Amazon Tells New York Nevermind

Amazon Tells New York Nevermind

At the last minute, for Amazon to decide to not locate their much-anticipated HQ2 in New York because they were obviously not welcome there by the government and loudmouthed activists, is an example of how insane some situations have become between politicians and capitalists. If you look at the photos of the people who don’t want Amazon to locate there, you have to wonder, how in the world would it even impact them personally? In New York, the people trust the government to make the decisions for them, whether that’s about abortion or economics and finance. Both issues the government was never intended to be a tool to handle for the people it represents. And both times it failed. New York is a collectivist state and allows mob rule to employ a few people to make decisions on behalf of the entire state, much like a socialist state. Much like Venezuela, in fact. There are the people at the top that make the decisions and tell the people at the bottom what decisions they should be making, which is what enriches the people at the top. It’s a fascinating arrangement to watch from afar.

Who were the winners and losers here? Well, Take Amazon. They lost nothing. They’re still the biggest company on Earth. Take New York. They lost the chance for tens of thousands of high paying -high skilled jobs, billions in tax money, a spike in intellectual capital to move to the place, a flagship hub of commerce to be placed where cities lined up to have the very opportunity they threw away and more. It could have been the beginning of an East Coast Silicon Valley, for better or worse. When companies locate to cities like that they inevitably create opportunities that were never imagined and give back to the citizens in ways never asked. It draws attention and intellectual resources to the spot where they’re located. There’s a reason cities were lining up for years jockeying to be the place Amazon chose. And New York told them to get lost. Because of short-term political egos and power plays. Not for the benefit of the people of New York and any long term success.

I’m not sure how DeBlasio or anyone can begin to think New York is now better off than they would have been with Amazon locating their HQ2 there. Jeff Bezos knows a thing or two about business and planning for and funding the future. Much more than anyone in government does. And Bezos might not know as much as they do about how government works, but that may be just as well. No one seems to know how the government should work, and at the same time, everyone seems to know. Northern Virginia was the real winner here, and that will be felt down into North Carolina.

The Queen is Dead Boys

The Queen is Dead Boys

This clip from 1962’s The L-Shaped Room is a right bit of fun:

I don’t bless them
Farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes
Hemmed in like a boar between arches
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing
I said Charles, don’t you ever crave
To appear on the front of the Daily Mail
Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?
Oh…
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts
And I was shocked into shame to discover
How I’m the eighteenth pale descendant
Of some old queen or other
Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?
Oh has the world changed, or have I changed?
Some nine-year-old tough who peddles drugs
I swear to God
I swear: I never even knew what drugs were
Oh…
So, I broke into the palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said: “That’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But when you’re tied to your Mother’s apron
No-one talks about castration
Oh…
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
Like love and law and poverty
Oh, these are the things that kill me
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry
And talk about precious things
But the rain that flattens my hair…
Oh, these are the things that kill me
All their lies about make-up and long hair, are still there
Past the pub who saps your body
And the church who’ll snatch your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb
Past the pub that wrecks your body
And the church – all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb
Life is very long, when you’re lonely

Hope

Hope

All great guitarists, and many not-so-great, name their guitars. B.B. King famously played his “Lucille” and Jerry Garcia had names for his custom masterpieces like “Wolf,” and “Tiger” since that’s what was inlaid in their headstocks. His guitars became incredible musical machines and works of art in his later years. Stevie Ray Vaughn even named his most famous Stratocaster, albeit unimaginatively: “Number 1.” And his red Strat “Lenny.” And what’s left of Willie Nelson’s acoustic is named “Trigger” although “Hunk of scrap wood” might be more appropriate.

So, in kind, I name mine, since my collection is getting to where it should be. Problem is, naming a guitar isn’t as easy as it might seem. It’s like naming anything you care about. It can’t conflict with names of people you’ve come to be, let’s say, indifferent about. And you have to name it something that has meaning. And isn’t lame. Or trendy. Or stupid. That begins to narrow the list considerably.

