I’m back/London

I know I haven’t posted anything here for a while and it is because the stories were been happening. I get so many of them during my London experience.

I’ve got inspired by today’s one and I want to share, but first I’ll just let you know: I’m OK.

I play quite often. Desperate for a band though. Look at me, so alone on that stage.

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Janek came to London about half a year ago and we hang out

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Also I went to Kew Garden and saw a retarded (yet happy) flower.

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Today’s story

I started work at 6 am, it was a quite busy Saturday morning.

One of the coffee machines went to dishwasher and I was crazy busy on the only one I had. Two guys rolled in – a guy in his seventies-eighties on a wheelchair and pushing him young fellow who was showing me some signs since the door had opened. His hand around the side of his head… I thought he meant one of them had hearing problem but I realized quickly that wasn’t the case.

The guy said ‘coffee, please! Man, I’m desperate for coffee. Medium latte!’ – his eyes were very red, almost as red as the cup on old man’s head. ‘I’ll fall asleep in a second’ he adds and  turns around as the old guy yells:

‘hey Mate, come here! Won’t you introduce me?’

‘Oh yeah’ sighs the guy ‘everybody, this is Charming John’

‘Nice to meet you, Charming John’ we answer.

‘What’s your name?’ asks the old man pointing his finger at me. As I aswer, he asks ‘will you become the mother of my next child?’ exposing his teethless mouth.

‘Let me think about it’ I answer trying not to laugh, pretending to be actually considering the possibility ‘No, I think I can’t, sorry. My mom wouldn’t be proud of me’.

‘Coffee!’ yells John swinging in his wheelchair and yelling like a crank from the depths of hell.

‘Coffee’ tells us the young guy loudly, leans over to us and adds a little quieter ‘just as week as possible. I’m so fed up with that crap, it’s been 8 hours, man! Make it taste like coffee but with no fucking caffeine’

A line starts to grow so I start making the drinks and my Lithuanian barista Dzintars charges the customer who suddenly turns around and says: ‘where is he?! Fuck, nooo, now he’s talking to people!’ and he makes those really fed up faces ‘I am so fed up with this crap, please, make sure you don’t give him any fucking caffeine. He’ll never stop. It’s been eight hours!’

The people stare at both of them and can’t believe the way the young guy speaks about his crazy companion, as nobody know’s what is their relation like.

Finally, he pays, other people are being served. The young guy apologizes to me, I ask if it’s his relative or somebody he professionally takes care of (though I wouldn’t call it professional). He answers:

‘So apparently he lives on the same street as I do. I was coming back from a party and just on my street that guy was riding around, totally lost, he started telling me stories and dragging me around buses, he just made me jump every one. Do you know how much fucking fuss it was with getting him on and off…’

‘At least you get to know inside of all the buses in London, you always learn something. Look at the bright sides’ I say with a smile.

‘Yeah, there may have been some bright sides if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to pay for every ride. We’ve been doing that for the past 8 hours. And he just asks every woman to marry him in a really disguisting way’.

‘Do you think they really mind when he asks?’

At this moment the old guy walks to a chick standing not far from us and proposes (young guy’s reaction: you can walk?!). The chick does not mind as I predicted, yet the young guy tries calming the old guy down. It does not work, he laughes insanely and chats up other customers. Being busy with rush time I only hear some phrases like ‘leave it, sir’, ‘yes, sir and no, sir’ and my favorite ‘cut the crap out, sir!’. The young guy tries explaining to me that the man, who is now back to his wheelchair, had something in common with military according to his stories therefore that may be the only way of getting across to him.

The old guy starts talking to some young girls, I say laughing:

‘I don’t think they are legally allowed to marry you, Charming John’

He’s got nothing to do but agree.

‘Guys, I’m so sorry’ says Young Guy to the girls ‘I feel so bad  I brought him here. What are you drinking? I’ll pay for it’.

In the meantime they spilled something, Dzintars, totally pissed off through a blue roll at them saying ‘please, clean after yourselves’, so on so on … and then they left, together, probably to jump another bus.

And in all that, thinking about how fucking annoying Charming John was and how uncomfortable his companion was with his behavior, I thought… who does those things? Who picks up an old, crazy and totally drunk guy on a wheelchair (who does walk which indeed was a massive suprise to everybody) in the middle of a night and, so as to take care of him, rides the buses (and pays for them) until late morning, putting up with everything Charming John was coming up with?

It absolutely made my day and brought me back faith in mankind.

 

I’m back/London

The most interesting rides

A lot of people in the US asked me if it wouldn’t have been easier to take a bus than to hitch across the country. The answer is: yes, it would have.

But it’s not about being easy. It’s about being life changing.

Today I’m going to focus on one of the reasons to hitch – people you meet on your way. Here’s the story:

1) Ken (Virginia –> Knoxville, TN)

Ken was an ex-professor of bio-physics or something equally hardcore. Now, working for the government (like the rest 1/3 of American citizens), he would travel a lot between Washington and Chattanooga or even Alabama. He wore a baseball cup, spoke with a thick southern accent, he was telling me about the civil war and we were listening to an audio book about it. Older guy, I’d say around 70? But full of live 😉 He would make as many stops for me as I wanted. I traded with him lunch for a song. After some time he stopped talking at all and I felt a little bit uncomfortable. Next thing he said was when he stopped for a wee: ‘alright, I think I really need to smoke’
‘Well, alright… but I just want to remind you that you haven’t smoked for over 20 years now. It’s not a good idea to go back to it’ I said.
‘Oh, no worries, ma’am. I won’t be smoking cigarettes’

He loaded a full bowl of weed, we smoked and hit the road.
He was restarted – telling stories about him and his friends being attacked by a bear in the Smokey Mountains and how much he loved those lands. This time he wasn’t an A driver though. To be honest I was a little bit afraid, especially when he was putting a map in front of his face and looking for some small cities marked on it.

