Sunday, April 28, 2013



It was the perfect Saturday for busking.  I was in costume, cap-a-pie, a black TRIPP shirt with florescent green trim (Madame Yes), shredded Tommy Hilfiger jeans (gift from NHL scout, Brad Hornung), Dr. Martens (air wairs with bouncing soles).  Yes, I was the fashion icon for two hours in the Value Village parking lot, thrumming my twelve-string whilst playing hard on my harpoon. 

My very first consumer … Hank’s Potatoes! I had not seen Hank since last fall.  Even before the handshake, Hank had rolled up his right pant leg to show me his knee. Octogenarian Hank, a retired heavy hauler, has been delivering potatoes to several restaurants in and around Regina for the past fifteen years.

I just got out yesterday.  I was in the hospital for 32 days getting my new knee.  I’m back at work but I’m not doing any heavy lifting. 

The noon sun was hot, hot (fact: 5500 C degrees on the surface), and so was my buskspot hot at the Value Village front entrance.

Emma, from Island Lunch, saved the day.  With her ever present smile, Emma graciously served gratis, an ice cold Pepsi and a bottled water.  (I love Emma!)

More sun facts: 

  • In Ancient Times, people believed the sun to be a big ball of fire and … and they were right.

  • The distance from Sol to Earth is 93,000,000 miles. When it eventually burns itself out, it’ll take 81/2 minutes for the Earthlings to realize that our sun is kaput.

  • (Save for vampires) we, sea-monkeys, swards, and other living stuffs, are all brothers and sisters under the sun.

  • The sunnier the day, the more munificent the consumer.

Here Comes the Sun, my blog title for today, was inspired for three reasons.  First, this Canadian winter has gone on forever and this was our first sunshine day. Second, Paul McCartney is coming to Regina -- Here Comes the Sun was included in the early Beatles’ Abbey Road album, 1969. And the third reason …

  • Fact:  Astronomer, Carl Sagan, formally requested this song, Here Comes the Sun, to be included in the Voyager space mission probe (1977), as a representative sample of human civilization.  He was declined.

I’ve just two characters marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week. 

  • Bad Guy: The new manager at the 13th Avenue SAFEWAY in the Cathedral Area, Regina, Saskatchewan, who mordantly stated: 

I’ve contacted the District Office and they have decided that you are a security and safety concern.  I’m very sorry to say that YOU CANNOT BUSK ON OR NEAR OUR PREMISES.

(Annotation:  Methinks the nefarious, namby-pamby new SAFEWAY manager is a FIBBER.  I am one to pettifog … a la wordswords.)

  • Good Guy:  Greg, the liquor store busker on Broadway Avenue, who humbly stated:

Ya, my dad has prostate cancer so I’m here for the duration.  I’m trying to get some original tunes together for an album a buddy and me are workin’ on.  Two dolls down at O’Hanlon’s ripped me off for 25 dollars out of my guitar case the other night.  I thought they were putting money in!

(Annotation:  Methinks the all-weather warrior busker is a TRUTH-TELLER.  Though ‘twas a chilly and windy day, his words inspired a particular munificence on my part.)

I tossed a toonie into Greg’s guitar case, along with a can of GREAT WESTERN ORIGINAL 16, DOUBLE AGED CANADIAN COPPER ALE.

Closing this particular essay, as a (self-certified) BUSKOLOGIST
I am pronouncing that this blog has had 25,382 hits from a readership of 11,738 visitors, stretching across 145 different countries to date.  Considering there are just 195 countries on our planet (give or take), this is, indeed, a chevron I sport with pride.



Sunday, April 21, 2013


-10 C

Yes, there will be busking – but not today.

In my previous post I discussed the case of Kenyon, who was diagnosed first with Schizoaffective Disorder, then Schizophrenia when he was 18 years old.  Following his diagnosis, Kenyon was institutionalized for three years, a year and a half in a group home, the next year and a half in a monitored apartment.  Kenyon is now 32 years old and living on his own.

Today I’m looking at the second letter sent by my clients (Kenyon's parents) to their son’s psychiatrist, the contents of which confirm some notions I have with adolescents and emerging adults assigned with Schizophrenia.  This particular letter was written 14 years ago.

Dear Dr. M.

Can you believe my wife and I were almost relieved when Kenyon’s urine sample showed that cannabis was present in his system the day he was admitted to hospital?  It is, indeed, a strange logic that gives our family the hope that all of Kenyon’s behaviors could still be the direct result of substance abuse.

