Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cat Matters

  • $8.50 Wednesday

  • 24th Day Sober Reached

  • The Cat

I just had to swat the cat off of the keyboard of this laptop, where it had decided to park itself.

I often wonder about how it chooses its lounging spots.

It used to lay upon the window sill, which made sense given the curiosity inbred into cats and the activity which can be seen through the window.

It stopped using the window sill at about the time the temperatures dropped when winter came, which also made sense. The coldest spots in the whole apartment being the window sills.

It then began to use the chair upon which I sit behind this computer, and even if I were sitting in it would wedge itself behind me.

This afternoon, though, it lay down upon a pair of jeans that were on the floor, close to the dirty laundry pile.

The jeans were black, as is the chair that I sit on behind the computer. They also would have my scent in them, like the chair.

I thought that it moved because I usually leave a bright lamp on and if it slept on the chair it would be doing so under the glare.

The jeans were in the shade.

The laptop is black, and is probably redolent with my odor, just as the black jeans and chair would be.

For a period of about a week, it was laying atop the backrest of the couch in the living room, which is a brownish green, and doesn't fit the pattern.

The entrance door, though, is visible from that vantage point, and, having been relatively new to the apartment and myself as its owner, it hadn't gleaned the regularity of my schedule and probably sat there waiting for my return whenever I had gone out, thinking, probably, that the door is where I came from and worrying that if the doorway was out of its sight then I may never materialize.

I made sure the cat knew that sleeping upon the keyboard of the laptop is unacceptable by throwing a fit and slamming my hand down upon the table that the laptop sits on, which is also off limits (the whole table) because it could and would swat my speakers onto the floor.

$8.50 Wednesday

After posting from Starbucks yesterday, I left there and walked through the chilly air to the Lilly Pad.

I felt like I might be the only busker out, as I saw zero of them the entire length of Royal Street, which is rare.

Louise was even absent from her cubby hole across from the Supreme Court building where she reads tarot cards and gives advice. She has yet to try to rebuild the bridge that she has burned and try to use my apartment again; she just can't unring that bell. I will try to be as polite as possible should the occasion arise, and refrain from saying something rude. I might just say: "It's just not in the cards, Louise..."

Maybe she does indeed see in her cards that it would be futile to attempt to be my roommate again.

She is a textbook "borderline personality," and as Brian Hudson, musician, put it: "She seems to be either overly loving and kind; or walking down the street spewing hatred towards everyone and everything; at the top of her lungs."

There were hardly any people out.

I lost out on a couple of tips because of experimenting with the harmonica in the key of E flat, unsuccessfully at times. I also did one of my originals when I was feeling that a group had paused to listen; and that a familiar song might have been called for. Call it "buskers instinct."

A five dollar tip after I had found a song "After Midnight," by Eric Clapton which fit the harmonicas mode, brought my total to the above, after 2 hours of playing. I was satisfied, and bought instant coffee, a newspaper and a can of cat food; and then made the mistake of paying $1.25 for the trolley when I had an all day pass in my pocket. D'oh!!

Now Starbucks is closing, it is Thursday and not much warmer, but I will get to the Lilly Pad an hour earlier than last night, because this one closes at 9PM (in 3 minutes).

You've just read: 724 words.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Yes, Tonight

This is a critical time.

I am working on my 24th day without a drop of alcohol, and maybe it is a blessing that I have only $1.75 in my pocket.
Yesterday, the rain started in the afternoon and then poured down into the evening. I still wanted to do something, so I loaded up my laptop and headed for Starbucks, where I could use my gift card on strong coffee and get caught up on things Internet.
I hadn't even brought my guitar, and had frequent instances of my heart jumping in my chest as I looked to see it not by me, before remembering that I had left it at home. Being a homeless busker for 8 years has left a resonance. A guitar has basically been on my back everywhere I have gone the past 7 years, and I felt off balance as I walked along -as if I might topple over in the opposite direction of where the guitar's weight usually presses.
After reading and, in some cases, replying to my e-mail, and being re-directed to Facebook through e-mails informing me that someone commented, or liked a photo or a post, and then spending time commenting back; I barely made it to this blog in time to post.
I left Starbucks at 9 PM to discover that the rain had stopped.
I decided to take the trolley back to the apartment, grab my guitar and then return to play from about 10 PM until after midnight; thinking that the tourists whom had been holed up in hotels while the deluge occurred outside, might come out in droves.
I went back to the apartment, had a quick snack of baked fish, grabbed my guitar and then went to the back exit where I turned around to go back to the apartment after seeing that the rainfall had not only resumed, but was coming down like cats and dogs.
I made a recording of a song about papayas for about 3 hours; trying to give it a Latin beat using maracas, timbales, congas; and bongos -digitally recorded ones, that is.
Right now, I am at Starbucks in Harrah's Casino. I thought that they were open until midnight, but they are to close in another 15 minutes or so, at 10 PM.
This is after being disappointed to find that the Canal and St. Charles Street one had been closed early, due to some water related issue with the city that has overtones of the Flint Michigan situation, in my mind.
Then, I was disappointed to learn that the Louisiana Music Factory took no returns on harmonicas "once you put your mouth on them."
"Can't you send them back to the Hohner factory for credit?"
The staff there, whose ignoring of and rudeness towards me I have blogged about, seemed to revel in telling me that I couldn't get a refund. Harmonicas have to be purchased on blind faith that they are not going to have unplayable notes on them.
That really sucked, and, I was glad that I was 23 days sober, as the drunk incarnation of myself probably would have gone off on a tirade. "I guess I'll just throw this one in the trash, then! Nothing like flushing 14 bucks down the toilet.
If I could get a refund or replacement through the Hohner factory, that is something that I will have to investigate on my own. I couldn't imagine the staff at the Music Factory apprising me of that information, even if they had it. They are the ones who remained mum about the fact that they were having an "everything 20% off" sale the last time I was in there and had inquired about the price of a Blues Bender harmonica.
One of these days, I will politely try to determine what their problem with me is centered around.
Then, I went to Harrahs Casino, where I am now. They have the only Starbucks that is open past 9 PM.
The last time I was here, the young black guy working the front security podium barred my entering with the words "Not Tonight."
I blogged about that pretty thoroughly a couple months ago.
Tonight, there was a black lady there, who greeted me warily, as if trying to judge whether or not I was a skeezer. I had the guitar and the backpack, yet I was dressed in my black "dress" shoes and had on the new black jeans which the Lidgleys of London had sent in a Christmas Parcel, and I squeezed by the lady without any "Not Tonight"s being uttered.
Now, it is about 10 PM and I have $1.75 on me.
The temperatures are just warm enough outside to facilitate the playing of a guitar, at about 48 degrees.
I have trolley fare home, should I not make a cent; and I have no monkey on my back telling me that I have to make at least enough to get drunk on. So, I am counting those as blessings, and am about to go out and walk the 10 blocks to the Lilly Pad to see what happens.
Monday, I was pleasantly surprised to have made 29 bucks, and it has lasted me 2 days, with cigarette purchases being a thorn in my side....yeah, I have to quit the things sooner or later and the longer I smoke the harder it will be to quit. I tried cigars, thinking that they would satisfy the "oral fixation," as Freud would say; but I wound up inhaling them like cigarettes and doing my lungs an even worse disservice...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

