Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fill Your Heart

I woke up this morning at the sign spot; at about 11 AM.
I tried to gauge how tired I felt.
I remembered running into Johnny B (the clean guy) who was playing across from the Hotel Monteleone. It was about 1:30 AM.
He had a Russian guy pestering him to play music, but who wasn't tipping him.
The Russian guy spoke no English, and so, used hand signals to try to tell me to take my guitar out and play along with Johnny. I would have, if my guitar wasn't tuned one half step down from "concert pitch."
Plus, the Russian guy wasn't tipping.
He eventually went across the street and into the hotel where rooms are about $275 per night.
Johnny once again invited me to crash at his place, which is somewhere nearby, on Girod Street.
I once again declined, valuing my solace, and thinking about whatever food I had hanging in the trees; and about sitting up in the morning sipping coffee and poring through my sheet music magazines; practicing and writing and working on getting organized.
Johnny and I harmonize well together on songs like "Losing My Religion," by R.E.M.
He had made over 50 bucks with his microphone and his amp and the little button on the amp which is labelled "effects" and which might as well say "tips," with a slider to increase or decrease them, commensurate with the amount of reverberation saturation you add or subtract.
I think a lot of non musicians think that the really great singers have voices which just echo and reverberate naturally (that's how you can tell an amateur from a pro).

Tuesday night was about the 5th "break even" day which I have had in a row.
I have been waking up hung over and slightly depressed, but with the same 32 dollars and change which I had woken up with the day before.
It's a holding pattern fraught with peril as, all major purchases need to be put off; as time goes by.
I am listening to Hunky Dory, by David Bowie.

I left at about noon, to use a restroom somewhere; one of the drawbacks of the sign spot is its lack of privacy

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

David Kind Of Night

I took Monday night off, so I could watch football, but then was in the mood to play some, which I did and I broke even money-wise...
I tried to draw David the water jug player, whom I hung out with; and who was very generous with his liquor and weed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stand Down Saturday

Saturday morning, I woke up at 8:30 in the morning, remembering that there was to be a "homeless veterans stand down" at the VA Center.
 I kept hitting "snooze" until it was about 10 AM, when I finally went to the place and stood in line.
I got to the front of the line and was told that, since I don't have a VA card, I needed to get in a different line.
At the front of the different line, I was told that I had to go inside to one of the offices, where my veterans status could be verified.
Then, once inside, I was told that it would be easier for me to just get in line with the non veterans.
I eventually made my way to the tents where clothing and duffel bags were being distrubuted, and wound up with one pair of pants that I like, 2 more which I may never wear, because they are gray in color, some socks and underwear.
Getting Me Off The Streets?
I was asked by a lady, who had the "Unity" logo on her shirt, if I was indeed homeless and a veteran.
I explained to her my tenuous status as a veteran, having served during the Reagan years, when 3 year enlistments were thought up to entice more to join; leaving me just short of having the required amount of active duty needed to avail myself to any kind of benefits.
"That doesn't matter," said the Unity lady; who then told me that it was very important that I talk to her because there is a huge push to get the veterans off the streets of New Orleans, right now.
Sunday A Bust
Sunday was pretty much a bust, as I waited for the Sunday Night Football game to kick off at 8:30 PM, at the Super Dome.
Coffee With Karrie
I spent a couple hours hanging out in Starbucks with Karrie.
I had run into her on Canal Street. She is still sober, and has been for "a long time," she said. She drinks a lot of coffee, now.
I bought her a large coffee out of the 43 dollars which I had found stuffed in a pocket of my backpack that morning.
I had played Saturday night in 3 sets of about an hour each at the Lilly spot, stuffing excess bills in the pocket and keeping about 7 or 8 dollars "showing."
Twice I had decided to knock off, but then changed my mind and returned so that I played for a total of about 3 hours and, I guess, about 40 bucks...... The last one ended around 2 AM.

I then went and only caught the tail end of the incoming crowd for the game; then watched most of the game at the big Rouses Market down the street; while swilling Fosters Lager; and I was a wreck by the time the exiting masses were passing me.
I wailed on the harmonica and might have made back what I spent that day.

Now it is Monday and it looks slow out there.....

I want the get the USB microphone and the battery for the laptop and get back into recording..


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tweaking The Blog

I went into the "post template" part of the Blogger settings, and my words should appear slightly larger from here on in; if what I did worked.
Friday was a farce.
Leslie Thompson came into town, broke, and with one week before another installment of $504 dollars is paid to him.
He had bought me 2 harmonicas out of his first check; so I invited him to, by all means come to the Quarter after work, and I would buy him a few beers and make sure he had bus fare home.
This gave me an excuse to drink excessively.
Leslie was blubbering away by 10 PM, sitting next to me as I played and blubbering over what I was playing; as if he thought that I could hold a conversation and sing original songs simultaneously.
We broke off shortly thereafter, myself kind of rudely complaining to him about the difficulty imposed by his talking while I was playing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sobering Wednesday

A transaction on your Balance Financial Prepaid MasterCard account for $5.00 at UNIQUE GROCERY STORE NEW ORLEANS LA has been approved. The current available balance on your card account is $4.23.
The above was waitng for me in my e-mail box, as a gruesome reminder of the past evening.
Tuesday night was a farce.
I ran into David the water jug player, and wound up drinking and jamming with him and only making a dollar but letting him talk me into hitting up my debit card for the above purchase of a pint of vodka.
Then, he started bumming cigarettes, though he had never smoked them before.
Then, he wanted me to give him what was left of the pint of vodka as I was leaving.
It is almost time to stop drinking, once again. Drunk and broke is no way to go through life.
Answering Comments:
"A big problem with your page lately is, when someone goes to it, a huge ad loads that opens a 2nd browser window and covers the whole page.

They'd better be paying you plenty!"