He dropped me right in front of the house I was going to. I remember the guys told me that when we arrived they panicked; somebody said: ‘quick, it’s an old dude, hide the pipe’. Well, if they only knew…

2) Jesus Freak Lady (Knoxville, TN –> Nashville, TN)

I was leaving Knoxville, the rain was pouring hard. A trucker stopped by me yet I told him to leave, as he was really sketchy. And then out of nowhere that lady arrives, asks where I am going, ‘Nashville’ I say, she considers time and says ‘jump in, I’m gonna take you as far as I can’.

She asked me, after two minutes of ride, if I was a Christian. Something told me I should have rather said ‘yes, I am’ and so I did. She said she picked me up because Jesus told her to drive me as far as possible from here. Alright, if Jesus said so… I won’t complain.
In the end she drove me to Nashville (right to Josh’ house!) – so sweet! Instead of taking 1,5 hour trip to Georgia where she was going to, she took 4,5 hours trip Knoxville–>Nashville–>Atlanta!

On  our way she was asking me A LOT of questions of ‘what does the Church in Poland say about…’ kind, we listened to Johnny Cash, as he was a religious man (‘I’m a Jesus Freak, normally I listen only to Christian music, I like it. Yet Johnny Cash was such an amazing man! We saw him here, in Nashville’). She was a teacher (‘I work for the government. I’m a teacher’), so she was also curious about the education system in Poland (or wait, I was interested in education system in the US?). She also told me about racism (or actually the lack of divisions? or maybe the adults attempts of creating them) amongst the kids in kindergarten/primary school age.

At the end of our trip she gave me all sorts of shit she had in her car – scissors, some letters from a Christian community, tissues or paper or something… I’m not sure, the whole sheet of post stamps with the face of Johnny Cash and, wait for it… an audio Bible. Bigger than an actual Bible as a book. Oh my God, did she think I’d carry it all the way to San Francisco in my backpack? It was a sweet gesture, weird too.

I remember that she pointed at a red rock by the road and said ‘see this rock? You find these only in Tennessee and Arizona. Nobody knows why’. Ha, I believed, of course! But soon I realized that it wasn’t entirely true and there was no big mistery in all of it. Just a classic red rock.NinaStopUSA

3) Horny Grandpa (Nashville, TN –> Dickson, TN)

I needed to check the story in my text messages because apart from that I knew it happened, I wasn’t sure where and when – Tennessee, Mississippi…?

The guy was at least 80. A complete redneck. I texted my friend saying ‘I’ve got my first ride to Dixon [actually it’s Dickson], forgot the plates of course [the plan was I’d send him plates of my rides, just in case] but I’m going with a really funny southern grandpa’

Guess what. He wasn’t that funny. After 5 minutes he started telling me how dangerous it is to travel alone with ‘what a nice pair of hooters [or titties]’. He promised he was too old to hurt me, but it was creepy anyway when he was staring at my boobs and making up nicknames for them.

4) Keith (Dickson, TN –> Memphis, TN)

Keith was a lovely human being. He was protective too.
The way he picked me up – I didn’t even leave the horny pa’s car entirely, my leg was still inside but he stopped and asked: ‘are you going West?’ and I was so he invited me to go with him.
He decided that it’s odd I hadn’t had pancackes in the US yet and that he had to get me some. He didn’t eat himself. He told me the story of his daughter, much younger than me, who got raped and how did they manage the whole thing. That’s why he was an ‘everybody’s dad’ now. I needed a person like that at the time, somebody I could feel comfortable with. On top of that he was a classy guy, super smart, good sense of humor… somebody safe, trustworthy, interesting, intelligent and entertaining. Yaaaay, a break from horny weirdos!

On our way we had to emergency stop once more. An accident. Two bikers lying on the ground, one of them not moving, the other one – a lady – panicking. Keith stopped the car, yelled ‘I used to be in the Navy, I know first aid! Stay in the car!’ and he ran to the guys. I stayed in the car. I wouldn’t help really and if that’s how he prefered it – alright, he’s the savior here. After 5 minutes the ambulance was there, Keith explained as much as he could to them and we left the scene.

I remember he insisted on waiting with me for my host to make sure I get home safe (though he’s already said ‘Oh my God, that’s South Memphis, pretty nasty’).

5) The Druid (Memphis, TN –> Clarksdale, MS)

He was a part of this story of mine.

Quickly: big, scary, scars and burns all around his body, neck and face more similar to pigs than humans, he had a silver scull at the car’s hood. He believed himself to be a druid. And he laughed at satanists who don’t know the Black Bible enough. He did.

He said that in his live he had been hit by a thunder three times (to be honest, he looked as if it was the truth), several times by the bus (also probable), he was shot and etc… because somebody cursed him. But he cannot die because as a druid he is immortal.

