Sunday, November 19, 2017

TRIPLE BILL AT THE BUSK OFFICE: A SKETCHY REVIEW









































My claim to busker fame is usually attributed to my guitar or my didge.  When it is summer in the city, slinging my guitar or didge on some street corner is an awesome, awesome sense of freedom.  I love it, love it!  However, after thousands of summertide strums and drones it does, admittedly, become a rather perfunctory performance.  Crunching brown leaves under foot underneath a gray sky while en route to my next buskspot, I have an autumn reflection:
FALL la la la la la la la la la. 
‘Tis the season to be sketching!

AUTUMN LEAVE UNDERFOOT
Perfunctory is my word for guitar and didge busking; concentration is my word descriptor for portrait sketching.  Attempting to quick-draw my patrons within a ten minute time frame demands a very professional-like focus.  Though a load of chinwag is normative betwixt my client and self, I rarely veer from my intrusive staring straight into the faces of strangers.
 
MY WINTERTIME BUSK OFFICE
The big difference between summertime and wintertime busking is the portability of my instruments.  Slinging a sketchpad and mechanical pencil is far simpler than slugging a guitar or a quiver of didges.  Mind you, sometimes I do busk with my pencil in the summer, but from a mercenary perspective, the money flow is just too slow, even though the line-up for portraits can be long.

This is because of my lack of quick-draw capability.  Though I often brag I can draw anyone within ten minutes (and I can), to shade and finish a portrait to my particular liking and habit is usually a fifteen minute endeavor.  Guitar and didge busking I can easily make at least fifty dollars in an hour; portrait busking I make only forty dollars in a most perfect hour.

I need to draw faster.  And this is precisely the reason I set up at the Centennial Market every Saturday between 11:30 A.M. and 4 P.M.
PAT IN FIFTEEN MINUTES
RON IN FIFTEEN MINUTES
Each of the above portraits took me fifteen minutes to sketch.
QUICK DRAW
This is not my Quick Draw, but I’m sure it took only a minute or two for the artist to draw this.

And while googling, I stumbled upon Quick Draw with a guitar!  Imagine that, Quick Draw somehow anthropomorphically representing me!

Meanwhile back at the busk office ... here is my scoop on the perceptual comparisons of guitar busking, didge busking, and portrait busking:


  • Guitar Busking

For me the quintessential busker is that messy-haired guy in a white t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and hiking boots.  When I’m slinging my guitar I’m that guy who is just passing through town.  I’m that guy who people wonder what my story is and isn’t it a pity that I’m reduced to this; yet at the same time envy me because they imagine that tomorrow I’ll be gone and down that lonesome highway singing songs in another town or city.

  • Didge Busking

Didge busking has a certain mystique.  Even though it originates in Australia, the didge does connote earthy yet celestial appeal, the earth’s heartbeat resonating into deep space sort of feeling.  To me, people playing didgeridoos exude almost out-of-body experience.

  • Portrait Busking

I cannot draw a house or a tree or a person (as in the Goodenough Draw-A-House/Tree/Person projective test) but I can draw a face.  People do not believe me when I express this simple truth.  Most of the artists within my social circle have stated that portrait drawing is the most difficult of art forms, yet to me it is the easiest.  Passers-by often stop to watch my pencil that never lies in action.  Passers-by are always impressed with my product.

And so my skinny review of my above mentioned alterities:  When I’m slinging my guitar people think of me as that free spirited stranger-come-to-town.  When I’m blowing my didge people think I’ve a social membership in some cerebral and beatnik-like sub-culture.  When I’m drawing I imagine people think I’ve a revered adroitness with a pencil that few humans possess.

Rather than my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week I feel obligated to offer instead some clowns marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARODY.  This is certainly not a political blog but sometimes I do feel obligated to express some things I find to be laughable yet offensive.
REALLY?
USA Treasury Secretary, STEVEN MNUCHIN, and his wife, LOUISE LINTON, are posing in typical TRUMPIAN fashion.  These clowns are just two of the many quintessential representatives feeding in the president's AUGEAN STABLE!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A PASSIONATE EYE ON THE PASSIONATE "I": (IT'S ALL ABOUT ME, ME, ME.)



"MELANIE AT THE MALL"
"STACEY AT THE MALL"

"DAVID AT THE MALL"
Reading psychology blogs as is my morning custom while sipping Americano coffees, Barton Goldsmith’s, “Five Ways to Help You Find Your Passion,”(November 11, 2017), jumped out at me.  

I must mention that I normally do not read Barton’s blog simply because of the picture of him snuggling his dog which is atop every one of his blog entries.  Time after time over the years this picture of Barton has turned me off from his worth of a thousand words.  (Google Barton Goldsmith and Psychology Today and you’ll see my shallow reason for customarily ignoring Barton.)

