Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt # 39)


By Daniel Canada c.2010



 THE FLY. He's chic!

He's fashionably correct! He's cut out straight from the 70's Blaxploitation movies! 

You can see the presence of “The Fly," if you were unfortunate enough to have to hit one of them soup lines in New York City's mid-town areas. I see him all the time and, I tell you, he's one hell of a character.
A cerulean French artist tam is placed askance upon his head. He's got Elton John size shades and he walks like Super fly did way back in the days. He's cool, man, and if you can't dig him, then you need to get with the program, because you're obviously the one that's been sleeping in a cave, Daddy O.
No, but seriously. “The Fly” is a little bit more than meets the eye. I observed that he seemed to have some kind of mysterious past. Something he must be hiding from the rest of us, because he didn't quite conduct himself like the common, run-of-the-mill homeless and "Skeksys."

But just what could it be?

And then I found out! 

Well, one day I happened to be standing on one of my usual evening soup lines, hiding my face behind the back of my hand from anyone who might’ve passed by and might’ve known me from the by-gone era, when I was gainfully employed and teetering on the precipice of the top of the world.

And there was “The Fly!”

He was doing his usual thing, talking to a few of the cliques he was accustomed to hanging around. All of a sudden, two, impeccably dressed, Wall Street business men came up to him with looks of astonishment pasted on their faces.
"Is that really you? I can't believe this. I have all of your albums, man!" The first guy says, then looks over at his friend with unalloyed disbelief.
"Yeah, man. I have a collection of your albums too, and have been digging you for a long time," the other one says reverently, all the while gawking at “The Fly” as if he was standing before the presence of Siddhartha Gautama.
The two look at each other and then back over to “The Fly.”
"Man, what are you doing out here? Is everything alright?" The expressions on their faces are sincere and genuinely confused.
"Well, you know...I just fell on some hard times, is all. Got caught out with some habits of mine, but I'll be alright." “The Fly” confesses, trying to make like it ain't all that big of a deal.

A few hushed conversations ensue, the two men reach in their wallets to offer him a couple of bucks that looks like twenty-spots. “The Fly” vehemently refuses the cash, assuring them that he's A-OK and just going through a little phase, and will be back on his feet soon, doing his jazz music thing again. The two fans walk off with respectful salutations.
So, that's it. The Fly’s a famous jazz musician! 
And apparently he's one of note. I kind of thought he looked familiar. Thought I saw him blowing a horn next to Max Roach, or Coltrane, or something, upon the stage in Avery Fisher Hall in on one of those vintage PBS tributaries to the arts. 

Problem is, I saw “The Fly” about a week or so later and he was looking pretty run down. He'd been "on a mission" with booze and drugs and had the appearance of a man who was truly down and out. He looked as if he was on the ropes and Mike Tyson had caught him with one too many gratuitous shots.
“The Fly” never left the streets. At least he was still out there the last time I saw him. Battling the demon of substance abuse can be a Bitch. And not a few talented musicians and artists got caught out on the streets, because they couldn't slay the dragon of "get high" in their life. 
If you happened to be pummeled by the "slings and arrows" of outrageous misfortune and the monkey on your back gets to be a bit too much, and starts acting a little out of pocket, a little "get high" can help to alleviate the pressure. However, one has to take great pains to make sure they don't get pulled under by the current of sex, drugs, and, in The Fly's case, Jazz (which, incidentally originally stood for "Just Ass"). I think you know where I’m going with this.

You want to get high, get high.

You want to get your drink on, go ahead and get your drink on.

Nevertheless, save a few shekels for a rainy day, as I've been saying throughout the entire memoir, so you don't wind up like “The Fly.”

If not you might find yourself going from playing Carnegie Hall to playing for a handful of tossed and niggardly coins on the platform of the subway’s Number Six Train.
And that would be a low down, dirty, crying, stinking, shame.