Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last night, I sat down at the Bourbon Street spot at a good early hour. There was still daylight.
The Guy Who Dyes Himself Red
I was talking on my phone with Ted Broughey, my old high school and college friend, who was telling me that he would try to wire me some money today.
Ain't Nobody's Fault But My Own
It is my own fault that I hadn't eaten anything in 2 days except the piece of chicken which had fallen on the sidewalk; I mismanaged my food stamp money and will have to go the next 7 days without the "benefit" of it.
I had lost track of time when I was blogging and had missed the meal at the Rebuild Center that afternoon (my drive to write being stronger than my hunger drive) and my own fault that I was starting out with an empty case (I had spent the 5 bucks that I had borrowed from Howard on an energy drink and then a couple beers -which are *like* food- before going to my spot).
I should have known also, about the "slow season" from looking back one year at this blog.
One year ago, I was in jail in Baton Rouge, having fled to that city due to the slowness of New Orleans.
I could have put some money aside after getting the 175 dollar tip, but rather chose to buy a harmonica harness, picks, strings, a capo, a purple shirt; and a few packs of cigarettes when there were perfectly good ones on the sidewalks. And a few beers.
Jim, the guy that I had coffee with and who said that he had a Roland Micro Cube amp pulled up in his white van and parked directly across from me in the spot that is hardly ever available.
It was available because there were so few people at Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern.
I was in a dilemma because I had Ted on the phone, talking about sending me money the next day; and Jim standing in front of me, who might have bought me a sandwich had I casually mentioned that I hadn't eaten in 24 hours.
I told Ted that "this guy that took me out for coffee" was there, as Jim was about to get back in his van.
Jim took out a harmonica and asked me if I could play in the key of A.
I played in the key of A and he tentatively blew some weak sounding notes.
I jumped in on my own harmonica and Jim soon appeared to be upset and told me "You sound like Troy!" (the guy who plays guitar and harmonica at Iberville and Royal and about whom Nervous Duane said "When he wants to, he can play the hell out of the blues!")
I thought it was a compliment.
"The guy that's pretty good?"
"The guy that used to be good!" said Jim and then went off in a huff.
The First Tipper
Then, I played as a handful of stragglers went by. Most of them were employees of the nearby places; or local residents.
One young lady stopped and asked me how I was doing.

She asked if I remembered her.
She looked vaguely familiar.
She used to work at Sydneys Beer And Wine store, she said; about a year ago.
I started to recognize her (I must have seen her at least 20 times at that store).
I think she is the one who gave me 5 dollars once and said: "Go! Leave here!" after I told her that I was thinking of taking the 5 dollar bus to Baton Rouge.
She dropped a dollar in my case, saying she was sorry that she didn't have more, then told me to be careful "because I care about you."
I always make an effort to try to charm beer store workers, as they are such important fixtures in my life..
Lilly Sees Red Over Yellow
Then, Lilly came out of the gate to my right with her youngest daughter in tow.
"I'll be back."
"You always will be back."

"I have to go get my other daughter."
"You always have to go get your other daughter."
"I'm so tired, I cleaned the house all day."
"You're always so tired from cleaning the house all day."
And off they went, but not before Lilly admonished me not to ever use yellow to color my paragraphs here, because they don't show up against her phones background.

It was still only about 6 p.m. and I took a break to go spend the dollar at the Unique Boutique.

