Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eye Candy, Black Jelly Bean Flavored

It is Tuesday afternoon, and I kind of know that I have to go out and busk this Tuesday night, or do I?
If I don't go out, then I can use what little change I have to my name to take the bus to the plasma place tomorrow, which would give me 25 dollars for this donation.

Then, I would have 25 dollars on a Wednesday, plus the CD would be that much further along.

If I go out tonight and make less than 25 dollars, then I will have less than 25 dollars tomorrow, and would have put no work into the CD, and would have been up so late that waking up and getting to the plasma place would be a challenge.

Plus, what if I make some amount of money that causes me to vacillate over whether or not to go get another 25 from the plasma place.

My mom might be sending me at least one more letter with money in it. If I go to sell plasma, and then return to find a letter in my box, I would have advanced the CD project, and might have about 50 dollars in cash.

A Return To 9:30 PM Starts

This weekend, my focus will be upon starting out each night Wednesday through Sunday, at the Lilly Pad at the 9:30 PM that used to be my standard starting time.

The Patriots have a "bye" week and won't distract me Sunday by playing football, and my food stamp money of, probably the reduced amount of 137 dollars, will arrive upon that same day.

I hate to see months "fly by," since "you're only dancing on this earth for a short while," as Cat Stevens put it, but, my food money ran out last month about 55% of the way through it, and I was also shortchanged by Travis Blain on the food money that he had promised me, while he was taking up space, breathing the oxygen, and talking incessantly about himself, in long lecture style.

One might say that the Travis deal was peripheral to my day to day food dealings, and that it should have been considered extra money that I won't be able to count on every month, and that my food would have run out even sooner, had it not been for the stingy amount of  $37.26, that I did get from him, but this isn't totally accurate.

I had made certain decisions, involving food purchases, based upon my expectation of getting the whole 50 dollars.

I could have gotten a whole 4 pound bag of frozen fish fillets for the 12 bucks that he reneged on, for example, and I might not have wasted money on stuff that goes with fish, like vinegar, olive oil, frozen vegetables, mushrooms and "fish seasoning," had I known that I was going to wind up subsisting upon pancakes, made from cheap flour, reasonably priced for the food value eggs, and water, which is plentiful, and seasoned with jam.

I guess I could always try mushroom pancakes, eh, Travis...might actually be pretty good with some vinegar on them, eh, buddy; pal?


I checked my mailbox around noon.
There was nothing in it except a catalogue from Musician's Friend.
"Yeah, she came early today," said the security lady in the front lobby of Sacred Heart.


Last night's recording came out very well. I'm tempted to post up an audio clip of it, but, at this point it is just a drum beat and a mixture of rhythm guitars. And, I have learned to be patient and not post up things that came out well, but still need to be refined.
The song is "Purple Heart," about a drunken panhandler in Jacksonville, Florida, who has his freedom taken away by the police, who treat him like crap and then find the medal when they are searching his backpack.

Another song is going to be "Monsters," about my experience of going to Catholic high school, and is basically about how we were one big, loving family of students, being educated and groomed to go out into the world as "Christian leaders," and about how dog-eat-dog, competitive  and cutthroat the process was.

"Computer Geek Blues," will make it onto the disc, with lines like: "Now he's giving her a bit; she's moving her bytes around; she's putting her software on his hard drive..." about a guy whose girl leaves him for "some computer geek guy, from Fountain Valley, California, according to his profile."

"The Twins," is kind of about the situation that every boy who knows twin girls finds himself in. Since they look the same, he's just going to go with the one who seems to like him more than her sister does, type of thing.

"Her Thigh Said Sublime," is another "harmonica era" tune, arranged around the capabilities of that particular instrument, and just needs a middle section. It's been well received at the Lilly Pad.

And, some of my older songs, like "The Carcass Song," and "Crazy About A Crazy Girl," will make it onto the thing, because they are some of my "classics," but, in my mind, they fell off the charts years ago, after maybe having reached #1 for a few weeks. The challenge for me will be to actually "remake" them so they will sound fresh, to my ears, at least.

I can get all the music ready to have vocals put over it, perhaps within the next month.

Then, I will have to think about a cover. I'm hoping that a Kinkos type printing place that advertises that they do "CD covers" is able to produce ones that fold out to reveal sheets of lyrics, more pictures, etc. to go with the songs.

And, buying plastic cases, as well as the blank discs to burn the music onto will be an expense.
And then, there will be the technical aspect of: Can I burn them using my laptop with its built in CD drive, onto the cheapest dollar store blank discs, without worrying that they will skip or not play on people's systems, or do I need to perhaps go to Tipitinas studio to use their more "professional" equipment?

But, hey; it will be cool to know that each disc, which might cost me a dollar total to make, will be for sale at a 1,000 percent markup.

This might make it worth skipping a "20 dollars if you're lucky" Tuesday night of busking to work on it.
But, I guess I'll make the decision as I walk back to the apartment, without enough money for an all day bus pass. Could I busk for a couple hours, work on the CD for a couple more, and then still go and sell plasma tomorrow? That would require self discipline, but, a 20 dollar night, plus 25 for my plasma, plus a letter from my mom with another 20 or so, and I might be able to go from rags to 65 bucks in a span of 20 hours...

Monday, October 30, 2017

I Ponder A Future With The Brown Hat

  • A Hat Of A Different Color
  • 10 Dollar Sunday
  • Plasma Lab Monday

"I like your hat, by the way!" was the second complement of the night that I wore the brown hat for the first time in probably over a year.
"If I had a 70 dollar hat, I would wear it all the time and would never wear the 20 dollar one, because, when people see the 20 dollar hat on your head, they will never suppose that you have a 70 dollar hat at home, but will think you are a lower class person, and will tip accordingly," I can't actually remember who told me that, but, I guess it stands to reason that , well...

If  you walk into a church wearing kind of shabby clothes, it might invite the speculation by someone of "Those are his best clothes?"

"I hear what you said and, no, I have a fine suit at home."

"Well then, why don't you wear it to church, that's what your 'Sunday best' is for..."

So, some of my busking audience might think the black hat "must be" my best one.

The brown hat was a gift from Dorise and Tanya.

Within a couple days of Dorise having said: "We've got to get Daniel a hat," based upon the appearance of my hair, which hadn't been cut in 5 years, and had been hidden under one type of hat or other most of that time; one materialized.

I think I had lost my hat, and was trying to sport my hair in some way by tying a string around my head, with results that might have given me pause to improvise at least a bandana to hide it, had I not  been homeless and not in possession of a mirror. I have a photo from this time period, and looking at it now, it depicts what might as well be the "poster child" for men in need of hats.

I almost hold my "friends" at the time in retroactive contempt for none of them having said, at least, "Dude, you need a haircut," as friends.

I think I may have been subconsciously testing Tanya and Dorise's unconditional love for mankind, and their conviction that everything is just the way it should be, and so that is good. My hair was beautiful because it was my hair, type of thing.

Love Is Blind, And Can't Smell

I once walked up upon them and they had a smallish girl, who was playing violin along with Tanya, and she was wearing sort of like a tank top, which revealed unshaven armpits; and the body odor coming off of that girl was so strong that, when she started bowing the violin, I stepped back, afraid that that particular action was going to fan it and make it even worse.

Tanya was sitting there right by her, and Dorise was not far away, and they were acting like she didn't stink to high heaven. She exuded the odor of a girl who had stunk the day before and was now bathing bacteria in fresh sweat -bacteria which have mutated into more potent smelling strains of themselves, because they are the great great grandchildren of the funk of days past.

I looked back and forth between the pair with a "You've got to be kidding me!" attitude.

I wanted to approach the girl, and say something in a good nature, like: "Girl, you sure are working up a sweat!, sweating up a storm, aren't you?"