The Ad
Yes, I have noticed myself that a second window automatically opens, at times, when I go to my own blog.
I have gotten it to stop doing so by disabling Adobe Flash (by clicking on the square shaped icon to the immediate left of "https:" in the address box on the main page, and then clicking on "disable.")
I believe this setting will be remembered by individual computers and the annoying second window won't pop up at the next visit.
Blog Not Flash Intensive
In my blog posts I have "included" Adobe Flash code only when I've posted a link to a video which is hosted on Youtube.
Youtube A Trojan Horse?
I believe Youtube tries to load Adobe Flash along with the video content; so that the video can have all the latest bells and whistles. Or, so they will be able to bombard the viewer with ads popping up which require Flash to run on. I think all the ultra modern ads take advantage of its functionality. Perhaps the ones which load themselves automatically and then start themselves, complete with audio (so that you have to mute your speakers, if you are in the library) run on it...

Disabling it will only cause the Youtube video frames to contain a dialogue box, telling you that Flash is "required to view this content" and asking you if you want to enable it.
If you want to watch the one stupid video of me practicing in a noisy locale, then, by all means enable Flash. But remember to disable it before leaving the blog, or you will be redirected to an ad the next time you visit...

I always get  an ad for a course in "self publishing," offering to teach me, for around 30 bucks, the ropes and the ins and outs of getting "that novel" off of ones hard drive, and into the hands of people sitting under umbrellas in lawn chairs at the beach.

Your ad may vary...
 I would be interested in hearing about what kind of ads pop up for different people, for the sake of trying to infer what the associations of the contents are to the person getting the ad.

I have generally ruled out the possibility that the ads are culled from the "search terms" used by an individual, to serf the web with Google.  I would be getting ads for Chinese dating services, and not for self publishing. *wink *wink


Maybe I see the self publishing ad because I am a blog "author."
Maybe I see it because, in my blog profile, I describe myself as a writer.
Maybe it's because in my Google profile, I list "writing" as an interest.
The ad is a pain in the ass; and I don't mean maybe.

This started within the past month.
Somebody might be trying to make money off of blogs in general, if it is happening to everybodys blog; or mine specifically; if I have perhaps exceeded some kind of threshold of hits (80,000?) or number of, and "range" of visitors (40 somewhat regular readers from Turkey to Taiwan; Big Flats, New York to Little Rock, Arkansas ...Orange, Massachusetts to Apple Valley, California...Las Cruces, New Mexico to Corpus Cristi, Texas...)

Your ad may vary...

It is Wednesday afternoon, and I am pondering selling off some of my food card money as, I had to wait 2 weeks for my replacement card to arrive intact and, during that time the money had been piling up so that I now have about 185 dollars with only a half a month left.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time To Go Out

A Year Ago Today
A year ago, today, I had just started hanging out with Leslie Thompson, after having been acquainted with him for a while, but never having hung out.
We had our first jams with guitar and 2 harmonicas; which had gone well; but then for the ensuing ones, Leslie showed up too drunk, and wound up laying on the sidewalk, while I played; my tip jar suffering from having someone laying on the sidewalk next to me.
Tuesday (today)
This morning, I woke up to my alarm, which was set for 8:38 AM.
I had $1.75 in my pocket; and a prepaid debit card which has a balance of $15.51 on it.
I stuffed my extra clothing into my pack, cleaned the trash from my spot; folded the cardboard and put it up in the trees; leery of southern flannel moths the whole time; and then headed for The Rebuild Center, to check the mail.
My replacement food stamp card had arrived with about $195 on it.
Karrie was there.
I came to the library and ripped some CDs to my hard drive, such as "2013 Grammy Nominees," and Marvin Gaye "Super Hits."
Now it is the evening and I am about to go out. I ran into Bilal, who gave me a few dollars.


Monday, October 20, 2014

20 Dollar Saturday

20 Dollar Saturday Night
Saturday night was pretty much routine and forgettable. I played for a couple hours and then knocked off after I broke a string.
The "Daniel" Jam With Tanya And Dorise
On my way to the spot, I stopped to see Tanya and Dorise. They began to play "Daniel," by Elton John, whereupon I joined in with my brand new harp in the key of C.
I thought I played alright, but Dorise said: "You played some weird notes in there; I mean they weren't like 9ths or anything.
This started me wondering; as I walked away; if I was so drunk that I hadn't realized that my pitch was off; or if the notes which I chose to play, despite being in pitch, just didn't fit the harmony the way Dorise heard it; or what.
I have heard that song countless times since it came out in 1973; and I might have been trying to play the "flute melotron" part on the original recording. If T&D learned the song out of a fake book the melotron part might have sounded foreign to them.
It had bugged me enough that I made my first stop Sunday morning at their playing spot, so I could ask Dorise about the comment.
She acted as if she hardly remembered the jam, like it was water under the bridge. "You're reading way too deeply into what I said..." she said and added that musicians play all kinds of notes all the time; and that it just had happened to sound to her like I might have picked the wrong key of harp. The song is in the key of C; but I might not have played straight "first position" stuff, which would "fit" better.
Or it could have been the alcohol.
"You're going to have to do your own comparison of playing drunk versus sober," said Dorise.
Tanya remained mum. She would have said that either she couldn't really hear me; or that it hadn't sounded "that" bad, I imagine.
I woke up for the final time Sunday at about 12:30 PM, realizing as I did that I had about 19 dollars on me; plus 17 on my prepaid debit card; and I had an urge to run to the restroom; and that the football games had already kicked off.
After I came out of McDonalds; I grabbed a 16 ounce Coors and watched a little of the Saints game from the sidewalk across the street from The Unique Grocery.
I had wanted to sit at my spot and break out the copies of Sheet Music Magazine which I have and practice for a while; but the football games were just compelling enough to keep me there. 
David the water jug player was in the area.
I blogged at Starbucks until almost 9 PM, while monitoring the games online; and then started the 10 block walk to my playing spot.
I made about 20 bucks on an otherwise forgettable night.
Well, it is Monday; and I woke up with 3 dollars and change in cash; and about 13 dollars on my prepaid debit card. And an urge to run to the rest room.
I had chowed down upon a turkey and cheese sandwich; by the Rouses Market bins. The bins being very barren; as if the employees have decided to keep all of the sandwiches and other edibles inside the store; for the incoming morning crew to dispose of.
It is hard to guess why this occurs at times; but people who dig through and leave a mess may have something to do with it.
Then, walking up Canal Street, I found a large plastic container with a transparent lid which was over a large fruit salad, of honeydew melon and cantaloupe and strawberries and a couple kinds of cheese in cubes a little bigger than dice.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Off The Wagon

