Monday, July 30, 2018

All Thumbs

Ti.ContinuatioMy "attempt" at getting the same job that my next door neighbor, Wayne, does has momentarily become frozen.I am becoming philosophical about it...
"If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." -the free laptop, the "freedom" to be able to work at home, tethered to the required land-line that's function seems to be in part to keep the employee at home, so that they won't be trying to field customer's questions about their Apple products from a seat on the ten yard line at The Mercedes-Bendz Superdome, or somewhere.
It would be easy for me to think that getting the job would give me a break from the rigors of busking, and would make life easier for me. But then, there is a reason that it is called a "job" and that you have to "work" it.
Wayne is behind on his rent.
Wayne would not have to pay rent, were he not gainfully employed.
The list goes on, but it has started raining here, at the Uxi Duxi
and so will finish this later... I'm at the plasma place and texting with one finger and I can't see the words that I am putting down because I had to switch to the web version just to find a "new post" button anywhere.
This is  going to be the 7th donation of the month of July and the limit of my bonuses has been reached.
The song: "Last Time" by the Rolling Stones is looping in my head.
What could ever bring me back here for just 15 dollars? Besides knowing that my plasma is going to be used to make life saving medications...
I have a lot of respect for anyone who gives whole blood and gets no compensation, not even a thumbs up from the guy who was bleeding to death...
Yup, a lot of respect!
I have just discovered that tipping my phone sideways reorients the keypad so it is wider and a hell of a lot easier to type on.
Something that any ten year old already knew...
My first smartphone ever just got a lot easier to use...
Try standing yours up and texting and you will see what I mean... I have

Motivation For Getting Back To Lifting My Weights

  • 38 Dollar Saturday Night Marred By Skeezing
  • New Wage Figures To Work With
Saturday Night Skeezing

This was my own fault for not having warned the guy who was listening to me play, after he had sat there long enough to have attracted one, about skeezers.

Had I explained to Erik from Loraine, Michigan how, almost invariably, when anyone sits on Lilly's stoop to listen to me and/or chat, it will attract a skeezer, who will try to insinuate himself into the scene.

The skeezers will assume that the tourist has money, otherwise he wouldn't be sitting there requesting songs, and they will figure that it is fair game for them to sit on the side opposite me and try to draw the attention of the tourist towards themselves, and hopefully drain his wallet before I get any more tip money, by presenting them with a plea for money which is more compelling than just being a musician with a tip jar out.

I could have explained this to Erik and made him aware that some professional skeezer would be along, before long, and could have put him on his guard by telling him that whatever the skeezer said or did was going to be solely aimed at getting him to fork over a substantial amount of cash; and the the lies that they tell would be tailored to how much they thought he was worth and what they could get out of him.

But, I had neglected to warn Erik about skeezers. This was probably because I was having fun playing and enjoying myself. It was in the back of my mind that, if he sat and listened to me for an hour or more, then he might throw me a twenty dollar bill, but I really wasn't thinking too hard about it.

The ones who sit for an hour listening and then leave after saying something like: "I so wish I had some cash because I would so throw you a huge tip, because you sound great," and the ones who do the same and then leave me with a couple hundred bucks kind of balance each other out, and the 18 bucks an hour average prevails.

But, since Erik was in a good mood and not suspicious of anyone who might try to insinuate himself onto the stoop beside him, a skeezer was able to do just that.
He was a skinny guy, probably in his thirties, and dressed in all black in a way that suggested that he might be looking for work as a bus boy or some other job that requires wearing all black.

It could also be that, as part of his skeeze, he may have "just lost his job as a bus boy," which would set up his "can you believe how they did me, just because (I'm gay, I have tattoos, I'm not in their little clic, I nodded off for a few seconds towards the end of a 14 hours shift -whatever, depending upon the tourist) story.
For Erik, who was too polite and civilized to have minded if the skeezer sat there, it seemed to be the "just got out of jail (after being railroaded)" story, complete with guns and knives and felonies that he was falsely charged with, and with heart-wrenching details of not having seen his daughter, now nine years old and very hungry, grow up, etc. etc.

Erik is perhaps one of the most gullible tourists that I have encountered on Bourbon Street. I can say that, in hindsight.  

"Mind if I sit here?"
I didn't recognize the skeezer as such, and he had done a good job of faking like he wanted to hear me play.

He then followed almost the exact protocol that other skeezers have, by beginning to talk the guy's ear off, blocking my music out so he could concentrate on his phrasing and his diction in an attempt to draw the guy's attention away from me.

A Better Outcome

I have had other tourists, one of which was the self proclaimed millionaire, who had become one by being a no nonsense corporate big-wig, at home chewing a new asshole on a guy who fell short of his quota for the quarter; the type of guy that would make employees break into a sweat as soon as they are summoned to his office, type of thing. He had said something like: "Look, buddy, I'm in the middle of relaxing and enjoying some music, beat it!," and had not given the skeezer a dime, but then tipped me $175 after a couple hours of us hanging out.

Yet Another

Then there was the couple whom I had had the presence of mind to warn that "one of these skeezers" was probably going to come along and try to hustle them as soon as they saw that they had sat down to listen to me.

They had played a game with the skeezer who, true to form, showed up, with the husband having told the skeezer that the wife had "all the cash" on her, after he had, for some reason, chosen the time that she had run off to use a restroom to put the skeeze on.

His skeezer-sense had probably told him that he stood a better chance of getting money out of the guy, and he was right, for, after the wife had returned from the restroom, a Red Bull in hand for me, she had summarily dismissed him, having taken to heart my warning about "them."

She had told me that she used to live, I forgot where, but wherever it was, she had fomented in her a distaste for "bums," after being constantly skeezed there.
The husband had, with amusement, referred the bum to her, whether she had "all the cash," or not, and had kind of winked at me as he was telling the skeezer that she did.

These are some of the great memories that buoy me at times like last night.

Erik seemed naive, and had been very vociferous on the subject of one percent of the population in the U.S. being in possession of half the money, and half of that money being in the possession of one percent of them, "so, we live in a world where a tenth of one percent are unimaginably wealthy, and then there is everybody else..." I had observed on the subject.

This had gotten a hearty, "I couldn't agree with you more!" response from Erik, who then went on to explain how he is a champion of the underdog, and that he values someone like myself, who sits on the sidewalk and, etc. etc.
And, so one can see how he was ripe to be picked by the next skeezer to come along, as much of an "underdog" as a dog's dick.

The skeezer had "just got out of jail" (and boy, is that first beer in nine months going to taste great, if he could just acquire the money for it) and began explaining that he had had a gun, which was properly registered "and everything," but that, due to his having a felony on his record, he was breaking the law by possessing. And, of course, he had only been trying to defend his family from, I don't know, Mr. Sluggo?
Mr. Sluggo

This was, I felt, an attempt by him to figure out, basically how naive and perhaps gullible Erik was. His "Oh my God, guns, and knives, and prisons and being raped in showers!" response was enough to assure the skeezer that he would be able to blow Erik's mind with his interesting story, which he very well could have been extracting from whatever James Patterson novel he's currently reading.

There is an unwritten law among hustlers that "we are all out here together, all for all, one for one," and it wouldn't, in their world, have been kosher for me to have started to poke holes in his story (a minute ago you said that a person would have to be totally stupid to starve in New Orleans, what with all the food everywhere, while extolling the beauty of "his" city; Now, you are basically saying that you are starving...), or to say to Erik: "This guy is full of crap, he only wants whatever is in your wallet. That's the purpose of his having sat there and the impetus behind every word that proceedeth forth from his mouth."

That all should have been said after I had seen that he planned upon sitting by me for more than a half a song. 

After I had played my next song, which Erik heard none of, because the skeezer was running his mouth, I stopped playing.

