Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Am Robbed

  • Sunday Night's Tips Stolen
  • Monday Cold To The Bone
Living on pasta and tea

The women showed up, at a certain point and did a good job of acting like they were enjoying my music.

They were late 20's and appeared to be reasonably drunk. They were dressed enough like tourists -not wearing enough layers of clothing on the 55 degree night to be able to sleep outside, or so that nobody might steal them from wherever they sleep outside, and they both were wearing makeup, and blended in more with the tourists than the skeezers.

I had only been at it for about 15 minutes and the only tip in my jar was a gold colored coin that I thought was probably a Susan B. Anthony dollar.

The women listened and smiled and danced.

After a certain point, I made a noticeable mistake, whereupon I stopped and said: "Darn, I ran out of talent!"

This is a semi-humorous line that I use in such situations, especially when the reason I had made the mistake is because my interest had sufficiently shifted away from the song that I had started out doing, and I didn't feel like finishing it (the 9 verses of "Tangled Up In Blue, by Bob Dylan comes to mind) or, in other cases, when the people listening hadn't tipped the first song. I'm not usually going full speed into a second song when the first one had ended and no tip was thrown.

So, this was kind of the situation, when I was hesitating, and ready to ask them what kind of music was on their playlist (yes, I'm up with the times) which would have upped the anti as far as, if they had mentioned an artist, and I was able to conjure up her music, or something in the same genre, it then becoming kind of a "request," as opposed to me just playing what I felt like, with a tip being somewhat more expected.

I had gotten to the spot at about 11:20 PM, after having deliberated and sat in my apartment, at the point of yelling out loud: "God, give me the will to go out there!," until I had blown off a ride on the 9:12 PM, trolley, and then the 10:20 PM, and had finally talked the sense into myself, of "If you have definitely made up your mind that you are going out to play, then, why postpone the inevitable? The earlier the better."

But, I have been having trouble lighting a fire under myself this whole month. Ever since having been pretty devastated by the flu, which turned out to have my number this year, and then to have had the weather turn cold, to the point that I hesitated to drag my not-quite-over-the-flu self out there to play in it, and then to have had kind of a depressed mental state encroaching upon me, after the weather had warmed up some, when a pessimistic attitude set in, so that the sight of a single drop of rain would discourage me from going out, and I was loosely interpreting the "too cold to busk" temperature, moving it up to more like 55 degrees, rather than 45, I have been having trouble lighting a fire under myself.

It would seem like an incident like I had Sunday night might totally dissuade me from busking any more, and I might take my friend Bobby, in building C's, advice and hit all the bars and restaurants along "the strip," looking for a job. "It's Mardi Gras, it'll be easy for you to get on somewhere; and then, if they see that you're a good worker, you could wind up with a full time job, year round. Kind of puts going out there to be robbed, or to make 20 bucks the whole night in perspective, doesn't it?"

Bobby added that I could still go out during the day (when it is exponentially safer) and make money on Royal Street (as soon as I have the amplification necessary to compete with the Tanya Huangs of the world, or to join them) "whenever you feel like it, but not if you don't..."

I must admit that Bobby has a certain skill in being able to envision a better life for me. He is a good listener, and most likely added the "when you feel like it," part because he has seen my exasperation when answering the question of: "So, are you going out to play tonight?" -the way I take a deep breath, look out the window and say the equivalent of "I guess so..."

I always want to leave my options open -a slave to the artist's temperament- and be ready to change my mind on the fly, about just about anything -the jazz improvisor mindset- leave the trolley platform after having waited a few minutes, to go right back inside the apartment to work on a drawing, type of thing. So, it's always: "I guess so..."

But Bobby usually asks me this question, usually when it is getting late already, and I might be at his place hoping to grab a bud of his weed to smoke at the Lilly Pad, while I tune up, using the schedule of the trolley as part of a graceful exit strategy. "Well, I'd better get out there if I'm gonna catch the 10:40..."

He will peek through his blinds at the night outside, and answer with something like: "I know you aren't gonna catch me out there tonight!," before padding back to his easy chair in his slippers.

I guess Bobby will not be too surprised when I tell him this story of being robbed by the two women.

Oh, yeah, the story...

One of the women, perhaps sensing that I might have stopped playing expecting a tip before going on, produced a one dollar bill, which she seemed to be making sure I saw. It was tattered, which might have indicated that it was the only single she had, all the rest being hundreds and fifties. Because, if she had truly enjoyed the music, as much as she was making it seem she was, and had any amount of cash on her, why would she tip me with the rattiest, dirtiest bill out of her stack of them?
I had still been holding out hope that they might be the type of drunken tourists who might hand me a great tip and slur something like: "You get yourself something good to eat and take care of yourself!," but the sight of the one dollar bill put a damper on that enthusiasm a bit.

But then, apparently noticing the gold coin, the other one exclaimed: "Wow, people give you Euros, as tips?!?"" and then the two of them crept closer to my basket.

'Wow, is that a 20 Euro coin?!?," asked the same one, and then added: "I don't want to touch your money," as she knelt in front of the basket with a hand poised to touch my money.

"I'll touch his money!" blurted her friend, and then her hand beat mine to the gold coin, which she inspected in her hand, and then saying something like: "Hell yeah, I love Euros," put it in her pocket.

Not quite believing what I had seen, I asked: "Can I have my Euro coin back?," at which point the one who had taken it, seemed to become twice as drunk, and kind of wobbled a bit and fell onto her friends shoulder, after having given me a cross-eyed look. Her friend whisked her away, while saying something to the effect of her friend being drunk and being like that when she drinks -just grabbing anything that catches her fancy and keeping it, type of thing....

"Wow, those are worth about 27 bucks, too," said Larry, one of the bike deliverymen at The Quartermaster, after I had told him the story.

He said he would have gotten up and "kicked her in her cunt."

I had to tell someone the story, probably to expel the pent up aggression from my not having gotten up and kicked her.

They had been banking on the fact that I probably looked like a nice guy whose money they could just help themselves to.

I place the blame on myself. The next time a gold coin goes in my basket, I need to inspect it right away. Had it been a crisp 20 dollar bill that I recognized, it would have been in my pocket before the women even showed up.

It's not like they didn't leave clues as to their agenda. Not having laughed at my "ran out of talent" joke was an incongruity after their demeanor of smiling and laughing at everything else.

The tattered one dollar bill turned out to be the instrument of another red flag appearing.

It was probably originally going to be used as some kind of decoy (or would it be a red herring, I'm not sure which metaphor applies here).

Most people drop money in the basket from a height of at least a foot -so they don't have to do the equivalent of a toe touching calisthenic just to tip a guy; and so as not to make the guy nervous about seeing a hand going all the way into the jar.

This woman squatted down and placed the dilapidated bill (which was now looking like probably the only dollar in their possession -one they might have found in a gutter somewhere- right in the bottom of the basket as if wanting to gently lay it on the couple bills that were what I started with. Her intention was probably to scoop the 2 Mil peso bill from Colombia, that I had also started off with, out of there.

