Saturday, June 30, 2018

Summer Trip To New England

Not much to report here, except waking up in the evening, with it almost 8 PM.
The Red Sox vs. Yankees game was squawking through static from the radio in the other room.

That morning, as I sat and read "Centennial," by Robert A. Mitchum, I had tuned my cheap FM radio to the sports station, which I can barely pick up.

I was depressed over the fact that I was waking up thinking about coffee and a cigarette and kratom, and, should I just clip some leaves off my pot plant now and set them to dry out so they will be ready for when I get back from feeding the other addictions?

You should skip the coffee and tobacco and the kratom and just go straight out to busk; you'll be there nice and early, around nine at night, and might discover that you can play well and enjoy it and make a lot of money, minus the "Linus and his security blanket" that having a joint ready to smoke while tuning up gives me.
Yes, conscience, I know...and, no I don't want to appear in Massachusetts in front of family and old friends, stepping outside every hour and then come back in reeking of smoke to those whose noses are more sensitive than mine because they don't smoke.

Can a street musician kick all his addictions and succeed in New Orleans?

It is already almost 10:30 PM. I could be set up and playing by 11:30 PM on this Saturday night during the officially dead season.

Tanya Huang has packed up and headed for the hills; of China, perhaps.

Other musicians have materialized to pick up the crumbs at her spot of St. Louis and Royal Street. What is not enough money for Tanya to bother with, is still not bad for them.

Doing What I Love

I've been making just about the minimum wage of 8 bucks an hour these past few weeks.
One might say that this isn't bad, considering I'm doing "what I love," but after 3 hours of doing what I love, my fingertips might be stinging. So, a minimum wage job where you only get 3 hour shifts each day, becomes barely adequate.

Solution: Get a Bluebird polycarbon fiber guitar with nylon strings like Dorise Blackman used to play for 12 hours a day. 

So, I have learned to sit idle at the Lilly Pad for stretches, just lightly strumming chords and holding a harmonica note, ready to go into some kind of real music  at the sight of approaching tourists.

This is not a totally efficient strategy, though because of two factors that will be distilled into formulas in the book on busking that I might write.
The "Personas Oscuros" or the people who hide nearby in order to listen to you play so that they can determine if A: you even know how to play an instrument. B: If you are "meant" to play music and truly love what you are doing it as evidenced by the fact that you are happily playing away even though there is nobody around to hear you; or that they are hiding behind SUV's if there are.

It is always better to settle in and play continuously, unaffected by the presence or absence of people right in front of you. People might be curious as to what you will play when you are "all alone" at your spot -these might be the same ones who request me to play "What you play when you're just sitting at home playing for your own enjoyment..."

Some people don't want to show themselves perhaps thinking that, should they engage the busker, by stopping to listen, and then walk off without tipping, it would be insulting to the guy, even though he might suck at playing music.

So, buskers, don't wait until you see someone coming to grab the guitar and start playing, at least strum a lazy chord and hold a harmonica note over it... 

The next fifty dollar bill I see will have "summer trip to New England" written all over it.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Ramblin' Man

I guess I'll just ramble here....

"Ramblin' Man" -now there is an example of a song that I have played before and that I have kind of forgotten about. It would be a good way to play for "five minutes more," on a given night when I haven't yet made enough money to satisfy me.

I have been reminded lately about the phenomenon whereby, if I look to the left and the right and see no tourists, but launch into a song anyways, some of them are likely to materialize, and those seem to be the ones that tip better -because they know that I didn't see them coming and am not directing my song at them in a begging type of way that they have become sick of, by the time they have reached the 900 block of Bourbon Street.

Simply put, if a busker grabs his instrument and starts playing upon the sight of approaching tourists, then they can reasonably guess that he is trying to get a tip out of them. This might "work" on some tourists, but those tips are likely to be just a dollar, as acknowledgment that the understand that he is trying to make money.

In this case, it is advisable to the busker to not just grab the mandolin and start picking away for that purpose, but to give it a little extra purpose by taking in a cursory glance at those tourists and playing, say, "Country Roads," by John Denver if they are wearing West Virginia tee shirts, or a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, if they are wearing, er, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tee shirt, type of thing. This might make it appear to be more personal than playing just anything, making them feel like just any tourists.

"Almost heaven...West Virginia...Blue Ridge Mountains...clear water streams and such..." Give them a twinge of homesickness and it might yield a five spot.

This is the philosophy of the "dog" skeezers, to a large extent.

Aside from vigorously discouraging cops from hauling them in over the trespassing and the vomit and the dog food all over the place, due to the fact that they would have the moral obligation to make a separate trip to the state run kennel to book the innocent until proven guilty dog on the same charges, and would have to fill out additional paperwork: "...I don't know, just put 'mutt' I's got a little bit of Shepherd in it, it looks like...scroll down a bit....right there: 'mixed breed;' good enough..." and to worry about being bitten etc., the dog is intended to remind the tourists that, somewhere in West Virginia there is a dog who is feeling sad and abandoned, missing them just as much as they are missing it, and throwing the dog skeezer money, makes them feel like they are doing as much as they can for their dog back home.

Hence, the sarcastic: "Where's your dog?" that I was asked by one particular tourist who passed me.

But, "Ramblin' Man" is a prime example of a song that should go on the list that I have yet to get around to composing and printing out and laminating, itemizing every song that I know how to play. I estimate that that list might have 700 songs on it.

"You know seven hundred songs?!?" asked a skeptical Dorise Blackmon once, when I had mentioned that I needed to get around to making that list, about 4 years ago, now.

I told her something like: "Well, if you know Johnny B. Goode, then you know "Rockin' Around The Clock," and "Back In The U.S.S.R," and a bunch of others; just change the keys.

"Not, really," she had said, referring to the nuances that make "Johnny B. Goode" not "Roll Over Beethoven."

I guess she had a point. But she had always been very nuance-driven; putting in the little trills and R-n-B cliches in songs like "How Sweet It Is (to be loved by you)" as Tanya played the melody on her violin.

15 Dollar Thursday Follows 2 Dollar Wednesday

I remember running about 15 minutes ahead of the previous night when I had made only 2 dollars. Doesn't give me a whole lot of extra time to make it a better night, I thought, as I pedaled towards the Lilly Pad.

And, the "Jesus" clock on St. Joseph's Cathedral, confirmed that I was indeed about that much ahead of myself by reading 11:20 PM, as I rode past it. Tonight, I won't waste the five minutes discussing with The Quartermaster employee why the Coke man shouldn't be pissed at me over his crates, since I return them at the end of each night -which actually safeguards them from skeezers who might take them and then just leave them sitting somewhere after their skeezing is done.

Let There Be Light

The spotlight, which had begun to fade the night before, came on pretty bright from the batteries having recovered a bit from sitting dormant, but it became like the setting sun -part of the hangover from having had a 2 dollar night the night before.

Let There Be Vegetation

I had clipped a bunch of leaves off the pot plant that I have on my windowsill as a houseplant. I might have culled a whole week's worth of growth off it in one fell swoop -it would be gone in 4 days at that rate, but hard times call for drastic measures. Reading about the Arapaho and Cheyenne indians starving on the plains in the 1860's had put me in that mindset.

Let There Be Songs To Fill The Air

Then, as I was tuning up, a string broke -another repercussion of having had a 2 dollar night. It broke in such a way that I couldn't re-string it the normal way. I had to switch the string to a different tuner, that it would reach, and then run the string that had been on that one to the tuner that the string broke on.

The strings were criss-crossed in an ungainly manner, but it held, and I was able to tune up and play.

I spent 3 bucks on cat food, water and one cigar, and then went home, where I was up reading the James A. Michener book until almost noon.

This has set me back time-wise and I now prepare to close up this laptop and try to be at the Lilly Pad before midnight; about the best I can hope for.

But, I did buy new batteries and a bag of kitty litter, and a shot of kratom. I'll pinch more off my plant, dry the leaves quickly in a fry pan with the stove set on low, and see what a Friday night during the slow season might yield. Lord, I was born a Ramblin' man.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"Dave's Been Confused"

-the high school yearbook "signature phrase" applied to my college roommate, Dave LeClair, back in '87 when he graduated from Gardner High School in Massachusetts.
$300 a pop
He was starting college the year after he graduated. I was in my 7th year at the 2 year community college where we both went.

2 Dollar Wednesday

After having been 9 cents short, and denied a second half shot of kratom by Dom at the Uxi Duxi because of it, I left there a little earlier than normal, and was back at the apartment a little after 10 PM.

It had been kind of a reality check for me, as I rode away from the place.

I had left then, rather than subject myself to the possibility that Dom might append: "...and, if you're not going to buy a second half-shot, you can't hang around" to his "I'm not going to do that (let me bring him the 9 cents later)."

I knew that going out to busk on that 90 degree evening was my best option. Even though it would be a Wednesday night, during the officially dead season, I thought that I could be set up and playing at the Lilly Pad by 11 PM.

It was "slow" and "dead" with probably only 40 people having passed me the whole 2 hours that I played and made 2 dollars. It had been 11:30 PM when I got there -the hour and a half since I left the Uxi Duxi having evaporated in the sultry air.