The Second Tipper
I was back at it by 7 p.m. with the new strings sounding good.
I decided to just do as good a job as I could.
I set up the full stage, signs, trinkets and all, and tried to play my best.
Shortly after dark, along came a tall thin young man who wears the white shirt of a restaurant worker, and who, only a couple weeks ago approached me and left a tip saying "I walk by you just about every night and you're always playing the perfect song."
"This is all I have," he said, as he placed $1.50 in my case.
He sat on the steps and talked for a while. He is learning the trombone.
The Third Tipper
As we talked, a couple came out of Lafitts and stopped in front of me and exchanged words; then the lady put 5 bucks in my case.
I wasn't playing at the time, but they had heard me on their way in.
The Last Tipper
Then another couple approached and asked me what my story was and dropped 10 bucks after I told them the abridged version of my story.
Chicken Bag War II
I put the 17 dollars and 50 cents in my pocket a little after midnight and made my way towards Rouses Market; where the same basic group of people were sitting on the curb across the street.
I overheard the biggest and blackest one giving what sounded like instructions and orders to the others.
I approached him and asked "Are you in charge of the chicken bag, or something?" trying to keep the sarcasm to a minimum.
"Yeah," he said, and before I could respond with any more sarcasm, he said "Everyone is gonna get some; that's the way it's gonna go down tonight..."
Well, to make a long story short; I had drifted off to the nearest trash can about 75 feet down the sidewalk when the chicken bag came out the door; but rather than walk it to the trash cans, which would have been in my direction, Tiffany handed it off to the biggest and blackest man; and it went in the opposite direction, with about 8 guys swarming around it.
In the few seconds in which it took me to close the 75 foot gap which was separating me from the chicken bag; it had been placed on it's customary ledge and set upon by the 8, so that when I arrived; all the containers of chicken and ribs and vegetables had been accounted for and were being bagged up, in lots of 4 or more each (2 or 3 for the couple of white men there).
I again asked if I could have some chicken from someone.
One of the white guys gave me a thigh piece which was hot and moist and tasted good and I had no complaint with God for having provided enough to get me through the night (combined with a loaf of the ever abundant bread) but I had a problem with the stone age mentality which is harkened back to when the biggest blackest man has control over the chicken bag.
"You gotta just grab it, man" said one young man to me.
I threatened to do something to make Rouses stop putting the bag out each night; even making up a phoney person whom I purportedly went to high school with and who could stop the flow of chicken bags with one phone call.
The biggest blackest man started towards me; pointing his finger and saying "Let me tell you something...!" but before he could tell me; the other white guy said: "We aren't in orange jump suits!"
This got the big guy off of me and onto him; but it was just a verbal exchange.
Fisticuffs would draw the attention of the cop stationed at Rouses Market and would put the chicken bags future in jeopardy.
I complained to the cashier, briefly, asking her who put the biggest and blackest man in charge of the chicken.
She just shrugged her shoulders, but the cop followed me outside and said, and I parapharase:
Listen, we have nothing to do with that bag once it's out the door; it's supposed to go in the trash; but we're nice enough to give it to the homeless; the executive management over at the big store doesn't even know we do this.
They chop theirs up and pour bleach on it; they do the same thing over on Carrollton Street...
You guys are just going to have to work it out yourselves; because if it becomes a problem; then they're gonna put a dumpster out here and lock it at night...
You need to find a way to work it out.
Famine Relief
My Friend Ted in Boston has called to say that he has wired me 70 dollars; and given me the test question and answer in order to pick it up.
I know that is kind of "cheating" as the scope of this blog is to see if I can go from the streets to superstardom; on my own, 
I'm glad he didn't do it last night when I was so angry.
I probably would have gone into Rouses at about 11:45 p.m. and purchased a lot of chicken; so that when I emerged; the guys across the street would think that it was the chicken bag and would become indignant and feel like they had been betrayed and would surely ask me "What dat is?"
To which I would reply; "It's a bag of chicken," coolly and then added something like "If I had wanted to*; I could have taken the whole thing. There's still more coming out for you all..."
I might have even bought a fifth of liquor and made a show of standing in the light of Rouses entrance and hoisting it up and tilting it over my cup, as I spiked a juice drink with it; so that it would appear to them like a gemstone.
And then have "When I asked you for some chicken what did you say?!?" locked and loaded in the chamber, ready for the first one who tried to skeeze me.
Thanks to the cash from Ted, I should be able to tide myself over until the Southern Decadence Festival this weekend.
This festival is right up my alley; both literally and figuratively in that I play in the gay part of the quarter, so that the revelers will be all around me; and in that I play a pretty gaily tailored set list; having learned through trial and error which artists works work the best to bring in tips....commencing countdown; engines on...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cold Turkey

