Monday, October 8, 2012


THE BUCK STOPS HERE is the inscription U.S. president, Harry S. Truman had on his desk back in 1931.  THE BUCK STOPS HERE meant that responsibility was not passed beyond this point, beyond President Harry’s desk.  He didn’t originate the phrase, but we would never have heard it had Harry not adopted it.

For me, 81 years after Harry, THE BUCK STOPS HERE still retains its political and pragmatic value. THE BUCK STOPS HERE reminds me to take the responsibility for managing all of my busking, from the signage, to the buskspots, right through to performance.

Managing my avocation as a Buskologist takes concentration, commitment, and a certain amount of time off the clock.  By concentration I mean conscious thought; by commitment I mean continual street practice and performance; by time off the clock I mean temporal economy, those segments of time I can afford to steal from my day.  (Because of our lifetimes being a finite condition, even minutes in life are precious.  Whatever moments and things we decide in our lives to be precious, then so too should be the time we set aside for these decidedly precious moments and things.)

Managing my busking avocation meant that I had to first, seek permission from certain agencies to display their logos, and second, find the right busking locales.  Seeking permission from agencies took some thought; and getting permission from these same agencies was both simple and easy.
My very first sign for display in my guitar case was created (crafted really) by Lynn Hill, front office manager of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).  This was right after she introduced me to David Nelson, the Executive Director of the CMHA, Saskatchewan Division Inc. (who seemed more than pleased that I would busk for such a cause).

My second sign for display in my guitar case was created by both Jackie Just (Program Coordinator) and Anita Hopfauf (Executive Director) of the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan.  Both these ladies offered to jump aboard my busking bus with open arms.

Other signs/logos that I hope for future display are those posted alongside the CMHA and the SSS logos on my blog header:  The Phoenix Residential Society - a community based health care organization providing psychosocial (psychiatric) rehabilitation services to persons with psychiatric disorders, concurrent disorder of problematic substance use and mental illness, and persons with cognitive disorders and acquired brain injury; and SEARCH – the acronym for Student Energy in Action for Regina Community Health

To acquire these signs I must seek and receive the blessings of Carole Eaton (Phoenix Society Executive Director) and either Lionel T. (SEARCH Past Chair) or Nikolina V. (SEARCH Programming Committee Chair).   

To further manage my busking affairs, I’ve assigned certain times for my bread-and-butter buskspots. Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays I busk at Shoppers Drug Mart on Broad Street in the afternoons from 4:30 until 6:00.  Months ago I sought and received permission from Dana, the manager at this Shoppers location, to arrive and busk at random a couple times a week.  Busking there, I always set up near the customer entrance, performing always with my twelve-string and harmonica.  Never do I play my banjitar there because it is too noisy for such close encounters with the Shoppers customers.  This month Shoppers Drug Mart across Canada has chosen to support Canadian Mental Health as its awareness theme.  Knowing that I frequently busk for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Dana has asked me, personally, to show up and display my CMHA sign. (When I busk at Shoppers, I usually display my Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan (SSS) sign, because the SSS office is within song distance up the same block.)  Dana has even enticed me to do so with home-baked dough (goodies not dollars) to comply.

Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon between 1:00 and 4:30 I busk at Value Village.  Like Shoppers on Broad, I busk right at the front entrance, the very place where Shawn, the Mall manager, suggested.  And like Shoppers, I’ve permission to arrive at random to Value Village and busk a couple times a week.  And again, like Shoppers, I strum and thrum my twelve-string whilst blowing my harmonica, because the banjitar is just too intrusive for the customers entering the front gate.

Between the hours of 4:30 and 6:00 in afternoons of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays is when I busk in the parking lots of Extra Foods on Broadway Avenue, or Safeway on 13th Avenue. Because I stand in the middle of the parking lots at these venues, I always bring my banjitar.  And, like Shoppers and Value Village, I’ve permission from these managers, respectively, Randy at Extra Foods, and Kevin at Safeway, to arrive at random and busk at these locations.

And last, one noon hour per week I’ve taken, at the invitation of manager Carlo, to busking at the Italian Star on Victoria Avenue. Sometimes I show up twice a week. At the Italian Star I tend to thrum my guitar, rather than my banjitar because of the limited patio space.  I think the word, rudeness, would apply should I pick and frail on my banjitar while others sitting near are munching on the Star’s signature sandwiches.

In summertime outside these self-prescribe busking hours, I saunter downtown and busk either in the outdoor Fred Hill Mall, or the new downtown Plaza, or Victoria Park.  Sometimes I busk in the mornings at these locations, and other times in the early afternoons.  On the rarest of occasions, I’ve even busked on the evening sidewalks.  No, I do not have permission from anybody in particular – I just know that having read the municipal bylaws, there are no restrictions on busking anywhere in the city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  And I must mention my summertime wanderlusts, my buskations, usually to British Columbia, Canada.

All of these above mentioned managers of my preferred buskspots have traits that are common with one another.  Dana, Shawn, Randy, Kevin, and Carlo all have polished and approachable personalities.  These managers are ever genuine and friendly to me, and somewhat surprising, impress upon me that my busking is important to them (and their business, I suppose).

Managing my busking business also requires that I continue to reinvent myself on an ongoing basis.  Yesteryears my busking began with my twelve-string, and I thrummed and sang.  Yesteryears I bought my banjitar, and kept that as my main instrument, with very limited singing.  Yesterseason (just this past summer) I’ve attached a harmonica to my sidewalk acts, only to discover the harp goes better with the guitar than with the banjitar.  Yesterweek, I started to sing again between harpoon huffs.

Yesterday I purchased a Suzuki Tremolo Harmonica ($13.) and, at the same time, ordered a Meinl Red Didgeridoo ($32.) to keep me busking throughout the winter.  My public wish:  Tomorrow I want to be a temerarious busker for all seasons, rather than the vanilla fair weather busker that I am today.

Managing my busking business also requires that every time I go busking, I treat every encounter, every conversation with anyone as though it were an interview.  I know that every person with whom I communicate, judges me.  This is true in any encounter anywhere and at any time. Because this is the case, I keep all of my conversations, phatic as they may sometime seem, in an infotainer perspective.  The consumer hoi polloi appreciate banter with a pippin, rather than chatter with a starch.

Which reminds me of my favorite mortals this week marching in my Chaucerian Parade:
  • Tracey, the security officer from Shoppers, who brought me bottled water and told me a personal story of her beige and carmel colored melodica.
  • Sweet Emma, from Island Lunch at Value Village, who told me the story of her pink guitar.
Managing my busking business also requires me to focus on my strengths.  My busking hours, minutes, and moments are spent practicing, performing, and practicing while performing.  Weather permitting (soon to be all weather days, save for rainy ones), I do attempt to get out every day and practice, perform, and practice while performing. 

And the skinny of all this buck stop and busk spot stuff?  As a registered Buskologist, I consider myself to be a Social Entrepreneur, one who employs innovative solutions to recognizing pressing social problems, all the while being the constant ambassador for the art and craft of busking.

As a buskologist, I have to be continually good at what I do and get good at what I want to do because ...   
I know the buck stops here at 
the buskspots here!   

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