I packed up my gear early today at the Wharf. After the consecutive days of statuing and the way Falkor, after days like these days, becomes more and more uncomfortable as my body retaliates against the abuse of standing still for so long with the unexplainable trickle of money, I stepped down off of my stand with a groan, gathered my gear – and headed ‘home’ fo Falkor.
The only way I can explain it these days is perhaps the hundreds of people walking by have gotten jaded by the lack of art or talent that the Wharf has become. Just a couple of years ago the hats were more than enough to sustain me, I gathered crowds, people stood and watched me, delight on their faces.
Sure – that still happens, and I’ll be damned if I stop giving that – it’s just gotten less, less. I know that it is not me – I am still there for love, to give what I can, and the past number of days I made sure of it, completely concious of the energy I was giving in silence. There was no concern about what they put in my box, and I recieved hundreds of smiles from those I winked at as they walked by. A wonderful family tipped took a picture, watched me as I entered my rustyoldmechanical way I go into tipping my hat or blowing a kiss these days, and then stood ther for about 15 minutes as I stood, the occasional wink to a child, a flutter of my eyebrows – every subtle motion made them laugh, and gods, I was filled.
When they needed to go, father figure came up to me and said “I can’t stand watching all of these people just walk by you – you’re amazing!…”
Yeah, filled. Unfortunately, this has gotten more and more rarer and rarrerrer. Time to change.
(((Fuck, the fumes are killing me as I run the motor to run the battery as I write this. Time to shut some of the windows. What is my own secondhand smoke called?)))
I packed up early today, I had other things to do. Over the weekend both my van and computer battery died while sleeping at the Wharf – hell, it happens, sometimes the fine line is passed, especially when the fuel gauge needle is past the line past the RED line, and I don’t want to run the motor to charge the battery. Much easier to get a jump-start than try to find whereverthefuck the nearest gas station is at the Wharf to fill up my one gallon gas can.
Packed up, wiped the day off, changed – and damn, thankfully I found a good public bathroom closeby to where I usually park because AI really needed to… um, to use it.
Walked the Wharf as a civillian, checking out what it has become – saw the break dancers again, watched and listened to their show, again – but this time with new thirst. Damn. these guys are phenomenal. Do yourself a favor – go see them. Hopping around on a hand stand (ONE hand!) in circles, backflips over heads, things the top gymnasts do on the horse (handle horse? Don’t know what it’s called.) such as the whole legsintheairspinningaroundonlyhands on the groundspinningspinningaround – gods, please go see them, and give them what you think they deserve.
End of the show, tipping – I pulled out a painfully earned five ones, slipped it in a hat that was passing by only wishing I could give more, and was recognized by the guy holding it. The whole masculine hand-clasp bump-chests thing, and this guy, who I’ve had some very minor performance space dificulties with in the past – the only one of their crew, actually smiles – this guy doesn’t smile – and asks where the hell I’ve been. I hadn’t seen them since I came back from New Orleans, so – I’ve been in New Orleans. We talk about it. I tell him about the 50ish man who broke into tears because the street performers were soming back, and through the tears told me – “Thank you.” I told hime about how the French Quarter, which was barely damaged, was close to thriving – but I also told him about the places forgotten. The places where the people with such insanely strong spirits and souls live, the with most amazing hearts and… the least amount of money. I told him how they have been forgotten, and somehow he seemed to understand, for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter. Pass Christian, I heard just today on NPR, still has their banks in trailers, has one store, no gas station. I don’t know this place, never been there, but passed the exit many times on the way to Cole’s house. (How the hell are you, darlin’?)
He seemed to feel it.
I told him that it was good to see them again, then broke the conversation – it’s hat passing time, and I was taking it up. I’ll see him again.
Back to Falcor, still no juice to start. I’ve got this groovy little solar battery tender that doesn’t do shit to charge the battery I’ve found, it puts out about 1.3 amps under perfect conditions – but it will keep it from draining if I ever need to leave this van sitting for months on end. Lotta help. Sheesh. At least it has a pretty blue blinking light when it’s working…
I get a jump, give the space to the wonderful woman who gave it to me after so many passed, and held my breath as I headed to 16th and South Van Ness, close to the cheapest fuel I have found. Put $40 in, which is why I am able to write this right now. Got it over the red line!
