Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!!

55 Dollar Saturday
From Harrah's Casino.
If I were to leave here now and go out to busk, I would be making a wise business decision.
The Quarter is packed and it is New Year's Eve and it is actually warm enough (feels that way, anyway) to go out and play.
I had bought an ounce of kratom at The Herb Shop, right up the street from the Uxi Duxi, saving about 10% of the price I would pay at the latter, after I had gotten there at right around 4:30 PM, to find that the door was locked and the sign with the clock had been hung, with its hands in the very ambiguous position of the big one on the six, but the little one a tad short of being on the numeral 5.
This would have been a sloppy announcement of 4:30, as everybody who is familiar with this style of clock, which can be seen all over the world, knows that when the big hand is half way through the hour, the little hand should be half way between the 4 and the 5, and not almost on the 5.
I could see them in there. It was Dom, I believe, though I couldn't see which employee, if any was in there. Dom does some kind of work with yoga or meditation or some kind of exercise that would have people strewn on the floor like they were.
None of them glanced my way. I would see the clock sign and figure it out, right?
I walked up to the Herb Shop, which is about 300 yards up Canal Street from the Uxi Duxi, thinking that I would buy an ounce of kratom for $13.20 and would mix one shot out of it into the Creatine Monohydrate drink which was being my breakfast, I guess on this Saturday.
I would then bypass the Uxi Duxi and make a beeline for Starbucks, where I had gift card money available to me; and which stays open 2 hours longer into the night than the Uxi Duxi, and which is closer to the Lilly Pad, so I could bring my guitar with me and be ready to walk straight to the Lilly Pad when Starbucks closed at 10 PM.
Originally, I was going to get my ounce of kratom at the Uxi Dux, though I would wind up paying $16.24 instead of $13.20 and getting exactly an ounce, rather than the 30 grams that I would get at the Herb Shop.
While I was getting it, I might tell them that I was going to try changing blogging venues, to see if it puts a new and different spin upon my writing. Since I have maybe 75 (Star) bucks on my gift card, I could do a shot of kratom out of my ounce rather than get a shot at a time and then sit there writing afterwards at the Uxi Duxi.
Their closing time does kind of jive with a busking schedule whereby, I could be set up and playing each night by 9:30 if I were to leave there and make a beeline for the Lilly Pad.

55 Dollar Saturday.

Saturday evening, I had arrived in the Quarter at about 10:07 PM, or about 7 minutes after Starbucks had closed. I had planned upon grabbing a coffee and then heading for the Lilly Pad.

This, after handing off the cheap piece of crap guitar which is David The Water Jug Player's,The Hippie Gypsy boutique, in front of which David skeezes, or does a combination of music and skeezing; being fluent on the water jug struck with a drumstick, and knowing a few songs on the cheap guitar.
and which I had been storing at my place, to him. It's one that some "rich" tourist had given to him; had actually mailed it in care of
David was coming down with the flu, he was telling me.
I got to the Lilly Pad at around 10:45 to find that Ghost was sitting there, playing "Take It Easy," by the Eagles on his guitar. I should perhaps put his name inside quotation marks, as it is almost certainly not the name his parents gave him; his Jamaican or Haitian parents.

Ghost is probably about 28 years old. He used to pal around with "Rascal," who is the young lady who plays the banjo and sings and has a dog and whom Lilly has allowed, along with Ghost, to play upon her stoop with the understanding that if I show up, they have to vacate it for me.

Ghost always does this very graciously, with no traces of envy over what might be seen as preferential treatment given to me by Lilly. I was there first (2011) after all.

"I'm glad it was you," I told Ghost, as he was packing up. He had been there a while and had made pretty good money, he said. "Who else would be here?" he then asked.

I told him about the few times I had gotten there to find some musician who was newly arrived in the city and had just randomly come upon the spot and decided to set up.

These usually respect the fact that I have been at the Lilly Pad for going on 5 years, and leave. They don't see any one spot as being any different from any other, but had made a wise choice in parking themselves 100 feet from a bar, at least. They are usually sitting there in the dark, though; and are making money at a reduced rate just because of that fact -another reason they are usually ready to vacate without putting up resistance.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

First 17 Dollars In A Week

I woke up around the 1:30 PM time that has been an automatic waking time for me; something that I have attributed to the fact that that is when the sun is at high noon here, an hour and a half after it has crossed the Central Standard Time line, over by Pensacola, Florida.

Having slept outdoors for years might have set my internal clock to the physical position of the sun, rather than the hands of a clock.

I had fallen asleep with NPR on my radio, and woke up as "Big Freedia," a local artist, was being interviewed about the roots of "bounce" music, which he was one of the pioneers of.

It kept me from drifting off to sleep, just barely, as I listened, hoping that I might gain a respect for bounce music, or an understanding of it; or that Big Freedia would somehow redeem it for me.

It sort of worked out that way, especially after he started naming the beats that were played as examples: "That one's the black clap, this next one's the pied piper, that's the chill out shout, etc." which created a bit of order for me out of what I had always thought was the chaos of "bounce" music. At least that much "thought" goes into bounce music, I guess.

Then a show about Lincoln Beachey kept me awake for another hour.

He was one of the first stunt pilots ever, who flew in the early 20th century; and most likely the first pilot to ever nose-dive a plane into the San Francisco Bay and then drown in it.

Then, it was time to come to my senses, make coffee and start my day at 3 PM.

I possessed coffee, thanks to having made about 17 bucks in an hour of busking that seemed more like 2 and a half, last night in a temperature that started out at 52, and had probably dropped to about 46, at the time I knocked off at 12:36 AM.

I had walked home, to save the $1.25 trolley fare, weighed down by my laptop, upon which I had posted yesterday's post, along with the Herb Alpert song at Starbucks; the can of ground coffee, a box of Raisin Bran and 2 cans of food for Harold the cat. A small bottle of orange juice was the first food that I had had that day, but it gave me enough energy to make the 30 minute walk home.
7 of the 17 bucks that I had made, gone already, I thought.

My new method of recording music will allow me to improve upon the Alpert song "incrementally."

The next step will be to sing the correct lyrics to it. Then I will have the same guitar (that I only have to fix one glitch in) the right lyrics and the same drum beat.

I no longer rush to blend everything together and make it "complete" in one sitting. I still have the components compartmentalized and could theoretically spend an evening just re-singing the lead vocal line, for example.

What would often happen in the past would be, I would add things to "fill out" the sound, like applying spackling compound until I ruined them. Then, they would never see the light of day.
It stands to reason that, if it takes me 3 hours to get a decently recorded rhythm guitar down, then it should take me at least that long to add rhythm guitar #2 to it, following the same procedure.

Tonight (Saturday) is forecast to be my last chance to play in temperatures above 50 degrees for the next week.

So, my work is cut out for me. I'll use my last $1.25 to take the trolley to town; then use my Starbucks card to grab a coffee on my way to the Lilly Pad. If the situation presents itself, I might buy someone their coffee off the card in exchange for the 2 or 3 bucks in cash, as a safety net against having to walk home if I don't make anything.
Hopefully, Bobby will give me a little bud of weed on my way out. So, I have that going for me.
And...I will be less than 5 days away from getting my next allotment of food stamp money. So many positives to consider...

Even though the weed distorts my sense of time (see "it felt like 2 and a half" above) so that after 2 and a half hours of playing, I feel like I've been out there all night, and am ready to call it quits. It sort of makes it more fun for me and I harbor no disillusion that it is making me play any better. In fact it makes me forget some of the chords that I am having so much fun not playing. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Reaching For The Switch

It is Friday evening. It is just turning dark outside. The temperature is listed at 50 degrees.

I have butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of seeing someone already busking at my spot "You haven't been here in forever; I thought the spot was open..."

