said that he would love to "burn" me (I guess he meant at the stake) after I had told him that it wasn't "the" guitar, but "my" guitar.

His "argument" was that he had had guitars even nicer than mine (which he knew the name and model of by looking at) and that the most recent of which had fallen off a train somehow and broken. Just because his guitar fell and broke by accident didn't mean he should be punished by not being able to play one, he seemed to imply.

"I'll show you how to make money with a guitar!" he said, adding that he would just be "over there on that corner" banging on a guitar that he has no investment in either materially or emotionally, and so I should have nothing to worry about. He was practically jumping up and down and pointing to the corner. If he were a dog his tail would have been wagging rapidly, and he might have been urinating uncontrollably.

I had told him, trying to keep the facetiousness out of my voice: "I kinda need it to go out and make my own living; sorry."

If it weren't for the cooler head of the older guy that I had been first talking to, I probably would have had to physically beat the kid away from my instrument. He knew how to make money with a guitar, after all. What was my problem.

Perhaps, after 2 years, the staff at the music store has finally differentiated me from his ilk.

So, I went out with brand new strings Saturday night, but didn't put them on. I started playing on Royal Street, as there was a brass band playing in front of Lafitt's.

I eventually moved back to the Lilly Pad, but made only about 25 bucks for the whole night. I feel like I'm just holding the spot until such a time that things pick up around here. By then I would have further cemented myself as the guy who always plays there.

But, when I got back there, there were already a couple of bikes locked to the post that I usually use. I walked it over to the next post, which is a lot fatter around. There was a skeezer looking guy sitting on a step near it. I could tell he was a skeezer because there appeared to be no reason for him to be sitting there; he wasn't talking on a phone, didn't live in the house behind the steps, and just gave me a dirty look, whereas a tourist (who would probably be from a much more civil place, even New York City) would have at least returned my "what's up?" and nod of the head. A skeezer from Ignore-leans, would do just as he did.
I'll save skeezer psychology for another post.

I was just trying to get my lock cable to go around the post and was happy to have been able to just barely snap the lock shut; and didn't realize that I hadn't wormed the thing through the frame of the bike.

Most likely the skeezer was sitting there doing nothing except waiting for some kind of crime of opportunity, guy dropping his wallet, guy not putting his bike lock through its frame, etc. and most likely he was the one who stole it and left only the seat locked to the post. And I'm supposed to feel like a scrooge because of my refusal to ever give anything to any one of them?!?

Plasma Wednesday

I'm going to the plasma donation center tomorrow (Wednesday, August 16th) using the only 3 dollars to my name right now to get an all day bus pass. The place pays something like 25 bucks for the first unit and another 50 should you return to donate the all-important second unit (the first one is consumed by whatever tests they run on it to determine if they can even use it).

When I donated 12 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida, they loved my plasma, as it had no traces of crack or any medications in it.

First Thing Monday Morning

I stopped by one of the "staffing" places that had been recommended by another resident here, and the vibe couldn't have been worse. All that was spoken there was Spanish between the staff and a couple other applicants, as well as a couple people who came in to pick up checks while I was there.

"I'll call you if anything comes in that I could give you; but, I have a lot of people coming in to apply every day..." she said, as she folded up my application in order to file it away.

It might be another case of one race of people helping their own, exclusively. With all of the undocumented Latino people cornering the "under the table" work market, I guess the ones that are actual citizens need to feed their families, too. And, it probably makes sense to have Spanish speaking people work somewhere where they can understand the boss and all their fellow employees.

There is no way she is going to call me. She had a hard time hiding that fact from her face.

But, I put in the application, and then went for a double shot of kratom that had me headed for the plasma place in short order.

I still got to the place too late for a new donor, as the process for that can take up to 4 hours and it was already 4 PM when I got there.

I then had fun walking around the Wal-Mart super store that is a half mile up the road from the plasma place. I found a couple flavors of cat food that Harold hadn't experienced yet, like salmon and chicken with "extra gravy." He wound up loving it.