Thursday evening, I left Starbucks; walking past David the water jug player on my way towards The Unique Grocery.
I hovered around there like a hummingbird for a while before deciding to go in and get a Mikes Hard Lemonade.
I actually got it in the can, and not the bottle shown.
I stepped out onto the edge of the sidewalk and cracked it open.
The phone in my right pocket began to ring; so coincident with the sound of the can opening, that it sounded like the ring tone began with a "psssst!""
It was Leslie Thompson (shown above; the very next night; but I will hopefully get to that).
Leslie was waiting for his money to arrive; hoping that it would be electronically wired to his plastic card at midnight; as he was told it would; by his employers.
He was close by. I told him where I was. He showed up a couple minutes later.
"I just had my first sip of alcohol in 6 days," I said to him.
"Oh, 6 days....that's good!" he said; and I wondered what he meant was good; the 6 days or the fact that I was drinking again.
He was broke; and would be for the next 2 hours.
I bought him 2 Hurricane Lagers, out of the approximately 45 dollars which I had.
He was in a pickle. He had to be at an employee meeting with his company at 9 AM the coming morning.
The last bus ran at 11:30 PM.
If he waited for midnight, hoping to get his money; then he would need to take a cab back to his house; so that he could get some rest and be ready for his meeting.
36 Dollar Thursday
Well, I made my way towards the Lilly spot; Leslie in tow; but the mood to play struck me across the street from Rouses Market; where I took out my brand new C harmonica and played what I thought was some pretty cool stuff; with "Because," by the Beatles being a highlight.
Leslie stood by; periodically checking his watch.
Midnight came and I had not been thrown any tip money in the 30 minutes that I played.
Leslie checked upon his money. It wasn't there.
He checked again; and again.
After 1 AM, I went and got food out of the bins.
I had gotten another beer out of Rouses Market before they had closed at 1 AM, and I shared it with Leslie.

I began to walk in the general direction of the sign spot to sleep; Leslie at my heels.
I think that he was just at a loss for what to do and wasn't particularly following me with the aim of sharing whatever beer I might purchase along the way; as I have accused him of doing in the past.
We broke off, at a certain point. I had shown him a spot on Conti Street where a huge steel grate oozes warm air; and one can actually survive the temperatures of winter here by sitting on that grate. A dozen or more homeless people did just that, last February.
Leslie Obtains 504 Dollars
I had just gotten to the sign spot; after a zero dollar night when I had spent an extra few dollars on Leslie; when my phone rang and it was him.
"My money's there, do you want to party?"
I was then headed back to the Unique Store to rendezvous with he, and the 504 dollars which was then on his plastic card.
But, not before passing the Ritz-Carlton hotel, where a couple stood, who turned out to be from Canada and who gave me 10 dollars after I played a song for them; practically in front of the entrance.
The doorman came out and moved me away from there.
Note To Self: More Rolling Stones!
The couple wanted to hear more music, Bruce Springsteen; and Rolling Stones being requested. It occurred to me then that I hardly know any Rolling Stones music. The stuff I do know is their cover material like Little Red Rooster, by Howling Wolf....
I played some Neil Young, after I envisioned a "people who like this also like..." box in my head and matched Bruce and the Stones to Neil. It worked to the tune of 6 more dollars from the lady.
It only caused Leslie to have to wait an additional 15 minutes for me to arrive.
He wanted me to be there when the first 100 dollar bill came out of the ATM; momentous occasion that it would be.
Well, the money came out of the machine; Leslie gave a "whoop!" and then, he promised to call me the next (fri) day a little after noon, and we would trek together to the music store, where he would buy me a new harmonica, or two.
Skeezers converged upon him; one girl almost demanding a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from him.
That was my cue; I went off to sleep; but not before Leslie had handed me 20 dollars to complement the Mikes Hard Lemonade which he had gotten me for a nightcap.
Waking up on friday and sitting at the sign spot practicing Travis picking; I wasn't surprised when noontime came and went without my having gotten a phone call from him.
He had basically been in the position of having to kill about 3 hours that morning, waiting for the first bus to come and take him to his house, where he would have about 1 hour to sleep before having to get up and shower and shave and go to his meeting.
I was here at Starbucks by evening; doing computer stuff and listening to music
Right around nightfall my phone rang, and it was Leslie.
He was on the bus on the way back from the music store; and would be on Canal Street momentarily; and he had a "gift" for me, he said.
100 Dollars Worth Of Harmonicas
When he arrived at Starbucks, he was pretty well lit.
He wasn't too drunk to hand me 2 brand new harmonicas, one a Marine Band (B) and the other a "Blues Special" type of Hohner (B-flat).
It was pretty cool; and a type of thing that one cannot talk Leslie out of doing. When he sets his mind upon buying something for someone; he just about forces them to take it.
I wound up playing at the Lilly spot; still using my brand new "Ol' Standby" in C; and I made enough money to replace what I had spent that day and gain about 5 bucks.
Today, (saturday) I hung out with Leslie a bit, after he had phoned me at the sign spot, at about 11 AM,  to tell me that he was on his way; on the bus from the new Wal-Mart in Gentilly.
Clean Mouth Key To Harmonica Playing
He arrived, carrying an insulated bag with a strap on it; designed to tote a 12 pack of beer.
It contained a couple of bottles of beer; along with a lot of hygiene items; some of which he bestowed upon me.
Razors, toothpaste, mouthwash and soap were mine to be had.
Then, we made the walk to the Unique Grocery where we ran into Jimmy the guitarist who looks and kind of sounds like Rick Neilsen of the band Cheap Trick.
Unlike Rick, Jimmy didn't have a spare...