6) The creepy trucker (Vicksburg, MS –> somewhere south from Vicksburg)

Part of this story. (there’s also no 3. horny grandpa in there, as I was pretty sure it had been the same day. It wasn’t, now I know)

The guy didn’t have any super interesting story for me. But the way he was saying ‘yo giiiiiiirl, show me your white leeeeegs!’ (every two minutes the least often!) was really funny.

Also he asked weird questions – I left earlier.

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7) Bob (I-12/I-55 intersection, LA –> Hammond, LA)

This guy looking like Danny DeVito, driving an expensive sport car, stops by me so as to save me off the highway (it was a shit place, the shoulder wasn’t too wide, it was 100% illegal to be there but I wasn’t worried about the police – I was scared of the trucks passing me by so close that they would just do whatever they wanted with me – the air would lift me, move me, stop me, push me back, push me sides… scary!). His name was Bob and he looked like a Bobby. Name and car matched him perfectly. He was really nice but I just drove with him about 10 minutes and he went different ways.

8) Tim the policeman (Hammond, LA –> NOLA)

Really creepy dude. It felt safe to drive with a policeman and he was really funny etc… But after he dropped me he tried giving me a kiss (nope.). Then he was texting me for a while. I didn’t answer too much.

Still he told me an interesting story about a 14 years old girl from LA who run away from her home, hitch hiked, having sex with old dudes for accomodation. She was hitch-hiking and he picked her up. When she started offering what she had to offer he said something like in a movie (‘well, you’re lucky, cause you’re getting your accomodation now!’ or ‘I’d love to but I can’t lock myself up’) and… put her into the jail. Sure, why would you send this baby to it’s parents… they put her in prison for prostitution. It seems rough.

9) Adam and Gary (Houston, TX –> Austin, TX)

The best lift ever.

Adam noticed this doughnut place giving away freshly fried doughnuts as samples when the neon sign is on – it was on so we tried, got amazing (and free) doughnuts and left through the other door so as to escape the awkward situation of just hanging out after eating a bunch of samples and not actually purchasing anything… But hey, we were on our way to dinner at that place where they had paper tablecloths and a lot of crayons. Sooooo much fuuuun!!! (and some gossip about Adam with his dad 😉 )

gary an adam

10) Rescued by the law enforcement (Lampas, TX –> Lubbock, TX)

On my way from Austin I’ve got picked up by this really weird looking person in a pick up truck. Something told me I have to double check if I want to travel with this person. I asked, if could send his plates to ‘my mom’. He wasn’t happy but said OK. I was really slow with this one. I sent his plates to Josh (actually today I saw I’d never sent the message!) and just when I closed his car’s door, he said ‘oh, wait, the police’s here’.

The policeman asked us what’s going on and took our papers (his driver’s license, my passport and ID). He was definately checking if I’m not a prostitute (some rednecks checked it before him the other day, offering me ‘nice’ deals, so the guy definately knew the neighborhood). He spent a lot of time in his car which gave me a chance to talk a bit longer with the driver before we start rolling. The policeman came back and asked me to come with him. I was soooo nervous following him, thinking ‘oh my, something’s wrong with my passport. Or my visa. I want to continue this trip!’. He held my papers in his hand and spoke:

‘What makes you trust this man?’

‘I don’t trust him’ I responded immediately ‘I don’t know him. But I have to hit the road, I’m already late’.

‘I will tell you something about this man and you will decide if you want to go with him or not – it’s your choice’. The rest of his words seemed to be coming out of his mouth incredibly slowly: ‘This man… spent 5 years… in jail… for sexual herassment… on a 6-years-old… boy’

Oh my God!

‘He doesn’t seem to be able or willing to hurt me’ I said ‘yet, as a woman traveling alone, I should probably watch out, not risk. Oh no, I have to go…’ looked at the policeman feeling that he wanted to give me a ride ‘Alright, I won’t go with him, I need to be careful’

He said he’d sort me out. He took my backpack and my baby guitar out of the guy’s car, he said I wouldn’t go with him and that we’re sorry. He gave me a lift to the end of the county. Then he called the cop on duty in the next county – his dad. He gave me a lift to the end of their county saying this city was amazingly beautiful and I should have stayed if I hadn’t caught any ride. He gave me some lunch money and a hug, then he left. Love his lift! (and the universe for saving my risky ass!)

11) Lady death (7 miles south from Las Vegas, NM –> Santa Fe, NM)

Right before Santa Fe, this lady stopped by me and said ‘I won’t give you a lift, I’m going to Vegas’ [Vegas, NM!] ‘But tell me, do you play the guitar?’ so we had a little chat. After our chat the lady decided to drive me to Santa Fe.

She looked like Phoebe from ‘The Friends’, if she ended up working at a funeral home for her old years. She was beautiful by the way. But old and weird. And spiritual, just like Phoebe. She never mentioned anybody dying but she had a few funeral wreaths in her car. In the end she turned out a bit frustrating but still she helped me out (and she was one of only three women who gave me lifts for those 3 months, rest of them was afraid).

12) A mexican bus (Santa Fe, NM –> Denver, CO)

My destination was Boulder, CO. I stopped a Mexican coach (almost empty) going directly to Denver. Happy me! I slept all the way!

[Maybe it’s not ‘the people I met on my way’ but it’s ‘The most interesting rides’]

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a2aa(our only stop, around Trinidad, CO)a2a

13) Digger

In this case: he’s not any ride, but he’s a person I wouldn’t have met, if it hadn’t been for hitching.

