jwgh: (Van Halen)
I decided to go out and do some guitar playing on the street tonight. This is mainly because Chris and I are playing at Nick-a-Nees on Thursday for the first time in almost a month, and Chris wants to broach the idea of having another New Year's Eve show soon, and so we want to have as many people come to the show as possible. So I headed over to Thayer Street, put out my guitar case, tacked a poster for Thursday's show to it, threw a couple of dollars in, and started playing.

I ended up playing maybe an hour and a half, during which time I was largely ignored -- I think this was by far my least successful stab at busking yet. People largely ignored me, but at one point, as I was singing 'Tear My Stillhouse Down', I noticed a guy in maybe his sixties or so eyeing me, and he wandered over between verses and said, "All your songs are sad. Is that Appalachian music?" "Well," I said, "this song is by Gillian Welch, who's from California, but she's listened to a lot of that kind of music." "That's what it sounds like," he said. "It's sad. People around here don't like that kind of music." I smiled and he wandered a little ways down the road, towards the guy who was selling popcorn.

I played some more songs and then had a little trouble thinking of what to do next, so there was a pause in the music. The same guy was still hanging out by the popcorn vendor, who at this point was breaking down his rig. "You play a lot of sad songs," he said to me, and the vendor nodded, smiled, and said, "Yes, very sad." The guy came over to me again and said, "There are other musicians who play around here. Have you seen them?" I nodded. "They play happy music, more upbeat, like jazz," he said. "The people here like that kind of music. Or, you know, the young people, they like that crazy rock stuff." "Uh-huh," I said. "You know, they dress up in those weird clothes -- they call it 'goth', you know? A lot of that stuff is from the Devil. You know, the original goths were Pagans. Do you believe in the Devil?" "Um, no, I'm not really religious," I said. "Well, you don't have to be religious -- you can not be religious and still believe, you might still know that the devil exists," he said. I pondered this distinction for a moment, and I said, "Well, then, I guess I don't believe in the Devil."

This didn't bother him, fortunately. "Where do you think all the trouble in the world came from? All the bad things that happen? We all come from Adam and Eve, by the way -- we're not descended from monkeys, we're from real people. They were in the garden, and then the snake ... you know how if someone has bad parents it causes trouble for them? It's the same thing, we come from Adam and Eve and that's why there's trouble. A lot of the things in the Bible are true.

He continued. "You must have some Christians in your family, if you go back. Grandparents, great-grandparents ..." "Sure, my mother's family is all Catholic," I said. "But the next generation always wants to do something different," he said, "You look at all the kids around here." There was a pause, and I said, "Yeah, but what are you gonna do?" "Yeah, it's fine as long as you don't take it too far," he said, and then he looked a little sad. "Some of them take it too far. You look at these kids ... a lot of them are all loaded up from drugs." "Yes, you don't want to take it too far," I agreed.

There might have been more, but that's about all I remember. He wandered off to talk to the popcorn salesman again, and I resisted the urge to play 'You're the Tea in My Teacup' and instead played the least sad song I could think of off the top of my head, which was 'C-H-I-C-K-E-N'.
jwgh: (Default)
*phone rings*

Me: "Hello?"

Young adolescent: "Hello. Is this Jacob?"

Me: "Yes."

YA: "What are you up to?"

Me: "Oh, not much ..."

[longish pause]

Me: "Who is this?"

YA: "This is Nathan."

Me: "Oh."

[longish pause]

Me: "I'm sorry, but where do I know you from?"

YA: "We met at the Stop & Shop the other day." [Note: I haven't been to a Stop & Shop in months.]

Me: "Ah. Clearly we bonded."

YA: "Yeah, we did it."

[longish pause.]

Me: "OK then." [hangs up]


Nov. 19th, 2006 09:52 am
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Last night I went to a music show with some friends. In the row in front of us, from right to left, were seated a blond-haired woman, a guy who she seemed to be with, and a group of people we tentatively identified as polygamists (a guy and seven women).

During the opening act, the friend on my left tapped me on the shoulder and whispered to me, "Do you see the blond-haired woman in front of us? Doesn't she look like a bobble-head?"

I looked over and, because of the thinness of the woman's neck, the largeness and roundness of her hairstyle, and the particular way she was nodding her head in time to the music, she did indeed look like a life-sized bobble-head doll.

The effect of this knowledge was immediate. First of all, I couldn't look at her, because I would start laughing. Second of all, I became very conscious of my own head movements and tried to keep as still as possible.