Erik was so enraptured by the skeeze that he didn't even notice me packing my stuff up and taking down my spotlight until I was shouldering my bag, preparing to walk off.

He then broke out of the trance and asked: "Are you leaving?," blissfully unaware of why I would be doing so.
Assuming you sleep 8 hours a night,
that would leave you less than 70 hours a week to practice;
I know I wouldn't take the job...

I said: "Yeah, I can't compete," nodding my head towards the skeezer "I can't compete with someone telling a story, I was even starting to listen to it myself," I lied, and stopped short of adding: "It's quite a whopper!"

The skeezer then became The Gentleman: "Oh, man, I am so sorry, I feel like shit. I didn't know I was distracting you. Do you want me to leave? I'll leave!" and even started to stand up, but it was "fake" starting to stand up.

I stood there glaring at him, and even shrugged my shoulders as if to say: "Sounds good to me."

Erik then said that he didn't want me to leave.

The skeezer had started to see an opportunity to have the tourist all to himself, and said something like: "Thanks for offering to let us sit here, so we can talk, though, but your music wasn't bothering us at all..." apparently forgetting who had been there first, and who had come along as a distraction and apparently speaking for the two of them.

"We could go and talk somewhere else," he added. There was the implied threat of taking the tourist and his money away from me.

Erik became insistent that I play longer.

The skeezer further annoyed me by asking me if I would play, "some popular music" for them. I had been in a good mood and hadn't even begun to have angry emotions until a ways into that first song, when it felt like nobody was listening.

Other tourists walked by as if they thought that I was already occupied, as they normally do when someone is sitting on the stoop.

Erik had told me that he enjoyed "just talking to people" and hearing their stories, and where they are coming from, etc.

I wanted to ask the skeezer if he would just hurry up and beg the guy for money, because he would surely be gone shortly after getting any, but this skeezer was going for a big payday, trying to harpoon the whale.

That would require much more story-telling and the establishment of a better rapport with the guy, and the sprinkling in of more "human interest" type material so that he could up his skeeze, accordingly. At that point, he was probably only at the ten or twenty dollar level.

He needed to read Erik further, to help him decide between perhaps, his little girl needing braces....I don't know, does Erik look like he might have been made fun of by the other kids in grade school? Or, more "being raped in the shower after being imprisoned behind unjust cause" tales.

He then would shoot for whatever large sum he was feeling at the time.
I was pretty sure he is a heroin addict, and had probably networked with "Red," who is an admitted one, and who had tried the "mind if I sit here?" approach with me, until the third time, when I had just called him out in front of the tourist, in violation of the unwritten code of "us" hustlers.

I set up my stuff again.

The skeezer said: "I'm leaving in a second."

"Here, I hooked you up. You'd better get that," said Erik, pointing to a twenty dollar bill that was laying near my basket.

"There, are we breaking your concentration now?!"" asked the skeezer, full of contempt, as if the bill should have been like a bottle that's shoved into a baby's mouth to make it stop fussing.

I guess a skeezer thinks everyone else is skeezing, just like a crackhead thinks everyone else is on the stuff. The latter is so much under the power of the drug that he can't imagine anyone else being about doing any other thing than trying to smoke crack, too.

"Yeah, you still are. That doesn't change anything," I said.

Erik asked again, if I would please keep playing. But, he said he wanted it as background music while he listened to an "interesting story." I really wasn't sure I wanted to do that. I considered offering the guy his twenty bucks back.
All this for $581 a month...
The skeezer seemed to be trying to communicate to me that we should work together; he with his story, myself biding time by lazily strumming just anything and holding a harmonica note here and there. If bus boy got his fifty bucks so he could pay his fine to keep himself from going back to prison and being raped in the shower, then, didn't I think that he would feel it impolite to not break me off an equal amount?

Side note: The skeezer had done an about face from his initial story about guns and knives and about been caught with one of the former because he had had to pull it out to protect his pregnant girlfriend, who had one of the latter at her throat, or whatever it was.

He had switched to the horror stories about being a victim of sexual assault, the way a mariner might rotate his sails to an opposite angle, depending upon the wind. From Clint Eastwood saving the day, to a little white bitch sucking dick in a shower stall, as the situation requires, I guess.

We were in the gay part of the Quarter (to the grave consternation of Lilly) and I guess he had put out feelers along that line, upon the chance that Erik was in the area pursuant to that particular abomination against God. 

I resumed playing, and the skeezer resumed talking, until the point that I couldn't take it any more, five minutes later.

"Your leaving?" Erik protested, and then mentioned the twenty bucks, he had given me, as if it was a retainer.

"I thought that was for music already played, I mean, we have been hanging out for almost an hour..."

The skeezer became indignant, having the gall to mention that "we" gave you twenty bucks, and now you're gonna take the money and run.

I fetched the twenty out of my back pocket, where it resided with the other eighteen bucks that I had made that night, and offered it back to Erik.

"If that's what you want to do..." he began. I started to think that he was a very wishy washy guy and would take the money back only because of the prompting of the skeezer, who saw it as "more for himself."

So, I developed a bit of backbone myself, imagining Larry at the Quartermaster, whom I would undoubtedly relate the whole story to over a cup of coffee later, saying: "I would have taken the money and walked off! How long did you play for him, a half hour? That's enough! You didn't make any other tips while he was sitting there, I bet..."

And so, since Erik seemed to be allowing me the choice of whether to keep the money or not, I kept it. Even though he was still protesting the fact that I was leaving at that time.

"I put a lot of work into writing my lyrics, and to just be supplying background music is something I hate. What if you were playing at a coffee house and half way into your first song, people started having conversations and clinking glasses on the tables and stuff. Wouldn't you feel like: "Are you even listening to me, I guess not, because nobody even nodded..."

The skeezer had picked up the mantra of: "Yeah, we gave you twenty bucks," to which I had to set him straight by saying: "You haven't given me anything, in fact you're skeezing my audience!"

Such a lovely word that skeezers can figure out the meaning of just by the context it's in; filling in the blanks as the shoe fits...

I had held my tongue until that point, but that set me off.

"You said you're from here, you grew up here? Well then you know damned well what you're doing. You saw this guy sitting here and figured he probably had money or he wouldn't be requesting songs, and you decided to sit down and try to get it before I did! You figure that musicians are gentle souls that are just going to let it happen.  You know damned well that it's rude to just walk up and start chewing the ear of someone who is listening to a performer. I've been doing this for 7 years; you're trying to take advantage of the fact that Erik here comes from a much more civil society than Bourbon Street and hasn't been here long enough to be able to see through you and your bullshit story!
You see that girl up there reading tarot cards? If you saw someone sitting in her chair having their cards read, would you just plop yourself down on the other side of them and start your "Sorry to interrupt you, but I was raped in prison so can I have some money?" bullshit... and then run your hustle on them?'"

As I said this I walked over to stand in front of him. He shrunk back saying: Don't come near me, I don't like it when people come near me!" He was sitting with his shoulder almost touching Erik's, though.

Then, as I walked off, the further away I got, the louder and more threatening he got, bragging? about his "12 years in the system" and saying that he would bash my face in, but then quieting down once I stopped, as if I was thinking of going back to him. This is typical French Quarter behavior -someone loudly threatening someone's life from a hundred feet away, only to attenuate it to a mumble, once they are standing in front of them asking: "What did you just say?!?"

$6.52/Hr. And A Free Laptop

Given the information from my neighbor Wayne that "the most they can put it up to is $581 a month" -it being my rent, I have calculated that I would be taking home about $6.52 per hour, if I were to get a job with Concentrix, the company that he works for.

No time for drawing...? I'm going to have
to chew on that...