I get that she was probably from a European country where girls don't shave their armpits, and that she "had something to say" on the violin. And that some people are actually attracted by body odor; believing that it embodies the essence of a person, with all their pheromones being put on display, and that, at some primitive level, it is a key component of really getting to know a person, to be able to smell her fear, her hopes and dreams; honesty or lack of it, etc.

Plus, it might give a clue to where a person has been hanging around, and whether or not they have a cat.

Any jail that I ever stayed in for any period of time imparted its own unique odor to my armpits, the times I was sweaty after having sat in front of a judge for sentencing earlier that day, perhaps, and hadn't wanted to jump in the shower because maybe some pervert from the block was sitting and watching men shower. And, the whole block would wind up smelling the same way. If your cellmate needed a shower, then it would be that one particular, sometimes earthy, sometimes metallic, sometimes leathery, smell on him, too.

But, while Tanya smiled and conversed with the girl, without any trace of revulsion on her face, it dawned upon me (besides the fact that Tanya must have been holding her breath) that, the sky was now the limit upon how repulsive and/or disgusting I may actually be presenting myself as, to the world. I wouldn't have become any the wiser on the matter, through Tanya. Just because she gave me a friendly smile didn't mean that I warranted one. She would never tell me that I stink.

"The Chinese are very good at telling you what they think you want to hear" -Howard Westra

I slept under a wharf with rats, and had alcohol and tobacco on my breath most of the time, and so the experience with the girl playing the violin was a revelation of sorts.

Within a couple days of Dorise having said: "We need to get Daniel a hat," somehow they came in possession of the brown hat that I now wear, in the kind of uncanny way of someone having just given it to them, with words to the effect of: "Maybe you know someone who needs a hat..."

That was when believing in magic was in season; and believing that, if you are doing the work on this earth that you are supposed to be doing, everything will conspire in your favor; and that New Orleans reached out its invisible spiritual tentacles and brought you there. Most of the tenants that David the Water Jug Player holds, and his philosophical teachings fall in line with this almost unspoken religion that borrows from voodoo and Rastafarianism.

That was when I saw Dorise as some sort of priestess, who could exercise powers in order to make hats materialize, could teach music by example (the example of a woman making $2,000 in a single day of busking is a good example of a good example) and who could place charms upon other musicians by letting them sit in with her and her minion, after which, the musician would leave on cloud nine, having become a better musician through the interaction and would have a blessed and charmed night.

So, I underwent a period when I had half a mind to believe that, like Frosty the Snowman, the placing of this hat which had mysteriously been given to Dorise out of the blue upon my head, gave me the ability to dance about, and to not melt...

"Hey, Daniel!!" she had yelled, while standing behind a van with its back doors open to reveal all of their equipment.

"We've been looking for you all day!," she added, for it was rare for a day to go by, when my path to and from the wharf took me past their playing spot, without them having seen me at least once.

Evincing surprise at the timing of event herself, she gushed: "Here you go. A guy just gave us this hat last night. It's you! As soon as we saw it we thought of you!"

It is the hat that I had fought a skeezer over, in the alley next to the Popeye's Chicken on Canal Street.

The skeezer had come along and started to berate me with: "What the hell are you looking at?!?" and went on to inform me that he didn't like me, and that I had a "bad vibe," etc.

He got right in front of me and even, at one point, gave me a mild slap to the side of the face, as he ranted.

But, after he knocked the brown hat off my head, and I looked at it, envisioning Dorise laying there on the sidewalk, next to a rather large puddle, which I don't doubt the skeezer had intentions of kicking her into; I found that I had sufficient motivation to exclaim: "You knocked my hat off my head?!?" and then to stand up and do my best to knock that skeezer, who was 20 years younger, but even skinnier, than I, out.

I got him up against a car, flailing my fists at his head, and aiming my knee for his "Charlie horse" region. When he stopped fighting back, I picked the hat up off the sidewalk, placed it back on my head, and then sat back down where I had been.

I blogged about that, maybe 3 years ago, now (see: "I Fight A Skeezer" from 2014). The funny thing was that, I saw him again later that evening, and he told me: "Man, if you ever come at me again like that, I'll kill you." ...not with your bare hands you won't...

But, that is some of the history of the brown hat.

And, maybe, I am entertaining some musings about playing with Tanya Huang, and the hat is kind of a connection to that.

Last (Sunday) night, it was clear that the Voodoo Fest had run its course, and there was that "you just missed everything" vibe permeating the place; the same one you get when you come around a corner to see workers sweeping up confetti and the debris from a parade.

I felt like I should have stayed out and milked Saturday night for all it was worth. The DJ with the sound system surely would have departed by 1 AM or so at the latest. Then I could have played from then until 3 AM, but that is just water under the bridge now.

An Ace In The Hole

I went over the bridge to sell plasma earlier today.

I'm finishing this post outside the Uxi Duxi, having gotten there at about 7 PM.

I left the apartment at 1 PM.

Trolleys, waiting, buses, walking, the machine not reading my thumbprint when I tried to log in at the plasma place, being drained of my plasma, more walking, more waiting, the 114 bus driver telling me I couldn't bring my Rock Star "zero" energy drink on the bus with me, waiting for the next bus, more waiting, another trolley, more walking, and I was back at the apartment at 6 PM. I had spent 5 hours getting 15 dollars.

Disgusted, I just went about my routine, stopping for a creatine monohydrate drink at GNC, and then continuing to the Uxi Duxi for a double shot of Green Borneo kratom, out of my plasma money.
I hooked Harold the Cat up with a couple cans of his favorite wet food, and one can of his highly favored "salmon florentine" by Fancy Feast.

He gave a few half heart-ed meows when I came out of the apartment at about 6:10 PM to embark upon my routine.

I hadn't smoked any weed all day; having chosen not to make myself artificially joyful for the plasma run. I took a few puffs, before going out.

Then, when I had gone about a block in the direction of the trolley stop, with the trolley within sight and headed that way, I remembered that I had put my all day bus pass in the book that I had been reading while being drained of plasma, as a bookmark. I had stuffed my laptop and AC plug into my pack, but had not brought the book.

As the pot started to "mellow me out," I had to make a decision.

If I were to go back to the apartment to get the pass, I would miss the trolley that was right down the tracks,  and would have to wait 20 minutes for the next one. It takes me 25 minutes to walk to the Uxi Duxi.

I started walking back towards the apartment. It seemed like, since I had taken those steps toward it, and away from the Uxi Duxi, I might as well keep going back to get the pass. But, then I thought that I could beat the next trolley to the Uxi Duxi on foot, and that time was the real issue, not convenience; so I started walking towards the Uxi Duxi.

"I just might have to quit smoking pot; for real..."

But, then I thought about what I was going to do after leaving that "hippie bar." I would have to walk all the way back; when I had a perfectly good pass that I had paid 3 dollars for between pages 118 and 119 of "Crossing To Safety," by Wallace Stegner, at the apartment. And, what if, while at the Uxi Duxi, the need arises for me to take a trolley somewhere, like to Harrah's Casino to watch Monday Night Football. Who knows what kind of hare the kratom might let out of the cage.

I reversed direction, towards the apartment.

But, then I thought about the time involved; 20 more minutes waiting for the trolley, and then a 15 minute walk that I'm going to have to make anyways; to the Uxi Duxi. The next trolley would get me there about 8 minutes later than if I walked the whole way...

I reversed direction again; wondering if anyone was watching me vacillate; and thinking very gravely: "I just might have to quit smoking pot; for real..."

"Pot's Messing With Me"

Given that "everyone is different," I have a theory that there are "alpha" pot smokers, and "beta" ones.

The alpha smokers develop a sharp, tactically adept mind after smoking and are able to be manipulative and conniving, when they are baked.

