April 20, 2013
It was a shock that I didn’t qualify for the National Speech Contest, I kept asking myself what was wrong. I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be as a public speaker, but maybe I could never be after all. Could never really be present the way I wanted to be. But I had to stop thinking that there was something wrong with my speech or me. It was a wonderful speech, its just that now it was over. It died. But I would keep it alive, It was burned into my mind forever anyway. I was still sick but I had to go out and play tonight. I needed that. I should be in bed, but I was out on the streets looking for something, my soul perhaps. It was cold. I was dressed to the max in the hope that I would not give myself pneumonia. I even had heating pads in my shoes, and nylon hose (not to be kinky, just for the warmth), a hot water bottle, gloves, my Nepalese hat, sweatshirt and coat.
Is a brilliant idea still a brilliant idea if no one hears it?
It had stopped raining hours before and it was about 48 degrees F. I was sitting on my new favorite place for night playing, across from the Lucky Strike about 12 minutes from my house. The street was lined with cafes and restaurants and an occasional boutique. I was sitting in from of one of the few businesses, a real estate office. It was a place that no one had discovered yet. It was mine for awhile. It could only be mine, because it was enough for me and I was quiet enough for this spot. When someone stopped and asked me what I was doing, I just said that my friend owned the place, which was true enough, since I had met the strange guy the week before.
We are all mirrors reflecting each other to each other.
I was trying to work out still what was my relationship to the audience and to myself. One thing was for sure, the music was the only important thing, and yet I needed the audience, but the music has to come first. Maybe that was the key. If I am completely giving myself to the music in the moment, then there is an intensity to the music that makes it real. If I am playing half-heartedly because Im concerned what people think or because I am thinking of something else, then that key component, which is my soul, is missing, and the music ceases to be alive. In playing, I needed to be aware of the audiences reaction. I didn’t want to seek their attention but their interest could feed the music, like breeze could feed a flame. I only needed to notice if people were interested in what was coming out.
There are 2 kinds of attention, those who are curious, and those who are interested in the music, and yeah the other group, those who are clearly not interested. Somehow, just noting the different levels is freeing. Even if they are not interested, that is somewhat freeing, because it is real. So I just need to watch and note how people are reacting to the music.
Sometimes people would smile, give him a thumbs up. I usually ignor it, but why. What was wrong with enjoying that they wanted to give something positive. Why couldn’t I smile back? Did I only want the kind of attention that I wanted? Sometimes women would give him a sly look, but I wouldn’t look back at them because I didn’t want them to think I was a wolf, but why? I decided it was best not to look at people unless I was feeling the music. Why would I look at them at that point? It only made sense to look at them when I was feeling the music unless to check to make sure they were not interested. That was my motivation, a real time indication, even though it didn’t mean anything because a certain percentage of people wouldn’t react anyway.
There was always the horn trick that would work when the passing traffic would blare the horns. This time the horns were in a completely different key and so when I played along it was obvious what I was doing. I pretended that the horns were playing in duet with me. When I cued them like a conductor and they didn’t come in, I became irate and fired them, Told them to leave. The audience understood my mime and laughed heartily.
Some people were so tuned into the music, when the music flowed, they just became happy. Like pushing a button.
A smile is a smile
or is it?
it is undeniably positive
or is it?
You are dangerous
An evil smile
Sometimes people come up and want to give me advice.
“You should stand up when you play.”
“It looks better”
“I don’t care how I look, just how I sound. I guess you are a visual person, Im not. “
His girlfriend nods and pulls him away.
Who said that?
I did, a handsome man who with with a cute woman spoke up.
thank you. Do you speak Italian
I thought it was French
no maybe Czech. Ooh touché it feels like we are fencing. (I looked it up later. I was right. It is Italian.)
The guy seems to see everything as a threat to his manhood and is taking it seriously. His girlfriend is laughing at everything. They obviously speak English very well.
Im just joking. Everything I say is a joke, including that. Wow. It’s a joke so its not a joke so it’s a joke so its not a joke
Are you a couple
yes we are
he kind of hesitated didn’t he. Lets try it again.
are you a couple.
he mumbles something. I want to play a romantic song for you. It gets me out of talking to them
As I play she lights up, he is still giving me suspicious looks. I play a nice phrase and I can see he hears it. “I’m going to get you to smile,” and he almost does.
later I ask them what they do and he says he just works in an office
She is a teacher. “You are not Thor Goddess of Love. “ She has lightening bolts on her hat. Too bad that’s a good job.
I play for her and she gives me the warmest most intimate look every time. When I stop playing I ask her the simple questions, What do you do. She turns it off immediately. “I just want to hear the music.” Ok. And then she turns on her affection again, for the music, but not for me. That’s ok.
Old people are like batteries
they run down faster
need more of a charge
A romantic couple is listening
she is listening and leaning up against him like he’s a lamppost.
