Sunday, September 15, 2013


Last night was my second time busking near the east gate at Mosaic Stadium, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  The Riders were playing the Toronto Argonauts.  Start time for the game was 7:30 P.M., and I set up in the dark at 10:30 P.M., just before the game ended.  My buskspot was the same place as last time, a sward where the spectator parade would narrow after exiting the stadium, just before the right turn down the Albert Street sidewalk.  Approximately 20,000 people would pass by my thrumming.  (This is my calculation:  Approximately 40,000 fans attend every Roughrider home game; therefore, half of those fans exit west, the other half exit east.  Granted, some fans catch Rider buses right at the exit gates but I’m not of their significance in my calculation.)

A serpentine-string of fans were leaving the game even before my arrival.  As always at any sport event, some people leave their seats early to avoid the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.  When the final football horn sounded the callithump mass did emerge, the main ruck, five or six persons thick, bedizened in jasper green and white hats, jerseys (and some bras), and leotards, marching down the middle of my busking road, and on both sidewalks on either side.  Of the 20,000, only the walkers immediately in the line next to me would notice my sign.  Most people passing would notice my melodic noise, but for them to toss any coins from wide out, from the middle or across the road, would take considerable effort.

The Riders lost and therefore, so did I, suffer a considerable loss of coin tossed into my guitar case. Dreary and disappointed fans are not munificent. Last night I made about a third of what I made on that glorious and victorious day two weeks ago. These marchers were solemn and the catcalls ad hominem.  Tune that guitar, You suck, Cash in beer cans for dimes, were three especially that I remember.   

And as I reflect upon these heckles, I have to realize that they always come from either adolescents or emerging adults.  I have to also realize that even amongst my cast of amicable consumers marching in my Chaucerian Parade; there is always a select few seated in the peanut gallery.

I shall now explain the phrase, My Chaucerian Parade, to which I routinely refer in this blog.  

My first university degree was in the study and methodology of teaching English Literature.  Of course then I studied (pun intended) 19th, 18th, 17th Century, English Renaissance, Middle English, and Old English literatures.  Chaucer was a writer in the period of Middle English literature, having died in the year 1400 A.D.

Geoffrey Chaucer, considered by most to be the Father of English literature and the best poet of the Middle Ages, is most famous for his, The Canterbury Tales.  The Canterbury Tales is the bawdy story-poem description of a group of pilgrims traveling together to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.  Included among these pilgrims are the Knight, the Wife of Bath, a monk, a miller, a merchant, a plowman, a cook, and a nun. 

Chaucer wrote in a style that mimicked all the Medieval English dialects, from the sophisticated aristocracy to the lowbrow hoi polloi of his day.  It was from this, The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, where I stole my idea for the Chaucerian Parade segment occurring in most of my blog entries.  My Chaucerian Parade is never to be compared to the style and depth and artistic creation of Geoffrey, but the idea of different characters making chance presentations while I busk can be (sort of) compared.

Meanwhile, back at the ... peanut gallery, any hecklers I’ve just previously stated, have always been adolescents or emerging adults.  Whenever I busk at Value Village I tend to reconnect with familiar strangers, regular visitors marching in my Chaucerian Parade.  Hank and Gus, both octogenarians, are dedicated Saturday shoppers at that mall.  Hank always parks his cargo van in the disabled parking stall right beside my buskspot.  Hank delivers potatoes in several eateries in and around Regina.  This last month, Hank has had a bad knee and is receiving regular medications because so.  Last Saturday he told me he was going to sell his van, quit his business, and focus on his physical health.  Hank is 86 years old.

Gus always stopped on Saturdays to chat and play a couple country swing songs on my guitar.  I resented this at first, but after a couple of busking seasons, I’m used to it.  I have yet to see Gus this summer.  I do hope he’s okay but I fear for the worst.  Last time we talked, Gus was 88.

Other regular consumers at Value Village are Nelson, from a reserve east of Regina, and Emma, from Regina.  Nelson brings his family every Saturday to shop at Value Village.  There is my darling, Emma, an elementary sweetheart whose parents own the Island Lunch.  Emma’s parents are Christa and Shawn, both of whom visit whenever I’m there busking.  Shawn happens too, to be the mall manager.  Other workers at Island Lunch are Summer and Sam, both of whom provide me sparkling waters on hot days.

