Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Treats Of A Petty Squabble

3 Dollar Sunday
10 Dollar Monday
11 Dollar Tuesday

We are definitely in the doldrums of the slow summer season here...

Yet, time seems to be flying.

The Saints are soon to start their preseason, which will usher fall in, and people are going to start talking soon about things picking up in October and then, if that turns out to be false hope; as it has been the past 3 years; will start talking about Mardi Gras.

The bunch of winter type clothes that I found in a box outside an apartment where some guy my size had been evicted, has been sitting "in mothballs" in one of my closets and just looking at it 
throughout the past month of 99 degree, high humidity weather, made me sweat. I am still glad that I  lugged it home; expensive brands of sweaters and jackets comprise it; and I guess I can look forward to stepping out in fashion on the first chilly night that comes 3 months from now.

The street people will think that I have been secretly prospering during this slow period and "holding out" on them, telling them that I have no extra money, cigarettes, weed and that the last few sips left in my wine bottle are all I have, until I get out and make some more money.

Computer Room Blues
Sunday night, somehow, the sprinkler system came on on the second floor of Sacred Heart Apartments, causing water to drip in several hallways, offices and the computer room.

The computers have been removed indefinitely, and I can't help but cynically think that this is some kind of punishment aimed at the person who set the sprinklers off; and a warning to residents in general that, if they cause damage to the building through negligence, then they , will lose some of their privileges.

The ceilings aren't dripping anymore, they could have just thrown plastic bags over the things to protect them in the first place; and they aren't back yet.
A Return To Starbucks
So, here I sit at Starbucks on Canal Street, where I haven't been for months, composing this.
I spent the last of my money on the trolley to get here; rather than walk the mile and a half with the added weight of the laptop in my pack.

My food stamp card is down to 14 cents and will be for another 6 days and a few hours and counting I am counting, because I have been having to spend money on food every day out of the miniscule amounts that I have been pulling in.

I sure was an idiot, after I had the 50 dollar Saturday, and then did things like drink 4 dollar beers and "lend" David the Water Jug Player 3 bucks, and then spend 12 bucks on a harmonica which I lost the same night.

David is perhaps someone that one should just never tell that he made 50 bucks. The way his face lit up and he smiled (almost laughed) at hearing that bit of news, followed by his gushing "That's good, Daniel; you did good!" became a bit suspect; after it was followed by the usual: "You got any weed?" and then his request for 3 dollars "If you can spare it..."

The "if you can spare it" was said in a sardonic tone which really made me feel like I had erred by telling him that I had done alright and made 50 bucks. "...let's see him try to say that he can't spare 3 bucks when he just told me how much he made..." seemed to be written on his face.
It was as if he had trapped me.

I really should have told him that I needed every cent of it to pay my bills, which wouldn't have been a lie; had I known that the next 3 days were only going to produce 24 more dollars.

David and I had an argument.

Sunday night, I had a little bit of bud. Just enough so that, after I got to the Lilly Pad, I could smoke a bowl; after setting my stuff up and then tuning the guitar; things that seem to take just a minute when straight.

"Please tell me you have some weed," said David when I saw him; the phrase which he has apparently replaced: "Hey, Daniel, how's it going?"with.

I told him that all I had was a bowl to smoke when I got to the Lilly Pad.

"So, you're not going to smoke with me?"

"No, I want to wait until after I get going."

He muttered something that sounded like "OK, be like that," and then went off, after saying "Have a good night!" in a sarcastic tone.

I actually started to head to the spot, but changed my mind and went back to find him sitting there with his guitar in his lap, looking angry.

He even ignored me when I began to speak; just stared straight ahead, until I got to the part about my having changed my mind about smoking with him.

The argument took place the next day when I confronted him about that.

After having caved in and smoked with him, it began to bother me later on.

It seemed to take me forever to walk to my spot, having, in the glow of being buzzed, stopped to talk to several people. Then, setting up my stage seemed to usurp energy which could have gone directly into creating music. Then, it seemed to take forever to tune the guitar.

I said something to the effect of: "Do you think that, just because I might have some bud, I need to drop what I'm doing and smoke with you. I should have just lied and said that I was fresh out."

Then, before I could protest the fact that his recent way of greeting me is to ask if I have weed, he beat me to the punch.

He actually complained about the fact that he has to ask me.

"When I have weed; as soon as you walk up I break it out and offer it to you. And with you; I have to ASK! That's messed up!"

So, I'm upset because he asks me every time he sees me; and he's upset because he "has" to ask me.
To be straight (excuse the pun) he does seem to offer it when he has it, which is about 15% of the time.

He went on to add: "You've got a place, you're indoors. You have your rent paid for AND you get food stamps!"

I don't know if the point behind that was that, given those circumstances, there's no reason for me not to have a bottomless bag of weed -what kind of drug addict AM I? -Sure, I could live on Ramen Noodles and spend everything else on weed. I could even keep playing my guitar after one or more strings have broken, like David is doing. If all that fails; I could take in a boarder at 100 bucks a week, and that would almost insure that I would have a blunt rolled every time I rolled up on him.
His point may be that he feels that I had somehow been incredibly blessed when Unity and Catholic Social Services and the Volunteers of America found me and that should be only natural for me to turn around and bless someone else; another musician preferably...

Or should I feel sorry for him because he can't get the same blessings, for reasons that he has never elaborated upon.

I know that one can be turned down if they have ever been convicted of food stamp fraud, drug felonies, or if they have ever been kicked out of a Unity housing unit for any other "just cause."
So, I am a veteran who has avoided drug or violent felonies his whole life, and thus qualify for "permanent assisted housing." 

I've been "blessed" that way.

I've also probably spent one entire year of my life practicing and/or playing the guitar, (even with the modest assumption that I put in just a half hour per day over the past 36 years) which lends itself to being more "blessed" at the Lilly Pad.

I hope he doesn't think that I can do that because it is a white upper class predominately gay (except for Lilly) neighborhood, and that he couldn't do the same.