It is only worth $1.25 or so, but looks like it might be of a huge American denomination from a little distance. I guess she was willing to trade the dilapidated dollar for whatever it was.

But, then her friend recognized the Euro coin.

Since she had recognized it in the dimly lit basket, from where she stood a few feet away, while to me, seated 2 feet in front of it; it looked like a Susan B. Anthony dollar, she has apparently seen enough of them to not feel compelled to hold one and inspect it up close. This, I thought of about a quarter second too late, as the second late 20's, slightly overweight, flushed looking pig with too much makeup on, already had the coin in her grubby mitts. But, she was so drunk that, don't mind her, she's just like that...

No, you don't get up and start beating on a woman who looks like a tourist, even if she had just bare-assed stolen from you, apparently with no fear of repercussions.

If the woman walks up to me tomorrow night and hands me the coin, apologizing, and telling me that it wasn't until she found it in her pocket in the morning that she realized her mistake; then disregard this post.

I do believe that the two of them, whatever class of people they might be; have got bigger problems than I do, if they are walking Bourbon Street sniffing for tidbits on the ground, like that.

I can rest in the knowledge that they might not come back around the Lilly Pad for the rest of the carnival season because, I really could have filed a police report on a couple like them. I could have gone to the central bank of video monitors, all 36 of them, and had the guy find at least one clear shot of their sorry asses, print it out, send copies to all the screens in all the cars...

Would they do all that?

According to Colin Mitchell, my 66 year old busking friend, the police take exception to crimes against the street performers and, according to him again: "They'll cuff them and take them in right away."

All I would have to do, if I saw them again anywhere would be to find the nearest cop (an average of 200 yards away anywhere in the Quarter) and point them out. The cops could "do you have the report number on you?" bring their faces up on their screen...

You've just read: 2,079 words

This Just In: Ok, I've looked up "20 Euro" coins, and it appears that the only coins with "20" on them are the cent coins, shown above.
Oops, I guess I should have just let her have the thing, as a keepsake trinket, or maybe I should have looked up the coins before writing a 2,079 word post about my outrage over the incident.
It's Tuesday night, and 52 degrees.
Down To Coffee
I'm at Starbucks, where I haven't been able to buy anyone their coffee off my gift card in exchange for "a lesser amount" of cash. One black lady, who was standing in line in front of me, poking at a phone, of course, totally ignored me when I asked: "Excuse me, are you going to use cash for your coffee?"
"I say, excuse me..."
She turned her body away from me and kept poking at her phone. I was trying to save her money on her coffee. I still haven't gotten used to "Ignore-leans," as I once deemed this place, shortly upon arriving here.
But, it is rude to ignore someone after they have addressed you. She would know this if she wasn't an uncivilized savage. It's understandable to think that everyone who approaches you in this block and say's "excuse me," is trying to skeeze something.
Some people say "no" in a way that say's they would rather not do me the favor, even though it would save them a buck or two on their coffee, let me be an asshole cause I can. But, it's probably because they think the card must be stolen or their must be something sinister going on because it's the corner of Canal and St. Charles streets.
As it stands now, I'll be leaving here and walking home with 12 cents in my pocket, unless I can buy someone their coffee in the next 3 hours and 31 minutes. It doesn't seem like too tall an order. If I was able to get even 5 bucks from someone, I could take the trolley home, grab my stuff and be at the Lilly Pad an hour later.
Fear Of Commitment
I've been invited to Howard Westra's for a Superbowl party this coming Sunday; and doesn't it always seem to be the case that the dollar and a quarter to ride the bus over there starts to elude me, as soon as I say: "Ok, then I'll see you Sunday!!"
I'm very hesitant about committing myself to anything because of this, perhaps irrational, fear. When I'm committing myself to anything, it's like there is a Shakespearean chorus offstage, but I can hear them: "No you won't be there, think Murphy's Law, Daniel, you won't be seeing Howard this Sunday, there will be no party. Some ditzy women are going to come by and clean out your tip basket every night this week. You should know better than to promise to be anywhere at any point in the future..."

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Dripping Of My Kitchen Faucet

  • 7 Days Before Food Money Comes
  • 7 Days Without Busking
  • Weed Induced Paranoia/Fear Of Busking

The past week, I have found 7 reasons for not going out to play each night, along with 7 things to distract me from posting to this blog.

It has been sprinkling lightly the past couple nights (Friday and Saturday) but not too cold to play; I could have been out there; had I been ambitious.

My sleep schedule has gotten flipped around.

I have woken up just in time to grab my stuff and be on the right trolley, but have been dead tired, after having stayed up working on, mostly music, this week.

One glance out the window to see little droplets disturbing puddles that had accumulated in the parking, had been enough to prompt me to lay back down.

Bobby's Weed

I need to find some ambition soon.

Blog Readership Hits All Time Lull
I know I haven't been doing the things I would need to do to boost my readership.
I suppose it all starts with "good writing" as the key ingredient.
But the drop off in the number of readers affirms my fear that my life has indeed become more boring.
I'm tossing around a few ideas. One of which is to rewrite and condense past posts, so that, in the place of 30 daily posts, I might put one long one that tells the story of the whole month in a nutshell; and would have some kind of foresight built in; since I now know "the rest of the story."

Bobby, my friend in building C, has been giving me buds of the weed he has been getting. It is super potent medicinal weed that has confidence sapping, insecurity triggering, paranoia producing properties to it, I'm convinced.

Last night, I started messing around a bit after midnight with a recording of Harold the cat meowing to be let outside. The recording had the squeaking and groaning of the door being opened to let him out on it.

These sounds, I looped and stretched and slowed down and sped up and changed the pitch of, reversing some and overlapped others on top of still more; until I had a symphony of sounds which were all adulterated "meow"s and door squeaks, to begin with.

5 Hours?!?

I think I worked on it for about 5 hours, my head in a fog of Bobby's weed, feeling slow and heavy and kind of in a stupor, as I worked.
Maybe Ben will give me a few bucks
for letting him stay.
There ar a hundred things you can do to doctor the sound of a cat meowing, and a door creaking.
One of my favorite effects is called "paulstretch," and was probably invented by a guy named Paul, and allows one to radically stretch out time so that one second of sound might take 30 seconds to play out. Stretching a meow out to 15 times its original duration is cool.

Add to this the fact that Harold has an arsenal of tones to his meow which he uses to indicate differing levels of urgency, of which I managed to capture 4 distinct ones, and it is easy to see why a stoned guy might spend 5 hours playing with each sound.

But, 5 hours(?!?) spent on a cat symphony that lasts less than 3 minutes...when I had originally set out to work on something entirely different -something which I had already worked on and made inroads into? A real song that might go on the CD? Really?

Something got shoved onto the back burner after a bowl of Bobby's weed inspired me to work on a symphony for cat meowing and door squeaking, instead. That is one of the troubles with weed.

"The CD" project is moving along at a snails' pace, it would appear.

However, when I get back home later on this Sunday evening, I could actually make a song out of the thing. Maybe I can tune the guitar to the pitch of Harold's meowing and put chords behind it...

