Putting the Ho Back in Hobart, Day 1

I spent my first rainy day in Hobart hiding in a hostel’s living room and in the Tasmanian Museum. It’s an excellent museum and the first gallery gave a narrative of Aborigines on the island and how they’ve been treated. Not terribly well. Later that night I spoke with my host Terri, who told me how homogenous Hobart is – almost all Anglos, and how recently the White Australia policy ended. Indeed, when I forayed out at around four in the afternoon the next day, I felt like I was in Britain.

Well, not really, because the mist, the mountains and small roads, the sleepiness of the town and the friendliness of the people all reminded me of Bergen. I’d spent the morning writing and managed to get a couple verses for a song whose tone fit the weather. I already acquired a permit from the City Council Tuesday, so I headed off to the Elizabeth St. Mall quite emboldened. The policeman I asked for advice said I might play wherever I liked, so I set up beneath a little awning to sing, a perfect spot with benches up and down the pedestrian street and good acoustics. You see, as much as I’ve enjoyed playing in the rain in the past, I’ve finally put two and two and realized that my low E string tends to go when I play in such humidity. What with the high price of strings in Australia…

One lady sat on a bench facing away but clapped after my second song. The passersby consisted mostly of youth. The girls looked at me confusedly, especially when I sang Liberta, and the boys were… boys. That is they sort of acted rough about me. One group called out “Speak English, mate” but strangely not cruelly, just ignorantly, as I sang Ue Wo Muite Arukou. Later on, a one toothed old man with horrid breath and bad enunciation (what can you expect) thanked me specifically for that song. Apparently the tune was used for an Australian film. Those who tipped did so handsomely, so that by the time a duo of policemen advanced menacingly at me and told me to move on, accusing me “You aren’t allowed to play past three, it’s in your contract!” as if it was the end the world, I’d accumulated a good six or so dollars.

Undaunted, I took the opportunity to hit up the pubs around Hobart to look for a gig. Just like Hawai’i and other places, calling or emailing yielded no results, but showing up garnered me quite a few “maybes.” Though none have gotten back to me as yet… For whatever reason I passed droves of musicians as I walked about, and three (3!) music shops. I noticed that this north part of Elizabeth street might be a good pitch, too, so I set up outside a sweets shop which was in the process of closing. I wonder if it’s an Australian thing that the first song of mine is always greeted with an absurdly disproportionate amount of tips. I started with Somewhere Over the Rainbow to surprise and delight all around and probably at least half my income for the pitch. Or at least half of what I came away with.

You see, just before I finished after a slow hour, two secondary school boys passed with the usual messing with you sort of mindset. Horsing around, and I thought none of it. They made some silly comments and disparaging looks and asked if I might spare a dollar. Naturally I declined. Then the stopped, turned back and I asked if they might have a request. One boy requested Relax, Take it Easy while the other tipped me a few small silver coins. Now, while my attention was focused on the first boy I thought I saw the second pocket something discreetly, but I didn’t want to assume any such foul play and sang to them without looking down to check my money. You see, I’ve found I do better (and play better) when I don’t look down at my case at all. In fact, usually that means passersby don’t look down, either. After finishing the song, however, after they’d left with a snicker and I received a tip for the song from a passersby heading the opposite way, I looked to notice at least four gold coins missing. I knew I’d left two two dollar coins in there from the time I checked last, and may have received more. And certainly more than as many ones. Adding in the gold one that flashed in after they left, I missed at least five discounting the other tips I hadn’t bothered to check the value of.

The assholes stole at least seven dollars. Really?

Earnings: 27.10 AUD, 1.3 hours
Song of the Day: Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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