So, there's a thousand words about a petty squabble that is really no big deal...but why delete it, since I took the time to write it?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dealing With Adversity

50 Dollar Saturday
Yesterday (Sunday) I took the trolley into the Quarter.
I was, once again, up against the clock in a race for the Louisiana Music Factory, to get a new harmonica. One of the notes had plugged the night before.
I was still able to make 50 bucks, mostly due to the fortune of having one Tanner, and his girlfriend, Casey sit on the stoop to my right and listen and request songs.
When they first sat down there was another couple of guys, one of which kept wanting to play my guitar, to my left.
The guy threw me a 5 dollar tip, and asked if that was enough to cover him playing my guitar for "a song."
It was pretty late at that point, and so I weighed the amount of traffic against the 5 dollars and let him play.
He did interesting stuff which, it turned out, was not his own. It was some Hawaiian "ska" band, that he told me I should check out, and the name of which escapes me now.
He wanted to do more interesting stuff, and I kind of protested that I needed to get back to work, and I think his buddy put another 3 or 4 dollars in the jar, and he played some more.
They finally left and I turned my attention to the couple to my right who were apparently not with the two to my left.
The guy introduced himself as Tanner and said that he had sat on that very same stoop and conversed with me and I had played him music last year at about the same time.
He was understanding of my not recognizing him, because I see thousands of people a year, yet those people only see one guy with a hat and a harmonica and singing about carcasses, or what have you. It's easier for them to remember me is my now belabored point.
Tanner and Casey wound up throwing me a 20 dollar bill, plus the singles that they had thrown while I was playing, and it brought my total to almost exactly 50 bucks for the night, which ran about 3 hours.
There were a couple of Susan B. Anthony dollars in the bottom of the jar with the change, and I  could recall where they came from. I remember that I had thanked the guy whose tip went into the jar with the telltale chink of change, just as sincerely as I would have somebody who had place a 100 dollar bill on top of the pile in plain view.
It's easy to think, sarcastically, "thanks a lot for the change, a couple more tippers like you and I can afford the trolley ride home," but there have been several occasions when I heard change going into the jar only to discover later that it added up to several dollars worth, and often to discover that Susan B. Anthony coins comprised most of it.
That was Saturday night, and I left the spot and headed in the general direction of the trolley on Canal Street, feeling rich after having started with 2 dollars and ended with 50.
I drank a couple of brews which set me back almost 8 dollars; ran into David the water jug player, who asked to borrow 3 dollars, so that he could get an all day bus pass at 4 AM and ride around sleeping in the air conditioned bus for 8 hours.
I gave him the 3 dollars, which he promised to pay back.
Sunday, I made it to the music store just before they closed, bought my harmonica, and then ran into a girl with some weed, right across the street from the place.
I bought a "nick," and then, overcome with feelings of generosity and realizing that the time was only 8:30 PM, and my spot really never even starts to get busy until an hour after that, I decided to walk back to Canal Street to smoke up a friend of mine.
I met a guy at Rouses Market who was carrying a guitar and who said that he loved to play Grateful Dead music.
I told him that I was on my way to smoke up a musician friend of mine, whereupon he offered to pitch in some weed, which he described as "better than that," after I had shown him what I had gotten for 5 bucks.
The result of getting baked on Canal Street on what indeed turned out to be better than that was, that I made it back to the Lilly Pad and began to play, forgetting to replace the harmonica with the missing note with the brand new one, but somehow thinking that I had.
I was so happy to have a brand new harmonica, even though I wasn't using it, that I swear the old one began to sound like a new one, and there weren't any missing notes on it. It was like mind over matter.
But, it was Sunday night, and the fates did not conspire to embellish that miracle to include me making more than 3 dollars in the couple hours that I played.
I knocked off, with less than 5 dollars on me, and a brand new harmonica (which was still un-played, since I had forgotten to switch it for the old one) and the whole of the sack of weed.
I then walked Royal Street, stopping to listen to another musician named Daniel who has a very distinctive singing voice and who sits on Royal, usually at the same spot by the Supreme Court building.
It was there that I discovered that I had been playing the old harp all night, when I found the brand new one, still unopened, in my backpack..
I began to break it in, playing softly along with Daniel, and eventually jamming a long at a good volume.
"That sounded good," said Daniel.
Then, I somehow lost the new harmonica.
It may have fallen out of my pocket when I squatted down to get in my backpack, wearing pants which are my least favorite because they are too large and require me to tighten my belt, and because the pockets have a tendency to flop open, allowing things to fall out.
Maybe I didn't hear the thing hit the ground over Daniel's playing, or maybe someone picked my pocket at the Unique Grocery, or maybe it fell out onto the seat of the trolley, but, scour the apartment as I did this morning, it was nowhere to be found and I suffer the humiliation of knowing that I spent 12 bucks on a harmonica that I never got to use, and tonight I go back out with the old, and out of tune, one; and this is a test of my proclivity in dealing with adversity.
I ran into David the water jug player, before getting on the trolley where the harp may have fallen out of my pocket; whose first words to me, echoing the ones of the past few consecutive days, were "Tell me you have some weed."
I kind of got angry, and began to think that David is the kind of person who, if you tell him you did "alright," and had a 50 dollar night, is going to turn into a leach.
Not only did he make no mention of paying me back the 3 dollars that I had loaned him, in the midst of my feeling that I was well off after a 50 dollar night, and that the next night promised to be just as good, with the new harmonica; here he was asking me to smoke him up.
I got kind of angry and walked away.