E Flat Major

It's 4:30 in the morning, Tuesday, the 26th of January, 2016.

Posting From Starbucks

I played for about 2 hours last night, making 29 bucks; with a 20 dollar bill winding up in the jar.

Before going out, I had tested the new harmonica that I had bought Sunday evening, after Howard and I had watched the Patriots lose their playoff game against the Denver Broncos at what has become our traditional spot for watching playoff games involving the Denver Broncos (Howard calls Boulder, CO. his "place of origin") and Superbowls.

Howard had smuggled in chips and salsa, so that he wouldn't have to spend any money in there; even though he has recently inherited almost 100 thousand dollars. Last year, he smuggled in a bottle of tequila, so that we wouldn't have to pay 7 dollars for Felipe's famous margaritas.

I was working upon my 21st day sober and was glad to see that Howard had opted not to drink.

I have to admire him for sticking to his principles, and for not having become extravagant in his spending.

I never pried, but have always suspected that, even when the two of us were sleeping behind an abandoned building in Baton Rouge; that he had a good amount of money tucked away, somewhere. 

What I had gleaned from our conversations was that he was planning upon bequeathing his daughter money; and wanted to maximize the eventual amount by making sacrifices, such as living homeless upon Cheetoz and Pepsi and fast food specials.

During the game, he told me that he had sent his daughter 10 thousand bucks, and hadn't even gotten a thank you. I guess a parent's love is unconditional.

I had made 47 bucks Saturday night, in about 2 and a half hours, even though one note on my harmonica had to be avoided.

After I had bought food (my food stamp card is toast already for the next 9 days) and taken the trolley into town, where I bought an energy drink, and tipped the waitress 2 dollars who would have worked Howard and I's table, had we ordered anything; I decided to get a cheap harmonica, a Hohner "Ol' Standby," which was $14.11 out the door.

A test of it this morning showed it to be of unacceptable quality. Either I got a bad one, or I have become a better and more picky harmonica player, but I decided that I will return the thing for a refund, and then add about 10 bucks to that refund and get another "Blues Bender," by Hohner.

The first one that I got was noticeably better than the 10 dollar "New Orleans Special" harps that I had been using. It is a 20 dollar harp.

I was telling Tim, my caseworker, after he had made the comment that I seemed to be spending a lot of money on harmonicas; that, the reason was that the sub 20 dollar instruments that have been my mainstay just don't last much more than 5 or 6 weeks of being played almost nightly.

I told him that a Marine Band ($50) harp would probably last me 8 months.

I had stepped outside to retrieve Harold, my cat, when up walked another resident of Sacred Heart apartments, who asked: "You play harmonicas, don't you?


He told me that he had a couple harmonicas and asked me if I wanted them.

"Sure," I said. What did I have to lose by taking them, sight unseen. Maybe they would be cheap and/or old and out of tune, but maybe they would be playable. I was intrigued, wondering what key they could possibly be in.

He went into the building while I held his dog on a leash, and emerged to give me no less than a Marine Band harmonica. It was in the key of E-flat.

This is a "horn" key, and I imagine that the original owner, who evidently hadn't played it much, must have jammed in some kind of horn band.

The second "harmonica," turned out to be a pitch pipe (but a good pitch pipe).

I was thinking that I should offer him something for the 50 dollar Marine Band harp, when he spoke up and said that, although he would normally have just given them to me, he was in need of 5 dollars "before Wednesday."

I had 7 bucks on me, left over from Saturday night's 47 dollar take, and the subsequent purchase of the 10 dollar harp, the food, etc. I told him that I would slide the money under his door after I had played tonight.

I spent 11 bucks on food, but got enough to eat for a couple days.

It is forecast to be much colder tommorow (Tuesday) night, but I will still go out and play.

It was very slow, tourist-wise tonight, but the 20 dollar tip most likely came during a solo on the Marine Band harp in the key of E-flat.

I tuned my whole guitar down one half step so that I can play it as if it is in the key of E major instead of E flat. This made available a lot more of my repertoir. Songs such as:

"Candle In The Wind," (Elton John)

"Do You Want To Know A Secret?" (Beatles)

"You Don't Know How It Feels," (Tom Petty)

And the pleasant surprise of discovering that "Scarlet Begonias" and "Aiko, Aiko," both performed by the

Gratful Dead fit hand in glove with the key of the harp.

After almost a year of playing in the same 4 keys, I was in a totally different one; the seldom heard key of E flat major.

I now go to slide 6 dollars under the door of the guy who gave me the harmonica, and who lives in A310. I thought, on my way out, that if I had a great night and made a hundred bucks, I would double up his asking price and slide 10 bucks under his door, but since I made 29 bucks, I think 6 is about right.

You've just read: 841 words.

