I did my first show in Pass-A-Grille yesterday. It would be my last, except that I told some guy I'd be back next Sunday with a purple shirt designed in a certain way in a large instead of a medium. He'd bought the shirt but returned it a couple hours later because it didn't fit.
Well, and it's probably a good policy to try a venue at least twice. The booth fee was fifteen dollars, which is nice, thanks. Juneteenth, for instance, is ten times that amount. For you English majors out there (and you know who you are), that's $150. The parking was ten bucks and I had to use a credit card for the first time in over a year. It was either that, or run out with five quarters -- and where would I get them? -- every hour. I took the pay-with-card, twelve-full-hours option for ten dollars.
The coffee was free at the snack bar, which was nice, as was the proximity of restrooms. And you can't beat the scenery. I was smack on the Gulf of Mexico on the longest day of the year, and people were shopping in bare feet. Well, they were showing up in bare feet ...
Sonny (http://www.bubbletruck.com/) called while I was there. In an unprecedented burst of Christmas malice, I ran down to the beach and held the phone out to the waves. I wanted him to HEAR how nice it was here, compared to his twenty-seven degrees of freezing rain ...
I sold twenty-six dollars worth of fine art, minus twenty-five for fee and parking, minus a dollar for the free pink lemonade two little girls were giving away while pointing to the donation jar for a Ronald McDonald House. Minus, too, the not quite mandatory tip for the musician. We vendors were told that the musician plays for tips only, and that we should tip since he's attracting our customers. Really? I didn't see the guy with the clipboard, so it seemed equally possible that my mailboxes were attracting listeners to his music.
Notice how the organizers have sort of stepped out of the equation, making the vendors resent the musician? Well done!
The musician, Julian Riviere (www.myspace.com/julianriviere), is from Dominica. I dated a man from that island once, so I was able to chime in with the mandatory disclaimer, "not the Dominican Republic!" He's called the Caribbean Cowboy and it's true. It was almost too much to take in, what with the resentment and the sweat and the low sales, but yes: Here's a black guy singing Johnny Cash tunes? Whoa! But then I remembered Charlie Pride, so there is a precedent (whew!).
Anyway, with the tip -- and don't get me wrong: I liked the man and I liked his voice (yeah: wow on the voice!) -- I lost money for the privilege of being there. Oh well. Perhaps I made some contacts. A couple more people asked for beachy mailboxes. Sigh. I'll try ...
So I packed up my stuff and trudged out to my car ... on which I found a parking ticket. At least St. Pete Beach gives a choice. I could pay twenty bucks now or thirty bucks after January 5.
I really like it that St. Pete Beach up and changed its name. In 1957, the towns of Pass-A-Grille, Don CeSar, Belle Vista, and St. Petersburg Beach joined to form the unincorporated city of St. Petersburg Beach. No one called it that, though. We all used the truncated version. Well, in 1994, in order to conform with reality and forge a more independent (from St. Petersburg) identity, the city changed its name to St. Pete Beach. I have a lovely friend who changed his name from Al Bonk to Tivo Sesante for much the same reasons. He's probably the most unusual person I know -- okay: eccentric -- and Al Bonk simply doesn't cut it. You'll be hearing more about him in a day or two, so prepare yourselves.
Back to the parking ticket. I wasn't unduly upset. I knew there was a mistake. I continue to assume there's a solution. See, each parking spot is labeled with a number. I memorized mine as I walked to the Money Eating Machine: 4942. I kept punching the number in, but it wouldn't take. Then I finally noticed that my space needs a letter, too. Oh. Well, all the spots around me started with the letter A, so I used that, even though I couldn't see my own spot. So I typed in A4942.
Turns out that only the first four characters took (A494) and that, in fact, what I thought was the first 4 was actually an A. Whoops. I trust that the St. Pete police, from whom I'm waiting for a return call, have proof that I paid for one damned spot or another, and will let me go without also paying that ticket.
The photo above shows my spot from yesterday. At the lower right, there's some small mess. That's me trying to smudge out the shadow of myself holding out the camera, while still preserving the image of the two sea grape leaves. Someone should do us all a favor and hack into my computer and remove Photoshop.