Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blue Mountain Dew

Countdown To Songwriting Contest: 10 Days
Last night, I reached the "5 day" point of abstinence from alcohol, at approximately 9 pm.
I played out on the street and reached the level of enjoyment which I previously had only been getting after imbibing.
Taking a break at one point, I felt a letdown, knowing that I wasn't going to follow my prior routine of going behind somewhere and drinking a beer. I decided to get a Mountain Dew (the blue kind) instead, and found myself just as joyful, as I walked to the Dauphin Store for that beverage; as much as I would have been in the past, when going for beer.
I made 31 bucks, and added it to the 13, which had slowly accumulated during the week. Subtracting the cost of two bottles of Mountain Dew, I woke up with 41 bucks. I went to church at the Dauphin Street Fellowship.
I was very tempted to add vodka to my blue Mountain Dew this morning. I didn't.
I ran into John the Preacher, shortly after making that decision, as I walked up Government Street, on my way to pick old newspapers out of the bin at the recycling place, so that I could do the crossword puzzles, (and catch up on old weather reports LOL..)
John had gotten up at 7 am,. and gone to the Presbyterian Bible Study, he told me; in hopes of saving at least just one of their souls. They are so friendly, and they give all the homeless people hard-boiled eggs and blueberries each morning, Monday through Friday, and it seemed a shame to John to let them spend an eternity in hell, just because they believe that once "saved," a person cannot loose their salvation.
Now, the Patriot's game is about to start, and I might try to find a bar to stand outside of and watch the game through a window, as I sip a store-bought Mountain Dew.
Work on my own songs is coming along promisingly. I play them on my spots and get tipped for them. I am seeing which songs it might be wise to play at the songwriting contest, by judging the reactions to them on the street. It is a feather in a busker's cap to get people to stop for more than 10 seconds to listen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

5 Days

Countdown to Songwriting Contest: 11 days
It will be 5 days since I've had a beer or drink, as of about 9pm. tonight.
I am in training for the songwriting contest.
I am registered for the 10th, but will attend on the 3rd, just to see what the competitors are up to.
I saw the "92 (the zoo) FM" van parked right by the beer store.
There is a new hobo in town, who goes by the "name " of "Pyro"
He sat next to me last night, smelling like a train that hasn't bathed, as I played. He was asking people for money as they walked by. He called it "spaingeing," which is an abbreviation of "spare change," the clever devil, him. He was lamenting the breaking of a half gallon of wine on the sidewalk, a tragedy which had befallen him earlier that night.
He was spending every cent he "made" on beer, and became pretty incoherent, and said things to the people passing by, which were cryptical, for example, saying 'north" to one group of young men, as he pointed skyward. 
He was angry at the people of Mobile, because he wasn't getting any money out of them. At one point, his "Do you have any spare change?" only netted him 80 cents from a nice couple, who were on their way towards Royal Street. Looking down into his hand, he uttered an oath, adding, "This isn't crap, I hate this town." Those who didn't give to him had their backs cursed as they walked away.
He talked about travelling the country by trrain (avoiding bathtubs,) but mostly it was in  relationship to how the pan-handling is, nationwide. I mentioned the new laws in Mobile against begging. He continued to beg anyways.
He gave me some "useful" information about train hopping. Eventually I escaped him by just packing up and walking away, but not before learning that he is from Dalton, Georgia, where Karrie Porras is also from.
One interesting sidenote; he is called "Pyro," because of the fact that he was burned severely as a child, and bears the scars to this day, just like Karrie Porras, who was burned severely as an infant in that same small town in Georgia.
It has been pretty boring, playing sober; it makes me question the purpose of it sometimes. John the preacher thinks that if I start doing gospel songs exclusively, then I will rise to great stardom of some kind. Of course, John needed 3 bucks to do his laundry the other day and had to borrow it.
Focus Upon Music
Yesterday, I made up my mind to go and to play on the grass median strip on Water Street, with my sign which reads: “Street Musician Stimulus Package.” I was out of money for beer and cigarettes, by my own doing, as a way of quitting those items, but realized that I had placed myself out of the market for guitar strings as a side effect.
I thus directed my steps in the opposite direction from which I had been going for countless days past, and went to Water Street, instead.
I played for about 45 minutes and got about 4 dollars. This, I found satisfactory, as it was almost enough for new strings. I would try to borrow the balance, against what I projected to make during the coming weekend.
Serda’s Songwriter’s Open Mic Night was to be that night. I decided to walk by there on my way to eat at the Waterfront Mission.
I usually don’t eat lunch, but was feeling like I wanted to load up on food, for some reason. This feeling usually comes when I am about to embark upon some undertaking which might be strenuous. Often the feeling comes before I even discover the task which is to be in front of me, and only have a premonition of it.
Then, in the window of Serda’s was a poster, which announced a songwriter’s contest, to be held each Wednesday of November, culminating in six finalists (two to be chosen each week) vying for a prize of studio time, to record 5 songs, and air time on a local FM radio station, to showcase the same.
I felt like this was a miracle of sorts, and due to my decision to quit drinking, and smoking. I think that God created the contest, in order to give me a way to fight the temptation to get drunk and lazy and neglect my chosen craft. Since it is the “second annual” contest, God re-wrote history and implanted in the minds of people the recollection of last year’s contest.
I ate at the mission, then called Jeff, who said that he could bring me to the music store before picking up his daughter, Leigh, and taking all of us to the church service that evening.
The preacher spoke to me after the service, and asked me what I did for a living. “So, you’re a professional musician?” he inquired, after I told him what I did. I told him that I guessed that I was, only without management.
I got to Serda’s and was greeted by Jimmy Lee, who seemed to harbor no ill will towards me. He put me on last, after Elizabeth, the poet and then a mandolin player/singer performed.
I did mostly untested new material, since the pressure of the contest next month has overshadowed any that I might have felt on this occasion, which seemed like a rehearsal for the contest.
About 8 people hung around and listened to me, even though they were through performing, and they and their friends were free to go. They were the same 8 that seem to encourage me; the one’s that don’t stare me down when I enter the venue, and look at me as if I am crashing their private party.
The songs went pretty well. I had trouble “loosening up,” being sober, (except for the caffeine in the small, black coffee, which I had at my side.)
I did “I Lost My Sparrow,” and then “Computer Geek Blues” and then hacked up “The Can Man,” pretty badly, but not so much as to negate what I had gained by doing “Computer Geek,” fairly competently.
I got some good reactions, but left feeling like I have a lot of practicing to do, if I want to win the recording session and have my songs played on 92 (the zoo) FM, in Mobile, Alabama.
It was raining hard when I stepped outside at almost midnight. Jimmy Lee gave me a ride to the church spot, where I found John the Street Preacher, sprawled out on the porch. We sat and talked for a while.
The rain was being blown in a favorable direction to anyone using the porch to sleep, and we woke up dry in the morning, and went to get our eggs and blueberries.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Songwriting Contest