Or maybe I'll smoke a bowl and then decide that it is really more important to spend the whole evening making a song where the dripping of my kitchen faucet becomes the "drumbeat."

Still More New Techniques Discovered

Through the miracle of cutting and pasting and repeating measures, I have made great progress in being able to do things like taking a 16 bar section where the guitar plays mistake free, and then making those 16 bars repeat, say 32 times. Then playing a second guitar along with it, until I hit a stretch where it plays flawlessly for 16 bars; then cutting that out and repeating it, say, 32 times.
I would then have 2 guitars playing flawlessly and synchronized to each other for 32 bars.

Then the same process can be used to add more instruments.

All I would need is to hit a stretch where the instrument being added plays nicely for 16 or 32 bars over the perfect existing instruments, then I can trim off everything else and then...repeat the 3 instruments playing together perfectly and add more parts. Pretty soon I would have a 5 minute song with maybe 12 voices, all in perfect harmony...

Subsonic Boom

Another breakthrough that I've had is in the recording of the "fake" bass guitar.

I had always dropped the notes of the guitar down one full octave. This was one too few.

This meant that I could play right along with the existing music, using the bottom notes on the guitar to play a bass line, which I would then drop down one octave, to make it sound more like a bass.

The breakthrough came when I decided to drop the guitar down 2 octaves, for "grins and giggles," since doing so is as easy as putting "-24" half steps (instead of -12) in the appropriate box on the pitch shift effect.

I suppose I had never tried this before, thinking that, if I was having so much trouble getting the fake bass which has been dropped one octave to sound less fake, then going down two octaves would seem to potentially double the problem, and come out sounding like crap.

In The "It Took Him This Long To Figure That Out?" Category

But the truth is that dropping it just one octave wasn't giving me the range that a real bass guitar actually plays in. D'oh!

I had been trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ass; wondering why no tricks of equalization were giving me a nice bass sound, when the notes were just too high to begin with.

I played a bass line the other night, and then dropped it 20 half steps using the pitch shift effect.
Voila! It sounds much more like a bass guitar (even though it is technically that much more "fake," due to the more drastic dropping of pitch).

It looks like the CD is going to wind up having a bunch of random sound clips, and perhaps songs that go through a couple verses and then fade into other random things, only to return to the same song, different verses, and maybe different beat; maybe even done on a different day, etc...

I have about 2 hours worth of Travis Blaine talking non-stop about himself, that I'm thinking of using to make some kind of sound collage or maybe a song. I never set out to eaves-drop on the guy, but the tapes resulted from my having started to record a song, a short ways into which Travis can be heard entering the room and embarking upon an hour long lecture about the artist whose music I was trying to play. I left the recorder running on a couple of those occasions.

I might just make a bell sound every time he utters the words "I," "me," or "my."

Come to think of it, I've got some audio of Louise, another nightmare guest, ranting and raving about how despicable it is that she doesn't get an apartment like mine, nor a free flu shot, which was the theme of the "free flu shot rant," that I have a recording of.

Calling Dorise

My current plan is to ask Dorise Blackman if she has any properties that I might use as a vocal recording studio -maybe an apartment that hasn't been made ready to rent yet; doesn't have electricity or running water, perhaps, and that she might let me have the key to, for a few days at least, maybe...

Someone has re-affixed some of the screws that I took out of the plywood covering the door to the abandoned rectory. This tells me that someone does indeed periodically inspect the place; and inspect it close enough to have noticed a few loose screws. Whomever it is now knows that someone made an attempt to get in there, and I don't feel so good about cutting my way through the door now; that would be vandalism and a misdemeanor of some kind...

To bad, though, I could really see myself belting out some good vocals on the third floor of the place. No telling how cool, and inspiring, the view might be from there...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Well, Well, Well...

It is post titles like this one, that seem to garners me the most "hits" and "views" after a certain amount of time has passed.... More people are interested in, and searching for, "well, well, well," than they are for "I decide to refocus my music..." or what the title might otherwise be.
88 Observations

#88: My friend, Ben is due to arrive to spend a week here in New Orleans, visiting with me; and, I fear, expecting me to (drop everything and?) show him a good time. I can't find a picture of him. He had one on his Facebook showing him meeting Robin Trower, (one of the greats) but has taken it down.

#87: My apartment (shown) is about as clean as it has been in a while. When Travis Blaine first contacted me about crashing on my couch for the $20 per night, that I had advertised it for on Craig's List, I had gone through the place, attempting to do a "professional" cleaning of the place. There was oven cleaner involved, and even baking soda based deodorant sprinkled upon and then vacuumed out of the couch cushions and rugs.

I had even laundered all of my own sheets, blankets and pillow covers, because I know that a sensitive nose can pick up odors that an inhabitant may have become inured of. I probably shouldn't have to go as far before the arrival of my friend, Ben. We were cellmates for about a year, long ago, and have a pretty good sense of the cleanliness levels of each other.

I'm Like The Fish On The Dock

Still, a decade of being homeless may have lowered my standards in regards to, not so much cleanliness (as I was always a regular at the nearest laundromat, and usually had multiple options as far as which restrooms you could lock yourself in and take a full shower by holding 2-liter bottles of hot water over your head) but rather, "organization."

This would involve things like all of the objects that are holding my attention in some way, being visible and displayed in proportion to their present importance to me. From the vantage point of sitting on the couch; my whole life is represented in a panoramic view; with everything that I'm working on -even if it's a book that I've read a bit of and laid aside- within sight. This is, I guess, so I can sit up in the morning and gaze around and try to "center" myself.

A simple example would be, my cellphone having been placed right at the front edge of the coffee table that I am going to fall asleep in front of, should I be expecting a call. Otherwise, it might be further away and out of sight.

The photo above might look random and cluttered, but...

One thing that is good, I guess, is that there are no cigarettes and no lighter within arms length of me when I wake up. There is still a little twitch of my arm towards the table off of which I have plucked a cigarette to light up upon waking for years and years. It is like the twitching that fish do even after they are supposedly "dead after having sat on a dock for an hour in the sun.

I'm Losing Money As The Days Pass

#86: The Mardi Gras beads on the far left are a reminder to me that we have indeed entered the "carnival season," and in past years, I have been out at night making up to $212 a night playing at the Lilly Pad for maybe 5 hours on these same dates. The temperatures were 15 to 20 degrees warmer those years.

Tonight, Saturday, January 20th, I plan upon busking for the first time this year...I just don't know how I'm going to do it without a pack of cigarettes at my side; I may have to quit busking, should I find that too hard a task....

The Way People Age? (right)
I think people grow older looking, one bout with the flu, at a time. While you have the flu; you look 10 years older; then you recover from it but only get half of those years restored to your appearance.

