Thursday, September 29, 2011


Wedneday evening,
the sky clouded up and the wind began to squall. Lightning was seen across the Mississippi River.
I sat, undaunted and read Beach Music, by Pat Conroy, in a place near where I could run to for shelter.
The storm never fully materialised, though there was rain.
I found a spot on Decatur, which had actually been suggested to me by a guy who has been playing in New Orleans for 45 years. It was under an overhang, out of the rain.
Other musicians that I walked past were already in action and I saw that most of them appeared to have about 7 or 8 bucks in their cases or hats or cigar boxes.
I played for about an hour and made 7 bucks. The people were pretty picky; most of them stopping to listen before just indiscriminately throwing a tip just because I was "doing something" and not just begging, like the "gutter punks" who infest the same section of town. It is a section known for music with jazz and original music being prominent.
Then I stopped, for the rain was light but steady.
I went to my waterproof spot, using the umbrella which I had been carrying around for two weeks.
I Finally See Sue
I was woken up at the waterproof spot at 6 a.m. and then moved to the riverwalk to "finish" sleeping. There, I slept until the sun became too warm on me, at about 9:30.
A guy came along and told me that "they" were giving out backpacks with food in them at the Cathedral, not far from where I was.
I went there and, sure enough, I was given a backpack with food and hygiene stuff in it.
Then, I went to this library and updated yesterday's entry.
I left and saw Sue across the street, headed for the spot where I caught up to her and took the photo above.
She was angry because the "Rebuild Center" had not given her food after she showed up 10 minutes late for their "feeding."I went and got her a can of soup and an Arizona Mango drink. I got a can of chicken breast for Kooky.
Sue said that she doesn't eat cold soup, but took it anyways, planning upon heating it up "somehow."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blue, Oh So Lonely

Color My World
Waking up almost
Broke on Tuesday, I spent time in the library, and then went out in the evening to play.
They are shooting a movie in the streets ("GI Joe" with Bruce Willis) and had a bunch of RVs and other trucks with the studio name on them, parked all around Decatur Street. I walked past all that; if I want to see Bruce Willis, I'll go to the movies. The last time I went was in 1996, to see Waterworld. I didn't really care if I missed my chance to be an "extra" as a street musician that Mr. Willis walks past, with Angelina Jollie on his arm...
Where Blue Paid Ten Bucks For Two Lousy
Shots Of Whiskey...
I went further down Decatur, planning to spend my last dollar on a beer, when a young woman walked up to me and asked me for a light, which I gave her.
She seemed pretty drunk.
We talked for a while.
She said her name was "Blue."
She offered to buy me a drink, which she did, at Checkpoint Charlie's. We each had a shot of whiskey at 5 bucks each. The tab of 10 bucks for two shots made me change my opinion of the sporadic 5 dollar tips that people throw in my case. I guess, in their minds, they are just getting me a shot of Evan Williams, a cheap whiskey...
Then, we started walking, with Blue kind of following along with me and asking me where I was going to play.
We ran into a couple of street people, a black guy and a white guy. They were apparently panhandling; apparently for alcohol, from their demeanor, and their breaths.
Blue started to tease them, asking them what they "do." Do they sing, dance, tell stories, tell jokes?
Neither of them could think of a joke (what a joke, that).
Blue then started bargaining with the black one about getting her something, which I thought was pills of some kind, from the snippets of whispered conversation that bled through the cacophony of Decatur Street.
The black guy agreed to bring her somewhere to get what she wanted.
Since Blue had bought me a shot of whiskey, I walked along with her, so that she wouldn't be going into the 7th ward with a black guy that she just met on the sidewalk and a pocket full of money, not alone, at least.
To make a long story short, the black guy took her money, leaving his backpack as collateral; then came back with something that turned out to be some fake B.S. and not the drug that Blue wanted.
She said that she had half expected so much. She wasn't green when it came to dealing with drugs.
At that point, Blue said that she just wanted to lay down somewhere, and that she knew a spot to do just that, having lived her whole life in New Orleans, except for the past couple years.