Jimmy recently had his guitar and amp stolen by a guy whom he had entrusted to guard the stuff while he ran to the store.
"I'm gonna see the guy at the OZ center, or at Rebuild, it just a matter time...but I'm not going to say anything to him; I'll get another guitar and amp," said Jimmy.
At the point that we ran into Jimmy earlier today; I took the opportunity to slink off, leaving the two to become reacquainted.
Will Leslie buy Jimmy a new guitar or amp?
Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shooting For Seven Days


2 hours of my life spent doing this, today...
  • 6th Day Sober
  • Spent The Day Cartooning
  • 1 Dollar Tuesday
  • Weather Remains Cool
  • Dying For A Drink
  • Answer To Alex In California's Comment

Late Start
Yesterday, I blogged, and then I went to Harrah's Casino to change the Australian money into American money. I got about $16.30 off of 20 dollars worth of it...
Then, I plugged in at their Starbucks, bought a coffee for $2.67 -casino prices- and continued to work on the computer until about 10:30 PM.
Leaving there, I slowly made my way towards the Lilly spot.
The Turtle Cartoon
The cartoon, I decided to do to post on Facebook along with a status of: "I feel like a turtle on its back on the rim of a volcano."
Uninvited Guests
There were 2 homeless people sleeping right in front of Lillys house. "Are you serious?" I asked them.
"We've slept here before," said the female; a woman of about 50, who looks like she has lived on the street for most of those 50 years.
"Well, I play here every night," I said, as a preamble to setting up and playing, without regards for whether or not I would be disturbing them.
I thought I sounded pretty good with new strings and harmonica. There were not a lot of people out, at 11:30 PM, when I got there.
People might have thought that we were all together, and that might have had something to do with the fact that I only made 1 dollar in about an hour.
One Lousy Sandwich
I went to Rouses Market for discarded food, finding as I walked up, a guy already digging through the bins. "I ain't found nothing; they didn't throw anything away; no sandwiches; nothing!" he said.
Shedding my flashlight on the situation didn't reveal anything other than a bag with a chunk of deli ham, some bread and some cheese. I hastily made and ate a sandwich, bagged the remainder up for the pigeons in the morning and went to the sign spot to sleep.
Changing Paper Into Plastic
Not before stopping at Walgreens and purchasing a pre-paid Master Card, putting 20 dollars on it.
According to their website, I have activated it, after providing them information.
I just am unable to sign in to their page to check my balance.
I am trying to get a battery for this laptop.
I found a decent USB microphone for about 18 dollars on E-bay. I might get the battery first, so that I can go on location to a quiet spot to use the microphone.
A Wasted Trip
I still have about 30 dollars; but this is after having gotten 50 dollars from my mom for my birthday; and 16 dollars and change off of the Australian money.
I took a bus to Wal-Mart to try to put money on the card which I had gotten from them almost a year ago. They kept getting a message saying "unable to transact this debit" or something.
They told me to call the number on the card; which I did; but the robot on the other end kept telling me that I was entering invalid numbers....
After burning up $2.50 in bus fare; and spending $3 on energy drinks, while waiting for the bus at Wal-Mart, I just went to Walgreens and bought their version of the same thing...
Dying For A Drink
I would say, here, to half expect tomorrows post to be something about: "Started Drinking Again, After 6 Days Off."
I don't know what is triggering it; except that it was cold for the second night in a row last night.
I neglected to go and get more layers of clothing to put on; guessing wrongly that it would be a tad warmer last night.
As the temperatures are forecast to become more seasonal in the coming days, I thought that they might start moving in that direction. They didn't, and I was just as uncomfortable last night as the previous one; wrapping myself in cardboard to block the wind (the cardboard has been wet and dried so many times that it is flexible).
Then, there was Leslie Thompson, whom I ran into while waiting for the bus to take me to Wal-Mart. He is getting a check on Thursday for $540 from the past two weeks that he has worked at the New Orleans University, doing whatever he does, for what he describes as a "rinky-dink operation."

He wants me to go with him to the music store that day, and he promises to buy me a brand new Marine Band harmonica, in the key of my choice. That might be a trigger.
Making only one dollar yesterday might be a trigger, also....
Photomaloptisism victim
Comment Reply: Alex In California
Alex said, commenting as "anonymous,:" There must be a scientific term for people who are butt ugly but love to take pictures of themselves.
I have come up with a term for the behavior: "maloptification"
And, the person doing it would  be a "photomaloptic."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rainy Monday

  • 5th Day Sober
  • 10 Dollar Monday

Yesterday, I woke up full of energy, at the sign spot; and with 57 dollars on me, 20 of it Australian.
On my mind was; finding a place to exchange Australian money for U.S. currency, and making my 3 PM appointment with the wound clinic.
And then, perhaps being somewhere where I could watch Monday Night Football.
It was about noon. 
I worked on Travis picking for an hour, and then headed to The Unique Grocery store, where I bought a pomegranate juice drink.
Columbus Day
I was on my way from there to the Starbucks across Canal Street, when I encountered David, The Water Jug Player, whose gaze initially fell upon the non-alcoholic drink in my hand, and there flashed in his eye something akin to disappointment.
"Still teetotal-ling, eh?" he asked.
"Yeah."
"Hey, help a brother out, will you?" he then asked, and started to fish in the pouch which hangs from his belt, for change.
My abstinence signals to him that I probably am accumulating money.
I handed him a dollar, after deliberating for a few seconds in my own mind, and coming to the conclusion that I would still have 55 dollars left; after giving it to him.
He then pulled change out of his pouch, looked at it and said: "I need....50 more cents, and I can get a half pint."
I gave him the 50 cents, while saying: "I don't give away money, by the way, if anyone asks..."
He had the Indiana Scout with him; missing 2 strings.
"Do you have any strings?' he asked.
I told him that I had a new set, ready to go on my guitar, and that he could have the old ones..."even though that won't leave me any backups, in case one of my new ones break..."
The Wound Clinic
I went to Starbucks and did yesterdays blog post, interrupted by a visit to the wound clinic, at LSU Hospital. "Do they call this part of the children's hospital the boo boo clinic?" I asked while there.
After they changed the dressing on my wound and told me to come back in one week, when they expect it to be fully closed, I went back to Starbucks.
Temperature Drops 20 Degrees
It started to rain violently outside; but only for a couple of hours.
Then, a cold breeze began to blow in; dropping the temperature 20 degrees.
I headed for the sign spot to don one long sleeved shirt, and a sweater to go over it. I forgot the umbrella.
I then headed towards the Lilly spot.
I set up my stuff, and began to play. I was able sit on Lillys actual stoop, rather than beside it; after propping my spotlight in the vines at an extreme angle. That way, it illuminated only one side of me; creating an effect, perhaps.
I had made only about 5 bucks, when I knocked off around 10 PM to go check on the football game; and to grab a non-alcoholic drink at Sydneys. The rain storm had apparently dissuaded a lot of people from coming out.
I found salads and fruit outside Rouses Market around 1 AM, grabbed a Bob Marley relaxation drink and went to the sign spot, where I wound up wrapping myself up pretty well in cardboard, which blocked the wind; and I slept until about 9 this morning; when I got up to go to The Rebuild Center to check my mail.
Mom, Send Me Money
My replacement food card had not arrived, but there was a letter from my mom with birthday wishes and 50 dollars inside.
I am about to finish this up; and then go to a bank to see if I can cash in the Australian money.
I might just go to Wal-Mart and re-activate my Visa card there; by paying the 6 dollar fee, and then putting the minimum 20 dollar deposit on the thing.
I have found batteries for my laptop, on E-Bay, for just around 14 dollars; and now might be the time to send for one.
Then, I will be looking for a USB microphone with the next spare 50 dollars that I come into.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leslie Vitalone