And full of sorrow after having heard just now, as I sit here in Starbucks, from Colin Mitchell, another busker that the day after Christmas (when it had been 45 degrees and raining lightly) he had made 200 dollars. "I was getting 10's and 20's left and right," he said.

That had occurred to me, when I was looking out my apartment window at the loaded trolley cars passing; that there were people in the Quarter, and it was miserable weather and the day after Christmas; a magical combination, as it turned out.

I had still been soured by past experiences that had had me wondering where the Christmas Spirit was.

I really need to make up my mind to either pursue busking with more of a professional attitude; or to try to get a job somewhere, and only go out to busk when I am really in the mood to play.

The "professional attitude" would have had me out there the day after Christmas getting some of those 10's and 20's, instead of walking down Canal Street thinking about the best way to conceal pork steaks...

Is this the beginning of the Starbucks Era of blog writing?

I don't know, but what better an excuse to prolong my avoidance of going out to busk than to ruminate upon that subject.

I'm sitting here next to Colin Mitchell, whom I used to see frequently here, before my last gift card ran out.

We were just talking about how focused and intense Tanya Huang is when she is "on the job," and her ability to block out distractions and grind out the music until the 5 o' clock whistle blows and she can slide down the neck of her brontosaurus, grab her empty lunch pail, hop in her car and jet off, powered by her bare feet; with a shout of "Yabba Dabba Doo!!!"

I might be confusing characters here; did Fred Flintstone play the violin?!?

But, the ability to turn on the professional busker in one, like flipping a switch; and to play as long as one has committed to, regardless of circumstances (a 100 dollar tip gotten within the first 10 minutes of playing, does not mean "half day," it means play another 7 hours and, who knows, you might get one more, 10 minutes before knocking off which might only bring your total to $250 for the day) is an important character trait in a busker.

As far as totally flipping the switch to the "off" position once busking is over; well; I have that down to a fault, I guess.

Many is the time, when already on the way to the Lilly Pad, I have wished I had some new song to feature, why couldn't I have taken 12 minutes to learn "Wild Horses," by The Rolling Stones in between rolling joints and staring out the window looking for signs and wonders telling me to take the night off. ...see how empty that trolley was that just went by? Forget it; I could get a Herp Alpert song half ass recorded instead...

It took me maybe 4 listens through "This Guy's In Love With You," in order to tweak the chords that I didn't have quite right. This led me to discover that the song uses garden variety "jazz" chords that can be applied to many other songs.

These were chords like the "dominant 7 flat 5" chord that, when you're learning it, it sounds dissonant by itself. "How am I gonna use these?," I asked my teacher.

"Usually when there is a passing note between one chord and another, it becomes the flat 5 on its way to the next chord, where it becomes the root. You'll see," he had added.

Yeah, I'll see in about 30 years when I'm working on "This Guy's In Love With You..."

There was almost a formula used by songwriters who wanted to write "beautiful" melodies "back then." Every song will mix both major and minor chords, effecting a key change which isn't too drastic, since the root of a C major and a C minor is the same C, for example; and the key change will usually be accomplished by using a chord that is common to both keys as a springboard, or point of departure.

Or, "device" might be a better word.

I can understand how Dorise Blackman, when asked about the chords to almost any song, will preface her explanation with: "It's just..." and then will go on to explain that "it's just" an old Motown cliche that appeared in about 35 different songs, perhaps.

And, hence, I can understand how Dorise Blackman can play about 135 Motown songs. "This is 'How Sweet It Is,' by Marvin Gaye; move your little finger down one fret, and slow it down some, and it's "Where You Lead," by Carol King...pretty simple stuff..."

Colin Mitchell, Day-After-Christmas-Meister

There is kind of a Lego block approach to that kind of songwriting, where you can look at the finished product and think: "OK, that's a big rectangular block with a square one stuck to the top of it with a couple rows of holes hanging over the edge, and then a kind of turret stuck to the top of that. This other song just has the turret on the other side; I can see that..."

I could reuse pieces of the Herb Alpert song and be jamming on "She's A Lady," by Tom Jones in no time, with just a few modifications, for example.

Tom had "professional songwriters" stoking the star-maker machinery, after all; and they were good with their Legos. "It's just a II-V-I progression, and then it goes to the minor in the chorus, that's all..." Right, Dorise?
I wouldn't be surprised if Tanya Huang didn't religiously set aside a certain period during her non-busking days to learn new material; with the intensity of a law student cramming for the bar exam; to flip the switch back on for maybe 3 hours every Monday morning, or something...

But, I flip the switch off so completely that I will often only remember that I had broken a string on the guitar the night before that needs to be replaced as the trolley is rumbling down the tracks and I am on my way out the door. Seems like I could have taken care of this right before learning "Wild Horses," and 10 other songs, this morning...

Self Intervention

So, self intervention is required of me.

Such a major change is often precipitated by some kind of disaster, with the going getting tough, then, the tough getting going.

Surely, if I were sitting in jail for the next 45 days for stealing pork, or something, then, within a couple weeks, I would be ready to "give anything just to be out there, and to have my guitar and be able to work, and take nothing for granted..."

The challenge is to adopt this mindset, despite things not being that bad; yet.

I wound up getting just enough in the way of Christmas gifts and money, to have gotten me through a couple nights on my back with the flu, and to Howard's house for the holiday.

But, I suppose, I could have gone out, even after having gotten the 20 dollars from the Lidgleys that was in the calendar, and made some good money, which I could then have placed on top of the 20 dollars when I got home.

The recording of Herb Alpert songs can be squeezed into a busy schedule like that just fine; in fact, I did the thing at 3 in the morning, as it didn't involve screaming vocals. I could just wait until after sunup when the rest of the tenants have stirred, to tackle singing: "Love Hurts," by Nazareth

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I Couldn't Bring Myself To Steal Pork

I left the Uxi Duxi, on a cold Wednesday night, and began to walk through the 43 degree air that was too cold to go out and make my living in, towards Rouses Market and then home.
At least I don't steal pork, I thought upon waking up and
being greeted by this sight in my mirror...

This assessment of the weather was, of course, a "cop-out," to use a term that was popular about 4 decades ago, as I could have bundled up, drug myself to the Lilly Pad, and then just sat there with the guitar in my lap, blowing on my hands intermittently, and would have probably garnered anywhere between 5 dollars and "a living" in tips doing so.

I knew that I would be warmed up some by the time I got to Rouses Market, and the same walk would allow me time to contemplate on whether or not to try to steal a pork steak from them.

I would have about $2.06 to spend on food for myself, after having bought the 2 cans of cat food that Harold requires, especially on cold days, when he is outside burning calories to stay warm.

This would explain the voracious appetite that he had had a couple days ago, when I got mad at him, thinking that he was being a glutton, or meowing just out of boredom for more food, or worse, that I had conditioned him to think that endless meowing would fetch him endless food, and he was testing that theory.

I was wearing my heavy winter jacket, with the huge pockets on the sides that made me wonder if, at the jacket making factory they had nicknamed them, and would say things like: "Make sure you double stitch all the way around the shoplifting pockets before you send them down the line!" to their employees.

Under my heavy jacket was my lighter jacket. This one was tighter and hugged my waist somewhat. A pork steak would probably slide down my midriff and become wedged above the waistband of that, concealed by the outer jacket with the big pockets.

Under that, though, was my hoodie type sweatshirt, which had a big kangaroo type pocket in the front. As I walked, I realized that, just as I could get both of my hands in that pocket by lifting up the 2 outer jackets, I could get a pork steak in there. I could pass my right hand all the way through the pocket, so it was coming out the other side, where it could be waiting to grab a pork steak, passed to it by the left hand, and to pull it quickly into the pocket. That would be how David Copperfield would shoplift pork, should he ever be down to $2.06 and have developed a taste for it, the way tigers sometimes do for human flesh, over the Christmas holiday, I thought.