Serda's is having a songwriting contest next month. The winner gets to cut a CD in a studio, and some other stuff.
It is sponsored by the local newpaper, the local "zoo" radio station, and the local Arts and Entertainment magazine type thing.
I can win the contest, if I make a consorted effort; and I'm not really sure what "consorted" even means, I'll have to look that up.
I will have to listen to the "zoo" radio station. This part worries me, because the judge from that station listens to hip hop and R&B all day.
The other guy from the magazine, I will have to read his reviews to see what he likes.
The newpaper editor, ditto.
I have registered for the second week, on November 10th. Two finalists will be chosen from each night, and the six of them will compete on the last night. Losers are not allowed to re-try. This is why I registered for the second week, because the first week, the two finalists will probably be chosen from a bunch of people, eliminating all but the two winners. This may decimate the songwriting population of Mobile, leaving less competitors for the second week. Maybe I should try to move to the third week, following this logic.
I need to go, I have work to do.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nobody There To Be Cheap

Yesterday, I left the library and went to get my stuff, which was stashed at the Save-A-Lot.
I had decided to wash some of my clothes, so that I could wear different ones each day. Come next Sunday, I will probably put on the one's that I had on last Sunday, just to mess with the guy that made a comment about them. I washed three pair of pants, and threw out the ones with the holes in the leg which were too long also.
The "Feel" Of Downtown Mobile, Last Night
The streets were deserted downtown, and I worked on some of my own songs, making the best of the time, but no money. I started to get mad and curse the cheapness of the people, then stopped myself when I realised that nobody was there being cheap. One guy walked by and told me to go to New Orleans.
I wound up spending what little I had on Steel Reserve, which I drank in the park, where I had to fend off beggars, who wanted dollars and cigarettes. I became angry at one point.
I have concluded that quitting smoking and drinking is my only path to peace of mind. Not smoking will reduce the number of friends that I have from almost 40, down to about 5, but I am willing to suffer that consequence.
Now, I am in a self-imposed rehab, brought on by having ruined myself financially.
I am treating the Serda's Open Mic on Wednesday as if it were a real gig, and plan upon preparing for it as such. I want to see how well I can do when I make the effort.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday Night Nothing Special