  • $1.50 Tuesday
  • Lilly In The Field
  • Help On The Way

Dying But Not Shaking
Monday, I woke up with like 7 cents in my pocket.
I walked past Uniques which is my usual route. This made me want a beer. I wasn't "shaking" or anything; but rather just "dying" for a beer.
I got to the corner of Iberville and Royal and ran into a guy I know who dyes himself red on occasion and retains a reddish tint in his hair and skin on every other occasion. He must use a "permanent" dye.
He is not allowed to go into the Unique Boutique because of an altercation stemming from the fact that the store wouldn't take his money one night because it was splotched with red dye (so it looked like it came out of a stolen bank bag?).
He said that he would buy me a beer if I would go in the store and get him one.
I did.
I decided to cross the street to drink mine where I could watch sports on the Checkered Parrots many TVs.
As I reached the other sidewalk, a couple was approaching.
The man took a sip off of a large cup of what turned out to be Abita Amber; winced; then set it on a trash can a few feet from me and they walked on...
I found it to be warm, but mixed it with a cold Hurricane Lager; making the Abita colder and the Hurricane taste better.
I walked on; noticing how deserted the streets looked and how clean the sidewalks were. 
The street sweepers have gotten way ahead of their game; having very little trash to sweep; and I walked the length of Decatur Street without spotting a cigarette butt. There certainly weren't the usual 100 dollar bills laying everywhere...
I had a chance to do some soul searching; as the two beers began to wear off; and I walked past all the people with drinks in their hands and cigarettes in their mouths and thought about how wonderful it would be to be free of all addictions.
On Esplanade Avenue, I decided to bend my path straight to my playing spot.
I got there and sat next to my guitar; still in its case.
There was nobody to play for.
A white van, just like the one that (addiction free) Tanya and Dorise own, stopped in front of me.
A man in his late fifties with gray curly hair, who was driving, asked me if I remembered him. "We've talked before...a couple times."
The same problem which had cost me a free ride to Atlanta reared its head in the fact that I didn't recognize him.
He wound up parking the van and sat by me; reminding me of our conversation, which brought back the memory that I resembled a friend of his so much that it was striking; and he had told me about the guy.
He is a portrait artist; and is much better with faces than I am. And a guitarist.
He invited me to the nearby Community Coffee, where we sat for a couple hours, drinking excellent coffee and talking.
We talked about all kinds of things; and he said that our conversation was exactly like the ones that he had had with my twin; whom he thinks is in California now.
As we parted, he gave me a couple dollars and told me that he had several guitar amps and a Roland Micro Cube "right in the back of my van."
"It takes 6 AA batteries..."
That would be a good amp for me to start with, but I would need a way to tote it around and would need at least a microphone to plug into it for starters.
I had a feeling that he was contemplating just giving it to me, but he asked me if I was going to be on my spot regularly.
I gave him an outline of my typical schedule there and we parted as friends.
Maybe he will show up when I have some money and I can buy the amp.
I wondered later he had really been Dorise Blackman, morphed into a gray haired man, with the white van being the only clue to her identity. 
It would explain my striking resemblance to her friend "He even wears a hat just like that and boots just like that..." 
Maybe when she (Dorise) takes on different forms; they exist in parallel universes and maybe I even do and don't realize it. 
My trouble with recognizing faces is diametrical to Jims (as that was his name) who said he could now do a portrait of me from memory, after just sitting over coffee for a couple of hours.
One quirk about parallel universes is that it's easier to drive the same van in each one -saves money at the DMV.
I also thought about the resemblance to my brother Jim of the guy who gave me the hundred dollar tip about 6 weeks ago; and this guys name being Jim (and having a brother named Daniel) and thought about how the thing that I miss the most about sobriety was cosmic connections like that becoming elucidated.
Tuesday Night
Tuesday night, I got to my playing spot and had the dilemma of trying to tune my strings; one of which was an "electric" and not "acoustic."
I gave up upon it. I wasn't going to play out of tune; even if I did have less than a dollar in change on me.
Then Lilly came out of her condo. "Consider the lillies of the field," I began to sing.
She was pretty drunk on Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio "from my house," and was ranting and stirring up trouble with the gay guys walking past.
She owns property in the gay district, where I play, and was yelling things like "God made Adam and Eve; not Adam and Steve!"
And, I sat there, totally sober and pretty hungry, because I had only eaten one meal that day at the Rebuild Center; and decided that I needed to go on a scavenger hunt.
I would look for drinks, food, and more importantly, guitar strings.
Lilly wasn't offering me any of the wine that she had in her house, but she did let me in the gate and show me around her place.
She has a swimming pool behind the place (and out of place with the rest of the 300 year old decor).
"I'm going to try to find a drink," I answered to her question.
I couldn't think of many friends that I had in the city at that point.
I didn't want to ask the Hokum High Rollers for a guitar string; having only just made their acquaintance; and I set out in the general direction of where Jesse plays; though doubting very much that he would be there.
I wondered how much I would really need a new string to play for nobody.
I came to a certain hotel across the street from the Supreme Court building and there was a full cup of some kind of expensive whiskey on ice.
I took a few sips and then a few steps and then spotted Brian Hudson (a friend who hadn't come to mind) playing on the corner of St. Louis and Royal.
He let me get a whole new set of strings from him on credit.
Then, the guy from a previous post, who bought my old Jasmine guitar walked by and gave me a fist pump.
Then Lilly and her two daughters walked by; and it felt like I was watching a Broadway production of my blog...
The Chicken Bag
Having only eaten two ham sandwiches the whole day; I wasn't ashamed to go to Rouses Market at 12:30, after having played and made only $1.50 and wait for the renowned chicken bag to be thrown in the trash.
I should say: thrown towards the trash, because it never lands there.
"Make sure everybody gets some," said Tiffany as she delivered herself of it.
Isn't the guy in the blue shirt decadent?!?

