Tuesday, August 28, 2012


A grigio Lamborghini.  $280,000.  A black Suzuki tremolo.  $37.  A red Didgeridoo.  $34.

Yes, I am sitting in a grigio Lamborghini.  No, a grigrio Lamborghini is not on my wish list. By happenchance I had parked next to this silver Lamborghini at a car dealership in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Chatting with the owner of the Lamborghini were two sales consultants, Del and Sunny, the very people I had come to see.  And voila … this picture came to be!

That said, the black Suzuki tremolo harp and the red didgeridoo are high on my wish list.  I am thinking (even as I write) that these two items alone will help complete my life’s purpose.  And how do I know my life’s purpose?  It’ll be easy if I follow these five steps as presented by Douglas La Bier (2012).

{1} Back off to tune in.  Perhaps our purpose in life has been there all along.  I love performing live.  I love being mobile and traveling light.  I hate dragging around lots of equipment and having to do heavy duty sound checks.  However, if it weren’t for the latter, I’d never have had the confidence to do the former, and that is … busk!  In Autumn, Winter, and Spring I am a dutiful band member, performing to the best of my ability, attempting to enhance every band member’s choice of song.  This takes resignation, forbearance, and three-season-suffering; and I daresay, but a dram of technical skills. Being in a band requires adhering to a hundred itsy-bitsy rules for itsy-bitsy people (myself included, of course).  Busking, on the other hand, takes grit, pluck, and enterprise; and I flippantly suggest a bucketful of tactic to gain pleasure for a season. I have three seasons in which to back off and tune in to what I really, really love to do.

{2} Learn from your choices.  Everyone is always making choices.  Some turn out good, some turn out bad. Fortunately, most of the choices that are forced upon us are not life threatening, but they are momentarily life enhancing.  To help realize our life’s purpose, it is important to reflect upon the success and failures of some significant choices we’ve made (so far).  Whether we go to post-secondary or go to work; whether we marry or not; whether or not we have children; whether we live north, south, east or west; these are all normative choices to be made over a few decades of one’s life.  Having to choose particular therapies and medicines to save one’s skin is, fortunately, a choice that is atypical; but nonetheless, helpful in deciding one’s life purpose.  I am a busker simply because I love the experience of singular adventure.  I can go wherever I want; I can play whatever I want, banjitar or guitar, I can choose the songs, the strums, and the thrums I want.

{3} Get on the path.  Imagine the person you want to be -- then become that person. I remember wanting to be a high school English teacher.  Typical high school English teachers at that time wore sports jackets, and I had none, for up until that time I was a t-shirt, blue jeans, hiking boots, kind of a guy.   I sold my half-ton truck for $600 and bought four blazers to don at work.  Being without wheels meant that I had to hitchhike and bus ride; that is, until I had saved enough money to purchase another vehicle for transportation.  Reflecting on that, it was an excellent choice!

{4} Stretch. You can only achieve the unimaginable when you step outside of what you can imagine.  The magic only happens outside your comfort zone.  I can recall stretching myself into stressful situations at least three times in this last decade:  defending my thesis in front of an academic panel, playing a glockenspiel televised and in front of a live audience, going busking for the very first time.  These sweaty moments of second guessing and social terror evolved into sweet moments that I survived to tell about.                

{5} Pursue with love.   If you’ve imagined having fun being the person you want to become, then go have fun and love it, love it, love it. Psychology fact:  The wider the gap between who you want to be and who you really are, the more dissonance you’ll have in your life; and conversely,  the more narrow the gap between who you’d like to be and who you really are, the more consonance you’ll have.  The more harmony you have in your life the more you’ll love yourself and to comment altruistically, the more you love yourself the more love you have to offer others.
In summary, life is an adventure, not an ambuscade.

Back to my black Suzuki and red didgeridoo. This summer I’ve been blowing my harmonica while strumming my twelve-string.  A tremolo harmonica is like the twelve-string compared to a six string guitar in the world of tin sandwiches. My current ten-hole Hohner Blues Harp sounds great but … I’d like a sound just a tinny bit (pun intended) more folksy.  With my imaginary new harmonica, I shall have been raised from novice to apprentice and will perform accordingly.  And so what if I’m really a brummagem harpy!

