Monday, December 30, 2013

Turn On, Tune In Drop Out

$55 Saturday
I got out Sunday, a little after noon, determined to just buy an AM/FM radio, since I had found some brand new ear-buds laying on the sidewalk outside of CVS the previous day, and since I had woken up with $101 in my pocket; and since I had lied there for a while waiting for the Natchez to launch and realized that I could have been listening to CBS sports radio and whetting my appetite for the NFL action which was to take place that day.
I Find One
I walked along the riverside a ways and then scaled the bank and emerged onto the river walk, holding a random piece of driftwood so that everyone would think that I had only gone down to the waters edge a few minutes before they had come on the scene and that I must be some kind of driftwood artist, acquiring materials.
Then, when I got to the train tracks, there was what turned out to be an AM/FM radio, laying on the ground, minus its battery cover and its batteries.
I put it in my bag and it later turned out to work just fine after I inserted batteries into it.
Fire
I had gotten the idea to buy some charcoal briquets so that I would be able to construct a grilling pit under the dock; and would henceforth be able to grab such uncooked foods that the market discards regularly; such as tortellini and other things which can be boiled in any of the tin foil basting pans which they toss out nightly; and foods like raw lamb loin steaks, which could be fried pretty well in a pad of butter.
I wound up getting some mesquite wood chips and was able to light my first fire under the dock and cook an excellent (and more healthy than "prepared" foods) meal of pasta tortellini with fresh thyme and fresh salsa poured over it and grilled vegetables on the side.
The fire was more smokey than I would have prefered, and I will probably have to resort to a cleaner fuel, especially given that the flavor-enhancing properties of the mesquite wood are lost upon things boiled, anyways.
Once I get a little grate, then the wood chips will come into play, and all of the uncooked things that the skeezers pass over when they scavenge; will default to me.
Karrie always loved the things I cooked over fires.
Sunday
After having listened to the AM/FM radio through the ear buds which I had found laying on the ground, still in their package; I came out Sunday, right after the boat had launched.
I went to CVS and spent 2 bucks on a lighter
I then went to the Toulouse Market and bought a pint of brandy and an energy drink to mix it with for $6.80.
I then saw herb man and spent 5 bucks "with him."
I then went to the Superdome and played while the incoming crowd came in. I made about 8 bucks, which is typical in the case of the ingoing crowd. The outgoing crowd is usually good for about 35 bucks, or so.
I decided to find the Patriots game somewhere.
The One Man Band
On my way to do that, I first heard and then saw Mr. Joe Jangles, the one man band.
He looked a bit more worn and maybe a little older; but we talked for a while.
During breaks in the game, I went and spent about another 8 bucks on beer.
I bought batteries for the AM/FM radio for 2 bucks...
Razors for another 2 bucks...
Cigarettes for $3.50.
A "Cash 3" ticket for 50 cents...
All in all, I spent almost 30 bucks and only had made 8...
Now, I head to the Lilly spot...

Friday, December 27, 2013

I Wish I Had That Problem

  • How To Spend The Money...?
  • Answers To Two Prayers
So, yesterday, I posted about the nature of my semi-depressed state of mind and boiled things down to 2 key factors which were prone to bum me out.
Namely, a feeling of idleness and/or waking up broke.
"I'm Not Falling For It!"
I had been bummed out over having spent down the money which my mother wired me for Christmas, over the course of the 3 very cold nights which we had, when I didn't play much.
I was walking along Canal Street and had just passed a skeezer who was sitting on his butt and looking left and right, at the perimeter of the Ritz Carlton Hotel; and I had gotten about 40 feet further; and was amidst a small swarm of hotel guests and their luggage; when I saw a small square object about the size of a book of matches, but of a familiar color; sitting on the sidewalk.
The familiar color was that of the "new" 20 and 50 and 100 dollar bills (they were never as "yellowish" back in the day).
Well, I was certain that it was a religious track and sure that it had already been picked up by someone and inspected and then tossed back down, because several people practically stepped on it before I got to it.
Well, long story short -It was a 20 dollar bill; folded to the size of a book of matches.
The reason that it had looked so fake, as it did, was because it was brand new and folded so cleanly that the edges actually looked sharp. It crinkled as I unfolded it.
That gave me about 47 bucks, total.
Oh, look, Chauncey; I do believe that might be a hundred!