Where We Were, 6 Years Before We Were There
Dauphin Island
Yesterday morning, Sunday, I woke up under the trolley which I had slept under, the night before.
I had started to play, Friday night, and, seeing that it was slow, had taken a couple of breaks and sat eating peanuts and drinking beer and listening to the Alabama game on my cheap AM radio.
Eventually, I became groggy and wound up crawling under the trolley which I was leaning back against, and going to sleep.
I had thereby found a new spot to sleep at, which is waterproof, invisible and undiscovered. Still, the ridiculousness of sleeping outdoors is never more apparent than when sleeping in places like that.
The disappointment of having been too tired and having drank myself to sleep, caused me to feel ashamed and guilty when I woke up in the morning. I had gotten a full 8 hours of sleep, at least.
I went to the store and got an energy drink. It was only about 7 am.
I Repent Of My Trolley-Sleeping Ways
I decided that I was going to go to church somewhere, because I had hit "rock bottom" under that trolley, which was parked on a grassy lot, that was not totally ant-free, and I walked down by the Fellowship at 316 Dauphin St.
The Battle Intensifies
They hadn't opened the door yet. There was another guy waiting out fromt for a van to come and take him to "The Cave," which he described as a church which is set up like a bar and "in fact, it used to BE a bar," where there is a rock band, featuring a very good guitarist, and the congregation, made up of "a bunch of old bikers who have found Jesus," sit at bar stools and drink coffee instead of beer. The guy told me that I should definitely check it out sometime.
Upon my soul, I've never seen such bickering!!
Meanwhile, the pastor of The Fellowship had come out, and noting that the van for The Cave hadn't arrived yet, gently prodded us by saying that they were "just about to begin."
While waiting for the Fellowship to open, I had called Jeff, who informed me that he had matters with his family and wouldn't be able to come get me. So, The Fellowship it was for me.
The Fellowship has a big pot of coffee, which I mentioned in a past post. It also has a significant number of homeless people on any given Sunday, who seem to be there for the coffee, and to bum cigarettes off of the people who drink coffee, then step out back for a cigarette.
They are like starving fleas in a house where the family has been on vacation for a while, taking the pets with them, and just returned. (They make "flea bombs," maybe I could market a "homeless bum" bomb and set one off behind The Fellowship every Sunday.)
Clothed In Iniquity
One of the "worshippers" made a comment to the guy sitting next to him, as I walked past, of which I heard only "boots the same way, too." He was looking at my boots. I assumed he was remarking that I had on the same clothes as the previous two days. He had no way of knowing that I had washed them at the church spot and dried them on the vent, one of those nights. I thought that it was uncalled for in a House of Worship to make such a comment, or even to see the relevance of what he meant by it, and especially to say it loud enough to be audible to the person whom he is defaming, as if to direct it at him.
Blacks are prone to do this. I aksed (sic) one intelligent one once, why they are prone to do this. He replied that they are trying to "open the lines of communication."
I suppose the guy in church was giving me a chance to make a rebuttal, whereby I could have assuaged his fear that he was in church with an unsanitary homeless guy, by telling him that yes, I have on the same clothes, but I had washed them, (and then added "What's it to you, n*#&@!!")
Despite this negativity, I manged to come out feeling better, and only had a couple of beers afterwards.
Getting Away From Mobile
Then Jeff met me at the library. His daughter, Erin and son, Jarod joined us in a trip to Dauphin Island. Apparently, Jeff used to live there, and he and his kids hadn't been there in a while.

"Peeping Toms" carry stilts on Dauphin Island

It began to cloud up and lightning was visible as soon as we got to the beach (above) and so we only had a few minutes there. The lightning may have been aimed at me because I had the same clothes on as the day before.
We rode around looking at the sights on Dauphin Island. Every house was on stilts.
The rain stopped, but then started back up in the early morning. I was on the porch spot, as were two other guys, whom John the preacher and I had talked to a bit and determined were pretty nice guys, who wouldn't steal our stuff in the middle of the night.
I was the woke up at about my usual time. Both John and a new guy were still asleep.
I woke them up, and informed them that it was probably time for The Coffee Club.
John was disoriented at first, and looked around for a few seconds at the marble porch in confusion, but soon recalled his immediate purpose (hard-boiled egg and blueberries.) and stood up and quickly packed up his bedding's.
I guess the overcast sky caused them to oversleep in the same way that some natural phenomena cause whales to beach themselves. I might hear higher frequencies than them.
We went en mass to the Presbyterian for our hard boiled eggs and blueberries.
Now, it is Monday. It is still raining, and there is supposedly some kind of tropical system in the area.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Straw And Drink

Straw Just Like This
We Get A Bed Of Straw
It is Saturday morning and I slept "in" until about 8:45.
I woke up on a bed of straw, which had been spread over the whole area where myself, John the street preacher, and now a new guy with a woman, sleep.
The new couple are both black and probably in their late 30's. She has her hair bleached to a shade of orange-ish yellow. The guy is portly and rolls a large suitcase on wheels behind him. I have seen them in Cathedral Park a couple of times, and they were always friendly; asking me where I was going to play and wishing me luck.
The straw was strewn sometime between Thursday and Friday. Our cardboard had been covered by straw, as opposed to being throw away, leading me to think that, whoever put the straw down was sympathetic to us homeless people and not trying to run us out.
It may be a stretch to think that the Christ Church bought the straw to make us more comfortable, but, putting the cardboard out of view by covering it with straw may have been intended as a suggestion, by whoever did it, of how we can continue to sleep on the spot and not have unsightly cardboard under the HVAC unit or leaning on the building.
It crossed my mind that someone from the church may have seen John preaching on the street and then seen him sleeping at the spot, and put the straw down as a gift of some sort. If that is true, though, and they hear me play, they might come rake it out of my spot and use it to add another layer to his.
I have yet to run into John the street preacher or the black couple, but if I do I will have to ask them how they enjoyed the straw.
Thursday And Friday
Thursday night, I had very little success, as there were few people out. On my way back to the church spot, where I may have had my first encounter with the straw, I was waylayed by a guy, who was sitting at a table in front of Veet's, which is a bar that had a House Band, which is a band that plays there just about every night of the week.
The guy, who turned out to be Jesse, told me he had walked by me when I was playing and that I had been playing very well, though he hadn't had any cash on him at that time. He offered by buy me a drink, and after my acceptance of that offer, joined me in a couple shots of Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey, which is $8.50 per each at Veet's, which is a bar that has a house band.
Veet's also has a bartender who is very "homeless-unfriendly" which is a term that soon might make its way into the Oxford dictionary, with business owner's from places like Veet's being referenced. The first time I was at that establishment, I had run into Ben, the ambulance driver, who brought me in with him, and had to assure the bartender that I was his guest, to make it OK for myself to enter.
When Jesse placed the first round of whiskey down, he informed me that the bartender had asked him if I had "pan-handled" the drink from him. He offered to provide the service of running me off of the property, should that have been the case.
We talked for a while, myself satisfying his curiosity about what it's like to play music on the street and sleep on a bed of straw (although I had yet to) and him telling me that he works for Hewlett-Packard doing a job which he hates, and which makes him feel like "a fraud." He added that he is "ashamed" of how much money he makes.
While we were on the second round of whiskey at $8.50 per each, Jesse began to cultivate some ill sentiments toward the bartender, whom he felt had done me an injustice by his comments. He seemed to enjoy our conversation, and told me that I seemed like "a pretty square guy," and then went inside and informed the bartender of this opinion, payed his tab of almost 100 dollars, and then concluded by telling that personage that he was taking his business elsewhere.
To make a long story short (if it's possible at this point) Jesse (and I) took his business elsewhere and then elsewhere. I showed him several cool spots in Mobile where one can buy a friend a drink at up to 11 dollars per each, and then even wound up driving Jesse's rented car (blind as a bat, no licence, but more sober than he) back to the hotel, after he reached a point at which 11 dollar shots of bourbon will "catch up" to a man, (somewhere around 175 dollars worth.)
After Jesse showed me his wedding band to affirm his heterosexuality, I wound up staying at the moderately swank "Hampton" Inn, where the staff, in deference to the rates charged there, were all smiles and politeness and didn't ask Jesse if I had panhandled a room out of him.
Jesse left and went back out at some wee hour, to find trouble with a strange woman, I gather, and didn't return until noon Friday, and so I had the room to myself.
He was hurrying to catch his flight at that time, and so, couldn't elaborate on the strange woman or anything else, and we wished each other luck, and I went out to the street and he, back to the job that he hates which makes him feel like a fraud.
Now, it is Saturday morning, as stated at the top of the page. I am about to go out to me job which makes me feel like a beer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Prepare For Nothing