It was weird, walking into Rouses Market, contemplating stealing pork.

The security cop who greets people at the entrance, and who had, perhaps 2 years ago, "followed me around," a few times before eventually, probably with the corroboration of other security types, deemed me to be a non-thief. "He stands there forever, comparing prices of things, and will turn everything in the meat case over, as if trying to uncover hidden bargains, but we've never seen him steal anything. We even had our guy tail him for a half mile after he left the store once, just to see if he would pull anything out from under his coat once he was out of sight of the store, but, he's OK..." smiled at me and greeted me, like he normally does.

"Hi, I'm here to steal pork..."

This started me thinking that it was this opinion of myself, which I had in a way worked on fostering ever since I started going to that store, that was worth more than any pork steak that I might have took.

I decided that I was going to scour the store for something that was marked down to what I could afford, and to not steal a pork steak.
The town where Alyne Lidgley grew up, with its tree
One consideration was the fact that, being such a cheap meat, the smallest package of pork steak, which was priced at just under 3 dollars, held a pound and a half of the stuff. It would barely fit in my kangaroo pocket. Even if I had practiced the Copperfield trick at home a few times, it would have been hard for me to make it disappear; it was like half the size of my head.

"How 'ya doin?" asked one of the meat manager types, who was talking to another one as they stood not far from the pork section.

It crossed my mind that the one might have been some kind of big boss, making the rounds of one of the stores in his territory, and the other, more butcher-looking one had smiled and greeted me for show, so that the big boss could see that he was "always" friendly and helpful, regardless of whether the customers had backpacks and guitars, or not.

Still, it was unusual to have been addressed so, and another thought crossed my mind, which was: They know. They can read me like a book. I'm exhibiting all the behaviors of a pork taker.
I flinched a bit, and there was a barely perceptible delay before I had returned the smile and exchanged whatever small talk about the weather that I might have.

I don't have it in me, I thought.

I began to consider buying the pork instead of the cat food, and then trying to feed both Harold and I off of it. But that would be a pain in the ass. We would be in competition.

I wound up getting two cans of cat food and a half pound of "Italian Mix" cheese.

I figured that the cheese would go with just about anything that I might find in my cabinets, which I hadn't checked thoroughly. Pasta, beans, rice -even oatmeal- could be paired with cheese, I thought. I could make some kind of dough out of the flour that I still had left, using the last egg in the process, and then, using tomato sauce, make little pizzas in my oven.

I felt better, leaving the store with 2 cans of food for Harold and a half pound of cheese. I had 6 cents left over. I would call Bobby and ask him if he had any tomato sauce or paste, when I got back.

Then, about halfway home, there was a bottle of red wine that had been emptied of a couple glasses, re-corked and then left standing right by the parking lot of a restaurant.

Of course it was an expensive wine, and it was free.

I was then even more glad that I hadn't stolen a pork steak, because I then would have seen all kinds of hidden meaning in the half bottle of wine just standing there.

It would have been Satan saying: "Nice job. See, that wasn't so hard. Have some wine! On me!"

Or, it would have given me enough pause to wonder if that was the case to have thrown me into the type of spiritual turmoil that I haven't labored under since I used to drop acid and Satan, I would have hallucinated in person, standing by the wine bottle (he would have appeared in the knot-work of the oak tree that it was in front of, perhaps).

I picked up the bottle, uncorked it, sniffed it to determine that it was indeed a fine red wine that I was leaving there for the next skeezer, and then put the cork back in and returned it to in front of the oak tree. Red wine isn't that good cold, and it was 43 degrees out, I further rationalized.

"I Think It's A Record Album."

Then, upon my arrival back at Sacred Heart Apartments, I was told by the security lady that I had received a package.

She then produced a package, upon which I noticed the queen of England affixed to the "Royal Mail" stamp; something that has come to signify The Lidgleys of London, to me.

"I think it's a record album," offered the security lady. "With you being a musician and all, I think it must be a record album."

"No, I think it's a calendar," I said, giving the thing a little bend to at least rule out a record album.
"Nobody has turntables anymore. To give someone a record album, you would almost have to send them a record player along with it," I said.

I opened it in front of the security lady, seeing as I did that it had printed on it, in the hand of Alyne Lidgeley, something to the effect of: "New calendar; regular parcel on the way..."

This was undoubtedly written in case the much lighter calendar arrived ahead of the parcel with the guitar strings, chocolate and clothing.

Would I really have been disappointed, and had the audacity to complain, should I have gotten the calendar first and wondered if that was all I was to get from the Lidgleys this Christmas?

It would have served me right, for having become spoiled, if that were the case, I thought.

Though it would have perpetuated the overall letdown of the season, after not having gotten the bike that Howard had half promised, nor the electric guitar and amplifier that Bobby had half promised; and then not having been asked to play the guitar that I had toted over the river and through the woods to Howard house. And then to be unemployed due to the weather and the flu...

The calendar had a 20 dollar bill taped onto the month of October, when my birthday falls; something I may not have noticed for another 10 months had Alyne not written some commentary under the picture for the month of January, which caused me to flip through, looking for more such things.

A Good Night To Stay In
"Did you make a cartoon of me?

I had 20 dollars and 6 cents, a half pound of cheese, and I wasn't a thief, on a 43 degree night that was a good one to stay in and get something done, like a cartoon of Howard Westra, which I might be able to work into an eventual cartoon series, if I ever compose one.

How To Draw A Face (Quickly)

Youtube videos on "how to draw" everything from a face to cats, have been eyeopening to me. It doesn't surprise me that people who have put as much into pencil or charcoal drawing as I have into music over the past 45 years can outdo (to use an understatement) the drawings that I've been making.

However, one difference between those experts and I is that they will typically use more than one pencil for the whole drawing: "For this one, I'm gonna use a number 6, a number 7 and a number 9 pencil..." type of thing. And I have a renewed interest in the use of a "blender," which, for me has been a Q-tip.

I Am Rude

This morning, at about 8 AM, Harold was meowing continuously. I knew that it was 45 degrees and raining outside. He didn't.

Eventually, when the tone of his meowing told me that it was more serious than him just wanting to go out for a walk (I had covered up his litter box when moving things around and he hadn't been able to even fit his butt over it). I got up, and went to let him out; without having thrown on either a hat, or shoes (see top photo).

His continuous meowing soon became blended with the moans coming from the stairwell, of a woman or a man, who was trying to get a shopping cart loaded with food up the flight of about 5 stairs.

It was one of the trans-sexuals who lives in our building. It looks and sounds, like a woman. Except...
Harold refused to enter the stairwell. The transvestite, transgender, transsexual, man with tits, or whatever that thing is, had amped up her volume, as she struggled with the 100 pound thing.

It could have entered through another door which has ramps that lead to the elevators, no stairs involved, but here it was, frightening the hell out of Harold.

Hasn't it been living here long enough to know about the elevators? Or, is it the racket of this person to act helpless, in order to get other people to do things for it? I suspected the latter.

"Are you gonna help me?!?" it asked me in a tone of voice that implied that it was my job to do so.
I started to say: "What if I didn't just happen to come out this minute, then where would you be?"
I'm pretty sure that it hadn't been moaning and groaning until it saw or heard me coming.

And, I am chivalrous to automatically come to the aid of any lady that I might come across who is in such a situation. But, not any "lady."

Something in the way her cries for help mingled with Harold's pleas to be let out caused me to feel overwhelmed, and see them as being related. I wanted to put both of them outside, so they could do their business in the bushes.

I went back into the hallway and scooped Harold up, so I could carry him past the thing that he was afraid to walk by.

