1. A pundit of buskology
1. A qualitative study of street busking
Other related terms: BUSKINGDOM (a frequent buskspot), BUSKATION (a road trip specifically for busking), BUSKEROO (a cowboy busker).
My day begins. At this time, while sipping an Americano coffee prepared in my Tassimo, I recreational read my morning bookmarks. First, I read the highlights of The Huffington Post, then I choose some blogs of interest from Psychology Today, and finally and sadly I read Al Jazeera News. Oftentimes, just to get the latest on my favorite Canadian buffoon, ROFO, I read his beloved Toronto Star (I jest) and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
I drive to the gym. Though each day my fitness routine is specifically different, my pattern generally stays the same. Lately I’ve been climbing Jacob’s Ladder for my first twenty minutes in the weight room. Following the climb, I do four rounds of Farmer’s Walks, first carrying a ten pound weight in each hand, followed by a 25 pound, then a 35 pound, and finally a 45 pound (pie) in each.
With a bit of time to spare, I always do either barbell curls or bench presses. Whatever I do one day, I do the other the next. For my curls I tend to use only the bar, which is 45 pounds without adding plates. At the bench, I always put 45 pound plates on the bar (and, therefore, never have to rely on a spotter). For both sets of exercise I do what I refer to as century sets; that is, I do 100 repetitions of each, before I leave the station. This could be four sets of 25, or five sets of 20 while curling, or ten sets of 10 while pressing. No matter how many sets, I don’t leave until I’ve done 100 reps.
Back home I shave and shower, then drink a small glass of orange juice mixed with ice, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
I either do a re-write or begin to draft a new busking song or ... attempt to scriven another chapter in my book, SCHIZOPHRENIA: A SHADOW SUITE EPISTOLARY. My plan is to seek a publisher for this book starting the first day of Spring.
Before I hit the street, I check the weather for my wear. I once read there is no such thing as bad weather; there is only bad dress. Any day it is not too windy, I am game to go busking. Typically, my cap-a-pie presentation is with tousled hair, white tee shirt, faded blue jeans, and boots. If chilly, I don my Brixton Tiller, and pile on a western style lined shirt. If it’s sunny I wear black shades.
On Saturday mornings I choose for my buskingdom, the downtown FARMERS’ MARKET. I have been busking at the FARMERS’ MARKET on and off for several years. Sometimes I’m politically in, sometimes I’m politically out. Whether I am in or out depends upon last Saturday experience. When I’m placed beside miserable vendors I swear I will never come again. However, whenever I am positioned beside vendors such as Darlene and John at A FUDGE ABOVE THE REST, or Jordan at SACRED EARTH, or Dallas and Annette, the SASK HILLBILLIES, I know where I need to belong in life, right beside heartfelt souls such as these.
Lots can happen while busking at the FARMERS’ MARKET. Many strangers, both familiar and unfamiliar, and many friends always stop and chat. And I like when the clickers with their cameras, some being professional, the majority being amateurs, have me pose for pictures. The FARMERS' MARKET is always a bustle, and my four hour performance there is my often my principal income for the entire week.
If it is a Saturday it is fini for me at the FARMERS’ MARKET.
If it is a Wednesday, I spend my noon hour busking at the ITALIAN STAR DELI. I was invited to do so by the affable, Carlo, owner and manager of the deli. One day a year or so ago, Carlo asked me to busk when a film crew was doing a documentary on the ITALIAN STAR DELI. I remember that day as being a lot of fun. Every day at the deli at least a couple of hundred patrons stop by to enjoy the finest tasting Italian sandwich on this side of the planet. At the ITALIAN STAR DELI I busk right in the middle of the brick patio beside the wooden step leading in the deli. Carlo and his family are very, very gracious vendors.