The time is perhaps the biggest issue.
Doing customer service for 40 hours per week would mean that I wouldn't be practicing the guitar and harmonica those hours, nor drawing, nor writing.
Then there is the small matter of what my life's "purpose" is...

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Look At It!!

So, yesterday, after I had woken up in a sweat after dreaming about being stuck with Leslie Thompson in the middle of a swamp somewhere, I left the apartment, pushing the Yellow Trek cruiser bike, which I didn't have a lock for.

I pushed it past a group of 4 individuals who were at the back door of the lobby in the "designated smoking area" of Sacred Heart Apartments.

One of them was none other than Wayne, my next door neighbor, and the guy who had just sent me an e-mail, requesting a "digital resume" from me, in regards to the job that he now does, from his apartment.

"I got your e-mail! I got my laptop in my backpack and I'm going to look at it up at the kava bar," I told Wayne as I was leaving.

"Ok, be careful of your laptop and your bike up there!"

"Yeah, it's...." I was trying to gesture in the direction of the Uxi Duxi indicating that is in the direction of the nicer neighborhoods, and in the opposite direction of the Quarter, where I would have to keep an eye on my bike, and an eye and at least one hand, on my laptop.

A Clue

Just as I had walked up on the group, though, Wayne had been in the middle of skeezing a dollar off of Carlos, who is another of our 4 neighbors on floor 1R.

"I just need some change, so I can get a cold drink," he was saying.

I had a little over 4 dollars in change, and was reaching for it, when Carlos produced a paper dollar from his wallet and handed it to Wayne.

Wayne then asked him if he could just owe him the whole dollar, rather than giving him what change he did have, which was apparently short of the 85 cents needed for a cold drink out of the machine.

Carlos said that it was OK for Wayne to owe him the whole dollar.

Why do I mention this? Is it because I exalt trivia?

No, it is in relation to the pressing matter of whether or not I want to pursue getting the same job as Wayne has.

Sometimes (every time, if you are so inclined to believe) the universe will reveal clues as to its nature to those who are open to it and perceptive enough to notice. ...I can get you a job where I work, and then you can be short 85 cents for a cold drink, too...type of thing.

I never got around to putting the resume together.

I blogged, and I downloaded a couple versions of "Muffin Man," by Frank Zappa (and The Mothers Of Invention, I think) and then, it became late enough so that, it being a Friday night, I felt duty-bound to go out and busk.

I sure would have loved to have stayed in and made recordings, as my mind was teeming with ideas, with "There's A Golf Ball On The Moon," being a title that came to me for a song about the evolution of Man, for example...
Dealing With Alcohol Vapor Aberration: Photography 101 
28 Dollar Friday Night

One more day of recovery from plasma donation possible.

Friday night was a test, in a sense, of my assertion that I make "18 bucks an hour" busking.

This was the figure that I was using in order to  determine, through calculation, if I was better off as a busker, or if I wanted to start to devote 40 hours a week working for Concentrix, like Wayne does.

I stopped to see Bobby about some weed. I hadn't smoked hardly any in a whole week.
This is another realm that the universe kind of gave me a hint about, as I found that Bobby was in one of his "moods."

He greeted me in a friendly enough way, but then seemed to snap when he noticed that I was on my way out to busk with the Takamine guitar, and not the Epiphone which he had bought for me for a hundred bucks, after the tuning machines had jammed on the former.

I had taken the strings off the Epiphone and taken out the bridge saddle piece, which is made out of bone, and had asked Bobby, a couple months ago now, if he would file it down some, so the strings would run closer to the frets. This is called "lowering the action" of a guitar.

Bobby has all the required tools to do that particular thing, but I had repeatedly forgotten to bring the little thing of bone to his apartment.

"Where's the guitar I bought for you?!?" he asked.

"I have it apart right now, waiting to have you file the bridge saddle down, remember?"

Bobby remembered and told me that he could do the job the very next morning. That would have been this morning, but, I have let it slip one more day.

"I bought you a nice guitar, and you're not even trying to play it," he said angrily. This is the danger of accepting any kind of gift from someone with "no strings attached," excuse the pun.

I told Bobby that I wanted to just file a bit off of the piece and then put the guitar back together, and then play it for a whole night to see the degree of improvement, if any, I would notice. Then, I might use that as a gauge, before asking him to take it down some more.

The truth is that, I found the Epiphone, even though it was brand new, to not play as well as the Takamine, which is a three times more expensive guitar, when purchased new. The only way I was going to continue using it was if I was able to do some serious "setting up" to it, at least lowering the action on it to make it easier to play.

Bobby's judgment seems to become clouded by appearances. For example, he thought that I was going out and playing using a piece of junk, because the Takamine has a ding on its side, where it had been dropped at some point, and the wood is chipped and frayed a bit at the spot.

He thought that the brand new shiny Epiphone, had upgraded me from a piece of junk to a fabulous guitar, just based upon appearances.

Johnny B. was the same way. After I had played him something on my Takamine, which had new strings and was tuned up and sounded great, and had turned to him with a "what do you think of my playing?" attitude, all he had to say was that, if I were to get some wood putty and fill the hole in and then sand it down, varnish and polish, etc., then "you wouldn't even notice that," referring to the damage that I don't even think about.

"That's not the way you do it!," he fumed.

He was suggesting that the way to do it was to file some off the bridge, put the strings back on the thing, tune it up and then have me play it and make an instant decision over whether it is low enough, or could come down some more.
I know that a lot more playing has to be done on a guitar to make such a determination. There might be one fret that is a hair higher than its neighbors, due to imperfections in the universe, and if one lowers the action to just the point before the strings start buzzing, he might find that when he plays a certain chord, a certain string buzzes.
I wanted to shave a bit off the bone piece and then put it through its paces. Plus, I like to make small tweaks and tiny improvements, refining as I go.

"What are you thinking?!?," he then said, in a tone of voice that I have become familiar with, and which told me that my best course of action was to try to gracefully exit his apartment.

It is the same tone of voice he used after he discovered that I had once taken my air conditioning unit apart and had found a valve that I could shut off which caused the sound of water rushing through a rubber hose to subside to the point where it brought blessed silence by comparison. I could even notice about a 12 decibel difference in the noise that my noise reduction effect was trying to filter out.

Bobby had suggested, as a friend and not trying to be mean, that I consult a psychiatrist, just so he could check me out, just for the hell of it.
"Because this...." he said, looking at the unit with its cover off and its insides exposed.
"This just isn't normal," he said.
He then walked over to my microphone and talked into it, saying: "You mean you can't record like this? What's wrong with this?" looking at me like I was crazy.

It's pointless to try to argue with him: "You can definitely hear it in the background on the recordings, and when I use noise reduction to remove it, it reduces the "h" sounds out of my vocals...I suppose I could change the name of one of my songs to 'My Favorite Orse' and get by..."

"Just make an appointment. It wouldn't be like admitting you're crazy; just have him run through this tests and give you his professional opinion, that's all..."

So, Bobby was in one of those moods. He even charged me full price for a dime of weed, sort of his way of saying that if I preferred to go out and busk using a piece of crap guitar that's all bashed up, rather than a shiny new...well, then he wasn't going to do me any favors by giving me a break on the price of weed.

He is the same way about my laptop.

I have a "refurbished" Lenovo Thinkpad. All the components have been upgraded to state of the art stuff, with a bigger hard drive, better mother board, etc. But it is housed in the old style case, which is heavier and makes the thing look like an old machine, something that has become synonymous with being useless.

"Don't you think it's time you look into a new laptop, I mean this one looks like a piece of crap, how old is it?" he once asked.

I explained the whole refurbishment process.

Then, when I was having trouble with it a few weeks later, he immediately was back on. "Dude, why don't you just break down and buy a new laptop, I mean this one...look at it!!"