  • Not Drinking; Day 4
  • Mark From Australia
  • 48 Dollar Sunday
While I was blogging yesterday, my phone rang.
It was Leslie Thompson. He was not far away, on Canal Street.
He wanted to hang out; and said that he had money and weed. He offered to buy me a beer.
David The Water Jug Player (right)
"I'm not drinking," I said.
I don't know why I didn't evade him, but...
We hung out for a while, with him offering repeatedly to buy me beer.
At one point, he said: "Come on, let me buy you another beer," when I hadn't even had one.
He had no idea about where to go, nor what to do, outside of hanging around The Unique Grocery and patronizing it.
I led him in the direction of where televisions were located, which would be visible from the sidewalk, and which would have football games on them.
Really Intoxicated
By the time we were in front of a bar near the corner of Chartres and Decatur Streets, he was in his "really?" stage of intoxication.
"Dallas is going to try a field goal."
"Really?"
"It's right there on the TV, Leslie. If they make it, the game will be over; and I'll probably start heading to my spot to play; it's going to be nightfall soon."
"Really?"
"Yeah, Leslie, didn't you notice that the big flaming ball of hydrogen went below the horizon?"
"Really? Er, I mean....hey, let's get drunk; I've got money, and I have weed. Let's party!!!"
"I'm not drinking, Leslie."
"Well, we could...what should I do?"
Etc.

I needed new batteries, and so I headed (led him) in the direction of Sydneys beer and wine; which is also near my playing spot.
The Wrong Currency
Leslie was at a total loss for what to say and do.
It was like he wanted to purchase my company using alcohol as the currency; but I didn't take that kind of money.
I decided to separate from him at about 8 p.m., after the Sunday Night Football game had kicked off.
He was hard to shake. He seemed lonely and in need of a friend to hang out with; and frustrated that he couldn't buy me beer.
I went into the store to get my batteries.
While in there, I bought a V-8 drink. When I put it on the counter, I said to the girl working there: "If he offers to buy me a beer 38 times, I might take him up on it; and we're getting close to that number."
The staff at Sydneys are amongst those who have seen a positive change in me, the times that I have been sober. One of them, Jason, upon seeing me with Leslie, shook his head as if to intimate: "I guess Daniel has totally fallen off the wagon again..."
When I came out, Leslie was in the face of a young man who was leaning against the front of the store. He had handed the guy one of the beers from his bag of them, and was demanding that the guy open it and drink it. He must have thought he was being humorous.
I couldn't help thinking that he was venting his frustrations with me upon the young man.
There is a psychological term for that, which escapes me (transferring? projecting?) .
A beer; really?!?

I sneaked by them, Leslie never seeing me...really? (I had already told him several times that it was time for us to break off, so I could go and play).
The Poor Guy
He probably went on to offer the young guy beer after beer and anything that his (Leslies) money could buy, to procure his companionship.
Then, the nasty drunk probably reared its head, and the head had Leslies face on it.
He would start to denigrate women walking past: "Look at that slut, she's going to (sleep with) 5 black guys tonight, for crack!" and things like that.
Then, he would become suddenly sullen and brooding and, out of that state of mind, would turn to the guy and say something like: "You know, you're starting to get on my nerves!"
To which the guy might say something like: "Sorry about that, I guess I will be going," whereupon Leslie would block his path, because he wasn't quite finished with him, then add something like: "You're the biggest loser I've ever met; you're a joke...yeah, that's right!"
The poor guy.
48 Dollar Night
 