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's The Hat That They Hate

It's the hat that they hate;
they hate the hat
They hate the hat
and that is that
18 Days Sober
They just can't bear it
whenever I wear it
It is brown, and I don it
But they all frown upon it
Their hatred of hats; I don't share it
They're hat haters,
with hat hating ways
They all hate hats
It's a hat hating craze
The hat is hated by them
But I'm going to defy them
I'm still going to wear it
although they can't bear it
and If I find other hats; I'll try them

No Busking
It is Friday night, and it is very cold and windy outside.
It is probably, but not necessarily, too cold to busk. I do warm up considerably, once I start playing.
The last time I played, the temperature was about 45 degrees, and I was down to wearing just a tee shirt, after about a half hour of playing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wednesday Night Off

I took Wednesday night off, having stayed up Tuesday morning until noon, and then woken up still tired; gone back to sleep; woken up again to debate whether or not it was too late to go out and play, and finally deciding to just drink coffee and get some writing done on my laptop.
I felt very guilty; as if I were shirking my responsibility; and I imagined being out there in this unseasonably warm weather; playing well and sober, making good money, and perhaps being visited by Jason, the computer programmer who wants to quit his job and hike the Appalachian Trail.
He hadn't come by Tuesday, but I imagined him coming by Wednesday, to tell me that he had meant to come by but hadn't made it.
It is Thursday, and it is still early (4:37 PM).
I now run to the store for a can of cat food, and maybe some herb, the acquisition of which will propel me towards the Lilly Pad with haste.
The have forecast "severe" thunderstorms for today and tonight, yet not a drop has fallen so far.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Howard, I Know Where To Look

  • 30 Dollar Monday
  • 38 Dollar Tuesday
  • Days Sober: 15
  • Quarter Mile Time: 2:07
  • Back Pain
  • Howard Makes Contact
I had gotten back from busking at the unusually early hour of about midnight, after having started playing at about 9:30 until about 11 PM and netting what turned out to be 38 bucks.
The last 10 dollars came from a couple who stopped as I was playing "Blackbird," by The Beatles. I had already packed up my stuff, as the temperature had dropped into the mid 40's, and the guy threw the 10 on top of my case. No tiposaurus nor spotlight were in use. It seems like I can do no wrong when I play sober.
The previous night, I had made 30 bucks, a good portion of it coming from a guy named Jason, who is a computer programmer who wants to get out of that profession and also wants to hike the Appalachian trail.
We were able to compare notes, as I once worked in computers, but got out of the trade, to follow my bliss elsewhere...winding up in New Orleans (hot on the trail of my bliss).
I got a 24 hour bus pass yesterday afternoon, went to the Music Exchange to find that it was closed and had flowers and R.I.P. notes to the owner of the place plastered all over the front window.
I managed to get strings at the French Market for 5 bucks (the price for "locals," said the guy who works that particular kiosk).
Retrieving Howard From The Wild, one year ago..
I had planned upon getting up early this morning and using the same pass to go over to Algiers, where I would conduct a search for Howard, starting at the library and hitting all the little stores nearby it.
None of them would know where his house is located, but I could have left notes with them.
I stayed up all night, and was about to embark, when the security girl at the front desk handed me a note from Howard, telling me that he would meet me Sunday to watch the Patriots and Broncos playoff game at the Mexican restaurant where we have made our traditional spot for watching Superbowls and playoff games.
I just need to check that the game is Sunday, and not Saturday, as I had thought that it was. Either way, I will show up there whenever it is, expecting Howard to do the same.
I want to ask him about his house, and his situation in general.
Pretty soon, I want to be fishing for catfish over on that side of the river. Perhaps Howard will give me his address and invite me to see the place.
I imagine that the deal was facilitated by whomever his friends are, over there. All I know about them is that they take him to church each Sunday and then feed him a meal, and had been doing so for a while; dating back to when he lived in a tent by the river.   
Back Pain
 I have periodically had a stiff neck, usually after eating a bunch of soy sauce, and it has come back recently and settled into my upper back, beneath the right shoulder blade.
Given my current diet, I can only suspect that it might be the large amounts of caffeine or something in the energy drinks that is causing it. A hot shower relieves it; though it has been coming back (excuse the pun). I have some yoga stretches that help a bit, too, but I hope that I don't need neck surgery and wonder if medicaid would even cover that...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tweeks At Two Weeks

I will be at 14 days without a drop of alcohol by the end of this day.
I am broke, having not busked the past 3 days; but having been able to stretch what money I had over that course, purchasing only cans of cat food, a lighter and taking a few trolley rides to and from watching football games.
There is no pressure, the weather is in the upper 40's and all I need to make is trolley fare home; should I go out and busk as I plan to...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Potato Days

