Friday, August 23, 2013


The above photograph was given to me by National Hockey League scout, Brad Hornung.

I thought you’d like this, he said.

He was right.  I love this – so much that it is the inspiration for this blog entry.

Fact:  Some famous guitar players have been soldiers.

Factoid:  Some famous guitar players that have been gunslingers include Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and (Jason Everman).

JERRY Captain Trips GARCIA (1942-1995) was enlisted in the United States Army, serving as a Private at the Presidio.  Being AWOL too many times he was honorable discharged.

JIMI the Black Elvis HENDRIX (1942-1970) was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, being awarded the prestigious Screaming Eagles patch.  He, like Jerry Garcia, was granted an honorable discharge on the basis of unsuitability.

ELVIS the King PRESLEY (1935-1977) took a break from stardom to join the ranks. Elvis was a pistol sharpshooter in the United States Army.

JOHNNY the Man in Black CASH (1932-2003) spent four years in the service, stationed in Germany as a Morse Cod intercept operator.  While there, he his bought his first guitar and formed his very first band, the Landsberg Barbarians.

JASON War Hero EVERMAN (1967) is famous for being booted from two famous bands, Nirvana and Soundgarden!  Jason became a Ranger in the United States Army, serving on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other secret places where Special Forces operate.

And where have all these soldiers gone?  They’re gone to graveyards everyone, save for Jason Everman, who is still very much among the living.  Jason has just received his Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) from Columbia University.

 Johnny and Elvis and Jimi and Jerry have not yet faded and are still strumming … on YouTube.

I remind my readers that I am a BUSKOLOGIST, not a military commentator.   Therefore, I shall offer this whimsy on three commonalities betwixt soldiers and strummers:

Both like the BARS.
Both are subject to BOOBY TRAPS.
Both need to take heed of BEE BOP MINORS.

And here are a couple of original busking songs I’ve written having a military theme:

D                                 A
Jack was every inch a sailor
Sailed with Columbus to America
On the Nina and the Pinta
A7                       D
And the Santa Maria

D                                 A
Jack was every inch a sailor
Sailed with Darwin to Galapagos
Sailed with Parry to the North Pole
A7                                        D
Sailed to the South  on the Fram

D                                 A
Jack was every inch a sailor
Scrubbed ol' Rusty Guts at seventeen
Chasing German submarines
        A7                       D
And blowing them to smithereens

D                                 A
Jack was every inch a sailor
Danced the night away with Norma
At the Port of Barcelona
A7                                 D
Had her tattoo on his arm

D                                 A
Jack was every inch a sailor
A North Atlantic Able Seaman
Jack was every inch a sailor
A7                                          D
On Valentine's Day he sailed home [x2]

A                       D
Home is the sailor
Home from sea                        (X2)

D         A         Em       [intro]

Em               C               Am             Em                  D             A               Em
Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere                  I           don't know where
Em                 C                  Am           Em
I'm not going back, no I'm not going there

D   A   Em
Never again                 [X2]   
Em                   C               Am            Em                   D         A                 Em
Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere                  I           don't know where
Em               C                         Am         Em
I've been in arms, I've been a soldier in war

D   A   Em
Never again                 [X2]

Em                   C                Am            Em                  D         A               Em
Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere                  I           don't know where
Em                C                       Am           Em
I've been in chains … I've served my time

D   A   Em
Never again                 [X2]                                       

[instrumental and humming]
Em       C         Am       Em                               D         A                 Em
                                                                        I        don't know where

Em       C         Am       Em                               D         A                 Em
                                                                        I        don't know where
D   A    Em
Never again                 [X2]                           
Em                   C               Am             Em                  D         A                Em
Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere                  I           don't know where
Em              C                   Am                 Em             
I've been in love, had my heart broke enough
D   A   Em
Never again                 [X2 & FADE]


Two marchers in my Chaucerian Parade this week are Yvonne and Marianne, officials at JASPER NATIONAL PARK, CANADA.  Both have encouraged me to play my twelve-string and harp during CULTURE DAYS, September 28 & 29, right in downtown Jasper!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Psychiatrist, William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy (now referred to as Choice Therapy), introduced POSITIVE ADDICTION to the world in 1976 (Harper Collins Publishers).  In that book, Glasser had decided that one should become positively addicted to something to overcome an addiction that was considered to be negative.