Halfway through my set, the "a" string broke on my guitar. Of course it did; I was nine cents short of a half shot of kratom.

Before I had gotten there, I discovered that the Hotel Monteleone, where I usually pick the ashtrays on my way to the spot, had placed those kind of enclosed ashtrays with the little holes at the top -the "irretrievables" you might call them- by the benches where their employees take their breaks. Of course they had.

I got to the Quartermaster, where I usually grab a milk crate to sit on, and was informed by an employee there that the Coke guy was upset about his crates disappearing from there, of course he was, and could I please not take one of those to sit on, even though I return them every night? Of course I could. The guy was nice enough to produce a milk crate from inside the store: "Here, you can use this..."

I continued to play on the five string guitar, finding a couple of songs that I could manage without that string. One of them was my own "Her Thigh Said: Sublime" song, and the other was the playing of the "Ooooh, she makes me wonder" part of "Stairway To Heaven," by Led Zeppelin, over and over.

The second of the 2 dollars might have come through doing that.
When it rains, it pours, as far as the consequences of my mismanagement of money is concerned.

The spotlight above me with the cheap batteries in it was fading fast. Of course it was.

The universe was bringing itself to balance, after the night that I had run into Chrisina Friis, who had given me ten bucks, and then the barista at Uxi Duxi had given me a free half shot of kratom out of appreciation of my being there, saving her from having to be the sole guardian of all that kratom and the thousands of dollars worth of CBD and kava dabs, not to mention whatever had accumulated in the register, along with probably at least 50 bucks in the tip jar on the counter.

An armed bandit could make off like, well, a bandit, at that place. Considering that the vials, with price tags of $89.95 on some of them are the size of a thing of nose drops, a thief could walk out with a few thousand dollars worth in a plastic shopping bag.

It would take a 110 pound young lady, who is pretty also, to think of such things once she is alone with her thoughts, and the insecurities began to creep in, encircling her like a gay dancer to a pole -

The crystal ball itself goes for 300 dollars, but I digress.

Dom's habit of locking the place up, so he can run home to change his shirt or something, would mean that probably no suspicion would be aroused in customers who might show up to find the door locked. They might just go and run an errand or two, planning upon returning in a half hour, while Erin was being raped in the back room, and the precious oils were being bagged up.

These are just some of the not always obvious complications that could stem from an employee whose vanity is such that he just isn't feeling lavender enough to finish a shift wearing that color. And, of course, Erin's torment could be extended while they run more than a couple errands, due to the fact that Dom might have haphazardly set the "will be back at" clock so that you can't really tell which hour the little hand is on.

What's the big deal about setting the stupid little clock accurately, or running real quick to my apartment to change my shirt? The pretty boy might wonder.

But, it became part of the process of my "letting go of the whole matter" of Dom not forgiving me the 9 cents, to realize that I was leaving him alone at the place after I pedaled away and to console myself by thinking: Karma is a bitch, or words to that effect. What's the big deal about nine little cents?

How would anyone dare to rob the golden boy, though?!?

So, it's Thursday night, and I leave here in a few minutes trying to be at the Lilly Pad by 10:30. I don't want to try to think too much past that...
I'm probably not going to have any weed to smoke, but I'm eventually going to have to stop relying upon it. It's almost a luxury I can't afford. Maybe if I ever achieve the status of Miles Davis, then I can perform on heroin every night, and the audience will just think I'm in a dreamy mood.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mosquito Repellent

I have to remember to pack the mosquito stuff that has been sitting for years in my apartment, as those pest bite me both outside the Uxi Duxi, and at the Lilly Pad.

I went and got the box of food this morning. It was a farce. The van had "just left" when I got to the lobby at a little past half past nine.
I hopped on my bike to chase it, so that I could get a box and have it driven back to Sacred Heart.

When I got to the place, the van had "just left," so I loaded stuff into doubled plastic bags to put on my handle-bars, and probably could have gotten everything that they gave me back, balancing the box on the handlebars, additionally, but left behind 4 cans of soda that had high fructose corn syrup in them, along with a five pound bag of yellow corn grits...

I just got a half shot of kratom here at the Uxi Duxi. It was $2.17 because I hadn't bothered to ask for the "local neighborhood discount" which would have left me enough for a second one.

After I changed my mind and wanted a full shot, I asked Dom if I could give him the rest of the money I had and get the second half of the shot, since the total would come to what I would have paid for a shot in the first place.

"No, I'm not going to do that," he said, as if relishing the opportunity to deny anyone anything.

"Whatever; just asking..."

Now, he is basically using a technicality to deny me getting a whole shot of the stuff.

And I am having deja-vu from the last time something similar happened. It is over 41 cents, and I am in here almost every day, type of thing.

And, I have to go on my way, harboring no resentment, and not letting it ruin my night.

I guess I'll go out to play, hopefully make something while my batteries last, and then just avoid the Uxi Duxi on nights when Dom works...

Help From A Surprising Source

I woke up this Tuesday evening about an hour before the sun started going down, thinking that it was Wednesday, and that I had slept through another opportunity to grab the couple boxes of food that are available to me each month from a certain charitable organization, based upon my income level having qualified me for food stamps.
Well, now it's Wednesday!
It is basically food that might have been donated to them and that they are prohibited by law to hand out to the homeless, because it is stuff that has to be cooked.

Ask the owner of the building on Canal Street that a homeless guy burned to the ground a couple years ago, trying to cook hamburger, why there might be such a regulation in existence...

But, since I have a UL listed and inspected oven at the residence that I can prove that I live at, I can get the frozen chicken, or the ham roast each month, along with the rice and beans and other stuff that has to be cooked.

All I usually have to do is stay up from 2 AM, when I get back from busking, until 10 AM, when the van leaves Sacred Heart for the place.

But, once the sun comes up in the morning, I fade fast. I've already probably had 4 cups of coffee while reading or working with Audacity and so, another one, to keep me up for the van ride, is usually ineffective.

A solution, of course, is to make enough money playing at night to cover food of my choice, along with cigarettes, weed, kratom, coffee and a Robert A. Mitchum book here and there.

But, this is only after taking money "off the top" for strings and harmonicas and batteries for my spotlight -something that, in my cozy studio, I had neglected to consider.

I woke up, thinking that it was Wednesday (I had even written "it is Tuesday night" erroneously on yesterday's post) and knowing that I had just about nothing. I had the heavy feeling of having eaten a lot of peanut butter the night before. I even had it with pasta, realizing that that was just another instance of combining a grain with a vegetable protein. Maybe if I had added some greens it would have digested better. But, my initial urge was to sleep some more, when I first woke up at 5 PM.

There was 8 cents on my coffee table and no cigarettes.

Harold had not touched a dish of food that I had put out for him, leading me to think that there was something wrong with it...had I spooned it out of the can onto his plate using a spoon that had something repulsive to cats on it, like cocoa or peanut butter or coconut oil?

I still had some weed, but looked at it as something that I could ill afford to smoke, in such a situation.

It was the fact that I had taken the previous night off, smoking weed and messing around in my studio, getting less than half the amount done, that I would have, had I done it straight, on just coffee that had put me in the bind, which is starting to feel like The Daily Bind, lately. Mirrored by the constipated feeling from the peanut butter.

Dwelling upon the conundrum of: "Yeah, but then it wouldn't have been as fun," I decided that I would hop on my bike and make a huge 2 mile circle, looking for half cigarettes, and not ruling out the possibility of finding a can of cat food just sitting somewhere (a New Orleans specialty") then would return to Sacred Heart where I would see if Bobby in building C' would loan me the $1.75 plus tax for a 4-pack of AAA batteries for my spotlight.

At that point, I would be set up, at least, to busk.

I could hit the Starbucks on Canal Street with the gift card in hand that I have had since the Lidgleys sent a February surprise of a parcel to me which included it. It still has about 25 bucks on it, I recall. I've been doing all of my blogging at the Uxi Duxi and not getting to that Canal Street area until it is after they close at ten, and when I am usually hustling towards the Lilly Pad and abusing myself over how I could have gotten to run so late...again.

There, should I be able to buy someone their coffee using the card, in exchange for cash "of a lesser value" then I might think of making a run to the Uxi Duxi before their own closing time of 10 PM.

We are in the slow season.

This is the time that I had picked to make a trip to New England, with July 1st, penciled in right now. Regardless of whether I am properly "prepared" to go, or not.

I am going to embrace the uncertainty of putting myself in a situation where, as soon as I step off a Megabus in Atlanta, or Savannah, or Charlottesville, I might be broke and have to immediately start playing.

Waiting until I have new strings and harmonicas and all the bus fare, plus food money, and ounce of kratom, and all my other ducks in a row before leaving has just not "worked out" for each of the past 6 or 7 years since I have started to say "This summer, I'm definitely making a trip to New England; I'm not getting any younger, and...etc." every winter.

The work I have been doing in my studio has just not been lucrative enough to justify my having taken time off from busking. At least if I stayed in all night to make a drawing of a random face off the Internet, I could set it up next to me as I played with a price of, say, 25 dollars on it.