I see Kenyon’s appeal process has been posted.  Whatever is decided on that date, we do want Kenyon continue his classes at his high school.  He loves lifting weights and we know he’ll continue that.  But we also know he will likely continue his inappropriate behaviors as well—so please keep him somewhat accountable to your clinic.

We ask this because just this morning, on his second day pass, Kenyon started out fine, but was again out of sorts for an hour or so, immediately following a short visit with a couple of his former drug buddies.  His eyes were droopy, his speech was very fast, and his conversation rambled.  We strongly suspect he had been using some illegal substance.  And I found in our basement a letter to Satan that Kenyon had just written recently (probably close to the last time I brought him to Emergency).  I know the letter to be recent because I do monitor “things” of Kenyon’s pretty close.  This letter (in Kenyon’s own handwriting) is enclosed.

The opening line says it all.  Most people would prefer to have substance abuse be the cause of bizarre behavior rather than a mental illness.  If the cause is directly related to substance abuse, then the quick remedy is, of course, abstinence.  However, if the irrational behavior is related to a mental illness, the remedy is considerably more long-range and complicated.

Being an adolescent druggie can almost be regarded as a normative behavior.  To some degree, most adolescents are drug users, and for some to scholastically fail, and fall out of favor on the home front, is not uncommon.  However, being an adolescent assigned with a mental illness is very rare, not only for political reasons, but for behavioral reasons, too.

Considering that adolescence and emerging adulthood is generally a time of rebellion, it is difficult to discern whether patterns of bizarre behavior can be attributed to the recklessness of misspent youth, or be the result of a mental illness.  And this is why parents (or anyone for that matter) would wish these inappropriate behaviors to be the result of Sturm und Drang (wildness), rather than Schizophrenia (illness).

The letter also states that when Kenyon was on a temporary day pass from the Psychiatric Unit, he met up with some friends, and then back at the ranch (so to speak) seemed stoned (surprise, surprise).  Rule #1 when dealing with drug addicted individuals ...
Druggies hang out with druggies.

And because Kenyon’s friends (likely all of his friends) are druggies, then what else would he do while on a day pass. Friendship among drug users has been coined Drugship for good reason.  Take away the drugs and the friendship is over. Drugship members spend disproportionate amounts of time together to get drugs and to get high on drugs.  And that is about it for the friendship.  It is commonplace for drugship members to drop out of school and get kicked out of home.  Any members kicking the drug habit are no longer welcome in the drugship. This is because …
Druggies hang out with druggies.

It is uncommon for druggies to be writing letters to Satan.  This is certainly an idiosyncratic behavior almost exclusive to cult members of Satan worshippers (faddish, no doubt) or youth assigned with Schizophrenia (the reality of one in a hundred).  My clients said that on the night Kenyon was admitted to the Psychiatric ward, while in the Emergency Room, he had been growling and … at the gates of Hell, according to Kenyon.

Actually, I ran into Kenyon since my last post (and last post I mentioned that he was now 32 years old).  Anticipating the soon-to-be busking season, he insisted that we jam together sometime soon and so a meeting time was arranged.  Come the jam time, Kenyon was a no-show – he got drunk instead.

Kenyon is not yet positively addicted to drumming, for if he were he would stay away from his habits that have proved detrimental to a more socially acceptable persona.  In other words, Kenyon is still regarded as a drunk, rather than a drummer.

And this shall be enough of Kenyon (for today).

These couple weeks of late, late spring, I am second guessing who I really am as a busker.  Am I that self-purported cowboy, or am I a folk singer-songwriter.  My performing character is complicated.  My autobiography proves that I have the street credentials to wear a cowboy hat, but on windy days it just doesn’t work – my hat keeps blowing off! 

Employing some Projective Psychology, the songs that I write and perform are likely representations of who I really am as a busker.

For example:


Am                          D         Am
Some days I wanna do like Dangerman
Am               D                Am
So cool and cruel on the Riviera, man
Am                    D      Am            D           
Suave and debonair, undercover ladies man
Mute       Am         Em         Am
And just shoot my troubles away.


Em               D      C           Em
I sometimes think my imagination
Em               D      C           Em
I sometimes think my imagination
Em               D      C           Em
I sometimes think my imagination
G        Am            C                  Em
Is the model, the model for the nation 
G         Am                C                Em
(Is the model for complete annihilation)

Am                          D         Am
Some days I wanna do like Steve McQueen
      Am          D                 Am
So cool and cruel on that silver screen
Am                         D     Am        D
Ride shotgun with Yul, blaze to Boot Hill
Mute       Am          Em         Am   
And just shoot my troubles away.