After a few minutes, the friend on my right leaned over and whispered to me, "I think that woman on the end looks like a bobble-head doll."

The opening act played some more songs, and the polygamist seated in front of me started talking to one of his wives -- a fairly quiet conversation which didn't bother me, but it appeared to irritate the bobble-head woman. So after a few minutes she leaned over, tapped the polygamist's knee, and gave him a pointedly annoyed look. The polygamist and his wife, suitably chastened, stopped talking. A few minutes later, the wife looked over at the other woman, leaned over, and whispered something in her polygamist husband's ear. He glanced over and started to laugh; then he got himself under control, glanced over again, and started laughing again. Aha, I thought. Bobble-head.
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Tonight CMonti came by for practice, and we played music for tomorrow's show for about an hour until 8 pm. Then he said, "You know, there's this song I've really been wanting to play at the Tazza open mike: 'Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other'."

I have that song in iTunes, so I played it a few times, we figured out the chords and lyrics (the latter with the help of the Internet), and we put together a passable two-guitar version. Then we headed over to Tazza, looked for parking for a while, found it, and headed in.

By this time it was slightly before 9 pm and all the open mike slots were full, so we stuck around for a few acts, then took off.

While leaving, we encountered:

* [livejournal.com profile] refuz, who noticed me leaving and came over to say goodbye.

* Chris Rosenquest, who apparently had earlier posed semi-nude for a RISA calendar (I think; some calendar or other, certainly), an incident which he referred to as 'the biggest mistake of my life'.

Earlier, when I arrived at Tazza, I encountered:

* A guy who asked if the thing I was carrying around in a guitar case was a guitar, and then exaplained that he was a heroin addict who had lost $400 in a four-day blackout, and that one of the cars on the street was his, and that he also played the guitar, and that if I gave him some money he would give me his license. (He was a little scattered, as who wouldn't be?)


Jun. 5th, 2006 08:58 am
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Yesterday I was walking down Wickenden street (having stuck up a bunch of posters) and was in front of Tokyo Restaurant when a guy parked and ran across the street towards me. "Hey, you!" he shouted.

I looked around but nobody else was nearby; apparently he was talking to me. "Huh?" I said.

"Does that place sell liquor?" he asked me urgently.

"What?" I responded.

"Tokyo -- does it sell liquor?"

I thought for a minute. I've eaten at Tokyo a few times, but I don't drink as a rule, so I wasn't sure. "Sorry, I don't know," I said. He nodded and ducked inside, presumably to ask someone who actually worked there and was not just randomly walking past it.
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My mother was reelected with about 56% of the vote, 1123 to 852. (I believe there are 19,000 registered voters in District 4 of Worcester, so turnout was as pathetic as usual, unfortunately.)

Things heard by me while I was standing on sidewalks waving campaign signs:

"Daddy, does that sign say 'Barbara Haller'?" (said by a little girl to her father)

"I should take that sign home and light a fire with it." (The sign was plastic, so this seemed like a bad idea.)

Around 7:30 I was on Main Street in Worcester with my sign and a guy walking down the sidewalk yelled to me, "George Clinton! Vote for George Clinton, man!"

He got near to me and I said, "George Clinton, huh?"

"Look," he said, "are you getting a job or something? I mean, did they say that you'd get a job carrying these signs? Because, I mean, unless you're getting a job or something from doing this there's no reason you should be out here."

"Well," I said, "she is my mother."

This stopped him for a moment and he looked impressed. "You're blessed, man. You're blessed." I thanked him and he continued down the street.

After he'd gone ten feet or so, he paused and said, "That doesn't mean she's going to win, but you're blessed."

"Understood," I said, and he continued on his way.

George Clinton!
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This evening me and a few of my friends were at the corner of Westminster Street and Memorial Boulevard (across the street from the river) waiting for a couple of other friends to join us. The light was red and there were a few cars waiting for it to change. The car in front didn't seem to have its signals on, and the car behind it had its right blinker on.

After a short while, the second car (apparently assuming that the car in front was waiting to turn right) honked its horn. This produced no action (I think because the car in front was actually waiting to turn left), so it honked again. And again. And again.

The car in front started trying to maneuver to let the other car by, but there wasn't much room for such things, so the other car continued to honk.

My friends and I made some sarcastic comments about the situation, and I started to walk over to try to intervene in some ill-advised way, although I'm not quite sure what I was going to do -- possibly try to explain that I thought the car in front was waiting to turn left and not right. But it didn't come to that, for as I stepped into the street a policeman on a horse galloped up and had a little shouted conversation with the honker.

