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.

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