  • Days Sober: 12
  • Friday Night Off From Busking
  • Algiers Trip Planned

I sit here, early Saturday morning, with a bag by my feet containing freshly pulled beets, olives, a can of cat food, and bananas, and an energy drink.
The beets are to go with the potato diet that I am about to extend to a second day. Yesterday, I started the day around noon with a lot of boiled potatoes with sauerkraut on the side, and doctored up with salt and black pepper and cayenne pepper and mustard and a dash of olive oil and minced garlic; all mashed together.
This power meal helped me to work on music all afternoon. I however, tired towards the evening, and chose to stay in and take a hot bath and work on more music, and watch a movie, perhaps.
I had some popcorn later on in the evening, before getting to sleep at the "normal" time of about 11 PM.
A Running Program
That is why I was up with the sun, and have already taken my 450 yard run, on my way to the store for the above. I run from the corner of the fence out front, to the awning over the sidewalk leading to a certain business. I picked that distance because it is the distance at which I had felt sufficiently winded upon my first foray into jogging a few days ago, to have stopped running there, and resumed walking.
By pacing it off, feeling silly and walking like a referee stepping off a penalty, I have come up with 450 as being the distance of what I am going to make my "daily" run, beginning with these first couple of them. I figure that I can reduce my time from about 2:20 to about 1:45.
What bugs me is that, based upon the distance, which is within feet of being a quarter mile; my velocity, I have calculated at 9:20 per mile. I ran the fastest mile of my life at about the age of 20; at 5:03
I ran the course in 2:24.32 today, which is 3 and a quarter seconds slower than yesterday.
Could the potatoes be slowing me down? Probably not; probably the potatoes minus some kind of protein to go with them.
Eating Solid Food
I have only been eating solid food for the past couple days, after a 10 day juice/water fast. This kept me sober, once again, and I am working on my13th day "dry," as the AA people would refer to it.
They don't consider one "sober" until he overwrites the whole thought process that resulted in his drinking; and no longer even desires a drink.
I don't desire a drink. That might change if, at some point, I add certain foods to my diet, which might make me crave wine; like baked sole with a green salad on the side...
The Patriots are playing a playoff game today, and I will schedule around that, in order to place me in front of a TV somewhere; preferably where I can even hear the audio, the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street comes to mind. It used to be one of the first "nightclubs" in the nation, back in the 20's.
I go back to the room now to cook some potatoes, perhaps make headway on a song, and then to hit the quarter early enough to busk a little bit before the game starts. I will probably stay there throughout the course of both games today, and then play at the Lilly Pad from the time that the second game ends, until maybe 2 AM. The weather is pretty nice for January 16th, at about 60 degrees and partly cloudy. The coldest night of the year should occur during the next 30 days or so, and then it should be busking weather from then on until fall.
Algiers Trip
I really want to fish for catfish; the type of catfish that I have seen in the hands of people who had just caught them out of the Mississippi River, over by the spot where Howard used to live in a tent in a stand of trees.
I just need to get some high-test fishing line, and tie it to an empty milk jug with the cap on it, and then put a sinker and a hook with some chicken liver on it, on the other end, toss it out there and then wait, I suppose, for the milk jug to begin an erratic dance on top of the water, bobbing and whirling and trying to go under.
Those fish were over 2 feet long and weighed over 10 pounds.
I want to bring a cooler with some ice in it and come back here with enough catfish to fill my freezer and save me at least 20 bucks per month...yup...
And I want to locate Howard.
Starting at his former camp spot, it will be easy to trace a path to the nearest McDonalds, and of course the library. If he is living over in Algiers, either in a house that he has already bought out of the inheritance that he recently acquired, or with the friends that he had made over there, he would still probably be going to the library, probably every single morning, like he used to do.
He would complain about having read every book in the library that he is interested in reading. He used to read 2 or 3 per day, so it is easy to imagine him exhausting the supply of a small library like the one in Algiers, especially in his preferred genres.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sure, Man!

My in-house phone rang at about 10 AM yesterday (Thursday) morning, and it was the security lady up front informing me that my friend from Baton Rouge, Sherman was in the lobby, waiting to be received.

I had just fallen into the deepest of sleeps, having not laid down until after sunup, but I was able to shake off the cobwebs and had a good time sipping coffee and talking to him.

He had been here a couple month ago, but left after not being allowed to keep his motorcycle in the gated parking lot that we have here at Sacred Heart Apartments.

A 10 Dollar Wednesday, on slow traffic, yielded at least one complement upon a version of Little Wing, by Jimi Hendrix, which I did with a harmonica solo included.

Thursday Night Off

I took the night off from busking, as it began to pour down rain, and Sherman wound up crashing on the couch after it began to pour down rain, rather than try to ride his motorcycle through it.
I am working on my 12th day sober and will soon have music to post, celebrating that. I have a couple recordings that are pretty much complete, and they have come out better than any of the previous stuff that I have done.
I will actively start deleting the other music, beginning with the oldest and working my way forward...
Sherman is in my room with Harold the cat, waiting for me to return from the store with cat and people food.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Blues Bender

35 Dollar Thursday

Overcoming bad strings and a harmonica which is finally shot 13 months after I had gotten it; I eeked out a 35 dollar night. By the time I stopped playing, I had reached the mark of 4 days without a drop of alcohol.

24 Dollar Friday

I woke up at about nightfall, after having slept most of the day, after having gotten to sleep after sunup, after having stayed up all night, drinking coffee, soaking in the tub, working a bit on a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and reading almost the entire newspaper (a 2 hour project) and some.

Having blown out my harmonica the previous night, though still making 35 bucks in 2 and a half hours with it; I was determined to get a new one.

When I first woke up to the alarm that was set to give me time to make it to Music Exchange and get a new Stagg harp for 25 bucks; I felt very tired and with slight flu-like symptoms.

I knew this was due to the fact that I was on my 5th day of the juice fast, which had turned into a water fast. My body was expelling toxins.

I decided that I could sleep longer and still make it to Louisianna Music Factory, where I would buy their next step up from the "New Orleans Special" harp that they sell for about 10 bucks; the last one of which I bought having come out of the box with a note that didn't sound; and myself having tossed the receipt out, figuring that, once I put my mouth all over the thing, I wouldn't be able to return it.

Leaving the apartment an hour before they closed, I got there with about 8 minutes to spare and bought a Hohner "Blues Bender" harp, which was marked $18.99, but which rang up at $15.19. I calculated this to be 20% off.

The guy at that particular store (who conspicuously ignores me whenever I go in there) conspicuously ignored me -it was one of those deals where I felt like clearing my throat loudly to divert his gaze from straight ahead, directed at apparently nothing in particular, to myself.

After getting him to open the glass case where the harmonicas are, I asked him how much the Blues Benders were. He said nothing, but rather, flipped one of the boxes over and showed me the $18.99 sticker on the bottom.

In hindsight, I think he was trying to keep mum about some 20% off sale that they may have been having, for some reason.

He may have been hoping that I didn't have that much money on me; and would have to leave empty handed and disappointed; and he might derive even more satisfaction from that than he does from conspicuously ignoring me.

When I had told him that $18.99 would be fine for the harp, and that I also needed strings, he offered no help there, either. I had to lean over the counter and squint at the packs of them on the wall in order to pick them out of the mandolin, banjo, ukelelee, and electric guitar strings, and then squint even harder to see the prices.