The bag was torn open and all I saw were elbows and guys taking 4 or 5 containers of chicken and ribs, and I kind of stood there waiting for someone to make sure that everybody got some, but all the food was pirated and whisked away.
I even said "Hey, I've only had two sandwiches for lunch; all day!" which got no response.
There were a couple other guys who didn't get anything, and we talked about reporting back to Tiffany, who would probably tell the guy (and it was the biggest blackest guy who took possession of the chicken bag, harkening us all to the stone age) that if the food isn't shared; that they are going to start pouring bleach on it.
I managed to get a thigh which had fallen on the sidewalk that nobody wanted. They weren't that "starving," I guess.
This morning, I borrowed 5 bucks from Howard.
I'll be able to pay him back after playing the new strings tonight and certainly after the Southern Decadence Festival which is this weekend.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Morning Post Fix

Monday Morning Post Fix
United States
I woke up and came straight to the library to delete any negative comments that I had made in a drunken post from the coffee house yesterday.
I'm sorry that my newest reader in Uganda had to endure them.
I had been venting my anger and was overcome by a hostile spirit.
The coffee house guy even came over and enforced the "customers only" rule for their computer; asking me to finish what I was doing and then leave (or purchase a 2 dollar cup of coffee).
I think he could sense the spirit or smell the spirits en-clouding me...
Then, when I walked up the street, Tanya and Dorise immediately started to play the song ("Hotel California") which I had been critical of in my post...that makes the second time that they have done that; as if they had been instantly notified that the comment had been made.

It was as if someone texted them as they were playing with the message: "Someone said you screwed up Hotel California yesterday -one minute ago from New Orleans..."
Tanya played some nifty, classical sounding runs of 16th notes and sixtuplets, as if showing off her prowess...
Officer Adams Passes the time by writing an
"obstructing the entrance to a business" ticket
to two young ladies, whom I have dubbed
"dog skeezers" and who have been "homeless"
and "broke" and in need of a
lot of dog food the past couple weeks...

Then, when I went to the Unique Store, the cashier wouldn't let me "slide" on 10 cents (bring it the next time) for a Hurricane, even though I had previously been allowed to bring the whole dollar back the next time...
Then, when I went to my playing spot, Barnaby was critical of my harmonica playing, saying that it sounded like I was "straining" when I played it...
Then, I made all of 1 dollar playing for no more than 25 tourists who had meandered as far as Lafitts Tavern on Bourbon street...
Add to that debacle, a free Jester drink which I found, and a 24 oz. Dos XXis beer, which a guy whom I jammed with outside Rouses Market bought for me; and you have the ingredients for a nasty post.
Everyone is feeling the pinch of the slow economy here.
Streets which are normally swarming with people; weren't.
Cars waited at red lights for the "walk" lights to change to "don't walk" but the point was mute because nobody was crossing the street though, the signs are programmed for "normal" pedestrian traffic ..
Nightmare On Basin Street
Then, I had a nightmare where I was sleeping on a metal bed which was barely wider than my body and which was elevated several hundred feet in the air and had to be reached by climbing up a ladder, like the ones which allow men to change the light bulbs atop radio antenna towers.
I was petrified that I would roll over in my sleep and plummet; and I was afraid that, if I tried to climb down the ladder, I would twitch or slip; or my arms would go numb (I think one arm was "asleep" while I was) and I would lose my grasp and plummet.
"You Can Eat My Fist"
I woke up in a sweat; depressed and broke and feeling like I had hurt a lot of feelings the previous day...I had been ruthless with the beggars, telling one that he could eat my fist after he asked for 50 cents because he was "trying to get something to eat."
On The Brighter Side
 Jesse (right) remains living proof that if I just become amplified and set up a stage so that it looks like I'm a professional, then I could make a living busking on Royal Street in New Orleans.
The guy with the harmonica came along and asked him to play something in the key of G.
Jesse complied, but his face said "Are you paying for this?"
When the guys little tike joined in on his own little harmonica, at least a dozen people materialized and Jesse became about 20 dollars richer; mostly from the party of people who were with the guy and his tike.
Jessies expression then changed to "Sure, I know a few songs in the key of G..."