In the back of my mind, I envision an agitated man approaching me and demanding to know: "Why do you have a drawing of my daughter?!? In a bathing suit?!?"

But, the stuff I do in the studio only translates into dollars and cents in the sense that, I may have added a song to my repertoire after having run through it a million times recording it. I can now satisfy requests for "Yesterday, When I Was Young," for that very reason.

Well, now it really is Tuesday night, and it is 11:30 PM, and, conventional wisdom would tell me to stay in and try to be awake for when the van leaves for the food bank, and then to start playing in the late afternoon, attempting to do the 4 PM until 1 AM shift at the Lilly Pad.

The next day after my next decent money night, I will log on to the Megabus website, and maybe glance at the Greyhound one. I'm pretty sure that looking out at an unfamiliar city will be like a slap of Aqua Velva to the face, to get me on my toes as a busker. No smoking a bowl and playing a 12 minute "Imagine" by John Lennon for me out there...

So, I started riding slowly toward the Holy Ground bar at the corner, the one with the ashtrays that are sometimes guarded with a baseball bat by one particular bartender there.

Ahead of me was Jeffrey, who lives in our building, and who is a distinguished looking white guy of probably about 45 years old. He seems to have a little bit going for him, wears decent clothes and owns a laptop which he can often be seen using, around the building.

I have a hunch that Bobby, who is both of ours weed guy, has given Jeff the pass code for his wireless, maybe in exchange for a little money every week. He might not have extended me the same offer, either because he knows I am strapped for cash usually as it is, or because I live more than a hundred feet from his signal, or because he fears that I know too much about computers and might use his I.P. address for criminal purposes, or all the above.

But, Jeffrey, I learned, is not above picking the ashtrays at the Holy Ground, which I saw him do, rather discreetly, about a hundred feet ahead of me as I headed that way. He picked a butt with his left hand and deposited it in his right rear pocket, able to block his actions with his body in that way.

"Watch out for the guy with the baseball bat," I said to him when I got there.

"He's not going to hit someone with a baseball bat in broad daylight in front of at least a dozen customers," Jeff reasoned.

"I guess you're right," I said, and grabbed one for myself.

Then, I heard the voice of who turned out to be Christina Friis, say "Daniel!"
She had been standing there at the periphery of my vision, wearing a full length cotton dress that blended so well with the background that she appeared almost like a face hanging in the trees.

She told me that she was leaving in a couple weeks, and that she wasn't going to do street performing any more, at least in New Orleans.

She said that she had decided that it wasn't a good venue for her music.

I suspected that there might have been a negative incident of some kind, but didn't pry.

She did say, though, that CD sales have declined "out there," to which I tried to tell her about how Tanya Huang has a large bar-code type thing where she plays, which allows people to pick and choose individual songs out of her now pretty impressive block of them.

Why buy a CD and be stuck with the other songs on it that you might not like...Metallica and Carol King on the same disc, type of thing, when you can do it that way?

And, plus, the CD, as a physical medium is fast becoming a relic of the past. When's the last time you saw someone walking down the street listening to music from a disc that is spinning away in a Walkman, chewing up a set of batteries every five hours, and being stuck with that artist and those songs all day?"

Christina is going to Las Vegas shortly, and then will settle down somewhere else.

She had been in our neighborhood talking to someone who was doing the liner notes for her latest relic of the past disc of her original songs.

She was in the situation of not having cash for the street car and not being able to find a Chase Bank, and was preparing to walk back to the Quarter, a half hour stroll that I have taken several times.

I decided to walk with her, since I had only been making a large circle looking for tobacco and hoping to find a can of cat food just sitting somewhere, anyways. I told her how unfortunate it was that I had only eight cents on me at a time when I would have gladly given her the buck and a half for the street car.

When we got to the corner of Broad Ave and Canal, though, she spotted the Rite Aid, where she knew she could get cash, and offered to buy me a can of cat food out of there.

When I got to the register with the cat food, she had gotten cash -broken so she would have street car money- and she turned to me and asked: "Could I please give this to you?" holding out a ten dollar bill.

"Not the best venue for my music..."
I told her, as long as she wouldn't think that I had been following her, hoping she would to just that.

I saw her off onto the street car. "You know, I've never ridden the street car before!" she had said.

"Enjoy your first street car ride," I said, as she was figuring out where to slide her dollar. "I've ridden it a couple hundred times. This is one of the best drivers," I added, which brought a smile from the black driver whom I hadn't seen since before I got my bike. "He stays on the tracks pretty well!" He was smiling as the doors closed in front of him, and away went Christina Friis, perhaps out of my life forever.

I was then a man who had gone from just trying to get a can of cat food to: "I think I can still make it to the Uxi Duxi before they close!"

The good luck persisted as, arriving at the Uxi Duxi just before 10 PM, I found a semi-distraught Erin, a 20 something good looking skinny girl, who was all alone in the store, and visibly nervous about it, it seemed.

When I walked in, causing the door bells to chime, she was not in sight, but soon her face appeared with a look of apprehension, horror and dread.

She breathed a sigh of relief, saying that it had been so slow that evening that she had feared being in there all by herself. She gave me a full shot of Yellow Borneo kratom instead of the half shot that I had asked for, out of appreciation of my being there, and even added: "And, you're even one of the easiest customers to serve, just a shot of kratom, no ruby-red grapefruit honey infused tea with kava and ginger, or anything..."

So, I guess this means, I go back to the apartment to work some more on the song that I had decided to put aside because it was not a lucrative enough pursuit. My time working on it having been sponsored now, in a sense... 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Breaking With Convention

Besides having decided to start from the center of the onion, and peel outward, the center of the onion being the highlight of the previous busking experience, with the outermost layer being whatever state of affairs is pressing upon me as I take to the keyboard to post...

I did not go out to busk last night (so much for the core of the onion) having left the Uxi Duxi at probably around 10:20 PM, and was happy that both the Rouses and the Winn-Dixie were open until midnight.

I had $6.90 on me, I remember that.

I bought a huge jar of peanut butter on sale for 4 bucks; I couldn't resist because it is regularly $5.47. I really could live off it for quite a while, especially if it's true that a certain Yogi lived for great lengths of time on one peanut and a half cup of milk every day. [Probably the one who was a guru to Paramahansa Yogananda, since the latter wrote the only book I have ever read which was an autobiography of a yogi.]

Taking the night off from busking always has its consequences, and consequently, I woke up with one dollar on my coffee table, and feeling almost stuffed, after an evening of reading "Centennial," by James A. Michener, interspersed with runs to the cabinet for another tablespoon of peanut butter, mixed with cocoa, coconut oil and a pinch of salt. If I had had a sweetener like honey, I might have finished the whole jar.
Joyous Discoveries
I feel as if I have made a joyous discovery in the fact that I now see that this guy wrote a lot of books. The "Centennial" one that I am reading has 906 pages. This is 32 hours of reading for me.

I determined a long time ago, when I was in jail, that I read somewhere around 28 pages per hour.

This is if a page has 2,400 words on it, which would mean a Charles Dickens or a Henry Fielding, Sir Walter Scott, or even Charlotte Bronte -any of the "most bang for the buck" offerings that come under the genre of "classic literature." The Michener books fall into this category.

A Stephen King novel is, I'm pretty sure, designed to be the size of a brick, even if that would mean putting one word on each page; a real page-turner of a short story that would be.

I think I could knock out almost 70 pages an hour of one of his.

He was the "king" of the books circulating within almost all of the dozen or so jail-blocks that I have ever been housed in, in my life. He, and James Patterson (speaking of one word on each page) pretty much had a monopoly.

I felt kind of bad having my mom send me Charles Dickens novels, with their ability to transport me, excuse the pun, out of the jail and to London, or Paris, for the 80 hours that it would take me to read them, and then to see the book circulate through the block, staying in no other cell for longer than the 5 or so minutes that it took its inmates to read the first sentence, excuse another pun, and determine that they didn't like it.

Is there a correlation between reading Stephen King and running afoul of the law? Marvelous Idea #3: Try to actually get a government grant to conduct such a study.

28 Pages Per Hour

I went to the trouble of measuring how fast I read while in jail (by reading for say, 20 minutes, then multiplying how many pages I read by 3) because I used it as a time passer.

After the whole block had been locked down for the night, and while my cellmate slept, I would sit, wrapped in my blanket, where light was streaming in through the gate, and would set my bookmark ahead the number of pages that I could read before the 5 AM breakfast cart arrived, the lights came up, and the gate popped open. There were mornings when I was on the last paragraph of the last page when that happened.

It was just as good as a clock -something that a lot of inmates couldn't see one of when locked in their cells.

"Hey, does anyone have any idea what time it is?" -most likely uttered by the new guy who had just been thrown in the previous day, and who is counting hours until the morning, when the judge might let him go, rather than days or weeks or months.

[checking what page I'm on] "It's right around 2:20 AM."
"Thanks and, do you know what 'phan-tas-ma-gorical' means?"
"You must have the Dean Koontz one..."