One time and one time only did I have a heckler while strumming at Value Village.  In the traditional sense of heckling, he did not fill the role, for he never said a word.  Instead of yakking, this adolescent would walk by, show me a fifty dollar bill, and pretend to toss it into my guitar case.  Without ever tossing it into my case, he laughed aloud every time when he did not.  Being a tolerant busker, I’m politically savvy not to announce that his slap stick lost its humor the first time around, not to suggest it was ever funny even then.

At Shoppers on Broad I’ve had just one heckler in the past couple years.  This particular, too, was not the usual heckler within the regular definition of such.  This fellow was escorted out of the building several times, and tossed out the exact time I was busking.  He looked directly at me, glared, then began pounding on the glass windows from the outside, just two meters from my buskspot, chanting and pointing, Look, look at him!  He’s begging!  Look at him!

At Shoppers I’ve many regulars not seated in the peanut gallery.  John is there every time I busk.  He’s retired, loves to golf, and tosses a toonie at every chat.  Several of the Shoppers employees are consumers.  There is Skylar and Colin and Sebastian and Jessica and Rhonda and the manager, Tara.

Just a week ago at Mike's Independent, I had a young man, twenty years or so of age, slow down the half-ton he was driving, and toss a couple of ketchup packets into my guitar case, after which laughing and putting gas pedal to the metal.

Even so I appreciate the regular consumers there over the past few years.  A handful of the new employees have just begun to be consumers of mine, and several regular shoppers, including Ron and Chad and Myles and Mike (the manager) are most certainly appreciated.

At the Italian Star I’ve never had a heckler.  I must also mention that I’ve not regular consumers there either, save for Carlo and the other family members who work there.

In downtown Regina I've a cache of consumers.  Whenever I'm strumming along the outdoor Plaza I often chat with the eloquent and ever entertaining James (he lives in my building and is an avid follower of this blog).  James is a bona fide swashbuckler, but disguises himself as Corporate America, completing this persona by having his posh and comfy office in a downtown highrise.  James is a fitness freak and has an evergreen thumb.

There is a gentleman named Wayne who is always praising my musical talents, and there is J.B., nicknamed Joke Book because tells jokes non-stop.  Rod, who lives in my building, is a regular downtown consumer and moils at City Hall.  Rod's quick and witty comments on the state of the civic union always make me chuckle.

I've also many consumers who are connected to the Canadian Mental Health Association, and as they frequently wander about being familiar strangers, they regularly toss (small) coins into my guitar case.  Adolescents and emerging adults, too, stop and visit, especially if they know me from the high school where I counsel, or from the university where I teach.  I have never experienced heckling when busking in downtown Regina.

Last night, in addition to the cat calls, I did have an emerging adult attempt to strum my guitar while I was busking.  Another emerging adult (a doughty drunk) a few minutes later, stopped and attempted to signal the pedestrian traffic my way while drinking his can of beer while hollering, Give this guy a break and give him some money.  Don’t be cheap, give this guy a break and give this guy some money.  Needless to say I was not unhappy when he left.

To close I have to mention that at this particular busk spot east of Mosaic Stadium, I’ve packed it in early both times while the crowd is still in motion.  I do this because I want to blend in among the fans while marching down the Albert Street sidewalk.  I do this because I do not want to get mugged, which could very likely be the scenario in this neighborhood.  I do this because being a solitary figure, strolling down the lane just after a big busk on game day, would be a silhouette difficult to resist from a gangsta point of view.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the famous Blogging Baudelaire has finally revealed the well hidden secrets of his most avid followers. Yes we are the core, that is we live the core life and maintain the core values; honesty integrity and a love of live music and red wine. Neil has instilled in his followers the ability to share stories and realize the joy of being uptown cats and we thank him for this. Without the ever satisfying blog which renders all to a common element we would be lost and perhaps alone. But not this bunch. Should we ever need a fix of core reality it always comes by fate vial Neil, in the lobby of our meek condo or better on the streets and in the parking lots of this grand city. Life really is good.