Policeman: "Why are you honking your horn?"

Driver: [something I didn't hear distinctly]

Policeman: "Why are you in such a hurry, then?"

Driver: [something else I didn't catch]

Policeman: "There's no call to be honking your horn like that. That's a $75 ticket. You shouldn't be doing that."

At around this point, the light changed, the car in front drove away, and the policeman rode away also. The guy who had been honking drove off and took his right turn also, taking the opportunity to give the policeman a little piece of his mind, such as it was:

Driver: "Motherfucking horse cop pussy!"

Shortly after that we were joined by our friends and went on our way.
jwgh: (Default)
I went to a Pawtucket Red Sox game today with [livejournal.com profile] cgoldfish. The game was disappointing, but, man, there was some AWESOME PARENTING going on in the row behind us!

At one point there was an announcement that since this was the last game of the season, there was going to be some sort of celebration after the game.

So one of the kids asked if they were going to stay and watch it.

The father said that he wasn't sure, that it probably wasn't going to be that exciting and it wasn't like the players were going to do a song and dance or anything.

The mother was a little shocked by this and said, 'You should be encouraging them! We're raising the next generation of baseball fans here! Do you want them to be sports fans or do you want them to be ballerinas?'"

At another point, they were discussing friend dough, and the mother promised that they would have fried dough for dinner sometime this week. But the kids wanted fried dough immediately, so she had to explain, "No, we can't have any friend dough now -- mommy spent all her money."

Also, one of the kids kicked me in the back kind of hard at one point.

They were still more entertaining than what was going on on the field, though.

The end.
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I think this was last week. [livejournal.com profile] cgoldfish and I were walking from Wickendon Street to Wayland Square when a guy on a bicycle went weaving past us. He was steering with one hand and talking on a cell phone with the other and was really not concentrating on going in a straight line at all, so it was a little hazardous. It wasn't really clear who he was talking to, but we did hear one snippet of the conversation as he went past:
"I'm just really frustrated! I haven't had any sex!
So now whenever I see someone riding a bicycle in a kind of a hazardous way now (which isn't an entirely uncommon occurrence) I think to myself, "Aw, he's probably just frustrated because he hasn't had any sex."

The end.
jwgh: (Default)
Before I tell the evening's story I should mention that on Friday Chris and I will be opening for Paul Geremia at Billy Goodes, at the corner of Marlborough and Farewell Streets in Newport. We'll play from 8 to 9 pm, and Paul will go on sometime between 9:30 and 10 pm.
Chris and I were supposed to get together to practice tonight, but it was so nice that I called him at around 5:30 and suggested that if it continued to stay warm that maybe we should go play on Thayer Street. This seemed like a good idea to Chris, so at around seven he came by, I packed up my guitar, and we headed over, setting up right in front of the Brown Bookstore.

While we were setting up and before we even started playing any music a guy who was walking by dropped some change into my guitar case. This seemed to bode well.

After a few songs, an extremely drunk (or stoned or both) guy staggered up to us and tried to engage us in conversation. "Do you want some gum?" he asked. "It's tasty! Sugar-free!" We declined, and after a little while he staggered off again.

Then, a few songs after that, a police officer on a bicycle came by. "Have you been hired to play here?" he asked. No, we said, we're just street musicians. "Do you have a permit?" Well, as a matter of fact ... Chris got out his wallet and showed him the permit he got from the city which gave us permission to play on the street. The policeman took it and read it carefully, stopping at the phrase "at the discretion of the police department," which he read aloud to himself. A faint look of panic crossed his face -- he would have to make a decision!

He told us that a woman who lived in a nearby building had flagged him down and told him to go shut us up. "You should get that saxophone player who plays her sometimes to leave too," he reported she had told him.

Chris said, "I don't want to get into a dispute or anything, and if you want us to leave we will, but I really don't think we're being very loud," and he plucked the strings on his guitar to demonstrate that it was difficult to hear the guitars even from five feet away against the background noise of the street.

The policeman looked uncomfortable. "Why don't you guys play in a nightclub?" he asked.

When Chris and I discussed this later, we agreed that the policeman had, however unwittingly, stepped into dangerous territory with this question, but Chris explained patiently that we did, in fact, play in clubs sometimes, but this was our night for practice and it was nice out, so we had decided we would play on the street.

Finally, the policeman said, "Well, just try to tone it down, OK?" and left. We started to play again. A gentleman walked by and told us, "You guys should rap! Then you'd make lots of money!"