Hey, some guys excavate a spoonful of concrete from their cell wall, and then convey it to the outside yard, concealed in a pocket that has its bottom cut out, allowing them to scatter it on the ground out there every day; other's count the pages they have to read before breakfast comes, we all had our quirks in there, I guess.

It was good knowing that breakfast and a cup of coffee awaited me when I got to where the bookmark was.

After breakfast, I would exercise, then read some more while the coffee gradually wore off, when I would be tired enough to drift off to sleep, to the din of the other inmates slapping playing cards down on tables, and the drone of the 2 TV's, set to different stations, one white, one colored.
But, Joyous Discovery #1 is that, as evident by the picture above, I have literally, excuse another pun, weeks of great reading ahead of me, in the form of all those Michener titles that I haven't read yet.

I had started to read "Hawaii," and found it fascinating, a third of the way through it, when I lost my copy of it -might have left it at Leslie Thompson's in my haste to get out of his house, and away from him- and the "Centennial" one that I am reading now, my second of his, is just as interesting. I am learning a lot about American History, too.

Marvelous Idea #2:

I could draw cartoons, like perhaps a Saint looking guy squeezing the guts out of a cartoon falcon, and then try to sell my designs to the guys who run the tattoo parlor on Carollton Street.

I pick up their "snipes" a lot, since they seem to come out and half smoke American Spirit non menthols, then demonstrate an ability to flick them onto the side of the road in front of the place in such a way that they go out, and I have talked to them a few times.

I joked about them putting a tattoo of my upper arm on my upper arm, and making it so life-like that nobody would be able to tell it was a tattoo "the vein will be the biggest challenge..." and then a bit more seriously, about them tattooing sheet music on my upper arm that I can then practice playing until I have it mastered. "Bach, probably..."

"It would have to be something good that you wouldn't get sick of hearing..."

The matter will be whether they, as artists (with pride) do all of their own drawings, or not.

It seems to me that a lot of people would bring drawings to the place, wanting to get exactly whatever it is, put on their body. But, maybe the artist hate it when they do that...why come to a particular artist when any decent one can trace out and copy a cartoon? type of thing...

I suppose that they could hang my cartoons on some kind of demonstration wall, and if anyone wanted one put on their arm ("Oh, that's funny!!") or something, I could get maybe a ten dollar "commission" on each one. Based upon the honesty system, I guess.

Just another idea...

Other than that, it is a Tuesday night, I am broke, and my spotlight is pretty dim right now as, the batteries that Bobby had given me had faded pretty fast the last time I went out, and then I had forgotten to set a couple bucks aside, instead buying a huge jar of peanut butter, an energy drink and a can of cat food.

"Embrace uncertainty..." -Eckhart Tolle

This could mean daylight busking, and that would mean going out into a temperature that "feels like 105ยบ" tomorrow, and playing somewhere.

The stuff in the studio is getting better, in a weird way. It involves myself being able to detach myself more from what I'm doing, and bring my recording studio experience a little more in line with what I do when at the Lilly Pad -just being another person hanging around listening to the music, that I just happen to be making but am not trying to take "credit" for.

Just cash (rim-shot).

I'll have to be patient and not put the cart in front of the horse.

The cart is my need to make, fifty dollars would be nice.

And the horse is the urge to make an artistic statement, without concern over receiving any remuneration for it.

The Scardino Sessions

Jacob Scardino has gone silent.

When I had been over to his studio, it had not been an optimal situation.
I was playing guitar and singing and playing harmonica, and he was recording it, planning upon adding voices to it later, using his synthesizer and/or drum kit.

I knew this was going to be hard for him, because my rhythm might not have been rock steady.

I can't help but think that he ran into those difficulties and lost interest in "the project."

If we get together again, I figure that we should play at the same time, with him on synthesizer and myself on guitar. The idea would be to just try to fall into some good grooves and get good recordings of them, regulated by a metronome beat.

Then we each could go to work separately, loading the mp3 of the whole jam on track one of Audacity, then adding parts.

Since my parts would be in time with the same metronome, we could mix and match them when we next got together.

This is how the song "Pressure," which is credited to the group Queen, "featuring" David Bowie, was recorded.

Bowie and Freddie Mercury took turns going into the vocal booth, putting on the headphones and singing along with the musical track, making up melodies as they went. That is what accounts for the part towards the end when they are both singing somewhat different melodies, but ones that mesh together, because they both started with the "Pressure, coming down on you; coming down on me..." melody, and then embellished from there.

So, Jacob and I need to just jam away for an hour, trying to make the guitar and keyboards fall into different grooves along the way.
At one point, he might play a chord progression on the keyboard that I would comp along to, then vice-versa.

Then, he could sing over it in his studio, maybe adding synthesized horn parts, while I sing over it in my own, maybe adding extra guitars and harmonicas.

Then, as a second phase, I could listen back to the thing, with the extra parts that he added, and then re-do my extra parts, tailoring them more to that, while he was doing the same to the original plus my original extra parts. It could be interesting, and I will have to text him with the idea soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Dear Howard

...I am communicating this the old fashioned way; since it seems that yet one more Sunday has gone by without myself having shown up to join in the dinner, as per the much appreciated invitation to do so, which you have extended on more than one occasion.
A few weeks ago, it was the fact that I was "fasting," i.e. consuming only apple juice and spring water for a few days, followed by a couple days of consuming only lemon juice squeezed into spring water with cayenne pepper added (dissolves any hardened matter which might be clogging digestive tract), and that these days overlapped a particular Sunday when I just happened to be awake in the morning and could have made it over there to visit.
But, I figured that a fasting person and Berta on a Sunday afternoon would be like oil and water. Plus, an encounter with a drunken Ken always spawns its own apprehensions...
But, this letter is to inform you that you are still in my thoughts. It just might be that football season will be the ultimate impetus for me to get over there for a visit.
It always seems a bit daunting to try to get a bike on a bus which is headed over the river. It seems like a world apart, since one cannot legally ride a bike across the bridge there is always the fear of becoming trapped over on that side. A nightmare where every hour arrives a bus with 2 bikes already on the front rack, type of thing.
I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits, my regards to the turkey, and I will either try to make a copy of this, as I am writing it on my computer, or will transcribe it by pen onto paper before mailing it.
I find that my mind races faster than I can write using cursive, and, only with the keyboard do I stand a chance of keeping up.
Still, I think "great writers" like Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, and Steven King, even, have the ability to slow their thoughts way down, put them in order and then capture them on paper...kind of like staying in the fictitious moment.
Hope your novel is coming along; mine has been stuck at around 21% complete since 1987...

New Pseudo Direction For Blog
OK, without further ado, this blog about busking will henceforth and effective immediately, start at the center of the onion and peel outward...

This is an experiment, and a departure from what I had been doing, since time immemorial, which was to start with the present state I was in as I blogged, and only get to the kernel, which was the busking itself, if and when it impacted that present state of mind. By then the glitter had worn off the evening, and it had probably been distilled down to the material aspect of having been essentially an x dollar night.

That would represent the outer layer of the onion.

At the center, though, would be the moment I was sitting at my spot and playing, and then the onion would be constructed of rings outward, to ultimately be encased in whatever mindset I was in as I sat down to blog. About busking. Ostensibly.

OK, so, without further ado [chiming sounds and the image of me sitting and blogging dissolving away and being replaced by me sitting at the Lilly Pad]...

I am sitting at the Lilly Pad.

It is Saturday night.

I have foregone singing "Piano Man," by Billy Joel, because I usually start that off by substituting for the "It's nine o' clock on a Saturday," part with something like: "It's 10:38 on a Tuesday!" Which is funny on a Tuesday night, But on a Saturday, nobody will realize that the lyrics have been altered to reflect the current time and date. The song is cool to begin at exactly nine o' clock on a Saturday, though. Some astute passersby might want to show that they are on the ball, "know what time it its," to use a hip-hop cultural phrase, and might tip a dollar for the cleverness of it . Beginning "After Midnight," by Eric Clapton at exactly midnight, also cool to do, if you are aware of the time enough yourself to notice that it's midnight, that is...

But, a woman came along and sat on the stoop.

I had been in the middle of doing one of my weird songs where I try to make up most of the lyrics, over chords that I am very (maybe too) comfortable with.

The setting of the chords to "auto-pilot" to free the mind to compose lyrics using, I guess, a different lobe of the brain, which can be focused upon a little more, since the hands are on autopilot, is one of the "techniques" I use," I told the woman, who was probably around 30 and had the look of those pale skinned reddish-brown haired people who are very prone to having freckles. Reddish brown ones.

She wore glasses and had the slightly chubby aspect of someone who might sit and read for long hours. Not with a dish of ice cream by her side, but maybe some potato sticks, or something else that's caloric value would slightly outpace their expenditure in the turning of pages. She wasn't blatantly overweight, but just seemed like a person who probably didn't like rock climbing or jogging or swimming, but was an afghan crocheting fool who has read every one of the New York Times Top Ten list, and would even like to sit down and listen to a guy playing guitar and harmonica.

This was probably the reason that I thought she might enjoy my more intellectually challenging lyrics, such as the ones I was singing in my "David Adam Murray" song, about the *fictitious* murder of a former roommate of mine, and continued to do so after she had sat down.