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Boring Post From A Slow City

30 Bucks All Day Friday
Friday, after making only a dollar in the morning, I continued to play.

I stopped by Rouses Market and jammed with a young black kid who is just learning the guitar.
He plays the simple stuff that he does better than a lot of musicians play the complicated stuff.
The Kid In The Foreground
He was the guy who was playing with Superman the day before (left).
We played "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and someone threw a dollar, which I let him keep.
"Wow, you can really play," said the young man, making me think that he had perhaps heard otherwise; perhaps from Superman, who has never really heard me play, but who probably figures that I just don't have the obnoxious outgoing, getting-in-every-tourists-face-and-trying-to-do- cigarette-magic personality that he has and which he probably feels is his meal ticket.
It's all part of the cosmos.
This morning, the young guitarist was talking to Tanya and Dorise as I walked up; and he might have pointed me out and told them that I could really play.
Tanya has been sounding as bad as I have ever heard her, the past couple of days.
I figured that she had a headache, or something.

20 Bucks All Day Saturday
I got too drunk to play past midnight on Saturday.
I remember Lillian coming out of her house and me rubbing her neck, but not much more.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I changed my routine on Friday.
I left the sign spot, after drinking coffee and started towards a busking spot.
It was about 10 a.m. when I sat down by CVS on Decatur where there was a panhandler a mere 30 feet away.
I had a legal right to set up there; he was breaking the law.
I wanted to have a little fun with him, too.
I went into the store and emerged with an iced coffee drink.
He didn't walk over to me and ask for a few gulps off of it.
He was smoking a cigarette himself and didn't budge when I lit one up.
After playing sober for about an half and hour and thinking that I sounded pretty good on the harmonica, despite the heavy noise of traffic, I hadn't made anything.
So, I decided to stop and roll a bone.
I was doing so when a guy came along and said "Keep on playing," and threw a dollar in my case.
I had set up my whole stage, complete with signs and toy and shiny objects.
I took a break at about noon when showed up some young African Americans who wanted to tap dance there.
I gladly relinquished the "one dollar on a Friday morning" spot to them.
One of them recognized me from jail.
He was the one that would steal the food from inmates who were just coming in off the street...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Signs From The Past

I Will Work Harder
Last night, I left the library and meandered onto Royal Street.
There is irony in the fact that this is where I place my backpack at my playing spot...

I had been thinking very hard about all the experiences of the past week, and the ones that stood out the most were the ones like running into Nervous Duane.
His songs were tight and the riffs that he played in between verses were consistently the same...leaving no doubt that he knew what he was doing.
The lyrics were all compelling; I guess as blues songs are supposed to be. Who isn't amused by a story of a guy who is packing his "leaving trunk" because he ain't seen no whiskey but his woman is sloppy drunk?!?
So, I walked down Canal Street and saw the newspaper showing all the dead children who were casualties of the chemical attack in Syria.
I thought that, if I want to go to the next level, then I need to write songs about things like that...
I decided to set up a "stage," (below)and went to work looking for a milk crate to sit on (10 points) and I found some cardboard and went to work with a sharpie, recreating some of my best signs from the past (5 points each). 