After a short while, the drunk guy returned and decided that we were good people to hang out with. "I know you've been asked this by lots of drunk people, but what inspires you?" he asked Chris. Chris tried to ignore him, but the guy persisted, and finally Chris responded, "Just playing the guitar." "That's it? Playing the guitar? Doesn't that get a little thin? What about love, or friendship ..."

Chris interrupted. "Look, don't get philosophical on me, OK?"

The guy continued to hang out and Chris and I kept playing.

Soon thereafter, a car pulled up in front of us, and a couple of Chris's friends got out; they told us that they had one night a month where they left their husbands and kids at home and went to Providence for a night on the town, and this was one of those nights. Chris chatted with them for a while, and then we sort of interspersed guitar playing and conversation. The drunk guy asked them for hugs but was turned down. A passer-by hollered out, "Get a job!"

After a few minutes, a crowd started to form, I think attracted by the existing group of Chris's friends and the drunk guy. Three women who I assume were college students started hanging out while we tuned up, and a mother and two kids also stopped to see what we would do. We apologized for taking so long to tune and one of the college students said, "Don't worry, we're not going anywhere until we hear you play!" We did a couple of bluegrassy numbers and a Gillian Welch tune; they stayed for a few tunes, put some cash in my guitar case, and left.

More songs. A gentleman stopped and listened to us for a few minutes, then wandered over and put what appeared to be twelve cents in the case and took off.

Finally it was almost nine o'clock and my fingers were cold. We did one last song ("Kindhearted Woman Blues") and said goodbye to Chris's friends, who told us that we had contributed greatly to their girl's night out. (The drunk guy had disappeared at some point earlier when I wasn't watching.) Chris and I then went over to Trinity Brewhouse, where the night's takings (twelve dollars and eight cents) were spent on beer and food. A good night was had by all.
jwgh: (Default)
The other day I listened to a 78 record of Dinah Washington singing Big Long Slidin' Thing, and that (maybe combined with it being around tax time) reminded me of this little story, which I see I originally wrote up on April 13, 2000.
Today I went to the post office to mail off my tax returns.  As I was being assisted Butterbeans and Suzie's song "I Want A Hot Dog For My Roll" started playing over the PA system.  When the chorus started a woman in the next booth over snickered, at which point the postal employee assisting me looked over at her and said in a matter-of-fact manner:  "Those double-entendres will get you every time."
For those not familiar with the song, it contains bits of dialogue like the following:
Butterbeans: Now here's a dog that's long and lean.

Suzie: No, that's not the kind of dog I need!

Butterbeans: Now here's a dog that's short and fat.

Suzie: Well, I sure need something different from that!

Butterbeans: Now, where's your roll?

Suzie: Here's my roll.  Now where's your dog?

Butterbeans: Uh-uh!  That roll of yours could fit a half a hog!
While doing the vital research for this post, I happened across this strange Butterbeans & Suzie takeoff I wrote last year. It is very, very puzzling. I don't remember much about writing it, except I think I looked up the word 'couch' in a bunch of thesauruses. (Thesauri?)
jwgh: (piano)
Today for lunch I went to Thai Orchid. Shortly after I sat down Afternoon Delight started playing on the radio. Then, a couple of songs later, I got to hear I Write The Songs. (Later I found out that several of my friends who are just a few years younger than I had no idea what I Write The Songs sounds like, and one of them didn't know the other song either. Ah, blessed ignorance.)

Chris and I decided to go to an open mike at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. We'd been once before (although it was a while ago) and were impressed by the quality of music that people were playing there.

There were some glitches tonight -- setting up took longer than expected so the music didn't start until 8 pm when it was supposed to start at 7 pm. The quality of music was still pretty good, although I didn't particularly care for the featured artist, who played third. After the featured artist there was a brief break.

During the break I decided to tune up the guitar, and as I was doing so another guy brought his guitar nearby and started tuning it. Except it sounded like the guitar was completely out of tune, and I couldn't quite tell if he was improving matters or making them worse. After a little while the break was over and he was called up to the stage, introduced as (I belive) Cole [although everyone else had been introduced by their full name].

Cole played these really weird chords -- I think C and G shapes up and down the neck mostly, but everything was so out of tune it was hard to tell -- and sang a combination of lyrics and stream-of-consciousness ramblings. He was clearly really drunk. But his voice was good and his energy level was really high and somehow the out of tune guitar just sounded right. After he finished the first song he said, "That wasn't close to good at all. Not even close." Then he played another song, cussing and hollering and shouting at the soundman. Then the soundman indicated that he was out of time and he did one final short, slow song that was about thirty seconds long. And that was it; he left. I really liked him a lot, although things could have gotten out of control pretty easily and I would not have liked that. Other people in the audience weren't as happy with him, though, and the soundman certainly was frustrated with him.