A Less Than Stellar Night
I washed my hair in Cooper's Park, and then put a massive amount of conditioner in it and brushed it through. It took about 20 minutes to remove all of the "snarls." When I was done, it was 6:30pm., and I called Jeff about going to his church's Wednesday night service. I was about an hour and a half too late in calling, I learned. The service apparently starts at 5 pm., when a meal is served; something to remember, if you are ever in Mobile.
I went off aimlessly, and eventually sat at the acoustically sound spot to sip beer and work on music which I was considering playing at Serda's Songwriter's Open Mic Night. I was happy to make 6 bucks, as, the street was pretty deserted. One guy threw me 5 bucks, as I was playing "You Must Be Getting What You Want," which was written about Karrie, and basically contends that she must have found another way to stay drunk all of the time, and have someone to cling to, since she has made no effort to contact me the past 145 days.
I miss Karrie sometimes when I am drinking. It belies my original objective in coming to Mobile to get away from her influence, and to drink a lot less as a result, when I wind up drinking just as much. I might as well have her here with me, sharing the love, at those times.
Serda's Un-Friends Me
Having missed the chance to go to Jeff's church, there was some consolation in the fact that I was able to arrive relatively early at Serda's. In fact, there was enough time remaining before the start of the event to have more beer. I was thinking about doing my newest song, "Computer Geek Blues," but not ruling out a couple others.
Who am I that Serda's is not mindful of me?
This became a mute point, because Jimmy Lee, (the MC guy) never asked me if I wanted to play, or if I was ready to play, or at what place in the lineup he was thinking of putting me.

I hung around and listened to the other performers, and drank more beer and saw Jimmy Lee walk past me more than once and divert his eyes from me and never speak to me.
This was the first time that I had ever gone there without being asked to play something. There were quite a few performers there, and maybe some of them were first-timers and had preference over others, or maybe Jimmy Lee saw how drunk I was getting and remembered a less than stellar performance I gave about three weeks ago, when in that same state. I don't know, because he never said anything to me. I felt unwelcome.
I left there and went off and sat and stared up at the stars and searched my soul.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wizards And Demons

I am offered methodone.
I got up at sunup and walked to the restroom, to splash water on my face.
There was a guy standing in front of the Government building, who asked me about my guitar, said that he himself played, and gave me a couple cigarettes.
He eventually prevailed upon me to show him my guitar, whereupon he played a bit of "Margaritaville," the Jimmy Buffet song. Jimmy Buffet is rumored to have gotten his start right here, in Mobile. Coincidentally, there is the same rumor which floats around St. Augustine, where I was prior to coming here.
We talked a while and then the man offered me some methodone, in the pill form. I asked him if it was addictive. "Not if you just do it once, no. If you do as much as I have, then it's very addictive. That's why I'm addicted to it," he replied. He told me that I would feel like King Kong, if I were to take it, and would climb up a building and play guitar on the roof.
I wondered what would stop someone from doing it more than once, if it's as great as he made it sound.
He went on to invite me to return and meet him there after I finished eating at the Presbyterian. I ate at the Coffee Club, and then left and walked in the opposite direction of the guy who offered me methodone.
I Run Into A Demon
Then, as I was on my way to the Shell for my morning energy drink, I was accosted by a young black guy, who was wearing a camoflage type of jacket.
I had seen him before, and he is in fact the same guy who punched me one night, when I was holding his cellphone as collateral for 10 bucks, which my friend Thomas had let him hold.
He began to claim that he had dropped a bag of "weed," in the park, claiming that I was the only person around at the time, and that I must have picked it up.
I told him that, no, I hadn't found a bag of pot under the bench in the park, where he was sitting. He persisted in repeating the question, acting as if he was becoming more angry, and accusing me of lying.I had my guitar on me and I was worried about him trying to harm it, so I picked up my pace towards the Shell. He shadowed me. He did this both literally and figuratively, because the sun was behind us and I could see his shadow, a little behind my own.
He began to accuse me of stealing his pot, and threatened to strike me, regardless of the fact that we were on a semi-busy street in broad daylight.