King of the hobos. An intelligent type, so what that crazy? His heart was in the right place. He taught me how to recognize and ex KGB agent and gave me a REALLY NICE knife.

The entire story is here.

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14) The psychologist 

Ron wasn’t a psychologist. But he was there for me and I was his patient, that’s why I call him this way. He seriously fixed me during our ride. I cried, I laughed, I cheered, I yelled. He said ‘special occasion’, opened a pack of Marlboro and decided ‘we’ll both need a smoke’.

Thank you, road, for a doctor like this!

15) Pablo, the porn producer on a wheelchair, who turned out to kind of kidnap me
(Albuquerque, NM –> Flagstaff, AZ –> Las Vegas, NV)

The entire story is here.

16) Japanease energy stealer (Santa Cruz, CA –> San Francisco, CA)

He wasn’t even Japanease. He looked like Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids.

He was very spiritual; very spiritual. I liked it – that’s the way I am. We spoke about live and karma driving on Route 1, beautiful views, relaxing ocean, and my Californian eyes.

That’s where the trouble began.

He took me for some kind of Japanease healing therapy and they stole all my good energy. I don’t know how but I feel like these people took away from me something precious, something I’d been working since I’d started my travels. They stole a piece of my soul.

No lawsuit will bring it back to me. I think that may have been my biggest lose ever.

Also after this one… a whole serious came by. They still stick to me, honestly. It’s like my spirit was… dirty, not as clean as it used to be. Or maybe it’s just San Francisco?

The most interesting rides

Ornette Coleman dead at 85

I’ve just received news that Ornette Coleman, my favourite sax player died yesterday at the age of 85. According to New York Times the cause of his death was cardiac arrest.

What I love Ornette for:

1) Tomorrow is the question!

2) Grafton Saxophone

In the 50’s he was rather broke, working in LA as an elevator operator, Coleman swapped his tenor saxophone for the cheapest option. He stuck to it until early 60’s.

3) Free jazz*

Ornette Coleman is a major innovator of the free jazz era. In 1960 he asked himself a question: ‘what will happen, if I bring into a recording studio two different quartets [of a similar construction] and tell them to improvise?’. Of course there had to be some meeting points. He lead one of them (Don Cherry – pocket trumpet, Scott LaFaro – bass, Billy Higgins – drums), Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet) the other one (Freddie Hubbard – trumpet, Charlie Haden – bass and Ed Blackwell on drums) <– click the name and listen to the music.

Ornette’s quartet was recorded as the left channel, Dolphys – as the right one. There were two tracks released on this LP: Free jazz (part 1) on side one and Free jazz (part 2) on side B, being the lengthiest recorded continuous jazz performance to date (almost 40 minutes!).

What was the final piece? For some genious, for some disturbing. I love it.

* Some critics try to convince the world that Free Jazz wasn’t free jazz because you could sense the pulse of rythmic sections, there are solos and blah blah blah. I say – the guy who called his album Free Jazz first, claims the right to set what free jazz is. **

** No, I don’t seriously think that. Yet in my heart Ornette’s ‘the guy who invented free jazz’.

4) Harmolodic

You invented your own music genre, it’s popular, people play it in China, Argentina and Nigeria. What do you do? Invent a new one!

Actually a whole philosophy of musical genre (and a nice name for your record label).

Coleman said harmolodics was ‘the use of the physical and the mental of one’s own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unisonexecuted by a single person or with a group.’ Basically this means that ‘harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas’.

‘Get rid of tonal centres!’ yelled the jazz scene of these days.

In 1972 Ornette presented his idea in Skies of America (his 18th album! Recorded in Abbey Road Studios), where members of the London Symphony Orchestra played parallel lines as written, without transposition to their home keys.

I just can’t resist and need to share this video of harmolodics in Poland:

And here’s harmolodics:

There are dozens of reasons for you to love Ornette Coleman and his music. There are dozens of reasons for you to hate his music. I know that I will remember yesterday as the day when my dream passed away. He was my dream by all means. He was my inspiration and consolation. I’m pretty sure he was an inspiration for thousands of other people too. Well, I won’t see him live any more, yet the dreams of mine he owned are now free, to be taken. I’ll try.

Ornette Coleman dead at 85

I went down to the Crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale 2

Where were we… Oh yes, I was in Clarksdale, had nowhere to go for the night and sat comfy getting started with playing some music in lunch bar’s front porch. Right before I started, a guy had sat next to me, offering me to stay with him and his friends in the condominium they’ve rented for two nights. He was a drummer. I don’t trust them. And a biker. Come on, if you’re a woman traveling alone you don’t stay with them (drummers or bikers) for a night! After short conversation he went away and I started playing.

With my second song, a car stopped down the road, two man and a woman came out of it with film equipment and came up to me with their story.

They were a TV from Chicago, shooting a documentary about the Blues Trail. Of course Clarksdale was important – that’s where the ‘Crossroads’ are, that’s where the blues was born. That’s apparently where the blues is still cultivated.

What they wanted from me was to appear in their movie, playing in the streets of Clarksdale and telling the story of my travels. And that I did.

A few minutes after they went away, a nice looking gentleman in his 40ties sat next to me, so as to listen. We talked about the music with breaks for playing it, the waitress was bringing me new drinks, the guy was getting more and more kind. He said he wouldn’t give me money for my music, he would buy me a ticket to the Delta Blues Museum (which we both planned to see) and a lunch. Yeah, why not.