And come this Winter if I want to keep busking I need an instrument that I need not turn blue whilst playing.  I’ve played guitar in winter and it sounds okay for only the few seconds my hands are still able to strum, and my fingers still able to frail.  Playing my banjitar is the same type of cold torture test.  I’ve attempted the penny whistle, but with little success.  I find it difficult to play and still, my fingers get freezing fast.

I need a red didgeridoo.  I need a Meinl synthetic, the one which is a modern twist on the traditional bamboo construction, one that is purported to be extremely durable and unaffected by weather!  As an outdoor long-distance runner, I know there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The test for playing the didgeridoo will not be the cold, it will be the musicianship.  I plan on spending most of the Autumn months as a novice delivering a cacophony of noise, in the hope of achieving my apprenticeship status before Wintertime sets in -- my private foppery blossoming into a busking virtuoso bouquet.  

Indeed, I can just imagine my winter-cold consumers virtually agog, lining up to have their photos taken alongside the didgeridoo guy. All is said and done, come this time next summer; I shall be an all-weather foeman, literally armed to the teeth with my new red didgeridoo.

My Chaucerian Parade this week begins with some street people:

The Singing Cowboy. This busker can frequently be spotted singing in front of a liquor store in south Regina.  He’s a warbler with his arm out and his palm up. This is all I have, two bits, he says apologetically.

Snow White on a bike.  This lady looked to be in a Snow White costume, pedaling her bicycle up and down the cobblestones in the Fred Hill Mall, Regina.  It’s not much but … (she shrugs and smiles and tosses a quarter into my case).

Sponge Bob.  From beneath his white and castaway beard he states his usual line of solicitation, I just need two more dollars to get a bit to eat.

We’ve all had moments of that sort when we’re doing something we really want to do.  It’s just that somehow we’ve gotten that into an unfortunate separation of those moments from work (Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

Yes, I long to have my busking moments last forever, or at the very least, I long to be an all-weather busker … a consumer’s four season destination, so to speak.

[*** Please check out my Youtube busking videos, the links being on the very top left scroll of this blog. These busking videos shall be the topic of my next blog entry:

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I’m just back from my British Columbia buskation ...  and, dear reader, I do apologize for such a delayed entry.

This week I want to explore life as I've thought about it whilst driving west along the Trans Canada Highway sipping frappaccinos -- between the brown corrals and silver sagebrush of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan and the lemon- lime velvet hills and blue feather fields of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

This long, lazy stretch of highway is the last chance to daydream for the driving part of the buskation from Regina to Kamloops and back again.  Because of the congested traffic and countless mountain horizontal and vertical curves on the rest of the way, one needs to stay alert!  

Just what’s it all about, Alfie?  (It, refers to life, and all its bits and pieces.) 

Is it just for the moment we live? (Burt Bacharach).  If so, this would be Existentialism, the notion of which holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and the experiences of the individual.  To acquiesce to Existentialism does seem to make life simpler than the conventional faiths that have passed through the ages.  In Existentialism, the idea of church, for example could be the dance floor, the jogging path, the study hall.

Or is all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, each having their exits and their entrances? (William Shakespeare).  If this is so, then the entire world is an ambuscade, each of us living a life of concealed persons of the future, who lie in wait to attack us by surprise.  This could very well be true.  According to Mike Tyson, Everybody’s got plans … until they get hit.

Or is it that the Cosmos is all there is or was or ever will be? (Carl Sagan).  And if this is so, then life is just an Annie Oakley – it costs nothing to get here, to stay here, to leave here.  Life is transitory, ephemeral.  We are in transit.

Allow me to ramble in bits and pieces.  Life for some (especially in the West), compared to the Augean Stables elsewhere on the planet is a palace.  When I write West, I am referring to the ‘60’s land of milk and honey connotation, of Coca Cola and Rock ‘n Roll and all that.  I must mention that the zeitgeist for 20012 in Canada (and seemingly in other Western nations) is that our promisticians are moving mildly to the right of centre, pulling along the popular and disparate, the shiny and dank, the perverts and prudes.

To our world promisticians (those politicians at any level, civic, district, or national), we are but a claque, a group of people hired to applaud.

Life for some is a Bildungsroman, about the psychological moral growth within each of us, no matter our place of habitation.  After all, we are all of us chameleons, subject to change frequently, in place, in idea, in character, in costume.