Am                          D                Am
Some days I wanna do like the President
     Am         D           Am         
So cool and cruel on Air Force One
Am           D           Am             D
Protect the planet, police everyone
Mute       Am          Em         Am
And just shoot my troubles away.


A quick analysis:

Danger Man was British secret agent, John Drake (played by Patrick McGoohan).
In The Magnificent Seven, cowboy gunslinger, Steve McQueen, rides shotgun up to Boot Hill with Yul Brynner.  And last, American presidents always fly in Air Force One. This is an American foreign policy protest song, with a dash of duster (McQueen).

I believe this song to be more folk than cowboy.
 This next song that I perform is all-cowboy:


     G               Em
He dreams of horses
     G               Em
He dreams of Texas
      G             Em                       D
He watches Lone Star all night long

C                                       Em
Only those six-shooter ghosts
C                               Em
On that black and white
C        Em                          D7
Hear him sing these cowboy songs.

VERSE 1        GALLOPING PERCUSSION & a cappello

Back when the West was very young

There lived a man named Masterson

He wore a cane and derby hat

They called him Bat, Bat Masterson …


VERSE 2        GALLOPING PERCUSSION & a cappello

Who was the tall dark stranger there?

Maverick is the name

Ridin’ the trail to who knows where

Luck is his companion

Gamblin’ is his game …


VERSE 3        GALLOPING PERCUSSION & a cappello

Cheyenne, Cheyenne

Where will you be traveling tonight?

Lonely man, Cheyenne …


VERSE 4        GALLOPING PERCUSION & a cappello

Have gun will travel reads the card of a man

A knight without armor in a savage land

His fast gun for hire in the calling wind

A soldier of fortune is the man called

Paladin …

VERSE 5        GALLOPING PERCUSSION & a cappello

Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot

Easy lopin’ cattle ropin’

Sugarfoot …

Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp

Brave, courageous, and bold

Long live his fame and long live his story

And long may his story be told

VERSE 6        GALLOPING PERCUSSION & a cappello

Dumdedadumdedadumdedadum Bonanza!
Dmmdedadmmdedadmmdedadmmmdmmmdmmm …

Happy trails to you
Until we meet again


There is no protest in this song.  It is just romantic bullets-and-dust nostalgia from 50’s and 60’s television (Bat Masterson, Maverick, Cheyenne, Have Gun Will Travel, Sugarfoot, Wyatt Earp, Bonanza, and the most famous king of the cowboys, Roy Rogers).  I’ve enhanced the Galloping Percussion for a reason.  Galloping Percussion is my phrase for striking the underside of the guitar body in horse hoof fashion with my strumming fingertips (i.e., da dee da’--da dee da’--da dee da’).
I should mention that the lyrics may not be accurate – I’ve just written them and I sing them as personally remembered.

Whenever I practice I pull songs from two binders, one labeled COWBOYOGRAPHY, the other ORIGINAL FOLK.  Most of the songs contained in the COWBOYOGRAPHY binder, are Western cover tunes from the 50’s and 60’s.  All of the songs contained in the ORIGINAL FOLK binder have been penned and sung, only by me.  Both binders have about the same number of songs within.

When busking, the songs that I select are simply arbitrary.  It’s a 50/50 performance, a busker’s boustrophedon, so to speak (sing).  As a cowboy I can perform incognito as a folk artist – As a folk artist I can perform incognito as a cowboy.

As a cowboy I can kowtow (pun intended) to my rustic consumers.  As a folk singer I can flock (pun intended) with my urban left-wingers. 

Cap-a-pie, the appareled accoutrements of being a folk singer vs singing cowboy are similar (white cowboy shirt, blue jeans, black boots), save for the cowboy hat -- a folk singer is more likely to wear sunglasses rather than stetsons.  The instruments of both folk singer and singing cowboy, too, are similar (guitar, banjitar, harmonica), save for the didgeridoo -- a cowboy is more likely to drawl rather than drone. 

Transforming then, from singing cowboy to folk singer is a simple matter of donning or doffing my cowboy hat  and/or my didge – a sea-change it is not!  

Hey, man, if … methinks the folk bard doth protest too much, I don the cowboy hat. 
Hey, Pilgrim, if … methinks the buskeroo doth yodel too much, I doff it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Today is minus 10 degrees; it's too crisp to busk.

This week my clients included a married couple who asked me to share their story, which is really the story of their son who has schizophrenia.  I have been close to this family for years.