My other theory is that the hotel guests were so wealthy and proud that they were too embarrassed about being seen stooping over to pick up something off the ground like a common skeezer would ....Did I just see Dick Morganstern III pick a duck ass cigarette butt off the pavement?!? I guess his wife is tootin' the powder again...
It's not worth 20 or 50 or 100 dollars to Dick; it might very well be one of those phony bill religious things; then won't ol' Dick feel like a dick!!
Furniture Movers Wanted: $25/hr.
Then, after stepping out of the library after posting my lamentations over money; I encountered a lady who was asking another man if he wanted to make "10 dollars," moving a couple of sofas out of her apartment and loading them on the back of the pickup truck which was idling nearby.
"I will!," I said, after the guy declined.
We found another fine young man named Josh and the two of us took an hour to get the sofas from her 5th floor apartment; onto the elevator; onto the truck.
The biggest sofa took us a half our just to get out of her front door.
Luckily, Josh was a pretty sharp young man and, together, we were able to devise a way (by taking the sofa into the kitchen and starting our rotating-and-standing-up-and-corkscrewing maneuver from the angle of that approach, as opposed to the one from the parlor, which had befuddled us...as the woman became almost panic stricken -as she began to consider life without her big sofa-  and started interjecting orders such as "You need to stand it up!!!" "This end has to come THIS way!!" and "Flip it over!!" in vain).
As, we struggled, the lady upped her offer to 10 dollars for each of the 2 sofas, the big one and the medium one.
After we had gotten the big one onto the truck; she increased it to 25 dollars for each of us; just as soon as we got the medium sized one ("a piece of cake") onto the truck.
I then had 72 bucks.
  • sharpie
  • better spotlight
  • tiposaurus
  • guitar repair
  • haircut
  • new harmonicas; different keys
  • shoelaces
  • AM/FM radio...and batteries...
  • Micro chip reader for camera to blog capability
I See The Light
The first thing I ran into was an LED headset flashlight -the kind that modern coal miners would wear.
I thought about snapping it up for the 3 dollar sale price; but wasn't sure what the effect of wearing the thing on my forehead would be; especially while playing harmonica. I could still tie it up into the vines along Lillys wall and train it down upon my "stage..."
25 Dollar Thursday Night
I got to the Lilly spot at a decent hour of around 8 and played 3 sets; broken by restroom and/or beer runs and was able make another 25 bucks or so.
As I was putting my flashlight/spotlight up in the vines, I fumbled it just as a couple of traveling-kid looking kids were passing.
"Darn it!" I said as I noticed that the cover had come off and the batteries come out.
"Do you need a light?" asked the female. They were both about 18 or 19.
"If I just broke this one, I do" I answered as I tried to put the batteries back in the right way.
My first attempt at that failed, and I was about to try reversing the polarities when the guy handed me what turned out to be a very nice and bright and probably at least 15 dollar flashlight and said "Merry Christmas."
The light wedged easily between a vine and the wall so that it shone down upon me and about a 5 foot circle around me.
I was relaxed and pretty much enjoying myself and doing music entirely of my own choosing; come what may...
Resist The Devil And He Will Flee
The "coincidence" has not been lost upon me of the seeming flow of blessing which began to come my way immediately after I punched out Leslie and severed ties with him.
I've had few chance encounters with him.
Once, I approached him upon Bourbon Street to inform him of the death of Jake, the street musician whom I would bet he at least was acquainted with; as they both have been here forever; and both frequent the streets.
He laughed in my face; a dry, cackling and sarcastic laugh.
I then saw the neck of the liquor bottle protruding from one of his pockets; noted that he was walking in the direction of his apartment and concluded that he had already achieved a satisfactory level of intoxication and thus was through with the world and everyone and everything in it; for the night, at least.
He had laughed at me probably because he thought that I was trying to skeeze some of whatever was in his pocket.
I walked away; thinking about how the news of a persons death hadn't even evoked any reaction, nonetheless; concern in the guy; and how counter that is to his "usual" persona.
I think "sociopath" is the term that they use....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prepare Ye

It is the day after Christmas....
Exactly one year ago, today, I had slept at the same spot, under the Natchez dock.
The weather was even colder (32 degrees with the wind chill) than it is today (about 55 degrees with no wind) then.
I had had "the worst Christmas ever," the day before.
Luckily, a year ago, I had made a 50 dollar tip a couple days before that holiday; off of a tourist who wanted to play alongside me as his wife shot a video; and had the freedom to lay bundled in blankets waiting for a warmer day to come along.
Low Expectations
Having experienced last years Christmas, I was able to avoid topping it and setting a new standard for "the worst Christmas ever," as all of the ingredients were there in abundance.

Few businesses were open.
The library and other places to get out of the cold were closed.
Few people were out; almost all of them with bah humbug scowls on their faces.
I "started" my Christmas by waking up under the Natchez dock and noticing that the boat was pretty much idle; the calliope hadn't played; they hadn't warmed up the steam (for 20 minutes); and nobody had taken the microphone to welcome everybody to the Natchez and inform them that it was indeed a steam boat; can run in 5 feet of water; once raced against the Robert E. Lee steamboat from New Orleans to St. Louis in 1870 (and lost); has had Mark Twain aboard, who then wrote about it, like I am doing...etc.
It was just sitting there.
Idleness Depressing
One of the things that has been depressing me lately, is the idleness I feel in myself when I am waiting for the darned boat to launch, so that I can emerge from my covert sleeping spot, then walk along the bottom of the bank of rocks (far left in photo) where I can only be seen by those at the foremost edge of the river walk; picking up a few scraps of driftwood, so that about 100 feet from the dock when I climb up; people will be fooled into thinking that that was all I was doing.
The feeling of stagnation comes from the fact that the boat doesn't launch until 11:45 a.m. and, sometimes by then, I have been under there for 12 hours; only 8 of which I had made "productive" by being asleep.
The Remedy
Part of the remedy has been to acquire a couple of good books, which I can read by using the reflection of the sun off of the water at certain spots, yet remain invisible to the Natchez crew.
Another part might be the acquisition of a cheap AM/FM radio, which would give me music from classical to classic rock, as well as news and opinion from the Outside World -stuff anybody would know about unless they lived "under a rock" or under a dock, I suppose.
Another thing that depresses me is being broke; or being close to it.
A Very Karrie Christmas
But, the good news would be that I had run into Karrie, the evening of December 24th, at The OZ hostel for homeless men, which serves a meal each evening at 6 p.m.
We wound up walking together; towards the French Quarter.
She mentioned the fact that she had lost about 35 pounds by quitting beer drinking.
We were approaching Brothers Market on Gravier and Baronne streets; and I had about 32 dollars on me.
"Can you drink brandy; to warm up?" I asked.
"Oh, I can still drink liquor," she answered.
I bit the bullet and (over)spent about 9 bucks on a pint of brandy; which she wound up refusing to partake of.
"It's just going to make me fat," was her non sequitur response after I offered her some.
It crossed my mind that she may have undergone hypnosis in order to kick alcoholism; and perhaps the suggestion which triggered her aversion to it hinged upon self-esteem issues surrounding her weight.
She stayed by my side as I took her into the French Quarter for her first time.
I showed her a few attractions, such as the Unique store, where the employees gave me covert winks and nods of approval at the sight of Karrie by my side.