The betas become like smoke in the wind; wishy washy, non committal and aimless. They become malleable to the alpha smokers will, and may just use marijuana in social settings precisely for the advantage that they gain over the betas.
"Hmm hmm hmm, I'm gonna try to shoot the moon
and not give him squat...peck, peck, peck; hee hee hee"

For example, when  Travis Blain had offered me a hundred dollars to keep a good deal of his stuff in storage at my place, we were passing a bowl of weed back and forth between us.

Sure enough, I began to connect with my divinity within and feel guilty, as the weed "mellowed me out," about demanding that much money, just for baring with a pile of stuff in the corner of a room, that wasn't costing me anything, except as being an eyesore.

I began to look at things in a more spiritual light, and could feel the presence of The Lord, with phrases such as "If your brother should ask you for your shirt, offer him your coat also," "treat your neighbor as you would wish to be treated yourself," etc. pecking at my conscious like wrens at a feeder.

Then, in my THC fog, I uttered the paraphrase of: "Aw, shucks, I can't ask you for that much money...buddy...pal...ol' chum..." which seemed to have opened a window, through which Travis caught glimpse of daylight, and inspired hope, and intensified his longing to feel the rays of the totally-free-of-charge sun falling upon him.

I can remember the glow on his face as he thanked me "from the heart," for my generosity; and I actually felt like there was a degree of love between us, at that point. Agape, eros, storge or philia love, I'm not sure; that's all Greek to me.

But, in retrospect, Travis Blain could have been playing me for a beta smoke; and taking my generosity as a sign of weakness. ...yeah, I'm skating through this situation...let me just stand pat and let him do all the talking  for a while, for a change...I think he might just be about to offer me his coat...type of thing.

"Here you go, bud; want another hit?"

10 Dollar Sunday

Sunday night, I only made about 10 bucks. I had a couple people come and hang out who complemented my stuff, and threw a few bucks each.

I was doing my song "Pot's Messing With Me," as, it was appropriate under the circumstances, and, with lines like: "Pot's messing with me; making me forget the chords," it has a built in fail-safe; should I forget the chords.

But, it is Monday night, 10 PM. Busking would have to be done with the goal of making perhaps another 15 dollars. It's the festival hangover, when a lot of employees get the night off, after having busted their asses through the weekend.

I've got cat food, cigarettes, some pot, and can now make flax-seed pancakes, having splurged 3 dollars upon myself, about the same as what I spent on cat food.
I'm God, I can do this...
Harold the cat might be an incarnation of Krishna.

I got him on the same day that I had found a brand new copy of the Bhagavad Gita, sitting in an abandoned shopping cart. The cover of the book may have been created using the fir of whatever kind of cat Harold is, as a background pattern; the colors match so well.

On the night that I got shot just under my right eye by a paintball, I thought that bad luck was running in a streak, after I came home and was unable to summon Harold by rattling my keys. "Have I lost my cat, too?" I wondered.

He showed up the next night. He had been in a fight with another cat, it looked like, and his right eye had been gashed, all the way through the lid.

His ear problems mirrored my own, also, and I was alternately putting drops in my own ears, and cleaning his out with Q-tips and olive oil, for a while; until our ear problems resolved themselves pretty much simultaneously..

Krishna has taken the form of a cat and come to live with me, that's all.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Idling Street Musician

  • Black Hat Replaced With Brown Hat
  • 13 Dollar Abbreviated Saturday
  • Kicking Myself Over Missed Opportunities
Just because you worked for an hour on it, doesn't mean that it is blog worthy, Daniel...
I like to stay up late and work on music and drawings, reading, drinking coffee, and then drifting off to sleep; often without having glanced at the clock beforehand (excuse the pun) and done some math in order to calculate when I would be able to rise, having 8 hours of sleep under my belt, and begin the next day.

"First thing in the morning" equates to around 1:30 PM in these parts.

The Anatomy Of Missing A Saint's Game

So, of course, when I woke up around 8:30 AM, just 3 and a half hours before the Saints game was to kick off, I felt the tiredness in my body of a man who had stayed up until around 4 AM, and had eaten a few pancakes with all fruit spread in the process, and then had laid down to sleep thinking: "I can go over and play by the stadium and probably make the 35 dollars that I have been accustomed to averaging for that particular endeavor.

I'll be able to jump right up at around 9 PM, pack up my gear and be on a trolley, headed towards the Superdome, a good hour and a half before kickoff; I'll make 38 dollars, and that will make up for having knocked off early the night before, after having only made 13 bucks."

Then, there was the matter of the Patriots playing the Chargers in Foxboro, and my opportunity to watch the game at Harrah's Casino, in their big room with a bar in the middle and TVs all the way around.

This was kind of what I was thinking about, as I drifted back to sleep at 9:30 AM, a good 2 and a half hours before the game was to kick off.
It's going to be the brown hat, until further notice...
Maybe not the mustache, but the brown hat...

I woke up again, and it was after noon. I did feel well rested, having put in 8 hours sleeping. There was still time to make it to the Superdome for the letting out of the people after the game.

The game was tight, and fans would be glued to their seats, watching it go down to the wire. The Saints would eek out a victory, and then the fans would exit, enraptured and thrilled by the outcome of the game, and there I would be; keeping a repetitive pattern of chords going, and playing the melody to "When The Saints Go Marching In" repetitively over them on the harmonica -so cliche, so hokey, so guaranteed to fetch around 35 dollars from the 5,000 or so who would walk past.

"I need a Great Motivator," I thought to myself, at around 2 PM, as I drank coffee and packed this laptop into my pack and embarked upon the Circuit of Life, hitting GNC for a creatine monohydrate drink and a packet of powder, labelled "Energy And Metabolism" by the "Mega Men" company, then a shot or two of kratom at the Uxi Duxi.

The packet of powder is on sale right now in the "sample" size, at 2 for 98 cents, at GNC.

This is actually a diamond in the rough and, apparently, a well kept secret, within that particular overpriced health food store. I really should buy the rest of the box of them that are on display by the register.

I had even tried to tell Travis, Mr. Skinflint himself, about them. A man could live off of 3 of them a day. This would help him save up for moving in to a new apartment, and even leave him some extra money to give to a guy who had let him stay for almost 20 days at his place.

The packet is more than adequate as a one-third-of-a-meal replacement, and with all of the vitamins, minerals and esoteric ingredients with reputations for, if not scientific evidence of, being able to produce energy and stimulate metabolism, you can't go wrong. There are even ingredients to promote brain health, like choline in them.

There is an amount of nutrition in them at least equal to that of a cheeseburger from a fast food joint, it just doesn't appear so to the untrained eye.

But, If you were to cremate a double McCheeseburger, reducing it to a pile of powdered minerals, you would see what I mean. There won't be any choline in the pile.

Take out the fat and salt and hydrogenated soy oil and other chemicals, that makes the burger look more substantial than the little pouch of Mega Men powder, beforehand, to be fair.
As far as calories per dollar, 260 of them, for 98 cents plus tax.

The creatine drink, I'm getting rooked on. Gyped, Jewed, taken to the cleaners, scammed, hoodwinked...
[As children, growing up in a middle class suburb of Boston, we learned to use certain phrases, and would, upon not getting a prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box, for instance, utter something like: "I got Jew-ed!" and none of our parents would chastise us with: "That's not a very nice thing to say. But, that's a topic for another blog post. We were apparently unwittingly disparaging gypsies with our comments, also, and we might Welsh out, rather than paying off, a bet we had made.]

For 24 dollars, I can purchase 200 grams of pure creatine monohydrate powder, this is enough to make about 67 of the drinks that I now pay $3.12 a piece for. I would be saving 90% on the stuff.