Anyway, here is the grit of Barton’s essay (his five points paraphrased and selfishly annotated, in me, me, me fashion):

  • Do more than one thing. 

Ha!  My problem is there are never enough hours in the day or enough years in my life to embark on all the things I am wanton to do (wanton being as in play, not promiscuous).  I love studying and practicing hypnotherapy; I love writing songs; I love practicing didgeridoo; I love drawing fifteen minute portraits; I love going to the gym; I love going to work.  Factoid:  I do not excel in any of these wanton activities, but I think I rank in the 90th percentile in most my activities.

  • Be good at what you do. 

I rank myself in the 90th percentile because it is “me” who decides to become good at something, and it is “me” who decides whether to stay engaged in an activity or not.   If it (whatever “it” is) can be fixed with a knife and fork or a hammer, I’m the guy to call.  I’m not handy and so the women better find me handsome (an oft heard heterosexual and sexist joke).

  • What did you want to be when you grow up? 

As long as I remember I’ve always wanted to be an artist and a writer.  I am slowly getting there.  Right now I’m a street portrait artist (I always post my latest drawings somewhere in this blog) and I’ve been published a few times (a couple examples: A Wishbone Epistolary, 1985 University of Toronto, and The Creek, 2012, America Star Books.)  And I’ve yet to grow up.

  • Do a mind map to see what points to your passion. 

This exercise of Barton’s is rather elementary.  He suggests you draw a circle in the middle of a blank page (representing your passion) and draw some lines from the margin toward that circle of passion, with some explanatory lines of direction.  However, I’m too sophisticated for such an Adlerian exercise. Practice, practice, and more practice is the key for both guitar playing and portrait sketching, or to express it in another way, write, write, and write even more for literary publication.

  • If money were not an issue, what passion/s would you pursue?

I do know and I do agree with Barton is this particular regard.  I would not be stretched on some sandy beach with an umbrella drink in hand.  (I do confess I could hang out on that imaginary beach for an hour or two, but I would not be drinking alcohol.)   

I long to be:  a planetary portrait busker (see my blog entry, SKETCHES OF MARRAKESH:  A BILLET-DOUX FROM THE PLANETARY BUSKER, April 29th, 2017, where I reached my zenith in Marrakesh).  To keep my pencil-never-lies skill, during wintertime I draw portraits at the Centennial Mall in Regina every Saturday.  As always, some of these portraits are shown at the beginning of my blog entry.

To draw to a close (lifestyle pun intended), hobbies and recreate activities are considered to be forms of self-expression, as are most lifestyle choices.  Preferred foods and beverages, self-adornments in style and costume and all the accoutrements thereof, grooming and physique are all examples of such personal choices.  

Of the forms of self-expression that are easily attainable, I dare say that one’s physical health is fundamental to one’s personal function.  This, to me, is a simple premise.  I have only the one body and that’s the only place I have to reside, and therefore, I ought to take care of it. 

Looking back now on my route 66, I know that life is but a fillip.  In existential dread I know that to live is to suffer (the skinny of Zen).  I know I ought to steer clear of the ever present pettifog that can cloud my highway to personal contentment.  We never know what’s coming, and I do not want to be that woebegone wannabee who filled a life with regret rather than risk.  

Whatever it is that's coming, I do hope to suffer my passions until I'm finis.

CHAUCERIAN PARADE:

Yesterday morning I thoroughly enjoyed having a coffee with my cousin, HOLLY PRESTON, who happens to be the only marcher in my Chaucerian Parade this week.  HOLLY is important to me for a couple of reasons:  First, Holly is family, and second, Holly, too, is a serious hockey fan.








Friday, November 3, 2017

UPON PILLARS OF SALT AND PILLARS OF SAND: BUILDING A WONDERFUL LIFE



SARIM AT THE MALL






































DAVID AT THE MALL
To build a life that matters, Emily Esfahani Smith writes that we need to be cognizant of the four pillars sustaining our day-to-day existence (The Power of Meaning, 2017).

The first pillar, Smith states, is that we need to feel a sense of BELONGING.
I’ve always felt a sense of belonging.  As a child I was always perched on the bluebird abilities branch in my elementary school classes.  Few of us flew high enough above our desks to be bluebirds.  Most others stayed in their nests as robins or sparrows.  Academically and chromatically divided, we brick-red breasted and blue-winged bluebirds were the brightest; the grey-brown and orange-breasted robins were the average; while the grey-brown sparrows were the dullest.  (I should mention that terms as brightest and dullest are not appropriate in Edu-Speak.) 