But, not to make this a diatribe against Bobby, who has bought me a new guitar and has given me several sets of strings that he had tried and found to be lacking in some way, and has sold me weed at half price, etc. etc.

It is Saturday night, and I should try to follow up the 28 dollar night, made in about 2 hours (18 bucks an hour, eh?) with hopefully at least that amount.

I will have 3 days of recovery from plasma donation to my credit, should I make a Sunday trip out there, to capitalize upon my 7x bonus, for it being my 7 th donation of the month of July. I have until Tuesday to do that.

After that, I would be on the schedule of getting a mere 15 dollars for my next donation, to be followed by 25 bucks for the next one, but only if I return in the same week.

I am with Lilly on that head: "15 bucks, you've got to be kidding me?!?"

They -the plasma people- are hoping that, after that much donating your body has gotten to where it hardly glitches after losing 690 ml of plasma.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday, I Wait

I was having an awful dream when I woke up at around 3:33 PM, a couple hours ago.
In the dream, I was with Leslie Thompson, and we were out on a dirt road in Middleburg, Florida.

He was driving Bobby's white pickup truck, and I was in the passenger seat and I was overcome with nostalgia at the sight of the scrubby pine forests of that street, where I lived 25 years ago.

I remembered the Parrish family that I lived with and how they had dreams, when they had come to Middleburg, Florida, of having a great life, and how I too, had had dreams when I went there to live with them, giving them 50 dollars a week to rent a room in their house, while making almost ten times that amount delivering pizza in Jacksonville.

A car was a necessity in Middleburg, Florida, because the nearest "job" would be 2 miles away, at the Circle K gas station/convenience store, and that was already staffed by the same gossipy ladies that had been ringing up cigarettes, beer and gasoline forever.

They would be the ones who would start the rumors, such as, when I had first arrived in Middleburg and had taken Jennifer, the step daughter of my friend Jesse, the daughter of his wife, Donna, and the half sister of Beth, who was in Massachusetts but who would move down there in a couple years with her boyfriend, Bobby, who would murder a Dominoes Pizza employee in Jacksonville, and the half sister of Mickey, who is doing well now, as a 39 tree surgeon, in Jacksonville.

39, how time flies.

Mickey was 14 then, and would live with us for short periods of time here and there, before going back to live with his and Beth's father.

So, when I pulled up at the Circle K, in my station wagon with the Massachusetts plates on it, and Jennifer and I got out and roamed the store, where I bought, probably beer and cigarettes and gas, and where Jennifer was able to get a slushy or some other kind of treat that her parents probably couldn't always afford when they stopped there with her, the rumor mill went into motion and pretty soon all of Middleburg "knew" that the father of that skinny but pretty little girl whom they had seen regularly with her mom and her stepdad, had come down from Massachusetts to visit ...and it's about time; the girl will be entering 6th grade this fall and, this is the first time we have ever seen him visiting her, and we see everything, in the 3 years since they started getting gas and beer and cigarettes here...I think they moved into that house on Amanda Lane. Doesn't he care any more than that about the poor little thing; look at how skinny she is, just like him. Oh, there's no doubt that he is the father.

Why did Donna leave this guy and marry the redneck who drinks Bush and smokes Newports; -the nigger brand?

He seems to be in pretty good shape, and the little girl seems to be happy to be with him. His car isn't anything fancy, but it apparently made it all the way from Massachusetts. I wonder what could have come between Donna and him; I'm betting it's her nagging, and her selfishness...buying a whole carton of cigarettes and then not having enough left to get the girl a slushy...poor thing...

Then, Jennifer, upon our second or third visit to that store, looked from the face of one cashier to the other, read their minds, and then blurted out: "He's not my father!"

So, in the dream, I was feeling this sense of nostalgia, and then, Leslie and I came around a corner to see that the road was flooded out ahead of us.

Just then, a local came around the bend from the other direction in a brown pickup truck and, plowed right through the water, which was up to its windshield.

They must have found that if they keep their foot on the gas they will make it through the water before their vehicle stalls, I thought in the dream, wondering how a gas engine, which needs air to burn gas, could do so with its entire hood under water.

Then, I was sitting in the bed of the thing, looking through the glass into the cab. Leslie was sitting in the passenger seat and driving from there, and the driver's seat was covered with all the stuff that I now have sitting on the couch cushions in my apartment; the Mel Bay book, the James A. Michener book, my guitar capo, my composition book, etc. was all there, forcing Leslie to drive from the other seat.

It then occurred to me in the dream that, should the truck stall, I would be out in the middle of nowhere with Leslie Thompson and we would have to walk something like 4 miles to get to the nearest...payphone?...liquor store?...I wasn't sure, but I woke up then, relieved that I wasn't way out on a country road, forced to have to walk a long way with Thompson as company.

I woke up feeling like I had had less sleep than I did when I had woken up at my regular time of around 1:30.
The apprehension over having had to walk in the dream was a carryover from having had to walk since my bike was stolen.
Since I don't have a lock for the Trek bike that was given to me, I took the trolley in to the Quarter last night, barely making back the $2.50 in fares, after busking for maybe an hour.

The Job

I got the e-mail from my neighbor, Wayne, and my next step is to send him a "digital" resume.
I had recently put one together when I applied at the Uxi Duxi, so I can just modify that one. It had been easy to make. I Googled something like: "templates for producing resumes," and had gotten them in all kinds of styles  
It's hard to believe that, at this time next week, I could be sitting at home on a new Macintosh computer, using my own wi-fi signal, and on the clock making 13 bucks an hour (I think Wayne said).
The rent amount on my lease is $767.00 per month, and so that seems to be the cap of what I would have to pay, if I were to lose my "voucher" because I am working and making 13 bucks an hour, and could no longer argue that I am "disabled."

Some Calculations

If they start making me pay the whole month's rent because I am making 13 bucks an hour, then, after taxes, I would netting about $5.80 per hour from the job, and taking home around $232.00 per week.

I could make that in a typical 13 hours of busking, which would leave me 27 more hours of spare time compared to the Wayne job.

So it would be 13 hours of busking vs. 40 hours of "Apple customer service, how can I help you?" to make the same money.

Subtract from that the 80 bucks a month for the wi-fi and I could match, with 11 hours and 45 minutes of busking, the income from that 40 hour per week job.

Getting to enjoy the laptop and the wi-fi when I'm not on the clock would be a benefit of the Wayne job.

Getting 11 hours and 45 minutes a week of practice on the guitar and harmonica would be a benefit of busking.

Nobody is going to walk up to me drunk in my apartment and try to smash the laptop when I'm working the Wayne job, though.

So, it will really revolve around how much my rent amount would be affected by taking the job. The feasibility point would be around the $275 per month, no more, I think...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Trek Calypso Brand Bike

Wednesday: Plasma, And No Lilly
I got forty bucks for my plasma yesterday; having just decided not to be at Lilly's beck and call.
About a $275 bike

This is kind of the theme of the post: Losing my initiative because of relying upon other people.

I texted her from along the way, attaching a photo of the rest of the bus riders to show her how I was the only white guy on the thing.

She just texted back: "Be careful, it's hot..."

She changes her mind as frequently as Donald Trump.

She initially invited me to a pool party that was going to be held that day (Wednesday) to celebrate the return of Chantilly, her oldest, from Ireland.

Then, I mentioned that I would have to go early to the plasma place in order to make it back for the party.

She then informed me that if I were to do that, then she was uninviting me to the party "I don't want you passing out in the pool..."

That is one of the ways that she exerts pressure on me. She doesn't want me to donate plasma, seeing only the danger in it and not the (piddling, to her) fifty bucks, or forty, as in yesterday's case.

And, so "If you give plasma then you can't come to the party (and see my daughters in their bathing suits)" is one of her devices.