I came around the corner onto Bourbon and espied two figures sitting upon Lillys stoop.
They were two women, having a conversation and staring at their respective phone screens.
I was setting up my stuff when one asked: "Are we in your way?"
"No, I still have to change the batteries in my light and tune up and everything."
I did so, and started to play, when I noticed one of them smiling at my tiposaurus and its sign.
She took a picture of it and threw me what turned out to be 5 one dollar bills.
Mark From Australia
Then, along came a guy who asked if he could play my guitar.
I hesitated, then asked: "Will you tip me?"
He produced 5 dollars, whereupon I handed him the Takamine, saying "At least I can afford a new set of strings now, if you break them all."
"Oh, I won't break any," he said, and then proceeded to play some pretty good Travis picking style stuff.
He was from Australia, was traveling, and hadn't wanted to check his own guitar into airports along the way.
He asked me if I could get any weed.
I told him that I only had a half a joint (which Leslie had given me).
The Skeeze Is On
Soon, a skeezer was sitting on the other side of him, butting in on the conversation.
A lot of skeezers can't stand to see someone else getting money out of a tourist, and they can't sit still for it, either.
It is common to see a skeezer or two, on the occasion of a tourist handing money to another skeezer, converge upon that tourist saying: "Can I have one (dollar) too?" (...and, what about me? and me? and me? me too!!).
The skeezer probably thought: "He just gave guitar man 5 dollars; let me investigate this possible opportunity..."
20 Dollar Skeezing Lesson
Mark, as that was his name, from Australia, then told the skeezer that he would give him 20 dollars if the skeezer would find him some weed. "All I want is to smoke a joint, and you can keep the rest."
Since all he wanted to do was smoke a joint, I offered him the roach which Leslie had given me, and said: "You can have this for 5 dollars."
I guess he felt like he already had made a deal with the skeezer, who was soon walking away with a crisp 20 dollar bill, after leaving his hat as collateral; the kind of hat that one can snap up at the homeless shelter "clothing bank," for free.
I told Mark that I had been trying to spare him the anxiety of putting his money in jeopardy, and of having to wait for the guy to come back with weed. "How long do you wait, how much time do you waste, before you conclude that he isn't coming back?" I asked.
"20 minutes," said Mark.
I told him that I doubted that the skeezer was going to come back. "There are probably 20 hats like that in the clothing room at the mission; and, all he has to do is wait a couple days and you will be 3,000 miles away, with the kangaroos. Even if you do run into him, he will ask 'Why didn't you wait for me, I found some killer weed, but when I got back you were gone!"
Mark didn't care. "I just consider it a lesson learned; a cheap lesson."
We talked for about 20 minutes. Mark turned out to be a software engineer, and 20 dollars is a pittance to him.
"I guess he really isn't coming back," he said.
I fired up the half joint, and passed it to him.
After we smoked, he handed me 20 dollars, saying: "I gave him 20 dollars for weed, but you're the one who wound up having it so, here!"
The Funky Pirate
We had an interesting conversation, after which he invited me to go to one of the bars on Bourbon Street for a drink. "I'll buy you a Red Bull, or something" (since I had told him that I was on my 4th day without alcohol).
We did so, but not before running into yet another skeezer, who must have thought that I had found myself a sucker, and couldn't restrain himself from trying his (outstretched) hand at skeezing the guy.
Mark pulled out an Australian 20 dollar bill, telling the guy that he would have to exchange it at a bank, for U.S. currency. "Try to rip it, go ahead!" (Australian bills are made of a super-strong plastic).
The skeezer handed it back to him: "I don't want this shit..."
We wound up at The Funky Pirate, where a half ass band was playing. Mark liked the fact that the bassist was playing a bass ukelele. The Funky Pirate is where I once met a couple who were headed back to Atlanta, Georgia, and who offered me a ride there; but then reneged after I ran into them the next day and didn't recognize them.
Mark gave me an Australian 10 dollar bill in the bar, showing me that there was an interesting poem on the bill, written by a famous poet ("banjo" Patterson) but that one needed a magnifying glass to read it.
I will be able to get 9 dollarsand change for it tomorrow; when the banks are open.
He wound up giving me another 10 Australian dollars when we parted.
I woke up this morning with about 60 dollars -half of it Australian.
It is now Monday, at 8:30 PM and we are in the middle of a thunderstorm. It looks like I will be sleeping under the dock for the first time in about 10 days.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sugar Blues

3rd Day Sober
$15.50 Saturday

Sugar Blues
I woke up the final time around noon, this morning, after having had a fitful nights sleep, marred by strange dreams.
I have to deduce that this turmoil was caused by the fact that I ate an entire box of Life cereal before laying down at about 2:30 a.m.
I almost never eat "sucrose." There have probably been entire years which have elapsed throughout my life when I had no more than a couple of teaspoons of sugar.
I read a book called Sugar Blues (William T, Dufty) when I was about 19, and I cut sugar out of my diet, entirely.
This morning, after eating the sugared cereal, I felt like I had a hangover; as if I had gotten too drunk last night; though I hadn't drank a drop.
It was a lesson learned; no more sucrose.
I played last night and only recovered $15.50 of the 45 dollars which I had spent that day.
But I have a brand new harmonica in C, a brand new tiposaurus (which is actually an alligator, until I get a real plastic dinosaur) and had fresh batteries for the spotlight; and was playing and singing as well as ever. The new set of strings, I never put on. I don't know how much more I would have made with their bright sound. Other musicians were complaining about a slow night.
A wedding party came by; and one guy wanted me to play harmonica while he played "Keep Your Hands To Yourself, by George Thorougood, for the groom to be. He said that they would tip me.
The party came along and he serenaded the guy, but nobody tipped me. I had the feeling that the family didn't really like they guy; despite the fact that he was invited to the wedding...
That could have easily turned a 15 dollar night into a 35 or 65 dollar night.
The money will take care of itself; since; what do I have to spend it on?
The new headphones sound great, and it doesn't cost me anything to sit and listen to and learn music.
I'm working on "Travis picking" lately.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second Sober Day

Yesterday morning; I woke up around 11 a.m.
There were no southern flannel moths in sight; and I had about 17 dollars left of the 19 which I had made the previous night (I had spent $1.29 on single serving instant coffee packs).
I would have studied music for an hour or two, but I had to run to a restroom. Instant coffee is a good laxative.
I See Karrie
There, standing by McDonalds was none other than Karrie, with a shavened head and complaining that she had eaten too many doughnuts that morning. I gave her a hug, but could glean that she felt un-huggable. She showed me a radio which she had just gotten, and said: "You probably don't want to touch it because it's been in my ears (the ear buds) when I went to inspect it.

I think that she felt like I rejected and abandoned her when I left Jacksonville for Mobile without her; and doesn't blame me for it.

