Sunday, July 13, 2014



My blog post last week I did not write about sketching people (or their dogs).  This week, too, I will not be writing (much) about portraiture busking – I will be writing about guitar busking. 

It has been a most splendid week for weather, and so every day I’ve been slinging my guitar to my familiar summer sixty minute pieds-a-terre: MIKE’S INDEPENDENT, SHOPPERS ON BROAD, VALUE VILLAGE, THE FARMERS' MARKET, and ITALIAN STAR DELI.

Here are some members of the hoi polloi who marched in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:

  • Get a f***ing job! 

These were the words of a hirsute and shirtless man having his taxi park right in front my buskpot at MIKE’S INDEPENDENT.  With such a warning, he then took a fisted swing at my guitar – I stepped to the side and he missed.  I recalled the words of my PHANTOM TIDE band mate, Darren -- You need only one punch.

  • I’ve actually got a signed written contract to be here.  I might stay until 10 o’clock tonight, just depends. 

This is what Myles the gritty busker told me at two o’clock in the afternoon when I asked if I could bump him in a couple hours.  Hmmm … I realized Myles was attempting to hector me.  Not to appear nebbish, I did then express with a modicum of decency that I would be bumping him.  Thrice since, whenever I’ve encountered Myles at MIKE’S INDEPENDENT, he has not spoken to me, not even looked at me.  Myles has become a buskermonger – so there goes the buskerhood.

  • I used to sketch people’s faces in bars for drinks.  As the night went on my sketches got better and better though the people whose faces I was drawing did not agree. 

This soft-spoken dapper gentleman with the short grey beard and dressed in green and brown army fatigues chatted for at least 15 minutes, reminiscing of his drawing days, which he claimed were similar to mine at present.

  • I used to be a drunk in Vancouver.  I was also a drunk on the Island where I played guitar in front of liquor stores. 

This portly fellow dropped a ten dollar bill into my guitar case at SHOPPERS ON BROAD.  One day at a time – one ten dollar bill a week.

  • Mind if I try your guitar?  I’ve never played a twelve-string. 

One of the rules of busking is that you NEVER let a consumer play your guitar (for reasons obvious).  In my case, a couple of octogenarians, HANK'S POTATOES (his nickname) and AUGUST, play my guitar for a minute or two practically every Saturday when I busk at VALUE VILLAGE.  This fellow, Sam, was friendly and appeared normal, so I let him play my guitar.


  • My you play beautiful music.

Thank-you, LAVAUGHN!  La Vaughn is from Fillmore Saskatchewan.  In my younger days I had worked on a survey crew at Fillmore, and so we had a load of people in common to chat about.  She stood beside Sam whilst he strummed my twelve-string at VALUE VILLAGE.

  • Can I play you a few tunes? 

Another SAM, what are the odds?  This SAM is a Hutterite from a country colony, spending his Saturday in the city to stock up on supplies.  Sam played a number of American ballads from the 40’s and 50’s on my twelve-string, Oh My Darling, Clementine being one example.


  • Hello again!

KAREN and big-brown-eyed CORVUS stopped to chat.  Karen, a colleague of mine, and her son, Corvus, named after the Northern crows, are oftentimes visitors when I’m busking at the Market and Value Village.


  • That's really good!

On my way to busking I had to take my ILX in for servicing.  This is what salesman, Sunny, said after I sketched his portrait while waiting for my car.


  • Cellphones in the classroom are going to be the ruin of public education here in the West. I’ve just signed a two year contract to teach in Beijing, and I’ve rid myself of forty-two years of gluttonous clutter!

WENDY, a former colleague of mine, told me this while I was thrumming at the FARMERS MARKET.

  • I’ve got lung cancer.  How am I going to tell my 90 year old dad I’ve got lung cancer?  And I don’t even smoke, Neil. 

A regular consumer of mine, Albert, told me this over a noon strum at the ITALIAN STAR DELI.  ALBERT goes for more tests on Tuesday.  Is there ever a mot juste for such a disclosure?


Dear readers,
All the world's a stage and most of us all desperately unrehearsed ... Sean O'Casey.

In a few days I'll be on my EUROPEAN BUSKATION, slinging my guitar at bar fronts in IRELAND.  

I shall post again on my return to CANADA sometime in early August.  

In the meanwhile ... 
May the luck of the Irish be with you!

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