After I had put Harold down just as another clank from the metal of the shopping cart gave him a start and he had taken off, I assisted the thing by grabbing one side of the cart and helping pull it to the top landing.

Maybe one of the reasons the guy changed his sex to female is the way gentlemen will hold doors for and help ladies out in general. That might have accounted for the tone of voice, when it had said: "You're not gonna help me?!?" What kind of gentleman am I?

One who came out barefooted, with his hair looking like in the top photo...

I hurried back towards my apartment and heard only: "Your cat..." and the door slamming behind me.
I then lay there, having more trouble going back to sleep, feeling like I had been rude, and had taken my irritation at Harold out on the thing. I felt kind of bad. Now I will have to apologize.

Had I been more of a gentleman, who knows, she may have given me some food out of the cart which had been filled at one of the food banks that I have lost track of. Or told me something like: "Yeah, if you get over there before noon, you can get a big box full of food yourself..."

After I had gotten such a nice gift from the Lidgleys the night before, too...

Maybe I can ask the security lady if she knows what apartment the guy with tits lives in, and then can slide a note of apology under the door of it.

Now, I go back to yesterday's post to read the comment that I noticed was there. I wanted to write the conclusion to the pork steak episode before reading any comments on yesterday's post, for some reason.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Land Of Stuff Sitting There

  • The Day Following The Day After Christmas
  • 5th Consecutive Nights Off Due To Weather Imminent
  • Swine Swiping Sortie

It is actually cold enough here in New Orleans to preclude any busking.

I might go to the Quarter with my guitar on my back to basically walk around looking for free stuff laying around. The guitar, I would bring in case I ran into the guy who offers 10 or 20 dollars to hear "some Dylan," or something. I could certainly knock out a quick song before my fingers started to become numb.

And, I am almost out of food and have very little money. It will be 8 days and a few hours before my food stamp money comes. I guess I could take one of those days to visit the food stamp office for the second time to remind them that I don't make so much money that I can't use the 60 bucks or so every month that they cut out of my food money after I was mistaken to have told them that I did.

And I have to get cat food. And toilet paper.

I got to the Uxi Duxi right at 4 PM, and just as Dom, the guy who is working today, was going out on his one hour lunch break.

Dom is yet another gay person who works at the Uxi Duxi. The money can't be that bad; as I have seen what looked like at least 40 bucks in the tip jar that sits by the register on several occasions; and anybody using plastic is asked if they would like to add a tip, so the jar doesn't even show all the tips.

So, 40 bucks on top of the, say 64, bucks that they would make as their wage for 8 hours, plus whatever tip amounts people give off their plastic cards, and that would be not bad money.

Of course, Dom might spend a lot of the money on stuff like a robe for his boyfriend, whom he lives with. His boyfriend is probably gainfully employed working for another gay boss somewhere.

Of course they probably wouldn't be caught dead not living in some trendy, kind of upscale apartment, furnished with expensive things like 90 gallon aquariums replete with $120 little fish; and an expensive 4 post bed, etc. because they like to watch the little fishies swim around before having gay sex.

But, Dom is  just about due to return from his lunch break, and I will be able to bring this laptop inside where hopefully my fingers will thaw out a bit and I can finish this.

But, yeah, the Uxi Duxi didn't hire me; and all of the people they have hired are gay. I'm just stating that as a matter of fact...

I suppose being broke and out of work tonight, and sitting out in the cold while pretty boy runs his laundry errand or whatever, before returning to his well paying job that he holds only because he holds another mans balls, and knowing that he is probably going to return late, just because he knows that I am waiting to get back inside where it is warm; to punish me because I'm not gay, is what is bugging me right now...

Ok, I'm back inside the place now...

This kind of sucks; as I realize that I have not really planned ahead for a day like this. It would have been bad enough if the weather were nice.

The double whammy would be that, the increase in my discomfort that the lower temperature would produce would come with a proportional decrease in my earnings.

45 feels like 43

But, looking at it scientifically, it is 45 degrees outside now, right at the cutoff temperature for busking. After an hour spent typing on this laptop outside, I was just beginning to struggle with fine control over my fingers. So...

What Matters

Well, the good thing is that I'm playing well lately, and can have one of the new sets of strings that the Lidgleys sent on my guitar and it tuned up in about 15 minutes.

Howard gave me a circular from Sweetwater Music on Christmas. He had bought something through that company, probably something to amplify his TV, because he is pretty deaf, and the circular had arrived along with it. He had set it aside, thinking of me.

A Man's Studio Is His Castle

The theme of this particular month's circular, aside from gifts, gifts, gifts, was the recording of acoustic guitars!

There were a few interviews of recording engineers, who all discussed their techniques for recording acoustic guitars. Of course it seemed geared towards pushing certain Sweetwater Music products, such as the absolute best microphones for the job, and one particular compressor that is designed especially for recording acoustic guitars, but there was enough between the lines to have gotten me excited about recording my guitar. Such things as aiming the microphone at the 12th fret of the fingerboard, at a 45 degree angle to it from a foot away; is something that I just had to try for myself. I look forward to listening back to the 7 minute recording I made of myself playing Foxy Lady, by Jimi Hendrix on the Takamine, using that particular microphone positioning, just before coming here to the Uxi Duxi.

I really have to be patient and to consider the mistake free recording of one acoustic guitar part to be a successful outcome of spending an hour or so in the studio. A song doesn't have to be completely polished off in one evening, with drums, bass, backing vocals, harmonica and special effects all there.
That is where I have run into problems in the past and have had to dump more than one song and then start from scratch again. The recording of the acoustic guitar is scratch.

There is a certain immediacy that comes with playing and singing and doing the harmonica all in one go. This, I used to prioritize at the expense of sound quality, for it is better to capture an average recording of an inspired performance than to have excellent sound quality which only allows you to hear that the song isn't that good.

It reminds me of how Peter Frampton recorded one of his albums, one of the ones before his now classic live album, in a certain castle, because he wanted to capture the acoustics that 5 foot thick stone walls lend themselves towards producing.

That album sounded pretty good, I recall, but didn't succeed nearly as well as the ensuing live album, recorded in the acoustic hell of an arena.*

*I read another interview in Guitar Player where Peter said that the 25 foot high wall of Marshall speaker cabinets on the stage facing the audience were all fake, and that the sound everyone was really hearing came from a little hand-held studio amplifier backstage with a microphone propped in front of it, and another mic placed about 12 feet behind that one; to give it a few milliseconds of delay.

So, the compromise is that, I will still be able to capture my sound when I feel inspired to play, and by using a few microphone placing tricks can get a serviceable guitar sound that doesn't have to have been done in a sterile environment, on a quiet Sunday morning, with the beats having been measured out and set to a metronome that would have to be followed; further restricting the free flow of unbridled passion.

You Swine!

I'm seriously thinking about shoplifting some piece of meat or something out of the market. I think if I got caught with the cheapest kind of meat under my jacket, like a pork steak that is only priced at a few dollars, and wasn't trying to get a tenderloin steak,  then they might not make a big deal of it, if I were to get caught.

But, the fact that I have been going there the past couple years and have never stolen anything, probably means that they have given up on watching me every second that I'm in there.
That also means that I would have built up a trust that I would be betraying...

Funny how 2 days after Christmas I'm having this particular thought.

Now that I think of it; it is only pork that I am contemplating stealing. For every other food, I can wait until we have a warmer day and I can make some money to buy. I have the urge to steal pork...
I have to go there for cat food anyways.

At Howard's house on Christmas day, one of the centerpieces of the feast was indeed a huge ham. It had been cooked very well, and I had eaten more of it than anything else.

And then, I had unwittingly gotten probably a half shot of booze through the spiked fruit salad and the spiked chocolate cake and; who knows how much alcohol was in that ham?