I watched his shadow for sudden movements and tried to angle my guitar away from him. He eventually struck at me with his foot, trying to knock me to the ground. I looked at him and felt fire in my blood. I didn't want to put my guitar down and retaliate, for fear of of one of his friends running off with it as part of a pre-planned ambush.
I walked the rest of the way to the Shell.
Once there, I stored my pack and guitar in a corner, and then went back outside, intent upon severely beating him.
I didn't have my knife. For the first time since I had gotten it, on the night of the "God hates you," people's appearance, I had forgotten it at the sleeping spot. I had taken it out of my pocket in order to wash my pants, and had noticed the absence of it after I was half way to the Shell, right before spotting the kid in the camoflaged jacket, who is posessed by a demon.
GI DemonHead jpg

Monday, October 18, 2010

140 Day Reflections

0217205548 Patriots20Logo 756409 jpg
It is Sunday afternoon. I am watching the progress of the Patriots game on another window. They are within field goal range in overtime, and they should win.
I am thinking that, after I leave here, I will walk the 2 miles to the spot where I hid one of the backpacks which I had brought with me on my journey to Mobile, back on June 1st. The one I carry now is coming apart at the seams. It is a good brand of backpack (Polo) but, I suppose everything comes apart at the seams eventually; order to chaos, the Big Bang Theory, ashes to ashes dust to dust, my ramblings....
I Decide To Go To Church
This morning, I woke up around 9 am. and decided to go to church. I went to the one on Dauphin Street, and I cant remember the name of it, because they downplay things like names, labels, denominations, councils and orders and factions. It is written, (as they say,)  in very small letters on the door. It is the "fellowship" of something or other. Perhaps you may have heard of them.
I like it, because I can just walk in the front door, in the middle of the service, wearing whatever I am wearing, and hardly turn any heads. They have a big pot of coffee, and I can go to the back and get a cup, right in the middle of a sermon without the preacher stopping me to tell me to sit tight because what he is saying is important. A guy (Leroy) plays a few songs on the guitar; a really nice Taylor guitar. He used to be a street musian in New Orleans, and so he can relate to me.
Having woken up right on time for that service, and liking coffee, and being in a daze because of not having had any coffee, I walked like a mindless zombie (was that redundant?) to the place, and went in and sat down.
They preached about Satan, and how, when you talk to people who are demonically posessed, you can talk right to the demon (which is motivating them) and not the person. Jesus did. He even told the devil to come out of the poor slobs. And that was my Sunday morning.
I left there before the service was over, so as to eat at 15 Place, which serves a meal on the third Sunday of each month, which the day was. I had only eaten 4 chicken wings and one hamburger all of Saturday, and then forgot to get food before going back to the sleeping spot, because by then, my hunger had subsided.
I waited in line for 20 minutes for a plate of food, which took me one minute to eat, and was afterwards at a loss as to what to do and where to go.
I got a malt beverage at the Dauphin Store, not knowing how else to combat bordom, and headed in the general direction of where I have stashed clothes. I ran into a couple of people, whom I had seen at the church. They seemed to be giving me the "cold shoulder" and I was thinking that it was because of my leaving early, or my having just bought a malt beverage. Maybe they were just giving my demons the cold shoulder.
Bums were everywhere.
Since recieving my birthday gift money from my mom, and making a little bit on the street, I have been up to my ears in bums of every race, creed and walk of life. They are like those fish that need to keep moving in order to survive, and that can smell blood in the ocean, and can tell by the way that I walk that I have money. They see the money in my guitar case, and I believe that they covet it.
I have begun to lie to them and tell them; "Oh, I don't carry much money with me, I stash most of it in a hiding place, and only bring enough with me for my coffee every morning."
A couple of them actually tried to fish from me, where my money is "stashed." This, under the guise of being concerned about the security of the spot. "Is it in a safe place, guitar man, I mean, you can hide it somewhere, thinking no one will find it, but, you'd be surprised where people will look. It isn't nearby where you sleep, I hope. Is it? -because that's the first place someone is gonna look. I'm just trying to look out for, you, guitar man."
This morning, I was up with the sun and went to get my hard-boiled egg, with grits and blueberries. Somehow, the Presbyterians have come into a seemingly endless reservoir of blueberries, and those berries make appearances at least twice a week, at The Coffee Club, to the disappointment of a lot of the homeless, there to eat a free breakfast.
caribbean reef sharks jpg
Blueberries again?!?
140 Days In Mobile
I have been here in Mobile, for 140 days. I have a lot to reflect back upon, as I try to evaluate the past 140 days. I have made progress in certain areas. I still haven't seriously entertained the idea of Mobile being my final resting place, my "Home at last."
The city is like my past 5 girlfriends, all of whom managed find the wrong guy; which would be, in my case, the kind of guy who is always being found by the wrong girl. I haven't really imagined settling down here, and, nothing happens without first being imagined, I imagine.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturday night
was a little better.
Sunday, I slept until about 10am., then went and made my own instant coffee, instead of going to Serda's and getting a newspaper and a cup of theirs.
The Battle For My Soul