One has to wonder why someone like him would develope such an apparent disdain for someone like me. I think I could stand over by the harmonica case for at least a half hour before he, or the young lady that works behind the counter would come over to ask me if I needed assistance, even though I have needed assistance every time I have gone in there, because I only go in there to buy harmonicas, which they keep locked in the glass case.

I had only been buying the 10 dollar ones, though, and therein may lie the rub. They may consider me a nuisance and a waste of their time, since the bulk of their business is in vynyl records, the cheapest of which, these days, is almost 30 bucks, while their business with me has sometimes involved a single 39 cent guitar pick, with no harmonica to go with it.

Their ignoring me is not in line with them thinking that I am a shoplifter; if that were the case, wouldn't they follow me around, repeatedly asking: "Can I help you?"?

Maybe I am not seeing the forest for the trees, and it is just another instance of a merchant that has seen one too many backpack wearing, guitar toting skeezers and has developed a prejudice against them.

This hypothesis is advanced through the fact that, when they had been located on Decatur Street, across from the House Of Blues, they had been nice to me.

Now they are located katty corner to Checkpoint Charlie's, which is traveling kid/skeezer Central.

Since I was on my 5th day of juice/water fasting, I didn't have the energy to become too irritated over their attitude; neither could I muster up a polite: "Um, it seems that you all are a bit distant towards me when I come in here; have I done something to offend you?" Maybe such an unskeezerly demeanor would give them pause to take a second look at me; and they might come right out and say: "We've been having problems with guys coming in here wearing backpacks and guitars, and buying only a 39 cent pick. Some of them stink, and their dogs crap on the sidewalk out front."

"Well, but not I..."

I went to the Lilly Pad, put on the brand new strings and broke in the brand new harp, and surprised myself by how much better I sounded than the night before.

I made 10 dollars less than I had the night before, but that is probably because I had gotten a 20 dollar tip the night before -blown harp and old strings and all...

Tonight, there were a couple of 5 dollar bills in the jar. These I see as "You sound good" tips, whereas the 20's, I suspect, are more of the "You look like you are homeless, let me help you out" variety, excepting when they are in Tanya and Dorise's baskets. In that setting, they are "You sound great" tips, as they don't really look like they are homeless; their $10,000 worth of equipment giving them away on that head.

I did inch 25 bucks closer to their status, though, with tonights purchases; and after I cough up another 7 bucks on a battery for my tuner, and another 15 for a capo, and then maybe another 9 for a slide, my enterprise will have been restored to where it was, prior to the last drinking binge, which ran about 40 days and 40 nights.

Mardi Gras is starting; and going through the whole festival sober would be a real feather in my cap. I would have about 30 days sober by the time Fat Tuesday rolls around, and who knows how much cash in my jar at home.

I think I will eventually enter the Royal Street market, with a microphone and an amplifier. The money is not so much the issue; it comes slowly and steadily there -unless you are Tanya and Dorise; then it comes fast and steadily- and it isn't likely that anyone will sit down besides you there, wanting to hear your life story and then leaving a 100 dollar plus tip, as at the Lilly Pad; but it is more of an ego thing.

I feel that any musician who never comes here will go to his grave wondering if he ever could have "made it" here (doesn't every aspiring actor move out to Hollywood; and every aspiring country musician to Nashville?). If a musician "makes it" in New York City, then he will probably feel like he can make it anywhere, as the Sinatra song suggests; but I think that as many have been "chewed up and spit out" by this place with the ironic nickname of "The Big Easy," as have by The Big Apple.

And, this drama plays out on Royal Street where success (Tanya and Dorise, Doreen's Jazz Band, Dave and Roselyn, Christina Friis, Brian Hudson and any half assed "Old Timey" band with washtub bass et. al) walks hand in hand with failure (the guys that can be heard to say "...19 bucks, not bad for a Wednesday ...I think I will go back to the abandoned building squat now).

Even though I have survived in New Orleans for more than 4 years, solely on music, I was blessed that night that I sat down across the street from the condo of Barnaby Chancellor, who happens to be a Deadhead; and then further blessed the night I was accompanied there by my then girlfriend Sue (the Colombian Lady) who was drawn into a conversation with Lilly (who is Portuguese) who then began to support me, perhaps as an indirect way to support Sue; and then backhandedly blessed when one of Lilly's daughters looked out her bedroom window to see travelling kids putting needles in their arms at the spot where I now play; prompting a small committee of residents there to echo Lilly's sentiment that it would be preferable to see me there every night, rather than whatever the cat might have drug there. I was a known quantity, especially on the decibel scale.

Lilly even rearranged it so that the heaviest sleeper in her family took the room behind me...

But, I still want to throw my hat into the ring (or at least put my iron in the fire) to see how I stack up against those heavyweights (excuse the pun, Doreen) on Royal Street. out of the same curiosity.

I have an idea, based upon what Johnny B. has been able to do, playing a very similar set list with a very similar skill set. He breaks 100 bucks almost every night (but has to play from 5 to 8 hours to do so).

I think I can outdo him if I play the same set list, but add some original material tailored to the typical audience there, plus improvise things based upon current affairs, or, of course; find a little Chinese girl to play violin alongside me....

I played from about 10 PM until just after midnight, making about 20 bucks, then took a break and a walk to Checkpoint Charlie's where "nervous Duane," a very respected local musician and his friends showed me a lot of respect for my 5 days of sobriety, and passed me a bowl of some killer weed.

This inspired me to go back to the Lilly Pad, where I played from 1:15 until 2:30 AM, adding only 5 more dollars to my total for the night, despite having a small group come along and listen to and sing along with 2 Neil Young songs that they requested. The piano player inside Lafitts say's: "Requests are a minimum of 5 dollars," when people request songs; but I'm not sure that is my style...

I walked past Louise the tarot card reader who, for the second night in a row, "happened to" have her back turned and "didn't see me" go by.

Johnny B. is playing inside a club and invited me to duet with him, saying that it would pay us 50 bucks each per 3 hour shift and that, based upon our previous collaborations, we wouldn't need to rehearse much. I can follow along with most of his "3 chord" songs either because I already do them myself, or because they are 3 chord songs...

