Saturday, June 9, 2018

A STRANGER COMES TO TOWN: THINK BIG


A VILLAGE SELFIE THROUGH THE GLASS

ARIA AT THE MARKET

LAYLA AT THE MARKET

PAIGE (EDUCATOR EXTRAORDINAIRE)

Being a busker means fitting into one of Leo Tolstoy’s two stories, a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.  Oh do I hate that journey metaphor!  But oh do I love that road theme! Factoid:  Being the busker on the journey could, indeed, be the same stranger who comes to town.

If you are thinking you’d love to be a busker, are thinking of going on a journey, or thinking you’d love to be that stranger who comes to town, I’ve a few tips.  Dear wannabee busker, these tips might turn your Walter Mitty moments into being your reality.


  • DECIDE YOUR PLAYLIST
If you decide to be a guitar busker you need to develop a strategic playlist of sorts, or should I say a practice list.  When I am out busking I am always practicing my original songs, which I compose and rehearse at my buskspot.   This is my habit.   When busking, I’m paid to practice!  I must confess, mind you, that practicing original songs is in that ilk of poetasters reciting doggerel at public speakers’ corners.   

Factoid:  Your passer-by consumers will not distinguish between a practice and polished performance.  Even as a lyricaster (an inferior songwriter), no one will be critical of your original songs.

Meanwhile back to the drawing board … Portrait busking, with my sketchpad and pencil I am still getting paid to practice.  With every visage I pencil improves my speed and skill for creating a likeness.  To put this into perspective, the second portrait I drew was better than the first, and a thousand sketches later I’m finally arriving.


  • CREATE YOUR NICHE
I have my niche consumers only because of my locales.  At Value Village, Shoppers on Broad, and the Italian Star Deli, I sell my thrums to familiar strangers.  Familiar strangers describe my niche.  Because I’ve guitar and harp busked in these spots for years, I’m most comfortable and therefore can afford to be somewhat complacent.  Keep in mind that whether or not your buskspot is familiar or unfamiliar, whether or not it is angst free, will not determine your dollar take for your time invested there.

At the Village I’ve a melange of consumers, none of whom seem to be high-brow.  At Shoppers, too, I've a potpourri of consumers, some of which are high-brow.  And at the Star, my smorgasbord consumers are mainly there for the sandwiches, numbering over 200 munchers every noon hour.

Factoid:  I’ve listed these three places in the order of consumer generosity, the most generous being at Value Village, the least generous being at the Italian Star Deli.  I shall be more precise.  At Value Village my take is between 35 and 50 dollars per hour; at Shoppers between 25 and 40 dollars per hour; at the Italian Star 25 dollars tops over the noon hour.  The secret is to know which hour to be busking at any particular venue.

I thrum a twelve-string whilst blowing my harp.  Other times busking I take my banjitar or didge.   

Factoid:  These three buskspots, in particular, are for minutes of salvo, not for quiet sketching.

Portrait busking is more for my clerisy consumers, the artistic and/or social elite one sees zigzagging through the park or sipping espressos in the downtown square.  Swards and sidewalk cafĂ© patios are my perfect spots for portrait busking.


  • COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CONSUMERS
Cultivate your connecting skills, first, by making eye contact with everyone who walks by.  Be sure to say thank aloud anyone tossing coin into your guitar case.  Connecting with every passer-by takes practice.  I remind you, dear buskers, not only are you getting paid to practice, public relation skills are significant toward your performance as a whole.  Likeability makes for munificent consumers.    

Factoid:  The mod of your consumers is plebeian. 
Factoid: You, too, are plebeian.


  • START SMALL THINK BIG
I started my guitar busking on lonely street corners.  My confidence and my consumer numbers were low, and unwittingly, lonely buskspots were the perfect places to practice my craft.  From these lonely street corners I ventured into the cacophonous crowds of the grocery store parking lots.  And now I have the adequate skill and roseate moxie to set up anywhere I choose.  My dream of being that planetary busker has taken me across Western Canada, to downtown Amsterdam, to rural and urban Ireland, and Marrakesh, Morocco.


  • KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Know why you are busking.  If you are busking to pay for food and shelter you need to be out there all day long, busking as long as necessary to pay for your sustenance.  However, if you’re a faux busker such as I am, you need only to busk as much as you want.  My preference is three times a week, two hours at a time, and then it is out of my system until the following week.  To realize my dream of becoming a planetary busker I need to continually polish my strumming and thrumming, puffing and blowing.

The very best thing about busking is that you can busk you can busk pretty much anywhere you want, and the next best thing is that the bulk of the necessary inventory is in your head.   

Busking is one of those treacly, tristful treats that seemingly offers me an amaranthine shelf-life!     

No matter your location you can always borrow a guitar (which I do wherever I busk except for in Canada).  I never include a guitar in my airplane luggage.  In Amsterdam I borrowed a guitar from, ALINA, a Russian musician; in Ireland I borrowed guitars from, MICHAEL, a hypnotherapist; and a Slovakian busker, PETER; in Marrakesh I borrowed a guitar from MOHAMED, a busker from Cape Town.  My planetary playlist is always in my head.

ALINA FROM RUSSIA

MICHAEL FROM IRELAND

PETER FROM SLOVAKIA
 
MOHAMED

MOHAMED

Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week is honorary degree recipient, Doctor Bradley John Hornung (my favorite NHL scout), and his entourage, as they partook the Spring Convocation ceremonies at the University of Regina.

BRAD HORNUNG AND SHELDON KENNEDY (BOTH HONORARY DOCTOR RECIPIENTS)
TINA (FRIEND) AND TERRY (MOM) AND CAROL (MY WIFE) AND BRAD
BRAD ON THE BIG SCREEN DELIVERING HIS KEY NOTE TO THE GRADUATES















Friday, May 25, 2018

IT'S JUST A MASQUERADE: THIS IS WHO I AM


KIM (PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE)

ELIZABETH (YOUTH WORKER)
KENNEDY (BUSKER)
FAMILY BARBEQUE
My snappy title is in reference to the band, Edward Bear.  And life really is as the band founder, Larry Evoy, sings that It’s just a masquerade.  Life is just a masquerade, and while dancing in this masquerade I want to be really, really cool.  I am a life player of idiosyncratic beliefs and I believe that being a planetary busker would be the coolest of emprises.

However, as an idiosyncratic existentialist I believe most people to be delusional.  For example, our world is the planet, Earth, and Earth is a marvelous blue orb accelerating through space at 107,000 km/h (67,000 mph) while spinning at 1600 km/h (1000 mph).  These spinning facts, according to the astronomers, physicists, and mathematicians, are not a fake.  These facts are true.

Some people, the delusional ones, believe we have a life beyond our Earth, even beyond our death.  For these believers, Heaven is a cosmological or transcendent place to which humans can ascend after we exit our present physical place and physiological state.  This Yang concept of Heaven and Yin concept of Hell is otherworld thinking.  To me, this otherworld thinking is peculiar to the delusional.  These hereafter facts are a fake.  These facts are false. 

And also, methinks this otherworld thinking is an excuse to keep world expectations in this life relatively low.  (Having low expectations in life means there is less chance of being disappointed, I’m guessing.)  I mean, really, expecting God or Jesus to bring us happiness can only bring disappointment.  

There is no question as to whether or not our Earth exists; however, there is a Brobdingnagian question as to whether any otherworld does exist beyond the known tangible one.
For sure I strive to be cool, but as I stated right at the start, being cool is just a masquerade.

FACTOID:  To cope while I maxixe through this masquerade life, I have continued to wear a variety of masks to serve me for whatever the motivation.  My masquerade life has always felt like a surprise exam for which I’ve never had time to study, and masks have contributed to my adequate successes to date.  It’s kind of like don’t judge me – you only see what I choose to show you.  (Nota bene, dear readers, masks can always fool my colleagues and sometimes my friends, but never those who love me.)