So, maybe the devil indeed get into me, through a combination of the above.

I think if I spend my whole 2 dollars and change on food for Harold, then it will form a spiritual shield around me, as Harold is the incarnation of Krishna, come to live with me. Then it would be unlikely that I would be stopped once outside the store and interrogated about the pork steak under my jacket.

I'll probably change my mind by the time I make it to the store. Who knows, maybe there will be a pork steak sitting atop one of the trash cans, as if some Muslim bought it and then, racked with guilt, left it there. This is New Orleans, land of stuff sitting there.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Have Yourself...

A half assed little Christmas;
May you stave off depression
The whole Christmas season had whirred by like a movie edited by some director who likes to juxtaposition things out of chronology, and who uses symbolism the meaning of which is left to the imagination of the viewer, etc...
Having had the flu and stayed in on Friday night had put me in a financial bind. I had revised any plans such as the one to get Howard an ounce of kratom for Christmas, along with some literature about mitagyna specioso leaf.
The next day, after having woken up and taken a hot shower, since the clothes that I had slept in were clammy with my sweat, redolent with the a sweet smell that made me wonder if I was supposed to take them out into the parking lot and burn them, along with my bedding; I had gone to the Uxi Duxi.
It was pretty early in the day.
As it wore on, I began to feel the flu-like symptoms coming back.

After I had finally folded up my laptop and was walking back to the apartment with evening falling, I really didn't want to go out and busk. It would have taken the greatest effort to push myself out there just to try to make some money than had been required of myself in a long time.
There was the feeling that I could "catch pneumonia," by going out and playing under such conditions.
My winter jacket wasn't keeping me warm; and I felt frail when I walked into the lobby at Sacred Heart Apartments and spotted the now familiar tan box which was a parcel from the Lidgleys of London.
It had taken me by surprise.
I almost assuredly didn't have to go out and play while sick, I thought, thinking of some of the items that they typically put in the parcels, which have been an annual gift from them at Christmas time, since our having met in Saint Augustine, Florida.
I took the parcel back to the apartment, and put it on my coffee table. Then, I went into the kitchen and started to make some coffee. ...Wait a minute, maybe they had put some coffee in the package; it would assuredly be better than the dollar store instant I was heating up....
I decided to make the instant coffee because I actually wanted to drink some before tearing the wrapping off the package.
There was a Starbucks gift card in it, so I was close.
There was a nice pair of jeans in my size, along with a couple of nice cotton shirts which were in the same colors that I use when I make cartoons of the Lilly Pad; the purple-green shades in subdued hues.
Having clothes that fit is a status symbol which at least makes you look like you didn't go to the "clothing basket for the homeless" type place and take whatever was available from them, which odds are, wouldn't exactly fit you.
The Starbucks card will give me a chance to change venues, as far as my wireless activities are concerned. This blog might be written, over the next few weeks, by myself, as I sit in the Starbucks on Canal and St. Charles sipping "red eyes" and being subconsciously influenced by that particular atmosphere; rather than sitting at the Uxi Duxi, which has been my go to blogging spot since probably around June, or whenever the last gift card that the Lidgleys had given me had run out.
The computer room at Sacred Heart Apartments is the last resort for blogging, as there is a palpable negativity around there that is enough to be a distraction.
The box had a about a half pound of a very good chocolate, a couple packs of Benson and Hedges cigarettes and three packs of Martin guitar strings.
I stayed in that night, falling asleep at some point right where I sat.
Sunday morning, which was Christmas eve, I woke up to find that the radio that I had left on NPR the night before was now reverberating with the sounds of a Catholic mass being broadcast from somewhere in England.
I very British sounding boy was telling the story of Adam and Eve having hidden from God, out of shame over their being naked, and Adam having blamed Eve, who had turned around and blamed a snake, and the snake having been cursed at that moment.
It is such a symbolic story; or not, depending upon who you talk to.
I used to be a ravenously spiritually hungry person, desperately searching for truth and purpose, especially when I was dropping acid in my mid 20's.
The choir in that church that sang in between stories of snakes and of angels appearing and speaking, was undoubtedly comprised of world class, most likely professional singers.
There was such a beauty to the music that I shed a tear, mostly wishing that everyone in the world could just believe; go to church and sing like that; and to abandon their hatred, keeping their minds staid upon God.
I called my mom and wound up leaving a message on her phone, with the sounds of the mass in the background.
Over The River And Through The Woods
Christmas morning, I was up around 9 AM, and prepared to go to Howard's house.
I had decided I would bring my guitar, even though it would mean carrying it for about a mile through temperatures just a bit above freezing.
It was just a weird occasion.
It was hard not to see the actions of a lot of people I encountered as being just that one extra degree of reprehensible, given that it was Christmas. The people rushing towards the door of the bus after it stopped, bumping and elbowing in competition for the limited seating, like they always did, were now doing it on Christmas morning.
I got to Howards house and walked in on a Christmas morning scene already in full swing. Berta ushered me in as the 5 little lapdogs that they have barked frenetically.
This might have been the time that, noticing the guitar on my back, she might have said: "Oh, are you going to play us some Christmas musc?" whereupon I could have taken it out and done a few minutes of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," or something, on guitar and harmonica. This might have been a good icebreaker, I thought. As it happened, though, I could have just left the thing at home. It turned out to be a very food focused event, with almost all of the conversation being about it.
I presented Howard with the 2 grapefruits from out of the huge pockets of my winter jacket that I had produced as my gift to him.
There was food just about anywhere I looked. It was hard to distinguish between food that had been laid out as part of the holiday spread, and what had already been there on the counters and shelves.
Another couple showed up before Berta was able to tell me anything like: "There's the plates and plastic forks, help yourself," so I didn't want to just grab a plate and start loading it up, unbidden, so there was that kind of awkward period when I was kind of standing around, waiting for the newly arrived couple to have been offered food, when I dug in along with them.
Howard had gone back to his room.
Once I got back there, he gave me the news that the bike that they had mentioned getting me for Christmas had not materialized. Berta had had some kind of financial setback.
He said that he had expected me the previous week when the Patriots had played the Steelers.
I felt bad once again for not having called after I had decided not to make the trip there. I blamed it on the flu, even though I think that was still a day or two before I had come down with it.
It was over-all a pretty depressing occasion.
There really wasn't much to do outside of eating and eating.
"Here, try the fruit salad," said Berta to me at one point.
I tried the fruit salad.
She should have said: "Here, try the Jim Beam salad, fruit flavored," as I realized, after I had a mouthful of it, and as it almost burned my mouth, that the period of sobriety, that was going to reach 2 years the next week, was technically going to end as soon as I swallowed.
Later on, I was gotten again, after taking a bite of a piece of the rum cake, chocolate flavored. It was probably about 20 proof.
There is a bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme standing on the floor by the fake fireplace in Howard's room. I have seen it standing there each time I have visited since the time he had offered it to me as I was leaving a few weeks earlier.
I opened my mouth to take him up on the offer as I was leaving this time. I really thought that I was going to sip it down as I walked the mile to the bus stop, and that it was going to make me feel good; was guaranteed to do so as a matter of fact, given its high sugar content, it's rich cream, and the alcohol that I hadn't had in going on 2 years, or 2 hours, depending upon how you'd score it.
Can I one day tell people: "I'm 5 years sober, except for a big spoonful of Jim Beam that had some fruit floating around in it..."? should I continue to not drink?
I didn't ask Howard for the Bailey's, but just left at a certain time -when one football game had ended, with the next one slated to come on not being a very good game- and walked half dejectedly back to the bus stop; carrying the guitar that I was never asked to play. Not riding the bike that I didn't get.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

An Orange For Howard

  • 4 Dollar Thursday Night
  • Friday Night Flu By
Tim, my caseworker, who is home in Philadelphia for the holidays
Otherwise, I could have at least had a gift for one person in our building...