We made it as far as Rouses Market, which caused her to express delight over the fact that there was more than one of those stores.
I told her about the chicken bags and the sandwiches etc. which they toss out (the OZ had only served a bologna sandwich and a piece of cake and a cup of water) and that seemed to peak her interest a bit.
It was a very cold night (high 20's) and I was thinking about my "accommodations" under the dock; wondering how she felt about rats, and the like.
I kissed her a few times which seemed ordained by some subconscious reaction to the particular place and time; and she kissed back and sighed with pleasure.
She told me that I looked "so good," (especially in my hat??) at one point.
But, then at about midnight, like Cinderella she shot off in the general direction of where we had come; after a brief goodnight.
It may have been because she was ready to break down and ask for a sip of brandy; or it may be just because she is Karrie; who believes that brandy will make her fat.......

Monday, December 23, 2013

All Day Bus Pass

I'm sitting on about 80 bucks.
Property Available
A guy named Jake, who used to sit on the corner of Orleans and Royal streets and who, in fact, kind of owned that spot; as I have never seen anybody else busking there; has died.
He died about 3 weeks ago now.
I noticed his absence immediately.
He would sit there every night from about 7:30 until about 10:00 p.m.
He would have his guitar next to him, but wouldn't be playing it.
He would have his harmonica and neck harness ready, but wouldn't be playing them.
He would figure that, if someone was in the mood to hear him play something; they would ask him to.
"Are you going to play something, or are you just babysitting someone's guitar??"
"What do you want to hear?"
"Do you know any blues?"
"Are you gonna tip me?"
"Here's 5 bucks to get you started..."
Jake always had a pint of whiskey within sight.
I asked him once if he would mind me playing on his spot, should I arrive at it and find him to be absent.
He told me that I would have to get the permission of the lady who runs the store in front of which he is in front of.
I may be able to do that; but will seriously have to compare the benefits between it and Lilly's step.
And Now....
I need to get an all day bus pass
then go to get a minor repair done on my guitar
then go and buy another tiposaurus
then a sharpie
then talk to a hair cutter about my hopelessly dreadlocked hair which might have to be cut off
then, to Radio Shack to see if my micro sd card reader is fried; and perhaps buy a replacement; so that I can take pics with my phone then put them on this blog....
then, maybe to look for headphones that fit my Android phone, thinking that I might be able to move my mp3 files off the mp3 player (with the battery which doesn't charge anymore) onto it...
then, maybe to get some new shoe laces...
and then, that will be enough running around for one day
I saw Karrie this morning, at The Rebuild Center.
She seems to be warming up to me.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Date With Lilly