13 Dollar Saturday

I should have bought the vat of it when I had the cash. After a dismal Saturday night, when I knocked off before midnight because there was a brass band playing in front of the bar, which was then supplanted by a guy pulling a sound system on wheels behind him, and I just hadn't had the patience to wait them out before continuing to play. It's a residential block, and whether or not there are ordinances regulating it or not, all such people seem to stop blasting their sound by midnight, or 1 AM, at the latest.

I just wanted to go home to record music, eat pancakes and drink coffee. Like a temperamental artist. Or a spoiled brat.

Feeling like a spoiled brat, I packed up, only 13 dollars to the good, and went off to have my pancakes, weaving my way down Royal Street past tourists, any of whom very well may have weaved their own ways to the oldest bar in America, where they very well may have tipped a musician who had had the patience to wait out a guy who pulls a sound system around.

DJ Skeezing 101

This is actually a valid hustle in New Orleans, as the guy, who basically rolls up to a crowd of people, perhaps a wedding party who are making their rounds of The Quarter, cranks up his sound, drowning out conversations, and then breaks into a wild dance, himself being painted and adorned in some way, in order to sell the dance-ability of the music to the crowd, and to get them going, becoming kind of a DJ (skeezer) rocking the block with his music, getting them all to sing and dance along; and keeping a tip bucket hovering not far from right under their noses the whole time.

Besides, I was thinking, as I left the DJ to his devices, I was going to be up bright and early; up and at 'em; at the Superdome, street musician skeezing, myself, and would make about 35 bucks. Sure I was. As long as I didn't stay up until dawn, mixing a recording that I made and stuffing myself with pancakes with all fruit spread, and waking up feeling a bit lethargic a couple hours before kickoff, I was.

So, now it is 8 PM, Sunday. The Uxi Duxi is closing, and I suppose I should go to the Lilly Pad and see what the last day of Voodoo Fest plus a day upon which there was a Saints game, when they won, produces in the way of tips.

The recording I made last night sounds excellent; I've been comparing it with the sound of professionally done commercial recordings, especially by listening from a distance, like from my bathroom, for example. It's useful to take note of what you can hear when you can just barely music playing from a distant source.
I've heard that professional photographers can make good money...

When I'm in the bathroom and I have music on in the living room, there are usually certain sounds that carry their way better into there. If I can just barely make out some of David Bowie's singing, and maybe the tambourine, for example, then I note that, and am able to adjust the sound levels on my own mixes, so they sound about the same from the toilet seat. You gotta' start somewhere, right?

So, rather than resent myself for not having stuck it out Saturday night and played until 3 AM, nor having made it to the Saint's game, I need to look at the bigger picture and congratulate myself for having made strides towards putting a CD together. And to get out there a couple hours from now and make some income flow is highly recommended.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Things To Do To Help My Career

Kratom, tiger's eyes and sage, all at one location!!
  • 19 Dollar Friday
  • Cooler Temperatures Arrive
I left the Uxi Duxi, last (Friday) night, at the early time of 8 PM.

I had done a job on the 57 bucks that I had made the night before.

Immediately upon knocking off, I was able to make it to the Rouses Market, where I grabbed a 6 pack of eggs, a 3 pound bag of flour, spring water, a Rock Star energy drink, a couple bananas and brought my total to 12 dollars and change with the purchase of dry cat food and a can of wet food, beef flavored shreds, in gravy.

I had 44 dollars and change to show for the 57 dollar Thursday night, but wasn't through yet.
The Unique Grocery store would exact $7.50 from me, in exchange for a pack of American Spirit "hunter" variety cigarettes before I caught the trolley.

I got home, threw the remaining 35 dollars on the coffee table, fed Harold, recorded the excellent "CD ready" rhythm guitar part that is in sync with the drums, and then slept.

Upon getting up Friday afternoon, I was able to make it to the Uxi Duxi, by about 4:30 PM, still riding on an all day bus pass which expired at 9:30 that night.

This seemed to set the worthy goal of being on the 9:12 PM into the Quarter, so as to get one last trip off of the pass.

So, when I left the Uxi at 8 PM, after having spent myself down to about 24 dollars with a creatine monohydrate drink from GNC, and a double shot of "red bali" kratom, I felt confident that I could beat my arrival time of 10:40 PM  the night before.

One stop at the Walgreen's on the way back to the apartment, for yet another can of wet cat food (as Harold was inside the place, and would expect to be fed upon seeing me walk in, despite having devoured 2 cans the night before) and a couple of Rock Star zero calorie energy drinks, that I couldn't pass up at 2 for $3, and I was down to around 20 bucks.

This, I pulled out of my pocket, at the apartment of Bobby, who offered me his own "2 for 1" special, and was able to remove 10 bucks from me in exchange for 2 grams of the medicinal grade marijuana which he sells for twice that amount to most people, but cuts me a break on, as a way of supporting a "starving artist," type of thing...

9:12 PM, and the trolley were fast approaching, as I hung around at Bobby's apartment.

But, I was kept around, by his telling me about the new guitar picks that he is going to order from Guitar Center.

They are made out of wood. That's right, wood -you know it and love it- has been discovered to be a fine material to make guitar picks out of. Finally; in 2017. For all these centuries, it was right there in front of us, but I guess we couldn't see the forest for the trees.

The Haves And Have Knots

What better way to complement that nice bony sound imparted by your genuine bone nut piece than by striking the strings with a genuine wooden pick?

Bobby promised to give me one, so I can sample for myself, wooden picks as soon as he gets them. This was news worth missing the 9:12 PM trolley over, I determined.

Oh, by the way, the picks are almost 5 dollars each. I pay that much for a dozen of the ones I use, but those are made of nylon, and produce, I guess, a more man-made and synthetic musical tone.

Bobby's picks are going to be made from, not just any wood, but that of some particularly hard wooded tree, perhaps mahogany. They seem to come in a couple types of wood, with him having opted for the more expensive of the 2.

Bobby seems to enjoy the fact that the picks are so expensive, as this will assure him that he is employing even more "top of the line" gear.

Upon adding wooden picks to his arsenal, he will have done just about everything to his Fender guitar that can be done to it, outside of perhaps practicing on the thing. You don't have time to practice when you are busy running to Guitar Center for mahogany picks, or searching online for a better guitar...

So, it was with less than 10 dollars that I sat down last (Friday) night to play. This, after having had a 57 dollar night the night before. I would be homeless, if it weren't for Michelle Obama, et al. to be sure.

My arrival at the Lilly Pad about 10 minutes earlier than I had the night before, was due to not having stopped to chat with Christina Friis for 10 minutes, as I had the night before.

19 Dollar Friday

On a day that I would wind up spending 50 bucks, I only made back 19, after about an hour and a half of busking. It started raining around midnight, and so I left for home.

I was plagued, not once but twice, by "the guy who has no money at all, and has decided that something he might do which wouldn't cost him a dime would be to sit next to a busker, blocking his tip jar by making it seem like he already has a customer, and requesting one song after another, further repelling the tourists with his singing." That guy.

I managed to get one such guy to leave, who had given me two cigarettes as a tip, but the second one, who came along around 11:45 PM, was more problematic.

He told me that he had hung out with me a year ago, mentioned some of the songs that "we" had done, how much fun he had had, and that he had sought me out, just to do it again.

He mentioned that some guy had been trying to buy one of my plastic sharks and that he (the guy with no money now) had "negotiated" the deal and had gotten me "like 20 bucks for the thing."

This did refresh my memory a bit. I do remember selling one of my sharks for "more like 6 bucks" and having had the deal negotiated by someone who was hanging around; but; was the guy hanging around a nuisance, or what? I can't recall.

"Did you tip me last year?," I asked, finally, and half sarcastically, after I had played a few more songs and no money had gone into my basket.

"Yeah, I tipped you; I hooked you up!. I'm gonna give you a tip, don't worry!" he said. There was something kind of immature about him.