At some point, I'm going to have to just "be a man" and tell her that, although I enjoy keeping her company in the pool, I have a life of my own to manage. She might pout but would probably respect me for it and not bar me from playing on her stoop.
If I spend fifteen bucks on a bike lock instead of thirty, and they cut through it by merely applying more pressure to the bolt snippers than they would have had to to snip through a five dollar lock, then I might as well have spent only five bucks, because I'm going to lose the bike anyways. Now that I know that it is an almost three hundred dollar bike, I'm more concerned. I might just get the five dollar lock in order to be able to immediately start riding it to the Lilly Pad, and saving three bucks on street car fares the very first night, planning upon getting a thirty dollar, hardened tungsten, kryptonite coated, forged steel job as soon as I can. The only problem with this reasoning is that I have typically procrastinated to the point where my bike gets stolen, behind the above logic. If you aren't going to spend thirty, then only spend five...
Lilly becomes bossy to the point of governing my every action: "No, don't put your cup there, if it spills it will get your shirt wet. Don't sit right there, there are bees around that flower plant. Don't dive in, get in slowly, you're too hot; you could go into shock. No, don't donate plasma; I don't want you to! No, don't use the pink stuff it's bad for you, use the regular sugar! Daniel, we're not taking one more step until you tie your shoelace!" type of stuff.

I have been meaning to ask her ex-husband about her, but just can't figure out what to ask, or how to phrase it. What's the deal with Lillian?

He still lives in the house in his own division of it, and Lilly hushes me with a finger held over her lips whenever we walk past the window to his room on our way to the pool. Why this is so is a mystery. I used to think it was because she was ashamed of me and didn't want her ex to snicker over to what level she has lowered her standards.

But she is inordinately secretive in general. "Don't tell anyone Chantilly is in Ireland. Don't tell my neighbors you know me because they may try to hurt me through you. And tie your shoelace..."

Her ex-husband always greets me warmly whenever I encounter him in the Quarter, looking at me the way I imagine a failed hiker who is on his way back down the trail to the base of Mt. Everest might look at someone who is on his way up.

It was the best trip I have ever made to the plasma place in regards to anger issues. I wasn't cussing out every skeezer I saw on my way there: "No, I don't have a dollar or a cigarette, I'm on my way to sell my vital cells!"

Sure, I was jostled to the back of the herd when the bus to Gretna pulled up, as usual, but was able to retain the good mood I was in, even when the bus inexplicably turned in the direction away from the plasma place at the point where it either does that or goes within a half mile of the place. A simple Googling of "when does the bus to Gretna take an alternate route?" could solve that problem, I am learning, as I bring myself into alignment with The Screen Staring Age.

I waited behind about a dozen other donors in the waiting area, but was called sooner than most of them. That must be part of my being designated as a "new donor.
This was my sixth one since starting back.

Maybe they figure that being made to wait a couple hours combined with the drop off in the amount of bonus money might be enough to scare off a new donor, such as I "was."

Or, it could be that the all African American staff are starting to take a shine to, I must be "tripping" to be thinking that, LOL.

"Am I supposed to be waving my arms and yelling: 'Hey, what about me, did you forget about me?!?'" I asked one of the technicians, a heavy-set black lady.
She assured me that I wasn't going to lose any time by being just about the only person in there not doing that.

I would have to take the street car in if I want to busk tonight, because I don't have a lock for the bike.

It is a Trek brand bike, I noticed, upon taking a better look at it.

I had just assumed that, since it is a woman's bike and is a "cruiser" style that it would just put along and be best suited for riding around filling its basket with flowers.

But, once I put the right amount of air in the tires, I found that the thing zipped along as well, if not better than the Specialized Rockhopper that I had stolen from me. That's what made me look for the brand name on it, which isn't boldly displayed.

Close To A Job?

Wayne, my neighbor has, once again, referred me to the company that he works for, saying that they are "hiring like crazy."

All I would have to do is have Cox install a land line phone as well as hook up wi-fi in my apartment; something that would bless me outside of, and in addition to, allowing me to work for the company that Wayne works for.

He is in line for a $250 bonus, should I be hired pursuant to his referral, and this should motivate him to help me.

"You're one of the only people in this building who is even bright enough to use a computer," he lamented about the fact that he doesn't see many potential $250 bonuses at Sacred Heart Apartments.

He told me that the company would send me a Macintosh computer if they hire me. He also said that the land line plus wi-fi would be a low 79 dollars per month, and that I wouldn't have to pay for them to install it, and could wait until I have gotten my first paycheck to pay for it.

This seems to be a golden opportunity. I wouldn't even have to have a bank account; something I would have needed were I to have tried to work for the same people that Travis Blaine works for.
What was the name of that computer nerd guy you had staying with you? I'm surprised you didn't ask him what kind of work it was he was doing that allowed him to take trips to New Orleans. -Alex In California, blog reader
That Computer Nerd

  The name of that "special snowflake" guy is Travis Blaine, and he was so ego-centric, he never even suggested that I try to get a job where he works, not even after I returned to the apartment, dejected, after not being hired by the Uxi Duxi.

I had ruefully lamented about it, when I returned to the place,  having had to cut him off in the middle of his ranting about every detail of his day.
This was about the time that he giddily gave me the great news, great for him, that he had discovered that the security people at Sacred Heart were sloppy in their record keeping and had not been meticulously counting the days he had been at my place, and that he could probably stay and extra ten days and they would never notice.

He then spat out some cookie cutter response like: "That sucks, I'm sure you'll find something..." before resuming his non-stop discourse about himself and his day, and his life, and probably even how much money he had made sitting behind his laptop and breathing the air in my apartment.

He wound up giving me 75 dollars off his food stamp card, a few sugar packets from McDonalds, and some cleaning supplies, and a bag of cat food, half of which was for his own cat, for allowing him to stay for "10 days" which turned into 18 days, behind promises of more food stamp money, that was ultimately paid to me at a rate of 25% less than he had promised (with a handshake) as if he had used a calculator to come up with what he probably thought a person would begrudgingly accept in lieu of a full amount, because anything is better than nothing, type of thing.

I thought it was due to scarcity of work, and that I would be in competition with him for work from the same company in the same zip code, that he never suggesting that I apply. But, when I asked him about working for them, he piped up with: "Oh, yeah, all you would have to do is..." and then went on to explain how that is what he had done and to tediously lay out for me, how it works for him and how it allows him to do this and that, and how it is similar but better, for him, to what he had been doing before, etc. etc."

That was when the full extent of his egocentricity came to light -the fact that I had been to the point of being depressed over not being able to find a job, and it had never even occurred to him to suggest it.

Travis Blaine.

One of the few good things that came out of his staying with me was he left me some latex gloves, which became invaluable, once I discovered ammonia as a cleaning agent.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


I'm at the Octapharma place.
There are more than a dozen people in front of me in the waiting area.
I have never seen anyone there the other times I have been here.
Conclusion: Don't come on Wednesday,as that seems to be a lot of people's "day"

*in order that one doesn't lose track of the days that she is eligible to donate it is best to come on the same days of the week

For example, you aren't allowed to make more than 2 donations within the same 7 day period. And you must wait one day between donations. So if you come Monday, you can return on Wednesday (though I don't recommend it; see above) but then you can't come again until the following Monday.

It's easy to get confused if you come Monday and then Friday. You might think you can return Sunday because one day has elapsed since your last time; but they will get you on the "3 times within 7 days" rule
I'm going to hit post on this even though I can't see what I'm typing and am letting Google finish most of these sentences, plus I'm not a good thumb guy..
The mistakes might y humorous...
It sure is easy to be lazy and just accept the suggested word if it is "close enough,"
The lazy brown fy just got home from where we could go to the plasma place but apparently I have to get a new phone and I don't want to be a part of the team and I will be there at the same time I don't have a car so I can get the money to you and your family a very happy and prosperous New year to you and your family a very happy and prosperous New year to you and your family have been trying a couple weeks because July or to be lazy lightning was just thinking I should get the plasma

Wow,all that was just from pumping the button and letting Google choose the next words.