#85: Then, there is the button-up blue and white checkered shirt which is hung from the tallest lamp holder.
This represents Tim, my caseworker, who has told me that it would be natural for someone of my status to start getting a disability check each month of at least 743 bucks, I think is the amount, but "not necessarily" that small, said Tim.
The shirt also reminds me of a program I heard this morning on NPR radio, in which a person being interviewed said something like: "All I see is 'help wanted' signs everywhere I look now," when asked about the economy in general in 2018 in Pennsylvania.
How the shirt relates to that is a reminder that, at least in the past, if I were to get a radically short haircut and then don a shirt such as that, it used to be pretty easy for me to get a job of some kind.

Left: Books left behind by Travis Blaine. Most of them are useless to me because they are pieces of a series, with the rest of the series missing. Start with part 5, and, if you like it, maybe go back and read the first one, type of thing...
I really hate his guts, which puts me at odds with the "Relections of the Christ Mind" type books I have been trying to read with an open mind, lately.

I have a good mind to put aside the Jesus book, peruse the "Scientology" one that he left behind (bottom of stack), and then hunt him down and murder him. There would be a term in that book for that kind of resolution of conflicting thought, I imagine, after I've just glanced through it.

One reason I can refrain from killing him is because I believe he is "innocent" in the sense that he has no concept of how other people view him. He seems only interested in demonstrating what a smart boy he is and how interesting a person he is.

A Special Snowflake; I Like That Description

One of the great ironies is that, while he was staying with me and being totally insensitive to my feelings and needs he was reading a book by Wallace Stegner, -a book about what it means to be a responsible, loving, thoughtful, constituent of the human race. a literary critic said of it...
I guess Scientology or something else trumped that, and he decided to try to chintz out on me...

It's hard to kill him. He left behind a milk crate, for example.

When he has visited me at the Lilly Pad, he has seen me sitting on a milk crate and playing for my living. He might have been leaving the crate behind with the best of intentions kind of like a retarded kid who walks up to some adult and presents him/her with a dandelion that he has picked -you don't berate him, you just smile and feel sorry for him...

Of course the milk crate was something that cost him (nothing; like the packets of McDonald's sugar that he stocked my cabinets with....)

I couldn't murder him with a totally clear conscious. He will suffer enough as the realization dawns upon him that he has no friends and that nobody really likes him because he is a tedious pedant.

It doesn't seem likely that he will come crawling to me any time soon, needing a place to stay that he can try to worm his way through for free; but, you never know. Dorise could move to Seattle, leaving her rental property in other hands and, who knows. I will be ready for him "Twice bitten, three times, shy, Travis..."

"Yeah, I know, listen...If I give you 250 dollars tomorrow....."

But, that (above) is the stack of books that (Charlie the Tuna) Travis Blaine left behind. Does it show that he has good taste? Or that his head is in some other world?

The "Special Snowflake" culture was something that Alex from California (blog reader) mentioned in a comment about Travis Blaine.

I started to think about it.

Every snowflake is unique. This is the part that Travis believes about himself, and probably why his mother (whom he spoke with regularly on the phone when he was here) wouldn't let him out of the house, because, if something ever happened to him, he would be impossible to replace -he's that special.

I'll bet he still relives moments such as walking down an aisle to receive some coveted award, distinguishing him as the valedictorian of a class of 38 at some private school where kids are coddled and sheltered and taught to believe that they are special and unique.

But, how long would it be before their minds settle upon the other extreme of: If everybody is unique and special, then I guess I'm no more unique nor more special than any other kid?

In Travis' case, never.

If he were to go outside the house and someone were to melt him, then it would be some kind of crying shame.

#84: The blue towel under the shirt is a relic from the time that Louise the overeating* tarot card reader stayed with me. It is one of the things that she left behind when she left, and I can't help think that she left it behind for the same reason that Travis Blaine abandoned his coffee mug here upon noticing me drinking out of it once.

*she initially showed up carrying a breadbox sized packet of toilet paper.
These are the guests who have gone before you, Ben Lambie (photo unavailable).

Louise probably thought that I used the towel.

Who knows, maybe I knocked it down while pulling my own towel off the curtain rod while in the tub, and a corner of it had gotten moist -enough to make someone like Louise or Travis skittish enough to begrudgingly abandon one of their possessions.

It's perhaps worth noting on some kind of list of "red flags" that potential roommates may wave, that, on some level, them showing up with their own giant bottle of "hand sanitizer," a box of rubber gloves, and all kinds of bleach and ammonia based cleansers, is a bad sign.

I have always wondered if there is indeed still a malignant spirit that will reside with me until such a time that I get myself a nice towel and then expel Louise's from my dwelling. Maybe I should toss out Travis' coffee mug while I'm at it.

Things like that (and any other kind of voodu) only have an effect in exponential proportion to how much you believe in them.

I just can remember going out on cold nights just to make enough money to get drunk and pissed off at the world because that was all I made; and then returning to an apartment that had been heated to tropical levels which were forcing Louise to spoon and gulp down the ice cream that she was sitting on my couch eating, while she watched a movie and the steamy fragrance of a fresh hot shower (which may have proceeded until such a time that the hot water heater began to run out) wafting in from the other room.

"I put a hoodoo on you so you'd make a lot of money; how'd you do?!?"

"I had one of the worst nights of my life, money-wise, Louise."

"Do you mind if I turn to heater down, it really hits you after you've walked 2 miles because you didn't even make enough to take the trolley home, hoodoos notwithstanding...?"

"Sure, even though you're not paying for it so why should you care?"

"Oh, I got you a can opener. The one you had broke when I was trying to open a bunch of stuff to cook on your stove, like my beef stew, so I ran down to the Family Dollar and got you a new one (remember that when you're asking for any rent money from me).

And, I bought a bunch of paper plates and plastic utensils...so (my germ-o-phobic self won't have to use the same dishes as you) I won't be making any extra dishes for you..."

Add "brings own paper plates" to list of red flags for potential roommates.

#83: Behind the towel is a pile of jackets, sweatshirts and the gig bag for my guitar; in a pile.
This is another habit of mine. Upon coming home, I will put my backpack down on the couch, preparing to go through it, taking out whatever food I might have bought or been given, and hopefully emptying one of the pockets of all the money that I had stuffed in it throughout the course of the night, so as to keep the tip jar below 10 dollars at all times, etc.

Usually, Harold the cat, who I probably let in with me, will be meowing for the food that is hopefully in the same backpack, and so everything winds up in the pile of black in front of the couch, from where it is convenient for me to grab on my way out the next night.

But, I suppose, to a guest, this could make me look like a slob.

There is some veracity to that, which lies in the fact that; if I were to sweep and mop my floor every day like a good and neat person, the pile of shirts and sweatshirts and guitar bags would be in the way; so there is a "slob" tie-in there...
Johnny B. turned out to be the best guest yet...

#82: Is Ben going to sleep on the couch, or on the bed in the other room? I must admit that, when I sleep on the couch, I very often wake up with my back bent as such an angle that it is stiff and painful just to straighten out and sit up on the thing. I think I should offer Ben the bed...

#81: That is, if he decides to stay at my place in lieu of getting a motel room.

The huge cockroach carcasses splattered on the walls might have something to say about that if I keep procrastinating in cleaning the place up for Ben's visit which is only about 24 days away....

