I left work early today because of a dental appointment. It was a cold, sunny day and a chilly wind was blowing. I was not dressed for it and the walk to the bus stop took on the aspect of a struggle.

I paused and called Viv, and then one Eric, and then another. As I spoke to the final Eric, a tank-tread construction shovel started up, lunch hour evidently over, and squeaked and clanked an end to our conversation. Moments later, my bus arrived, and I wended my way down the crowded aisle.

A lanky young man in loose-fitting black slouched into the aisle atop one of the two benches in the very center of the bus. He sported a lovingly braided mohawk, dangling and flipping about his face. His face was vividly painted in red, black, and white greasepaint, the angular shapes apparently applied carelessly and without direct cultural reference to Native American facepaint, or, I thought, to circus entertainers.

I seated myself next to a man in filthy clothing who was absorbed in a battered Marion Zimmer Bradley paperback. He refused to share the seat with me by not moving from the expansive sprawl he had adopted prior to my unwelcome appearance on the scene. A few stops later, the lanky young man shifted seats, and I could see his sweatshirt was emblazoned with the art and name of the Insane Clown Posse. He was down with the clown. I should have known.

As I emerged from the bus tunnel, a melodic voice singing in a language unknown to me filled the echo chamber in front of the Nordstrom tunnel entrance. I listened for a moment and heard some pretty good guitar picking behind it. I paused and hit the record button on my phone. As the song ended, I had become certain that the singer was my acquaintance Karen Olsen, a fervent Jason Webley admirer who has lately taken up her own creativity and begun to exhibit at the independent gallery Art Not Terminal as well as to busk and perform in public. This was the first time I had heard her, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I stopped and chatted with Karen and offered to host her demo at mp3.whybark.com, promising to email her the URL and to explain what all is involved. She might not want to post the material. I believe she may have concerns about people taking the music for free or stealing the songs. The option is there and her concerns are legitimate ones that should be addressed as a matter of education. I’m pleased that Karen has been pursuing her muse and am happy to lend a hand when I can.

Emerging from the side of Nordstrom into a driving, stinging rain, I was amused to note a mannequin posed in one of the windows, holding a cheap guitar with open case at her feet, filled with shoes. The windowdresser had seen fit to provide the doll with a sign reading “Will play for shoes,” and the windowdressing gnomes had done so.