I played a bit longer. The guy was complaining about the tourists having no appreciation for good music, or being stingy, or being distracted by other things as the reason that he thought nobody was tipping me.

It seemed like he was trying to be supportive, to encourage tourists to throw me a buck or two, but doing it in a negative "what's wrong with these people" kind of way; and just not aware that it was himself sitting there, doing that, which was dissuading them to.

"I need a cup of coffee," I said, and began to pack up.

The guy was kind of a Charlie Brown character, to me. Simple, happy-go-lucky, and probably "just a country boy," in some sense.

"Are you calling it a night?" he asked, sounding disappointed; and a bit like he was being short changed.

I had my tip basket in my hand as he said it, so I looked at the 7 or 8 dollar bills in it, none of which had been put there by him, and said "Yeah," shaking my head at the amount of money.

Rather than take that as a hint, he actually started to argue that, if "we" were to switch to certain songs (and then named a few garden variety busking "favorites") then the tourists would surely start tipping me. Come on, let's go; let's do this thing!" was his attitude. He was ready to sing out of tune to high heaven.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I make most of my money when rich tourists come and sit right where you're sitting (hint, hint) and request songs, talk a while, and then might leave me a 20 or 50 dollar bill..."

No effect.

He then stood up and said "Well, I'm Chris," offered me a hand to shake and then hastily walked off, as if I had perhaps offended him and made him change his mind about the "I'm gonna tip you, don't worry!" of earlier.

I was not about to play for a whole hour with him sitting there with that as the only carrot in front of my nose, when I would rather be just following my musical whims and enjoying myself, rather than taking requests and then trying to sound out songs that I was slightly familiar with, but that he could bellow the off-key words to.

"I guess you changed your mind about being a man of your word," I said to his vanishing back.
That situation having been resolved, I turned around set my stuff right back up, and was playing again before Chris had made it to the end of the block.

The guy might have had a 20 dollar bill that he might have thrown me after (?) hours of sitting there blocking the basket from everyone else; but the bottom line was that, it just wasn't fun for me to become a human jukebox with him pumping promised quarters into me the whole time.

Rained Out

It was just before 1 AM, when I hit Rouses Market for just a bag of "baking" coconut and a can of cat food.

I would have coconut pancakes upon getting home, but not before walking past Tanya Huang, whose roadie was breaking down her equipment. She brings more gear to her solo performances, backed by pre-recorded tracks, than the two of them would, when they were Tanya and Dorise.
Tanya was standing there, and it was quite a scene. Her roadie-type-skeezer guy was in the process of unlocking a chain, which appeared to be serping its way through the handles of the tip basket, the handle of her spare violin's case, the handle of her amplifier, and maybe even around the table that she sits her CD's for sale upon.

I must say that she gives the appearance of being very industrious. That elaborate a setup must require a lot of time to set up and break down. Plus, she has apparently recorded a plethora of CD's, none of which having Dorise Blackman on them, to sell in place of the dozen or so titles that the duo offered.

I, of course, can see myself working with her in the future. On my way to the Lilly Pad, she had been playing "Stairway To Heaven," the Led Zeppelin song, along with a rhythm track that sounded like it might have been a recording of one of her friends playing the acoustic guitar, and as I walked past, she met my eyes with a look that seemed to say: "God help me."

On my way home, it looked like she too, was chained there. I knew she saw me, but she was literally in the middle of a long sigh of exasperation when I walked past, which I interpreted to mean that it perhaps had not been a good night for her.

My path to playing with Tanya would be to get a good amp and microphone, and to be at the corner of St. Louis and Royal streets at 11 AM on some Friday or Saturday morning, and then to play while she is setting up her chairs, tables, etc. etc. which would take long enough for her to be able to gauge whether or not she wanted to do "a song or two" with me, once she was set up and tuned up, and before I left.

Optimally, those couple of songs would draw a group of tourists, and might turn into more like a whole hour of playing. Tanya would either enjoy the experience, relishing the benefits of a live accompanist, being able to stretch a song out if an audience seems to not want it to end yet, and not having to poke at her phone in between each song to start the next pre-recorded track, or not.

I'm sure that I wouldn't have to play as "well" as Dorise used to, but would only have to allow her to play as well as she used to with her, if that makes any sense. Let her handle the amazing technical feats; just keep a rock steady rhythm, play at least the bass note if you have forgotten a chord; keep the flow going, and leave the "intangible" things in the hands of God.

These would be things like, is the combination of her and myself going to make for good chemistry.

I do think she might enjoy the 5 or 10 minute breaks from playing, when I was interacting with tourists, telling stories, jokes, etc. This would engage them, and the effect might be more like a variety show, with interviews ("...so, where are you from?") comedy, stories and other things, with the music being supplied to go with it all and to (in Tanya's case) bring it to a crescendo.

It's a crap shoot; whether it would work or not. I'm sure Laurel didn't know until he actually performed with Hardy, or Siskel with Ebert, or Simon with Garfunkel, what audiences would appreciate, or not, about the pairing.

It could go either way; though I do see Tanya as being less verbal and, of course, more technical than myself, like the girl who can play Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor, but longs to be able to put her thoughts into words -paired with a guy who makes up words as he goes along, but is studying the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method, Grade 1 book, trying to come up to speed a bit in that regard.
I do know that Tanya has a business "sense;" and would probably rather have 80 tourists gathered around, thrilled by hearing "Freebird," being ripped up on a violin, making a couple hundred bucks an hour in the process (80 times and average tip of, say, 5 dollars, split in half between us =$200 for the hour that the 80 odd hang out).

Tanya has gone "high class" in Dorise' absence. She wears the garments that used to signify that she and Dorise were to play a wedding later that night somewhere.

Her musical selections have ascended, like a freebird, to what only the 12 (rather than 80) people who are hanging around can recognize (as the overture to a Rossini opera, perhaps).

If and when the time arrives (and Bobby in building C has been talking about his plans to buy a portable amp, which he would let me use for the purpose) I plan upon proposing to Tanya, in a manner of speaking, that we divide the spoils in a 70-30 proportion.

That way, she wouldn't have to double what she makes playing the Rossini overtures by herself, in order to break even playing with me, just increase the tip basket by about 43%.

And, I'm sure I would take 30% of what I made playing with her, over 100% of what I might get at the Lilly Pad over the same amount of time.

Of course, it would behoove me to go to her website and jot down all of the musical selections listed on the half dozen or so CDs that she has recently recorded, and learn the chords to them all. I could set aside an hour a day and call it "Tanya time" for this purpose. And, if we discover that we hate playing together, then I still will have learned a bunch of music; and the time won't have been wasted.
So, now I have that to talk about, along with my CD, under the heading of "things to do to help my career."

Friday, October 27, 2017

57 Dollar Thursday A Shot In The Arm

I left the Uxi Duxi just after they closed at 8 PM, last (Thursday) night.

The court jester at play
I had just enough money ($3) to get an all day bus pass.

This would allow me to go and sell my plasma for 15 dollars the next day, should I decide to stay in and work on the CD, reading, writing, drawing and feeding Harold the Cat instead of busking.

It seems that a shot of kratom almost always puts me in the mood to go and busk, just to have something to focus upon and, with all possible activities being equal, to have a chance to make 57 dollars in an hour and a half, such as I did last night.

I didn't look forward to busking, as I walked away from the Uxi Duxi.

But, as I went along Canal Street towards the apartment, still non committal on getting the all day pass, I decided that I would get the thing, and then would ride into the Quarter, knowing that, if all else failed, I would have passage to the plasma place, where I haven't been in about 3 weeks.

I wondered to myself how much I would have to make in order that I would blow off the trip to sell platelets for 15 more dollars. "Anything over 30 dollars" came to mind.

Then, I remembered that I had about 15 bucks on my green American Express Serve card.
I also had a golden opportunity to arrive early at the Lilly Pad, I thought, as it was only 8:30 PM when I got back to the apartment.