#80: My Music. Something is happening to my psyche as an artist. Some of it is a result of the fevered state that I have passed through in the past couple of weeks, after I contracted the flu and as I suffered through it.

The bottles of aspiring warn to see a doctor if the fever "persists" for too long.

I procrastinated in doing that.

I saw the documentary about David Bowie a couple times while I was sick. It left quite an impression upon me.

Just like some life changing things that I went through in my 20's kind of allowed me to see through the veil of materialism and I knew that I was never going to waste much energy in the pursuit of wealth for the rest of my life (this was due to either major biochemical alterations to the molecules of my brain induced by LSD, or, seeing the light and becoming a born again Christian, depending upon one's perspective) this was almost a similar revelation.

The "message" that I got from watching the documentary was basically that "it all just fades away." So much old film of a youthful David Bowie at the height of fame and fortune, interspersed with stuff shot like 2 days before he died.

The 15 second encapsulation of his whole career played on NPR radio the day he died kind of laid a framework for me: "...Bowie, whose biggest hits included... was 69 years old. Now, we take you to "All Things Considered..."
"Hey, Macarana!!"
#79: That forced me to face one of the realities that any "artist" must. I guess I would have to say that, in the back of my mind, at least, I had been struggling for fortune and fame, trying to make it big, become famous and have my music played by people all over the world.

But, what happens is, you start to realize things like, with the death of your whole generation "50 years from now," will come the death of your fame.

You picture one of your contemporaries taking his last breath in a hostel somewhere; tubes up his nose, etc; and as the morphine drips into him, his gaze becomes distant, and he say's "What was that Daniel McKenna song, his big hit...oh, darn, I can't think of it; but he was a good songwriter, yup.." and then slips into a coma...

The late singer of the band The Cranberries, O' Riordan, died at the age of 46.
I have already had about 10 more years to have become a multi-million selling musician, and be called "The voice of a generation," than she has.
Her funeral is to be attended by "about 200 family and friends," the report I read said; and therein is the most glaring sign of her success in life, in my opinion.
I'll take 200 family and friends over multiple millions of people who can't quite recall the name of my song on their death beds, and their accurate conclusions that: "I guess it doesn't really matter anyways," as they slip off..

You think of how hard you would have to work or what stroke of luck you might need to achieve even a fraction of the fame and fortune of David Bowie (whose life was distilled to 15 seconds on FM 89.9).

You would have to be able to sell out arenas world-wide; 85% of the people in the whole world would recognize at least one of your songs. "Hey, Macarana!!"

#78: That was depressing to a degree, but I had already started to realize that our society has given so many people their 15 minutes of fame that on any given day, a list of 1,000 people (whose birthday it is, or who died) could be compiled and, maybe with a note of explanation, they would all be recognizable to the "average" person. One thousand people; every day; yes sir.

Do you remember the girl who was the lead singer for the group called The Cranberries? Well, she died last week.

Did you just say to yourself: "Oh, sure, everybody knows The Cranberries!?!"
1,000 people every single day...from Charles Manson to Keith Jackson; fame has become very popular in this world...
#77: So, If you're not doing it for the fame; then that leaves doing it because you "have something to say," and that is where I am left right now. I have adjusted my sextant; found the North Star, and am currently contemplating making my CD mostly an album of "music for people being humanely put to sleep in hospices around the world, through the agency of their family and friends and insurance company."
"music for people being humanely put to sleep in hospices around the world, through the agency of their family and friends and insurance company."
I will borrow a bit from the Pink Floyd "Comfortably Numb" vibe, but have also been influenced lately by David Bowie's last music as well as the "atmosphere creating" tendencies of the band "Radiohead."

That just seems to be on my mind lately and about the only thing I really have "to say" musically.
Singing about riding around with a girl at my side when I was 25 years old with the stereo cranking can be a really tedious thought for a 55 year old. Given how much truth he has become aware of since then...

I can see why Paul Simon said that the music business is "for someone younger who wants it more..."

There just seems to be so much that music is "not."

Sure, it's a way to show off your technical prowess; but that could just make you Mr. "A Million Notes That Say Nothing."

And, sure, it's a way to entertain people; but that could make you feel like you are a servant and some potentate is clapping his hands once and demanding "Music!!"of you; whether you feel like playing, or not.

#76: Hopefully, these are just the ruminations of a guy who hasn't recovered fully from the flu, nor regained his swagger....
#75: There aren't 88 of these.

So, there is the black hat that hasn't been worn all year.
Behind it the chunk of cement with a fence post through it that I intended to use as a weight for exercising; that hasn't been lifted all year.

Still Expanding Environment

There are the books I'm in the middle of reading; the Snowball microphone, waiting to capture songs for the dying; and the radio speaker in the window from which emanates National Public Radio, until it starts to repeat material, then I get up and shut it off. The lamp illuminates the 300 piece puzzle that I just finished; next is a 500 piece one.

I am trying to totally fill my little world and the space around me before expanding it. The apartment was way too big when I got it, for a guy who had been living on a 5 X 8 foot piece of cardboard under a wharf....

Friday, January 19, 2018

You Never Know How People Might React To Things Like That...

It looks like I have left myself short of the cash for a trolley ride home again.
I felt like I had been "cooped up" a few days and that I had to get out just so I could have human contact, or something.
But, then I thought of it; there is a computer room at Sacred Heart, and I have plenty of instant coffee; and so I didn't really have to come to Starbucks to do this here post...
I haven't enjoyed the "human contact" at all.
In fact, as soon as I had gotten on the trolley, I started to develop a distaste for this rather large, kind of effeminate black guy who was what I will categorize as a "butterfly."
I have decided to subdivide the races into classes that I can openly hate while not making it a blanket hatred for their whole race.
The butterfly is the guy who sits there with a big smile on his face that tells the world that he is not a threat, I guess.
When the trolley stopped to let people on (who were all white tourist types) the butterfly waved them onto the thing; as if they otherwise never would have figured out how to get on the trolley, which way to go; is it this door, or do I walk over to the other side?
Then, as the tourists sat and did their obligatory "selfies on the trolley," the butterflies grin stretched from ear to ear, as if he was sharing in the fun.
The cynic in me was just waiting for the skeeze to come. Would he mind taking a couple pictures of all of them, since he seems like such a friendly guy.
The guy, as I said, was effeminate and had his fingernails trimmed long like a woman's -just waiting to be painted.
The apparent vicarious pleasure that he was getting from watching the group pose for and take selfies just seemed to re-enforced my stereotype of the gay guy who is all about vanity and image and probably lives by credo of: Live fast, and leave behind a bunch of great selfies.
So, I rode the trolley into the Quarter, steeping in resentment at one of the first people that I had encountered, in my attempt to get out and see some people after being housebound for a few days.
Then, I saw a lot of cold weather skeezers along the sedewalks. How dare they use the air temperature as a device for manipulating people into giving them money: "I usually don't give to the panhandlers, but I felt bad for them, it was freezing out..." type of thing.
"The weather report forecast these kind of temperatures a week ago; you had plenty of time to swing by one of the shelters for a free 'emergency'  blanket or two. Don't just sit there like you've been hit from out of nowhere by this freezing air that caught you totally off guard and now threatens your life," I couldn't help thinking. I could already imagine their stories of people walking up and handing them large sums of money on "that one really cold night last week," and going on to say; "I had me 3 layers of thermals on plus this jacket and plus I had a fifth of whiskey, I was feeling no pain. They must have thought I was about to freeze to death, though..."