I’ve written before about Carpe Diem (seize the day, grasp the day, enjoy the day), the idea to pluck each and every day, for each day ought to be a ripe one.  For each day life is full.  This is true for solitudinarians, for gadflies, for sun worshippers, mooniacs, and troglodytes.  On this planet for the plucking, there is something ripe for everyone.

Enough.  As evident of this Cook’s tour of the meaning of life, what do I know?  On a scale of 1 to 10 the answer is … ZEROTH.

Here is what I do know.  Any fool can create life – I am proof of that.  But let’s face it – We are finite.  Everybody dies.  All of our stories about birth and death and beyond death do serve us;  these stories seem to give some sense of meaning to our lives.  But death is.  For each of us there doth cometh a time when there is no more time on the clock, no more innings, no more at bats. 

Both in Canada and the United States the longevity for men is 78 years and for women it is 82.  Now these are just baseball stats, mind you. (I’m fielding the baseball metaphor as presented in the King James version of the Holy Bible, In the big inning …)  Accordingly then, I’ve just seventeen more trips to the plate, before my last bat, my last bunt, foul, strike, or home run.  Whatever befalls on my last swing, it shall be my personal fini.

My characters who have marched by in the Chaucerian Parade these past couple weeks:

  • Sherona.  I was Sherona’s high school English teacher.  Now at forty years of age she squirrels pop cans and plastic water bottles from the public trash deposits in the Scarth Street Mall.  She is among the main three constants who go ‘round and ‘round checking all the trash bins.  These three are most certainly not a team, but their similar behaviors could indicate that they were somewhat collectively mobilized.  And their standard scruffiness in attire give hints of the same team costume.  I wonder what happened in her life  -- as she likely wonders what happened in mine.  Hello, Mr. Child, she cheerfully says as I busk my own blues away.
  • Sponge Bob.  Bob is a bum and looks the part.  He’s unshaven, dressed shabbily, dons a very dirty New York Yankees baseball cap. Bob always needs just two bucks more to get a bite to eat. That’s what you said last time I gave you money, I reply.  Oh, good day to you then, he always says and moves on. And I always keep right on busking during our phatic chats.
  • Milo.  B and I are busking next to one of the many outdoor patios along Victoria Street in the very beautiful downtown summertime city of Kamloops, British Columbia.  Milo is a paraplegic who states that we’ve taken his spot but … since he only busks at night, It’ll be okay.  With our sardonic smiles, both B and myself thank him kindly.
  • Marshall Tucker band member.  My favorite fan of the week is a summer Santa figurine fellow from the Weald of Braylorne, British Columbia.  I play in the Marshall Tucker Band, he says after standing and listening to us for twenty or so minutes, on the sidewalk at Victoria and 3rd in Kamloops.  I like you guys, he said.  I live just sixty miles from Whistler, a little place called Braylorne, oh my f&%$#)@! god, we don’t have girls like that in Braylorne! he says whenever a young lady walks past. (I googled the Marshall Tucker Band and this long-haired hibearded fellow very much looks the part, though he does not appear in their band picture on the header of this blog.)  We constantly write new material but our fans just want to hear the old stuff, he says.  I’m guessing it is the same with you, guys, he says matter-of-factly. 
And I’ve a couple of kudos for a couple readers of this blog!

*The first is a BIG CONGRATULATIONS, BRAD HORNUNG!  Brad has just recently joined the scouting staff of Central Scouting in the National Hockey League (NHL).  Brad used to play for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, and afterwhich scouted for the Chicago Black Hawks of the NHL.  (For you non-Canadian readers, you must realize that hockey in Canada is not only a sport – Hockey here is a religion.)

On one of my earlier buskations I had to register a name for myself for the busking license.  I chose the name, SEAHORSE, and along with the name I added the logo:  SAVE THE SEAHORSE – SAVE THE SEA.

**This leads into my second kudo for MEIKA JENSEN, a member of the Design Team @ Mastersdegree.net.  Check out MEIKA and her message (and awesome graphic) at http:www.mastersdegree.

(Hey, Meika, as soon as my blog techies, Guy and Hollis, are back at work, I’ll have your graphic posted permanently on my blog.)

And that‘s what it’s all about, Alfie!