When I was looking for a gift that I could have sent off to my mom in time for it to have been there before Christmas; I felt cursed.

As if I was being punished by the consequences of having waited until the last minute; I could feel an almost malevolent spirit hovering over me, taunting me with: "Good luck with that, dude.."

I remembered when I was a young man with a decent job, and I would go to the mall to do my Christmas shopping. I have always been a procrastinator and so it was usually on Christmas Eve when I did this.

The idea then was simple; I had perhaps 500 dollars at my disposal, and would, before the night was over, have found gifts for "everyone."

After the first couple of purchases, the money would become easier to part with.

I would have paid the extra few bucks to have them gift-wrapped right there at the register by, usually a young lady, who would usually wrap them very well; tight, snug corners, ribbons that twanged when you pulled them, and bows.

The paper, of course, would depict some kind of generic Christmas scene: "Do you want the snowmen or the reindeer?"

This would be what might be called "buying" ones way through the season -build your wallet; and the gifts will come...

It was the upper middle class way, the one that I had been indoctrinated into. You can buy your way through anything; just spend the extra amount and stop worrying about it; put complete insurance coverage on your car, so you don't have to worry about the idiot with no insurance who might hit you, type of thing.

I can remember feeling lighter and happier as the gifts piled up in my arms: "I've got my mom and dad, and my sister; now I just need something for my best friend..." I might have been confusing this feeling with "The Christmas Spirit."

Fast-forward to 2017, and I'm remiss because I hadn't thought ahead enough to have found a picture of my mom on Facebook a couple weeks ago and drawn her in pencil on paper and sent it off in time.

Everything about the idea, including the fact that the resulting drawing would weigh only a few ounces and be cheap to mail, seemed right. Last night, way too late, it did.

This is the kind of gift that would have had me walking on thin ice, back in the upper middle class days. "I got him a gift certificate to have the windows on his car tinted that I paid 60 bucks for, and he gave me a picture that he he some kind of cheapskate, or what?!?" But, we have all matured so much since then, and changed our perspectives...

I used to, beginning in 1984, after I had bought my first 4-track cassette recorder, make a "Christmas album" of my music.

I would buy blank cassettes from a certain studio that sold them in custom time lengths. If my cassette ran 17:18 on one side, and 18:40 on the other, then I would order maybe 50 blank cassettes that were 19 minutes a side, and copy my songs onto them.

I would then draw the cover picture and write out the lyrics and other sundries, onto a sheet of paper that could be folded x number of times over so that they could be stuffed into the clear plastic cases, and would fold out, just like the real thing; only on flimsy paper rather than thicker glossy stock.

Up to 50 people on my list would get one of these; often through the mail.

But, for the most part, I would also get most everyone a "real" gift, too.

When I was walking home the night before, I was struck by a feeling of hunger so strong that it felt like someone was wringing my stomach like you would a towel. A gnawing hunger.
A lot of people might have taken this as a sign that they needed to eat right away. I have learned otherwise, though.

These cravings are artifacts of having overeaten and, in some sense, stretched out the stomach lining the day before. It is an appetite created after a huge meal is digested, leaving an empty stomach in its wake, and is the bodies' way of asking for another one. ...Keep it coming, love...

When I got back to the apartment, I drank some orange juice. A feeling of well being came over me over the next few minutes that I realized I hadn't felt in a while.

I felt good enough to go out and busk. It was a 4 dollar night. It felt just like the 24 dollar nights I have had, minus the one person who throws a 20 dollar bill in the basket.

Last (Friday) night, I felt weak and feverish. I seem to have some kind of flu that recedes into the background, perhaps first thing in the morning after a hot shower, and then regains control over me as the day wears on and I fatigue.

I would have been going out to busk only for the money, had I done so. I could only see myself fecklessly strumming simple chords and singing: "I feel like crap and don't want to be doing this..." as far as what I might have done once out there.

Now it is Saturday evening, and I feel considerably better.

I was worrying about what I could possibly get to give Howard for Christmas, given the additional handicap of my not having made any money on a Friday night.

I fell asleep with NPR radio on.

I woke up this morning as their "travel" writer/journalist was being featured, talking to people from other countries about their Christmas traditions, and comparing them.

Someone from Norway was being interviewed and had mentioned that, when she was a child, she might get an orange in her stocking. She immediately clarified the fact that this was considered a good gift, in the middle of winter in Norway, because of them having to be imported from exotic places, and were valued more than the $1.19 per each item that they would be to someone in this day and age.

I decided then, that oranges would be my gift to Howard, barring my having a $50+ outing tonight.
Not just one orange, but as many as I can swing. I'm just going to have to tell him that I was flat on my back with the flu; lucky to even have had the bus fare to make it there for the occasion; and then mention how in Scandinavia, back in the day, oranges were prized as Christmas gifts, by some.

I have to get something. It really is the thought that counts, in this case. What can he expect from a guy who has recently shown up there, trying to skeeze bus fare so he could get back home? A pomegranate?

Then, as the fever broke this morning, a better idea came:

I will bring my guitar and harmonica with me and perform a special song for Howard.

It will be: "This Guy's In Love With You," by Herb Alpert.

Howard told me a story once, about when he was in Korea, when he was in his 20's.

He had had some kind of relationship with a Korean girl, and had mentioned that there was this certain song "...You're probably not old enough to have heard it; but it was this silly song by Herb Alpert; and Herb Alpert was known as a good musician, but at one point he decided to try to sing this song, maybe his manager thought it would be a good move commercially; and it's not a very good song, but it was one of the songs that got played a lot at the base where I was stationed; and I had it stuck in my around the time that I was seeing this girl, and, I don't know, it became kind of like 'our' song and; well, I won't bore you any more with my stories, it's just funny how some things stay with you after all those years...."
The name of the song didn't ring a bell with me when he told me it, but, after I had Googled it and downloaded a copy, I could have "named" that tune after the first 2 beats.

I can remember hearing it as a small child. To my 7 year old ears, "the sky" was in love with someone. You see the sky? Well, the sky's in love with you...

It kind of corroborated Jimi Hendrix singing "Excuse me while I kiss the sky," as if the two artists had drank from the same well of creativity.

I beg to differ with Howard on one point, though: It is a very good song.

It might not have given the guy a chance to showcase his trombone (or is that a trumpet?) chops, and it might have been a knee-jerk reaction to disparage any artist who isn't known for singing's attempt to do so: "Oh, God, he's gonna try to sing now?!? Stick to the trumpet Herb!!" and assume that it is schmaltz;'s not a bad song at all. The Brady Bunch singing: "It's Time To Change," well -that's a different kettle of fish .

Herb's is probably one of the more memorable melodies of the past century.
Colors:Equalize:Burn -voila!!

And, learning it over the next couple of days will be a labor of love. "Geez, we went and got him this nice bike at Wal-Mart, and he sings me some song in exchange; and it's from the early 50's and never was really a good song to begin with...yikes! To tell you the truth, I would rather have gotten some fruit..." I can hear it now....

I'll call my mom and wish her a happy holiday, and thank her for making my trip to Gretna possible.

An arctic breeze is blowing in; the temperature has dropped maybe 20 degrees in the past 2 hours.
I will need to see how close to the 43 degree busking cutoff temperature it is...any excuse to stay in drinking juice and learning a new song...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Number 41

Thursday evening, it is.

I took last night off from playing and am kind of disappointed by how little I got accomplished by staying in.

I left, at one point to go out to busk, with my gear on my back.

It was a bit past 11 PM, and I had just missed a trolley, the tail lights of which I could see down by Broad Avenue and receding.