On certain Saturdays afternoons I strum at the VALUE VILLAGE MALL where Krista and Emma (mother and daughter) from the ISLAND KITCHEN always treat me with a cool drink. One time, even, they purchased a set of musical spoons for my busking. My buskspot at the VALUE VILLAGE MALL is static. Shaun, the mall manager and husband to Krista and father to Emma, decided that I ought to busk right at the front door. Everyone arriving to the mall via the front entrance has to pass right by me, which can be quite the people-freaking treat.
Late afternoons Tuesdays and Thursdays, I busk either at MIKE’S INDEPENDENT, or SHOPPERS ON BROAD. Mike, owner and manager of MIKE’S INDEPENDENT, granted me permission to busk before I even really asked him. Dana, the manager at SHOPPERS always treats me with the highest level of respect.
At MIKE’S I always busk in the parking lot, and position myself about 30 feet from the grocery entrance. At SHOPPERS, too, I position myself right at the front entrance.
My busking for the day usually ends. Rarely do I busk after supper, unless it is the perfect, perfect summer night or … every evening when I’m on BUSKATION (my preference for buskations being in Victoria, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, and Invermere, BRITISH COLUMBIA).
My reasons for being a BUSKOLOGIST are simple. Being a buskologist brings great joy to my life. Being a busking participant-observer (the behavioral nature of a BUSKOLOGIST) has added purpose and meaning to my ever searching middle-age, middle-class, mis-adventure question: Why am I here?
Of course there are certain pragmatic reasons, too, for being a BUSKOLOGIST, one of which is HUNGER. This an the issue of sustenance. If I don’t busk, I don’t eat. It’s that simple.
And there is another reason, COMFORT. I like being on the street. I am in the summer breeze and the summer sun, strumming only the tunes that I choose.
CREATIVITY is also a draw. Thrumming any tunes I want, and often making up riffs as I go along, is a creative juicy treat. My preference is to busk with only original material. Over the seasons I’ve developed a cache of guitar melodies which I strum whilst blowing into my harpoon. None of my songs have been heard before, except those consumers who are familiar. My preference to perform original material is simple: NOBODY NOTICES -- NOBODY CARES.
Every busk offers potential for adventure. You just never know what is going to happen. I have had people steal from me; I’ve had people dance with their beer breaths on my folk songs; I’ve had people heckle; I’ve had the police give me warnings and notices.
For me, being a BUSKOLOGIST is CHILD'S PLAY (pun intended). At first I found busking to be demeaning and stressful and full of angst. Now, after a thousand busks, I do find it more play than work. I’ve said many, many times (forgive my adaption of a rather trite cliché), A bad day busking is better than a good day at work!
The ATTRACTION and STATUS of busking are somewhat intangibles. It’s a profession in which I can do whatever I want. I can dress the way I want and I can strum and I can sing the way I want. To my consumers, most of whom do not know anything about me, I represent freedom and spirit and independence and adventure. It does not matter that I am just a chord strummer and not that great of a singer. As a BUSKOLOGIST I know that perfect pitch means nothing if you sing like a stick.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP has always been the prompt for my busking life. When busking I always have three signs on display in my open guitar case: CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION, SCHIZOPHRENIA SOCIETY OF SASKATCHEWAN, and FREE COUNSELLING. Yes, any passer-by can receive an on-the-spot, Annie Oakley ticket, for immediate and on-demand counselling right there on the street.
Being a BUSKOLOGIST allows me the luxury of offering pro-bono counselling for significant numbers of addlepated clients.
BUSKOLOGY is rather Aesopian in its quiddity, when one considers the actually art of busking to be singularly simple in a selfish sort of way; whereas, the science of buskology is somewhat more community complicated, but in a selfless sort of way. It’s like being in on the argot of busking, being able to recognize the phoney from the frenetic, so to speak.
Being a BUSKOLOGIST, is really having a bully-pulpit BUSKINGDOM, providing sunshine opportunities to expound on the social issues and concerns for those assigned with mentally disorders.
My day ends … SWEET DREAMS Zzzzzzzzzzz …