Saint Bernard Parish, Louisianna.
At least Blue still has a roof over her head...
 She lives in Saint Bernard Parish now; one of the worst hit areas by hurricane Katrina, back in '06.
We slept together under a tree in a field not far from a tractor trailor truck, which idled all night.
Blue was tickled pink to see that I came prepared with a towel to spread out under us, so that we wouldn't wake up purple with ant bites.
I didn't sleep very much. When we first layed down, I adjusted my backpack, so that we could both use it as a pillow. This positioned our heads very close together. Blue wrapped herself around me in a manner very reminiscent of one Karrie. I could hear and feel her heart pounding for a while, which was keeping me awake. I figured that she was laying there in anticipation, or white with fear, of what I might try to do.
She had told me repeatedly, throughout the evening, that she was tired of men and all their B.S. She said that her usual tack was to tell men that she was gay; so, when it came to making an overture, I was a little bit yellow.
Eventually she started softly snoring, and I joined her in slumber shortly thereafter.
We slept kind of fitfully, each of us exchanging sighs and moans of contentment after adjusting our positions and finding more comfort. It became pretty cool in the morning. Blue had removed her shorts and was wearing only her panties and a tee shirt, I happened to notice...I gave her my heaviest (green) shirt, which she donned about 4 a.m.
A Vacation From This??
Shown the next day, after being
wined and dined by Blue, yet having
slept little and feeling "Like I've been
eaten by a coyote and crapped over a cliff..."
We woke up right before sunup and some things happened between us which are beyond the scope of this blog.
Then, we went to a store, where Blue bought me food, beer (6 a.m. beer; I have been initiated into New Orleans society...) and gave me cigarettes. She lamented that she would never see me again, and offered to take me with her to Saint Bernard Parish. I asked her if there were any street musicians there. "It's a swamp," she said, adding that it would be "like a vacation" for me.
I declined. A vacation from what? I thought.
She is 31 and has a pretty face, hair dyed black which used to be "really dark brown," and has tattoos and piercings in various places, which are beyond the scope of this blog. She is a little bit overweight, but used to be as skinny as me, she said. That was when she was a "junkie" and would live on Little Debbie cakes and Wild Irish Rose wine for days.
This was when she lived in Seattle, Washington, a place that she is determined to return to, and why not? She would still get her disability check (see below), and could hike the trails, collecting herbs.
She is very learned in horticulture. As we walked along, she named every plant which we encountered, both in the sidewalk cracks, and in peoples front yards. Japanese Petunia is one that comes to mind. She also knows about herbs, and assured me, as we sat in the parking lot of a store, that I could eat the "amaranth" which we were practically sitting in. I took a small sample.
Now she gets a check every month for being mentally disabled ("substance abuse is considered a disability"), lives in a small RV with her cat, and apparently doesn't get to New Orleans very much -probably "overdid it" a bit last night, as evidenced by the fact that she wound up sleeping under a tree with me.
All this was a little too much for me to consider dealing with, and getting on the bus to Saint Bernard with her. What if she sobered up and decided that I had to leave her place, 20 miles out in the swamps of Louisiana?
I hope Sue doesn't see red if I tell her that I saw Blue.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Bikes Me In The Butt

Monday was the day
that I was to fix the bike and put it on the road, giving me a means of escaping the maddening crowds of the French Quarter at the end of each evening, removing myself and my tip money to the safety of points unknown to the riff-raff.
I got so far as purchasing an all day bus pass for 3 dollars. This left me 19 dollars.
Then, a tube for 5 dollars and 4 spoons for another dollar. The spoons work as tire irons and as spoons.
Down to 11 bucks and change, I arrived at the Shell Station on Chef Minatour Road, which is way out by the rail yard, to find that the bike was still in the woods behind the store, where I had hidden it Saturday morning.
I wheeled it over by the entrance to the store where outstepped a young Asian looking kid, who eyed me.
I was holding a can of beer (down to 10 bucks and change), which is something which is not sold at that particular store, nor the others owned by the same brood. This may have something to do with the fact that, when I asked him if the air machine was working, he said "No!" I was thankful that I didn't put my 75 cents into it in vain.
I flipped the bike over, preparing to remove the tire and repair it, thinking that I would carry just the tire to the nearest air machine which was working.
"You can't hang around here," said the Asian looking kid.
"I'm not trying to be a dick," he added, as if reading my mind.
It was at this time that I noticed that the spoons were no longer in the bag with the tube. They could have poked their way out of the bag, because there was a tear in one corner; or someone on the bus could have stolen them out of the bag, which I turned my head away from to look out the window quite often. It seems that I would have heard the sound of 4 spoons falling on the pavement, though -probably would have sounded like the Asian kid's name.  They'll steal anything, even a cat...
I pushed the bike with the flat tire still, to the Family Dollar, to get 4 more spoons (enough for a family) for a dollar.
I removed the tire, inserted the new tube, then headed towards the nearest air machine.
This was made easier by the fact that I was unencumbered by my guitar and backpack, which were in the storage area of the library. Weighing upon my mind was the fact that I needed to be back there by 6 p.m. when it closed, in order to get my stuff. They have a sign posted which states that anything left at closing time will be disposed of.
A mile down the road was a tire shop where the attendant let me pump up the tire just to watch it go flat again. Apparently, the tire itself is so bad that it destroys tubes, though I did check it for sharp objects.
I then realised that in all my running around, I had let the time creep past 5 p.m.
I couldn't execute my original plan to ride the bike back to the library to get my stuff. I had to wait on the next bus. I would put the bike on its bike-rack, taking it with me in hopes of repairing it in the Quarter.
You Can't Hang Out Here!
The wait for the next bus became excruciating as time went by. It soon became apparent that there was no way the ol' 94 bus was going to get me to the library in time. I guessed that my stuff would be disposed of and I would be stranded in New Orleans with 4 spoons and a bike with a flat tire. That's alright, I'll stand on Bourbon Street and become the best spoon player that they have ever seen...
I got to the corner of Tulane and Broad at 6:03 p.m. I was so vexed, imagining the sound of my guitar going into the library's dumpster, that I got off the bus and forgot about the bane of my existence, hanging on the front bumper, until it started to pull off, whereupon I had to jump in front of it to stop it. This attracted very little attention away from a guy in hospital scrubbs who was swinging his crutches wildly and yelling something about the United States at that same bus stop (It turned out that someone had refused him a cigarette).
As I thought about my situation over two beers, which put me down to under 5 bucks, I decided that I didn't want to be burdened by the bike in the Quarter and would take the outbound 94 back out by the rail yard and re-hide the bike.
This I did, in a pretty fine spot along the tracks, and then waited for the inbound 94 to go back into town. I figured that I had paid for an all day bus pass and that was about my only resource, aside from four teaspoons, and  I might as well use it.
As we passed the Shell station, I saw someone using the air machine. It seemed to be doing just fine.
Back in the Quarter with absolutely nothing (except the damned spoons) I had a new appreciation for all that I did have. I was pretty sure that the nice security guard at the library wasn't going to cruely throw away my stuff (he's too lazy), and so I had one more beer, ate something and was asleep by 10 P.M.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Desperately Seeking...

