A recent Friday at 1:48 p.m.: Shawn Patrick slipped a furry silver suit over his body. A silver monkey mask concealed his face. Suddenly, he was no longer the laid-back, homeless Southerner with a raspy laugh and a shy grin. Now he was Marzipan the Classical Guitar Jukebox Monkey, ambling with ape-like movements toward Union Square. A banana rested in the tip basket that swung from one of his arms. Passers-by seemed confused. Few made eye contact.

It wasn’t until he climbed a stone pillar at the corner of Post and Powell streets that people began to understand his motivation. A sense of calmness filled the air as he strummed Bach and Mozart. His fingers moved deftly over the guitar stings as people stopped in wonder. They left tips under his banana.

Patrick, a former New Orleans resident, has been struggling to put his life back together since Hurricane Katrina tore it apart. A year ago he inherited a small sum of money, so he bought a bike and a new guitar and headed west. He arrived in San Francisco in October, his inheritance almost depleted, intending to stay a few days.

“I had just enough money to catch a train back to New Orleans or buy a monkey suit. I chose the latter,” he said.

During the day he wears the $149 suit to perform; at night he wears it inside out to defend against the cold sidewalk he uses as a bed. He avoids shelters and food lines for fear that his amplifier and guitar make him a target for theft “or worse.” He tries to keep his real identity separate from his monkey persona.

“I don’t want people to pity me,” said Patrick, who intends to stay in San Francisco until he’s no longer welcome. “It turned out that I fell in love with this city.”