One more...
Skeezers to be lazy e to be lazy e I have a power point and we could have to take the kids out I will let him then I can do it tomorrow I have a power point and we will see how I can get the 50 bucks and your mom and dad are going to be lazy

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"Fifty Dollars; You Can't Be Serious?!?"

I'm at the Harrah's Casino.
Lilly, still camera shy...
Feeling overwhelmed.
I swam with Lilly this afternoon.

Lilly has been almost insisting, lately, that I go over to swim with her, in the late afternoons.

But, she probably doesn't think it lady-like to seem like she is encouraging a gentleman to come over and swim.

What a lady does, I am starting to figure out, is to drop hints, such as: "It's supposed to be in the nineties tomorrow, I'll probably just sit around the pool."
Then it will be up to the guy to call and ask if she would like some company.

Monday, I wound up sleeping most of the day. I had been up reading until mid morning.

When I turned my phone on it started chiming to announce that I had messages on it from Lilly.

When I called her, she informed me that she had been texting me about going over to swim, but that it was then too late, and that she was disappointed.
She also said about my recent agenda, of staying up reading until the sun was high in the sky "Isn't working out for you."

It crossed my mind that it wasn't working out for her.

But, today, I had blown off a trip to the plasma place, thinking that it might have me returning too late to swim with her.

It is always in the back of my mind that I might be just a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is Lilly's life. That she is meticulous and prefers everything to be just so, right down to the small details such as the musician who sits at the corner of her house, where he can report to her about the comings and goings of the neighbors, etc.

When I went to swim with her the last time, I was let in the gate by a young and handsome and well groomed young man in a wet bathing suit, who introduced himself as Alan, and lead me back to the pool, where Lilly and he had apparently been swimming.

He had "potential husband for one of Lilly's daughters" written all over him, and it crossed my mind that I might have been invited there so she could maintain a sense of propriety while she swam with the young guy.

The guy was probably hoping that whichever daughter it is, would join them in the pool, but that is a card that Lilly will keep up her sleeve until the time is right, if it ever is.
Besides, her oldest daughter was in Ireland at the time.
But, today I was going to go to the plasma place. My fifty dollar donations are all used up, but I would still have gotten maybe 35 bucks.
I know this is chump change for most people, it seems. I used to be one of them, when I had just any old job, making just a bit above minimum wage.

Hell, if I was washing dishes for 23 hours a week now and taking home around 200 bucks every week, I highly doubt that I would be making the trek to Gretna, taking the abuse of being elbowed out of the way when the bus for Gretna arrives, boarding only after all the black people have gotten cracks at the available seats, and then having to go through the whole plasma extracting process, and then being stared at dumbly by black cashiers and black bus drivers along my trip back home.

The donation leaves me famished enough so that I wind up eating into the profits by consuming more food. It's almost a vicious (or humorous, I'm not sure) cycle -they give a guy food stamps so he can digest food; then the plasma people drain the protein out of him and give him cash for it.
A  symbiotic relationship between the SNAP people and the plasma people.

"Fifty bucks, are you kidding me?!?" exclaimed Lilly when I told her that I had been selling my plasma for that amount.

I think I may have been a homeless street musician a bit too long, to have seen my sense of the worth of money erode to the point that fifty bucks is something to me; when it is nothing to the average person.

After swimming, Lilly and I walked to the Starbucks on Canal Street where the top photo was taken. Lilly saw that I was trying to capture her image in the nick of time and was able to block with her phone.
It's funny how someone like her, who often dresses elegantly, will have no qualms about just wrapping a bandanna around her wet hair and walking through the Quarter in her flip-flops at other times.

Monday, July 23, 2018

You Got A Flag...

  • Plasma Sunday
  • I Give A Shirt
  • I Get A Bike

Sunday, I went and sold plasma.

I wound up walking quite a ways.

The 115 bus, I hopped off of at the spot where I thought it came closest to the plasma place, the way that planet Mars is now as close to the earth as it will get this year, and which in fact will be the third brightest object in the sky right after sundown tonight.

The bus then turned in the direction of the plasma place, and I walked along in its wake.

The last time I rode the thing, though, when it came to that spot where it would either turn towards the plasma place or not, I had asked an older black man: "Is this as close as we get to Wal-Mart?"

"No, man, it stops right in front of Wal-Mart," he had said.

The bus then took the turn away from the Wal-Mart and began to serp its way through the neighborhoods of Gretna, coming out onto the main "General Degaulle" highway, before disappearing into the labyrinth of another low income neighborhood, then back onto Degaulle.

A thought occurred to me.

"Are there 2 Wal-Marts?" I asked the same older black man.

"No," he asserted, figuring out what I was getting at. I hadn't specified which Wal-Mart. I was starting to think that there was another one located way (way) on the other side of town that the bus might stop at.

"Well, there is," he corrected himself, but then reiterated that the bus we were on was going to stop right in front of the Wal-Mart that we had been not too far from when I had asked.

Then, as we went further and further away from Wal-Mart, I heard the guy mumbled something out of which I heard: "...changed the routes, or something..."

After an almost hour long tour of Gretna, the bus did indeed stop in front of the Wal-Mart, having made a huge convoluted circle around it then approached it from the opposite direction of what I was used to.

The poor old man had been squirming in his seat and mumbling to himself the whole way. It seemed to either bother him that he had given me bad information, or he was bracing himself for me to say something like: "That's the last time I ask your dumb ass about anything," and was perhaps preparing a rebuttal such as: "They must have changed the schedules, how was I supposed to know they did that? I've been riding this bus for years, and it always turned there and went past the Wal-Mart!"

When I finally got off, having lost almost an hour, but still in time to make it to the plasma place before it closed, I just smiled to the guy and said:
"It's all good. I actually got a nice tour of the city. Now I know where a lot of stuff is that I never knew was here.

So yesterday, not wanting to make the same mistake, I got off the 115 at that same spot a half mile away from the Wal-Mart. The bus then turned and headed in the direction of the Wal-Mart like it used to do before they changed the schedule. It must depend upon the day of the week which way it goes.

I just had to smile and shake my head over how it seems that a trip to the plasma place is cursed, with at least nine out of ten things that could go wrong going wrong, as I began a half hour walk to the plasma place.

It was some consolation when I caught up to a couple who had stayed on the bus and gotten off at Wal-Mart who were headed towards the same place.

Yes, the bike was something that I had been taking for granted, I thought, as I walked through the hundred degree temperature.

If I ever would have considered how much time and aggravation it had saved me, I would have pulled the thing into my apartment every night.

It was the last of my five fifty dollar donations. The money was on the card by the time I checked the balance from the first bus stop I got to, and then the bus arrived just as I was texting for its schedule. A rare example of things falling into place and working just like a Swiss watch, in Gretna.

The way the driver just stared at me like he hated me after I had said: "I was just texting for the schedule when you pulled up" reminded me that I was there, though.

I dallied at the Uxi Duxi until it was almost midnight and all the stores in the area were closing.

I wanted coffee and cat food, and started to kick myself over having lost track of the time, but then it occurred to me that I could just stay on the street car past my apartment and then shop in the Quarter, which is what I did.

It dropped me off with a half hour to walk the six blocks to the Rouses Market where I got the cat food and a Yerba Mate energy drink for a couple bucks.
Treva asked me where I had been.

She suggested that I buy a huge bag of dry cat food, enough to last a month, at the Family Dollar where I always go.