This is John Patton, the guy who I walk past almost every night as he sits and plays a nylon string classical guitar on Royal Street, but "way down" on Royal, almost as far a I go down Bourbon Street (hence my seeing him almost every night).
Here he is playing an electric guitar, apparently having done the whole thing using "Garage Band," the digital studio.
The drums are not human, but someone once told me: "If you can make a drum machine sound like a good drummer; then you would BE a good drummer...."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

At Least I Have My Health

15 Dollar Friday
After having gotten a late start (1:15 AM) I was able to make 15 bucks in the next hour and a half.
I started with 2 dollars in my case.
I had been on my way to the Lilly Pad, and could have gotten there by 10 PM, but I ran into Brian Hudson, who is soon to embark upon a journey to Colombia, and who invited me to chill at his place for a while, sipping wine and smoking.
I woke up late this morning; in fact it was 6 PM in the evening and already getting dark outside, and I hadn't put my solar light out to charge after I had come home at almost 4 AM. This was a tactical error.
I just bought the last fish off of my food stamp card, leaving a balance of 14 cents for the next 11 days.
I am truly in the position of playing music for food.
I now go to bake the fish and finish the bottle of red wine that I have, while smoking cigarettes, and then will spend myself down to about nothing for the trolley ride into the Quarter.
Oh well.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wonton Spending

26 Dollar Thursday
Yesterday, I borrowed 5 bucks from Howard, before beginning my walk towards the Quarter.
I didn't use the 5 bucks to take the trolley; I used it to buy a lighter and a cheap bottle of wine.
I got to the Lilly Pad a bit after nine, and had only made 16 bucks three hours later.
I walked away from my spot to take a leak the French Quarter way (between two cars) at one point, the pedestrian traffic being so light that I was able to leave my guitar and my backpack and my tip jar with the 16 dollars in it sitting there under the spotlight and walk about 50 feet away from it without having to worry about anybody running off with anything.
A young lady came walking past and was looking curiously at my stuff, sitting there abandoned, as I returned to it.
"You can have it all; I quit!" I said.
"You're quitting for the night?" she asked.
"No, I'm quitting music, I give up!"
"Well, because I thought I was playing pretty well tonight, but it looks like I only made my trolley fare and maybe a beer."
She began to fish in her purse which spurred me to hold up my hand in the "halt" gesture, and quickly add: "I'm not begging for money!"
"That's OK, I walk past you every night and you always sound good. This is all the cash I have, I think it's ten dollars," she said, and handed it to me.
"Maybe I won't quit just yet," I said, and then played one more song before knocking off around 12:45 AM.
I went to Rouses Market and spent about 5 bucks on some catfish nuggets and a beer.
Then, I walked to the Unique Grocery, where I spent about 10 bucks on cigarettes and a bottle of sangria, and then I walked the 2 miles home, sipping on the sangria.
I baked the catfish and ate it; washing it down with the juice of carrots and cabbage with a splash of jalapeno pepper and ginger, and then finished the sangria while watching a movie called Point Break, on my laptop.
I woke up slightly hung over and with 10 dollars and an empty sangria bottle on my coffee table, lamenting the fact that I wasn't going to pay Howard back just yet, as I had hoped to. It would bode well for me, if I ever have to borrow money from him again if I were to pay him back promptly.
I really didn't need that last bottle of sangria, which was about 5 bucks....

Saturday, July 18, 2015

It's All I Can Do

Friday, after waking up feeling much better, I went off in an attempt to basically repeat the previous day.

I am doing this as an experiment of sorts, trying to pinpoint what had caused the eczema to flair up.

Meet my dinner.
I excluded the Monster Energy drink of the previous day, which seemed to cause the areas where I had the rash to tingle.

I went to the Ideal Market and bought cucumbers and tomatoes and carrots to juice, and another identical coconut juice drink, to drink as I walked through the 95 degree heat back to the apartment.

I had a whole tilapia in my freezer, and decided that I would break my 3 day juice fast with the juice derived from all of the above vegetables, along with the fish.

I was pressed for time, as I was determined to make it to the Louisiana Music Factory to buy a new harmonica before they closed at 8 PM.

While the fish was in the oven, I made juice out of all the stuff, adding Serrano peppers to the blend, which actually made my hands burn, as if I had dipped them in acid.

Somehow this feels therapeutic, as the eczema kind of starts at the neck and ends at the extremities. In the worst situation, had I continued to imbibe in whatever it was that was triggering it, the rash would have spread to my feet and my hands; having no further to go; and, in that condition, I would be miserable indeed.

I lay on my bed for a while, waiting for the burning in my hands to subside.
Then, I decided that a bottle of red wine to go with the fish and vegetables would have me feeling great.

I was thinking about the times in my life when I was at my most healthy, and at the top of the list was when I was living in the woods of Jacksonville, Florida, cooking fish on the grill every night, after having worked my ass off all day as a "laborer," and washing the whiting fillets, smoked over a red oak fire in olive oil and eaten along with sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic and broccoli, down with red wine; three quarters of a bottle each night, no more.

I left at about 6 PM, to walk to the Rite Aid to get a bottle of red wine for 3 dollars. "This is cheaper than a half gallon of grape juice," I thought, as a further rationalization as to why I was breaking my 4 day stretch of sobriety.

Alcohol Is Food

"Alcohol is food; and it's a drug," said a random guy to another as I passed them on the sidewalk on the way back to the apartment.

I just got the fish out of the oven and eaten, when I noticed that I had only 45 minutes to make it to the music store.

I got there at exactly 8 PM, before they could slam the door in my face and bought a new harmonica.

After I had gotten off the trolley on Canal Street, with about 18 minutes to cover the mile to the music store, David the water jug player was standing there, charging his phone off one of the outlets along the trolley line.

"Do you want to smoke?" he asked.

"I have to run to the music store for a new harmonica."

"Did you lose it?"

"No, but it's out of tune, and one of the notes doesn't sound."

"Go, Daniel...get your harmonica!" said David.

It occurred to me that, a few times, after he had asked me to smoke him up out of my own stash, I had given him similar excuses for why I couldn't hang around and do so; and now I had added a bit of veracity to those claims, since it was he that was offering this time, and yet, I still had to run.

I came out of the music store, as they slammed the door behind me, with a brand new harmonica and 10 dollars left from the 45 which I had made the night before, with the blown out harmonica and lackadaisical, due to alcohol withdrawal.

I traversed the entire Quarter to find David to take him up on his offer.

His weed was so potent that everything went into slow motion and it felt like it took me the length of an entire movie to walk to the Lilly Pad from there. It was a 9 block walk, and yet, it seemed like I would never get there.