The musem was really neat. I wouldn’t call it impressive but it was definitely good. It’s address was 1 Blues Alley. There was a really neat Muddy Waters part; actually, Muddy was everywhere, his lyrics written on the walls, he’s spirit somewhere in the owner’s heart. Neither of us were massive fans of Muddy though.

The guy wanted to teach me about the blues, but quite soon he realized that he didn’t have to. I still don’t remember his name, I don’t think I’ve ever remembered it after he said it. We didn’t like same things and enjoyed same things about the blues and the music in general. It was a nice experience. I took some time for watching Muddy and Pinetop Perkins on stage. He took some time watching Charlie Musselwhite’s (a Cherokee’s son born in KOSCIUSZKO, MS) harmonicas and went to grab some food. Told you – it wasn’t that impressing. But if you go down there, you should definitely see it yourself.

The gentleman offered I could stay with him for the night in Memphis and that he would be reserved but there was no point in going back to Tennessee. And again – I’m a girl alone out there, you just don’t do some things not being 100% sure of them. It was really nice of him but I said ‘no, thank you’, took my stuff out of his trunk where I stored them for some time and followed the map going to a privately owned hotel where I would try making a deal of ‘cheaper room for helping with room service’ kind.

Half way to the hotel I heard the music coming out from a street I shouldn’t have really turned into but… why not? It’s music being the reason why I came down to Clarksdale at all. I mean it wasn’t for the wonderful hotels or the beaches. So I just took the other way and met Deak doing basically that:

I loved it. His wife came out (he was playing in front of his shop). I asked if I could leave there my luggage for a bit so I could get to the hotel quicker and come back once I log in but they were concerned if I’d be there on time. And then out of nowhere Steve appeared with some food and said he’d give me a lift to the hotel as soon as he finishes eating. He was a long-haired blues guitarist (I’d already started noticing that in Clarksdale everybody was a blues guitarist), very smiley and lovely. He said he’d just have to stop on our way so as to print some posters for his gig.

For my surprise we stopped by a funeral home and he opened the car’s door saying ‘come with me, you’ll meet my friends’. First he introduced me to two ladies, then the head of the funeral home. A family run business turned out to be quite a society in Clarksdale. The head, Scott, was helping Steve out with printing. Those were lovely, open people. I told them about my travels and they had a lot of questions; they seemed terrified about me. I mentioned I was on my way to a hotel, as I had nowhere better to go. One of the ladies, I’d met by the door, Teresa, offered I could stay with her, as she had plenty of room and didn’t want me to get hurt. I was saved! The head of the funeral home turned out to be very generous and supportive, I even got a company T-shirt (completely different from what you’d call a funeral home T-shirt; it was purple-lillish with a little hearse on the front and the entire back was covered with their partners, multum of pictures in different colors, shining and inviting)!

Teresa was amazing and she hosted me for my two days of Clarksdale. On my first night she dropped me by Ground Zero Blues Club – coowned by Morgan Freeman. Uncle Freeman didn’t decide to come down the other night, yet a blues band played for about 4 hours or so, extremely long. ‘This is normal in the US, you have to play long gigs. In most cases the band gets to play three or four hour sets with 15 minutes breaks per each’ said the guy making the sound or lights… I’m not sure now. The band was… extremely musically white (yet they weren’t bad). So was most of the audience. I remembered my friend told me about Greg saying ‘the real blues happens in Clarksdale after you cross the railroad tracks’.

ground zero

One guy dressed like a posh redneck, a Mississippi Planter type, all in white including the hat of course, asked me about my history, so I shared. He thought I was both insane and stupid traveling the way I did and I surely ‘could afford a bus’.

‘It’s not about the money and it won’t be’ I said.

‘Alright’ he sighed ‘I will give you just one piece of advice. Never, ever enter a car with a black person.’

‘Thank you’ I said looking at him like at an alien. He must have noticed that, he couldn’t have been that stupid.

He offered he’d give me a lift home (Teresa said that if I don’t find anybody safe giving me a lift, I should just call her; Steve wanted to give me a ride, but he was going to a club across the tracks and he was planning to party there for a while which I wasn’t really going for). I came back in and chatted with the sound-or-light (s-o-l) guy. He said he could give me a lift when he’s finished closing after the gig. Again: too late…

‘Thank, I’ve already got a lift from one guy’ I said.

‘Whom from?’ he wanted to know.

‘The other redneck in a white hat’ I answered pointing at the guy.

‘Really?’ said the s-o-l guy with big eyes and incredulity in his voice. ‘That guy? Do you really trust him? What do you know about him?’

‘I know that he’s a dad, a redneck, he’s mind is closed and he’s racist. He instructed me so as to never ever enter a car with a black person!’ I said nervously, wandering what type of man says those awefully stupid things.

‘What kind of man does it make him?’ asked the s-o-l guy. ‘Never trust a man in a hat’.

And that was my only strict rule for the rest of my trip. I didn’t trust men in hats. I only once entered a car with one of them, luckily I left it immediately and didn’t take the risk.

I called Teresa. She lived in a cute house outside of Clarksdale, had an amazing (can’t believe I’m saying that) Yorkshire Terrier Lady. She was just soo sweet! And so was Teresa. Her last lasting (sounds so funny) story was that her house was damaged by a hurricane (while she was inside!!!) and now it was getting recovered (for me it was pretty much done but I guess there were still details).

Next day I spent playing the music in the streets and talking to random people – all of them either were blues musicians or they children were. No doctors, no retailers, no waiters, only blues musicians. Then Teresa took me for a lunch near the Crossroads where I went to on my own – I was hoping for some kind of mystical experience. all I’ve got was a roundabout and A LOT of tourists (who at the same time didn’t seem to stop in the city at all) taking pictures of the Crossroad sign:

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In the evening of my last day in Clarksdale Teresa took me down to the Hopson Plantation, a historical-musical place. I think that if you’re interested in etno + music / blues stuff, you should best read their website, the ‘history’ page is really well written.

There was a band playing… I don’t remember the name of the leader. It was good. We had a lot of fun. The band opened with ‘Mustang Sally’ and went from it through all types of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’s, ‘Whole Lotta Love’s and ‘Midnight Hours” to, suprisingly, ‘The Joker’ by Steve Miller Band. Except of this one, the songs were all the same songs you hear Polish cover bands play (now I know that it’s English too) for the 100th time and you wish they play something new. Why? Of course: for the family. According to a noble Polish engeneer said once ‘I like the songs I’ve already heard once. (…) How could I enjoy a song I hear for the very first time?!’. People like what they know. Apparently it’s not Poland, it’s the world for you.

The next day Teresa drove me over an hour away from Clarksdale so as to make my trip to Vicksburg shorter and safer. Lovely her! I’m so glad I found her on my way. I’ll post a picture, I really hope you don’t mind, Teresa, but this is one of my absolute favourite photographs ever taken!

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My Clarksdale was absolutely different than any ‘regular’ tourists (meaning having any idea what they’re doing there). The fate took me down to the Crossroads, the fate took me down to the Meredith Nowell funeral home, the fate found Teresa and the fate found a Blues Trail Movie, Delta Blues Museum, never-trust-a-man-in-a-hat, the-locals-being-in-most-cases-blues-guitar-players and a lot more wonders and lessons. Mississippi is rough though, there’s a lot of racism in the air (that will be a part of ‘rasism in the US’ story). And the fate worked because the reason for everything to me was always the music.

I went down to the Crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale 2

I went down to the crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale

During my staying in Memphis (which, honestly, I didn’t like that much) I was wondering if before Vicksburg should I go somewhere closer, so as not to travel only the long distances – that’s when the country changes too quickly and you miss a lot. But before I even got closer to making a decision, my host, Justin said: ‘y’all see, in two days I have to go to Nashville. I ain’t happy. I’ll leave y’all where you need.’ Alright, I ain’t been happy either… I tried figuring out a place to go to next (Jackson? Clarksdale? Vicksburg directly?) but I had no idea where to stay at. Carla, whom I was staying with in Vicksburg, wasn’t in the city yet, no answers from CouchSurfing in Jackson, only two profiles in Clarksdale… I’m homeless any way. For a moment I had this blush of ‘I’ll go with redneck to Nashville and spend some more time with sweet sweet Josh’ thought but I was pretty sure it would get uncomfortable for both of us eventually… Also I needed to keep on moving – that’s the road, I had already said goodbye to Josh and ‘the City of Music’ (and so did he, in a letter which is still in my wallet as a most necessary item). ‘Clarksdale it is’ I decided ‘I will be homeless wherever I go and the reason why I’m here is for the music.

Maybe Clarksdale is the smalles and it’s CS is the worst, but that’s where the blues has got some part of its history, for some almost sacred – the crossroads. The legend says that born (probably) in May 1911 Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads where he met the devil and made a deal with him, trading his soul for mastry on the guitar. The life was cruel to him but he succeeded. Texas was the place of his two recording sessions. After his death of unknown cause all the world has got left after Robert Johnson is a few songs, three photographs and little pieces of different stories told by people who knew him at some point, from which the most famous one is a legend. But the world has also got the blues. And though, let’s be honest, W.C.Handy has got more to do with ‘creating’ the blues than Robert Johnson, he still is a huge person for the history of blues and will stay its important part, its founder, as a half-legendary, for some nearly holly figure from the dark past. This is what makes him the architect, this is what makes him God: his distant times and mistery.

Early in the morning my redneck left me in a terrible place. Forrest, dark wooden church, gas station with black hobos and in the middle of it me – small, harmless, white, lost and homeless. I stuck my thoumb out and the man at the station starred at me even more than when I just stood there. So dodgy… the sun wasn’t that high yet… A car stops. Big black car with a skull on its hood, seats covered with garbage and a scary huge white dude with burned skin and scars all over his body. He was completely scary. Yet, I was in a bad position, I had get the hell out of there. And what confirmed me to entering his car was that he packed my guitar first to the trunk and said ‘I saw you and didn’t want to pick you up. But then I saw the guitar and I thought I have to help a fellow from the industry’ – alright, hitchwiki was right – the Americans are crazy about musicians. Also he asked me himself if I wanted to text his plates to somebody (what I did). It turned out I made the right desicion – I was safe with him and he drove me all the way down to Clarksdale. The only thing was that he believed himself to be a druid and he laughed at satanists who didn’t know what the black Bible said (which he seemed to know well). All around us only cottonfields and open spaces.

He left me by the only place open in Clarksdale at 9 am – a coffee house/lunch bar. I came in so as to look for hostels (turned out that there are no hostels, so I switched to checking out all of 4 or so hotels in the city) and have a cup of coffee.

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The waitress came up to me.

‘Hi, I noticed you have a guitar! Would you like to play for us in the lunchtime? Usually we have somebody play here but the guy who supposed to play today…’ some reason. ‘Can you do that?’

‘Sure, I said. When?’

It was about NOW. So I took a place with my guitar, started… and so the story did.
But the story of Clarsdale in part 2.

I went down to the crossroads – the story of my Clarksdale

The land of New Orleans

Clarksdale and Vicksburg convinced me that no matter what, I was going to New Orleans – I was a few days ahead from my plan, I’d just got energized by the power of music, I’d got the money for this journey… New Orleans, here I come!

As it was a last minute decision, I posted on CouchSurfing emergency group and while I was still in Vicksburg, I tried sending some messages, yet I had nothing. Suddenly Beau answered he’d host me, I was safe. The journey itself was horrible. First I drove with an old man with an extreme redneck accent, extremely white, saying that I am brave to travel looking like I looked, ‘y’all have a nice pair of titties’… he was at least a hundred, so as he said ‘y’all don’t have to be afraid of me, I’m too old, but I woulda be scared’. Then I caught a black trucker who kept on saying ‘you giiiirl, show me your white legs’ and he was completely harmless apart from some creepy questions he’d started asking… I told him to leave me by the first intersection. There I caught a ride with an older extreme conservative dude. I realized I left my beautiful like me sign ‘New Orleans’ in the truck ugly like it’s driver, so the older man took me to Walmart, bought me a sharpie and, as he didn’t understand I’d find one in the garbage somewhere, he also bought me a carton box. I made a new sign, stood by the road and got a ride from a nice man in a pick-up truck. At that time I already loved pick-ups. He offered that if I still stand where he leaves me, I can stay for the night with him and his family. I didn’t have to, cause I caught those super scary gangsta dudes in bandanas driving a sports car to Baton Rouge. For the hour of our ride they didn’t speak at all, only texted, both of them, all the time, I’ve already started thinking, that maybe they were texting each other with a plan of my masacre. I had no idea what they spoke about and they had no idea where they were. We already passed the intersection on which they took I-12 W and I should have been taken I-10 South. Damn!

So they left me on a highway where I thought I’d die, but luckily [spoiler alert!] I did not. I did caught a ride with a Danny Devito looking guy in a sport car. His name was Bob. Perfect name for a Danny Devito looking person! We drove together for about 10 miles, he wanted to cancell his plans and drive me to NOLA but I asured him I’d be alright. So I caught a ride with a policeman. A small, ugly policeman, smiley. He was really nice. And then he turned really creepy. He had a gun in his car (but didn’t want to show me). He told me a story about a 14 years old girl from LA, who escaped home, hitch-hiked to Chicago and had sex for accomodation with random people. That’s Louisiana for you! He wanted to kiss me before I went away and he almost did. I had his phone number in case something happens.

I had a cup of good, as for the US, coffee on Bourbon street, walked around looking for a place to stash my backpack and the guitar but nobody was helpful. Finally I had a beer in this bar and took a train to Napoleons Ave. Beau picked me up, he looked exactly like I thought he would, just his eyes had something different, something you respected him for. His brilliant idea was: let’s go and check out the cementary when it’s dark. I swear, the sunset in New Orleans is purple and the city is full of powers. All the traditions, tragic histories, different religions, ritual all around and most important: musical rituals everywhere, give NOLA a lot of souls in the air. You feel it wherever you go. The cementary was extremly spooky. Do you know that the people in New Orleans are buried above the groud level? It’s because of the waters being high and just bringing up the bodies from the ground.

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[yeah, the beads are everywhere in NOLA! Unfortunately so are the people: ]

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I’ve also learned that Nicolas Cage has already bought a sarcophagus and it’s a piramid. I’ve also learned that Nicolas Cage bought LaLauries house. A note from Wikipedia about what happened there:

‘There were women chained to beds with their stomachs cut open, and their intestines wrapped about their waists There were men with their eyeballs poked out and their private parts mutilated, all while being chained to a wall. Some slaves’ intestines were nailed to the floor. One firefighter described a woman with her arms cut off, with patterns of her skin dug out. One person even had animal feces in their mouth, which was sewn shut.’

During the days I wandered the streets alone, in the evenings I wandered the streets with Beau and his flatmate Christine – the funniest person in the world. One of these days I just got changed. Bourbon street did it. A street brass band did it. First I saw this sign so I had a drink in this restaurant:

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And then I danced to the music on the street. I danced like crazy, people around me were recording me on their cell phones, yet I just didn’t care any more. I was myself.

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The next day I decided the time had come to finally go to Frenchman Street. I entered the name in Googlemaps, searched the route, took a bus, sit on there nicely checking for my bus stop with googlemaps in my hand… And suddenly I realized that the neighborhood is becoming nasty, the people on the streets were bandanas and I’m the only white person anywhere near. I left on ‘Frenchman Street’ stop, hided in McDonalds, waited for my bus back to the city, came out, met a really nice but extremely fat dude and we went towards the city centre on the bus. He didn’t go with me, wasn’t creepy. He just showed me where to leave the bus.

On the real part of Frenchman Street there was music being played everywhere.

