Status Update

I left Savannah on Wednesday, after applying for a street performers permit. I’m realizing that it’s a little too far into Summer to be touring the south as a street performer, & this factored into why I didn’t go all the way to Key West. When camping around Georgia I’d spend the nights bare in my tent, humidity soaked. I couldn’t open the vents because then I’d be inviting in these most pleasant little creatures known as “No See’ums”, a tiny biting insect capable of squeezing through the tent’s mesh.

Savannah was a pretty sweet little town, similar to New Orleans in terms of the amount of history. There were pitches along this nice little riverwalk downtown. When I pulled in I saw a guy working a table, performing magic for a family of seven or so. His name was Ray Taylor, and we ended up talking a good amount throughout the two days I was there.

The attitude I’ve had whilst immersing myself in the world of street theater has been a studious one. I treat it just like college, with a little more relevancy and a lot less drinking. I seek to interact with as many street performers as possible, because all of them have had experiences I can learn from. It’s not uncommon for my notebook to be on the coffee table while chatting with magicians, musicians, jugglers, clowns, and statues.

I’ve given myself a year to trial-run the life of a street performer. Though it’s not necessarily something I’m gung-ho committed to doing for the rest of my life, it is still the most fascinating subject I’ve ever studied, and now I know I can survive with it if I have to. This is something I can truly fall back on (whereas my degree is not). As a psychology student I’m incredibly interested in how a public space is transformed into a theater, how a crowd is transformed into an audience. As a writer, the stories that come out of these street characters are well beyond what you can just make up.

I said farewell to the ocean, and began riding northwest towards Atlanta to see my younger brother. I took backroads all the way there, and ended up getting rained on for a good three hours. I’d been getting pretty used to rain riding, and it really didn’t bother me too much until the lightning started kicking it. My brother told me I’d have to wait a day to stay with him, so I holed up in Macon, GA as the storm raged outside. I was grateful I left Florida early, because Andrea, the first tropical storm of the season, came flying through shortly thereafter. Most of the southeast had a few days of rain in the forecast, and between my non-waterproof boots and my leaky helmet, I decided to save my tough guy rider for another day.

I spent one night in Atlanta, and started heading towards Nashville the next day. I’ve had a fuel leak coming out of my carburetor since before I left New Orleans, and now that I’m starting to cover some serious miles, in the interest of my wallet I need to address it. I was sitting at a coffee shop googling potential causes and solutions, when in a serendipity took the form of a young woman that worked at the coffee shop. She sat down next to me, asked if that was my bike out front, and went on to explain that she was in school to be a motorcycle mechanic. We discussed the problem, and she diagnosed that it was probably an o-ring/gasket issue, since I’d recently used carb cleaner on it and didn’t know I was supposed to keep these parts far away from the chemical. I thanked her and she returned to work while I looked for places in Nashville I could order the parts from.

I arrived in Nashville on Friday night, and discovered that the Country Music Awards Fan Festival was in mid swing. I came to visit Austin Jenckes, my buddy from high school and college. He came to Nashville a year and half ago to take his music career to the next level, and has been having a lot of success doing so. He’s a guy that has known ever since he was a kid that he was destined for greatness. In my opinion, his unwavering belief in his destiny is a large part of what’s carried him so far. We went out drinking, and as I was introduced to his songwriter friends it dawned on me how different the culture was in Nashville. I’d been immersed in the all-encompassing music culture of New Orleans for almost a year, but it’s a totally different vibe in Nashville. In N.O. it’s an appreciation for music that permeates the people; this is also true in Nashville, but the majority of the people there are also involved in the industry in some fashion. I also realized that I’d pretty much been completely solo for three weeks, and it took an hour or two for my social skills to catch up to speed.

The next day the fest was hopping, with Broad street closed off. I was hesitant at trying to find a place to work, knowing that the CMA was putting on the event, meaning they’d prefer no unapproved entities made cash on their turf. I did one show within the confines of their closed streets, and had a lot of fun doing so. The experience in Clearwater had me overly-alert of authorities, and I noticed a handful of cops watching me as I did my show. Thankfully they waited until after I finished the performance before coming up to me and politely informing me that I needed to work outside of the barriers. They let me and my full hat go, & I went to enjoy some live music for a bit. I did two more shows before calling it a day, content with the days earnings.

I worked one more day on the side streets of town, squeezing my show into the sidewalks with some success. It’s been a lot of fun learning how to work different areas, using my judgement and experimentation to decide whether a spot is profitable or not. It’s really convenient to be able to make some cash while going on vacation.

I left Nashville yesterday, covered 200+ miles and spent the night in a stealth camp tucked away behind an inactive Moose lodge sort’ve building outside Cape Girardeau. I was pleased to see the Mississippi River again, knowing those waters are seen by my friends and family back in New Orleans.

My next date isn’t until June 30th, where I’ll be meeting up with a fellow KLR rider in Colorado. I’m looking to spend 10 or so days working Boulder beforehand, and since the only city between here and there is Kansas City, I reckon I’m going to spend a few days stationary exploring the forests for Missouri. This state has surprised me with its beauty, rolling hills and golden plains. It’ll be nice to set up my tent, empty the bike and just ride around for a bit, not trying to get anywhere. I’ve been filming a lot lately, and as the hours and hours of footage pile up, I can’t wait to go back through and edit it together.

I don’t think I’ve made this publicly known, but I will be producing a DVD when I return to Seattle. It will feature the ride from SEA2NO, New Orleans as a middle chapter, and then the return trip from NO2SEA. It will contain footage of my show, and I’ll also be teaching roughly 15 magic tricks. Performing magic is really what’s made me the social person I am now, and I want to share that with others. It’s a fantastic way to connect with people. I’ll be putting together a Kickstarter once I return home, to help cover some of the camera and editing costs.

I’m working on a doozy of a post now, this one is mostly as a status update since I haven’t posted in a while and I’m sure my mother is worried I’ve fallen off a cliff somewhere =P

Peace, Love, & Happiness,

-Niko