I was out of cigarettes, but ready to try to spend a night without smoking any. I was still in a cleaning mood.

"A Good Night To Do Laundry"

So, I decided to go into the Holy Grounds Pub, and get a couple bucks worth of quarters, and then return to the apartment, where I would throw my laundry in a washer, after I had thrown a cake in the oven to bake, and then would work on music.

I got a dirty look from the guy who was behind the bar, who turned away from me and walked to the other end as soon as I had walked in. I waited for him to notice me and ask me what I wanted.

There is another bartender who works there, who probably would have refused to let me take more than a couple steps into the place before yelling something at me like: "Outta here,'re not allowed in here!" He lumps me in with the rest of the residents of Sacred Heart Apartments.

He guards the ashtrays outside the entrance with a baseball bat, threatening anyone who might be reaching a hand into one, as if the discarded butts were still the property of the establishment.

"There Goes The Neighborhood"

There is a sentiment, held by him and others in the neighborhood, that the neighborhood has "gone downhill," since Sacred Heart Apartments opened its doors to house the disabled veterans, and the chronically homeless, about 4 years ago, now.

"This used to be a nice mellow place to hang out; now you've got guy's walking up and begging the patrons for money and cigarettes as they sit at the outdoor tables trying to enjoy themselves," said one of them.

So, there is that bartender whom I've seen there on Monday and Tuesday nights, who will come outside brandishing a baseball bat and yelling "out of there!" and telling anyone who might have picked the ashtray: "Put them back!" under threat of violence.

This is so that tobacco can be disposed of, rather than be enjoyed by anyone who picks ashtrays.
The guy's motivation is purely to deprive someone else of something that has been discarded.

The guy who was working there last night, I didn't recognize.

He did eventually give me change of a couple bucks, but then stared dumbly at me as I made small talk about it being "a good night to do laundry," and didn't seem to think it amusing when I showed him the bizarre Mardi Gras type shirt that I had on under my sweatshirt, and said: "When this is my only clean shirt; I know it's time to do laundry!" More dumb staring.

The guy with the baseball bat is exhibiting behavior that I have been seeing over the past 10 years. He is the typical "guy who has a job, but who is still living at the poverty level" who might feel some pride over the fact that he works and earns his keep, and think that everybody else could and should do the same, and who doesn't think it fair at all that an unemployed "chronically homeless" guy should even be able to taste American Spirit tobacco by merely picking it up out of an ashtray for free while he -the guy with the bat- has to bust his ass 40 hours a week in order to be able to do so.

He hasn't been able to make the distinction between myself, on my way out to work, my tools on my back; and the rest of "them" at Sacred Heart Apartments who are inveterate beggars.

It reminds me of the business owner In Saint Augustine, Florida, who had the one man band guy barred by the police from playing in the street by his business, which was going under. Before he went out of business, he got the "satisfaction" of depriving the one man band of his living, too. Misery enjoys company.

The one man band was making a couple hundred bucks a day in front of the store that was foundering, and I guess that just burned the business owner up. Never mind the fact that it was a store that sold handmade wooden toys, and that the one man band was like a magnet for children and probably caused more of them to notice the nice wooden toys than would if he wasn't there.
"Put 'em back!!"
Back at the apartment, I put on a Dave Matthews Band song, called "# 41" and by the end of it, was playing the right chords along with it.
I then decided to program the drum beat from the song into the rhythm generator in Audacity.
This led me to spend about a half hour messing with various ways of doing that.

After I played through on a rhythm guitar and then did another lead guitar track and then did a bass line which I dropped down an octave using the pitch change effect, what I had was just a half-assed version of #41, missing most of the lyrics, not good enough to go on my CD, and having been only a learning experience. 3 hours to learn one song...

It is one from Tanya Huang's repertoire, though, so there is some consolation in the fact that I could potentially jam for 5 minutes longer with her, for having learned the thing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Day Of Greek Salads And Luxury Cat Food

  • 30 Dollar Tuesday Night
  • Pieces Falling Into Place For Yuletide
I left the apartment yesterday afternoon, after having opened the Christmas card that my mom had sent and found 60 dollars in it, along with the wish that I would have someone to spend the holiday with.

I had grown to loath "the holiday" over the past 10 years of being a busker, finding that the French Quarter was where people apparently went to hide from the Christmas Spirit or, in greater numbers, didn't go to at all.

Thanksgiving and Christmas days can be a couple of the most deserted times of the year down there.

One year, I only realized that it was Christmas after I had gotten up that morning, at whatever place I was being homeless, without a TV showing me the Macy's Parade, or a radio playing Christmas carols, and had gone to the a store to get my morning energy drink, to find it closed and had exclaimed something like "Bah, Humbug! -darned holiday; now I can't have my high fructose corn syrup and caffeine!!"

Times have changed, as this year I am not driven to go out and produce busking money; seeing the holiday as an impediment to my doing so; and am looking forward to spending time with Howard and his housemates in Gretna. I will have to check to see that the buses are running that day...

I had about 6 dollars of my own money Tuesday morning, and had been on my way to sell plasma to supplement that.

I bought Harold a $2 can of food -his Christmas gift from my mom- but had been paying too much attention to the wholesome ingredients of salmon and lamb to have noticed that it was in "pate" form; something that Harold has never liked, probably since being abused and fed pate as a kitten by the mentally ill guy who lives above me and who originally had him, but who threw him out into the cold February parking lot after having taken a woman in who hated cats.

Let's Get This Paté Started!

I got a double shot of kratom at the Uxi Duxi for 6 dollars, and wound up going next door to The Herb Shop to break a daylong cigarette fast with a pack of American Spirits...

As I started to walk back to the apartment, it was still not even 7 PM. The hope of arriving at the Lilly Pad by 9:30 PM was alive.

I stopped at Rouses Market, where I got a can of regular food for Harold, as insurance against him not liking the 2 dollars stuff, and grabbed 2 each of oranges and apples and a 2 pound bag of carrots, with juicing on my mind.

I thought about the half head of lettuce in my refrigerator as I looked at the "olive bar" and decided that one particular batch of black olives with feta cheese and peppers in olive oil was just a half head of lettuce shy of being a Greek salad, and so, put a scoop of it in a plastic container.

It wound up costing me $2.50 for what amounted to a few olives, a few cubes of feta cheese and the olive oil imbued with peppers that it was bathing in.

I have calculated that, at $8.99 per pound, the most value that one could get out of the salad bar at Rouses Market, would be to fill the container with feta cheese alone (and maybe sprinkle in some walnuts) and purchase it as a "salad." Feta cheese goes for around 6 bucks per pound. I often buy it this way when I only want a few ounces, rather than getting a whole pound for the 6 bucks.

'Tis The Season To Busk

I had only about 43 bucks left of the 60 from the Christmas card, plus the 6 bucks that I had woken up with. But, I had a very good carrot/apple/orange juice waiting for me, along with a Greek salad, Harold would be fed, and I wouldn't be picking butts up off the sidewalk that night.

The amount of money had me thinking in grander terms than of just surviving off of it for a few days.

I wanted to invest in something like a new harmonica, which would be 40 bucks for the Suzuki Harpmaster in the key of D that I want; but which would earn me a thousand dollars over its lifetime, and in a vat of creatine monohydrate powder, which would be about 20 bucks but using which, I could mix up about 28 of the drinks that I now pay $3.19 a piece for; daily, if I can.
Another of the 3 dollars-per-day
thorns in my side...

The last thing I wanted was just to see the amount dwindle due to regular daily expenses, without getting anything special out of it.

So, I was more determined to go out and play upon that Tuesday night as I have been in quite a while.

I got to the Lilly Pad by 10 PM, and had made about 30 bucks when I knocked off about 2 hours later. Again, it was a 20 dollar tip from one particular, never seen by me, person that "made" the night.