I'm glad that she is back in town. Neither one of us drink, for the moment..
Blogging Til The Sun Went Down
I blogged until about 6 p.m. at Starbucks, lamenting that Downtown Music (and their 6 dollar packs of guitar strings) would be closed -a rare tactical misstep in my sober state- and I would have to walk all the way to Louisiana Music Factory (11 dollars per pack) and would only be able to afford a single string or two.
I stopped at The Unique Grocery and paid Sam back the 2 dollars which I owed him from the last half pint of vodka that I bought from that store 2 days prior.
David The Water Jug Player
But that was not before running into David the water jug player on the corner. He had the Indiana Scout across his back. Bilal had scratched (yikes) onto the back of it:
Bilal 2014
From Bilal > Daniel > David
I told David that I hadn't drank the previous day and wasn't going to that night, either. I told him that I had only spent $1.25 the entire day.
He was visibly disappointed; and at that point I became convinced that he was another Leslie Thompson. 
He probably was short of his next pint of vodka and hoping that I would go in on it.
"So, you kept yourself some money; Good! I like to wake up every morning with at least 10 bucks on me, myself..."
It was the classic set up for a skeeze: congratulate someone on how well they are doing, and then ask for some.
Before I walked off, he laid a hand on my shoulder and asked "Did you give up weed, too?"
I had kind of decided that I would, and hadn't gotten any. I surmised that, had he 5 dollars, he would have had some.
"I'm going to try to play completely sober tonight," I said, to his further disappointment.
As I walked off, I felt the strongest urge of the day to drink.
I almost went to get some weed, so I could return as a hero to poor David. But then caught myself in the thought process and continued on towards my playing spot. It was too eerily similar to how Leslie T. "made" me feel.
The two can spot a "people please-er" a mile away; and prey upon them. ...look at poor pitiful me with no booze and no weed; darn...I guess nobody loves me....darn...
Jay The Loud Singer
I passed Jay, who was upset because The Clean Guy was set up across from the Hotel Monteleone and had his amplifier cranked up. He was looking for another spot to play.
Then, I stopped at Rouses Market for a gallon of distilled water, which would be all that I would have to "eat" that evening.
John The Classical Guitarist
Carrying the water down Royal Street, I came upon John, the classical guitarist, and his dog "slick."
"Well, I'm averaging 5 dollars an hour, so far. The past hour, I haven't made anything," he lamented.
John is the real deal on classical guitar. He complains that his thumb "crapped out" on him; otherwise he would be playing more Bach.
He is about my age, maybe 5 years older, but has a head of long silver hair (and I'm going to try to find a picture of him, rather than put a thousand words here) and was an accomplished french horn player; playing with a Symphony Orchestra at one time until -you guessed it -his lips crapped out on him.
He plays genuine classical guitar by the worlds best composers and tourist, by and large, walk past him as if he is just the background music for whatever they are doing.
"Oh, that's beautiful!" said one lady, as John was playing a beautiful passage. She, of course was talking about the plant draped balcony of the hotel across the street from where John sets up regularly.
"I hear that all the time....'Isn't that pretty?' -and then I look up and they're getting ready to take a picture of the hanging plants" said John.
I left my gallon of water with John and then headed for Louisiana Music Factory, another half mile further.
I bought a single string for 2 bucks and then headed for the Lilly Spot with 8 bucks left over to start my tiposaurus out with.
I was a bit disheartened to hear John say "It's dead out here," when I retrieved my water jug.
48 Dollar Friday
I got to the Lilly spot, fixed my strings, hung my spotlight, set the tiposaurus atop 3 one dollar bills and in front of the sign which states: "The tiposaurus rarely bites."
From there, the night was almost a carbon copy of the ones that I was having the last time that I stopped drinking.
I was still tuning up when a man sat on Lillys stoop and said: "Still tuning up, eh?"
I made conversation, trying to hold his attention as I quickly tuned; accepting that it wouldn't be perfect lest I take too long and lose his interest.
His phone rang, and I heard him directing someone to where he was "I'm hanging out with a street musician..." I tuned frantically while that stalled him.
I played "Best of My Love," by the Eagles -the latest song that I have put into heavy rotation (3 times per night) in order to drill into my memory. He sang along.
When his wife arrived, as per his directions, he said to her: "Give him some money; he sounds good!" and smiled at her.
She smiled back and the guy threw a 20 dollar bill next to the tiposaurus, as he was getting up; and what would end up being a 48 dollar night; (on 2 and a half hours of playing) was off to a good start.
Two Guys From Paris
A couple of guys from Paris stopped and asked me to play "anything" and they were going to improvise in French, which they did.
They returned about an hour later; not wearing shirts and more drunk; and we repeated the performance.
Being sober gave me command over my facilities, and they listened in cross-eyed fascination to what I was playing; especially the harmonica.

I wound up making close to 10 bucks off of them.
The F harmonica was starting to stick a bit and I really had to brute force it into pitch; or thereabouts.
Another 10 Dollars
I made another 10 dollars off a guy who works at Rouses Market by doing him the favor of running to his car for something; before spending $1.19 on a pomegranate juice drink and then taking a circuitous route to the sign spot.
Having the Takamine on my back and 65 dollars in my pocket caused me to heighten my senses, and I made sure I wasn't being followed.
The Anti David
Just as I had decided not to hang out with David the water jug player; a guy, whom I have often seen, because he walks his dog right by the sign spot in the early mornings; has started to leave gifts like a carton of finger sandwiches, a can of Coke, and this morning, another can of Coke next to me as I sleep.
I was awake when he came with the first can of Coke. "Oh, I'm glad to see you moving; I didn't want to freak you out," he said as he gave me the soda. He introduced himself as "David."
It is so easy to imaging New Orleans having David the bad spirit; and David the good spirit; fighting over my soul. As long as I avoid the bad David and his alcohol, the good David will reward me with soda...
Shopping
Today, I was up around noon. I went and bought a new harmonica (key of C) for 13 dollars; and a set of strings ($6) and a set of headphones at the half-price of 13 dollars at Radio Shack; and have 30 bucks left over, minus the coffee that I am drinking.
The headphones sound great; I'm sure the harmonica will, too. I just need batteries for my spotlight and I should be good to go on this Saturday night.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Own Water Jug

What instrument do you play?