I told her that I had tried that cheap brand, and Harold had snubbed it.
She told me that he would eventually eat the stuff when he got hungry enough.
I bought a 32 gram bag of kratom at The Unique Grocery, saving me 40% off of the Uxi Duxi price.

I then ran into David the water jug player, and we hung out. I tuned his guitar, which is a pretty decent one, a far cry from the toy guitar he had been recently playing.

Up walked a young shirtless Jamaican looking guy who had a guitar and was strumming as he walked along with a friend.

I recognized him from having seen him about 3 months prior, at a bus stop on Broad Avenue. That time, he was playing his guitar, which he doesn't seem to have a case for, something that encourages a lot of practicing, to put a silver lining around not having a case. Also, having it out of the case can lead to money making because it's easy for a drunken tourist to say: "Play me something," and not have to wait for you to unzip and shoulder and perhaps even tune up the guitar.

I made at least fifty bucks that way, back when I didn't have a case and would be ready to jump right into a Neil Young song for someone before the street light changed, or something. A quick five bucks can be gotten that way; five bucks to go towards the purchase of a case; and an argument for leaving the case at home at the same time...

So, the Jamaican kid recognized me and, pointing me out to David, said that I was the guy who had taught him whatever it was on the guitar "And I still use that..." he added.

Then David became pretty animated, saying: "I know, he's taught me many, many things on the guitar, I've been knowing Daniel for years..." and it had the tone of an argument over who I had taught more to on the guitar.

David did ask me if I was "smoking on anything," to which I told him that I had packed up all my music gear, to include whatever little bud I had, and had left it all at the apartment, ready to go, but had decided to make a quick run into the Quarter for coffee, kratom and cat food without it.

I enjoyed hanging out with David on Canal Street, which is where he busks. He enjoys the social scene there, and in the couple hours that we hung out, he was able to get a few groups of people to mention the guitar, whereupon he jumped up and serenaded them with one of the two songs that he knows and get a dollar or two from each.

Canal Street is a one dollar at a time market for the busker. There is just too much going on there for the tourist to not want to divide his money up into very small little bits, one for everybody, from the lady twerking at the corner to the "beer please" guy with the sign, to David the water jug player who pours his heart into singing "What A Wonderful World," the Sam Cooke I think it is, song. James Taylor and Art Garfunkel did a version which is the one that I'm most familiar with, in the early 70's.

David's other song is "Stand By Me," the Ben E. King classic.

He is just passably talented, with the number of songs he knows commensurate with the amount of chords he knows, and he gets his one dollar from every hundred people who pass through sheer passion.

The Shirt Off My Back

I finally got on a street car for home, after having let a couple hours worth of them pass by.

I was actually enjoying hanging out with David. I guess I'm a social animal to some small degree, I just can't hang out with skeezers.

David is an antidote to any of the craziness of that particular block of Canal Street, which probably makes people who are from different ghettos around the nation, feel at home. He doesn't hesitate to raise his voice a bit and give a firm: "Have a good night!" to anyone who might walk over and start to strike up any kind of conversation at all upon seeing that David has a white guy that he was probably skeezing, and wanting to get a piece of the action.

A lot of times, if a second skeezer walks up, then the first skeezer has his hands tied as far as not being able to yell: "Beat it, this is my mark!!" without alerting the tourist to the fact that he is a bone of contention, and why is this guy who I thought I was just having an interesting conversation with suddenly so possessive of me? type of thing.

So, a skeezer can, and usually does, approach us and start to say anything: "Hey, do you know if the Pelicans won tonight, I was..."

"Have a nice night!!!"

End of discussion about the Pelicans.

The Shirt Off My Back!

The trolley made a stop after a couple blocks and there the Jamaican kid with the guitar attempted to board, but was told that he couldn't without a shirt on.
For some reason, I had packed an extra shirt in my backpack, I think intending to use it as a towel after swimming with Lilly the day before, and it was still in there. It was clean, and I fished it out of my bag.
I went to the front of the car with it, showing it to the driver, which got him to re-open the door.
The kid got on and, after sniffing it, put it on, inside out.

I was trying to remember what kind of logo was on the shirt, or if it was the Pink Floyd one that I have in the same color as I wondered if he had intentionally turned it inside out.

It was a greenish gray and matched his black and white shorts printed with a fancy pattern, and his black sneakers.

At one point, an older black man said to the kid, pointing towards the shirt: "You got a flag."

I took that to mean that he was telling him the shirt was inside out, with the "flag" being the tag which was consequently visible and which might be seen as a flag to warn a person of such, as he inspects himself in the mirror perhaps.

That is a good example of the words that I often try to recall that black people have created and added to their vocabularies.

Calling a car a "whip" is one that I remember, but I have forgotten so many and that annoyed me one time when I thought about making a dictionary of the words that black people have apparently invented.

A whip is not one of the more intuitive ones. A whip is fast; a car is fast?

A whip is a symbol of the wielding power, a car is too?

A whip is used to get horses moving faster; a car get your life moving faster?

But, I could see where "You got a flag" might mean: Your shirt's inside out. Or the guy might have been trying to say "tag."

But, the Jamaican kid shrugged and said defensively: "Oh, I don't know, bro, someone gave me this; I just put it on, I don't know what it is..." and it occurred to me that he might have been reading even deeper into the old man's words and thought that he was telling him that he was now wearing a shirt that was going to be like a flag, telling the whole world that he supported white supremacy, or something.

No, I mean a tag. Your tag is showing, your shirt is inside out, calm down.

So, this morning, or rather right before 4 PM, I went to the office area to see if Tim my caseworker had gotten the message that I had left on his machine to the effect of: don't let them erase the video from the weekend yet because my bike was stolen.

That lead to he and Dorothy, another caseworker who is assigned to a different subset of skeezers, to give me the yellow bike shown in the photo. They said they had been baby sitting it as it sat in Dorothy's office, waiting for the right opportunity to give it to someone. And that someone was me.

"I know your not going to sell it," said Dorothy.
They seemed to be trying to dissuade me against pursuing the prosecution of whomever stole my Specialized Rockhopper. Almost as if they feel sorry for the pathetic person who snatched it in the throes of craving another hit of crack. The totally out of control kind of stuff that lands crackheads in jail.

As I came out of the building with my new yellow bike, I caught one particularly sketchy guy doing a double-take and staring at me and the bike with wide eyes. It could have been that he knew about my bike getting stolen and was planning upon enjoying seeing me on foot and hopefully looking miserable, and was even looking forward to asking: "Where's your bike?" with a dopey mocking grin on his face, as I walked by.

But, it could also be that he had seen the same bike sitting in Dorothy's office, and was outraged that she should have given it to me, when he had probably, just as a knee jerk reaction asked her if he could have it. So he could sell it.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Camera Shy Lilly

Bike Stolen Early Saturday Morning

I Fail To Heed The Signs

I used to just leave my bike leaning against the wall right outside my apartment when I got home in the early mornings.
Inside the apartment, it always seemed to be in the way, and since this one didn't have a kickstand, that acerbating the problem of where to put it.
Plus, Harold the cat would sniff the tires, as if being able to tell where I had been by doing so.
It was right under a camera, and there were others at the exits to the left and right of where it sat.
Nobody comes in the building except through the lone door where the security desk is, and after showing ID.
Plus, things have changed in the past couple years after the musical chairs of residents coming in and not working out for one reason or another and then being replaced by other wildcard residents.
The worst of the tenants have been weeded out. Most of the heroin addicts have disappeared.
Harry, who looked at me suspiciously after he once heard me calling Harold the cat, as if I might have named it after him, to mock him in some way, perhaps; he got ten years in prison, I heard, after he was found with pounds of heroin in a car that he was driving. Knowing Harry, he was probably tailgating and flipping the bird and driving erratically, and is probably taking the fall for someone who could have him killed in prison if he starts talking. They aren't going to hold Harry's apartment for him.