Generally, an addiction is an activity considered to be detrimental to one’s spiritual, physical, and social growth. Most of us have pursued certain shortcuts to our destinations of feeling good (too much shopping, sex, drinking, drugging, or television) and for some of us these shortcuts have become problematic.  Some people are impulse buyers and spend, spend, spend.  Some people are forever searching for Mister or Missus Goodbar.  Some people consume alcohol until they are falling down drunk.  Some people live in Needle Park.  When the remote goes click, some people immediately become tuned.  An addiction is the price some of us pay when taking such shortcuts to be happy.

Glasser’s notion of POSITIVE ADDICTION was to seek happiness in a more socially and acceptable manner.  Glasser believed that if one were to pursue an activity that was viewed to be socially acceptable (bird watching, violin playing, long-distance running, being some examples), that eventually that activity could become so consuming that it would become positively addicting for that person.  I know an ornithologist who spends hours driving and then hours walking while looking birds.  A band mate of mine, Eric of the Grand Trunk Troubadours, sleeps with his violin.  Running, according to Glasser, is the hardest but surest way to Positive Addiction.  My own skinny definition of POSITIVE ADDICTION is that it is better to be hooked on something considered to be socially positive than on something socially recognized as being negative.

In 1976 I was in attendance at a Glasser workshop in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  The great Glasser, himself, was the keynote.  And I remember my disappointment.  At that time, Four Weddings and a Funeral was the popular movie playing.  In his main address, Glasser analyzed the fictional lead characters of this movie according to his Reality Therapy motives (love, power, freedom, and fun).  This I found corny. As a student of Reality Therapy at the time, an address such as the one William Glasser presented … I could have done!

(I must apologize right now to Carole Eaton, Executive Director of the Phoenix Residential Society and Psychology professor at the University of Regina.  Carole and I sat at the same table at that workshop.  Carole was certainly more academic and devout than I was, and Carole still is a faithful and academic follower of Glasser and his newly packaged, Choice Theory.  I write this apology because I know that Carole reads this blog:)

I’m moving on now to Martin Seligman, the founder of POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY.  In 1998 Seligman’s notion for client centered therapy was to find and nurture talent to make clients’ lives more meaningful, rather than just treat their assigned mental illnesses.  Seligman referred to having a good life as using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.

And now to Edward Diener, an American psychologist, et al (1999) in his studies of SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING, who suggested the following equation:


In my personal world of Phenomenology, everything does get connected.  POSITIVE ADDICTION, POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, and  SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING all give hope to those with SCHIZOPHRENIA.    When he introduced POSITIVE ADDICTION, William Glasser had never heard of POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY.  When POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY was introduced, Martin Seligman had never read Dr. Diener’s equation (though I do understand they do work in concert on occasion).  I’ve now read and thought about all of the above and cannot help but make some positive connections.

Positive Addiction is a theory of counseling to help any client seeking therapy.  Glasser was not a fan of doctors who prescribed many medications to those patients assigned with mental illnesses, and believed Positive Addiction, a spin of his Reality Therapy, would certainly be beneficial to anyone choosing to participate.

Positive Psychology is, really, the study of happiness.  Most people want to be happy, and most people are inclined to exhibit behaviors in their pursuit of that happiness.

Lots of addictions and other disorders cause distress for lots of people.  Generally, people with afflictions can continue with their lives.  However, people with schizophrenia, it seems, cannot lead ordinary lives. 

According to the DSM-IV, people with schizophrenia, a complex disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions, exhibit at least two of the following on a regular basis:
  1.  Delusions
  2. Hallucinations 
  3. Grossly disorganized
  4. Negative symptoms

(Check out the debates on the validity of the DSM-IV on such sites as PSYCHOLOGY TODAY -LATEST BLOGS.)

I've met lots of people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and I shall confess, that I do agree with the characteristics listed.  My only quarrel with this particular literature is that schizophrenia is so specifically and technically described, and that gives a medical license to the diagnosis.  I prefer to understand schizophrenia as a series of prescribed and enacted behaviors that are socially destructive to one's well being.  And whereas, schizophrenia is generally considered a lifelong illness, deciding that it is a series of behaviors some how, for me, makes the cure and control of schizophrenia much more hopeful than what the medical community officially states.

Presently, the best therapy encouraged by the medical community for the treatment of Schizophrenia is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  

      CBT, indeed, is a great therapy, and in fact, smacks of Reality Therapy, but only older RT's (Reality Therapists) such as myself, would recognize this.

        I also recognize that as a social entrepreneur, the definition of SCHIZOPHRENIA needs to be redefined:

        For those clients of mine that have been diagnosed with SCHIZOPHRENIA, I tend to direct them to participate in the POSITIVE ADDICTION THERAPY model.  Having a private counseling practice allows me the leeway to do this and to date I’ve had clients become long-distance runners, clients become drummers in a musical band, and clients who’ve given poetry readings in public.