$24.67 Per Hour*

I don't know how I managed to get there at 10:40 PM.

I fed Harold the cat, trying a can of turkey and cheese of the Winn Dixie brand on him for the first time. His response to it was luke-warm (slowly moving his tail around, and eating from different parts of the pile, as if there might be something better tasting buried somewhere in it). I added the "backup can" of Friskies beef and (extra) gravy, which he devoured while leaving the turkey stuff undisturbed.

I drank coffee, and packed up my stuff.

I had new, great sounding Cleartone strings on the guitar, fresh alkaline batteries for the spotlight, a bud of Bobby's medical grade marijuana, and felt like I had enough material in mind to fill 3 hours of busking without having to repeat any song.

The 9:12 PM trolley passed, as I was still inside. That is the one that I had fallen into the habit of riding, back when I was habitually arriving at the Lilly Pad around 9:50 PM, and striking my first note by 10 PM.

I got the 9:30 PM one, as evidenced by the time stamp on pass.

I took a dollar off the green plastic card at The Unique Grocery, for the purchase of a pack of rolling papers, picked the ashtrays behind The Hotel Monteleone for free tobacco to roll up, and headed down Royal Street.

I came across Brian Hudson, who was not far from Christina Friis. I wound up talking to them for, I guess, about 15 minutes. I told Brian that I was on the move and didn't stop to talk to him; but couldn't escape a hug and 15 minute conversation with Christina.

I'm still sorting out my thoughts about Brian having asked me not to play my guitar that one time that I encountered the two of them on the Superior Court steps. They had just finished playing for something like 12 hours, off and on, and Brian had acted like it was going to give him a splitting headache should I pluck a single note. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Plus, when he introduces me to anyone, he refers to me as "kind of like the court jester," and mentions this blog. By association, he is elevating himself to the status of royalty, by saying that. He has explicitly referred to Tanya and Dorise as "the queens" of Royal Street busking, and perhaps feels like the king of it; so the jester comment was duly noted.
The court jester at work

The Jesus shadow clock said just about 10:30 PM, as I walked past it, less than 5 minutes from my spot. I had found a milk crate abandoned on Royal Street and grabbed it. That would save me the 8 minutes or so that it would take to walk to The Quartermaster to grab one of theirs before returning to the Lilly Pad.

It was early enough, so that I stood a chance of seeing Lilly, should she be chaperoning either, or both, of her daughters home from either or both of their jobs, working in upscale restaurants where they might meet their future husbands. They have lived their whole lives in The French Quarter, and I believe neither of them has ever walked alone. One night, I saw a well dressed young man escorting Chantilly home, who might be an assistant manager at Mr. B's Bistro, where she works.

I could tell by the snippets of conversation that I overheard walking a few feet behind them, that the guy was keeping things on the "up and up," speaking in generalities, nothing of the "so how do I get you out of your mother's sight for just a minute" sort.

I'm sure that he wanted to be deserving of the great trust that Lilly had apparently put in him, and probably knew that their whole conversation was going to be played back to Lilly upon her "So, what did you two talk about as you walked" inquiry.

I wouldn't doubt it if, the first time the guy ever chaperoned her, Lilly didn't accompany them, to be sure that he was up to the task.

But, the lady is just as protective of the street musician whom she allows to play on the side of her house, so I can find no fault with her.

I jammed away from 10:40 PM, until almost 11 PM, having actually forgotten about the bud of weed that I had. This was until a young man came along and asked me if I knew where he could find powdered cocaine.

I told him what I tell everyone in that situation: "Um, I don't see the guy. There's only one guy that I would trust with that, and I don't see him out tonight."

This is true, in a sense. There is one young skinny black kid, who wears red sneakers usually, and who has said "I've got that powder," to me once, and who was respectful after I had declined, and who later sold some to a tourist who had been listening to me; didn't rip him off, and the guy seemed happy afterwards.

He is polite to Lilly and the girls, and even offers to help them pull their trash out onto the sidewalk. A coke dealer with a good head on his shoulders.

The guy then offered me 20 dollars to smoke a joint with him.

"Will you give me the 20 up front?"


So, out came Bobby's medicinal grade bud, at about 11 PM, which I rolled a decent sized joint out of. Immediately materialized a group of traveling kid types with their dogs and their overstuffed backpacks, on cue.

I hope the guy had gotten his 20 dollars worth of THC out of the joint before he, to my disgust, passed it to one of them. "You're sharing your twenty dollar joint?" I wanted to ask him, incredulously.

The skeezer was running his mouth, chatting up the guy, almost as if trying to divert him from the fact that he was steadily puffing away. The guy on the stoop said something like: "You guys can have the rest of that," and walked off.

Then, I looked at the group of five, as if to say: "Well, there's nothing keeping you here now; not the music that was so interesting 5 minutes ago that you just had to stop, nor the fascinating conversation that you were having in between puffs off the guy's joint."

They walked off, with one of them saying something nice to me. They smelled weed, and so they asked for some for free, big deal. "It never hurts to ask," unless the guy is the type who has a problem saying "no" and would wind up regretting having given away half of a twenty dollar bone.

I went on to add 37 bucks to it, playing until such a time that I felt the first wave of fatigue come over me, and pulled out my phone, expecting it to read the 12:23 AM, that I have seen countless times. It was 12:13 AM.

I felt like I had to play longer, and began to do so. Then I realized that, if I wasn't going to put in a lot of effort and try to get into my zone, then it would be better to knock off. I would have time to make it to the Rouses Market before they closed at 1 AM, and get a box of dry cat food for Harold the cat, a spare can of wet food; and, something for myself, to keep me alive so I can continue to feed Harold, of course.

When I stopped playing at 12:23 AM, Bourbon Street was just as populated as it had been when I had sat down to play an hour and a half earlier. It's always tough to walk away in that situation. But, I can remember times when NOLA was "rocking" just about around the clock, and I had to choose an 8 hour time slot to get required sleep, whether there was a parade about to kick off, or not.

Murphy's Law of Busking: As soon as you zip your guitar into its case, a well dressed group will come around the corner, with at least one of them singing a song that is in your repertoire.

So, I am in the same boat, here, Friday afternoon at 5:40 PM.
I could be nice and early at the Lilly Pad, and play for a good 4 hours. Well illuminated with good strings.

What I would like to do is dig up a "new" song, either from my forgotten repertoire, or something out of the Beatles Complete book in the key of the harmonica. "And now for something completely different," I can say to Angela the waitress from Lafitt's, should she sit on the stoop to smoke during her break. That would be nice.

The "excellent recording" that I had almost used as an excuse to keep me home, where I wouldn't make 57 bucks, I made upon returning to the apartment at 1:30 AM. Up until around sunup, I was, and I made sure that the mix down to stereo was done right, and then I disassembled it into individual parts, so I can build upon the almost flawless rendition of the rhythm guitar by replacing the first run through of the fake bass, which was the last thing I tacked on before going to sleep, with one that is the product of at least 3 or 4 runs through, with the goal being to find

The latest technique is to "mix and render" the separate drums onto one track, so that they become glued together, and I don't have to worry about the high hat falling out of time with the snare and/or bass drum or exotic percussion instrument from Burma.

This means that I then have to put reverb and/or delay on the whole drum kit, rather than giving each its own treatment (plate reverb on the snare, a longer delay on the crash cymbal, etc.) but this is a small price to pay for having drums that stay together in precise rhythm.

My CD (which should be out by 2020) Promises To Sound Good

The results have been quite promising.

