Honolulu State of Mind, Day 3

First off, I’ve made a “Song of the Day” video for Trapeze Swinger here. I plan to make more of these as I go along. Now remember, I don’t have a vocal nodule, actually, so yay!

The night after my first pitch at Hank’s felt straight out of a Garden State type movie. Detached, surreal, unbelievable. My host, Raghu, met me outside his flat in Waikiki and we chatted quite happily inside with his friend Dan. They went off to a club or something and I stayed in, to take brief advantage of his computer (badly worded, feh). I fell asleep before doing much of anything useful. Maybe three hours later I awoke to their very politely quiet drunken return. They’d moved the stereo outside and proceeded to toke on some pipes out on the lanai until I rose. All remained quite amiable and low key until Raghu invited his friend Bridget over. She brought four friends. That’s when the film began to play.

White trash is too convenient a term for me not to use, though the negative connotations aren’t what I’m going for. I think this night could warrant an entire chapter, which I intend to write at some point, so I’ll just sketch it out for this post. Bridget – one of those girls who you can tell just by looking at her face was once sweet and wholesome, not so long ago, but gives meaning to “fresh-faced” by being the precise opposite – face elongated and hollowed, hair line taut with the tension from the ponytail, thinness no longer attractive but pitiable. Arriving on the island for her mother she’d taken to working as a stripper to make ends meet. And the sudden flow of money brought on the drugs.

What I found most amazing during the night was their absolute civility. Completely polite, normal even, if I hadn’t seen them partaking constantly all around in the small studio I’d never suspect them of altered behaviors. And this made me so, so sad – that there’s a culture of Americans so besotted with drugs and party culture that they need to take them just to feel and act normal. And so young – the eldest only 21, on coke and weed and alcohol, all taken continually with no discernible effect.

Short on time as always, I must move on. Hank invited me back to play the following night, so I returned, and this time I managed to procure a couple mics. I figured out the P.A. system on my own (I felt proud of myself), balanced myself and played a long pitch – having a mic does wonders for longevity of voice, and a small seldomly rotating audience made me feel alright taking my time between songs (not so long, but the extra seconds help). Kurt, an older man who’d listened and requested the last night again sat to enjoy with no tip, but he appreciated my lyrics and told me as much. For, you see, people once again wanted me to sing originals more than covers. The covers I sang were newer, more obscure things. I hardly veered into familiar oldies territory. One quiet guy at the corner of the bar tipped me twice, listening thoughtfully throughout without engaging into conversation with the other patrons. He complimented the mood I cast, clapped after many songs – my champion for the hour he stayed. The musician at the bar who struck up a brief conversation with me also dropped a dollar on his way out.

After the clientele remained a static four men for a while I took an extended break to play the piano – simple things, the four songs I know, yet when I looked up from Gymnopedie I saw that the quiet man at the end of the bar had placed a camera on his lap, red light tellingly on, to record me. He never spoke a word while there, and never acknowledged met my eyes or tipped. Earlier he’d watched my fingers intently as I played the guitar. I’m still unsure if I impressed him or appalled him. I hope the former, but then perhaps he felt too shy to tip? Or say anything? I won’t know. After another set of the last of my originals and chill covers I sat by the bar for a while to talk with the other patrons. I felt a bit dejected having played so long to few tips, but my people skills won out in my conversation and one man, a nisei vietnam vet with long gray hair, glasses, and strong opinions tipped me a ten dollar bill. I stayed to chat awhile about startingly relevant topics, remaining humble throughout, then took my leave for a much calmer night at Raghu’s.

Earnings: $25.00, 3 hours
Song of the Day: Forever and a Day – Terrence Ho

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