  • Miracle Cure
  • Miraculous Find
  • The Psychiatric Evaluation
Starting In A Hole
Yesterday, I left the library and walked along my usual route, after posting what I thought was a pretty tedious account of my fight with Leslie...It certainly didn't read like a "thriller" to myself...
I had about 43 cents in my pocket, along with a few "worthless" coins, like an Australian one dollar coin.
I did want to get to the Lilly spot a bit early.
Another Man
There is another young black man, who now plays there in the afternoons; with Lillys blessing (until 8 o' clock; when he is to defer to me because "He was here first").
He is a decent singer and has a repertoire which fits in with the 20 somethings, of which group he is a member -songs, like "Love Is What I've Got," by some group which might be Sublime (or might as well be Sublime...)
What hinders him is the fact that he lets his guitar go quite noticeably out of tune.
He surprised me Wednesday afternoon, by doing "Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodaloo," by The Grateful Dead...and knowing all of the verses.
People were throwing him a few bills, and one told him that he sounded good; but if he invested in a guitar tuner; he would gain another "intangible" element.
I am not a rival of his and I support his efforts.
He asked me then: "Is it OK if I play a little longer?"
It was only about 5:45, and I quickly said "Sure!" and went off to Sidneys for my first beer of that day.
Yesterday, He wasn't there when I showed up around the same time.
I now start to "crane my neck" at around the intersection of St. Ann's and Bourbon streets, to see if he is on Lillys step.
Kill That Thing!
I repeated the mistake of starting to play too early and burning myself out by the time that I would normally be just starting -after only making a handful of change.
I wound up trading money off my food card for a couple of beers with someone at Rouses Market.
I was aware that my alarm had already been set for 7:18 a.m., so that I could make my appointment with the psychiatrist at The Rebuild Center.
I planned upon sacrificing busking time again, so that I could go to sleep early at the sign spot, which is a mile closer to Rebuild; and it was warm enough so that I didn't need any of the blankets which are (hopefully still) under the dock.
I went back for a second set and began playing "Light My Fire," by The Doors.
The swollen gland in my throat had been bothering me all night.
During the (extended) harmonica solo, a guy in a red shirt walked past and said "You need to kill that thing!"
He looked like a local; a cantankerous drunken local, but I wasn't sure of his intent.
His tone of voice could have suggested that, in order to do justice to that classic song; I needed to really get on the harmonica and "kill" the solo.
But, reading the other meaning that he was telling me to kill (the way you "kill the lights") the harmonica; my response was to up my volume and try to play the hell out of the solo.
I was putting "100%" into it when, during a note which I had drawn down viciously; I felt something rupture in my throat.
I could feel a thick, acidic liquid clogging my throat which felt like raw egg yolk mixed with vinegar; and the next couple lines that I sang only came out in a hoarse croak.
Eventually, my throat cleared; leaving it scratchy, though I could again sing; and the pain that had been nagging me, off and on for the past 2 months, was almost completely gone.
Today, I can feel it slightly, but that is probably because I didn't do myself any favor by eating the hamburger sub with the mayonnaise last night.
What hamburger?.... 
The Big Brown Bag
I then walked around, trying to catch a bit of the football game on a TV and, at one point, saw a brown shopping bag atop a trash can.
It was stapled shut and had an invoice stapled to it which stated that 2 Philly Steak; 2 Hamburger; and 2 Tuna sandwiches were contained; total $43.80.
I looked left and right, saw nobody; and then actually had to jettison some of the food which I already had in my pack in order to stuff the thing in; and went on my way.
The sandwiches were still warm (despite the fact that two cold cans of Coke and a bottled water were nestled in there with them; that I discovered in time to separate) .
I decided to find some skeezers and bless them with food.
Maybe it was because I had just had a miraculous healing, through the agency of someone who might have been trying to be negative, but whose energy I had turned into a positive manifestation; that I felt generous.
I was full after eating just one hamburger out of it, and didn't expect it to keep long.
I found first one guy; sitting with his sign.
I was almost embarrassed for him, due to the unoriginality of his sign.
He chowed down a Philly Steak, and was so genuinly appreciative that I realized that that is precisely the "payoff" which peop;le get
Then, a group of three.
As I was digging the sandwiches out; and thinking "This is the first time I've ever given anything to these bums!" I discovered a 20 dollar bill on the bottom of the bag.
If I had just eaten my fill and then thrown the rest out......
It is a mystery why The Quartermaster would bag up an order and include a fresh 20 along with the food and then staple it shut; and then leave it atop a trash can....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On The Card