Chris had been outside getting some fresh air before all this occurred, and he told me that Cole had actually just been kicked out of a neighboring bar, where he had stormed onto the stage and tried to sing into the mike. It looked like things were going to turn ugly but someone involved in the Narrows center intervened and suggested that Cole come next door and do a couple of songs, and this succeeded in diffusing the situation. Cole's buddies were pretty sure that Cole was going to start a fight, so things turned out pretty well.

Next up on the open mike was a duo (acoustic guitar and electric bass). The singer/guitarist introduced their act by saying, "Well, I guess we're going from a sort of heavy metal music to some heavy mental music." Which seems to me like kind of a stereotypical thing for a certain type of folkie to say; I feel like this line could have been used in A Mighty Wind pretty easily. But anyway.

Chris and I calculated that we probably weren't going to get to play until around 11 pm, so we decided to head over to the Trinity Brewhouse to enjoy the band, which tonight consisted of the quite good guitarist/vocalist Thom Enright and the phenomenal bassist Marty Ballou. They were great as expected.
jwgh: (Default)
While I remember it:

The other day I went to lunch at Thai Orchid and they were playing some classic rock station. The song 'The Glory of Love' by, I dunno, Peter Cetera or something? came on.

I have vague memories of this song from high school -- is that the one that had the Blue Angels in its music video, or was that something else? -- and I was happy to hear its overwrought power ballad theatrics once again. Well, actually, my reaction was that as it started to crescendo to its chorus, I thought, 'Hey, I think I remember how this goes ...'

And as the chorus arrived the people at the next table started to sing along:
I am the man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We'll live forever
Knowing together that we
Did it all for the glory of love
Then they started laughing. And so did I, but only in my head, unfortunately.

While I was doing the research for this post, I discovered that the Apple Music Store doesn't happen to carry this song. What are fans of lame 80s power ballads supposed to do?

Update: I have managed to determine that the video with the Blue Angels that I referred to was for Dreams by Van Halen (featuring Sammy Hagar), which I'm not sure even counts as a power ballad. (Probably not.)
jwgh: (Default)
The Trinity Brewhouse has free live music every Wednesday, generally a really excellent blues combo led by Chris Turner, who plays harmonica and sings.

Sometimes when he's playing and one of his harmonicas is on its way out he'll offer to give it to the first person to identify the author of the song he's just played.

Finally, one evening I managed to answer both correctly and before anyone else and became the proud owner of a slightly used F harmonica, which I should still have around somewhere. Later on I mentioned this to Pam Murray, whose immediate response was, Cool! Now you can clone him!
jwgh: (Default)
I was walking west on Angell Street on the East Side of Providence when a car pulled up next to me. The driver asked me, Does this street take us to Providence?

I was a bit puzzled. You're in Providence right now, I responded.

Yes, the driver said, but does this street take us right into the city?


Sep. 10th, 2003 11:07 pm
jwgh: (Default)
As I often do, I went to the Trinity Brewhouse tonight to have a late dinner and catch some free live music.

I found a parking spot a couple of away from the Brewhouse. As I got out of my car and started to walk to the bar, a guy in his early twenties asked me if I knew how to get to CCRI. I didn't, which he appeared to be disappointed to learn. This made me a little more attentive to my surroundings than I usually do, as I thought I might see someone else who would be more likely to be able to tell this guy how to get where he was going.

As I passed by the Providence Public Library I noticed an overweight guy seemed to be leaving it, walking down the long concrete handicapped ramp. That's odd, I thought. Is the library actually open this late? 'Cause maybe the CCRI guy could ask there. Nah, this guy probably just works there and is going home for the night.

Then, suddenly, a guy in what appeared to be a jogging suit popped up from behind one of the concrete barriers and said, SIR! DROP THE BOOK! He then raised a gun and said, SIR! THIS IS THE POLICE! DROP THE BOOK! DROP IT OR I WILL NOT HESITATE TO SHOOT!

They both then proceeded down a side street, so I couldn't see what happened after that. I thought of following them, but quickly decided that this would not necessarily be the best thing for my health, so instead I continued on down the street.

So I dunno.


jwgh: (Default)
Jacob Haller

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