So, I sit here at Harrah's. I have about half the amount I would need to ride the trolley home. I might have to just wait until a different driver comes from the one that gave me a free ride about a week ago.

I have decided to get a lot of reading done, since I have been housebound, but have electric light at my disposal, and the means to keep my apartment above 60 degrees, at least, even on the coldest nights.

I read the "American Sniper," book which I had found on one of the bookshelves at Sacred Heart.
After I finished it, I tossed it on the pile of books that I had gotten from that shelf and had read and wanted to return so someone else could read them.
It landed on "The Moon Is Down," by John Steinbeck.
It wasn't until I was grabbing the next book on my list, "Lords Of Discipline," by Pat Conroy that I realized that a lot of stories have been written about war and the military.
I think that goes back to the Illiad and Odyssey...
I also have a book called "If You Want To Write," and another one, by Paul Ferrini, called: "Reflections of The Christ Mind," and I wound up jumping back and forth between the two..

I seem to be on the verge of a period of soul searching and re-evaluation of the kind of music I want to wind up producing.

It is all up in the air now. I haven't played on the street in a couple weeks.
I haven't had cigarettes the whole time, and only one shot of kratom.

My friend, Ben, from Massachusetts has already booked his flight to come down to New Orleans for the week of his birthday, which is February 16th.

He wants me to meet him at the airport, when he arrives at 10:23 PM on the night of February 14th.

I have this nagging fear that some circumstance is going to occur that is going to make it a huge pain in the ass to meet him at the airport that night.

I am very reluctant to commit myself to anything, even when it comes to telling Howard Westra that I will show up at his house to watch the Patriots games, whenever they are to be broadcast.
There is to be one to be shown a couple days from now, on Sunday.
As it stands, I don't even have the dollar and change to take the bus over there.
I know that this is not because of the bad luck that I invited upon myself as soon as I told Howard that I would "definitely try to make it for that game," or whatever. It is because I came down with the flu, in between nights that were too cold to go out and play in, even if I was feeling up to it.

I think it is a product of the wild and unpredictable life that I used to live as a homeless alcoholic busker. I could tell someone that I would definitely see them on a certain night, and then would wind up recalling the words, as I sat in a jail cell somewhere, or would remember my promise after having woken up after sleeping off a drinking binge for 12 hours or something.

I have learned to be very leery of making promises.

Ben actually mailed me photocopies of his ticket stubs, so that I would be able to be at the airport to meet him. "I freak out in crowded places," he said. This increases the pressure on me.

A Good, Clean Room?

At one point, I guess I'll have to put a good cleaning on the apartment. I wouldn't want him to walk in, look around and then say: "Hey, I'm gonna get a hotel room..." You never know what kind of aversions different people might have to certain things. Especially once they are the 57 years of age that Ben will be turning while he is down here, and might be set in their ways.

Last summer, I killed a roach by flattening it against the wall with a rolled up newspaper. It was one of the biggest roaches I've seen since coming here; and so I left it up there on the wall. Kind of the way that kings used to display the disembodied heads of their vanquished enemies atop posts that might line the entranceway into their cities. That's what I was thinking when I left the thing on the wall.


I'm thinking of washing it off the wall before Ben arrives. You never know how people might react to things like that.....

Ben has spent about 15 years of his life behind bars, which is where I met him, when I was his cellmate for one of those years.

He probably thinks that I know cab drivers personally; who will do me the favor of making sure that we are there for Ben, as soon as he steps off the plane into the crowded place.

And he probably thinks that I personally know the doormen who work the strip clubs on Bourbon Street and can set it up so that Ben is shown a great time, complete with beautiful exotic dancers, the best weed and drink and then will take him to the best clubs to hear the best bands, etc.

He doesn't want to risk taking any weed on his flight and so, will be relying upon me to keep what apparently is his chain smoking of weed, unbroken.

Send your friend, what is his name, Ben?; to me. I'll make sure he has a good time in the Quarter.

This is probably the only area that I'm going to be able to help him out with.

I could go to Bilal, the art gallery guy on Royal Street, who has been very supportive of me, and who will say things to me like: "If there's ever anything you need, just come see me at the gallery..."

I might tell him that an old friend of mine is coming to visit who might think that, since I am 55 years old and have been living in NOLA for 7 years, I must be a man of great resources, by now; able to get him into the back rooms and show him all the hidden adventures of the Quarter.

The truth is, that I'm more like the employee who works at a certain place, but can't afford to shop there. I take my break from waiting tables at the 5 star restaurant, to eat my bagged lunch in the break room, type of thing.

As soon as I might start making serious money (like if I ever partner with Tanya Huang) then the people will come around with the cars and the whores and the drugs.

At least Ben already has his flight booked to go home, so it won't turn into a Travis Blaine type situation....

Unless he becomes determined to get a job and stay here....

In that case, I might let him stay longer. He can't be half as cheap as Travis Blaine, and can probably throw me a shot of kratom money every now and then while he's here.

That's one adventure I can take the guy on: The Uxi Duxi, combined with the cemetery tour across the street!

"Hey, I just talked to Bobby and he was telling me that the front desk people are lazy and really sloppy book-keepers and they probably have no idea how long I've been here...I can probably stay in your place till the end of the month, and they'll be none the wiser! That will stretch the little bit of money that I gave you for food out, so that it will amount to about $2.50 a day for staying here and talking non-stop about myself....
This has just been a great day for me, I have to tell you; I'm pretty happy right now!!"
But, Ben will only be here for a week, because he already has a flight booked to return after that, and so it won't turn into another Travis Blaine situation...

Why do I feel like I am going to screw up meeting him at the airport, for some reason.

It's because I'm afraid that bad things that have happened in the past are going to happen again. It's the accumulation of a decade of irresponsible drunkenness and being let down and letting other people down, that's all.

One day before Ben is to arrive, I will check my door for an eviction notice. Old habits die slowly...

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Flu

  • 10 Days Without Cigarette
  • Is This Your Final Recovery?

I so much had the desire to start a juice fast which would turn into a water only fast, back on about January 3rd, that I actually did so.
All Better?