  • More About The Bout
  • My Trip To Unity
  • Karrie
  • Quinsy
...Early To Rise
This morning, I woke up 25 minutes before my alarm was to go off.
I sat up and drank a Rock Star energy drink; knowing that 25 minutes would be just enough time to drift back sleep and then be rudely jolted by the thing when it went off.
At 6:30 a.m., the skies begin to brighten.
At 7:00 a.m., the first of the crew of the Natchez Steamboat arrive and begin to chatter.
I was out by around that time, and walked to the Rebuild Center to try to see the psychiatrist.
Unity With Unity Caseworker
Seeing the psychiatrist had been strongly recommended to my by my Unity caseworker, who is trying to find housing for me.
Yesterday, I walked the 3 miles to visit with him; after having procrastinated for months in doing so.
Psych Out
The psychiatrist was not in; but will be tomorrow.
I will have to either repeat the process of being asleep by 10 p.m., missing out on an opportunity to make money (I woke up almost broke), or play late into the night and then try to jolt myself awake with caffeine and guarana and yerba mate and B vitamins.
Rats Fighting Over My Blanket
I woke up pretty depressed this morning, and figured that that would give the shrink and I fodder for conversation.
The mother rat was atop my feet fighting off some other contender for the space early in the morning; my throat is continuing to nag me; I'm a middle aged man sleeping under a wharf...pick a topic, doc...
What The Doctor Gets Paid For 
I think, after talking to me, he will be able to ascertain that there is "something" wrong with me, either because I haven't cashed a paycheck since 2006, or because I let rats sleep on my blanket, or because I have procrastinated for months in availing myself to a free place to stay; a voucher to purchase furniture with; another one to fill the refrigerator with food with, etc., according to The Clappers*, whom I spoke with outside of Rouses Market, Tuesday night, after Leslie's "goons" had threatened me on Bourbon Street, 3 days after we had fought.
Leslie kind of disappeared from the scene for a couple days after the fight.
He was seen at The Rebuild Center on Monday but, according to reports, was "really quiet and didn't talk to anyone.
Goon Squad
He had apparently talked to someone by Tuesday night, when I was accosted by his friends, Adam and (someone else) as I made my way towards the Lilly spot, half thinking of playing.
"Good luck with that!" said someone whom I thought was just one of those drunks that yell random things at people and objects.
"Good luck with that!" he repeated as he fell in alongside me.
I thought he was predicting that I wasn't going to make anything busking.
"Good luck with that!" I shot back at him; taking him in from head to foot.
He then went on to tell me that he was a friend of Leslie, and that he looked out for him and stood up for him.
He was about my size, but maybe 25 years younger than I.
He was soon joined by another guy, who was a bit larger.
Emboldened by the second guys presence along with a third guy (Jack Daniels, or Evan Williams, maybe Jim Beam) he told me that he might just "throw some shots" at me.
The ambiguity suggesting that "shots" might be punches...or worse.
At one particular intersection, the two tried to coax me off Bourbon Street (where any kind of disturbance would be instantly quelled) and off onto a side street. "Let's talk about this," said the smaller one, as he pulled my sleeve in that general direction.
I pulled away from him; asked him who the hell he was ("Adam,") and then walked along trying to decide which coarse of action to take.
"You're over abusive!" he yelled at my back (as if there is a proper and acceptable level of abuse to anyone).
Post Fight Blessings
After fighting with Leslie on Saturday night, it seemed like a lot of blessings had come my way.
I mentioned immediately finding a whole cigarette on the corner opposite the store which Leslie has been barred from (no big deal, yet symbolic), and then having a random guy pass me a lit joint out of nowhere, and then another random guy passing me a playing card (the king of diamonds), saying something like "something told me to give you this."
When I went back to the scene to see if anything else had fallen out of my pockets or bag during the scuffle, I found the green plastic lion which had been hanging around Leslies neck laying almost under a vehicle.
I put the lion and the king of diamonds together and stuffed them halfway into his mailbox.
The Lion King
He uses a Queen of diamonds to cover the drain in his bathroom sink (to thwart roaches from coming up out of it?) and I thought that the lion plus the king would send him some kind of ambiguous message.
My first action, after determining that the Lilly spot was pretty dead and not worth playing, should Leslie have told Adam and company where I play; where I sleep, etc so that they could mount some kind of "retaliation," was to leave a note in that same mailbox.
A Note To Leslie
I basically apologized for hitting "the Leslie whom I considered one of my best friends and with whom I've had some of the most fun that I've had in NOLA" and then went on to caution him against inciting retaliation against me by misrepresenting the facts.
I recapitulated those facts to jolt his memory; told him that it could have been worse, had I employed my knife during the incident and/or came back to toss a "Molotov cocktail" into the front apartment of his hundred-year-old wooden house -something I graciously talked myself out of after I had taken a walk to calm down and recover my breath and then played so well at Lillys spot.
During that walk, I wondered how well I was going to be able to play...I just punched out my best friend; now I'm going to break out the guitar...Should I sing "All You Need Is Love," or "Aquarius"?!?
I also berated the "other" Leslie who comes out of him after he consumes not many Hurricanes.
I had a feeling of liberation with the knowledge that I was in a position to be free of the guy -for the rest of my life if I wanted.
All I would have to do would be to continue to ignore him and he would understand, and would think: "I guess he'll never speak to me again...I don't blame him..."
I continued to play well on Sunday and Monday; and I found things musical laying around in places; like a hard binder for my notebooks full of lyrics and chords and studies.
The universe seemed to be telling me to forget about the guy and focus upon music.
I Circle My Wagons
After being threatened then deciding not to play Tuesday night; I wanted find the goons and tell them straight up that Leslie had started the fight and to add some of the details which may not have come out in his rendition of the story..
But, I didn't want to have the handicap of my guitar and backpack around my neck making me more vulnerable.
I went to Rouses Market to ask my friends there if I could stash my stuff while I walked Bourbon, looking for the goons.
Tiffany and Trevi, two black female cashiers were of one mind in telling me to not even say anything to them.
Brian Hudson showed up and agreed; asking me: "Has anyone ever been beaten up by Leslies friends after he got beaten up when he deserved it...that you know of?"
Then, The Clappers, who are a heavyset black couple and their 6 year old daughter who clap their hands and sing gospel songs arrived; and similarly tried to dissuade me from seeking out the goons.
They rather tried to encourage me to go directly to Unity and let them help me to get a place to live and get off the streets and to rise above the whole situation.
I decided that I would do just that the next day (yesterday); but that I would still walk Bourbon Street.
I left my stuff at the store and went in search of the goons.
I felt very light and agile without the customary load on my back.
Having thrown and punted the football around and then fought so strenuously 4 days prior and then recovered; I felt stronger, too.
I never spotted his friends, but did see Leslie skulking up and down the street with no drink in his hand and with his head down.
He looked like he had lost his only friend; but I didn't see any black eyes or bruises.
I passed him 3 times, as I had decided to walk back and forth that many times; but he pretended not to see me.
He must have wondered what had happened to my guitar and my pack.

