Sunday, October 20, 2013


My weekend began with a Friday night PINK ICE hockey game!  My favorite National League Hockey (NHL) Scout, Brad Hornung, and I went to watch the REGINA PATS play the MEDICINE HAT TIGERS in Western Hockey League action.  For BREAST CANCER AWARENESS NIGHT, the Pats wore pink jerseys and the playing ice surface was pink!
(I'm presenting that I know lots of NHL scouts, and I do know lots of NHL scouts  ... but only because of Brad.)

Rising early Saturday to busk, I was prepared for bleak.  It was +10 degrees with a slight breeze; the sun shone sometimes, hidden among the clouds most times.  This was the last outdoor Farmers Market for the season.  And for this reason alone, I knew I had to thrum there.  I stated I was prepared for bleak, and this is not a story of self-fulfilling prophecy. I cannot control the weather; however, the weather does control the consumers.

As a buskologist I know there is no such thing as bad weather -- there is only bad dress. My attire for the morning was a weather proofing. I wore my heaviest lined hiking boots, my winter-lined blue jeans, a cotton undershirt underneath a thick white turtleneck underneath a long black split-leather coat, overwhich I pulled on a black toque and a pair of grey Dickensian half-mitts. 

Instead of my usual twelve-string I slung my little six-string (nylon) Odyssey, thinking it would be warmer to strum – I was right.  And of course, I packed my harp.

The vendors were few and the crowd was thin.  On the last market day, there was certainly no angst in searching the right buskspot.  I set up in front of the stage in the middle of the City Square Plaza, facing the sun should it ever come out. As last week, I was the only busker on the square.

For the last half hour of my busking, nearby vendors Jordan and Lynne sang a few folk songs.  Jordan strummed and they both sang.  Jordan is the proprietor of SACRED EARTH.  Each market he sells natural home-made soaps, beeswax candles, tea lights, and natural skin products.  I’ve known Jordan for a long time.  In past years he has strummed by twelve-string and my banjitar at the market.  Jordan is a talented guitarist and has the perfect mellow folk-singing voice.

Lynne, I’d just met on Saturday.  When Jordan started strumming and singing, she abandoned her table to join him in sweet harmony.  Lynn is the proprietor of FARMGATE FOOD, selling delicious nutrition from her organic farm, her specialties being eggs, lamb, and pork.

As a pair, their sound was that of professional entertainers.  They looked and sounded the role (see picture).
Saturday evening was the football game, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were host to the British Columbia Lions.  I knew I had to be there because, like the morning market, it was likely my last busk at KINGSWARD, my buskspot near the stadium east gate exit.

As a buskologist, I know there is no such thing as bad weather – there is only bad dress (see paragraph two).  I cannot control the weather; however, the weather does control the consumers (see paragraph one).  I knew that if the Riders won the game, the fans would be ecstatic and generous.  Instead of slinging my guitar in the cold and wet, Baron and I decided on a pan drum and shaker.  Whilst shaking, I would hold up our CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION sign.   

Repeating myself, thrice in this entry, I knew that if the Riders won the game, and thereby earning a home playoff game, the fans would be ecstatic and generous.  I was wrong.  

It was dark and it was wet.  The street lamp over KINGSWARD was not lit.  Unwittingly, we were in ambuscade, startling most of our potential consumers as they marched by.  The wind and the rain did not stop, as did no one in the marching crowd. Of the five football games I’d busked at KINGSWARD, the take this Saturday evening was by far the least.  Twenty thousand people exited the east gate in the dark and the wet and the cold, after the game just wanting to get home.  It is difficult to tip a busker when one cannot see a busker, never mind fumbling about attempting to reach into a pocket that is bundled under a parka and a rain suit.  There was not much maffick in the pedestrian traffic.

Ho hum, live and learn … kudos to the Riders and their victory, and kudos to us for enduring the elements.

Our take for the evening consisted of a twenty-dollar bill, a few coins, and a packet of cigarettes, a buskapade that was hardly worth the night hike.  (I have one big opportunity to redeem myself – the Grey Cup is to be played in Regina on November 24th.  On that day, snow or shine, I shall be busking with my guitar and harp at KINGSWARD.)

