Week In Review: Poverty To Poets

This week marks the end of a very long stretch.

When I go back and think about it, it feels like last week started out at the end of June. 

I'm not complaining, July 2014 turned out to be the kind of month I had anticipated when I started this little adventure. Ten shows, with just a few days off in between, spent gobs of time hanging out with my little dude, finally harvested an edible tomato (just one, but it was delicious), got into full swing fantasy football, and had dinner on the table for my pretty little wife everynight.

But I must say, when my wife turned to me last night and said "We don't have any plans this weekend do we?" I realized how glad I was that that was true. Again, not complainin, but a touched relieved.

Of the ten shows I played, only two of them were inside. The rest were all about banging on the guit-fiddle under the terrible sun. I spent a good portion of this month very damp. Although, I did discover which shirts show sweat stains the most. So . . . like yeah . . . it's all about learning.

Anyway, this week we slipped gently into that cool August, and it went something like this:

This Week in Success:
Because I've finally got the equipment I need to put on a show, and enough solid material to MC just about any event, there was for the first time this year, a positive balance in my cash flow. This is the first week I've been able to buy more than a week's worth of groceries, fill up my gas tank, and pay a credit card bill. All with Music Money.

Feels freaking amazing.

This Week in Music:
Joann and I have started working on music for her to sing. A project that has been on the back burner for, man this is sad, for over a decade now. We're just picking songs and trying out keys at this point so don't race off to fund the Kickstarter Campaign just yet, but it's a treat to be starting something, even if it is just the suburban indie equivalent to the Mah&Pah Family Band.

This Week In Shows:
Had two back to back shows this weekend. One, a street show for Sacramento's Second Saturday Art Walk. This is always a treat. I play, we have a few beers, pass out some business cards, get some pocket money in tips, try out new songs when nobody is paying attention.

There was an episode though. A homeless guy (?), a little scary looking, probably stoned, probably just a bit off his rocker, came right up to the gate while I was playing one of my slow songs. He was pacing back and forth, staring me down and violently running his hands through his hair like he was getting pumped for a knife fight.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of a sissy when it comes to confrontation. I will avoid it at all costs, because, and this is true, there's a part of me that makes a switch from scared, to very, very, angry. And this dude had me cornered real good, while my wife and son stood watching about ten feet away.

So I'm in the middle of playing a soft love song while in my head I'm trying to figure out which piece of equipment has the lowest dollar to deadly ratio. Like, I could Jimi Hendrix this nut, and that would be the end of that, except it would also destroy a $700 guitar. There is also a heavy speaker and a dangerously knobby mixing board, but I'd have to be pretty quick with unplugging all the chords and neither would give me much reach.

I was kicking myself for not bringing my brass music stand.

Anyway, I had settled upon the microphone stand as my best choice. Cheap, easily replacable, good reach for both a jab and a swing, and there were enough people out on the street to stop the fight if I missed.

I hoped.

But then logic kicked in, remember I'm still singing and playing at this point, and I realized that I should probably just try looking intimidating first before considering bashing in his solar-plexus with a fist full of SM58.

So I stared right back at him.

And winked.

That chilled him right down and he smiled and backed up a bit.

But he didn't go away.

Which was fine, he had every right to be crazy on a public sidewalk.

Except he was scaring off my audience.

And I was having a good night. People were crossing the street to drop cash in my tip jar.

A song later, he came up and introduced himself as Ernesto.

I shook his hand and gave it a hearty squeeze. His grip was weak.

Gotta lose respect for a man with a weak grip. Now instead of scared, I was just annoyed.

Dude was costing me money, but it was the end of the night anyway and my wife gestured for me to continue playing until he went away. But that wasn't really the kind of hint he was going to take, so I finished up my set and started tearing down.

The first thing I did, obviously, was to grab my tip jar from my street side table. Once the cash was out of sight, I did my normal routine. Somewhere in the middle of that, Ernesto came up to me, and almost politely asked if I could give him two dollars for beer.

And I said "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me."

Which was absolutely technically true, all the cash I had was tucked away in my wife's safe keeping (cause that is the way of things), but he looked at me like I was crazy and finally walked away.

Now, here's the thing. A good chunk of me is a socialist. I honestly believe in a regulated distribution of wealth, especially when it applies to social programs such as education and healthcare. I also believe in paying taxes. A trillion dollar US company shouldn't be allowed cheat with an offshore account, nor should an investment bank pay less taxes on their capital gains than I do with my sweat and blood.

So there's that.

And here was a guy, who knows when he had his last meal, who knows when he'll eat his next, who knows what his mental challenge is or what good-will he burned along the way because his neurons don't fire off in a socially acceptable manner. A Forty of Olde English might quiet his senses a bit, and probably provide half a day's worth of calories.

And what is two dollars to me?

Me, who is packing two thousand dollars worth of equipment into a twenty thousand dollar car so I could snuggle up to my pretty wife in our three hundred thousand dollar home.

So I'm clearly a bleeding heart liberal when talking about twenty million of Donald Trump's cash flow and clearly a Tea Party Libertarian when it comes to two dollars of my own.

There's certainly some hypocrisy there, but I gotta be honest, I don't like pan-handling. I don't like door to door salespeople, and I don't like Geico commercials. Street Bums and Insurance Companies have no product to offer other than relieving me of a small piece of guilt.

Had the dude sat down with a bucket and a pair of sticks and done his best to bang out a rythym, then hell yeah I would've dropped a Jefferson on him, and yes he scared off some of my audience, but he also could have easily grabbed my entire tip jar and ran away with it.

I wouldn't have chased him.

In the end, I didn't have to. He went his way, I went mine.

I did say that I had two shows this weekend, but if you think the first show had a story, wait till next week when I give you the D.A.M. Festival.

Which brings us to the final part of this week's Week In Review;

Week in Williams:
We all found out Monday afternoon that the great comedic actor Robin Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, an apparent suicide.

That is sad.

Fame, Fortune, and Legendary Iconic Status.

As much as we'd like to believe, none of those things are ingredients in a fat slice of Serenity Pie.

Shame that we chase those things with such singular relentlessness.

But if you want my opinion, and I know you do, there are some sure fire things you can greedily consume that will make the difference between a successful life, and a life well spent:

Go get yourself some laughter,

from a giggle to a cackle. 

And a little human touch,

must be requited.

And good food,

any kind.

And a queit nap, and a new set of guitar strings, and an unscheduled weekend.

But that's just my recipe.

You can always add raisins if you want.

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