I was prepared to tell him that Adam and his friend had jumped me earlier and stolen them; just to see his reaction.
I was getting a beer at Brothers Market after each pass before doubling back, but he was (barely) pretending not to see them either.
I ended up back at Rouses, seeing what kind of fresh food had been tossed out; when I spotted him the final time.
He was looking in the trash bin outside Pat O' Briens across the street -one of the spots which I had shown him to be good for finding half full drinks.
The (Half) Reconciliation
Last night, I saw him once again, standing on a corner on Bourbon; and decided to speak to him.
I had an almost full 25 oz. can of Hurricane in my hand.
His were empty.
"Are you still coming after me?" I asked "Because, if you're going to attack me, I'll just keep moving..."
"That was weird," he said.
I thought he was referring to what I had just said.
"What was?"
"What happened."
"Did you read my note?"
"I just read the first line and the last line; I didn't read the middle part. I don't like sad stories," he said; referring to things like Molotov cocktails or what would happen to his friends if they unwittingly tried to come under the pitch-dark dock which is booby-trapped with crunchy empty sushi containers...."...crab and catfish food..."
He told me that I was a bigger man than he for apologizing, but expressed concern that I might have killed him. "When you hit me in the left temple, you could have ruptured a blood vessel and killed me! Do you want to kill me? Rough me up a bit, but don't kill me!" he finished with, and patted me on the shoulder.
...So, that's where the "over abusive" came from...
While we talked, I spotted the bigger goon, who started to come towards us; but then stopped in his tracks and feigned to be talking to one of the hot dog cart vendors.
He must have seen the smile on Leslies face and "called off the dogs himself."
Let's go drink beer!, said Leslie.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I've Got A Lot On My Head


I haven't seen nor heard from Leslie since we had a fist fight in the street in front of his place Saturday night.

Phase One; Darn It!!
  • A Parcel From London
  • My Fight Against Leslie
  • My Throat
  • The Wharf Rats
First off, I have gotten a message from the Lidgleys of London that they are trying to send me a parcel for Christmas; but that they have not received my e-mail telling them where they can send it.
I have received an e-mail from my carrier telling me that my mail has been undeliverable for the past 5 days, due to a server problem somewhere.
So: Since I know that they can still see this blog...
Daniel McKenna
1803 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
USA
Is the address; and now all of you readers can send me Christmas parcels if you would like!
(Just don't insinuate that I am using this blog in order to skeeze online LOL!)
Alas, The Rebuild Center, which is located at that address will close on December 24th and not reopen until January 2nd.
I have a feeling that it may be a New Years parcel; not to underestimate the Royal Mail service...