This Saturday, for reasons of common sense and my weather-smitten consumers, will be my last day of busking for the season.  Particular moments on this day shall be forever gone, just as this day shall be forever gone, just as this past season, and all seasons and years previous forever gone … forever lost.

Saying thus, I can still find comfort in knowing that even though these past times are lost, the generally actions and trends specifically attached to any of these particular times will be replicated.  Though in the coming times there will be different names attached to different faces, the actions and the circumstance of events will be pretty much play the same.  And when these actions and events are replicated, there are certainly epiphanies to be found from those lost in those past days, seasons, and years.

When I was in my 50’s, for example, a general glance backward in my time spent reveals epiphany upon epiphany upon epiphany.  I’m thinking the very revelation of such backward glances really reveal that even the epiphanies presented are not that important; or rather, whatever you want to be important … is important.

When I was in my 40’s, I know I was delusional.  Thinking that I’d chosen the right paths in my life was reasonably gratifying.  I now realize that any paths I’d chosen could be or could not be, or would be or would not be … gratifying.

Am I being too abstract?

Then let me remind you of my 30’s.  In my 30’s, like everyone else welcoming and then becoming Corporate America, I had committed to being a working stiff, while at the same time selling my soul to the company store. Like all my neighbors in the burbs, I had the world by the tail, of which circumstances would grab and drag and swing me about with my kids, my mortgage, my car payments.  Fittingly, we had a couple of summer chairs on the front stoop, and a gas barbeque on our deck in the back.

In my 20’s I was looking for that perfect phony baloney job.  I had a university degree. I was tall, dark, and handsome, I had beautiful and loving wife. I had three adorable children who excelled in everything they partook, including school and sports.  We were the Hollywood family, complete with the Hollywood attitude.

In my teenage years I was the typical participant victim of sturm und drang.  Of all things relating to attracting members of the opposite sex, I was too skinny; I was too shy; my my marks in high school were too high (peer pressure you know); my adequate athletic abilities were not high enough (peer pressure again).  All this inadequacy and confusion changing ever so slightly with the walking down those lilac lanes in summer, holding hands with my latest crush who would allow me to feel and squeeze just a tiny bit, allow me those exquisite and delicate, juicy and squishy moments, first above the waist, then after a few fumbles and devil-hot breaths, below the waist.  (I still get excited reliving those sexual and angst filled moments strolling the summer lanes, and then later stretching in the back lanes, in the backseat of my car.)

Ah, but if I could only go back … knowing then what I know now.  I’d be that Roman hands and Russian fingers teenage sex machine.  I’d be that twenty-something corporate executive who had climbed to the company top.  I’d be that frugal thirty-year old who knew enough to save for the future.  I’d be that forty-year old who had scriven with tireless pen, that best seller that helped to save the world.  I’d be that fifty-year old sage, an ever wise and altruistic gentleman of renown.

Regretfully, dear readers, it is apparent in my ghost ramblings that I've found nothing from my lost past, save that I am now still suffering the deadly sins of greed and of lust.

Regretfully, dear readers, had I grown socially and psychologically over these past decades my epiphany ought to have read:

Ah, If I could only go back … knowing then what I know now. I’d get my doctorate in a discipline that I loved (probably English Literature) and then become  ….  a BUSKER ...
a BUSKER without limitations, a BUSKER strumming not just for the weekends!


The characters marching in my busking parade for this week include:

  • The skinny and scruffy cadge who sat just fifteen feet up from Baron and myself on KINGSWARD, with his New York Yankees ball cap held out upside down begging for alms.

  • The know-it-all leonine, Myles, who busks regularly in front the liquor store on Broadway Avenue.  Myles always feels compelled to give me tips on how to busk, tips to which I politely nod and dismiss immediately when he departs from my company.

  • The lovely and enchanting, Rubenesque Robin, a welcome blast from the past.  Robin is a sweetheart who is presently employed at a granite shop.  Next week, she begins her new trade as a welder.  In high school Robin was a guitar slinger, and strummed in our school band.  One time, I remember very well (Robin does not remember at all), she baked me a cake on my birthday.  Robin is now 22 years of age.


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