I went to the rail yard,
happy to have $10.78 in my pocket, after playing Mobile that one last Friday night.
It had been a struggle until about midnight, when a guy came up and threw me 5 bucks, even though I was unable to accommodate his requests for Jane's Addiction, John Mayer or Sound Garden.
I would, at least, be entering New Orleans with at least the 10 bucks in my pocket and wouldn't have to walk the 5 miles into the French Quarter. My goal was the fix the flat tire on the bike, so I could ride it into the quarter, but, I have learned my lesson about expecting goals to be met in Mobile, Alabama.
It was as if the train was waiting for me. I saw the two power units (engines, locomotives) pointed towards New Orleans, like prized stallions chomping at the bit, and just a few cars behind was an empty boxcar with its door gaping open, ready to swallow me, my guitar, pack and bike.
I got on, and, within 10 minutes the train jerked forward. About 5 minutes after that, I was sound asleep on my spread out towel, with my head on my backpack, which contained water and peanut butter.
I didn't wake up until we stopped in the swamp in Mississippi, but then went back to sleep again until I woke to see that it was daylight, and we were creeping through the expansive junkyard, which is East New Orleans.
I got off and walked toward the intersection which the engineer had stopped at.
He opened his window, asked me which car I wound up riding in, and how was the ride; gave me two bottles of water and told me that there was a place right up the street where I could get rice and beans; you know, food.
I went to the road, after hiding the bike behind a Shell station, and took the bus all the way into Canal Street, marvelling at how long it took the bus to traverse what I had been prepared to walk, had I not made anything my last night in Mobile.
I got to Canal Street and began to walk down it, feeling more at home than I did in Mobile, after only having spent two weeks in this city. There was an energy about the place.
I have to admit, I was looking for Sue. I went to all the spots that I had ever ran into her before, most of them within a block of Canal Street.
I got a beer, and then another one.
I sat and started to play on the other side of Canal Street. I had walked past some musicians who only had a few bucks in their hats, but this only told me that I would have to take a different approach then they.
They had sour looks on their faces, to go along with their tip hats, but I was happy to be back in New Orleans, and I guess it showed, because I quickly had a couple bucks in my hat; and not long after that, I got another dollar from a very interesting person; none other than Sue.
I didn't see her approach until she had grabbed the money out of my case and feigned to run off with it.
"You would let me take your money?" she said.
I smiled.
She replaced the money, slipping her own dollar in at the same time, which I wouldn't discover until after she walked off.
"Are you still mad at me," I asked.
She started to change the subject, but then said "You hurt my feelings when you left my cat unprotected."
I explained about how I was new to the city and hadn't yet learned that "they" will steal anything; yes, even a cat.
We went and sat at PJ's Coffee, where we had once kissed.
It is going to take some time to heal the wounds caused by my reckless endangerment of Kooky. I think she has substituted the cat for anything else to bestow her maternal energies upon.
I told her that I was going to go play somewhere. She said that she was going to go down by the river, where she had left Kooky, un-tethered.
"If I tie her to a tree, someone can come along and take her, but if I let her loose, she won't let anyone come near her; but she won't go far from her carrier."
I was afraid that she had someone watching Kooky; someone with a penis, I have to admit.
I offered to buy her food. She said that she was "alright," but did take a can of sardines that I had bought after I got off the train, not realizing that they were in soybean oil. I wondered if she had someone else buying her food, too.
...Look for a while at the china cat sunflower...
I played that night in front of the casino as if possessed. I must have been happy to be back, and happy that Sue was still speaking to me. I got a 20 dollar tip from a guy who stopped and listened to me rip up "China cat Sunflower," by the Grateful Dead, which had meaning to me because of the cat reference. Another lady put a dollar in, during the same song, which is a complement from these New Orleans tourists, who might think that the first person already "took care of" the performer.
I'm playing better than I ever have in my life right now, I must say. I could smoke my 25 year-old self "right off the stage!"
I had about 30 bucks, Sunday morning, this after spending God only knows how much. I went to church.
The preacher was harping upon how we should go out and make disciples, so, after about 20 minutes of it, I left to go do just that.
It was a decent Sunday night. I played well, though not to the level of the night before, which couldn't be expected.
Monday Morning's Mission
Monday  morning, I was woken up by the construction workers who are on the site where I sleep. I was under a plywood ramp, with just enough room for me and my stuff. There is room for a Colombian woman and a cat, too, actually, I've noticed.
The bike was on my mind. I got an all day bus pass, and have already gotten a tube and a spoon at Wal-Mart. Now I take another bus to the bike to repair the tube and then pump up the tire and maybe ride to explore potential camping spots, so that I don't have to stay under the temporary ramp, because, well, it's temporary...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Back In New Orleans