"It being Florida, I strangled him with a flamingo, gagged him with an orange, conked his head on a palm tree then threw him to the gators..." I sang.

I heard some giggling coming from the stoop during it.

I still had only 3 one dollar bills in my tip basket, a half hour in.

When I stopped, the lady, whose name wound up being Danielle, told me that my music had evoked the essence of Neil Young to her.

I started to tell the story of how, in the blissful ignorance of my youth, I was just trying to sing whatever lyrics I was, and play the guitar at the same time, and that left no room for the consideration of exactly how I was going to sing the song, and so I just sang, unconsciously, and invariable, people in whatever coffee house that I had enlisted myself to play at behind the promise that I actually knew what I was doing, would tell me that I sounded like Neil Young.

When Danielle told me that she was from Canada ("West Canada, like British Colombia but even further west, on British Colombia Island [or something]") I drew the connection to Neil Young based upon his being an export of that country, or at least someone who is claimed as such by many of the people of that great, yet stingy, nation.

She could have more completely embodied that particular stereo-type of Canadian by adding: "...or some John Mellencamp" to her request for more Neil Young songs.

She had phrased the question in a very ambiguous way, something like: "If you weren't planning upon doing something different, could you play any more Neil Young?"

This made me think that she was probably a practitioner of some kind of psychologically driven approach to life, whereby you don't encroach upon a person's freedom to do whatever they will, by pressuring them with a request to do something different. I'm OK, Daneille is OK, and it's OK if I do one of my own songs instead of more Neil Young, type of thing.

Her telling me that she worked as a "youth counselor" affirmed this impression.

I started to wonder if she wasn't perhaps a nice person who was going to wind up throwing me a 50 dollar tip, but only if I didn't betray my disinterestedness in the whole matter by squirming over the fact that, after a half hour of her having occupied the stoop, with other tourists passing by and treating me as if I was already engaged with a person, who was probably requesting songs and would tip me, she hadn't thrown me anything.

I was kind of in a pickle because I was truly trying just to enjoy the present moment and it just seemed like I would have to make the whole world stop for a second to broach the subject of, hey I do kind of need to make at least enough money for toilet paper, cat food and, maybe kitty litter (although I could fill Harold's box with a bunch of sand from outside for free) and, of course a shot of kratom the next day would probably be nice.

I played my "Computer Geek Blues," which is basically a song written from the fabricated perspective of: What if I had a really fine girlfriend and Travis Blaine stole her heart from me, with lines like
 "He came into our domain, she hosted him; he looked over her configuration. Now he's changed her location, deleted my image from her memory; she seems to love his application..."
Which had the bookish looking woman from west Canada laughing away at some of its lines.

I was having trouble reading her at that point. Did she think that she was being supportive of me by being there and responding positively to my songs?

I couldn't assume that she had noticed that not a dollar had gone into my basket throughout the twenty minutes or so that I had played at that point, though I had noticed smiles on the faces of some of the people walking past, especially after some of the funnier lines, because she is not a busker.

I was still playing well, during the third song that I was playing while she sat on the stoop.

There was a danger though, that if I started to build up animosity towards her, it would taint my performance and be disastrous all the way around. better to settle the matter, by trying to intimate that her sitting there was interfering with my "business," but I decided to just keep playing as well as possible and to let the tips take care of themselves. It was a test of my ability to live in the present moment.

It crossed my mind that the lady might have been attracted to me, whether drunk or not, and might have been hoping that she could hang out the entire night and then maybe join me for a cup of coffee at an all night place later, or something like that.

Maybe she read a lot of Danielle Steele -or maybe her name of "Danielle" was a cosmic signal to me that she was a hopeless romantic who believed in fairy tales..."I met this guy who was sitting on the street playing music, and something inside of me stirred, my heart felt like a canary that has just noticed that the door to its cage is wide open" type of thing.

A bit of relief came when I explained: "That last song is a kind of a 'what if' song, written from the perspective of, what if this certain guy I know ever stole my girlfriend; what kind of song would I write about it."

"Oh, so it's not about something that actually happened," she sighed with a noticeable amount of relief in her aspect.

Then I had to wonder why she felt so much better knowing that Travis Blaine, the guy in the song who "feeds his cat the worst dollar store dry food," and "sits in front of a laptop all day getting stoned," had not actually stolen my girlfriend.
Was it because that meant that there was no girlfriend that I was heartsick over or otherwise?
"That's kind of funny, 'cause I did once kind of steal a girl from a guy because she was so impressed with my knowledge of computers, what happened was, well, first I have to give you some background on how I met this girl and this guy. At the time, I was working for this software company, and I don't know if you know much about software companies, but, at the time, this company was one of the cutting edge developers of new software, I mean this was some pretty high powered stuff...and the only reason I got the job was because; check this out, you're not going to believe this story; then I'll get back to the guy and his girlfriend, 'cause you're gonna want to hear that story, too. There was this Korean restaurant right near where I was staying, and a lot of people think all Asian food is pretty much the same, by the way, but there are subtle differences, like, you could blindfold me and I would be able to tell the difference between a Korean dumpling and a Laotian one, not many people could do that, I could probably become a master chef if I wanted to, just based upon my I would go to this restaurant when I was in that particular phase of eating. Because, interestingly, I find that I basically have maybe 4 different dietary phases that I go through, and sometimes I won't eat Asian food for months and then I might eat Korean food every day, or almost every day, for a couple weeks; and I'm not really sure what they coincide to, but that's another thing about me; and, that might have something to do with my mother. My mother has Puerto Rican blood in her, but she had this one favorite Korean dish that she used to bring home sometimes when I was a kid, and you have to imagine...we were living within a quarter mile of at least fifty different restaurants, so as a kid I kind of developed the ability to distinguish between a lot of different ingredients. Most American kids never got to taste duck, for example, but I was exposed to cuisine from all over the world; and...I'm gonna get back to the guy and his girlfriend...I'm leading up to that....I'm gonna tie it in with that particular restaurant..."

I decided not to tell her that I needed to get back to my hustle and that by sitting there she was interfering with my business.

She had seemed kind of slow on the uptake of a few things that I had said, as if missing the point I was trying to make, like when I was telling stories about being homeless and "having it made," under the wharf, grilling lamb and drinking red wine and watching the stars twinkling off the waters of the Mississippi, with my pet rats who would frighten off strangers for me, etc.
She had kept shaking her head with pity as if unable to get past the concept of homelessness being terrible.

"No, I loved it!" I had to say to her at one point, in lieu of shaking her by the shoulders. "That's why it took them so long to coax me into my apartment through a voucher for 'disable veterans.'"

I'm really not closed to the romantic notion of meeting the love of my life while busking, but, she had just seemed a bit too obtuse, and took things too literally for my tastes.

I was happy to be able to play at my highest level for a while longer, as tourists passed by, seeing that I was "already busy" with someone.

But, finally, I decided to pack up and take "a 15 minute break" at which point she threw what appeared to be a dollar in my basket, and said that she needed to use a restroom herself.

I directed her to the one in Lafitt's Blacksmith shop, which she left for, while I headed to The Quartermaster for a cup of coffee, a can of cat food, and a roll of toilet paper.
Ladder Man

Sidebar to video: The true talent of Ladder Man is not evident in this short clip, as, he is able to hold still enough so that the lumber on his shoulder stops moving entirely, making him a pretty impressive human statue, indeed. -the message about him working for tips being written in the 3rd person is almost certainly designed to convey that the guy can't read or write, and had somebody else make his sign for him, or to imply that the sign was written by some undefined family that had sent him out to work, with his tools, his lunch pail, and his sign.

Last night had been my first interaction with Ladder Man, who has been here at least as long as the 8 years that I have. I have kept my distance from him after hearing a few stories about "how crazy ladder man is," along with the advice to me to never, ever, piss off ladder man. 

I guess I figured that the best way not to piss off ladder man could best be effectuated from a mile away.

As I rode my bike, sipping on the coffee, having decided that 4 dollars just wasn't enough money and that I would just play longer, this time not hindered by the well meaning but kind of obtuse Danielle, I encountered "Ladder Man," who was bent over at the waist and groaning.

"Ohh, do you have any paper?" he asked.

Usually this meant that a person wanted to roll a joint and was asking for rolling paper.

I had already "rolled" past him, but the way he had been bent over and clutching his belt, the one that he had his hammer and his tape measure hung on, made me pause.

"What kind of paper?" I asked.

"Toilet paper, I..I just got this pain..that shit's gotta come out..."

I had just bought a brand new roll of toilet paper 2 minutes earlier. It seemed too much ordained that I stop and fetch it out of my backpack and offer him some, which I did while he tried to apologize for having eaten whatever it was that he had eaten.

I unrolled maybe 8 feet of it, thinking the whole time how visible the lily-white stuff must be to anyone who might look to see me unfurling it, and how the picture, with him standing there bent over at the waste and groaning, would say a thousand words, so that I tried to hide what I was doing, out of consideration for the poor guy and his embarrassing situation.