Snark At The Top Of The List
I passed everybody whom I know whom I might (and did) stop to chat with.

I finally got to the Lilly Pad and spent what seemed like half of the night trying to tune my guitar "perfectly." I had the opportunity to buy the Snark tuner, and have now put doing so at the top of my list.

There is just too much noise where I play; and I think it is "subsonic" noise; such as huge waves of sound coming down Bourbon Street, being funneled by the buildings on each side of the street, which is why I can't hear it, yet it makes my guitar sound like it is out of tune at times, when it isn't. 

The Snark tuner verified that. It would read all "green," yet a string might sound flat; until a bit later when it would sound great. The frequencies below 20 hz., which are inaudible, except to snakes, can theoretically do this, if they are out of tune with the guitar.

I felt like I wasn't going to make any money at all, as I tweaked and tuned and tweaked and tuned, as tourists walked past by the drove. It was a busy night.

Somehow, I managed to come down enough off the weed and the wine, which I had run out of, to play half decently, and had slowly broken in the brand new harp by starting softly on it; and was able to make 12 dollars and 50 cents in the last hour that I played.

It is 6:30 now, Saturday night.

It is blazing hot outside.

I have another fish in the oven and another bottle of wine, and am trying to repeat the previous day, as my health is improving rapidly.

I have a couple of new songs to feature tonight, and am uplifted by that thought. "It's All I Can Do" by The Cars, being one of them.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Back To Work

45 Dollar Thursday

My layoff from busking has ended at 4 days off.

I went into the Quarter on this Thursday night, which cooled down considerably from the daytime highs in the upper 90's which had me thinking that there might be very few tourists on the streets.I got to the Lilly Pad at about 10 PM, after having laid down and almost gone to sleep at about 8:30 in my room. I was still ailing from eczema that is receding, but slowly.

The rash kind of looks like a sunburn, but I know better. It's alright if I play at night, under my spotlight.
Somehow, I sat up and did a few sit-ups and then decided to go to work.
I was feeling markedly better, after 3 days of alcohol free juice fasting; and with the addition of some exercises to my daily routine.

I had gone to the Ideal Market at about noon, just as I had the previous day, and broke a sweat along the way, but was not itching quite as much as I had been on Wednesday, when making the same trek.

I also eliminated the Monster Energy drink that I had consumed on Wednesday, substituting a coconut juice drink, sweetened only with fructose; no "sucralose," and no artificial colors.

I had sent a text to Lilly, explaining my absence for 4 days from her stoop, as being due to a skin rash. She sent back, thanking me for letting her know what had happened to me.

I started out with 2 dollars in my tip jar, after having resisted the temptation to spend it on a hard cider before starting, to loosen me up.

I got a 20 dollar bill after my first song; something that I would have certainly missed out on, had I taken 10 minutes to go to the Quartermaster for the hard cider.

I was struggling with my playing, my fingers tiring after the first song; I guess I needed to stretch them and warm up after 4 days off.

I continued to play for almost an hour without getting any more tips from the light crowd; blaming it on a slight lack of enthusiasm because of being sober, and the fact that my harmonica is basically blown out, with one note plugged, and a few more out of tune.

I tried to work around the good notes and play simple melodies, but it was kind of embarrassing to be so simple. When I have a brand new harp, I think people tip me for the effort that I put into playing it, and that comes from knowing that all the notes are in tune and being able to go full steam ahead on the thing and at least not worry about intonation.
I switched to my simplest material and tried to rely upon my vocals, because my guitar playing behind the blown out harp was not very sharp, either.

I thought about the 20 dollars as being harmonica money, resolving to get one "first thing in the morning."

I also kept deciding to take a quick break and run to the store for a hard cider, but then changing my mind (why break 3 days of sobriety) and continuing to play.

It was after about the 3rd such instance of waffling that a guy came from the direction of Laffits Blacksmith  Shop Tavern and placed what I thought was 2 or 3 dollars in the tiposaurus jar.

"Thank you, I'm struggling a bit tonight," I said, before breaking into a song as he walked away.

After I finished the song, a closer look revealed that he had put 4 single bills, wrapped around a 20 in there. It was another 24 bucks that I would have missed out on, had I run to the store for alcohol.

Another dollar tip brought the total to 45 bucks, after an hour and a half of playing.
I decided to pack up and finally run to the store for that hard cider, at about 11:40, but, after packing up, changed my mind yet again, as I sat and pondered the decision for a couple minutes.

During that time, a large car slowed down as it passed me and the driver, whom I half recognized, said: "Hey, I've got (something I couldn't discern)."


"Wait a minute, I'll be coming by."

I wondered if he was a weed dealer, and if he would have the good green when he came by; and if it would be 20 dollars a gram. And I wondered how the weed dealers seem to know, through some kind of telepathy, when I have just gotten a 20 dollar tip or more, and then to materialize out of nowhere.

Since I was already packed up, I didn't wait for him to come around, but rather, headed for home.

I was too much looking forward to taking home all of the money that I had made, like I had done throughout my previous stints of sobriety; when it would accumulate on my coffee table and I could soon start thinking about buying things like the speakers for my home stereo that I now wonder how I ever lived without, and which I bought after the last 18 day stretch without alcohol or weed.

The sparse crowd that I saw as I walked Bourbon Street was a sign that I had made a wise decision in knocking off at that time -not that I couldn't have made another 45 dollars, off of such a thin crowd, because I already had, but the odd were against it, especially with a blown out harmonica.

I passed by Jay, the really loud singer on Royal Street, who complained about "Europeans who don't tip."

I once again bit my tongue and didn't brag about the 30 dollars per hour that I had made at the Lilly Pad. That would just beckon the arrival of a day when I show up there to find him singing really loud. And if his jar was full of 20 dollar bills then, it would take all of Lilly's horses and all of her men, to make it so I could play there again.

Jay puts in close to 8 hours a night on Royal Street to make the 100 to 300 dollars that he is glad to pull out of his pocket and brag about.