A mask can be a metaphor for a guise or a veneer or a camouflage or a front or a pose.  Masks can present the perfect attitude; and masquerades can present the perfect life.  As a masked man I have the usual Lone Ranger issues:  accoutrements, income, work.


  • Accoutrements:

For my busking accoutrements I design and deliver my facades in signature fashion.  On the road my mask is a guitar and harmonica, or a sketchpad and mechanical pencil.   Often times, too, I sling a didgeridoo.  Cap-a-pie my mask is always a shock of clean messy hair, a pair of shades, a long-sleeved white shirt with a collar, blue jeans, and work boots.  Keep in mind I go busking to make money.


  • Income:

A proverb states that the love of money is the root of all evil.  Here is my skinny on that:  Money is evil, and therefore pelf is not my issue.  I only need enough money to become a planetary busker.  I’m not in it for the pelf.

People close to me think I’m an outlier when I imagine I sell everything, rent a broom closet, and busk the rest of my days.  Perhaps, as inspired by Robert Service, I’ll rent a garret, cold and dark and drear, and there I’ll toil and toil with tireless pen writing my best seller and a few songs to boot out onto the street.

This is not crazy thinking.  Research shows that we enjoy life more when we consume less.  The more we have, the harder it becomes to savor life experiences. 

Factoid:  We can savor only when we simplify.


  • Work:

And, so far it seems to me, I have had the perfect life.  I’m fit as a fiddle, have had and continue to have perfect vocations and avocations.

I have had some perfect jobs: pole climber for telephone construction, pipe line laborer in the Rocky Mountains and North West Territories, swimming instructor, high school English teacher, high school guidance counselor, part-time university professor, teacher-counselor for young offenders, hypnotherapist.

I constantly practice to be the perfect planetary busker.  I’ve done street portrait drawing and guitar thrumming in Canada, Holland, Ireland, and Morocco.

And, in spite of being reduced to being perceived as just a busker, I’m still intellectually curious.  For example I can easily answer the existential question: Who am I?

If knowing the real self is the beginning of all wisdom (Aristotle), then I can certainly don my intellectual masks and answer for all of my selves: This is who I am.

Even as an idiosyncratic existentialist I can certainly appreciate a rainbow.

RAINBOW ON BROADWAY AVENUE

SAME RAINBOW FROM WASCANA PARK

Those skating in CHAUCERIAN PARADE this MEMORIAL CUP week in REGINA, CANADA:
I must mention that Brad Hornung (NHL Central Scouting), Gary Dickie (ex-NHL player), and RJ Dickie (current all star hockey and baseball player).

MEMORIAL CUP 2018 GUEST OF HONOR FOR THE FIRST CEREMONIAL PUCK DROP:
 
DREW CALLANDER (NHL'ER AND CURRENT HOCKEY SCOUT)


 
GARY DICKIE (PRO PLAYER), BRAD HORNUNG (PRO SCOUT), DENNIS SOBCHUK (PRO PLAYER)


 
BRAD HORNUNG AND DAN MARR (DIRECTOR OF NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING)

DON CHERRY AND RON MACLEAN
 
A SELFIE WITH DON CHERRY AND RON MACLEAN

RJ DICKIE AND JORDAN EBERLE (NHL'ER)

BRAD HORNUNG FAN

To close I've some TALL TALES for the MEMORIAL CUP 2018:

FACTOIDS
Twenty-two of the 29 players officially listed for the REGINA PATS (host team) are at least six feet tall.  Nineteen of the 25 players officially listed for ACADIE-BATHURST TITAN (representative of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) are at least six feet tall.  Twenty of the 26 players officially for the SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS (representative team of the Western Hockey League) are at least six feet tall.  Seventeen of the 26 players officially listed for the HAMILTON BULL DOGS (representative team of the Ontario Hockey League) are at least six feet tall.

And this leaves me with yet another existential question:
WHICH TALL TEAM WILL WIN MEMORIAL CUP?

And the existential answer is:   
WHO CARES ... AS LONG AS THERE'S BEER!  


GARY AT THE BAR