Here are three early poems about Kenyon, written by his father:


Mommy, I want to tell you something okay
Mommy, I want ice cream on a brush you know
And pretty soon the monkey will come
My fish flew away, Mommy.

Kenyon in the Bath

He splashes the water
And sinks his toys
He whoops and hollers
And through the noise
He shines.
Tub of bubble
Tub of Kenyon
Blonde, blue-eyed and
Bounced from Heaven.

The moon in the afternoon

The moon in the afternoon belongs to my son because he looks at it and laughs.
It used to belong to me, but at night I never laughed. 

And this is the first of many letters written to Kenyon’s psychiatrist: 

Dr. M,

As you requested, here is a summary of Kenyon’s behavior since his last appointment: 

Since Kenyon’s last visit with you, things have been okay (even though he refused keep any scheduled appointments with you, refused to attend any NA meetings, and refused to admit he had problems).  Kenyon has just re-registered into another high school (for morning classes only, has again taken up snowboarding, and has resumed weight training with me.

However, this past week has not been pleasant.  As I called your office on Monday, and then spoke to you Tuesday, I really did not expect this Emergency admission at 4:00 a.m. today.

Monday, Kenyon was quite argumentative. Tuesday, Kenyon was very argumentative, extremely rude and aggressive and yelling in conversation.  At 2:30 A.M., Kenyon had all the downstairs lights on (main floor, too), and also the television; he was completely dressed (he had probably been outside having a cigarette).  He was pacing about the house, his face contorted and twitching.  We tried convincing him to get back to bed (which has lately been the family room couch, for reasons known only to Kenyon), but it was very evident that he was confused, even disoriented.

This was Kenyon’s second consecutive no-sleep night.  He had skipped school yesterday because, according to him, he needed sleep. Surprisingly, Kenyon went quite willingly to Emergency with me.  While waiting in Emergency, he was clearly mixed up, noticing things on the blank white walls.  (I thought he was hallucinating -- he stated he wasn’t).  He tried convincing all the medical staff in attendance that it was I, who woke him, made him dress, and then drove him to the General Hospital.

The attending psychiatrist called my wife at home at 5:00 A.M. to get more information, especially regarding his twitch.  Kenyon was then formally admitted to 1D West.

And last, cannabis was detected in Kenyon’s urine sample.  (Is this a good thing?)

Hope this is helpful.

This letter was sent when Kenyon was 18 years old, old enough to be admitted (committed) to 1D West, the psychiatric unit of the Regina General Hospital.  Upon his release from 1D West, Kenyon was institutionalized in a group home for 18 months, after which assigned to a supportive agency apartment for another 18 months.  Due to his non-compliancy and drugging behaviors, Kenyon was ousted from this arrangement and forced to live entirely on his own.

Kenyon is now 32 years of age. 
By his parents’ accord, Kenyon, generally, had been the perfect teenager.  Gifted both academically (he was an A student, his IQ measured above 130 on a Wechsler scale), and athletically (a Bronze Medallion swimmer, and a Saskatchewan U14 provincial soccer team full-back and striker), he was, in every regard, the amicable team player.

Kenyon’s physical presence was Appollonian.  He was 6’1” and weighed 165 pounds of solid muscle.  (He had been a constant club member, pumping iron at both the YMCA and at the University Fitness Centre.  He had a thick shock of blonde hair, was socially entertaining, and pleasant to be around.

When his was fifteen he secured a part-time job in a skate-board shop, and when he was 16 he got his driver’s license and worked part-time at a lumber yard.  Kenyon always had lots of friends, including girl-friends, and was the guy everyone called upon to organize the teenage weekend parties.  Kenyon was the poster-boy of science and mathematics and fun. 

Then Kenyon got into drugs.

According to psychiatrists, his drug use triggered his SCHIZOPHRENIA. Since the time of this printed letter above, the bandersnatch Kenyon has been admitted to the Psychiatric Unit over 15 times.  He had a 90% average when he dropped out of high school; Kenyon, now, rarely reads.   Kenyon has managed to work at some part-time jobs over the years, none of which having his previous passions and fervor.

Kenyon is now in the buskerhood; sometimes a buskmate (at his parents' request).  When he is wired on nicotine or caffeine or alcohol, Kenyon is not much fun to be around.  When wired he spews salad one-versations and chain smokes. When not wired, none can play the bongos or pan drum better than he.

Next post … I’ll comment on the present Hobson’s choice of his parents (e.g., buyers of Henry Ford's Model T had any choice of color, provided it was black), and the continual story of Kenyon laughing in the shadow suite.