I managed to make about 16 dollars on a night when other musicians were skeptical when I told them of it, because they had made a lot less.
One guy explicitly put 5 bucks on the "tiposaurus" sign, harkening me back to the days when people would tip my signs as well as (or instead of?) my music.
The Chicken Bag
Every night at 12:50 a.m. Rouses Market puts out the bag of all the chicken etc. off the hot rack that didn't sell. It is often a little dry and stringy or singed black in the case of pork ribs.
Last night, I had to compete with the guys below for the chicken in the bag.
Tiffany (a friend of mine by now) had told the cop who works there that I was there waiting for the chicken bag to come out. She had expressed concerns about me getting any at all.
I only take enough chicken and corn and black eyed peas to fill myself up and I leave the rest of the bag for all the guys in Jackson Square.
Tiffany has actually handed me the bag, saying "Are you hungry, Daniel?" on the occasions that I had been there.
My food card is almost out now, and I have 12 days left in the month...
But, last night, these guys (below) basically grabbed the bag and headed toward the square with it. They had been joined by another black guy by then.
As they raced towards the square with it; I followed.
I knew that they had heard the cop yell "Daniel!" and motion me to the door, from whence Tiffany emerged with the chicken bag and placed it down a mere few seconds before I arrived, and handed to to me.
The musicians shown had played all night where the Hokum High Rollers rather would have liked to play; and these guys were playing very badly, especially by the time the chicken bag was to be put out. 
But "Superman" had held his ground with the High Rollers; and staked a claim for the spot.
The High Rollers acquiesced, but I am sure the man of steel didn't curry any favor with them, but...back to the story.
They expected to have to fight over the chicken when they got to the square.

One of the black guys kept saying "We're gonna get ours first right off the top; ain't gonna be none o' that booshit!"
Superman kept saying "I'm ready to fight them if they rush us"
And I kept thinking that, if I didn't get any food at all, I would report back to Tiffany, who would probably say "I'll deal with them; they ain't gonna see another chicken bag for a while.."
Well, the chicken bag was placed by a bench in the square; a few individuals converged upon it; but, basically there was so much food per person that it was meted out civilly.
"Did you get some?" asked Tiffany.
Yesterday, I left the library and did the usual.
I got to Rouses, after walking the length of Royal Street and saw Brian Hudson setting up his amp and stuff.
He had been away for at least a month.
His hair had grown out a bit and he looked a bit haggard, commensurate with having just toured all over the country and into Canada.
He was as down to earth as ever, though.
He bought me a beer in Rouses (a Busch, not one with a deadly sounding name, which I thought was thoughtful of him, as he has read some of the "Hand Grenade horror tales" from previous posts and was helping me out in that way).
He did one of my favorites of his, "The Shield", as his second song after probably having used the first as a warm up.
The Rut
I have decided that what is hindering me is a sort of rut which I have put myself in.
I normally wake up in the morning; sit up and consume caffeine in some form.
This makes me crave a cigarette; and if I don't have one, I walk down Canal Street and other places where the street sweepers haven't gotten to yet; and find tobacco.
Then, it is off to this very library; where I arrive between 10 a.m. and noon.
Then, if I have to wait for a computer, I will transfer music and lyrics and practice studies out of the pile of loose sheets; many of which are moldy and stained; into the composition book, which is one of the things that I bought after getting the 175 dollar tip.
What happens next is, I write my blog post and this consumes all the energy from the caffeine; and as I write, I focus (some would say dissociate) so much on the writing that everything else gets pushed out of my mind.
Then, when I leave the library and start walking towards the Quarter, my focus changes to music and I suddenly am remiss over the practicing that I didn't do; the new songs that I didn't learn; and I feel stagnant; as if I am bringing nothing new to the table, and I am going to bore people by playing "the same old stuff" again that night.
Having exercised my mind and then come down off of caffeine; the natural progression is towards alcohol.
This is partly because I am hoping that it will motivate me to play and partly due to "triggers" (I think the AA people call them) which are below the level of my consciousness; but which probably have to do with the conditioning which I have undergone after; on so many occasions, I've drank myself "insensitive" and then woke up in the morning and, after looking around to ascertain where I was, found a bunch of money in my case and had to struggle to recall where it came from.
It appeared like magic.
And, so...
I am seriously thinking about going out to busk, first thing in the morning; fueled only by coffee.
This would make it easier to work on fresh material, and give me a break from playing for drunks.
Then I would come to this library to blog in the late afternoon after having played for a few hours, and hopefully put some money in my pocket.
This would reduce the stress over money which might be one of my "triggers."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