The signs were there,
The writing was on the wall. When I was downtown in Mobile, and suddenly everything got quiet, people turned their music down, shut of their cars, and then when you could hear a pin drop, they all turned to me and said "Go back to New Orleans!" in unison; that's when it hit me. I decided to hop the train at about midnight.
And here I am, with only 3 minutes left to finish this post...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dis"cussed"ed With Mobile

Busted Flat In Mobile
False Alarm
Yesterday afternoon, after
Leaving the library and going to Save-A-Lot, I discovered the bike missing from the where I had left it.
I figured that, since it had a flat tire, if someone stole it, they would have probably hid it within a quarter mile radius of the store.
I prepared to arm myself with a club and "go out clubbing," looking for the perpetrator and the bike. My fear was that, once I got started swinging, I would snap and crack the head of the crack head.
It was a false alarm, though, as Dennis, one of the magagers had brought the bike into the store and stored it in the back room.
The First Sign
Then, I went into town to find that "Horn Man," had returned to town and was "Horn-Manning" it on the spot that I usually play at night. I don't know if he "stole" the spot from me, after being told of the vast riches that I had come by there, or if he selected it, based upon the same wisdom, honed through years of playing street music.
This was just another thing detracting from Mobile.
Then, I was in the park and found a sports paper sitting on one of the benches, aparently abandoned there. I put it in my bag after an internal debate, and returned to the bench where I had been sitting.
A black man in a green shirt soon entered the park; walked over to the bench; cussed; and then walked over to me and started questioning me as to wheather or not I saw someone take his paper.
He was drunk and I was half drunk.
Before I could answer, he became belligerent and started cussing and threatened to hit me if I didn't "give it up."
I decided at that moment, not to reward his behaviour by returning his paper. I told him that I had only been there a couple minutes and that I wasn't really paying attention to the bench in question. I said this so calmly, that all he could do was seeth at me.
I was planning upon playing on Dauphine Street that night, though, by 9 p.m., it didn't look very promising. There were few cars and even fewer people on the street, as the cars belonged mostly to the employees of the bars and restaurants who were sitting by idly in their establishments, cussing, I'm sure.
So rare is it for me to ever try to
bum a smoke, I decided to capture myself earlier,
asking Mike for a cigarette
The Second Sign
As I walked down Dauphine, another person whom I hadn't seen in months, whose name is either Alan or Andy, was sitting in front of Hop Jacks. He began to cuss me out as I walked past him, using as foul a language as he could muster in his drunken stupor.
He had begun doing this to me ever since I stopped giving him things for free, like cigarettes, beer or money for beer. This was shortly after I arrived in Mobile.
He was one of the first people I met, as I walked past the wall across the street from the liquor store. He offered me a beer and gave me directions to the Salvation Army and other places that offered meals for the homeless.
In exchange for "I showed you nothing but love, when you were new in town," every subsequent meeting with him turned into him begging me for any of the above.
On one particular occasion in Cooper's Park, I was on my way to lay down and walked past him.
He asked for a cigarette (of course he asked for a cigarette). I told him honestly that I had only three; one before going to sleep, one for waking up in the middle of the night, and one for the morning. I trusted that he would understand.
Instead, he began the cussing, which continues to this day. He told me then that if he had three cigarettes and a friend asked for one, he would capitulate (four syllable word mine.)
He went on to tell me that he hated my guts because I was greedy and stingy and etc. etc.
So, here it was, September 22nd, 20011 and I hadn't seen ol' Andy or Alan in about 8 months, and he picked up where he left off. This was the second sign telling me to leave Mobile.
I have seen the guy fight before. He only seems to fight when he is drunk, which is usually. During this particular bout, which took place in Bienville Park, Andy or Alan swung his fist; missed the guy by a mile, and then fell down on his face, by his own inertia. Luckily for him, his opponent did the same thing. There were no points scored for punches landed, though about 4 "knockdowns" took place for those who were scoring...
The point is, again, I'm afraid of what I might do to the guy and regret afterwards. The cops will put an assault charge on someone, even if the person he/she assaults is Alan or Andy. Life isn't fair...
Welcome, 5,400th Visitor!
My Train, I Thought
Given the second sign, which could be considered the third sign if you count Horn Man as a sign, I cancelled plans to play on Dauphine Street. Instead, I headed for the rail yard, the sounds of Horn Man fading away to the rear as I went.
I sat and waited for a train, while I read the sports paper, which I started to feel like I had stolen, in its entirety.
A train came, but it had nothing but coal cars; no open boxcars; no grain cars.
It backed up to drop or add cars. It added one open boxcar, pulled forward and then started to back up again.
I persued the open boxcar, riding along the hard pan road on the flat tire, keeping pace with it.
I came along a couple rail workers, standing by their truck in their neon-green vests.
"Are these cars going to New Orleans?," I asked.
"No, they're going to the shop!" said the one, who looked like a grown up Opie from Mayberry, obviously lying. ...all 157 cars, going to the shop, eh Opie?
This put me in a dilemna. Opie was obviously trying to dissuade me from hopping the train. If his persual of the matter extended to him getting on the radio and warning someone to be on the lookout for a train hopper, I may have witnessed "the third sign" telling me to leave Mobile; being arrested on a federal trespassing charge.
I decided to return to another spot to wait for the train to leave the yard, hoping that it would stop again.
Then, I realised that I was thirsty and had already drank what I had to drink.
I was feeling bad about stealing the guy's sports paper, even though he had threatened me; some people only understand the language of threats.
I blew off the trip to NOLA for another day; rode back to the park and returned the paper to the bench where I found it, and then went to sleep on the trolley, until 9 a.m. this morning. Maybe the guy will get his paper back, it did have a price of $4.95 on it...
And here I am; blogging 5,000 words about nothing much at all.
I at least have another chance to see if Wilma came to work, and if she brought those cigarettes; which I go to do now...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taking On Water