I have also disciplined myself to play a rhythm guitar part exactly a certain way, and to not be improvising at all times. This is a right brain/left brain issue. By playing over a 6 minute drum pattern, and then doubling it on another track, and then tripling it on a third track, by the middle of the third time through, I had settled upon one particular way to play it; had rearranged the fingering to facilitate it, and had laid it down repetitively through the whole 6 minutes. No small feat for a mind that is constantly thinking "or, I could play it this way, or this way, or even this way; or maybe..."

I want my CD to actually be listened to, more than just once, by people. Clever, amusing and representative of how I sound on the street.
Lord, look at the time!

So many buskers who sit on a stool playing acoustic guitar and singing will have CD's for sale that "this is me in a band I used to play in..." and sound nothing like a guy sitting on a stool and singing with an acoustic guitar. In my case, the "backbone" will be guitar, vocals, harmonica, with other instruments added to, but not forming the basis of, it.

The important thing will be my ability to play any song on the disc live, and not be in the situation that The Beatles found themselves in, after they decided that they couldn't tour any more "Unless we bring a whole bloody orchestra with us," type of thing.

Now I just need to get into the abandoned rectory, go up to the third floor and sing like a sparrow.
"...I've got a sweeter song than the crows in the trees..."

Thursday, October 26, 2017

At A Loss

Looking at this picture that I snapped, just to capture the kratom plant behind me, it looks like a person is visible, behind the plant, an Asian looking woman with a triangular hat, of the type that Asians are seen wearing, especially in old photos from Asia.
Thursday Morning
This Thursday morning, I was awake at about the usual 1:30 PM that I wake at.
I was disappointed again, once I hit "play" on the recording that I had worked about 4 hours on, to discover that the drums were missing. It was just me playing guitar and, at times, singing. I will say, though, that it was in very strict meter, since I was playing along with what are now, phantom drums.
But, the lesson about listening to the final mix to make sure that it is OK, is one that will serve me well in the future.
I wanted to surprise myself in the morning to hear how the drums fit in. Boy, was I surprised.
And, I could default to saying that I learned another lesson about pot, and its ability to make one impervious to the fact that a drum track might be "muted" and is not being put into the final mix.
But, the lesson that I should listen back to the final mix to make sure that it sounds good, before deleting anything sounds like something that would be drilled into a sound engineer's head on day one of sound engineer school.
I can repeat the process tonight, but that would mean skipping a 4th consecutive night of busking.

And, I am just about broke, after having had 94 dollars in my hand 5 days ago.

But, I enjoyed time with Howard Westra, bought a 24 pack of the batteries that I use to light my playing spot up like a jewelry case (to illuminate my cubic zirconium music, ha ha) and have a pretty fresh set of very good guitar strings on the Takamine, courtesy of Bobby, my sometimes weed dealer, who has a guitar and is constantly trying to improve the thing; taking it in to have its action lowered, replacing the nut piece, which is made of a certain durable plastic on 99% of the guitars in existence, but is now made out of bone, on his.

That's right, a breakthrough has been made in the field of acoustic science with the discovery that bone -that's right, you know it and love it- bone, and not durable plastic, allows the strings to vibrate at their most natural, boniest way, bringing your tone into harmony with nature. Imagine what heights Jimi Hendrix could have soared to, had he been born 50 years later, after bone nut pieces had come into existence; the thought is staggering.

What all this has to do with me having a pretty fresh set of very good strings on my guitar is that, Bobby also takes home from the Guitar Center store, all of the latest and greatest guitar strings to hit the market, which utilize all of the latest technology in them. You're audience will hear the difference right away. You can just tell them: "Aw, shucks, I'm just trying to make a melody;" you don't have to let them in on your secret; that you are playing tungsten alloy, gold plated guitar strings!"
Bobby handed me a few sets of strings that had only been on his guitar long enough for him to have become perplexed over what the big deal about gold plating is all about, for instance, before being swapped out for another new fangled set of some kind that he was intrigued by.

I guess a third (or fourth, I've lost count) lesson that I learned last night is that, yes, there is indeed something to these more expensive strings. The Cleartone® set that I put on my guitar before recording, impressed me very much by their, well, their clear tone. Ultimately, this is great news, because now I can sound (even) better by using 12 dollar strings, instead of the 3 dollar ones I now get. But, now I am going to feel that I owe it to my audience to plunk down the cash on them.

I really should go out and play tonight. I would so much rather stay in and use the Cleartone strings to make another recording using a nontraditional set of percussion instruments. Lilly will become concerned if she doesn't see me for a 4th consecutive night. And I am always concerned about some skeezer posting up at my vacant spot and finding it to be a great skeezing spot, one that he want's to make his own and not relinquish to anyone who might come along.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Largest Mango To Date

  • The Largest Mango Of My Life
  • 3 Nights Taken Off

Well, anyway.

This Wednesday held the disappointment over having played back a recording I had made before going to sleep to discover that the drums were out of time towards the end of it. Of course, that was when I had gotten pretty warmed up and played some of the better stuff.

The problem is probably that it was a 40 minute recording.

When you are dealing with milliseconds, it just seems that, by the time you get to the 35 minute mark of a recording, some tiny glitch somewhere along the way has thrown one track a few milliseconds out of time with the other, just enough so that it, as in my case for example, it sounds like a horrible drummer is playing on the second track. A terrible drummer.

I'm suspecting that it has to do with the humongous size of the file required to store 40 minutes times 2 tracks of audio, there might be rounding off errors introduced.

Boy, am I learning a lot through trial and error.

By zooming in so that a half a second took up the whole screen, I was able to see that the drum was consistently landing a bit after the guitar was sounding on the first track. It stands to reason that if the guitar is playing "right along with" the snare drum, then the incidence of the two sounding simultaneously, should be pretty high. You're either smacking your snare drum right on the beat or you aren't. It will sound "right on," the way the drummer for the group AC/DC used to, if you are.

Granted, some of what accounts for musical "phrasing" involves musicians either laying a bit behind the beat or anticipating it, for effect, but, by finding a spot where the guitar wasn't doing this, and where the snare drum should have been basically reinforcing it by sounding at exactly the same time, I was able to use the time shifting tool to slide the snare forward in time so that it was, outside of a few anomalies sounding within a few milliseconds of the guitar.
Still, though, it's frustrating to know that, in the digital world, everything you do is going to be rounded to within some tiny fraction of what it actually was. The computer can't divide the beat into an infinite number of fragments, so that, if the snare sounds at 4 and .00022 seconds of the track, it might be rendered at .00020 seconds, due to the number of bits used, etc. One can rest assured that it won't be perfect. But, we're talking about the amount of time that it takes sound to travel an eighth of an inch.

I haven't made even an eighth of an inch of progress towards getting into the abandoned rectory, something that caused me more frustration as I listened back to the half whispered vocals done at 3 in the morning, when a broomstick is at the ready to be sounded on my ceiling should I exceed, say 70 decibels.
"Oilify" is a nice effect that comes pre-loaded in the GIMP editor. It oilifies any drawing, such as this one (right)

I have gotten to the point where I can play the guitar as loudly as possible without someone calling my house phone, and then hanging up after I answer. You almost have to get neighbors accustomed to such things, so that they begin to block it out, the way they might the hissing of high pressure water coursing through a heating and air unit, constantly.

I have to record just the guitar, and maybe a good snare, fake bass etc. for a few of the songs that are slated to go on my CD, so that they will be ready to be sung over in the rectory, whenever I get in there.

Finding an auger is going to require me getting an all day bus pass and going into the "Bywater" area of New Orleans, which is kind of a pawn shop district, having at least a couple of those that are in large buildings that have enough floor space that they come closer to having "everything" than smaller stores. One of them, one could get about 10 Cash Americas into.

An auger would not be a far fetched item to hope to find in that particular store. It would probably be on a table next to a butter churn in one of the back corners of the place.