Yesterdays "Audience"
Malaysia
32
United States
18
Germany
3
United Kingdom
3
Mexico
2
China
1
Ireland
1
Romania
1
All of you in Malaysia, who read yesterday are welcome, too, as well as whomever it is in China whose radar picks up any mention of a certain Chinese violinist whom I mentioned yesterday.
Back To The Present...
The Wharf Rats
I had heard that rats are intelligent.
Last night, I found out first hand; as the rats who live under the dock where I sleep began to rattle the empty plastic food containers; creating crinkly sounds.
I often open one and place it about 20 feet from where I lay; and will hear it being consumed; and after that; silence, and no close encounters.
I keep the uneaten ones up on the girders where they can't get them; as the dock is specifically engineered to be rat resistant; and they just can't jump that high.
It crossed my mind, as I lay under my 3 blankets, to take one down and throw it over to the feeding spot which I have designated. The food has kept pretty well these past few cold days and had began to pile up some.
The one which I am familiar with, which is about the size of an eggplant, approached to within 3 feet from me; wiggling its nose in a manner which suggested that it was skeezing me. 
After all it is a New Orleans rat and has probably picked up on the local customs.
I took down a turkey and Swiss po boy container, opened it just about handed it to him (after taking a little bite, myself).
I could hear it being devoured in the darkness.
A few minutes later, I felt squirrel-like paws tentatively padding over me, and looked to see the eggplant sized rat and two babies nestling at the foot of my blankets, in a cranny. The babies emitted high pitched squeals periodically like new born mice do.
I guess they figured that I had fed them and they were then my pets.
They scattered whenever I stirred or reached for anything around me, but were soon back and I forgot about them and went to sleep myself...
My Throat
I went to see the doctor again at The Rebuild Center about my throat, which is still swollen on the left side; had gotten better, but then worse; and which still irritates me whenever I swallow.
I swallow more often because of it; the way some people just can't leave a scab alone and will keep picking at it.
The doctor now thinks that the swelling may be due to a tooth in my lower jaw which has some decay in it.
The tooth isn't painful, but he said that it didn't have to be; nor infected; in order to cause swelling in the throat. I suppose my Adams apple is rubbing on the swollen area.
When it is at its worse; it bothers me when I play harmonica and I have to make an effort to ignore it and focus upon the music. Eating my forbidden foods has a negative effect upon it.
"In The Summer"
The doctor referred me to (LSU) University Hospital, where I was told that I could make an appointment at the dental clinic; but that it would be for "in the summer" sometime.
The alternative to that is to go through the emergency room and have a doctor examine me; to determine weather or not I will be dead by then from it; and perhaps move me up on the schedule.
Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
Phase Two
He had invited me to a barbecue, hosted by Paul and Mark, whom he works for, though hasn't recently.
This was Leslie in phase one, or, the "morning" Leslie who was anxious to get there and drink beer and throw the football around and eat chicken and sausages.
All this we did and a splendid time was had by all.
Then, we got back to the Quarter and Paul and Mark were not finished reveling and the 4 of us were soon at a bar, drinking liquor.
This sent Leslie into phase three; evidenced by a polar change in his demeanor when he began to cuss and repeat "I just want to go home and go to sleep."
He wasn't enjoying any of it; the company; the music, not even the liquor.
His friend, Paul, seems to have a certain patience and skill in handling him when he is in this phase. 
He repeatedly calmed him down by telling him things like "Nobody is bothering you Leslie. The bartender is not giving you dirty looks. It's Saturday night, we're in the French Quarter; you're with friends; let's enjoy some good music and drink! Look at all the pretty women!"
But "I just want to go home and go to sleep" eventually prevailed.
I had to accompany him to his place to get my guitar and backpack, which I had left there, so as to be less encumbered as I walked and so that I could feel the rare sense of walking around without them on my back in general...and, admittedly, so we would be able to go inside the bar.
Leslie was stumbling and slurring his speech and kept forgetting why I was walking along with him.
It was an ironic twist on his first phase when I "wonder" why he follows me around in the mornings when I have money.
Get It And Go!
We got to his place and he immediately flopped down upon his bed after finding a football broadcast on his radio.
The best thing for me to have done at that point would have been to ask him to let me out of his gate before he passed out, but I didn't.
The game was interesting; I was half as drunk as he; and I sat and listened to it as he slept.
Then, he woke up. Angry and cussing and complaining.
He threw his refrigerator door open and said "I'm getting rid of all of this. I'm throwing it all out!" referring to the food which I had given him.
I was kind of offended and said "Well, you can throw me out at the same time; I want to go and play in front of Lillys."
This further angered him and he replied "You don't have to ask twice!"
He threw open his front door and yelled at me to get out, calling me all kind of derogatory things.
I couldn't "get out" unless he opened the front gate to let me, and I reminded him of that detail.
He made no move to open the gate, but kept me fenced in, while he continued to berate me.
"You left a cigarette butt in the sink?!? You cussed me out in my own house?!"
"Just let me the hell out!" I yelled. "This is false imprisonment; this is kidnapping; you're breaking the law!" I added, trying that approach.
I threatened to knock him out and take his key and let myself out.
"Oh, if you knock me out; you won't wake up tomorrow!" he threatened back.
I finally began to scale the 12 foot high fence after hanging my stuff from the top spires.
He held his phone to his ear and made a show of talking on it, telling an imaginary 911 operator that he had "an unruly house guest who doesn't want to leave," right as I was in the very act of climbing up and over to break out of the place.
I got over the top as he yelled that I was vandalizing the gate.
I landed on the sidewalk and pulled my pack and my guitar down after me in the same time that it took him to unlock the gate and come charging out.
He pushed me back and then stood between me and my stuff.
"You're not taking this stuff with you!"
He had finally pushed the wrong button by standing between me and just about everything that I own; along with my means of acquiring any more.
"The hell, I'm not!" I said, as I bent down to grab my stuff.
It was then that he swung his fist and hit the side of my face.
The next thing that happened was: I gave him a violent shove; and his mouth dropped open in surprise just before my fist hit it; cutting my hand on one of his teeth; and this was followed rapid-fire by another punch to his forehead, which made the sound of and felt like punching a cantaloupe (go figure).
This seemed to stun him; but he didn't go down; not even after I caught him again with my left fist.
I was trying to knock him out.
I feared for my livelihood; I wouldn't have put it past him, at that point, to have smashed my guitar on the sidewalk should he have prevailed over me and so I went all out trying to disable him.
He managed to grab both sleeves of my outer sweatshirt and attempted to get me on the ground with some kind of judo move; but I kept my balance and used my own jujitsu move on him which I learned in the 8th grade whereby I hooked my foot behind is left ankle and shoved his left shoulder simultaneously; and he went down; but pulled me on top of him.
Then he held on to the sleeves of my sweatshirt tenaciously and whimpered "You really hurt me!" as if surprised.
Well, I finally freed myself from his grasp (he almost came after me again after he stood up) and was able to grab my own stuff and leave.
I was very much winded and sweating profusely in my winter garb.
I got to the next corner and realized that my hat had fallen off during the scuffle.
I saw him headed towards the trash can with it in his hand, and when he saw me, he flung it like a Frisbee; probably trying to lose it over someones wall, but it landed close to me, and I retrieved it and once again left the area.
Messing with my hat had been the cause of  my last confrontation with a skeezer, but I just wanted to get out of there.
On the very next corner, I found a whole cigarette.
Then someone walked up to me and handed me a joint.
Then someone handed me a playing card; the king of diamonds...