The advantage would be that, when it is 40 degrees and raining outside, the 50 bucks (plus tips) would still be there inside the warm club. The disadvantage would be that it would be "The Johnny B. Show," all over again, and he would be doing things like snapping his fingers at me and saying: "Give me a solo, Daniel!" so there would be no room for doubt that he was the big star (who once played with John Mayer) and I was just a sideman.

"You've gotta start somewhere," one might say; and he would probably let me feature some of my originals; but not many, as I can't see him being able to follow along with them, because they are not 3 chord songs, nor could I see him letting me steal the show, or even borrow it for a while...

The proposal came after I ran into him at the Family Dollar down the street, where I was buying 2 gallons of water on the 3rd day of my fast and cleanse.

Recap Of Johnny B. Story
We hadn't spoken since the night that Barnaby's girlfriend, Charlie ran him off of the Lilly Pad, where we were playing for the second night, after having split 160 bucks the night before after about 3 hours of playing.

Emboldened by that success, he had become determined to have an equally productive next night, only he thought that the formula for that involved him inching the volume of his amp up from where it had been (when we made the 160 bucks).

Johnny had become angry and toted his stuff off in a huff; stopping just short of cussing Charlie out.

Charlie said that she thought that he should have at least respected the fact that it is a residential block and that they just don't want amplifiers. "Plus, I couldn't even hear you," she added to me. "He's trying to take over your spot," was her opinion.

"My friends hate your guts," I told him when he called me later, prompting him to disconnect the call, and that was the last I heard of Johnny B. until a few days ago at the Family Dollar. I had seen him a half dozen times in the Quarter, but he had ignored me. I guess now he has a use for me, and we are on speaking terms once more...

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

3 Day Juice Fast

  • Days Sober: 3
  • Days Off From Busking: 2
  • Howard Gone
  • I Run Into Johnny B.

I hadn't really gotten to that "physically weak, spiritually strong," feeling last (Wednesday) night as I neared my third day without a drop of alcohol.
I am marking the "days" at about 2 AM each morning, as that was about the time, last Monday morning, that I ran out to the store to spend the last of my money on one last pretty much unnecessary beer, in an attempt to get it through my head, when I woke up broke and hung over the next morning, that the drinking had to stop.
That worked.
Only making 6 cents Monday night was a blessing in disguise.
I took Tuesday and last night off, as the temperatures and the reports coming back from the Quarter of it being "a ghost town" were the same as on the 6 cent Monday.
Howard Gone
Howard has vanished abruptly, after telling me about a week ago that his stepfather had passed away, and to his surprise, left he and his sister the proceeds from the sale of his condo. I guess the condo sold, and I can only estimate, based upon average real estate prices that Howard must have come into oh, at least 80 thousand bucks; assuming that it was a tiny, run down condo; and upwards of who knows how much if it was a nice one.
He had his stuff all in boxes and his fish out of its aquarium and in a baggie of water. He told me that he had to invest the money within a year or they would "tax the hell out of it."
That gave him some time to think, but apparently he only thought for a few days (unless he had seen the money coming a long time ago; maybe even as long ago as when we were homeless together here and in Baton Rouge and I couldn't understand how he could while away his life reading books as if trying to pass time for the rest of his life -he may have been waiting for the place to sell...)
Out of time got to go.

Next: I get a new tiposaurus...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Working On Third Day Sober

Playing Sober
Monday night, I went out and played totally sober at the Lilly Pad, knowing that my food card would be charged at midnight with 194 bucks, and that Tiffany would be there at Rouses Market willing and able to buy any amount off the thing in exchange for 50 cents on the dollar; a loser's deal; a junkie's deal...
After playing sober for about an hour in the 44 degree air and struggling to tune the guitar, because of the cold (I thought) I had only made 6 cents.
There were as few people as I have ever seen on Bourbon Street.
"This is all the change I have," said a guy who had a guitar on his own back and was dressed in such a way to indicate that he had had an inside "club gig," as the change went into my tip jar.
I had started the jar out with a 1,000 peso Colombian bill, and 67 cents. I knew that I had that amount, because I was sweating over making at least enough to take the $1.25 trolley home.
If I was going to load up, after midnight, on heavy items like juice for the fast and water for the fast and apple cider vinegar and honey for the cleanse and a can of tuna for Harold the cat, then I didn't want to be toting the 25 pounds of it for 2 miles up Canal Street to get home.
I wanted to make the trolley fare on my own, without involving Tiffany, because she might persuade me, in my weakened state, to trade more food off my card than just the trolley fare. She has 4 kids to feed, and I would even feel guilty just offering her a couple bucks off it; she would pout and probably show me pictures of the little tykes and get her way.
I decided to play from 9:50 PM, when I started, until at least after Tiffany went home at 11. If I hadn't made more than the 6 cents, I would ask another employee at Rouses, Gloria, for a loan of 60 cents so that I wouldn't have to tote my stuff home.
The guy threw the change in my jar, probably thinking that I would assume that it was at least more than 6 cents, unaware that I knew exactly how much change I had in there.
I didn't make another penny, but, it wasn't bothering me, as I had completed my first 24 hours sober and, most importantly, had busked my way through it; busking being about my number one "trigger" to drink.
As I walked towards Rouses Market, my thoughts were, for the first time in weeks, upon spiritual matters and feeling grateful for everything that I did have, rather than being drunk and pissed off over the 6 cent night.
Gloria lent me the 60 cents.
Rachael The Professional Beggar
I had about an hour to kill before my food card would hit, so I went outside to smoke, and found 10 pennies on the sidewalk across the street where "Rachael" the beggar sits with her sign and her dog and her sad puppy eyes.
Rachael must have had a good night (and I had seen a well dressed lady squatting down and holding her hand in conversation with her on my way to my spot; I figured that the lady might be praying for Rachael, and that Rachael would most likely find a way to skeeze something off of her. The lady had no way of knowing that Rachael is one of the pros who consider 100 dollars a bad day for sitting there with the sign and the dog and the sad puppy eyes -do you know how sore your face gets after about 5 hours of that?!?)
Then, when I was walking back to Rouses, there was a dime laying in the middle of St. Peters Street, which hadn't been there when I first walked by -40 more cents, and I would be able to pay Gloria back before I ever got on the trolley.
Louise The Tarot Card Reader
I loaded up with the heavy food, after midnight and then lugged it in my pack down Royal Street, where I passed the figure of Louise, sitting behind her tarot card reading table, wrapped in a woolen blanket with only her eyes and above showing.
I was carrying a can of a cherry flavored ginseng energy drink, my only "food" after a day of juice fasting; and I was feeling so good that I almost wanted to stop and tell Louise that I had just made 23 hours without a drink; but decided not to. She would congratulate me; offer me advice; and then probably begin the process of ingratiating herself towards me which is sure to begin. There are just too many cold nights coming in the next 2 months.
I knew that she would have loved nothing more than to have let me lift her cart onto the trolley for her and then rode it with me to my place where she could take a hot shower and sleep on the couch, rather than tote the thing to her sleeping spot, "somewhere where there used to be a dumpster, but now there's just a little area behind a gate" where she would have to wrap up in the same blanket, and sleep with a crowbar within reach.
I also thought that, I had played a hand in bringing about the disaster that was the 10 days that she had stayed at my place in December, by having binged on alcohol while she did binge on Cherry Garcia and potato salad, both of us "enabling" each other.
As I walked past, the blanket said "Good Night."
"Happy New Year," I said.
"Happy New Year," the blanket replied.
...once bitten; twice shy....