After the debacle which was Wednesday night, when I had run into David the water jug player, who had passed me a bottle of vodka (in lieu of a handshake) upon greeting me; and whom I jammed with on noisy Canal Street, only to see the proceeds go towards more vodka and weed; I woke up Thursday morning with 38 cents in my pocket; and a resolve to go on (another) water fast and to eschew alcohol.
Blessings Flow Like Water
People who don't believe in "a higher power" believe in coincidences.
I had only a 20 ounce bottle of spring water (and 38 cents to my credit; along with a 2 dollar debt to Sam at The Unique Grocery) as I walked down Canal Street, towards my playing spot -do not pass The Unique Grocery; do not collect a beer.
I decided that I would alter my habitual route to get there, as I was trying to alter the habit which had been hindering me recently.
I knew that I had subconsciously made myself broke (and even run up the debt) to protect myself from myself. My greatest concern was what I was going to do with any money that I might make that night.
My Sole Is Restored
Before I had strayed from the habitual route; I came upon Alex Rainbow, the doorman at one of the swank hotels which name escapes me; whom I have walked past several times before, and whom I have had conversations with.
I told him about my resolve to stay dry that day.
I was detailing the previous evenings debacle, when all the proceeds from busking had gone towards dissipation; and about how I was going to take an alternate route to my playing spot, to avoid certain people and certain temptations.
"Some people think that; if they have 10 dollars, then, they have 10 dollars worth of booze and drugs; and if they have 20 dollars, then they have 20 dollars for booze and drugs, etc..." I complained.
This seemed to have attracted the attention of a black man, who was standing nearby, wearing the uniform of a bellhop or a valet from the same hotel, and sun glasses.
I went on to say that I had woken up slightly depressed; realizing, in the sobering light of day, that I could have used money to replace a broken string on the Takamine; and for a bottle of Gorilla Glue to repair the sole of my right sneaker; and for, "you know; stuff like that."
The bellhop walked over to me after I had mentioned the glue and, retrieving a bottle of Gorilla Glue from his pocket said: "I've got you!" and proceeded to glue the sole back onto my sneaker. I noticed wedding ring on his hand.
"There you go," said Alex.
Alex asked me what size shoe I wore; offering me a pair which he was "trying to get rid of."
I walked on, thinking that I would go easy on the busking when I got to the Lilly spot. I would drink my water and play as well as the mood that I could conjure up inspired. I didn't expect to feel like playing without the fortification of a couple beers to loosen me up.
I walked Dauphine Street, instead of my usual Royal Street.
It was about 7 p.m. and Thursday Night Football was close to kicking off.
I poked my nose into the doorway of the 801 Royal Bar to see who was playing.
I then walked a couple blocks to where John the classical guitarist was playing.
I talked to him a while; petting his dog; and telling him that I was back on a water fast and not planning to drink alcohol that night.
"The only thing is I only have a 20 ounce bottle," I said.
By that time the game had kicked off; and I decided to go around the corner and down a couple blocks to the MRB bar, where I could stand outside and watch for a while. I wasn't in a hurry to get to the Lilly spot to find out if I could summon up the urge to play music and sip water.
I went around the corner and was half way to the bar, when I saw, sitting on the front step of a guy who walks past my playing spot often, and who might even read this blog; a full gallon of spring water.
I picked up the gallon of water and proceeded to go to the MRB bar, where I set the jug down and watched the game.
Karlie From Astoria
A woman named Karlie came outside and asked me what kind of music I played, and a conversation ensued.
She said that she is from Astoria, Oregon. She and her new husband, who was inside, were on their honeymoon.
I told her about my water fast and how I was almost reluctant to go and make money busking because I was afraid that I would run to the beer store at the first drop of a couple dollars.
I really think that she had been considering giving me some money, as we had had a pretty long conversation about ourselves; but she gave me a few cigarettes anyways. She also encouraged me to "keep doing good," as I walked off towards the Lilly spot.
The encouragement seemed to have an effect. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to run to Sydneys at the first sight of money.
The First Sight Of Money
I rounded the corner at St. Phillips and Bourbon Streets and espied a couple people sitting on Lillys stoop.
From the distance of a half block; I couldn't tell if they were skeezers or not. Will I have to send a text message to Lilly, asking her to come out and sweep her stoop of them?
When I got there, I discovered a young man and woman whose status of tourists was confirmed when the young man asked me, in an Irish brogue, "Is this Bourbon Street?"
I get that question a lot as, people whose Google Maps had led them to the street from the Esplanade Avenue direction, wonder where all the neon lights and craziness is.
I gave them an overview of the layout of the street, then mentioned that I played at that more quiet end because I am not amplified, and because I had the blessings of the residents around me.
"Nobody ever thought of playing this spot because it is so dark, but, I put my spotlight up in the vines overhead, and turn it into a prime spot; right next to Lafitts Blacksmith Shop Tavern, which is the last 'must see' stop on Bourbon Street.
"Is this Bourbon Street?

Their names were Keith and Diedre and they were from Dublin, Ireland.
They were very curious about my lifestyle, and evinced surprise over the fact that I was homeless; and even more over the fact that I was homeless and had a degree in English with a Music minor. "Get out of here!!" said Keith after I had told them that.
We talked for about a half hour; during which time I played them "Best of My Love," by The Eagles, and during which time a skeezer approached and interupted the conversation by asking the couple if they could help out "a true homless man with a dollar." He was an older black guy; and seemed drunk; and the type who asks everything on two legs for a hand out.
Keith said: "Well..." and was reaching for his wallet when the skeezer appended "I really need a couple of dollars..." He didn't acknowledge me at all.
I was smiling inside when I heard the clink of a couple of coins going into the skeezers outstretched hand and Keith saying: "That's all I have, buddy."
"Thank you," said the skeezer, in mild disgust, as he went off.
"You're welcome," said Keith, to which I added my own "You're welcome!" a bit louder; as if he should have been thanking me too for allowing him to skeeze someone I was talking to at my spot.
I filled the two in on "skeezers," as they would soon be headed towards the skeezing side of Bourbon Street; and with the personal agenda of spreading my word overseas to Ireland.
It would be cool if I were watching a movie made in Ireland one day and heard someone referred to as a skeezer.
"Oh, we have skeezers in Dublin, too!"
Diedre asked me a couple times if they were keeping me from what I do; and if they were sitting on my spot.
"No, my spotlight falls over here..and it doesn't really pick up here until about 9:30."
They left 10 dollars with me, after asking if it were OK if they gave me "a couple dollars." It was the "couple of dollars" that the skeezer didn't get.
I was sober and played and sang well and knocked off after an hour with 19 dollars.
I walked down Bourbon Street; my gallon jug of water like a talisman; taking me through the mud and the blood and the beer.
I found just the right foods for staying sober at Rouses Market.
Clean Guy "Johnny B" Back In Town
I ran into The Clean Guy, who is back in town; and now has an amplifier. He had made 50 dollars. "You need to get an amp, Daniel," said the clean guy.

He still looks like Steve Martin with Jeff Gordons eyes (left) and was wearing a dinner jacket, slacks and leather shoes.