I say hi and she says hi and sounds like a native speaker.
When I tell her she says, “I used to live in Texas.”
Oh in Austin.
Not really. 3 hours away.
Wait a minute. 3 hours is not not really. Its really.
I tell her about the lamppost image and they laugh. Do don’t know about my connection with lampposts though.
Sometime couples are so clinging they don’t even want to let go to clap. So they invent new ways to clap like the Shoulder slap, shared hands clap, but if you are single maybe you can just do the face slap clap
I’m so happy. Buddha has his tree I have my stoop. …
We are like a bunch of electrical forces moving around
interacting with one another in infinitely varied ways.
pushing and pulling
Can I take your picture?
ok. Kim chi
Ok for the second picture take on some emotion.
No not stupid
ok. Imagine that her father doesn’t like you
Why? She likes me.
he cant play along with that. I give up.
Ok. Imagine that he really likes your mother, I mean really likes
he looks at her and grins mischieviously. I do.
They laugh. Its good. When you are old he will still think you are pretty.
A good joke is when I take a picture of someone and really direct them and then they ask to take a picture of me and I say no. Of course I always let them take the picture.
“Do you have Kakaotalk? (a Korean free chat program)
yes I have.
Whats your Kakaotalk name
I don’t know
You don’t know?
Ok. Well give my your phone number and I will message you and get it later
Whats your phone number?
I have to look it up?
Oh….you are so special.
My Korean name is Hyejong but my English name is Rose. Can you guess my boyfriends name?
Think. Its from the movie……Titanic
Oh Yeah….whats his name……
Right, Jack. You let him die.
No I didn’t.
You let go. He should have tried to climb up again. He could have made it the second time. They could have kept each other warm. They can do a remake, don’t you think?”
When life feels hopeless
that’s when you are seeing life clearly
but its not really hopeless
just your standard is set too high..
The natural response to music
is to dance or to smile
She came along towards the end and stood nearby. I figured she must be waiting for her boyfriend because she actually looked pretty good.” She had what I would call a very Korean face. She knew she was not beautiful, yet to me she was beautiful because she was so naturally Korean. She was beautiful in her plainness. She must be hard up to be without boyfriend on Saturday night. I could her it in her voice when I asked her if she was waiting for her boyfriend. She said no, but it came out almost like a cry, “No.” I asked her what she was going to do. She said go to a café and read a book. “Look lets start our own café right here. I propose you go get us a coffee and I will pay for it and it will be our sidewalk café.” I taught her the word “stoop” and I suggested we call it the Stoop Café. She was only too willing to run off to get coffee. I gave her 5 dollars from the tip bag. Off she went, I was involving people. In the meantime other people were coming up. Later when she came back with the coffees it was almost a shock because I had almost forgotten about her. Wheres my change? She started. Actually it was 2 dollars from my pocket. I gave her the extra money. I asked her if she would like to be my assistant and she said yes. This I knew from experience was hard job, because when I was playing, I would just bark out orders. But the good thing was that she really could hear the music and when it was coming out of a real place she would just look at me an nod her head and smile a dirty smile. What else did I need than that really? Someone who would reflect the music for me.
An old businessman came up, dressed in his shiny grey suit. He was yelling at him something. Good thing Jaeyoung (my assistant for the day) was there. I would have surely have interpreted it as a verbal attack, “What are you doing here you crazy foreigner. Why don’t you go home. You are in Korea.” That’s what I would have thought. She told me he actually said, “You should go down to Hongdae area , you will do better”. She was doing a great job. Happy to be useful. He was actually trying to help me in his drunken way. “Ok Jaeyoung you translate for me, ok. At first she was reluctant then she was game. “Do you want to be my agent?” Everyone laughed at that. “Ok 10 percent ok.” He looked confused. “Ok 15 tops” The next people who stopped to listen I introduced him as my agent. He looked confused but then he smiled. Maybe he liked the idea. I was just making fun of him, what did I need him telling what to do . He was still concerned about what was going on. I motioned for him to listen for a minute. He nodded. I said to Jaeyoung that I wanted to make him cry. Wow she exclaims. As soon as I say it, he starts listening to the music and almost seems lost in it. I point that out to her and she laughs. He’s not crying but he is passionately dancing with himself to the music. Take a picture. So funny. Finally he wanders away. God I hate drunks. It helps to understand what they are saying though.
I had to meet someone at 11 at my house but it was almost that time so I announced it was time to go. Its hard to end sometimes. I finished at 1050 and hurriedly packed up to go. There was a man waiting for me though. He wanted me to play at his chicken restaurant. It was called the Zion Boat. Since it was close by we walked there. I was going to be late for sure. He asked couldn’t I play reggae; I told him I could play along so I let on a positive note.