        Whenever I busk, I offer free counseling services.  A few street people take advantage of this service (which is good) and our counselor/client relationship usually lasts just 15 minutes or so.  These brief, brief, street counseling sessions are, in part, a segment of my SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP philosophy of busking.

        A social entrepreneur is a person who recognizes when a part of society is stuck, and therefore offers opportunity and new ways to get unstuck.  Personally, as a buskologist, I am attempting to open pathways for the some of the marginalized and disadvantaged.

        I’ve done enough conservative contract counseling with various private agencies to recognize that people, who’ve been medically assigned with a mental illness, become next to being untouchable when it comes to private counseling practices.  This is, in part, mainly due to the imagined liabilities that could occur.  For example, should a private counselor in a private practice take on a client who has been formally assigned with schizophrenia, and that particular client exhibits suicidal behaviors (in actions and dialogue), and that particular client does commit suicide, the subpoena scramble is on.  Is the client or is it the counselor who is responsible for the death?

        It is much easier to refuse to serve such clients upon their first mention of having a mental illness, and to instead, refer them directly to the nearest mental health clinic.  Liability is a risk – a referral to elsewhere is never a risk. 

        In most private counseling practices, street admissions are not welcome.  It is not much fun having a vis-à-vis encounter with someone diagnosed with a mental illness. It is much easier to vilipend those with a mental illness compared to cuddle-counseling those who recognize their problems and are more than mentally and physically capable and willing to actively participate in their recoveries.

        In a line and from a mercenary business perspective ...  Having a client with a mental illness is more bother than worth.

        My particular buskology practice means offering pro-bono counseling, in widdershin fashion, to those mentally ill solitudinarians who tend to wander the downtown sidewalks.

        Simply, I am a social entrepreneur, recognizing the values of POSITIVE ADDICTION, POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, and SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING. 

        At every busk spot I attempt to combine my skill of busking with that of my love of listening, that I might change the world in a positive regard, one street client at a time.


        I’ve just one consumer marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week.

        • Munificent Mike, the new manager of the new grocery store, INDEPENDENT on Broadway Avenue, took time from his busy schedule to come out and chat whilst I was busking.  He also tossed five dollars of coin into my guitar case!
        • Sir Paul McCartney did not march in my Chaucerian Parade; but rather, I did march in his.
        Yes, Sir Paul came to town and I, of course, attended his concert! 

        Paul is ... POSITIVELY inimitable!


        Thursday, August 8, 2013


        Sophia Loren said Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got. This same perception is true for successful guitar busking.

        Just as sex appeal is defined by the attractiveness of the look, so is busk appeal defined by the attractiveness of the look.  To have the look, you must be aware of three necessary components:  location, dynamics, and cap-a-pie. 

        1.      LOCATION

        Where you are is where it’s at.  This is the busker creed.  Really, you can set up anywhere, but when it comes to making money, it is location, location, location that is important. The best locations for busking must have lots of foot traffic.  As a rule, there needs to be continual traffic of pedestrians to make boodles of coin.  

        One good reason places of high foot traffic work for me is because at such places I’m never intrusive. I’m never intrusive because I never play near captive audiences (e.g., an outdoor café, e.g., a line at a movie theatre).  If I did so, I would definitely be intrusive.

        Some of the best locations are in front of main door entrances.  Any opportunity I can position myself near the front door of any vendor; I am very likely to attract paying consumers.

        For some examples, I love busking right at the main entrance of the Value Village shopping mall; I love busking at the front door of Shoppers Drugs on Broad; I love busking near the only entrance of the brand new Independent grocery store on Broadway; I love busking at the front door of the Italian Star confectionary on Victoria.  These are my regular haunts.

        Over time, I’ve come to determine the peak times for foot traffic at these buskspots.  Saturdays, from noon to 3 o’clock, is when I busk at Value Village.  At Shoppers I take my stand between 4:30 0 and 6 o’clock, the same times (but not the same days) I busk at Independent.  At the Italian Star I busk over the noon hour.  For my busking, these times are the best of times, the times of the most foot traffic.   

        Randomly, a couple times each week I sling my guitar over my shoulder and go downtown to busk either at the Fredrick W. Hill mall, or near the Regina Cenotaph in the heart of Victoria Park.  For these two places in particular, noon hours are the best times to busk.

        I only love these locations because they work for me.  Over the years I’ve experimented with different locations at different times, and these are the schedules I’ve decided for my mercenary mien.