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Starting The New Year Broke

"Towards evening, the lazy man begins to be busy." _Ger. Pr._

I left the apartment Saturday night, New Years Day, and walked into the quarter after having had a bad New Years Eve, after I had forgotten my harmonica at home.

I have a checklist of things to run through before I set out each day, but had forgone it for some reason. 
  • Harmonica
  • tip jar
  • tiposaurus with its sign
  • maraca
  • performing hat
  • spotlight
  • extra batteries
  • guitar with pick and tuner...
are all checked off before I leave; along with making sure my pockets contain 
  • lighter and cigarettes (if available) 
  • cell phone, 
  • food card and key card for the building,
  • the keys for my apartment door.
I don't think things happen by accident, and I'm sure that I was subconsciously sabotaging myself because I didn't want to start out the New Year stumbling drunk.

I got to the Lilly Pad to see swarms of tourists milling about, making enough noise through their conversations alone to cause me to lament the absence of the harmonica which can cut through such a din.

I debated upon whether or not to even play.

A Friday night, New Years Eve to boot, and unseasonably warm weather seemed to be a recipe for a great night.

Instead I had about a 12 dollar night, as I only started to get tips after things had started to slow down; well after the ball had dropped and all had shouted "Happy New Year!"

It was a gloriously missed opportunity, and the little bit of money that I made disappeared at the Unique Grocery Store, as I bought cigarettes and brandy and stumbled home, where I found the harmonica underneath a newspaper that was spread open on the couch.

Coffee For Cash

The first day of 2016, I walked into the Quarter, having spent my trolley fare on a can of malt liquor.

I wasn't able to get the cashier at the Unique Store to extend me credit on a can of Micky's Ale, but had the brainstorm to run to Starbucks where I found a couple who let me buy their coffee for them with my gift card (thanks to the Lidgleys of London) and who gave me 12 dollars while only taking about 10 off of it.

A Man Buys Me A Beer

I went back to Uniques, suddenly 12 dollars richer and instantly was approached by a guy who asked my about the guitar on my back and what kind of music I played, and could he buy me a beer?

"Sure, a Mickeys Ale would be fine."

I took that across the street to drink while watching a football game through the window, chatted some more with the couple, who were from not far away in northern Louisianna, and then, since I hadn't even tapped into my 12 dollars; went back into Uniques for another (my third) can of ale.

Steering Clear Of Louise

I walked past Louise, and could feel her judgmental stare boring into me after I had decided against switching the ale to my other hand where it would have been out of her sight.

When she last left my place, after taking the last of her stuff, she had called me "selfish," "a sociopath," "spoiled rotten," (because my mom had sent me money for Christmas; which she knew about and which most likely prompted her to bury her wallet and re-neg on her promise to give me 20 bucks upon retrieval of the last of her stuff) and a slew of other things, as she toted her cart down the sidewalk. I didn't offer to pull it for her (so she could have added "inconsiderate" to the mix) because I really wanted to get away from her.

As I distanced myself from her, one of the last things I heard her say was "You were probably going to rape me!"


Almost every physical aspect of her repulses me but, being the sociopath that she seems to be, she probably couldn't fathom my initially inviting her to stay out of friendship alone.

I was a good 200 yards ahead of her, yet could still hear her yelling like a Tourette's Syndrome victim as she ambled along; walking much better than she had been a couple days prior, when she showed up almost demanding to sleep on my couch, limping so slowly that the thought of turning her away and having to limp her all the way back to the front door seemed daunting.

In front of the corner store, I ran into another musician who plays slide guitar and sings blues. He stopped his bike and said "You must live around here."

We made some small talk before I told him that I wanted to get away from the crazy lady who was approaching and still cussing me out at the top of her lungs.

"I'd better get out of here too, said the blues guy," as he rode off.

Jay, the really loud singer had advised me to stay clear of Louise, warning me that she might just call the police and make up some b.s. allegation against me, as she had done against Johnny B., who was coincidentally my last house guest.

He had had to go to court, where Louise dropped the charges because her "borderline personality" had flipped that way on that particular day.

I am pretty sure that the officers know that she cries wolf all the time, and that I have been here 4+ years without a complaint; but I am staying clear of Louise.

But, I wasn't going to hide my ale from her. Let her add "alcoholic" to my list of atrocities. I was on the other side of Royal Street, as far over on the sidewalk as I could be without scraping against the wrought iron fence that runs in front of the Supreme Court building.

The Spoiled Brat Generation

Dogs Welcome

I had 3 ales in me, but wasn't quite in the mood to hit the Lilly Pad.