I got back home and counted just about 60 dollars on my coffee table, realizing that I had made back about what I had spent the entire day -a day of Greek salads and luxury cat food.

Harold hated the $2 food. He ate the regular food from all around it, and left it there. I guess I could have eaten it myself. It was organic grass fed lamb with farm raised salmon, after all.

This Wednesday morning, I was up at about 2 PM.

My goal was to send off something to my mom that would make it there before Christmas.
"It Wasn't To Be..."

I took a detour to the Goodwill store on my way to the Uxi Duxi, where I now sit.

I wanted to find a "New Orleans" type of shirt to send my mom. So she could be the only "lay minister" at her Catholic church with a "I got Bourbon-faced on shit street," tee shirt, perhaps.

But, it wasn't to be.

I started to look through the racks of shirts.

The first thought I had was that the shirts were all "used," since it was the Goodwill store, and isn't that a faux pas, getting a used anything for anyone for Christmas?

Then, I feared that the shirts would exude the vibe of whatever brain-dead moron wore the thing around New Orleans, and that it might even host some kind of virus that might infect Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, turning the population into murmuring shades, walking around asking everyone they see for a dollar or a cigarette.

Then, just for the heck of it, I did a quick scan of the areas that I usually shop for myself out of.

There it was. A huge box of 10! jigsaw puzzles, priced at $5.99.

There is a box of 4 such puzzles, made by the same company, that sells for $8.99 at Walgreen's that I have had my eye on for quite some time.

I originally hesitated because I didn't like the 4 pictures that came in the set that Walgreen's had on display. They have recently gotten another box in that has much better pictures, and I had been only waiting until having a 50+ dollar night in order to buy it.

And, since that cost is right around that of a pack of American Spirit cigarettes, the puzzles have kind of existed as an implied reward for my having quit smoking, if and when that comes to pass. Heck, I could buy 4 new puzzles per day for the rest of my life with what I might spend on cigarettes...

But, there I was at the Goodwill, looking for a gift for my mom, but getting something for myself.
It was exactly what I wanted; what could I do?

I guess I should go out and play again, tonight. Anything that I might otherwise do could easily be postponed until after I get back from it. I don't really feel like it now, at 8:18 PM, but, maybe a walk back to the apartment will change that. My buss pass is good for about another hour. And, it being so close to Christmas, there is probably at least another 20 dollar tip out there, should I put my nose to the grindstone and play hard for a couple hours...

It would be a nice night to stay in and work on a puzzle, though...

A Gift For Howard

I'm still wondering about a gift for Howard.

I'm pretty sure that an ounce of kratom would go untouched by him. He would place it in the compartment with the pain pills that he was prescribed after he had back surgery, which he gave to me so that I could sell them, rather than take them himself. He is a "tough it out," kind of guy -something I learned when we were traipsing through the rail yards, the total of our worldly possessions on our backs, chasing after trains with opened boxcars on them, and he never once asked me to slow down nor wait up for him.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Apartment A110

I was up before noon on this Tuesday morning, still in a cleaning mood...
I cleaned a bit around the place, and then set off for the Octapharma place, thinking that I would go and get the 15 dollars for a donation, and then would parlay the all day bus pass that I would then buy, into a trip to the Lilly Pad and back at night.

My biggest concern would be that I would feel sufficiently recovered from having donated plasma to go out and play.

The weather has been an early Christmas gift; it is probably about 68 degrees right outside the Uxi Duxi, where I sit with a goofy grin on my face(below).

I was leaving through the lobby of our building, when the security lady asked me what my last name was.

She then handed me the envelope with the above card from my mother in it, after I had answered her.

"Why didn't she just put it in my mailbox back there?" I asked.

What had happened was, the mail lady dropped all the mail that had only the street address of 3222 Canal Street (but no apartment number) at the front desk.

The lady at the front desk was apparently supposed to look up the names and then write the corresponding apartment numbers on the envelopes. She would then return them to the mail lady, who would make an additional trip to the mailboxes on each floor to deliver them.

I guess she had been too lazy to do that.

It was a good thing that I had emerged into the lobby right when it was fresh in the memory of the front desk lady that I had gotten mail.

There was money in the card; and I immediately began to weigh the prospect of selling plasma for 15 dollars and burning 4 hours in the process, against not doing so.

It seemed like my mom had given me a reprieve from that.

I had just noted the soreness in my arms right around the sites of the needle holes from the plasma place, as I pinched my flesh last night. I guess the body has a way of kind of scabbing up, even at the venous level, after having been punctured. Both of my arms were still sore at those spots.
I splurge a bit on Harold the cat...

My diet continues to be a conundrum, as I have been a baking fool, lately.

But, I am using spelt flour and rice flour and flax seed; all healthier alternatives to "bleached white flour," I am assuming. And the baking fad has had the side effect of having made me vegetarian over the past couple weeks, with the egg that I break and mix into the dough being the only animal product that I've been consuming.

I have felt a general sense of well being and my legs feel lighter when I run around, lately. I feel like I could begin a regimen of running a mile or so every day.

Quitting smoking has been a process of waking up in the mornings without cigarettes and then trying to go as long as I can into the day before having one. I made it until about 2 PM today.
"...I hope you have someone to celebrate the holiday with..."
The money that mom put in the card is apropos of the Christmas "wish" inscribed within, about spending the holiday with loved ones.

My biggest motivator in getting over the bridge to sell my plasma was making sure I had enough money, come Christmas, to make the voyage over to Gretna to spend the holiday with Howard Westra, and his housemates. I woke up with about 6 dollars on the coffee table this morning.

I can still vaguely picture myself living in Gretna, at some point in the future.

It is the "dream" of a lot of Sacred Heart Apartment residents to, as they put it, "get the hell out of this place before it really goes downhill," with the few of them that I talked to, extolling the beauty of a house with a yard, as a place to live.

It almost seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth, to be criticizing Sacred Heart Apartments, but, I guess a lot of these people have been institutionalized to the point of feeling entitled to certain free things in life, and a place with a shower but no tub, or with a window that opens upon a brick wall and not a scenic vista, is too much for them to abide.

Apparently some of them, who are living on "disability," have only to bide their time and wait for opportunities to come along whereby they can move out of Sacred Heart Apartments and "out into the country," into a real house.

If I ever were to start receiving "disability" payments from the government, something which doesn't sound as far-fetched an idea as it might have before some recent talks that I've had with Tim, my caseworker, then I might very well have it arranged so that Howard's housemate and house owner, Berta, might become the recipient of the money earmarked as being my rent payments, each month, and I might be able to move to Gretna and live in a house with a yard that has all kinds of plants, a few geese, 4 dogs, a cat and a huge turkey in its own house in the back.
Tim, my caseworker

Getting to the Lilly Pad and back would be just a matter of rearranging bus schedules. Having a bike would open up a lot of possibilities that way, like being able to ride the Algiers "Owl," bus at any hour of the night, and have only a 2 mile bus ride home from where it drops me...

Plus, once I start playing through the amplifier that Bobby is getting me for Christmas, then I might be making enough money to buy myself a moped or a scooter or something...

Tim, my caseworker has talked to me about applying for disability through Social Security. I have already been judged to be a disabled veteran through the process of trying to get me into Sacred Heart 3 years ago, with "alcohol dependency" being (what had kept me homeless the previous 10 years as) my disability, and Tim kind of suggested that, for a person in my situation, applying for a disability check of at least $743 per month would be something that I would almost have no other choice in pursuing. Like the money is going to go to waste if I don't avail myself to it.

It is 6 PM on this Tuesday night, and it would be kind of a shame to stay in tonight, with the weather being so nice for December 19th. I would have to record something as good as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in order to justify my having taken the night off from busking.