Next Up, Mobile Bayfest
I have heard
that Duran Duran are going to play at this year's Bayfest in Mobile.
I have ground to a halt, here in Mobile. Flat broke with little relief in sight.
Last night, some friends who actually got out and worked the day, gave me a beer and a few smokes. That was the highlight of Wednesday night.
I now have the bike with the flat tire ready to go to New Orleans. I just hope that I can at least have a few bucks in my pocket before I get on the train late tonight.
I have some peanut butter and will just need to take along some water..
I now go to check my e-mail to see if Sue wrote me back...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Long, Beautiful Hair!

"Last night, I went to Cathedral Park, and I beheld the sky
and the firmament,

and the bums on the benches,
and I said that it was good."
The heavens proclaimed the greatness of the Lord, and the steeple on the church stood behind them; there; in front of them...
On the park bench next to me sat 2 of the friends that I have here in Mobile: Mike and Mike's friend.
We joked around a bit, none of us tried to bum off the other; a few things were offered freely to each other, without having been prompted by a request for said thing, cigarettes come to mind...
We sat and blew smoke containing poison gasses into the clear sky, and then it was time for me to go play. I was seriously thinking about doing the open mic at Fat Tuesday's. I later decided that there just weren't enough people there to bother.
Now I feel like a fool who lost an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that I sound even "better" plauing through the wonder of technology. As any karyoke singer knows.
The more you GIVE, the better we LIVE
The more you PAY, the better we PLAY
The more you DRINK, the better you THINK we Sound!!
-The guys who played brass insturments in Jackson Square one Sunday afternoon.
Bike Worked On Yesderday
I went so far as to push the bike about a mile up to a gas station.
It is a gas station where I have bought a few beers before, though I mainly go to the place across the street. This is what I had going for me, as I approached the garage to ask a mechaninc if I could hold onto a wrench for just long enough to loosen the tires on the Roadmaster, Mountainclimber, for that's what it is.
I got so far as to take a wrench from the begrudging hands of a red shirted worker there, who really didn't seem to understand my situation.
He first applied the wrench to the nut on the bike, to ascertain that it fit; then, taking hold of it, he actually asked me "Do you want to tighten it?"  It has a flat tire, why would I want to tighten it on there, red shirted guy?
He then had a second notion and, leaving the wrench dangling off of the bike, he said "You do it!"
I did it.
Then, I went in search of an object to act as a tire iron, rather than to push my luck with the guy by asking for a screwdriver.
Both tires are loosened, and the tube is out of the back one. The tube had a hole in it the size of the sun.
The whole mess is sitting behind one of the trolleys, leaning against a fence, where it hopefully will remain for a day or two, depending upon when I decide to go back to New Orleans.
It seems that the bike will go with me on the train and be hidden in the vast bushes of the rail yard in East New Orleans in whole, except for the back tire. That, I will carry with me onto the bus and into the French Quarter. There, it will become a prop as I play music to make enough money to take the tire to Wal-Mart on another ($1.50 ) bus, where I would purchase a tube and the cheapest excuse for a tire iron, fix the tire in the parking lot; pump up the tire in the parking lot, then take the tire and the wrench on yet another bus, back to where the rest of the bike is hidden in the rail yard, attach the tire and then ride the bike back to the Quarter, stopping only to purchase a galvanized titanium industrial strength lock, and a few feet of the kind of chain that they use to tether anchors to those hugest of ships.
I Miss Sue Blind

-myself, paraphraphrasing from a previous post, by reliving it through memory
I looked to my left and my right; I saw that, the train was creeping through one of the most expansive junkyards that I had ever seen. The smell of urine blew into the boxcar, assaulting my nose, as mile after mile of junk drifted across my vista. I looked at the diversity of stuff in this junkyard. Cars, refrigerators, lots of furniture; one pretty cushy looking couch, I recall and piles of assorted other scraps which looked like whole houses disassembled.
Then, as abruptly as the stench of urine on the air which blew into the boxcar when we first started slowing had hit me; the horrifying reality sunk into me like the heat from a hot potato...
This wasn't a junkyard, It was New Orleans, Louisianna!!

This morning, I walked past the Big Clock Spot, but did not sit down to play "Early Morning Singing Song"  from the Broadway play "Hair."
Instead, I went straight to Pollman's Bakery, the bakery which distinguishes itself from all others in town by accepting food stamps in exchange for coffee. Coffee is a food to the Niqueragran lady, Sylvia, who tends the register, and we homeless street musicans et. al. couldn't agree more with Sylvia, so are doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and bear claws, and they have been endorsed by some of the local "most finests."
This morning, I got my caffeine fix as well as my Pat Conroy ("Beach Music") -on-caffeine fix; and this was good.
Now, how to get out of here!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Big Clock

10 minutes after waking up, I struggle
with my camera, hoping to capture
the bags under my eyes before
they dissipate
I was up at 6:55 a.m.
I went to Serda's Coffee, to use the restroom, where I took the picture to the left.
I then went and sat out front, by the huge clock and played "Early Morning Singing Song," from the play called "Hair," which came out in the early 70's.
I was perfectly sober, hadn't even had a cup of coffee, and was out there at the crack of dawn singing "...glibby glop, gloobee, nibee abee nubee, la la la low low..."
I made about 8 bucks, from people who were as stunned as I was, and were mumbling the same syllables.
The Bike
I then went and found that the bike was still in the holly bush where I had put it the other night.
This was miraculous and even more amazing, given that someone had sat next to the bike and smoked crack, as evidenced by the crack pipe on the ground near the bike.
I pushed it up to the Save-A-Lot, where it hopefully still sits, with a flat back tire and a soft front tire.

Such A Glorious Setting For
"Early Morning Singing Song!"

The guy at Sweat Tire on Government Street, rufused to let me use a wrench for a minute to loosen the tires, so I will have to push it up to the next gas station after I leave here. It makes me want to get a car, just so I can NOT buy tires there, to teach him a lesson about karma (car-ma, get it??)
I want to fix it before going back to New Orleans.
Where Oh Where Is Wilma?
Wilma is not here at the library. I had hoped that she would be here, as she told me that she had some stuff for me, not the least of which is cigarettes. I might have to tap into the $11.96 which I had, by the time I finishing playing "glibee glop gluebee" for an hour this morning. I don't know if I can stay another day here in this wasteland, not even for cigarettes.
Corrupt Nuns
I went to the Catholic Social Services place on Dauphine Street.
I had been there yesterday, and I found a nice pair of shoes. They were Rockport brand, I think. The lady behind the counter even told me that they were nice shoes.
I wanted to get them on the "voucher" that they give to the homeless every 90 days and told them that I would return to get them the following morning (today), as this is the day that they give out the clothing vouchers to the homeless.
\I don't want to belabor this; the point is simple: When I got there first thing in the morning, the shoes had vanished and none of the nuns, no not one, knew where the shoes were.
I suspect foul play. I think that they decided that the shoes were just too nice to give to a homeless guy on a voucher. Maybe one of them planned to give them to a favorite of hers. I don't know. I haven't wanted to punch a nun in the face this much since 8th grade, when Sister Eileen hit me with a ruler on the knuckles. 
There is no way that; after me making such a fuss over the shoes and having one of the nuns tell me to hide one of the shoes somewhere, to safeguard them,  so that there would not be a pair and nobody else would buy them...there is no way that they could have lost them, unless they "lost" them, if you get my drift These are supposedly nuns, who are "married" to God.
When I first walked in, my nose was running and I asked for a tissue. The one behind the counter told me "Oh, we don't have any tissues" or something like that.
Then, I discovered that the pair of shoes that I said I would be there for "first thing in the morning" had vanished.
I think they were lying to me.
I found another pair of shoes to replace the sneakers which have been torn up by the rail yards, but they are not as nice as the Rockports, which the nuns hid from me. They cant hide their sin from God, though, and on top of a life without sex, they will now spend an eternity without sex and on fire..all because they tried to decieve me; who has been revived and redeemed. Silly nuns...
When I was leaving with the inferior shoes, the lady behind the counter was blowing her nose into a tissue. "I guess that's one of the tissues that you don't have," I said.
"This is my own tissue," she said.
I'm leaving here before I strangle a nun 
This is the kind of shit that is happening in Mobile, and these are the kind of people that are here; lying, deceiving nuns.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Am Revived!

The ladies who gave me food Saturday Afternoon, also invited me to go to the revival at 10:30 a.m., the following day. I told them that, if I woke up "like at 10:20," I would strongly consider going. I try to heed the significance of coincidences such as that. Of course, setting my alarm clock would take the magic out of it.
I woke up at 10:10 a.m. and I really didn't feel like going. I didn't believe that it would do me any good and I realised that, since I didn't believe that it would do me any good, it probably wouldn't. I also dreaded facing the ushers, one of whom I almost punched in the face last year, after he grabbed me in an attempt to impede me from going down the center isle, where the TV cameras were focused. This, I interpreted to mean that they didn't want my scraggly, guitar carrying ass to be seen by their million viewers worldwide, who tune in online, so that they can be in the (cyber) presence of the Holy Spirit.
I was drunk, and I squared off to hit him, but I think his guardian angel blocked the punch, I'm not sure... 
I had slept at the railroad track spot, where I hadn't slept in months, so as to be in the vicinity of The Mobile Convention Center. I did this to make my decision that much easier, along with packing an energy drink to help motivate me.
I decided to go.
The ladies had been nice to me and asked me to attend in a way that didn't make me feel pressured. Plus, that was the day that my food card was to be recharged, after an almost two month hiatus, and the ladies had used a food card to feed me the day before. They also had mentioned a bible verse about taking the example of ants and not being slothful. The ants had woken me up, there at the railroad track spot, and that was enough of a sign.
...All the way down into the basement....
I walked into the place, having to climb to the second level in order to find one of the dozens of doors which was open. I encountered a uniformed lady, whom I asked: "Which way is God?"
She directed me to an escalator, which I rode down into the cavernous basement. I could hear the booming reverberations of music, and I couldn't stop myself from analysing it for key and time signature. It was simple music, but I wasn't faulting it for that quality, like I had last year.
To make a long story short, I made an effort to suspend my cynicism, especially when the jumbo-tron bore an announcement about how tithing by check has become even easier than ever. I tried to capture a picture of that billboard, but just as I snapped the camera, the image changed to the preacher shown at the top. There was something cosmic about that.
I fought back more cynicism when, after a substantial talk about what tithing is all about and what it can do for "you," we were instructed to stand and hold our tithes in our hands, which we were told to raise over our heads. Then the Pastor, who seemed to be very much revered by all, actually prayed things like that we would find money laying on the ground, and that we would get promotions and better jobs and we would come up with witty ideas and inventions, among other very concrete supplications.
Faith Like A Molecule In A Mustard Seed
The prayer caught my attention, especially the parts about finding money on the ground (who else in there walks around all day with his head down, looking for half smoked cigarettes and money on the ground?), and the part about coming up with witty ideas and inventions (I am in the business of inventing, often witty -at least to me- songs).
He mentioned 10 percent as being an appropriate tithe. I did some math, and realized that in order to align myself with the program, I would have to come off of about $1.50, because of the 15 bucks I had made the night before. That seemed like an awful lot, despite the preacher's telling us that we were only giving it back to God; that He was the one who gave it to us in the first place; and don't think otherwise!
I decided to turn cheapskate and put 55 cents in my hand and raised it over my head, in order to receive half a blessing, kind of like a trial offer. I rationalised this away, contending that I pretty much have faith like a molecule in a mustard seed, what can I say?
The ushers couldn't have been nicer to me. I know that they remembered me. The one who got a chair for me and placed it next to the ladies who had invited me, said: "Daniel..." The ladies must have talked to them about me. I understood how forgiving really works. They were so nice, that I really felt like a heel for having come in drunk the year before with my mind already made up that it was a crock of you-know-what, and almost punching one of the well dressed, clean-cut ushers. I felt extremely penitent and like I had a broken spirit.
The preaching was not bad at all, talked about the difference in the attitude of David, who could be king, from the attitude of some other guy whom I forget, but who had said something like "I DID listen to the Lord and follow His leading," but then blamed the people for something, and then wanted to enter the temple with some important figure, so that he could be honored. It was from the book of Samuel, and the guy really made a lot of sense, and he wasn't afraid to go into depth on the subject of pornography, for example, which is something that other preachers seem to not want to be pretentious enough to assume could be a stumbling block for anyone in their church -other churches...probably....
The guy did a good job, and covered a lot of bases. When I stepped out for a cigarette, his voice got louder, in fact he began to shout; so that I could still hear every word. If he had changed subjects to the evil of tobacco, then I would have known that the whole gathering was set up just to address me; Daniel.
After the blessing of the tithe, and before we all approached baskets, which had uncanny resemblances to the kind of cases that some of the street musicians use, one of the ladies handed me one of her dollars, so that I would have something to put in the tip jar, er, basket (she didn't know about the 55 cents) making my tithe $1.55, or about exactly what it should have been. *twilight zone theme plays*
Somewhere along the way, I ran into
Gerald, the guy who carries everything