United States
United Kingdom
I have worked around the bug, and can now use the full functionality of the "compose" window; by downloading and using Mozilla Firefox as my browser...yowsa!
It was fitting that I woke up with a Tom Petty song in my head this morning, after last night.
Yesterday, I left the library with less than 2 bucks on me.
I remembered having shoved a dollar inside the body of my guitar; along with an extra pick.
I retrieved it and then headed towards The Unique Store, where I bought a Hurricane Lager and told Sam "This is my last dollar," as I showed him the second one.
I was hinting at the possibility of my returning to get a future beer on credit. "...if I don't make at least a dollar tonight.."
"It's OK, you are a good man; you will make (money) tonight," he said.
I took my normal route, behind the Monteleone to pick their ashtray and to drink the first Hurricane.
"You Never Pay Me Last Time..."
The second one would remain in the ice bucket at the store; they warm up too fast and become repulsive.
Then, I ran into the guy with the loud voice who plays a Fender guitar through a Micro Cube amp.
He was in bragging mode again and was quick to pull out a wad of bills and claim that he had made $145 in the 3 hours that he had been playing.
"You should get and amp," he told me.
He was playing "Turn The Page," by Bob Seger the second time I came by.
He got to a spot in the song where he always (he must do that song at least 5 times a day) plays the wrong chord.
"Try a G Major, right there" I said, thinking that he would strike the chord and instantly realize that it was the missing link.
He didn't strike the chord but rather looked at me icily and said something to the effect of: "I make 145 bucks in 3 hours...I don't need to play a G Major chord..."
"Yeah, well, how many of those fives might be tens if you had the right chord at the crucial spot in the song; Seger used that chord for a reason; it stands out..."
Then, I volunteered to run up Canal Street to get him some herb, and only wanted a dollar for my troubles.
I wound up being "blessed" by the guy, who basically told me to hold out my hand, in which he placed about twice the normal amount for 5 dollars.
I wrapped it in a napkin and decided; as I walked back to the loud guy not to "pinch" any out of it; just for the general principle of being honest.
The Jamaicans on Canal have gotten to know me pretty well, the past 2 years, and the handfuls have gotten bigger and I know that the loud guy is used to getting about half of what I gave him.
I guess I wanted to impress him with how good a connection I have; the same way he likes to pull out his wad of money in front of me all the time.
He didn't want to share any with me.
"I already gave you a dollar for getting it," said the loud guy, who makes "a thousand dollars a week" playing, if he is to be believed.
I started to tell him that I could have taken half of it and he never would have known the difference, but then realized that I would have been pettifogging* and took the high road of not saying anything and trying not to become angry over such a petty thing.
*A word which I learned from the Lidgleys of London and which reminded me of them, just as I was about to get a second reminder....
2 Pounds
Then, a skeezer ambled by and stopped a bit down the sidewalk to pick something up off the ground.
"You don't want that, its one of those chink-chink coins; I just threw it out of my case," said the loud guy.
The loud guy throws any pennies that he gets in his case, out of his case. "They're bad luck to have in your case; I just chuck them!"
The skeezer just chucked the thing, which I then picked up and found to be a 2 Pound British coin.
I remembered from reading Charles Dickens that (at least in the 1800's) a pound was a considerable amount and someone who made 10,000 per annum was a rich man.
I asked around about it and one of the pedi-cab drivers Googled it and returned the information that the loud guy had chucked a $2.80 coin out of his case. Chink-chink.
I almost wanted to go back and tell the guy; but he talks about crystal meth a lot; and exhibits some of the tell-tale attitudes of the users of such, and I feared that he would want the coin back; expounding some "crystallized" logic like: "I know I chucked it down the sidewalk, but it was originally intended for's mine; and I want it back!"
Then, I went to Bourbon Street, where I encountered Lillian who encouraged me to sit on her step, rather than aside it; and where I sat and made good progress on the key of F harmonica, by employing my capo.
"Aiko Aiko" came out rather well
Lillian brought out a piece of chicken and a 24 oz Budweiser at one point, and a splendid time was had by all; although I only made a handful of ones to go in the pocket with my 2 pound coin.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This Just In...

United States



United Arab Emirates  




A Comment On A Comment
Todays "audience" (left) [excuse the pun].
One of them "left" a comment (below):
I honestly think the best thing for you is to stay in NOLA (as if you can leave) and try to get housing and a job.

Casual labor outfits suck. You'll get the racial thing like your trumpet playing friend has, but also, the *white* people who work for those places are no treat - meth-heads and so on.

The best position is to be "the" cleaner for a given building, or the janitor, something where you become "the trusted guy".