Light being emitted by three tea lights so I can see the compooperkeys, motor running with the vent fan on low to at least circulate air, quietly listening to a mix of music and drinking incredibly cheap wine that I got from Trader Joe’s at the Wharf. All hail Two Buck Chuck.
I celebrate, and I guess that is what this whole post is about. What it started being about, at least. Bringing it back.
It took everything I had – these are uncharted territories, I had no idea what I was getting into. I gingerly stepped with my gear bag up and down the Wharf, looking for a place, doing my best to build up courage. I thought of the first weeks I statued alone, thought of where I am now. Called that knoledge, that growth into me. Found a place, set my bag down, made a production of setting up (this draws curiosity, people stop) bounced around a bit getting the blood and heart flowing, and soon, five people were there.
I made them yell. Soon, 15 people. I lit a torch, placed it on the ground, drew them in. I backed up and asked them not to block the sidewalk. I put a towel down, looked/asked in the audience for someone who I could trust – that guy.
I played the crowd.
What’s your name?
“Ed, I have a big favor to ask of you. I need your help tonight. Ya see, the wind is weird tonight, and I need someone I can trust to help me out if something goes wrong. I’m hoping it won’t, but it might. This is fire breathing, the most dangerous of all of the fire arts, and if something goes wrong – no, don’t worry about that fuzz beneath my chin, but if you happen to find that my face has become a huge ball of orange and white hot stuff, PLEASE, pick up the towel, and wrap it around my face – and Ed, the most important thing besides making sure my fase isn’t on fire, is DON”T WIPE! You wipe, and my face ends up in that towel in your hands. My mom likes my face, and so do a few other people – I’d rather keep it where it is. So you understand me, right, Ed? Wrap, don’t wipe. Everyone give Ed a huge round of applause!
(a few short bursts to bring in more people)
ED! GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF YOUR POCKETS!!!
Okay, dig it – with little knowledge except from my own mind and experience, bringing in the way I’ve seen so few other people do their shows and seeing what I would use and what I would change – I did my first official fire show tonight. No – my first official STREET fire show, solo, emphasis on show, breathing alone. Just breathing needs a SHOW, no way to take up the time with awesome talent, like Brian, who I just discovered is doing a beautiful Fire Knife show in the circle at Pier 41 thes days, so close to where I used to to my statue thang in the days.
I did two shows – the first one was certainly better in words and audience – probably about 40 people compared to maybe 20 – but I learned/knew something. Before the finally (Finalie? no.)… before the big finish on the first show, I took of my hat – the black top that you
all know, introduced it to the crowd – and mentioned that Ones were great, but…
Hell – if you ever have words that you can say for a show, NEVER mention ones.
The second show, with half as many people and a few of them leaving early, was much less well said – kinda pathetic, actually – but ones were never mentioned, and I used a few true hat lines to beef it up – and came out with just as much as the first show.
Still, tons tons tons of work to do before I deserve a circle, but damn – I put on a show, made people happy, captured them, made them laugh – and walked out, two roughly ten minute shows – with no costume, no makeup – jeans, shirt, jacket and the ever-present top-hat – with as much money as I made earlier today in just a wee bit less than three hours statuing.
I rach out of myself because of need. I show myself who I can be because I will not accept anything less. I am sure as hell terrified – gods, everything it took to jump past me into who I can be tonight – but the rewards, the rewards…
I am a warrior. I fight like hell to find me, as much as me as I can give.
Something beautifully strange today. I was walking out of Trader Joe’s, and a woman – a woman who looked to be about 150 years old, but probably wasn’t, stopped me after I returned her smile. “You’re a street artist, aren’t you?” Me, black jeans, shirt, blazer, hat…
Umm – yeah – how could you tell?
“You’re hat. It’s your hat. You must be.”
Ya know what?
I fucking did it.
I fucking love my life.
“I learned when I was young that the only true life I had was the life of my brain, but if it’s true that the only real life I have is the life of my brain, what sense does it make to hand that brain to somebody for eight hours a day, for their particular use, on the presumption that at the end of the day they will give it back in an unmutilated condition?”
Fryin’ Pan Jack, tramping since 1947, as quoted by Utah Phillips