Plus I do respect the guy because he works, as Ladder Man, putting in at least as many hours as I do.

There are plenty of skeezers who I turn down, even those -especially those- who lower their skeeze to "I just need 4 cents" or something, just to test me to see "where my heart is," or maybe just to satisfy themselves that they had gotten me to give them something.

But, I figured if I was ever going to give to a skeezer, then Ladder Man had truly lowered his skeeze (along with his trousers) to something that was a genuine test of "where my heart" was.

He couldn't wait any longer, and grabbed the wad of it as it was, handing me a dollar, to my mild surprise; then made off for a spot between two vehicles, one of them being Lilly's Navigator (Of course, Lilly's Navigator, I thought. Who could ever argue that the universe isn't cosmically connected in some way, as if by invisible wires? He was leaving something that was going to draw a sardonic smile from Lilly in the morning ...oh, great...the same animals that leer at my daughters, I'll bet... I could hear her Manhattan accent in my head: "You should have told him you weren't gonna give him the paper if he was going to shit right there! Tell him to go between some other cars, like my neighbors that are trying to sue me over my alley!").

I stayed where I was and, taking advantage of a parting of the Red Sea type of gap in the passing traffic, was able to unroll another 10 feet of paper, which I tossed in a wad onto Lilly's hood in front of him as I rode past. He then knew that I knew that I hadn't given him quite enough but that he hadn't had the luxury of standing there, waiting on me.

"Thank you. God bless you. You see me out here all the time, thanks for having my back!" was what I heard as I continued to the Lilly Pad.

The more street people that might tell other street people: "No, he alright, don't mess with him none," the better.

I unpacked and noticed that what Danielle had thrown must have been the 5 dollar bill that had somehow taken a weird hop and stood itself up right against the edge of the basket that had been invisible to me.

I played for about another hour and made the lion's share of the 15 bucks that made up that Saturday night.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Very Busy Unemployed Man

25 Dollar Friday

I woke up wondering if I should go back and edit what I wrote yesterday. I realize that some immigrants are truly fleeing from rape and kidnapping and murder, and some of them have forked over their entire life savings to the cartels in exchange for "safe passage" here, so I rescind my description of them as being "stupid."

I got to the Lilly Pad at around 11:20 and actually played for about 3 hours, making the above amount.
The usual urge to leave after an hour and a half when the joint I smoked while tuning up wears off never arrived, because I hadn't had any weed.
I didn't think I was playing very well, but also knew that the weed makes me sound better to myself, and gives the illusion of helping me focus.
It actually scatters the mental energy, making it harder to "rise above thinking," as the thoughts become exaggerated in their significance; i.e. something that seems really clever might not be that funny in the morning, type of thing.

I bought a can of cat food, a cup of coffee, a one dollar cigar as a pack of cigarettes substitute.

I still need toilet paper, kitty litter, shaving cream and kitchen and bath cleaning spray with bleach.
I started a load of laundry for $1.25 before coming here to the Uxi Duxi to spend 4 dollars, after stopping for an energy drink at GNC for $2.60. Then, as often happens when I have money, the guy at GNC showed me a couple cans of said energy drink that had become mangled, which he offered me at half price, which I "couldn't refuse" because I'm going to spend the $2.60 anyways.
And now Bobby is calling me telling me that he is in the rarely occurring situation of being broke right now. I suppose I will go and give him the rest of the money I have.
My strings were breaking last night, I repaired 2 of them in the middle of playing. My spotlight is dim...I will need to get a 4 pack of AA batteries while I'm picking up kitty litter and toilet paper...I'm a very busy unemployed man these days...

Friday, June 22, 2018

Pissed At The World

I went out to play last (Thursday) night, just so I could have any amount of money at all.

I didn't get to the Lilly Pad until after midnight.

Canal and Royal Streets had a closed-down look to them along my way.

I knew it would have to be one of those nights when one tourist comes along out of nowhere and throws me a 20, maybe after seeing how dead it was and knowing that his tip was going to be what I would live off of. I was hoping to just make 5 dollars. I wound up making 4.

The Uxi Duxi's new hours, extended to 10 PM, have been both a blessing and a curse.

The hour of 8 PM still rushes at me, no matter when I get there. I think if I was ever sentenced to a year in prison, but was allowed to spend it at the Uxi Duxi, using their wi-fi, they would probably have to nudge me at the end of a year: "Time's up!!"

"That was a a whole year? No way! Can I just finish this paragraph and then save it, I'll be out of your way shortly..."

Upon waking up at an average time of 1:30 PM, I typically think that I have a good chance to get a jump on my day -today is going to be different- and ultimately arrive at the Lilly Pad, by the time the piano guy inside the bar starts playing at 9:30 PM.

I would have fresh batteries for the spotlight, new strings and harmonica and, most importantly, will be there wanting to play, and would have been doing so anyways, sitting in my apartment, and so the tip money (which is usually inversely proportional to how much I care about it) would just be a bonus.

Today, it was waking up with NPR radio on, and being drawn into listening to an entire piece about the stupid illegal immigrants and their stupid children that they are being separated from, that wasted a good hour of my time. They are using them like human shields, yet, Trump is the bad guy?!?

The shamelessly biased report had audio clips of President Trump, talking about how immigrants should be taken in based upon "merit," interleaved with clips of babies crying -could have been any babies, for their purpose. Being NPR, though, they did present the other side -opinions by people whose loved ones had been murdered by undocumented aliens.

Still, I would rather see a bunch of hard working Latinos trying to make it in this country, rather than the ones typified by the Albanians that my friend Larry used to work for, who would whistle for him, as if he was a dog, whenever someone puked on the dance floor or they needed him for some other menial operation.

They would sit at the bar, where Larry was not allowed to, dressed like rich mobsters, wearing diamond cuff-links, and it was easy to imagine that they had taken advantage of some loophole, had gotten loans, probably from our government, to start their fancy business, and this loophole had made it so they would never have to break a sweat, Larry would.

He was a U.S. citizen, born here like his white father before him, and thus, entitled to nothing -no government grant designed to attract foreign business to this country (Wouldn't a nice Albanian restaurant/bar be nice right here?) for him, nor I, and so he mopped up the puke while his bosses gabbed away in a foreign tongue, hired their Albanian friends to tend bar and be chefs and make the real money, and to laugh a lot; probably over how great this country was, for them.

It was common to be sitting at the Starbucks in Jacksonville, (speaking of my days with Karrie) which was a like a one story Tower of Babel, hearing Albanian, Bosnian, Arabic and Russian being bandied about by well dressed people whose expensive cars, all foreign made, sat in the parking lot. I couldn't get a job at that Starbucks, I recall. The manager was Bosnian, as were all his employees. Even though Starbucks isn't supposed to be like that.

I looked at the 2 dollars and change on my table, remembering the 4 dollar night that I had had, and had to tell Harold the cat: "That's all there is!," in response to his meowing by his food dish, which was laden with the dry food that he likes, but none of the wet food that he loves. I had spent 75 cents out of the 4 dollars that I had made the night before on him, and had gotten a new lighter, as mine had picked the time when everything else seemed to be running out, to die.

There hadn't been a lot of people around to hear me play. I had been reminiscing about Karrie, and thinking about her as I played. I shouldn't have expected to make x amount of money doing that, or it would have sullied the reverence of it all. I just made up my mind to be there much earlier tonight (Friday). It is 8:30 now.

As if a microcosm of the whole night, as I was packing up, a guy who was probably in his late 20 's arrived and said: "You're really good," to which I said: "Thanks."
He continued to stand there, but threw not a dollar in my basket.
He almost looked familiar to me as one of the local skeezers, but I wasn't sure. I also wasn't sure if he was making a game out of telling me that I was really good but then not putting anything in the tip basket. That was when I discovered that my lighter was dead.
"I'm sorry, I don't have a lighter. I wish I did; I would give you a light," said the guy. He was probably sincere, and it was probably just a night when the stars were not aligned for me to make any money. I had a good mind to think that, had I arrived 2 hours earlier, I might have had 30 bucks in my basket.

I wish I could figure out why having a 4 dollar night can cause me to be pissed off at the world, yet, after a 75 dollar night, I can still wake up with an undefined depressed feeling.
It might be because I feel like I am stagnating. Like I hypnotize myself each night, to put myself in a trance wherein I average 18 bucks an hour, but I don't get much better; I just follow the ruts that I have worn in the guitar neck, as a path of least resistance. Feeling like a one-trick pony, I play "Imagine," by John Lennon, again.

My food stamp card is down to 33 cents, with 12 days left in the month, no surprise there.
I had fried up a bunch of potatoes in grape seed oil, and then actually eaten them on top of white rice. That might seem like a redundancy of starches, but the salty potato and garlic and black pepper infused oil that I poured over the rice as I emptied the pan of the potatoes, turned it into a pretty good meal.
I had nothing sweet, having run out of honey and having decided not to get any sugar. The choice had been between sugar, and the half shot of kratom that I am sipping right now.
I could have tried to stay up Thursday morning so that I could have gone to the food bank and gotten the couple boxes of food that I am allowed once per month, based upon my income, but had drifted off to sleep and didn't want to drag myself there. Partly because I wasn't in the mood to be witness to the black guys leaving the food bank with 2 ham roasts in their boxes, under the cereal, while my white skinned self would have a bag of frozen blueberries, in place of the ham roast that was given to a the black guy who would have been asking me for a cigarette every time I lit one up.