I instead headed for the "neutral ground," across (where the One Way sign is pointing in photo left) from Checkpoint Charlie (bar) where traveling kids, Rainbow kids and skeezers et. al. hang out with their dogs, as they beleive that the police have no jurisdiction there because of its "neutrality" which somehow goes back to when the British and the Spanish would meet there to sign treaties or whatever they needed to do; the land being owned by neither, and still not anybody's to this day, except the skeezer's.

There were about 6 dogs and about a dozen kids there, one of which offered to run across the street and get me a 5 dollar sack of weed.

While he was gone, I took my guitar out of the case to show it to another kid who had his own, but not much of one -miniature in size and (of course) missing a string.

He seemed like a pretty decent guy, and I even let him try my guitar out.

Soon the weed arrived and I was in the process of preparing a bowl to share with the decent guy, who was telling me how nice he thought my guitar was, when arrived a tall-ish skinny kid with dark curly hair and an all-around traveling kid aspect.

He sat down next to the guy who was playing my guitar and said: "Let me see the guitar. I'm gonna make some money. Watch this!"

I immediately intercepted "the guitar" before he got it, pocketed the weed, aborting the bowl packing proceedings, and was zipping it back into the case when the curly haired kid started whining like a spoiled little brat.

He said "I so want to burn you right now!" ....great; a pyroskeeziac...

The decent seeming guy said something trying to calm him down.

"I just want to play one song on the guitar, and I'm going to be right there!," he said, pointing to a spot on Decatur.

Then he began to cuss me out left and right..."He won't let me play one song on his guitar; what an asshole!"

"I need to get to work, I'm late already," I said, before going across the street and into Checkpoint Charlie, effectively screwing the decent guy out of a few hits of weed.

I didn't even want to stick around there any longer wasting my breath even trying to set him straight about what the hell is wrong with his breed of spoiled brats who, in the first place, have been Rainbow children for so long that they think that everything is community property, just like it supposedly is on the big farms where they hold their big gatherings, that his ilk "travel" to, fueled by the generosity of anybody along the way.

His having called it "the" guitar is what pissed me off; like we were communists or something.

And, he had begun to insinuate himself into sharing "the bowl" (I suppose he thought it was) by having sat down right next to us after he saw that I was packing it.

Plus, I knew that there was no way that he was just going to play one song. I would probably have had to physically wrestle the thing out of his hands, especially if he were having fun, and then had to hear about how much of a jerk I was for depriving him of it, as I walked off.

I envisioned him attracting some kind of audience of a couple people and then bashing away on the Takamine, with one of the traveling kid favorites like "Wagon Wheel," or "Sweet Jane," and then either passing the guitar off to yet another kid (without asking my consent) or, most likely breaking the string which I would break myself shortly thereafter.

Any money that he made would probably go towards whiskey, that I would be given a token sip of; then I would get a lame apology for the broken string.

The whole Rainbow movement is well intended but is replete with what the faithful call "drainbows" who are there for the whole "sharing everything" scene, only they just never seem to bring anything to the table; except maybe offering entertainment in the form of a stirring version of "Sweet Jane," played on someone else's cherished instrument.

Pass me the guitar; what's your fucking problem?!?

The Grateful Dead had the same problem with kids showing up just because they knew that there would be free drugs floating around. I guess you would call them "drainheads?"

A Lady Buys Me Tequila

I didn't have long to stew over the incident. I fell in with a couple guys who were walking in the direction of Sydneys and struck up a conversation that started with "Can you believe that little spoiled brat is cussing me out and throwing a childish tantrum because I wouldn't let him have his way with my $400 guitar?"

They were both in agreement that I had done the right thing.

"Where is his guitar? If he loves to play so much, why doesn't he have one?"


I never made it inside Sydneys.

After having gotten blitzed off one toke of what had turned out to be excellent Rainbow weed, I ran into a lady out front, for whom I played a song until I broke the string that the traveling kid would have broken and not cared about, and who bought me a pint of tequila.

I Am Struck By A Car

I blew off playing at the Lilly Pad, not wanting to do a string repair job, and finding myself becoming more impaired as the delicious tequila went down.
I got home somehow made it home.

In the morning I was baffled by the fact that I had a knot on my right knee that was very sore and turning black and blue, and that my left buttock was likewise bruised.

Then I remembered; a car had hit me. I couldn't remember exactly where but remembered that it had changed lanes quickly but was only probably doing 7 miles per hour.

The corner of the front bumper had dinged me on the knee, spinning me around and knocking me down. I had just jumped back up and given the driver a "don't worry about it" wave. My guitar had come out of it in one piece -thank God; that would have been too much Rainbow child karma, or Louise Hoo Doo if the thing had gotten smashed...

I Almost Break This Laptop The Next Morning

The next morning after discovering that I had bruises I took a few tentative steps away from my bed and towards the kitchen.

I stepped on the cord to this laptop, yanking it off of the table where it landed on its side, mangling a USB port and bending the power jack.

When I replaced it on the table, I knocked both the Snowball microphone onto the floor, along with the eighth of a bottle of tequila that had been left, that is, before most of it spilled out.

Talk about being "a little groggy" in the morning...

And So; I Quit Drinking

It was a good time to quit drinking. After having forgotten my harp at home that one night, and then the whole thing with the car, and almost, but not, smashing my guitar and then almost, but not, destroying my laptop and microphone, and d'oh! spilling the rest of the tequila, I figured that I should quit while I'm ahead; and that I may have caught some lucky breaks and don't want to push my luck. I will never know how narrowly I escaped being set on fire by a Rainbow kid.

I have made it through Monday without drinking and now am working on the 2nd day sober. And, hey; I'm already writing longer blog posts fueled by the extra mental energy!

"Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light."= _Victor Hugo._

An alcoholic binge is like a merry-go-round in that; only after jumping off does one realize that it was himself; and not the whole universe; who had been spinning around and going up and down.= _Me_

A danger foreseen is half avoided.= _Pr._
It is now Tuesday night, and I am staying in, juice fasting (though cheating with coffee) and approaching 2 days sober...

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