Now I am home with about 40 dollars (after having caved in and bought a pack of cigarettes at the Unique Grocery) baking a whole tilapia and planning to buy a new harmonica and maybe a new Snark tuner, in the morning.

The skeezers on Royal Street were visibly perturbed as I walked past them.
One of them, who is the current roommate of Jay the really loud singer, has been skeezing for years at the same spot.

He sits amidst accoutrements so plentiful that he actually employs a cart to tote the stuff.
There is the little pad that he sits on, usually reading a book -just putting his hours in; letting the dog (with its empty dog-dish) to his right, and the sign ("homeless, broke, anything helps, God bless you") to his left, do all the "work."

I just walk past him, at a loss for anything to say. I'm afraid that any words might betray my true feelings of disdain for a person who makes a career out of skeezing.

He is even more lazy than the next girl whom I passed, who at least made the effort to look up at me with "sad puppy" eyes. I didn't acknowledge her, either. She just would have asked me for something...

Then there is the older woman at the corner of Iberville Street with the sign that reads: "Be kind, this could be you."

Maybe it could be me; but not every night for a year and a half and counting, could it be me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

4 Years Ago Today

It is Wednesday.
If I take tonight off from busking, I will tie my record for the most consecutive days taken off from busking, since I came to New Orleans in July of 2011.
That record was set during Tropical Storm Lee, which raged for about 4 days, not long after I came here, making busking impractical.
I remember hunkering down with Sue, the Colombian lady, in the stairwell of the Marriot Hotel on Canal Street, watching the palm trees doing a spasmodic dance in the wind and rain.
I am back on a juice fast, and haven't drank alcohol in 2 days as of this writing.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Funny How That Happens

Saving My Skin
It is Tuesday.

I was up at 4 AM, after having slept the normal night hours, rather than busking.
My skin is still bothering me, and was a factor in my decision to get some rest and stick to a fruit and vegetable diet.

Salvador, The Movie
The movie that I watched last night, instead of busking was "Salvador," which came out in 1986, and is based upon a true story. It is one of about a dozen that Tim, my caseworker gave me.

Amazing how, while that all out war was raging in the streets of El Salvador, and hundreds of people were being blown away by (U.S. supplied) munitions, I was in Massachusetts, working as a computer technician and probably having a bad day, cussing and throwing things, because the alternator on my car was acting up, or because someone got in the passenger seat without looking and sat on my Yes "Close To The Edge" CD, snapping it in half.
- 4 out of 5 stars....
Down By Law, The Movie

The other one, which I watched after waking up at 4 AM and having coffee, was "Down By Law," with Tom Waites both acting in and composing a lot of the music for.

It was shot in Louisiana, with scenes in New Orleans, and it was just as cool as I thought it would be to watch one of the myriad movies which are being (increasingly) shot in New Orleans. There are film crews all over the place out there.

- 3 1/2 out of 5 stars...

The dry skin and rash is taking forever to go away. I think that I may have lowered my tolerance for whatever irritates me by going on the last fast/cleanse of 18 days. 18 days it took in order to feel great, and just a few days of eating and drinking the wrong things to ruin it.
I was also alcohol free during that period.
New Recordings
I am going to to set aside a few hours for the task, and replace the "Crappy Recordings Made Outdoors" sidebar to the right of this blog with "Snowball Era" songs.

I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea that they could come to New Orleans and make a steady 16 dollars per hour busking, sounding only as good as those crappy recordings. They are misleading in that regard.

I plan upon replacing that whole section, and will have to try the mp3 hosting site to see if it will still work, and that my account hasn't been closed due to lack of activity or something.
Recovery, Recuperation
I hope to be able to go out tonight, after this day of sobriety, and recover some money for things like laundry and toilet paper, and eventually food, towards the end of the month, as my expensive juicing habits ($2.70 for one papaya, for example) have chewed up more than half of my food stamp money with three quarters of the month left to go.

The drinking is just going to have to go; especially since my alter ego seems to want to wipe me out financially just to keep me from drinking too much...

Funny how, as soon as you spend yourself broke, you notice that one of the holes on your harmonica has gone out of tune, you are wearing your last set of clean clothes, and as you sit in a dark bathroom (because the bulb burned out as soon as you flipped the switch) you see a toilet paper roll with barely anything left on it; as your lighter comes on to light your last cigarette. Funny how that happens...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Two Headed Baby Is Gay!

Raw Papaya
I am about to run to the market to buy, amongst other things, a papaya. They are on sale at the Ideal Market.
The trees are fascinating. Seems like the fruit
would give a man a lot of courage...
I was feeling pretty good Saturday night, before drinking the cheap Skol Vodka, and then having a flare up of eczema, which I blame on it. The last time it flared up, I was drinking Skol Vodka -mixed with nice healthy grape juice, but Skol Vodka still.
I think it irritates my brain stem, that Skol...
Raw Demos
I might try to work on a song or two, on this Sunday.
I have decided to stop trying to make my songs sound like they were done in a professional studio, because the effort involved in that is too time consuming. 
I can always append: "The raw demos" after the title of the CD, giving me more leeway in choosing material that I think came out well; even though there might be the "slight" hum of the air conditioner in the background.
It is Sunday morning -actual morning, and not the late afternoon time that I have been starting my (waking) days at lately.
I am typing this in my room, after having slept through Saturday night; and will transfer it via data stick to the computer room, where I will post it, after slapping a photo or two on it.
I had a 12 Dollar Wednesday night, and then an 8 dollar Thursday night, and achieved the status of "flat broke," sometime Friday before going out to busk.
30 Dollar Friday offset by reckless spending.
Friday "morning" I was up in the evening at around sundown.

I retrieved my solar powered light from the grassy area around the parking lot, where it had received a good charge and had been rinsed off by the brief downpour which has been pretty much a daily occurance for the past week.