             2.       DYNAMICS

        Are you lofty or low-slung? Are you rakish or rotund?  Are you hirsute or hairless?   This look, in whatever regard you were born with, is called the static look.  Your static look is your fixed look, but as a busker, you can adapt some flexibility. To enhance the look of your busker alterity, it is certainly not necessary to abdicate your original look.  Please keep in mind that your birthday suit does not have to be your forever suit.   

        On a public stage are you algid or a-go-go?  Are you a stick or a bandersnatch?  You need not the handsomeness of a matinee idol, nor the figure of a beauty pageant queen; you need not the crocodile moves of a heavy metal rocker, nor the comedic lines of a stand-up, to be a sexy and successful busker.  What you do need is the desire and determination to present a dynamic signature style.  You do need the look. 

        First, to get that look, you must exhibit passion. You need to strum and thrum with fervor and panache.   You need a twinkle in your eye and a smile across your visage.  To attract consumers you need to exhibit that you are a busking commodity.

        3.       CAP-A-PIE

        As a commodity (this sounds so business-like because … busking is a business) you need the right habiliments.   Let us begin at the top.

        Do you like to wear a hat or cap?  On bright and sunny days (to avoid sunstroke) I’ve a couple of cowboy hats, a black one and a white, and a Brixton tiller, an urban cowboy hat, which I wear frequently.  For evening busks, I’ve also a collection of tams, silver, green, and multi-colored, which I wear on occasion.  On chilly days I wear a black toque – I love my black toque!

        On regular days I am bare-headed.

        On my face on sunny, sunny days I wear sunglasses.  Though considered a no-no because your potential consumers cannot detect the twinkle in your eye, I wear them for reasons of eye safety.  My eyes are green, and according to the medical literature, the eye color most sensitive to the sun.  Health comes before wealth.

        For shirts, in daytime I always wear white, usually long-sleeved with a collar.  On muggy days I do wear white t’s, and cool days I don a Canadian tuxedo (jean jacket).

        I’m a jean guy for pants, long shorts on hot summer days.

        I’m a work boot guy for walking the sidewalks, but when I’m wearing short pants and hot summer days I wear sandals, though sometimes, hiking boots.

        As I describe my busking attire I do not mean to set myself as the quintessential busker having that perfect look.  I’m merely describing my look, the look that works for me.  If duck costumes and unicycles are your shtick, by all means employ them for your look.
        Okay then, you’ve got the right location; you’ve got the right attitude; you’ve got the right cap-a-pie. 

        U got the look!

        A few people who marched in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week are worthy of mention.
        • Duncan is a former ski instructor at Lake Louise and Grouse Mountain
        He’s an exceptionally good looking fellow, tall and well-built.  He showed Drummer and me the long scar across the side of his head.  Duncan is a sufferer a from brain injury.
        Suffering epilepsy as a child, as an adult he was in an horrific automobile accident, afterward spending considerable years in rehabilitation.
        Finally, he says, he is functioning again socially.  He plans to attend university this fall in the field of Social Work.  Duncan’s dream is to become a corrections worker within the Canadian prison system. 
        It so happened that was given a violin at four years of age from his aunt, and is still playing the best therapy there is, he says
        • The Hillbilly Chronicler, I met at the Farmers’ Market some years ago.  He was selling jewelry; I was busking with my banjitar.  He is still a vendor at the Farmers’ Market; for political reasons, I no longer busk there.  On this particular busking day my hillbilly acquaintance convinced me that the market climate is not as caustic as it was, and that I should return.
        My hillbilly friend said that he now has a Face Book page called the Hillbilly Chronicles.  He certainly looks the part.  He dons a wide-brimmed leather self-styled cowboy hat, has a full handlebar mustache, and wears the overall kind of garb and suspenders suitable for the stereotypical hillbilly.
        • And there is Nelson, my frequent friendly consumer from Standing Buffalo First Nation.  Nelson and his family come to Regina every Saturday for shopping.  (I’ve written about Nelson in a previous blog.)  Nelson once told me his uncle attended a residential school, and that his uncle benefitted greatly from the music program that was offered there.
        • Last, there is the Mystery Busker.  A thirty-something fellow approached me, asking several questions on busking.  After such inquisition, he announced that he, too, was a busker. 
        Are you a local?  I asked.   
        It’s really none of your business, he replied.
        Just last evening I saw him busking with his guitar and harmonica in front of a downtown liquor store.  He’s an excellent musician (I hate to admit), and I tossed him a tooney, resisting the urge to identify myself and reciprocate his unfriendly non-consumerism manner.  And he is no longer a mystery.