Could it have been the November Winds I had been feeling? Did I sense that I had been exposed to the flu virus in this particular 2018 strain, and did my intuition tell me that, should I immediately embark upon a juice/water fast, so I could flush the thing out of my system, bolstering my immune system and giving the virus an environment unfavorable to its proliferation, in the process.
Here it is, 12 days later, and I finally feel like I am over the thing.
Right Now

There were "false" recoveries along the way. I had even gone out to busk a few days ago, feeling as though I might have recovered enough to do so. That was the night that had me feeling so weak  by the time I had walked 9 blocks to the trolley after being rained out, that I had begged the driver to let me ride home for free.
Skeezing Etiquette 101
It is less of a skeeze to ask the trolley driver for a free ride home when you are broke than it is to ask a random stranger for the dollar and 25 cents "for the trolley," to get money to give the driver.
The reasons may be obvious, but they are:
First, you remove one level of credibility, in that it is obvious to the driver what you are trying to skeeze; whereas the random tourist is not sure what you are going to do with the dollar, and could feel like they are possibly being decieved.
Second, the driver of the trolley is probably not (as was the case here) a random stranger to you, if you are a regular rider of the thing and it isn't his first night on the job.
Third, it isn't costing the driver anything out of his pocket to let you ride on the thing; whereas the random tourist is out a dollar and 25 cents...

10 Days Without Cigarette

I suppose if anything is going to live on in history from this particular epoch in my life, then why not the fact that I have voluntarily given up cigarettes for a 10 day period -the first such success in not smoking due to sheer will power, probably since 2014. That time, I had done what turned out to be an 18 day water fast, I believe it was. I was living under the Natchez steamboats wharf at the time, and the black capped night heron had just arrived, so that would make it about July...

I had wanted to do an "abstinence from everything" type of water only fast this time, which is kind of the whole point of a water "only" fast.

It was the flu that had thrown a monkey wrench into things.

The question arose of whether or not this was the best time for a water fast, when the body might "need" things like chicken soup to fight off the virus.

And it was the fact that I had unwittingly bought a bunch of pain relief stuff at the dollar store that had a hefty dose of caffeine as its "pain reducer aid" ingredient, which rendered mute the point of whether or not I should try to give up coffee as well as cigarettes; and maybe migrate towards becoming an herbal tea drinker in the long run...one who doesn't smoke cigarettes.

I had made that ill-advised decision to eat a ham and cheese po-boy sandwich, and then went on to develop a fever, in which delusional state, I began to see the ham and cheese sandwich as being inside myself, constipating me so as to trap the pocket of flu virus where it could live off of ham and cheese and prosper.
As soon as I was able, I walked to the Family Dollar store, where I bought a quart of prune juice, thanking God that I had at least enough money on my food stamp card to do so.

I drank most of it and then waited for the glorious expulsion of the ham and cheese po-boy from my bowels. I pictured it coming out of me black, and maybe even with a skull and cross bones of the skull of  a small rat perhaps.

My fever was probably around 102. There were reports of people dying from the flu.

I usually don't get what "everyone else" gets, due to my unusual diet. But I had eaten a ham and cheese po-boy, for Pete's sake. It had been sitting atop a trash can on a frigid night, making it seem even more probable that it might still be good.

I may have been slated to come down with the flu anyways that evening, but it was easy for me, as I lay there and my temperature rose, to blame it on the po-boy. "I'll bet someone was cleaning out their car and found the thing under a seat, where it had been for weeks, reaching temperatures close to 100 degrees along the way..."

Bobby, my weed guy had been stellar, in that he too had chosen the new year as a time of fasting and cleansing and was living off of things like watermelon, and other melons in the morning, and then was having low fat meals of chicken in the evenings. He had suggested "chicken soup," as a remedy for my flu, but had also given me some chicken. He also gave me some melon, the benefits of which were palpable.

Still, the flu went and then came back, more than once during the past 12 days that I have had it.

This is a situation where, had I been homeless, I just would have lain in my sleeping back, maybe after having hung around the CVS waiting for someone to come along and buy some flu remedy type of stuff, that I could have asked them to sell me a few of out of.

It would have been the valley of the shadow of death, to be sure. Laying in a sleeping bag under a wharf and suffering.  Knowing that I was going to have to wash all the sweat out of the sleeping bag and all my clothes, as soon as I felt up to the task, just to get that flu smell out of it all -but not before having gone out and busked for money to put in the laundry machines...

It could have been depressing. Or maybe not. Maybe it is more depressing sitting around worrying about such things befalling oneself than it is to have them happen. Maybe the latter is a rallying cry and the only way for the tough to get going...


It is 49 degrees on the Monday night. It has been Martin Luther King day, and thus some people have had the day off. I can't recall if this is a good busking holiday...

I have just had my first shot of kratom in about the same 10 days as the cigarette abstinence has been going on. This doesn't leave much still on the list of things to give up.

Bobby gave me about 4 dollars earlier in the day. He understands that I have not been making any money at all the past couple weeks.


Another thing that can mess with you when you have a 103 degree fever scrambling your thoughts is, well, here is a good example.

David Bowie recently passed away and left behind a couple of works, one of which being the album "Blackstar."

My friend Bobby has put an amplifier on lay away for me at the Guitar Center.

He kind of wants to see me get back on my feet and go out and make a bit of money that I could contribute towards the electric guitar and amp, so that he wouldn't be just giving me the stuff, 100%; kind of like The Lord, in that he want's to help those who help themselves.

But, the fact that one of the amps that he on the verge of buying for me is a "Blackstar" brand and that he (Bobby) bears such a resemblance to the last recreation of himself affected by David Bowie (inset) is just more fodder for the delirious mind of a flu sufferer, one who has always lived with one foot in the astral plane and the other on a banana peel.

Watching the Bowie documentary on Bobby's huge TV with him sitting right there a spitting image of the guy; smoking some of his medicinal grade marijuana and then letting the symbolism do its thing, made for an interesting experience. To say that "Blackstar," by David Bowie is stuck in my head right now would be pretty accurate.
Anything is better than the 5 different radio stations playing at the same time of my fevered state of a few days ago, though....

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Beat Back Inside

It was Thursday night, the 11th of January and I was at Starbucks, preparing to go out and busk.
This was the first day that I had felt normal enough to go out and play.

Still, it was about my 6th day on a diet of only fruit juice and water.
Now, coffee was going to join that equation.

I got to the Lilly Pad and set up and then it began to rain moderately as soon as I started playing.
I took cover on Lilly's stoop.
It rained long and hard enough that, even after it stopped coming out of the sky, it continued to run off of roofs and through gutters and kept landing on the ground and splashing the nearby area as it did.
I wound up knocking off, without having made anything, and especially after starting to feel tired.
This was from a combination of having juice fasted all week and the flu, which seems to recede in waves, and can surge back towards the end of a long day with some aching in the muscles or a chill up and down the spine.
I asked the trolley driver if I could get a free ride home.
I was standing there on Canal Street, with the rain once again coming down rather hard: "Hey, I don't have any money; I had the flu last week and before that, it was too cold to play; I'm just trying to get home..."
"Get on."

