Sunday, February 10, 2013


 Dear Readers,
Still it is winter and still I am, not a busker, but rather a confined functionary scrivener.

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away as I purchased two bottles of beer from the local liquor store, a Taj Mahal Premium Lager (product of India) and an Affligem Abbey Ale Blond (product of Belgium).  Now one would think that since I’ve highlighted and italicized these splendid beers that I shall continue to scribe along this thirsty trail – but I’m not.  My story begins just as I entered the liquor board store.

Outside strumming and singing his heart out in the cold was Brian, a regular in the busking community.  It’s still wintertime and he was dressed in big boots, big parka, and big wool toque. His fingers were bare.

Brian is the real thing – he is the stereotypical cadge-like busker.  The first impression of Brian in summer is that he is poor, poor, poor.  He’s balding and the few hairs that he has are unkempt, save for his combed dundrearies.  He is always hirsute, his five day beard framing his yellow and decayed front teeth.  Brian’s t-shirts jeans are dirty and stained with grease blotches, and his shoes are scruffy.   

All of this busking persona could be Brian’s pity me busking strategy, but I doubt it.  Brittany, who works the gas bar next door, has told me that Brian busks only until he has the coin enough to buy smokes, which he buys at the gas bar.  This liquor store location is Brian’s primary buskspot.   

We chatted (I hadn’t seen him since last autumn) and he mentioned he was playing his winter guitar.  I guess that really meant his winter guitar was an old guitar for which he was not concerned about the weather damage.  (This is quite unlike me, for I’m a guitar busker in only fair weather, and in winter I busk only with my synthetic weather-proof didgeridoo.)

As his competition I’ve conceded that Brian can have this location.  One of my preferred buskspots is close by, in the middle of the parking lot at the grocery store next door to the liquor store.  I’ve busked in this parking lot hundreds of times – I’ve never busked in front of this liquor store.

Busking in front of a liquor store is not beneath me – it’s just not me (in my imaginary self).  When I search for a buskspot, I always march to the market-like settings, where lots of people mill about.  Right downtown is ideal, especially at noon.  Early Saturday afternoons at Value Village Mall the coin are fat, and any day after four o’clock at Shoppers Drug Mart the rewards are bankable. These are my sweet spots. I own these buskspots.

The Value Village Mall is managed by Shawn.  Shawn’s wife, Krista, owns and manages ISLAND LUNCH, a fast-food outlet within the mall, and their daughter, Emma, has become by best weekend friend.  Working with Shawn is Allan, with whom I have quick and philosophical chats on my busk breaks.

At Shoppers Drug Mart, all the staff have welcomed me.  Dana, the manager, is a business delight.  Globe trotter, Fahim, always stops to chat; Rhonda is always requesting songs (Last Kiss is her favorite).  Helen is a hoot, and Louise is a laugh a minute.  Jagger, Jessica, and Amanda, always offer greetings and Skylar, the Shoppers photographer, placed my picture in the staff calendar.  Thanks to Skylar, I AM THE MONTH OF MAY -- SEE PICTURE TOP LEFT!

Brian and other buskers (Dylan on guitar, Baron on pan drum) are frequent performers in front of the liquor store.  My niches are downtown, Value Village, Shoppers on Broad, and lately, the ITALIAN STAR DELI (Victoria Avenue), owned and operated by the very gregarious Carlos and his family. 



Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week are some worker bees for which I have great respect: 
*Rhonda from SHOPPERS … who insists that I drop by February 16th and sing Last Kiss because … it is her birthday!  (She’s turning 60.)
*Carlos from ITALIAN STAR DELI … who yesterday gave Baron a free colossal and delish sandwich and referred to him as family.
*Skylar from SHOPPERS … who placed my picture in their staff calendar.


Here are some headlines this week from around the world (the blue planet).

  • Royal Bones to Pick:    British researchers have confirmed that the skeleton with a cleaved skull and curved spine, found underneath a parking lot in the United Kingdom, is Richard 111, the last English king to die in battle.   

  • A Celebration of Cuban Democracy:  Ailing ex-revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, appeared in Havana to cast his parliamentary vote.  A claque of about 8.5 million Cubans took part in the parliamentary polls – that featured no opposition candidates.

  • Bandersnatch into Space:  President Ahmadinejad gasconades that he’s ready and willing to be the first Iranian in space, confirming his status among Westerners that he really is a space-cadet.

  • The Devil in Papua New Guinea:   Sadly, the 17th Century Devil in Massachusetts has re-ignited in the 21st Century Papua New Guinea, where bystanders watched, as a young woman accused of witchcraft, was stripped, bound, tortured, and burned alive.  This is just the latest of sorcery-related killings in the locale.  Of this, I cannot decry enough!

1 comment:

  1. Great post Neil! Love your busking anecdotes. Always an adventure with intriguing characters.