In fact, the weather forecast for the next 5 day period has been the same icon of the sun, with the same 20% chance of rain, and the same high and low temperatures, varied by a degree, here and there, perhaps to prove that it is not a mis-print. How they can foresee that, 4 days ahead, the high temperature will be 90 degrees, but that 5 days from now it will only reach 89, seems to me, an inexact science.

It was about 6 PM., 2 hours before the computer room would be closing.

I must somehow juggle my schedule to fall in line with the computer rooms, or this blog will continue to suffer as it has the past couple of weeks.

I spent 20 minutes cleaning up my kitchen, which told a story; through dirty dishes and scraps of fruits and vegetables on the counter; of my having come home late Thursday and eaten tuna fish, washed down with the juices of carrot, spinach, brocoli, apple, peach, lemon and dash of jalepeno pepper.

I had made only about 8 bucks Thursday, and had spent it all on wine and weed, and wound up walking home with 60 cents, and a "nickel" of weed, in my pocket. I was thinking about the nickel of weed as I set out walking at around 1:30 AM.

I didn't wan't to try to skeeze the 65 cents that I was short of the trolley fare for the primary reason that it would make a hypocrite out of me; given all of my vitriol (some of which has found its way onto the pages of this blog) against skeezers in general.

One of my biggest peeves against the skeezers is that they make it hard for the person who actually IS "just trying to get home" to get home; due to the preponderance of that line, used disingenuously, by what I call "trolley skeezers." They are the ones, of course, who skeeze at the trolley stops; the ones not too far from the liquor store.

There is actually a guy who rides the trolley back and forth the length of its run, observing which passengers utilise an all-day pass. He will inquire of them if their next stop will be their last, and hence, will they no longer be needing their all-day pass, which is good until 4 AM. He will collect the all-day passes of the people who no longer need them, who will surrender them to him; and then will re-sell them a a discount to people about to board the thing.

He has regular clients -people who buy a pass each day; use it to conduct their business; and then return home well before the thing expires. He has learned to recognize these individuals; and probably has an internal itinerary of all kinds of different folks' schedules. He is a trolley "hustler," and stands head and shoulders above trolley skeezers, in my esteem.

As such, I chose to walk for a half hour, rather than become the umpteenth person to ask anybody for spare change "to get home." The guitar on my back would also open the door for any of them to barb me with something like: "You must not be very good on that thing, if you didn't even make your trolley fare!"

"I played well enough for a bottle of Wild Irish Rose and a 5 dollar sack of weed, sir!"

I made a cup of coffee, then went to the computer room, where I hastily (as has been my mode the past few weeks) did yesterday's blog post.
My Last Penny
Then, I ran to the Rouses Market on Carrolton Street where, along with picking up the fruits and vegetables that I would juice, I dumped a bag full of pennies into their change machine and received $2.89. One of those 289 was my "last penny."

I stopped for a half pint of Skol vodka, halfway along the walk into the Quarter, resuming the journey with it and 14 cents on me. "Skeeze me now," I thought as I passed the Big Easy Market skeezers, and then the Claiborne Bridge skeezers.

In anticipation of this financial condition, I had grabbed the three 1,000 peso notes of Colombian money that I had thrown in a drawer after I was tipped them by somebody who may have been earnestly trying to tip me about 2  bucks, because, through an inquiry at Harrah's Casino, I later determined that that was what they are worth. The casino wasn't redeeming Colombian money then, though, due to its "volatility." I would use them to seed my tiposaurus jar, since their dimentions and their shade of green are close enough in the dark, to be effective.

In one of my dreams last night, there was a newspaper with a review of my music in it; and I was telling someone that I didn't place much credence in that particular publication and showed him the front page headline:

"Two Headed Baby Is Gay!!" as proof. Then I woke up.

The Unskeezable Skeeze

I got to the Quarter to find that David the waterjug player and the promise of a gulp off of whatever he was drinking; were nowhere in sight.

I pressed on; sipping upon an Arizona Energy drink spiked with my last half pint of vodka on earth, towards the Lilly Pad. I was telling myself that 13 dollars would be a satisfactory take upon this very hot and humid night.

There, in front of the Gallerie De Art Francais, where Balil works, was none other than Brian Hudson, whom I didn't immedately recognize, as he was standing there talking to a guy and wearing a baseball cap; an accessory which I had never seen him in.

The guy also looked like a tourist; and I somehow would more expect to see Brian talking to a musician.

I went over and greeted him; and nodded to the guy whom he was talking to; I think I shook his hand.

I happened to mention, when the topic of "career" came up, that I was on my way out to busk and would be using the foreign money to seed my case.

"I stayed in and watched movies for a couple of days. Now I have to catch up."

I produced the money from my back pocket.

"Is that Colombian money?!? I'm going to Colombia!" asked, and then said, Brian.
I was certainly willing to part with a couple of the 1,000 Peso bills, as they would become valuable to him at his destination, but I quickly threw in the caveat about my having checked their worth, and said "Maybe money goes a lot further in Colombia..."

I have been buying guitar strings off Brian for 2 bucks a set, and it seemed fated that, since I had a couple bucks Colombian, useful to me only as seed money, and he had a set of strings handy; we would make a trade, since he was going to Colombia soon.

I like coincidences; as I think they are Gods way of hinting to us that our lives have meaning; without doing it in a way that would freak us out, like having a burning bush strike up a conversation. What are the odds that on a day that you have Colombian money, which I hadn't touched in 6 months, in your back pocket; you will run into a friend who is going to Colombia in the near future?

As Brian was going to his equipment cart for the strings, out of the gallery came the always well dressed Balil, who handed me a brand new set of guitar strings.

I arrived at the Lilly Pad and played just well enough to make 30 bucks over the coarse of a couple hours; the bulk of that coming from a pretty openly gay guy who was very skinny and dressed very effeminately and who stopped in front of me, after I had stopped playing and who began to fish through what looked like a considerable wad of money stuffed into a little effeminate looking purse.

"This is the smallest that I have," he said almost apologetically, as he placed a 20 in the tiposaurus jar.

Maybe he had heard me from up the street.

Making It Hard On Myself

I consumed an Angry Orchard hard cider during a short break, then, after playing some more, headed home.