he owns in a huge bag, like a poor man's
Santa Clause, in Cathedral Park.
The Bike And The Food Card
My immediate order of business after leaving and walking down Water Street with incredible musical ideas ringing in my head (I could have blown their guitarist off the stage) was to check and see if my food card was credited with the 200 bucks, which could turn New Orleans from a hell, to a hell with food. I also needed to make the odyssey to get the bike, which I had thrown in the tall grass at the far end of the rail yard, some two miles out of town.
More Shenanigans From The Man With The Hat
A stop at the Exxon enlightened me to the fact that I wasn't "supposed to be in here," told to me by one of the cashiers who could give me no explanation for why I wasn't supposed to be in here, except to say that her manager had told her so.
The man with the hat has struck again, I think.
He has embarked on a crusade to run me out of town, because it is his opinion that, only through my lawyer's maneuverings did I escape being convicted of possession of under-aged pornography, and that I am a sick individual that should not be allowed to buy or sell in Mobile.
My friend, Sajid, at The Dauphine Market told me that the man with the hat visited him and said that he would no longer do business with The Dauphine Market should they continue to allow me into their store. Sajid's friendship was stronger than his desire to retain the business of the man with the hat, and I have not been barred from there.
We formulated the opinion; Sajid and I; that Mr. Ron Pope Jr., as that is his name (and is a lot easier to type than the above) is on a "smear campaign" against me. Since Sajid is of a religion which believes in an eye for an eye etc., he admonished me for not "fighting back," saying that what Mr. Pope, Jr. is doing is "unjust."
Naked Children Eat Free
Some ideas that we kicked around were: #1. Having my brother and his associates, the next time their business takes them into the area, visit Buscaba's Thai Restaurant, and then leave complaining about stomach pain, calling ambulances and making sure that the local paper, which Mr. Pope seems to take as gospel, prints a story with the headline of "Food Poisoning Incident," or words to that effect. That was my idea.
Sajid thinks that I should go to the police, who could talk to the business owners who are barring me, and maybe get more of an answer out of them than "Because we don't like him."
They could possibly be subpoenaed to testify about just what Mr. Pope Jr. told them, and if such statements turned out to be slanderous, then Mr. Pope Jr. might have to sleep on the floor of the Metro Jail, next to a bunch of homeless guys whom he helped put there by calling the law on them after seeing them emerge from The Dauphine Market and saunter into Bienville Park with their goods. This has been a hobby of Mr. Pope's, who also has "Don't give to the local beggars" posters in his front window.
This Morning, I came up with idea  #3: I could print out a picture of a family on a clothing optional beach from, for example; affix the Busaba's restaurant logo in the corner of it, and include the text: "Naked Children Eat Free," then tape them to the restaurant's windows late at night, next to the beggar posters; then hide somewhere to videotape his reaction, for fun.
The Trek To Get The Bike
Then, that evening, after getting someone else to go into the Exxon and get me two cans of beer, I set off down the tracks to get my bike from where I had thrown it from the train.
It was a long walk.
I had stashed my backpack in the holly bushes and was carrying my guitar. It took me a full 45 minutes to get to the bike. As soon as I started pushing the bike, my guitar strap began to unlock and I had to catch my already damaged guitar before it fell. I got to the narrow bridge, wide enough for only two tracks, and was half way across it when a train came barrelling down upon me. Of course a train came.
I had to squint into the oncoming headlight to determine which of the two tracks it was on and then, get over onto the other track, being ready to catch the guitar if the strap let go for the tenth time.
I picked the right track and was out of the trains path with about 10 seconds to spare. The engineer gave his horn a short burst, as if to say "Get out of the way." No shit, I think I will.
Then, a vehicle rode past me as I stumbled over the gravel, wondering if my sneakers were going to survive the night. I turned around and stopped in front of me. Soon, I was face to face with a hale and hearty man of about 50, who was about six foot five and stood erect in front of me. He said "We're going to turn around and go that way," pointing in the opposite direction of my progress. "You're trespassing, I've already notified the law."
I then explained as much as I could about getting the bike and how I was trying to get back to Mobile and knew no other way out of the yard.
He directed me to a hard pan road and told me to take that to get back to Mobile. He said that, if I was to continue the way I was going, I would have to walk in between cars, and that he said he had trains coming in soon and it would be dangerous for me, especially carrying a guitar and pushing a bike with flat tires. "I don't want to see you get hurt, that's all."
Maybe it was because of my honesty in telling him that I was new to the whole train hopping experience, and the gratitude that I showed after he pointed me in the safer direction; or maybe I had been blessed at the revival, I don't know, but, he soon pulled up aside me and offered me a ride. We put the bike in the back of the SUV and headed for the Exxon.
He told me a few stories of unlucky people who had tried to hop on moving trains and "slipped." He then beseech ed me not to ever try to hop on a moving train. He asked me where I was from.
"Massachusetts...I'm a Yankee, I'm afraid," I said.
"Nothing wrong with that, I'm from Pittsburg," he said. I told him that I had met about 5 people in my life from Pittsburg and that they were all nice folk.
He let me out at the Exxon, pulled out some money and handed me 10 dollars, then cautioned me about the Exxon station, telling me not to "flash" the 10 dollars there.
"Good luck," he said "and remember..."
"I know, no moving trains!" I said, and he drove off, smiling.
It was like finding money on the ground, sorta...
Food For Kooky

That about brings this journal up to date. The rest of the time has been spent on this journal. Sometimes I think I could spend 15 hours writing about the other hour that I'm awake each day..

The food card had the 200 bucks on it this morning, much to my relief. I guess they never tried to verify my mailing address, which is good because I've tormented the Knightons enough with mail and swat teams...
I immediately thought about Sue, and how her card ran out and she is down in New Orleans, unemployed and with a cat to feed.
I bought Kooky some baby food, turkey and gravy flavor. Kooky eats baby food, not cat food. There is something Freudian or Skinner-ian there, I suspect. I took a picture of myself holding the food and e-mailed it to Sue as the first step in the long journey to her forgiveness of me for the reckless endangerment of her baby, er, cat.