Don't listen to him!
 There is now a battle for my soul going on, between the Baptists, and the people from the Revival, which takes place at the Convention Center, every weekend.
This past Sunday, as I was cleaning out my backpack and washing up in Cooper's Park, a man walked up to me. He was wearing a button up shirt, and looked to be about 50-ish, and a little bit like Eric Clapton. He told me that the Revival was going on 'right now," and said that he had been sitting in there when God told him to come outside and invite people to it. I guess I was his "mark."
Don't listen to them!
Apparently, there was an "evangelist" from England inside, who was curing diseases, by the laying on of hands and speaking in tongues. He was doing this on the second floor. I told the man that I would "pop my head in" and that I "might" see him in there. I still had to re-pack my backpack and put on clean clothes.
I hate to feel pressured to attend, and even worse, participate in things that are intended to be spiritual, but which are in the hands of humans. I walked towards the Revival, (and the beer store.)
It being Sunday, the football games were just to start on the radio. I was looking forward to drinking a few beers behind the store, while listening to the games, since Saturday night's tips were sufficient to give me that freedom.
I approached the Convention Center. I felt as if I was being watched, and as if I had personally promised the guy who invited me that I would check it out. I was wishing that I had been more ambiguous, because I felt like I was shirking and avoiding and running from God by not going straight into the building. Instead, I planned to go around to a side door, climb the stairs, poke my head in, and be strong in my resolve to run (like hell) if a group of people accosted me, speaking unintelligibly and attempting to snatch my body and drag me towards some kind of alter.
I thought it would be nice to be cured of my addiction to cigarettes and alcohol and my lust for certain women, Asian one's for example, but I also felt drawn toward my original plans. I almost wished that the guy had never spoken to me, because I was wracked with guilt.
Then, I heard a train approaching.
This was my break. Looking down the tracks, I saw the approach of a freight train, coming around the bend, at a pretty good clip. I didn't know if it would slow down, forcing me to wait on it, so, after judging its speed, I ran across the tracks, and thus became hidden by the train from the view of any revivalists, who might have been looking out the window, while chanting, in order to lure my soul into the building.
I thought about continuing to run but, thinking of my promise, I climbed the two flights of stairs, and entered the lobby.
I saw a couple of what looked to be ushers, in maroon blazers. I was hoping that they would rudely ask me 'Can I help you," so I could feign being affronted and leave. They didn't say anything, just looked at me.
So, that was their game; reverse psychology. They could read me enough to know that I was turned off by aggressiveness, and didn't want to get myself into an uncomfortable situation, such as having a gang of people lay their hands upon me and drag me to an alter and hold me down and try to make me repeat things after them. They sensed that I didn't like to be pressured, so they backed off. I felt pressured by this, and so I left.
Right this way, we're just about to get started.
I didn't want anybody asking me if I was "saved," only to claim "You don't sound too sure," after I answered in the affirmative. I envisioned them surrounding me, preventing my escape (by the laying on of hands,) as they rebuked Satan and commanded him to come out of me, and the ensuing awkwardness when, at a certain point I would impatiently say "Can I go drink my beer and listen to the game now ...and can that girl with the strawberry-blond hair come with me? I swear I felt something leaving me and now I feel as light as a feather. If you'll just excuse me, I'll just drop a couple dollars in the collection plate and be on my way."
I still had some money left. I played at The Garage, at their open mic night, in the evening. The football game was on the TV.
There was a band onstage, and I joined the drummer and a bass player in doing "Come Together," by the Beatles, and then "Day Tripper," by that same band.
Then, I sat back down and watched the game with a guy, who works in computers, doing what he called "boring stuff" for the DMV. He bought me a beer. The Jets won.
I left there thinking that I hadn't gained much by the experience, except a beer and about 3 compliments.
I was played an electric guitar, owned by one of the guys in the band.
It was a coincidental, having sat next to the computer guy, because before going in, I had sat outside, warmed up, and composed most of a song, which I called "Computer Geek Blues," (about a guy who's woman runs off with a computer geek, from Walnut Creek.) The computer guy hadn't slept in 48 hours, and he was alternately friendly (buying me a beer) and cantankerous (telling me that he hadn't payed attention to what I played).
All in all, I left there thinking "What did THAT accomplish?"
I wondered if I had brought a curse upon myself by having blown off the revival, the previous afternoon. The revivalists would probably say that I had...
Tuesday was pretty much forgettable. I worked in the morning on my song, Computer Geek Blues, In hopes of having it ready for Serda's Songwriter's Open Mic, the following night. At night, I played at the acoustically superior spot, and made 8 dollars, even though no more than a dozen people went by. That is a dozen who weren't homeless and asking for the 8 dollars.
Wednesday, I continued to break a long-standing routine by working on music first, instead of blogging first. This after first getting an energy drink. I worked on the Computer Geek Blues, and didn't blog at all. I wanted to have it ready for Serda's.
A couple of girls had come along on Saturday night, who turned out to be Rebecca and her friend. They knew me from Serda's and told me that they liked "The Carcass Song," and even threw me five bucks, and brought me a (Serda's) coffee. Rebecca said that she intended to play there Wednesday, and I told her that I would most likely be there. I hate to promise things, because that is when the forces of Good and Evil wage a battle; one trying to help me keep my promise, and the other trying to make me feel like doing something else and wishing that I never promised.
Jeff's Church
Wednesday evening, I called Jeff the potter from the library about going to see his church. He had invited me more than a month prior, and our paths hadn't crossed since, for one reason or another.
He picked me up at the library, and brought me to his church, where they were serving a meal of chicken breasts, black-eyed peas and corn and bread. I ate a bit, and then struggled to stay awake through a sermon about Mary washing Jesus' feet and drying them with her hair. It was very cerebral, and diametrically opposed to the picture of the Revival, painted for me by those who have invited me there.
After the service, I mentioned to Jeff and a friend of his who had joined us, that I had been invited to the Revival. In unison, they said "Don't go!" They said that there were heretical teachings divulged there.
I met Jeff's wife and youngest daughter, Leigh, who rode with us to where we dropped her off at her house.
She is a writer and poet. She told us one of her clever musings, but due to copy write considerations, I cannot repeat it here.
John, The Street Preacher
Upon being dropped off at Serda's, I learned that Rebecca had indeed played and then left in a hurry.
I went to the church sleeping spot, to find someone sleeping under the central air unit, where I sometimes slept. It turned out to be a guy of about 60 years old named John, who said that he was a street preacher. I told him that I had just come from church. After asking me a few questions about what church, he asked me if I had been to the revival. I told him I hadn't.
He spoke in glowing terms about the revival, and invited me to attend on Thursday night. I told him that I might "pop my head in," and check it out.
I Go To The Revival
Thursday morning came, and I woke up. John the street preacher had already left. I wondered how, out of all the places to sleep in Mobile, he had found the exact spot where I slept.
Mom Sends Money
I went to get my egg, and then had a typical day. I was aware of the revival at 7pm. I couldn't help having 2 beers and sitting out to play for a little while. I made 8 bucks, just as I had on Tuesday night, and in the same denominations.
I prepared to go to the revival to check it out. I knew it would cut into my playing time, but, I thought about how my mother had sent me some birthday money, which is due to arrive maybe today, and I justified taking some time off. I took a few minutes off to drink one more beer, and then went to the place.
I walked in, and was directed by an usher type guy in a maroon blazer, to where the revival was already in progress.
As I rode the escalator down, into what seemed like a dungeon, I could hear the roar of a sound system, and the voice of a woman, singing and encouraging people to be revived.
I went into a large auditorium, which was half full of people. There were around 200 of them, I would estimate. Most of them were standing up and holding their hands up in the air, some of them with their eyes closed, some of them holding babies. Many of them seemed to be in a hypnotic trance. I was in a Budweiser trance.
You need to get there earlier!
I found a seat and sat down and listened for a while. The music was simple, and consisted of mostly three chords, nothing very interesting, and they lyrics were pretty much made up of cliches, which are Jesus related; stuff about being washed in blood and being lifted up, to dry, I guess. It was boring and I didn't feel any spirits moving in me, and I got the impression that I was at a poor man's Christian-rock concert, and I thirsted for Amy Grant, or J.S. Bach. One young guy came up and laying a hand on my shoulder, asked me how I was doing. I told him "OK," and he walked off, perhaps repulsed by the evil within me.
I eventually left, after the quality of the sound system began to grate on me. I thought that the God that I believe in wouldn't "put himself out there" like that, and would fix the sound coming out of the speakers, in between making the lame walk and the blind see.
I might give it another try, maybe when sober. In other words, I don't think I'll go back.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Was The Building In Front
The attack of the Earthquakes
Last night, the night of the Art Walk, I decided to sit at a certain spot and consume a beer, before going into town and finding a spot to set up at, in order to play for the crowd which I anticipated walking the sidewalks on such a fine night. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was about 75 degrees.
There was another guy, sitting over by a fence, whom I didn't see when I first walked up, but whose presence I soon became aware of when he hollored over to me. He wanted to pitch in on a 4 pack of beer, and was just "a little short."
I thought about the situation, and, since I knew that I wanted only one more beer before playing, but also knew that, historically this one more beer would beget at least another, I agreed to pitch in with the guy, who turned out to be Richard, or Rick, or Dick, or Ricky; (he wasn't picky.)
A trip to the store yeilded the information that, the Steel Reserve was not available in the desired 4-pack, and would have to be purchased at the "single" price, which would not net me any savings, and in fact, would lose me money aftter I bought two for him and two for myself. What was sold in that particular package was the Earthquake Lager. The 12% alcohol Earthquake Lager. In the interest of saving what amounted to 30 cents, and against my better judgement, I acquired the stuff and returned to join Richard, or Rick, or Dick or Ricky.
He turned out to be a very likable fellow, and a pure blooded Italian, according to him. We talked about olive oil and basil and oregano and compared our impressions of garlic, as we sipped the Earthquakes. We were both in agreement as to the potency of that beverage, and the need to brave the first few sips, in order to stun the taste buds into sobmission and get them to stop complaining.
As the Earthquakes went down and the sun mimicked them, I was caught in a tug-of-war between my anxiousness to get to a playing spot for the Artwalk, and the enjoyment that I was getting from conversing and imbibing, with my new friend.
After we each had finished our first Earthquake and then followed them with the "aftershocks," the former became a mute point.
Richard asked me to play something on the guitar, as if asking me to stand on one foot, close my eyes, tilt my head skyward, and recite the alphabet backwards. I made a couple fumbling attempts at a couple songs, and basically gave up on the endeavor. Richard went off to try to get another Earthquake somehow, and I walked off in the direction of Dauphin St.
I stumbled along down that conduit, observing as I did several scenes which looked like the aftermaths of parties. There were a few people, who looked like they were straggling, and also seemed as if they had had an enjoyable Art Walk, from what I gathered by their mannerisms and what conversation I picked up upon.
"Garlic? Hell, Yeah!!"