It is still going to require me drilling the holes and then I'll have to obtain a hacksaw type blade, so that I can cut from hole to hole, opening a rectangular hole that will be just big enough so that I can fit through. Once inside, it will be easy to make it so I can come and go, perhaps just by replacing the rectangle of wood, duck taping it in place and then spray painting over the tape to match the rest of the door, and then just leaving the door unlocked. I can use just a couple screws to keep the piece of plywood over the outside of the door. Nobody should get the idea to test the door from the inside to see if it is locked, since they might reason: "Why would somebody unlock a door that they can't walk through because it is sealed with plywood on the outside?"

I got up at 1 PM, and put on some Prince music and listened for about 15 minutes and then switched to the recording I made the night before, and was happy to notice that I had about the same amount of effects applied to my own stuff that the artist who was formerly Prince had on his.

Harold the cat meowed when I was practicing and recording it, so I created a loop around the chord change and the meow, then used the "Paulstretch" effect to stretch the meow out to about 12 seconds, then I changed the pitch of some of the meows, then copied and pasted and moved things around, until I wound up with a choral piece for a dozen cats in G major. I'll work that into the CD somewhere.

It's Wednesday night, and I might not go out to busk, if I think I can accomplish something substantial at home...something better than a drawing of me eating a mango...
o, procrastination is the word of the day, I suppose.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Blessed Leisure

It was so nice to get back to the apartment after having watched the Patriots defeat the Falcons, 23-7 at Howard Westra's house.

Leisure time to sit and draw; and not feel like I'm shirking responsibilities...
Early Monday morning, it was, and myself with the resources (after the 88 dollar Saturday night) to take the rest of that day, as well as Tuesday, off to do anything other than busk.

Howard is pretty well, for a 67 year old Dutchman. He has recently gotten the results of a battery of medical tests performed on him at the Veterans Administration hospital. All of them "negative," he said.

He still experiences stiffness in his joints or muscles, making it hard for him to hoist his leg over his bicycle. He thinks this is due to hardening of the arteries.

He came up with a solution to the problem, which didn't require surgery; in the form of a "girls" bike, that he doesn't have to lift his leg over the seat to mount.

It wasn't as easy to arrive at that solution, as it might sound, given that he was raised by his Dutch father to be a man's man; and no sissy.

He told me once that the biggest division between he and his father was over the fact that he (Howard) was a conscientious objector who went to Canada instead of Vietnam, back in '67.
Or, if he didn't go there, he wrote an essay articulating his objection to the war and sent it to Lyndon Johnson, or something; I forgot what he told me exactly.
"Whatever, sissy." -L.B.J.
Considering the big picture, his dad had concluded that, no, it wasn't because Howard was a coward that he didn't go to fight. I guess the lad had demonstrated ample chutzpah throughout the rest of his life, to warrant that assessment.

It would have been a disgrace,
had lack of courage been his case,
but on moral grounds, he was able to save face.
Let's not, though, stir the pot, he might have thought,
by riding a girl's bike past him.
For that, the old guy might have thought he ought to surely lambaste him.

I'm reminded of the times when Howard and I were train hopping and we often had to walk great distances, often at a quick pace, in order to catch up to a train that may have stopped a distance away.

He never once complained or asked me to slow down; he just trudged along behind me, determined to keep up, even if he was short of breath and/or drooling a bit.

I think it was kind of mean of me and I felt bad, especially once I got to know him better, and realized that he probably would have dropped dead before crying uncle. It felt kind of like senior citizen abuse on my part.
But, I really did want to gauge whether or not the guy was going to hinder my progress; towards California or wherever; like, could he hoist himself up into an empty boxcar? What if the train was moving? etc.
But, he was a trooper, and 15 years my senior, to boot. His father didn't raise no sissy...

He hadn't gotten his pictures of Alaska back from Photomat as of Sunday, by the way...

11:48 PM, For Future Reference
I walked about a mile and a half to the bus stop where the 115 and 114 stop; both of them bound for Canal Street, on the other side of the bridge that it is illegal to walk across.

It was 11:48 PM when the 114 went right past me, but then pulled over about 100 yards up the road, to allow me to jog up to it and hop on.

I had been standing at the right spot; but wasn't jumping up and down and waving my arms over my head, I guess was the problem. It was also being driven by the same black driver who had left me stranded that one time who may have decided, after a hundred yards of thinking, to stop after recognizing me as such.

The Studio

I am psyched to record vocals somewhere that I can sing full volume. The apartment is just too musically claustrophobic.

At the Lilly Pad, I sing as loudly as I can, at times. There are usually enough extraneous noises in the area to make it seem like that is what is required in order to be heard from the other side of the street. In the "when life deals you lemons, make lemonade" category; when the trash truck stops in front of the bar, I use the opportunity to test out songs that I might have a notion to perform, but aren't sure I can hit the notes without my voice cracking. Amidst the din of the hydraulic hopper, I can try a few bars of "The House Of The Rising Sun" in order to determine whether or not I can sing it in The Animals vocal range, or if I had better Lou Reed my way through it.

The harmonica functions like a horn -an automotive horn- in the sense that it can attract attention. I can use it over a song that otherwise has vocals that don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of being audible from more than 50 feet away, such as "Something," by The Beatles, making it possible to do it and its ilk. If tourists think they recognize the song, and want to come closer to me to satisfy their curiosities, then I can jump to the lyrics. That might produce a "Oh, hell yeah; The Beatles!" out of them; along with a tip.
Better stick with me, Daniel...

Oh, Yeah, The Studio

I am ready to try to find an inexpensive auger.
5 bucks @ Pawnshop?
We used to use an auger to drill one inch diameter holes in the maple trees in the woods behind our house in Massachusetts, when the sap was running in spring.

I'm running the risk that the steel grate which covers the window of the door that I want to get through, extends the length of the door, to include the area that I want to squeeze my body through. I guess I can save the receipt from the purchase of the auger, then return it for a refund, should it not prove to be effective.

And, incidentally, I guess I'm running the risk of being arrested for breaking and entering, too.
I might put an ad on Craigs List in hopes of finding someone who has more "office space for rent" than he does renters, and who might have some bare room with no electricity that he wouldn't mind  me holding a key to, as long as I keep leaving a ten dollar bill, but no trash, behind.
That would be the responsible law abiding way to go...

And, what am I going to do with an auger the other 364 days of the year? Ain't no maple syrup trees down here. Maybe I can start making rubber.

The Drawing

Some time Monday night, I grabbed a couple of pencils and a sheet from the drawing tablet that Alex In California sent me a little more than a year ago (I have this nagging feeling that I forgot to thank him for it) and made the sketch shown above and below. I had just grabbed a dark one (that turned out to be purple) and a lighter one (that turned out to be green) and an even lighter (orange) one to use on the thing.

The top example, I ran through the GIMP editor's "desaturate" filter to render it in black and white, the way it would have come out had I just grabbed a black pencil.

Not necessarily would it have, though, because I would have been forced to use variable pressure on the thing for contrast, and would have had to find my sharpener, which I've misplaced, to put a fine tip on it, for detailing. Of course, fine detail should be the least of my concerns, I'm lucky if the thing  comes out resembling a human face...

I learned through the exercise, that lighter colors can be used in place of different degrees of pressure on the pencil. Rather than easing up on the lighter areas, I can just switch to the lighter colored pencils and draw with regular pressure.
Rose At Ten
I guess I could call the drawing: "Rose, At Ten" since the orange wound up coloring some of the hair, and since, I may have been subconsciously rendering Rose in pencil on paper. I consciously didn't put all my cash on my AMEX card, sensing that an opportunity to profit from the lending trade may present itself, if Rose and Ed's monthly pattern plays out. Usually on the 24th or 25th of each month she calls, wanting to borrow between 30 and 50 bucks, offering to pay me back double.

I have, on the more recent loans, reduced their interest rate to a less exorbitant 50%.