A stop at The Unique Boutique afforded me the opportunity to run in there for cigarettes and a Mikes Hard Lemonade.

I had just cracked open the drink and rounded the corner from Royal Street onto Canal Street when I espied David the waterjug player, who just happened to be in the company of one of the fine weed salesman who work in the Quarter.

I had just concluded a 10 dollar business deal with said personage when the ringing of the trolleys bell signaled that it had come to save me from totally wiping myself out financially.
Early Saturday morning, I arrived at the apartment and laid an empty can of hard lemonade, $9.63, an almost full pack of cigarettes, a sack of weed and 2 brand new sets of guitar strings on my coffee table and then laid myself down in a vain attempt to sleep.

My allergies were bothering me as I tossed and turned, and by the time I had fallen asleep, it was almost busking time. A time I decided to just sleep through.

Looking back at the previous day, it was only the consumption of the cheap Skol vodka that stands out from anything else that I had done differently; and therefore I suspect it is the culprit behind the eczema flare up which basically what kept me home Saturday night.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Romania Checks In

Although I'm not naive enough to think that it is just the "entertainment quality" of my writing which draws page views from around the world
(as evidenced by the fact that some of my more "popular" posts have borne titles such as "Eating Myself Out," "Things Could Explode Here," and "The Saturday Evening Post") yesterday saw a surge in traffic from Romania!

United States
United Kingdom

It is nice to see that the Lidgleys of London apparently continue to look in. The current jigsaw puzzle that I am assembling depicts a house in Herefordshire, England, which I think is where the Lidgeleys hail from. Could it be their neighbors house??
"Herefordshire, England"
Two Days Off A Moving Experience
I took Sunday and Monday off from busking (and apparently from blogging) for "restorative" purposes.
I spent Sunday making juice out of the fruits and vegetables which I had loaded up upon that morning at the Ideal Market on Broad Street, consuming them and staying away from alcohol and cigarettes.
6 Movies In 20 Years 
Staying away at least until about midnight, when I made a run for cigarettes and a bottle of wine to go with the second of two movies which I wound up watching that day.
The movie, "Barry Lyndon" (Stanley Kubeck sp?) was on pause as I ran to the store and back, dodging skeezers, by traversing the opposite, or Spanish side of Broad Street. 
They (the Latinos) sit on their stoops listening to their music, drinking their Corona, and asking not what I have and what they can get from me as I go past them; and the skeezers stay on the other side of the road. 
Being recognized as a patron of the Ideal Market (and one who makes his best attempt at speaking to them in their native tongue when in there) has garnered me a few nods, a wave or two and at least a smile, as I pass, unmolested despite having a cigarette in plain view.
Ideal Market (left): The cleanest, most efficiently organized and well stocked store, run by hard workers, that I have ever been inside of, and that anyone has ever parked a white van in front of;  ruining a photo.
These bring to 6 the total of movies that I have watched in the past 20 years.
I never owned a TV throughout that period (and if I did, I would just watch Late Night With David Letterman, in black and white, and then snap the set off before the ensuing newscast sucked me in and usurped my time) and I never went to the movie theater, never visited a friend to sit down and watch a movie, and when I was in jail, I would read in my cell while the bulk of other inmates watched movies in the common room. When I did poke me head out and glance at the screen, all I seemed to see were explosions and gunplay; so I never thought I was missing anything.
Having not watched a movie in 19 years ("Waterworld," 1996) I was impressed by the high quality of the picture, and noticed that the shock value has generally been vamped up; whereby, now there are huge bloody scenes of carnage, whereas, when I was a kid, a simple murder in a small town (which was only implied by showing the killers shoes treading across a squeaky wooden floor, and then a pealing scream) was enough fodder for suspense...
I have watched "Barry Lyndon," "A Fist Full of Dynamite," "Momento," and "Kill Bill vol. 2" and have hit the reject button on a couple, to include "Last Tango In Paris," which actually gave me my first glimpse of Marlon Brando. He is lauded enough that I had heard of him, and I could kind of see what all the fuss is about, during the 20 minutes that I watched; but I couldn't deal with it being in French, especially after having already wracked my brain ordering foods such as lampara entera (whole tillapia) at the Ideal Market.
"Momento," I watched twice, both because I didn't grasp the plot the first time, and because it was intriguing enough that I wanted to grasp the plot.
The movies have been coming from Tim, my Unity caseworker, who brings them to me on a data stick.
This could be part of a larger cosmic plan to turn me into a screenplay writer (who composes the music for the soundtrack, also) some day.
I don't know if this means that I am going to start to watch movies; I have really just discovered them; but I really couldn't wait to see the conclusion of the movie that was on pause, as I went along Canal Street with my bottle of Irish Rose wine; and I even broke into a jog...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Rumble Of Thunder