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Am


On My Way To The Bust
  • Thursday, Continued
  • 1 Dollar Friday
  • Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
  • The Lidgley Parcel
  • Surviving Below 40 After 50
It is Monday afternoon.
I woke up this morning; under the dock and wrapped in the new heavy blanket which had been given to me outside of the Veaux Carre Baptist church at about 9:30 p.m. the prior night; along with the other fleece throw which had been handed to me by a random young lady; and the 2 blankets which I already had.
I had been pretty warm and slept pretty well; secure in the knowledge that I was out of Leslies apartment until further notice and was none the worse for it.
4 Day Recap 
Thursday night, after I encountered Brian Hudson playing on the corner of Royal and St. Louis streets; I eventually sat on the curb by him.
He began to play "Hallelujah," by Leonard Cohen.
I took my guitar out and discovered that I was in tune with his guitar (having tuned to my harmonica) and was soon able to pick out the chord progression to that song.
Him being amplified and standing almost directly in front of his speaker; I was pretty sure that he couldn't hear me; and, if he could I would be in pitch with what he was playing.
The song ended and I wanted to run through the changes to cement them in my mind; but found that I had not organized the song into a pattern. The fact that I had my capo on shifted the dots on the neck to where they usually aren't.
I ran through the keys quickly, trying to relocate the chords which I had only moments before had down.
"You know, Daniel, that's very distracting," said Brian.
I didn't know if he was referring to me fumbling through the keys and thinking "Now, where were those chords again?" or if he meant that he had heard me playing along with him out of the corner of his ears and that it had distracted him.
On a night when I had only made a couple dollars at that point; it was just enough discouragement to spur me to bag up my instrument and walk off without saying goodbye.
Then, I remembered that I had done that after one of our first meetings and that he had alluded to it the next time I had seen him.
I was taking out my musical frustrations by being a jerk in that way after a day which had begun with whiskey for breakfast (see below).
Some musicians are distracted by some things which others aren't.
Tanya and Dorise just smile when someone walks up and plays along...unless he is blocking their tip basket; that will "distract" them...so it goes.
Another Day; Another 20 Dollar Bill
I went directly to the Lilly spot where I experienced an almost instant replay of the previous night.
I made a few single dollars here and there; and then a guy walked up and gave me 20 dollars; after listening to me tear through "Hey Jude," by The Beatles..
Once Bitten...

I had learned a lesson about Leslie the previous morning after I had rung his buzzer and found him to be sitting in his room doing absolutely nothing, and had asked him: "A lady gave me 20 bucks and I wound up making 24, do you want to run to Esplanade and get a couple beers?"
I hadn't had to ask twice.
That turned out to be a fun time, and we retired as friends.
But, the next morning, he was keeping me on a short leash. ...Is he thinking about the change which the guy at the store had handed back to me???
After he unlocked the front gate to let me out (I'm sorry; let us out. It's "us" when "we" have money...) he began his now familiar "shadowing" of me; or "tailing" me, if you will.
Step for step. ...so, what are your plans for today, Leslie? I felt like asking.
Twice Shy
His now familiar morning banter began, with him talking about all his prospects for making money in the near future..."Paul might have some work for me tomorrow....I need to check back with the Po Boy place; they said after Thanksgiving they might hire me...Maybe I can borrow money from Mark if he's working today...etc"
All of which were the now familiar hints that he wanted me to continue to spend my money on alcohol -first thing in the morning, no less.
He was very distracted; answering any comment which I made with "Really?" after a few seconds delay during which he seemed to be working out a complex problem in his mind; and thus, only half listening; and walking with his head down.
"There's Lillys SUV, she must be home..."
"Really?.....oh, Lilly's home, huh?"
"Yeah, Leslie there's her SUV right in front of us..."
Friday Morning
I had appeared at his door Friday morning, after having been thrown the same amount of 24 dollars after playing the same time slot of about 2 hours.
We repeated the excursion to The Esplanade Market, and retired as friends again.
In the morning, Leslie once again began to repeat the exact same actions which had resulted in myself buying us whiskey and beer at our first stop.
Things such as rattling the change which was all that he had left over from the 100 dollars which he had gotten only 5 days prior and lamenting "Oh, darn...darn it!" and pacing back and forth as I was bagging up my stuff and getting ready to go out, for example).
Thursday morning, I had caved in, and had regretted it later.
Whiskey first thing in the morning had lead to me continuing to drink and becoming irascible 12 hours later, walking by Tanya and Dorise with just a curt wave and a sour face; and having been rude to Brian Hudson, for example.
Leslie began to shadow me; again, with his head down..."darn it..."
I finally just had to break away from him.
It felt like someone had put a turn-key in my back and was winding it tighter and tighter.
I started to feel like if I didn't get a drink, I was going to go crazy.
Then, I caught myself in this thought pattern and realized that Leslie was probably absolutely trying to drive me to drink; just by his demeanor.
He may have been chanting "...buy alcohol;...buy alcohol..." in his head as we walked, for all I know.
"I'm not going to repeat the mistake I made yesterday," I told him.
I broke away from him at a certain corner and headed for Rouses Market, where I encountered Paul and the rest of Doreens Jazz Band.
I really felt like a heel; as if I had been mean to the guy. I still had about 16 of the 24 dollars which I had made the previous night on me.
I thought about going back to Bourbon Street to intercept him. "Do you really need a beer, Leslie? Come on, let's get some! ...I can't treat a friend like this...
"I truly think that Leslie was trying to drive me to drink this morning, using psychological ploys which he has mastered," I said to Paul.
His smile seemed to say: "That sounds like Leslie."
Football Tournament
Then, I went to the Superdome spot because there was a high school football tournament going on, where state championships were to be decided.
It was a bust because, due to the relatively small crowd compared to when the Saints play; all of the cars which arrived fit into the parking garage attached to the stadium and no additional lots were open; no vendors were out; and after I left; no buskers...