So, I guess us white people need to unite, maybe get the right guy in The White House, and say "enough is enough!" You want to speak Albanian and whistle for a white man like he's a dog; well, there is a perfect place in the world for you to do that. It's over there by Greece, near Macedonia. And, they might even have a Starbucks there.

We erred when we didn't ship the slaves back to Africa, after we freed them. Won't history confirm that this would have been better for all parties concerned? How were they supposed to be assimilated by the gods with the thunder sticks, when their minds are moving at the speed of a blow dart? We kind of just took the fence around the zoo down and proclaimed: There will be no more zoos here!"

I guess we need to get the right guy in the White House, and maybe it's not too late.

Yeah, I wish I could figure out why having a 4 dollar night can make me pissed off at the world. And why having a 75 dollar one can still have me waking up with a vague, undefined depressed feeling...

Out of Everything

I took too many nights off this week; Monday, to jam with Jacob, Tuesday because I had stayed at the Uxi Duxi until almost midnight. Wednesday, because my dead laptop had come back to life, mysteriously, and I'd decided to get something done on it while I had the chance.

I'm thinking that the problem might be related to the thermal sensor in the thing. It was the night that I had left it running and had not put the air conditioner on, that I had woken up sweating and unable to turn the thing on.

I'm trying not to dread too much having to go out to play tonight, whether I feel like it or not, type of thing. I might have just enough bud to get a hit off my "one-hitter" as I tune up tonight.
Or, just as likely, I will run into David the water jug player on one of the rare occasions when he is offering to smoke me up, rather than greeting me with the "Hey, Daniel! PLEESE tell me you have some weed!" that I get from him most of the time.

In the meantime, no progress has been made towards my joining the "writer's den" group, which could have me earning money in short order, so that I could save busking for when I felt like doing it.

The laptop dying might be seen as a warning to me to get started on that, and Karrie dying might be seen as a warning to get started on my trip to New England, before some of my friends up there start passing away.

It's 9:50 PM now.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

R.I.P. Karrie

  • Laptop Working Right Now
  • Karrie Gone To Rest

I received an e-mail from one of the daughters of my old girlfriend, Karrie, which she had sent on my sister's birthday of June 17th, informing me that, on June 5th, at 7:35 AM, Karrie passed away.

She was 39 years old. 16 years younger than me.

That would make 10 years since we slept in each other's arms, on the front porch of a business that sold wooden furniture, in Saint Augustine, Florida, her having 29 to my 45 years, at that time.

Little did I know that I was then five years older than she would ever get to be.

I had been thinking a lot about Karrie for some reason. The day that I decided to add a picture of her to the "Yesterday, When I Was Young," video I had made, was the day she passed.

Her sister told me that she had liver problems "from all that drinking," but that she had still been unable to quit.

She was dry at the time she approached me in front of the library about 4 years ago. I was still drinking then, though, and had offered her my bottle of brandy, which she refused. At that point, our conversation ground to a halt. Our life together had revolved so much around getting drunk, that I really had no concept of how to make her happy, other than passing her a bottle.

I still held out some hope that she might wind up living with me in my apartment; she is one of the few people I would have considered adding to my lease; but this is just one more thing to cross off the list of things that will ever happen; like me jamming with Prince and David Bowie, I guess.

She then wound up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the company of some guy named Mark, who, I was informed, was abusing her.

A well meaning lady named Faith Carillo sent me an e-mail from there, having found this blog by Googling her name, and having read about how happy we had once been together,("It was so nice to see a picture of her smiling.") and seeing how I had added an invitation to Karrie to contact me through the comment section, from wherever she was, if she had ever decided to try to find me and remembered that I had this blog.

Karrie's daughter Stephanie, who gave me the news, saying that she was sorry to have to do it this way (through the blog, I guess) want's to hear as much about her as I can tell her.

Karrie had told me at one point that she owned a house (trailer) in Tennessee, but that certain family members had gotten some kind of power of attorney over her in order to commandeer her disability checks, and that they had basically kicked Karrie out of her own house. She was afraid to go back there, for some reason.

She said that whomever the father of her children was, who had first impregnated her at the age of 14, and to whom Karrie had given 4 children, all girls, was now turning his attention to the oldest of them, who had reached that magic age of 14, and that she, Karrie, had given them up for adoption in order the protect them from him.

Karrie loved to keep herself and her environment clean. The happiest I ever saw her was one night in Saint Augustine, after we had found a hose in a little alley between two houses and were able to take showers using it, each one of us holding it over the other's head while keeping a lookout for anyone who might come along.

"We smell good!," she had said while laying her head on my chest.

Before I could say anything, she was already snoring away; so clean that she could "sleep at night."

I miss the life we might have had together -both of us off the booze, living in my apartment which she would have kept spotless, armed with her bleach bottle and her Lysol and her foot scrubbing pads.

I sometimes felt like I should have gone to Chatanooga, to smack Mark in the head, and take her back here with me. But, Faith Carillo, I think, was worried that it would threaten my 2 years of sobriety to get back with her, since I guess Karrie resumed drinking there, in spite of her having liver problems.

In a way, I never got to know her sober self. After she had gotten out of jail after 43 days in Saint Augustine, I figured we might be able to have a meaningful conversation. She surprised me when she walked up and said "Hi," in a soft voice. There was a calmness about her. But then she had immediately asked me if I had any money so she could get some beer. After I had declined to give her any of the 12 dollars which is all I had, she went out and flew a sign, and then came back a few hours later, back to her "normal" self.

My mother in Massachusetts seemed to develop a warm spot for Karrie. When the latter was in jail and wasn't sure how to contact me, she would send her letters to my mom to forward to me. My mom got to like her from reading her letters, which she would transcribe to me in e-mails, to save time and postage.
She once sent me a letter when I was in Ocala, Florida and included a money order made out to Karrie, with her jail "number" on it, and everything. I had been busking at the off ramps to the Interstate and sending Karrie as much as I could.

Karrie is the second of my ex-girlfriends to have died. Angela Washington passed away at the age of 29 in Jacksonville, Florida. She is the third one to have shown up in New Orleans. I have a 14,000 word story in which Angela is a central character, on my old hard drive, which I just have to find a way to access. It involves murder and intrigue...

Xanna, a lady I lived with for about a year in Charlottesville, Virginia (2001-2002) I have seen here. Most recently, about a month ago, she was flying a sign on Carrolton Street. Bobby and I had gone by her on our way back from The Guitar Center, after Bobby had bought the Epiphone guitar for me.
Xanna had given me a guitar for my birthday, in October of 2001.

She was a work-aholic, putting in 70 hours per week as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut, and owned a house in the rural town of Rochelle, Virginia, about 30 miles outside of Charlottesville. She was afraid to stay alone in the house, preferring to sleep in her car, which she parked about a half mile away from it.

Like Karrie, Xanna had been physically abused by the guy she had been with before me.

He sat in her house drinking Crown Royal and playing video games, while Xanna worked all those hours to keep him in cigarettes and whiskey, the way she related it.

When she had finally had enough, it took an act of congress to get him to leave, which he did, but not before beating her and sodomizing her while his car idled in the driveway full of his stuff, ready to go.

After Xanna and I had broken up (she went bat-shit crazy after having stopped some kind of hormone therapy she was on to control her moods, but which made it impossible for her to get pregnant, because she wanted to get pregnant and give me a son or daughter) she was back with the sodomite within a couple weeks.

I am curious, and might ride my bike over to where she was flying the sign, just to ask her what the hell happened; like, to the car and the house and the job...
I am pretty sure that one of my "short stories" in the sidebar was either the ghost story about her house (where stuff really did move around by itself and where the footfalls of what sounded like a young girl wearing tap dancing shoes could be heard, and where a sound activated tape recorder that Xanna had placed in our bedroom in order to catch me cheating on her, wound up having the voice of what sounded like a little girl in tap dancing shoes on it) or the story of my having been arrested and held for 4 months on the charge of "suspicion," by the Charlottesville police.
For Sale: Trombone mouthpiece, $23

I am afraid that Xanna continued to be bat-shit crazy, was committed, probably lost everything -the job, the car, the house (or maybe Tom, the woman beater had done her like Karrie's family did her, and is now living in the house and driving the car, with Xanna being afraid to go back there) and had come to New Orleans to get a fresh start -a holding a sign on Carrolton Street type of fresh start.

Xanna was a sweet girl before she started to imagine that there was another woman living in the same house as us, who was my lover as soon as she went off to deliver pizza. The ghost, moving stuff around and hiding things, like Xanna's wallet, which she found wedged between a couple towels in a stack of them on a shelf in the hallway, but only after she had replaced her license and all her credit cards, didn't help matters.