After I left Wal-Mart, I walked to the nearest bus stop and struck up a conversation with a Jamaican young lady who was sitting there, after she seemed to allay her fears that I might have had my eye on the Wal-Mart bags at her feet (i.e. after I took this laptop out of my backpack and began this post ..."I am at the bus stop near the Wal-Mart..."

Another older black man came by and sat on the bench with us.
I told the Jamaican woman that I would be alright as long as the bus came by within the next 45 minutes, showing her the time on my all day pass, which was 5:17 PM.

"Mine's good until 5:52, do you want to trade?" she asked.

"Sure, that would give me a chance to hop the trolley to my house after the bus drops me off."

The bus pulled up and the two started walking over to it, with the woman letting the older guy go on first.
The woman turned and asked me: "Are you coming?"
I was hastily tying up my pack after having put my laptop in it. "Yeah, just a second."

The woman got on the bus. I knew it would take her at least a couple seconds to swipe her pass, after the older guy took a couple to swipe probably his senior citizen pass.

I was within a few feet of the door when it closed. The black driver stared straight ahead and started to pull off. I wrapped on the glass with my knuckles. He just kept staring straight ahead and drove off.

I called the number on the RTA sign and got someone back at the office, which is almost directly across the street from my apartment.

I reported what had happened, adding that I was pretty sure that the Jamaican lady would have told the driver: "Wait a second, there's one more coming," since we had become acquainted in the half hour that we had sat there together, and since she had taken the time to say "Are you coming?"

I was sure that she and the older guy hadn't yet paid their fares, never mind seated themselves safely, before he put the bus in motion; in fact the lady was still in front of the yellow "do not come forward of" line when he slammed the door and pulled off.

I added that the driver, who is black, had let two black people on before slamming the door on a white guy. What did he think I was doing at the bus stop, and what did he make of me hurrying towards the bus with a day pass in my hand, I asked her rhetorically. This was a couple days after the infamous "Nazi" rally had taken place in Charlottesville, Virginia, by the way.

I thought about telling her "my 8 year old daughter" had gotten home from her after-school program and was locked outside the house, expecting me to be there before night fell, and that if anything happened to her I was going to hold the RTA responsible and, of course, sue the hell out of them. Black people are gullible, if nothing else, and she would have believed me. After all, this land is all one giant wonder to them, having been pulled out of a grass hut naked and thrust into a world where there are big buses and magic cellphones and scary lawyers that sue. She would have believed me, and I'm just assuming she's black, because her job is to sit there all day and occasionally answer a phone call and give directions after clicking a mouse a few times, and all those types of jobs are filled by blacks in New Orleans.

I stopped short of that, and of telling her that I was going to stay at the stop and let a few more buses pass until the same driver came back around and then riddle him with bullets as soon as he opened the door.

I was in a good "2 shots of kratom" mood still, so it is amazing that the driver's actions, which were clearly intended to provoke me to hurl a chunk of concrete at the side of the bus, or to make a threat such as the above, or do anything to allow him to bar me from riding the bus; were able to anger me at all.

I know better. I've seen the concrete chunk game in action, since I became homeless 14 years ago, it has played out repeatedly.

The driver has to know that his route goes right past the plasma donation center which sits 7 miles outside of New Orleans, and is hard to get to because it's across the river. He probably was judging me (by the backpack, again) in some kind of negative way, and thought: "Let me see if I can take that little plasma money away from white boy."
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My Russian wife, Nina, who had arrived here for the first time after having lived in the Armenian city of Baku for most of her life, and then Moscow for a couple of years, summed it up when we were somewhere and a black man came along and tried to flirt with her.

"Nasty," she said after he walked away.

I guess the Russians aren't impressed by how high they can jump, either.
If you are white and live in New Orleans for more than a couple years and you don't truly hate African Americans, then you just haven't gotten out and seen the city.

Black people from all over the world are exempt from this, including the cool Jamaican lady I talked to. It's the ones that were brought over and enslaved and then released without a contingency plan, who have become a blight upon our nation.