It is thundering outside.
It is about 3 hours after I
Help A Craka' Out
had decided that I would take this (Sun)day off, maybe do laundry, maybe record some tracks, but definitely eat some "restorative" foods, of the kind that I just bought down the street, at the Ideal Market, the "Spanish" one.
My food card was charged with 194 bucks last night at midnight, after the 4th of July fireworks were only a faint sulfurous smell in the air.
I had gotten to the Lilly spot at about 11 PM, and played for a total of an hour and a half, netting about 37 bucks.
I arrived an hour later than I would have, had I not ran the errand of acquiring some bud, but it was one of those nights (again) when it seemed like I was cosmically connecting with the equally stoned audience; speaking their language, reenforcing their vibe...or just taking advantage of the fact that, to them, all music sounds better on some good bud, and their I was...
The Essence Of It All
It was also the last day of the "Essence Festival."
The Essence festival is a showcase of African American talent, with every featured artist having skin no lighter than a coffee with maybe one creamer in it. Mary J. Blige, and Usher were there.
It is also becoming a weekend (which falls around the 4th of July annually) when I hear a lot of other white buskers complaining about the dearth of tips.
Jay (the really loud singer) comes to mind.
He, for the second year in a row, complained about "these cheap n*****s."
He was also sporting a sign (identical to the one that adorned his guitar case last year) which read: "Help a cracka' out."
Last year I did very well during Essence Festival.
I did better than almost anyone else (with the exception of certain Asian violinists that had an American flag stuck in their hair) that I talked to.
I think the formula is simple.
The city was inundated with black people; here for the festival.
They put as many police officers on duty in the Quarter as they had uniforms for, plus some guys in shirts and trousers that were "close enough" to being police blue and who had their personal pistols tied to their belts.
There were many instances when I had police officers at 10 o' clock, 6 o' clock, 4 o' clock, and a couple coming down the street on horses, who would be there in a minute...
Here We Go
The local newspaper bore the headline of "Here We Go," in regards to the occasion.
There was no exclamation point after "Here We Go", though, making it seem that whomever wrote the headline was consumed with, not bated anticipation, but rather, dread. 
As in: Here we go, our city overrun with black people everywhere you look; and; what's going to happen this year...a random shooting spree? An all-out brawl on Bourbon Street? Only time will tell, but, "Here We Go."
To bring this back to my original point. I did the same thing that I did last year, when I had garnered at least one 100 dollar tip: I played the "whitest" music that there is.
I know that black people are very keen to a white guy who is trying to patronize them by playing "black" music. They can detect a Stevie Wonder song being performed by a guy who never even owned a copy of "Songs In The Key Of Life" 3 blocks away.
Jay's "Help A Cracker Out" sign was also seen through by them, I suspect.
I wasn't consciously playing the "whitest" music in existence; just, my best material.
I played Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, John Lennon, The Beatles and it seemed like they took me as being genuine and thought "That's what he SHOULD be playing; this makes
sense and reaffirms my view of the world; I can't stand it when some white boy breaks into Barry White or Al Jareau, thinking he's gonna impress me; what does he know about Barry White? That's the music my grandpa used to put on our old beat up phonograph each Saturday night, and we used to sing along; that's sacred music...makes me want to break his guitar over his head...for real!!" and they tipped well ($37/hour and a half -for comparison only- your tips may vary...well, at least compared to the other complaining buskers that I talked to....)
I only briefly fell into the Jimi Hendrix song, "Little Wing," but that performance was "genuine" and I was "feeling it" because I used to play that song on the bass, backing up a Hendrix impersonator, in my very first band at the age of 16. It was nostalgic for me; and the sweat pouring down my face on the 90 degree night was a good enough effect to "prove" to them that I was indeed feeling it. Plus, I forgot, in the moment, that my performance might be construed as pandering.
I broke into a bit of "I've Never Had A Dream Come True," by Stevie Wonder; at one point but avoided, again, having ther guitar broken over my head, by the Hand of Fate.
By The Way
All 168 of you, who visited my recent post entitled: "Eating Myself Out" (which was about "eating myself out of house and home)" grow up, perverts...just what the hell are you searching for on the Internet, anyways????

Friday, July 3, 2015

Time To Run

Head For The Hills!
I have to make a beeline to the Louisiana Music Factory music store for a new harmonica.
Their summer hours have them closing at 8 PM, rather than 10 PM.
I have too many blown out notes on my current harmonica.
They sell Snark tuners there, but they are almost 20 bucks.
All hell seems to be breaking loose, as I broke 3 strings last night, playing along with the decrepit harmonica, and we are entering the slow season, when music stores cut back their hours and musicians like Tanya and Dorise head for the hills (of China, perhaps).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cabbage Overdose?

Time Woes
It is just about 7:30 PM, a half hour before the computer room here closes.
I, once again overslept, and was too late to attempt to get to Music Express, on Magazine Street, in order to buy a new Snark tuner for 11 bucks.
It seems like I have been running late, lately -since I started back drinking, as a matter of fact.
I haven't been practicing much new music, recording much, reading much nor blogging much.
Snark Hunting
I got into the Quarter Tuesday night right around sundown, but couldn't find David the water jug player, who is now David the blue guitar player.
The Unique Grocery people said that they had seen him "about an hour ago."
David is like certain snakes; the ones that live their entire lives within something like a 100 square foot area around where they are born.
If David is not at the trolley stop where he sleeps, with a jacket thrown over him, for privacy, to shield him from sunlight or for warmth; then he is usually at one of three other places; and I was mildly vexed to not have found him at any of them.
I was hoping he had picked the tuner off the ground, and would have it.
I waited around, using up valuable busking time, until he appeared, coming from a direction which is unusual for him, but headed towards The Unique Grocery, which IS usual for him.
He didn't have the Snark tuner. It had been dark, he had been drunk and "I'm pretty blind, you know that..."
Had I been mistrustful of him, I might have thought that he had been coming from that strange direction after running the errand of selling it to someone. But, David is one of the more honest street people out there. His "religion" is Rastafarian, but at least he has one...
Music Express has Snarks for 11 dollars, plus tax.
I have about 55 bucks left of the 260 or so which I had a couple weeks ago after having gotten two 100 dollar bills as tips, within the same hour. I had just begun drinking again at that point, and my playing skills were still pretty sharp after the 18 days of sobriety.
If The Louisiana Music Factory carries Snarks, then they can't be much more than the 11 bucks that "the other guys" charge.
I will look up their number and call them along my way to the store for cigarettes, alcohol, spring water, skin lotion and perhaps some cucumbers and tomatoes to (wash well and then) juice.
I have been feeling pretty gnarly the past couple days after having juiced a whole head of cabbage to go along with carrots and a few random vegetables.
It crossed my mind that, along with the chore of breaking down the juicer and cleaning it after every use; I now must pay attention to washing off the fruits and vegetables first, and to making sure that the counter top that I slice them up upon is clean. Hasn't e-coli bacteria been found on lettuce before?
That would be a great irony; man dies after drinking a "nice healthy glass of fresh vegetable juice" because he didn't wash off his tomatoes.
It also crossed my mind that the human body might be a bit intolerant of eating a whole head of cabbage. Some things are good for you in small doses.