By the time my father died in March of 2003, I was ready to leave Xanna and go back into the woods to live. If my family remembers her at all it is as the mysteriously quiet skinny lady, who had spent the bulk of our funereal visit to Massachusetts sleeping in her Mustang. I'm sure they could sense that all was not well between us, but hadn't wanted to pry.

Some of these stories I might elaborate on, maybe on some night when I'm not flat broke and have to go out to busk or have nothing tomorrow.

The little girl on the cassette had said "Is she gone?," and "When can I see you?" in between the sounds of a window sliding open, with the sound of rain falling outside increasing in volume thereafter, and the sound of the bed springs creaking and myself talking to Mercury, one of her cats, at another point.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Laptop on fritz

 Doing this on my phoneand n
well the laptop keeps trying to restart itself might be the power adapter

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Scardino Sessions

So, Jacob Scardino, a friend of mine whom I met at the Uxi Duxi,
back when he had the long and shaggy look of someone who might be into the esoteric goods inside the store; a look that, in retrospect, and after having visited his studio, was most likely his attempt to look like the Frank Zappa in the posters that were prominently displayed there- brought me to his studio, Monday afternoon.
The haircut in the photo to the left, he had undergone, in order to help him get a job, which he did, at the Uxi Duxi.
He quit during his third day of training, though. This did make me wonder how devoted a band-mate he might be in the future.

He showed up in a SUV type vehicle, to follow me to Sacred Heart Apartments where I rode my bike to drop it, and a bag of kitty litter off, while grabbing my gear.
It seemed like about a 30 mile ride.

Jacob wasn't sure if he should take the Interstate, being somewhat of a novice behind the wheel of a vehicle. He wasn't sure if he should allow me to smoke in that vehicle, which he told me he had only had for 2 days.
Bob, his "guardian" was a stickler about certain things.
Jacob declined to smoke a bit of weed, because of an undefined fear of Bob, also.
We got to the house, in Kenner, Louisianna, where they both lived.

I guess he has been under Bob's stewardship since the age of 14, and now he is about 20, and it's about time he get a job, hence the Uxi Duxi experiment.

The house wound up being "right up the same alley" with the house that I grew up in, you could have slipped it somewhere into my childhood neighborhood and it would have blended in. A ranch style brick house it was, although it could have just been brick-faced.

It would have been Mr. Mattson's house, up the street a few houses from ours.
Mr. Mattson might have been the "Bob" of our neighborhood.

Bob is Jacobs guardian, he is seventy years old, but looked 44, as he sat at a desk piled up so high with stuff that it probably blocked the view of the computer he was almost certainly on, because why else would a fellow sit there at a desk for at least the whole 2 hours that Jacob and I jammed in his studio.

Bob, "He,'s not a hoarder, but..." collected things.

Behind him, the wall was one whole bookshelf, with The Bible being the one book that's spine jumped out at me, it being in set in at least 4 times the font-size of any other book that was on that shelf. I thought that was a nice touch.
Jacob had notified me that his guardian was some kind of strict Christian.

The middle class people in our neighborhood had caught a nice wave, in that the values of their houses increasing over time, outpacing the increases in the cost of living, so that the monthly mortgage payments became a smaller and smaller slice of their income pies, as the years passed, and us kids grew into spoiled brats, totally unaware of the rude awakenings that awaited us.

Monthly payments, over the last ten years of the life of the mortgage became only a fraction of what it would cost to rent the same house, at the current market rates.

For example, when my parents remitted their final $228 to the bank, in 1987, you would have to pay more than twice that to rent a one-bedroom in a decent neighborhood. While they then owned outright a ranch style house, with a yard and a fence around the back one.

They had paid almost 3 times the selling price of the house, but, 40 years later, (after they had been living in it "all paid off" for 15 years, to boot) it sold for 14 times that amount.

Plus, as the "cost of living" went up, so did salaries.
So, by paying a mortgage, beginning in 1960, and ending in 1990, life was good.

This meant summer vacations, second cars, kids going to good colleges, and in the case of Mr. Mattson or Bob, being able to turn your house into a museum, crammed to the gills with collectibles, to include thousands of DVD's, books, and a whole hallway lined with autographed photos of famous people. There has to be at least a six-pack of Billy Beer somewhere in that house.

And, of course (it seems) they had Vietnamese neighbors...

Jacobs contribution to the collection (not horde) of stuff seemed to be the Frank Zappa paraphernalia, and alongside it the Elvis stuff. Jacob seems to be into that odd pair of entertainers.

"He,'s not a hoarder, but..." Jacob had said to me during our ride over there, as a way to prepare me for what I was about to see, I guess.

Behind Bob, the wall was one whole bookshelf, with The Bible being the one book that's spine jumped out at me, it being in set in at least 4 times the font-size of any other book that was on that shelf. I thought that was a nice touch.

Jacob had notified me that his guardian was some kind of strict Christian, as a way of preparing me for the sight of that, I also guess.

There were 3 organs, along with a bunch of collectible toys, such as Star Wars dolls, in a small room, that Jacob called "the toy room."

He had called the house: "The M.O.C." -for museum of crap.

I had to compete with a drum kit for a spot on the floor to put my feet as I sat down with my guitar and harmonica in front of a microphone that was protruding towards me from out of a pile of Hans Solo figurines or something.

Jacob had the Audacity program on his laptop.

He clicked through its menus so frenetically that it seemed like he was abusing the machine. In situations where 3 clicks may be required to complete an operation, he would rattle all three of them off, like a rattlesnake striking, and the display on the screen would jerk and twitch, and I was fascinated by how in the space of a generation Man has become so adroit with a mouse.

I guess an old fogy was learning from a millenial how to save time, a millisecond at a time...

I wasn't sure what our recording session might yield. Jacob had seemed kind of tentative when he had asked me if I ever wanted to jam with a keyboard player. My ego driven thought was that he might have apprehensions about his ability to complement my music; that, perhaps I was in my own universe, immersed so deep that, No, I'm just a solo artist, dude... had crossed his mind.

Myself, I have been in the pickle of having decided to live in the present moment and not to even identify with thoughts of any "future," but at the same time, what did I have to lose, the guy at least had a keyboard and a drumkit, I gathered.

Jacob turned the microphone on, which was running through a USB mixer and into his laptop and began recording me just playing incomplete bits of some of my songs.

This was OK, it appears, because any verse that is missing can be inserted just using the repeat effect to make a prior one repeat.

These, Jacob will take, and, using the one Roland synthesizer that I had counted among the "3 organs" in the studio, will be able to add what I expect to be incredible musical parts to it.

He is a very competent keyboard player, the music of his that he played for me sounded amazingly like Frank Zappa, he had even used the pitch shifting effect that Audacity has to achieve a sound that I have heard on a lot of Zappa's stuff.

Jacob is kind of the Anti-Blaine, to me, referring, of course to Travis Blaine, once roommate of mine for nineteen days..

The Anti Travis

 While Travis lived a sheltered existence, having probably had more contact with software than with human minds, he unfortunately came into contact with a small sample of humanity, in whose company he was apparently seen as a genius, having risen to the top of that hapless society.

The exclusive, highly competitive, famous and esteemed school that Travis was the valedictorian of, was probably peopled by the moronic children of other parents who attempted to shield their kids from the evils of the public school system by cloistering them there.

Travis; Claims to be a gifted musician, who almost toured with a band that almost went on a tour once. Upon picking up my guitar and approximating the chords to a Perl Jam song, he replaced it on my couch with a smug air of: "So, you can see, I know my shit when it comes to music."

Jacob: Expressed some doubts that he would even be able to contribute to my musical project, lamenting that he doesn't know how to read music. He picked up his guitar, and within a minute was playing a lead melody over one of my original songs.

Travis: Claimed to be "pretty good at chess." He then opened a game against me, a game that would never be finished because I decided not to waste my time, methodically defeating him after he had revealed himself to be an idiot when it came to playing chess with his very first mo(906587%*)ve, by playing a4.
There is probably no chess match between any players in any tournament where either player, with a U.S.C.F. rating of 400 (like I had when I was 12 years old and played against a chess computer that could rate a player's game) or better has started a game with that move.
There is, however a "gotcha!" type of "trick" series of moves that begins with that one. I think I may have fallen for it the very first time, when I was ten years old. Travis might have made some hay with that particular series of moves back at St. Mark's Academy for gifted geniuses in New York, but, you've got to be kidding me...should I play into his hands and make the ignorant blunder moves on my side to facilitate his ploy, and then pull the rug out from under him right before he gets to move that knight from out of nowhere to it's spot where he can check my king and then take my queen? was my response.

The GIMP Editor

I want to go back to fooling with the GIMP image editor. 
Jacob: No data, we didn't play chess.
Just in demonstrating the Roland synthesizer keyboard to me, Jacob showed that, unlike Travis, the small sample of the human race that he came into contact with, having been similarly guarded over by Bob, was undoubtedly of a much higher caliber than the St. Mark's kids.
He can play like someone, who is at least on the same planet as Chopin was, on the keyboard, but has the diametrically opposed to Travis opinion that he isn't very good, because he can't read music.
I'll bet Travis can not just read music, but can read Gregorian chant notation, too! Enough so that he can say that he can, that is...