As an adolescent, being cool meant everything (school grades excluded).  Having all the eyes and ears of my imaginary audience as I swaggered up the sidewalk to our Chinese cafĂ© was very cool. Cap-a-pie I had the Brylcreem (a little dab’ll do ya) hairdo, had my cool white shades, had my madras shirt, and my tight blue jeans, the pie complete with white socks and pointed shoes.  Having a lit Black Cat smoke lightly clenched between my teeth, the grey smoke encircling no doubt enhanced my coolness.  Coolness is what my buddies and I were all about as we pranced around our town in groovy adolescent costume.

These days my delusional self spends significant free time fraternizing with some local guitar-slingers.  These guitar guys and gals almost always join me on the Bushwakker Brew Pub stage winter, spring, summer, and autumn, for my regular and seasonal singer-songwriter gigs.

Smith suggests the second pillar to be to make time to find a PURPOSE. 
The purpose of all my life to date seems to be to gallivant.  I try not to waste a lot of time, but I do.  As my gig dates approach I practice, practice, practice, and right after each gig I wind down.  Factoid:  In wintertime, because I’m not a brutto-tempo busker, I portrait busk rather than guitar busk. 

Another factoid:  I seem to only thrum when I’m prepping for gigs.  One would think I would do my song writing in winter, but I don’t.  Most of my song writing is done whilst summertime busking.  (My consumers unwittingly pay me to write and practice my songs.)

My ideal purpose, in a most existential fashion, would be to exercise at my morning executive gym (Evolution Fitness) from 5:30 A.M. until 6:30 A.M. After this I would practice my didge; I mean, really, to be a planetary didge busker I need to practice, practice, and practice.   Early evenings I would continue to take Muay Thai classes.  (Being a planetary busker I can never have enough skill in self-defense tactics.)  Of course I would keep writing my soon-to-be bestseller novels.  And maintaining my hypnotherapy private practice would continue to be a treat, alongside wintertime gigs and summertime busks, betwixt my global adventures.

GETTING GIG READY AT THE VENUE
Pillar number three, according to Smith, is that we need to create for ourselves particular moments of  TRANSCENDENCE.  I’m thinking she means those Zen moments when I feel I’ve risen above the pedestrian hustle and bustle.  I’m getting there.  My dream of traveling to all of the 149 countries from which people have read my blog does offer transcendence to a degree.  So far I’ve been to United States, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, The Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Morocco, and England.  (I’ve only 139 countries to go.)

Guitar busking I travel incognito.  My consumers, I think, imagine me to be the free spirited minstrel, that stranger who comes to town.  My consumers, I know, do not know that I represent middle-class America, that I sip Americanos every morning and bourbon every evening.  My consumers, I know, do not know that I am an easy-peasy debit card transaction from leaving the street to my luxury hotel room.  
Portrait busking I am still a box-office draw (pun intended) every time I complete one of my ten-minute on-the-street sketches.  In those moments I feel above the pelotons.  This sense of superiority is enforced especially when the crowd gathers to watch me sketch.  Not-so-strangely, by first sketching my customer’s eyes I can determine right away whether this particular portrait is going to be a likeness.  If not, I edit and edit the eyes until I get that notion that this is a likeness.  Whether or not my consumer thinks there is a likeness is of little concern.  I know whether the portrait I draw resembles the person and sometimes I just have to agree with my friend and artist, Jack, who always states with conviction that, “People do not know what they look like.”




And the fourth and last of Smith’s pillars, is STORYTELLING.  Storytelling, I interpret as expressing one’s personal myth (projective psychology).  No problem here -- I’m a storyteller.  I’m the hero of every story I tell and I suffer from lookism.  I judge people by their looks.  Cap-a-pie I look at their hair, their face, their build.  I look at their headwear, their costume, and whether or not their shoes are shined.  (If their hooves are booted, they are definitely kindred spirits to me.)

William Glasser, the founder of Reality Therapy and Choice Theory, stated that everyone has a story to tell.  He was right, of course, but somewhat short.  Factoid:  Everyone has a sad story to tell.  As I fancy myself a genius among the pedestrians in my downtown neighborhood, I tend to compare myself to the downtown street people.  By street people I’m referring to those sidewalk wanderers, the pan-handlers, the cigarette butt pickers, and yes, the buskers. 

Reading the latest Your Brain magazine, on display until 1/12/18, Beethoven poured water all over himself while composing; Charles Dickens combed his hair hundreds of times in a day; Lucille Ball hoarded pencils; Albert Einstein picked cigarette butts off the street to stuff in his pipe.  These famous people behaved not unlike the street people to whom I’m referring in the previous paragraph.

ALBERT EINSTEIN

“And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.” (COLDPLAY)

Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week is my very best friend, COLBY WILLIAMS, professional hockey player for the HERSHEY BEARS.  Congratulations, Colby, for being voted the PLAYER OF THE MONTH, this October in the AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE