Monthly Archives: November 2012

On the Busk – The Next Night

After the events of Thanksgiving Friday, (Seen here) I was determined to get right back on the bike, so to speak. Saturday evening I gathered my gear and went right back to my corner. I hoped cooler heads would prevail and a chance to apologize for my explosive out-lash. Traffic was slow, not many pedestrians or cops out, but good enough for a couple of good shows early on.

I had been set up for about an hour when a gentleman came down the sidewalk, stopped in front of my table and made a call. “He’s here, bring everybody.” That was kind of chilling, yeah? In about 5 minutes my buddy Theo shows up with three additional people, two of them carrying bullhorns. The five of them set up in a circle around me and started chanting. Lots of “Jesus”, “Rebuke”, “Evil”, “Sorcery” and so on. The din was such that people were avoiding the corner altogether: crossing the street in order to not come close. A few people who tried to come over to the table were impeded: Theo’s group would just move to where they were walking and continue screaming louder until they gave up. There was no chance of me even attempting to start a show.

So I packed up. Score one for the good guys.

I walked up the street to Trade & Tryon. There’s a nice park there and a good place to busk just outside the gates. I set up shop and … the next thing I know Theo and his friends have encircled me again. Now the bullhorns are out (since it’s a bigger area) and they are preaching loud & proud. I had a small group elbow the way through them and ask to see some magic. They were clearly trying to help me out and defy the preachers. That warmed my attitude and I went into my show.

I did my best, despite the din, and things weren’t going badly. One of the preachers stopped his chanting and walked over to join the small group at the table. I thought this was a good opportunity, so I went into a short speech about why I do what I do. That’s not an uncommon thing, if you’ve seen me work you know I’m often verbally passionate about my work. I had spread a deck out on the table and … the minister poured his large beverage all over them, the table and partially me.

“Whoops. Someone bumped me. Must be God’s will!”

That effectively ended the night. The small group were outraged and tried to engage the ministers, but the deed was done. I tossed away the ruined props, dried myself off as best I could and started packing up to leave. Theo’s group surrounded me. “Leaving so soon? Can’t do your witchcraft anymore? Jesus wins!” Keeping a grip on my anger (fury) I just headed back to my car. They followed for a block or two, shouting “Praise Jesus!!” at my retreating, defeated back.

Onward, Christian Soldiers.

What to do next? I don’t need to busk, but I love to busk. I enjoy the rawness of the situation, the delight looks on unsuspecting audiences. How do I fight back against this kind of perverted mindset? I doubt they will be waiting for me every time I set up shop, but there’s no doubt that we share a turf and our paths will cross again.

And of course I can’t stop my brain from thinking: “What if I’m in the wrong?” Somehow.

I’ve been asked to not return to churches. I’ve been denied participating in plays and other artistic endeavors at my home church because of my profession. I’ve even had a church refuse to cash my tithe checks and offerings. I offend. Sometimes on purpose.

As I was typing this incident up, a friend sent me news: A magician friend of mine was performing on a TV show in the Dominican Republic. The host attacked him by throwing flaming oil over his head, setting him on fire. If not for the quick actions of the magician’s crew, he would have lost his life. As it is, he sustained bad burns on his head, face, neck and hand. It was later revealed that the guy did it as an exorcism, to get rid of the demons. This was not part of the show. It was a brutal attack. (LINK) How far removed are the two situations? Crazy is crazy …

Please keep Wayne Houchin in your prayers as he recovers. Please Keep Theo and his gang of thugs in your prayers, and hope they recover before they hurt someone or themselves. And pray for me, if you will.

“I am not of this world: I am a red light from God.” ~ Talking Heads


Filed under Musings, Public Diary, View from the Pew

Gifts and Heroes – a follow up

“So shines a good deed in a weary world.” ~ Willy Wonka

A couple of weeks or so ago I told you about my friend Maria and her donation of her eggs for In Vitro fertilization.

This week she heard back from from the agency who did her tests: She passed! She’s now going in for a few classes and getting paired up with a couple to donate for.

Such a blessing from a selfless, lovely heart.

Leave a comment

Filed under Musings, Public Diary

On the Busk – November 2012

“Sticks and stones will break my bones,
But I always will be true.” ~Tom Waits

Another story from the street: It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Yesterday was full of fellowship and love with Dawn’s family. This past week has been full of triggered memories, so I was awash in nostalgia. I thought it would be interesting and fun to dig out the street table and do some busking in uptown Charlotte. Sharpen my wit, work on some new material and street test some ideas. So … I put on my armor (vest, bowler, apron, tie-dyed shoes) and set forth to ambush the unwary with laughter, amazement and love.

I set up in my old haunt at the corner of College and Trade. Nice traffic to and from the arena and outside my safety net within the EpiCentre. I wanted honest reaction and immediate feedback. Be careful what you ask for …

I ran through a few sets and had some fun people. Toward the end of one routine I notice a young (mid thirties?) African American man hovering around the outskirts. My initial impression was that of Theo, the wisecracking thief from the first “Die Hard” film. As the hat came down and the crowd slowly dispersed, ‘Theo’ sidled up to stand beside me. He had a handful of tracts. Uh-oh …

“Why do you stand here seducing people with your evil and witchcraft? Don’t you know Jesus promised Hell to all those who invoke sorcery?”

I attempted to compare my act with movies … actor playing the part of a magician, right? He had none of it, the more I tried to calmly and rationally explain my position, the louder and more rabid he became, trying to over-talk and over-volume me. Finally I gave up and reset my table to draw another crowd. ‘Theo’ tried to step in between me and the people I was talking to, but he was rebuked by a nice lady who was just trying to enjoy the show. Next he tried snatching my buttons and sticker off the table, but I just took them out of his hands gently. No idea what he thought that would accomplish. as I took my materials back ‘Theo’ shouted:

“Now he’s trying to steal my Bible! Someone call the cops!!”

I pointed out that he had no Bible to steal. He cried that it was on his cell phone and I had tried to rip it out his hands to break it. By now we had a nice little audience, including a bike cop who heard the commotion and came over to investigate. I returned to the group and started in on my opener, trying hard to ignore the argument that was taking place just behind me. ‘Theo’ was telling the officer that I had tried to knock his tracts from his hand and steal his Bible. I had ‘assaulted’ him by poking him with my belly. The cop (a guy I know, he’s watch many a street show and knows exactly what my demeanor is and how I deal with people) took me aside and asked if any of the accusations were true. Of course they weren’t, but he had to ask. ‘Theo’ demanded that he write up a report, but he declined as there were no witnesses, no one was injured and ‘Theo’ was clearly still in possession of his property. The cop asked ‘Theo’ to move to another part of the street, but (being the fine, upstanding American he surely is) ‘Theo protested that he could stand anywhere and say what he wished, “Read the First Amendment!”

I turned back to the group waiting for me at my table and determined to just ignore him. ‘Theo’ began walking in a circle around me and the crowd, which was getting bigger due to the spectacle. He started chanting – and I’m quoting directly now:

“I rebuke this sorcerer in the name of Jesus! Do not let his lies infect the minds of the innocent! He is a child of Lucifer, I beseech you Jesus to bring a swift death to him! Infect his children with cancer! Cast him down in the dirt and let him suffer among the vipers!”

This was repeated as he march around and around. I was stunned to say the least. It took everything within me to NOT take a swing at him. I was an angry human, and I’ve been known to use my fists in my darker past. Meanwhile, the crowd grew and grew. Money was tossed on the table before the hat even came near, cheers and laughter filled the street. I know some of it was put on in order to drown the rantings of ‘Theo’, but it was an awesome spectacle! I wound them up to a fever and ‘Theo’ fanned the flames. On a strictly monetary note, I doubled what my usual take would be for a night like this. Three things happened in that little time span: 1) I ‘preached’ my philosophy of love and art. 2) People were inspired. I didn’t give up, even in the face of harsh adversity. Allow me that taste of pride, please. I won’t dwell there, but I’m proud I held my ground and didn’t engage him on his level. and 3) ‘Theo’ killed his credibility and made a fool of himself. He preached hate, and hate has no place in a Hannibal show.

I finished, let the crowd go before we blocked the sidewalk traffic completely and set about straightening up. There were now 4 or 5 of Charlotte’s finest and a couple of security guards from the Epicentre and the Ritz-Carlton around. ‘Theo’ was very upset that they weren’t doing anything to stop me. He was demanding to see my permit, cursing and insulting me to my face. It made me kind of sad for him. ‘Theo’ came in close for one last prayer. He whispered it so just I could hear:

“You’re lucky there are cops here and cameras. Next time I see you, it will be just you and me. You remember the story of when Peter cut off the soldier’s ear? Well, that’s me. You won’t be laughing then.”

It was then that I let my emotions and tongue get the better of me. “I’m laughing now, though. You just helped me make a ton of money and a whole bunch of new fans. You were my bitch, and you danced right to my tune. I hope you’re here every night I work. Don’t expect a cut, though.” (Please forgive me, I feel horrible about that explosion, but this is full disclosure, warts and all.) ‘Theo’ was so outraged I thought he was going to swing at me right in front of everyone. I packed up my table and walked off. I wasn’t the bigger man; I stooped to his level, but I did walk away. As I went, I heard the officers restraining ‘Theo’ from following me. He was screaming about his rights and how Jesus was going to rain fire down on me.

I don’t know how to wrap this up. What did we learn here, friends? Take a long, honest look at what you are sowing. Are you spreading love or anger? Listen to the words you say. There was a passage Dawn used ot quote to the kids; she drew it out and it hung in our kitchen. “Life and Death are Created in the Mouth.” I wonder what the children in my audience thought of the whole carnival? Whose message got through the strongest? What was sown in their hearts?

Finally: I can’t count on ‘Theo’ being there all the time. Who wants a job protesting me? We could clean up!

“I know a place where a royal flush,
Can never beat a pair,
And even Thomas Jefferson,
Is On The Nickel over there.” ~ quotes from Tom Waits are from the song “On the Nickle”. It seemed appropriate.


Filed under Musings, Public Diary, View from the Pew

Gifts and Heroes

I’ve always been a huge advocate of using your gifts. Sharing your experiences and talents with those less fortunate. Inspiring and lifting up those who truly need it. I have a friend who is doing just that, and she inspired me to write this post.

My Mother was unable to bear children, and so I was adopted. At the time that was the only option. I have a special love for women who take up the cause, as it were. Reaching out to Mother the helpless.

Meet my friend Maria. ImageA lovely young lady in the prime of her life. Surrounded by friends and gifted with compassion, she heard about couples trying in vain to have children of their own. On her own initiative, she looked in to donating eggs for In Vitro Fertilization. She discovered REACH in North Carolina, and is going through the long, tough procedure. Let me let her tell you in her own words:

H) What made you decide to donate?

M) “A friend of mine actually brought it up about how she had to stand by and watch a boss of hers go through failed pregnancies and miscarriages. I felt compelled to look up donation and surrogacy because I thought if it was someone I knew I’d want to take some action. I looked up places around Charlotte to see if I could make it happen and I found Reach in June. Within these past months my sister and her husband are actually going through it, and it breaks my heart.”

H) Do you donate blood/ platelets and/or plasma, too?

M)  “I’ve always donated blood, ever since the Red Cross started coming into schools. Multiple times in high school and college. I was told I had a special type of blood they can be given to babies! I am also an organ donor.”

H) Do you plan to have kids of your own someday?

M) “As of right now there are no plans for children in the future. I love children and working with them, I’m a nanny, help with the Girl Scouts and worked with the YMCA summer camp for 3 years but I just don’t see myself being responsible enough for someone to depend on me for everything.”

H) What’s been the most difficult part of this endeavor, and how did you get through it?

M) “The hardest part of this process….for starters it’s been very lengthy you have to be very patient. I started in June, it is now November and I’m not yet on the list to be paired with a recipient couple. There is so much information and tests that have to be done but the hardest was speaking with a counselor. I was asked to being along my significant other because they wanted to know how he felt about my decision. We then spoke with a psychiatrist for almost two hours. The hardest question being, when I’m older and might decide to have children how will I feel if I cannot conceive yet know there is a child of mine out in the world. It turned my world around, I’d never thought of that before. But with my hand clasped by the man I love who is fully supportive I realized we would breach that gap, if we were to go through it, together. We even talked about adopting!”

H) If you could, would you want to keep track of the children you made possible?

M) “I think it would be neat to keep track of the child/children that I helped make possible. I signed contracts saying I would never look for the child and I’m not allowed to meet the couple either. There is a chance that the law could change about the child trying to find me but as of now it is not allowed. I am curious as to what the child will look like and traits they will possess, I was even asked to write up a fake note to the child about growing up. I told them to always chase their dreams but that those dreams don’t come without hard work. I just hope for their happiness and pray for patience for the parents cause if they get a mini me they’ll have their hands full!”

So there you go. A young woman selflessly giving life to the world, hope to the future.  I hear people my age putting down today’s youth, saying they are selfish and spoiled. Don’t you believe it.
There is love, and plenty of it.

Maria – you are my hero. Thank you!

“I am not a man of action, I am a man of will. But I can’t believe in my will unless I act from it.”

1 Comment

Filed under Musings, Public Diary