I felt my spirits sink with every sighting of full trash cans and the type of litter on the sidewalk which suggested a large amount of traffic. I was trying to extimate the loss in revenue which I had put myself in the way of, by incpacitating myself, and procrastinating until the event had passed me by. I was tempted to blame it on Richard and wonder if he was a demon, working to destroy me.
I ran into Scott, one of the firemedics, near the end of Dauphin, in front of the Royal Cafe. He was dressed up in what looked like a tuxedo. He smiled and held out his hand and greeteed me by name. He asked me if I had made a lot of money and surmised that I probably had as, "There were a lot of people out for the Art-Walk." I had to confess to him that I had sat with a new acquaintence and gotten too drunk to play music, and had missed the Art-Walk. I left out the part about being on my way to look for cigarette shorts in the hotel ashtray down the street.
I decided to just go back to the church spot and call it a night and try to do better tonight.
"In the last days, there will be earthquakes..."
While there, I made the best of things by washing all of my clothes and hanging them in front of the hot air vent, which seems to blow constantly from out of the heating and air conditioning unit.
This morning, I had clean, dry boots and socks and everything else. I felt better just putting them on, and more optimistic. There was nothing to be gained in being depressed over the water under the bridge, which was the Art Walk. I read a lot of Dickens' "The Old Curiosity Shop," which the lady at the Thrift Store had given me for free, along with a sweatshirt, the last time I was there. It's a great book and a little bit of consolation, after a "disastrous" evening.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trivial Persuits