But, the monitors at the front security desk went blank a couple weeks ago. Now, instead of the guard sitting in front of a bank of a dozen screens, ostensibly watching the place, he now has to entertain himself with his smart phone alone.
The monitors were kind of entertaining to watch, I thought: "There goes Bobby to the laundry room; out comes the blind woman to cane her way to the candy machine, there she is trying to skeeze change from the guy from A113 who just came out; what's that he's got, a fishing pole?" type of stuff.

Sign 1:
Friday night, as I was coming back from having made 23 bucks (that was the night that I blogged that I would have been happy to get the hell out of there in one piece and with 13 dollars) I rode in using the side street, and not Canal Street, so I didn't notice that the gate that opens and closes to let cars in was stuck open. The "out" gate the opposite end of the lot had been closed.
I like it when the gate is open, as if saves me from having to ride around to the other side of the building and then having to swipe my key card to let myself and my awkward bike and backpack and guitar through a couple lobby doors, into the same parking lot.
The downside is that, someone could enter the lot off the street and then, if they were to catch a resident coming in or out of one of the doors, they might be able to get that resident to let them in, through social engineering.
I always tell any stranger who is hanging around and yells: "Yo, hold that door!" to go around the front and use their key card to get in. That's what the key cards are for. That's what the front door is for. It is often someone who used to live at Sacred Heart, relying upon: "I think this guy lives here, I've seen him before" to get in.

I should have a glance towards that gate to my arriving home routine, because, my bike almost certainly went out through it.

I'm hoping it was someone as crack addled as Brian, who will knock on my door at all hours of the night trying sell me things like size 14 sneakers, and then will beg me for money anyways "to feed my children," after I tell him that I am a size ten and a half, or that I really don't need a vial of antibiotics, or a radio/cassette deck that's only missing one speakers but still has the other one, just turn it up louder, just then.
He is conceivably thick enough to conclude that, since the monitors at the security desk are out, the security system is "down."

It would be more worry-some to think that it was a more "professional" job, involving someone signing in a guest under an alias, who would have pulled a hoodie over his head before snatching the bike.

It is more worry-some, still, to think that the new security guard who doesn't seem to pay attention to anything except his cell phone, might have popped the gate open and told his new friends to help themselves to white boy's bike.

Sign 2:

When I was pushing my bike into the lobby, the guard who was on duty was in the middle of telling some guy who was standing there, as the clock was striking 2 AM: "He didn't open the door because the guy doesn't live here."
This might have tipped me off to the fact that someone who didn't live there had  been trying to get in, somehow. Why someone would have been complaining about that is beyond me, but, that should have given me enough of a twinge of apprehension to have made me pull the bike inside behind me, so Harold could sniff the tires.

Sign 3: At about 3:30 AM, I heard a noise, outside my door and so did Harold, whose ears pricked up and who turned his head towards the door. If I had been thinking, I would have surmised that, of all the noises that occur, with some of them not eliciting this response from him, this particular noise was of special interest to Harold. Like oh, I don't know, maybe the sound of his owner returning on his bike with cat food in his backpack at 3 in the morning.

Well, I guess this post wound up being all about the stolen bike, yikes.

Extra Odds And Ends

I swam with Lilly Saturday afternoon.
It was nice, but kind of depressing in that she used pretty much the same playlist of songs as she had the last time we swam, and told me the same stories when prompted by them.
While The Cat Is Away, The Mice Will Play

"We saw them (The Beach Boys) at the Saenger, and you know who else we saw...oh, I'm trying to think now who it was..."
"It was Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, you told me last time we swam, remember?"
It just seems to me that if you tell a friend something, it would be because you are interested in their reaction to it, or you value their opinion, and would remember having told them. More and more it seems like people are on auto pilot these days. But, she keeps repeating that she loves me, so its a double-edged sword, I guess.

When I arrived just before 5 PM, there was a guy playing at my spot (shown).
Wow, now I don't have to describe him, thanks to Bluetooth, which I just figured out how to use to connect my phone to my laptop.

The guy looked over at me. I wondered if he recognized me as being "the guy who plays that spot at night," but, I didn't have my guitar on me. He just glanced over and acted like he was busy playing when I drifted over closer to him. He could have thought that I lived there. The couple of ladies who had been standing around him began to praise him loudly at the sight of me standing by the gate "You made our day," type of stuff. It could be that he had told them that he was going to play there unless someone came out and ran him off. They may have been trying to make it seem, to someone they though might live there, like he was enhancing the environment, rather than bothering anyone.

It looked like he had made perhaps 30 bucks, assuming he was keeping it all in his jar, which he probably was, because it was broad daylight, and he had a transparent tip jar, ostensibly for that purpose. As a general rule, people tip buskers who already have a tip jar full, because that makes it look like throwing him some money must be "the thing to do." But, I've covered that topic in this blog before.
The picture above, I got by sticking my phone out through the gate to be able to see if the guy was still there, using it like a periscope. I decided to hit the shutter button. It looks like he is packing up, and like he hadn't had a really great outing, money-wise.
Buskers coming to New Orleans have to expect a pay cut as far as cash, and tally in the free food and drinks and cigarettes and weed and stuff that people will give in lieu of currency...maybe this guy's deportment conveys that he hasn't figured that out yet.  
I made just 9 bucks in a couple hours after having returned to the apartment to grab my stuff, after swimming, and then gotten back there at around 11, all done using streetcars...
And, today, Sunday, I went and sold the fifth unit of plasma in order to receive the last of the fifty dollar "bonuses" as a "first time donor."
Now, I imagine they might hold one more carrot in front of my nose, reminding me that the next donation would be the sixth one of the month and would qualify me for that bonus, which would probably make it a 35 dollar outing, but would then qualify me for a slightly larger bonus for the next one, being the second donation within a week and the 7th one of the month. And on and on, until I am bled dry.


Without making this blog post all about the bike being stolen, although it is a big pain in the ass and one of those things that you don't truly miss until they are gone.
My business now will be to try to get someone to run the video from that camera in that particular time period and see if it is some idiot who assumed that the cameras were broken and he had carte blanche to take it.
It would be worse is one of the residents had brought in some stranger who signed in with a fake ID to do the dirty work, because there would be more to fear in the future from someone so "clever."
There is also a new security guard.
He is a young black guy with dreadlocks in his hair who sits behind the desk staring at his phone.
When I left to come here, I don't think he noticed me at all.
All of the other guards at least turn their heads to take note of me when I push the door open to enter the lobby. This one never stopped staring at his phone. Nor did he lift his head at any time as I passed by him.
Before I closed the door behind me, I said: "I don't live here, I just stole some stuff." No reaction at all. His job is to keep the seat warm and occasionally sign someone in, he isn't required to talk to white folk, I guess is his deal. He must be from Gretna.

So, I left a message on the machine of Tim, my caseworker, so that if I'm not up bright and early to pursue the matter, there might be a window of opportunity when Tim might be able to get them to hold off on erasing the video of the weekend, if that is something they do.
A rare photo of the camera shy Lilly

Some places keep their videos for 72 hours, some for a week or two. I guess it depends upon the type of business and the likelihood of someone having an issue with something that might have happened a couple weeks prior.

Since the office where the hard drive is gets locked up from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, it wouldn't make sense for them to have a machine that records over itself every 24 hours. That would turn Friday and Saturday nights into open season for criminals.

My biggest concern is, not so much getting the bike back, I have already been offered a nice Trek bike for 40 bucks, and a lesser bike for half that. It is with putting a face to all the petty thefts that have been a nuisance to us residents. There are only one of two residents who are of the class that would stoop to stealing a can of beer that someone put down