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[By the way: the lady from the picture was recognized later by my LA friend Ryan]

One of the bars was mostly ancouraging with it’s music – Jon on the guitar and vocals and Alex on trumpet. Since I took the first look inside Alex was smiling really encouragingly (ha, what a word!). The gig was really what I needed the most, that liveful gypsy music and the guys turned out to be amazing personalities. I met also Alex’ friend, Erin – an extremely attractive girl who was really excited to offer me to stay with her for the night, as the bus, I’d take the next day, would leave from in front of her appartment and on the top of that that’s Frenchman so we can just party how long we want to. I’m not sure now if one of these or the fact that Beau was hosting two French girls this night decided on me staying with Erin for the night. Alex drove to Beau’s to pick me up but it turned out that they immediately got the vibe with each other and Christine and we went partying together. What a night, what music! We danced in all these clubs and we sang in the streets. Alex played everywhere with everybody and everybody seemed to know him. He was an amazing dance partner, the best I ever had. We danced more than I ever danced in my entire life. That’s us: Christine, me, Alex, French ladies and Beau.

The folks went home, we went dancing, we danced all night long, until we finally fell aslep on Erin’s couch. In the morning she was the best, made some really amazing coffee. We went out with their friend, I remember he played the sax, I remember how he looked like, but not a clue what his name was. It was the first day of Satchmo festival! So we danced again like crazy, this time in the streets. In gardens, on the festival, on sidewalks and on the roadway. We just danced.

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It was hot there at this time and the air was full of fumes. It was beautiful. I felt that this was THE time. It’s Alex’ birthday and this is why I chose this story for today.

When I was leaving I contemplated words of Beau: New Orleans doesn’t give you anything you need, yet gives you everything you don’t. Which I decided was 100% right with one only exception that all I didn’t need was what I actually needed and this is why NOLA gave me so much happiness. On the jazz vibe with my feet twistin’ I went to Houston in a most scary of all buses. And the most scary person sat next to me. But heh, that’s the car cult of the US.

The land of New Orleans

After the kidnapping

Remember the story of me being ‘kidnapped’??? (I’m not sure what word should I use, kidnapping brings thoughts of rope and violence, still I was being driven to the place where they imprisoned me)

Anybody wondered what happened next?

[Let’s get back to the beautiful easy times of Austin, TX…]

While traveling I never checked Facebook too often but the other sunny day I did to see I’d been send friends request by Ryan. He was a complete stranger to me but we had a lot of mutual friends and his pictures told me he was a double bass player. Neat, why not, that’s about the music society.

He asked me what’s up in Poland, I told him that actually I was in Austin, traveling around.
‘If you need help around LA, call me’ and he gave me his phone number.

[Now back to Las Vegas-LA bus]

I’m so happy Ryan did give me his phone number. I called him. I was saved.

When I arrived to LA, it was getting late, I’m not sure… was it about midnight? One am?
A lot of scary bums in front of the station. Some of them made me walk around with my heavy backpack, some of them made me go into the station so as to feel safer.

And then he arrived, looking exactly like on the pictures, smiling from ear to ear, looking a bit tired but glad – Ryan.

On our way to where he lived, Huntington Beach, Ryan told me how glad he was a Polish girl was visiting him…
‘I like Poland a lot, I’ve visited, I know a bit of Polish…’ etc ‘…and I know some people from Poland, from this magazine’… I was pretty sure he ment ‘Twój Blues’ and he did.
‘Dude, I know these people, I wrote for them’.
‘You know Andrzej and Ewa?’
I did. He had no idea before.

The place was full of palm trees. I know them!

Ryan was living with his dad in the pretties neighborhood. Sweet, cosy, big houses and palm trees all around. We smoked on a playground or in a park… I don’t know… And we went to beds.

The next day we were… probably chilling out, driving around, having a lot of fun. Ryan turned out to be hillarious and sweet. We were just going to somewhere in a car and Ryan said:
‘You know, I will be in Poland this fall, on a tour with Bill’.
‘Bill?’ I asked.
‘Bill Barret’ he answered.
‘What?!’
‘Do you know Hazmat Modine?’ he asked.
‘I LOOOVE Hazmat Modine!’ I said. ‘I can’t believe I’m staying with somebody who plays with Bill Barret‘ I said ‘What a wonderful coincidence, I love it!’

We went to the ocean, played some music… It was the first of many times in my life I realized, what the ocean means to my soul, what it does to me, how it changes me in many ways.
I sang the way  I sing only by the ocean. I smiled this way. We played on a broadway, in the wonderful heat, beautiful times. It was warm, the palm trees, I am so crazy about, were all around, ‘the air smelled with tea and weed’ – California!
Oh, and Ryan recorded the best ‘Everything is zajebiście’ shot (the original one is in it’s own league). Check that out:

And well… then I left. We met again – in November in Poland during his concert tour with Bill B. and I know we will meet again. In Europe, US or…. Guatemala.

This wonderful random person from the Internet saved me, he was my hideaway from the cruelty and stupidity.
I remember one day he found a dead crow in his garden and tried learning what did it mean. The world was full of magic. A help would be his friend, a beautiful woman, who really must have been a shaman. No other way. And she smelled so nice…

Anyway that’s the story for now. Probably Ryan is going to appear in another stories, probably the kidnapping will, probably Austin…

And here’s some Bill&Ryan music:

After the kidnapping