The Strings I Got
Strings Attached
Yesterday, I went to get strings.
I walked up to the bus stop next to a store. There was a guy sitting there, who offered me a drink off his beer.
I reached for a cigarette, he asked for one. He let me use his phone. I tried to call my mom, but got the machine. He asked me if I had any razors. I gave him one of my razors, although I only had two.
I told him, during our conversing, which bus I was waiting for. It went by, without stopping. From his angle, he would have seen it before I did. He didn't think to flag it down for me.
Given the prospect of having to wait for the next bus, I went to the store to get a beer. "Would you grab me one, too? I'll owe you one. When I have; I share" said the guy on the bench, who wasn't waiting on a bus, as a matter of fact.
I went into the store. For an extra $1.06, I was able to get a 4 pack. I got a pack of cigarettes, and a bag of peanuts. I put two beers in the plastic bag and hid the other two in my pack. I opened the cigarettes and put 4 of them in my empty pack, and hid the other 16 in my pack.
I then returned to the bus stop. I sat back down on the ground next to the bench. Placing the bag containing the beer down in front of me, I set about tearing open the peanut bag. Looking at the bag on the ground, the guy on the bench said, in a querulous tone of voice: "Are you gonna give me one of those?!? (When he has; he shares)
I gave him one. I took out the box of 4 cigarettes and lit one. By then, there were two other gentlemen there, looking disheveled. The man on the bench had his head turned towards them, and was telling them that, no, he didn't have a cigarette, in reply to the inquiry on that head, which they made upon their arrival. They weren't there to catch a bus neither.
Turning his vision back towards me, and noticing the cigarette, he said "Save me half of that, would ya'?"
I handed the cigarette to him, after smoking half. The other two worthies, at that point, asked him for some of it.
When he "has."
I sipped beer, and ate peanuts, thinking to myself that, if the guy on the bench, or one of his associates were to ask me for some of my peanuts, I would become distempered and probably say something sarcastic, like: "Anything else I can get you?" So, I moved to a spot a bit away from them, and where I could get a better view of the approaching traffic, in order to better flag down my bus.
The three began to argue. I think the other two were telling the first, that his persistent begging had driven me away from them, in which body language they read that I didn't want to give away any more cigarettes nor beer nor razors nor peanuts.
The first guy, referred to above as "the guy on the bench," seemed to be argueing back that I was skilled enough with my guitar to earn enough with it so that giving them cigarettes and beer and razors and peanuts shouldn't have been a problem, and that I was being a trifling individual. Afterall, when he has; he shares.
And that is my 2,000 word story on a banal subject, which could have been condensed to the 9 following words: I ran into some bums at the bus stop.
My Goal
I got some strings, shown above, and returned to town.
I sat and played and made only about 6 bucks, or the cost of the strings.
A couple guys came along and requested that I play "Hubert's Trip," a song which I have only done at the Serda's Songwriter's Open Mic, on Wednesday nights.
They said that they hadn't seen me in a couple of months, and that is probably true. I have been lazy about preparing for the Serda's thing, and have skipped several of them.
My goal is to have something ready for next Wednesday.