Not Much Else To Report

One Week Without Cigarette

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Last Walz

As I sit here at Starbucks at 9:36 PM, with them closing in 24 minutes and my guitar at my side; I have checked the weather to see that the temperature is going to begin slowly plummeting from the 66 degrees that it is now, to about 61 a couple hours after midnight.
This is totally in the comfort range for busking. I haven't done so in over a week, because of a combination of the flu and nights too cold.
I am back on my feet now, after the flu and will have to go out and play in a little while or I will have no cash at all.
I still have a cough and will get a headache if I bend over for a while then stand up quickly. But this is going to make my 6th day without a cigarette or kratom or any other food besides fruit juice.
If I do go out and play tonight it will be the first time since I started busking in 2007 that I would be doing so without a pack of cigarettes just off my left hip.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Swine Flu

When we last left Daniel, he had gotten a "grande" sized cup of straight espresso from the Starbucks that is in Harrah's Casino. He should have known that if he sat the cup next to him and then proceeded to work on a blog post, he would unconsciously keep sipping off the thing, until it was gone and he had consumed enough caffeine to get an elephant's day off to a flying start.

I left the casino about 10 minutes before my food stamp money was to come, at midnight.

After a 15 minute walk from there to Rouses Market, using shortcuts that I had learned when living on the street, I was able to pick up what seemed like just a few things, but which cost 32 bucks.

As I walked, I was aware that I was kind of performing an experiment upon myself with regards to seeing how caffeine "actually" effects me.

Honey, coconut oil, concentrated juices of grape and apple, a gallon of distilled water were soon mine, and I began the 9 block walk to the trolley with the 20 pounds of 32 bucks worth of stuff in my pack.
Live Caffeine Experiment
I started to think that I would probably just live off of the juice for a day, because it almost felt like I was coming down with something. There was an aching in my legs as if I had recently run a sprint, even though I hadn't; and the backpack felt heavier than it should have. Yes, I was going to do a 3 day juice fast to head it off at the pass, should it be the flu I was feeling.

The word is that the flu is "bad" this year, or "serious," depending upon who you talk to.
I had already had a nasty bout of it, six weeks prior, that lasted about 3 days and which caused me to miss out on my planned trip to Howard Westra's house for Thanksgiving.
And, here I was, feeling like I might be coming down with it again.
Was that possible? I thought that, once you have the flu and then get over it, only a new and more virulent strain can infect you.
I got home and had only juice for dinner. I felt like I might be able to shake off whatever it was; or that perhaps it was only a 6 hour flu.
Then, I did something so inexplicable that my spirit, rather than my mind, must have arranged it...

Comfort Food?
My last smile for the next 4 days...
I went to the Family Dollar store, intending to get more juice, to continue the "cleanse."

Outside, sitting atop a trash can, was a ham and cheese po-boy sandwich, still sealed in the airtight cellophane package and bearing a price tag of 5 dollars.

This is where it is customary for New Orleans residents to leave food items that they might not want, but that nothing is wrong with and that would be a shame to let go to waste. Better to leave them to the hungry, broke, homeless and others who spend all their money on alcohol.

It was about 40 degrees outside, and so it was like the thing was in a refrigerator.

I stuffed the thing in my bag and then went inside the store, where I did get some more juice, but also some instant oatmeal of the kind that has a ton of sugar in it and comes in flavors like "maple and brown sugar," and "cinnamon and spice," etc.

I was keeping my options open between starving the flu or feeding it.

The Wrong Choice

It may have been the flu virus attacking my brain stem and making me crazy, but at one point, I decided to feed the fever and I ate the ham and cheese thing, and then had a bunch of the oatmeal for dessert. "This is like comfort food, I guess," I thought.

This was Friday evening. Within a few hours, it was evident that, if I had been coming down with the flu before, I was now free falling with it.

I had a headache in a small area near my right temple which felt like it had been hit with a baseball but just hadn't turned black and blue yet, and another larger headache along the back of my head.
I felt constipated and like I was ready to explode like a seagull that has eaten Alka Seltzer.

My temperature must have been at least 102 degrees because I started having nonsensical thoughts as I lay down and covered myself in my heaviest quilt, after putting my winter jacket on.

Just the thought of the ham and cheese po-boy made me feel nauseous; the same for the sweetened oatmeal. I could picture the flu virus taking to the ham like tiny maggots; and the sugar fermenting and expanding and bloating me.

The sight of the stub of a cigar, which was the only tobacco that I had, made me equally nauseous. At one point, in between falling into fitful sleep, tormented by stupid dreams, that all seemed to involve problems that I could care less about the solution to (in one I was playing tic tac toe against myself ad infinitum) and then waking up drenched in sweat yet shivering; I took the thing and threw it towards my trash can.

I found that I had to lay there and moan or the noise in my head would increase until it sounded like a dozen radio stations playing at once. When I got up to shut off my actual radio that was on; I had to grab a table to keep from falling down.

I called Rose and Ed because the former had told me on more than one occasion that I could consider her "the medicine chest" of our building and to never hesitate to ask her if I needed anything.

She came and gave me some Ibuprofen, some benedryl (sp?) and a pill that was a stool softener.
It was the stool pill that I hoped would work to have me crap out everything I had eaten the night before.

Just running to the bathroom and then returning to my blankets had me shivering for minutes, recovering. I couldn't begin to think of walking to the dollar store for more juice.

Too Sick For Doctor

I had a doctors appointment for 8 AM on Monday. I called and cancelled it about an hour before that, stating that I was too sick to go out to see the doctor.

"Are you sure you don't want to come in and have something prescribed for it?" asked the appointment lady.

I looked out my window to notice that it was then raining pretty moderately. I didn't think that there was an antibiotic for the flu; and could not imagine my doctor prescribing anything much different from what Rose had given me. I could, though, imagine myself catching pneumonia walking through the cold and rain for about 2 miles to the hospital.

"No, I would have to walk, and I wouldn't be there in time; and it's raining..."
She rescheduled me for February 14th.

Rose's medications made me feel just good enough to walk, later in the day, feeling 20 years older, to the store, where I bought Harold some food, and myself some juice, including prune.

With this, I restarted the juice fast that I probably should have stayed on and might have avoided getting the flu on.

I started to think of everything I was cleansing myself of as I gulped down 32 ounces of prune juice: sugar, tobacco, kratom, marijuana, caffeine and the ham and cheese sandwich that I couldn't wait to eliminate.
It seemed like I had been loading myself up with every chemical that I had gotten kind of addicted to, starting with the mega dose of caffeine, in order to make myself feel worse, so I would take definitive action to feel better.

So, I sit here on this Wednesday, the 10th of January not having had a cigarette in 5 days and still feeling nauseous at the thought of one.

"Maybe this happening was a blessing in disguise," said Bobby from building C, who has been trying to help me quit tobacco.

I was thinking the same thing. I had been on a treadmill of sorts, trying to pay for daily cigarettes and kratom.

Sugar was something that I had practically none of from about the age of 19 until just recently. I had been "slipping" there.

And, I can remember having skin problems, even involving the color, or tone, of it; back when I ate the ham and cheese po-boys, right alongside everyone else; before I discovered that the soy oil in the mayonnaise was somehow triggering an allergic reaction in me.

I guess I felt bullet proof when I ate that one I found...

For now the juice fast will continue. When I start to eat again, it will be my old diet.

And I will probably take advantage of the free flu shot offered here at Sacred Heart. I had been too lazy to get one this year....