Once you have a job, busking can be a fun thing rather than a grim necessity. And you can experiment with a nylon-string guitar etc because you'll have the $100 to get one.  -Alex In California
I almost tend to agree with Alex.
For The Love Of Blog...
I have been asking myself why I want to travel so much; and one of the reasons is that I have put it "out there" on this blog that I am about to do so; and I looked forward to the blog becoming much more interesting; or at least not about the same people and places each day....
Another reason is that NOLA needs to be escaped from every once in a while by someone in my situation.
Everywhere that you go in the Quarter; you are being watched.
Watched, of course, by the cameras which have every angle covered -people have had their purses or cellphones snatched and have gotten them back the same night because police are able to seal off every avenue of escape; the thief can't hide in any building unless he looks like a tourist; and someone sitting in front of a bank of monitors can rewind to the time and place and then go from camera to camera to follow him...
And watched by the hordes of hustlers; like they guys who converge upon you as soon as you take a pack of cigarettes (money; or almost anything) out of your pocket; or the guy who was salivating over my little USB chip after I started to walk away from the computer I was on before this one and left it in the slot.
Luckily I thought about it before I had taken more than a few steps and got back to the computer just as he was getting to it. He sat down and acted like he had a reservation on it; the big green word "Available" on the screen belying his actions...
The constant watching gets to me after a while.
There is no place where I feel like I can sit and meditate; so my mind never becomes centered and my thoughts are like scattered energies. I don't get as much done because of it. It's hard to clear your mind when you know that any second someone is going to approach you; even if you are by the river; way down the walkway.
Some skeezer is going to walk up and "try" you. What does he have? What can I get from him? Is sitting peacefully by the river a sign of a gentle (weak) and kind and, most importantly; giving nature?
It wears upon one...
Even if you go to a remote and isolated place; you have a hang-over from P.S.T.S. (post skeezer trauma syndrome) and you imagine eyes upon you...
There is no place that I can get the kind of deep sleep which fosters peace of mind and psychological health, and the days and nights blend into chaos.
Musical Ambition
In addition to the fact that the chaos alluded to above is not conducive to learning music; walking around the Quarter one is bombarded with music of too many different styles to be absorbed at once. From any number of locations, one can literally hear a sound like 10 bands playing at once.
I would like to work on my Delta Blues, my Zydeco, my Travis-picking, my singing, my songwriting, take up the violin, record a CD, join a band etc.
All of this has to be done on the fly.
Last night I sat across from Rouses Market and tried to sound like Nervous Duane.
I used his alternate tuning and played the blues and tried to make up lyrics at the same time; and made my share of mistakes; and made my share of 3 whole dollars.
I know at least one person thought: He's not as good as that other guy who was here on Sunday... which is just the humble pie which needs to be eaten around helps to thicken the skin.
There are not enough hours in the day, on top of reading and blogging and busking and eating and staying as clean as possible, and dealing with skeezers.
If I can get to Boston and meet up with my friend Ted, I might be able to use his recording studio as a stress free practice place; and if I come back to NOLA with a stack of CDs for sale, 10 bucks each, welll

A Job?
It is Tuesday, August 20th and I am not in a position to ride out of here, having $1.65 on me, although I feel like I could stand by the off ramp (where the "homeless" and "stranded" and "anything helps" guys stand) and come up with at least a day's worth of money by playing a Dylan song repetitively on the harp and guitar.
Another musician who I met in Baton Rouge and who plays the saxophone found work cleaning a building; just by walking around and asking people if they needed help.
"You should go for it. Some of them pay pretty well," he said to me.
He is black and in his early 20's.
Another friend, who plays a trumpet and is white and in his early 50's works out of a labor pool and said that, on several jobs, he has been run off by the other workers who were all black and who made it unbearable for him by constantly pestering him and bossing him around; even though, on one job, they were just picking up loose concrete and throwing it down a chute.
"They made me feel like I wasn't qualified to pick up a rock," he said.
I could utilize some free time on this Tuesday to go see my Unity caseworker (who would be trying to find housing for me if I was showing any interest) and get the "homeless paperwork" stating that I was indeed homeless, so that I could bring it to the Rebuild Center and let them help me get an ID. That is one of the ways that they "rebuild" lives.
It is quite thinkable that my life has fallen apart and needs rebuilding after a day like yesterday, when I basically drank up what little money I made (to take my mind off of the fact that I wasn't making anything).
At least none of my strings broke; and I got a 2 dollar bill as a tip, which was cool.
Breaking it 10 minutes later for a Hurricane was pathetic, but by then I just didn't care.
Maybe my case worker at Unity can give me some advice or point me in the direction of a job sweeping out the Superdome or holding a sign all day which reads "slow" on one side and "stop" on the other...
I think one 8 hour shift like that would renew my enthusiasm for busking and make me appreciate the opportunity to do so...