What I’ve found myself doing, after crossing off the low-hanging fruit like “Jessica,” “Red Molly,” and “Stella Blue” is naming them after girls I personally know. That way I can assign their characteristics to the instrument properly, and it fits. Disclaimer: I’m doing this in fun and with the utmost respect meant for the ladies herein mentioned. And their husbands and special “others.” I think they would agree with me about the positive shared traits between them.

So this guitar is “Hope.” She’s an all-American with a big attitude, bright sound and is perfectly shaped, with stars! She’s also a 2018 Recording King 000 limited edition Bakersfield, which I historically didn’t have any experience with, but couldn’t pass up. I mean, look at the vibrant colors, and the strap is made for it, plus it screams Evil Knevil! It’s one of my favorites and is a blast to play.

Hope

Baby Boomers and Money=Babies and Money

Baby Boomers and Money=Babies and Money

This is a financial study just released by Merril Lynch about Baby boomers and their financial standing and comprehension. Baby boomers, mind you, being the generation that should be retiring now en masse. There should be a HUGE transition of wealth they’ve accumulated and saved being moved, withdrawn, spend, gifted, etc… But the reality is that many are still working, many are trying to just find work, and many can’t even get a job, so they’ve found a way to live off taxpayers until…

When you have over 80% of them who don’t even know how much they need to retire, and they’re AT retirement age, that’s pretty bad news. America herself is $21 trillion in debt, largely because of political promises, kicking cans, unforeseen consequences, foreseen and ignored consequences, voter ignorance, and utter irresponsibility. If you look at who grew that amount the most over history it would have been…you guessed it, the baby boomers.

It will be interesting to see how, if any of it, is solved. The government has no money to bail them out. Their kids are the most likely targets, but one look at them and their parent’s financial acumen being hereditary is apparent. I work with no small number of men who are past retirement age, who not only have their grown children living with them, but their family and their grandchildren. And they’re having to work to support them all until… My next door neighbors still have their grown adult child living with them in the basement. It’s not uncommon. It’s a new paradigm in American culture. It’s not a healthy one either. It goes along with the decline of marriage, the steep increase in single parent homes, especially among blacks, and strange multigenerational arrangements that don’t exactly form a strong triangular foundation or mother/father/child.

fir-new-challenges-new-solutions
Just When You Think You’ve Seen it All

Just When You Think You’ve Seen it All

I had a revelation yesterday, which is something I have with far less frequency as I get older. Through both fortune and misfortune, I’ve been witness to some pretty incredible events, spectacles, and situations. I’ve been part of, and tangential to, many relationships over the past 35 years, give or take a few here and there. I’ve gone through dry romantic periods like most normal people, for various lengths of time, lasting for hours in my more voracious years to nearly two years amid my more temperate. Only the most desperate, self-absorbed and wretched soul needs to be dating someone upon ending a relationship. No one in their right mind or part of any credible professional association recommends it.

But one thing has held true through all the many mostly wonderful relationships I’ve had with ladies (even though I was typically the one who ended the relationships, or they truly did “fizzle out,” I’m happy and grateful to say I’m still fond friends and on good ground with 99.9% of every one of them). I’ve been associated with thousands and thousands of people over the decades, both male and female, who’ve been close friends of mine in some depth and studied and been “involved” in their relationships as well. I’m from a tiny state in the South where everyone knows each other and, at times, it felt like everyone had dated each other at some point. Plenty of old girlfriends ended up marrying, and are still married many, many years later, to my good friends. That’s an awesome thing to be able to state, and I’m remorseful for how poorly I’ve kept in touch. Although having to move several states away for the past ten years on someone else’s behalf played a big part in that damage.

buh bye

In any case, each time I or a friend or my love interest decided to part ways, it was always in order to move to greener pastures. Whatever made those pastures greener, which usually was pretty evident. For women, men’s social value is typically the most important. That value is determined by a host of factors and people, but all items that would be agreed upon as an (even somewhat) socially redeemable characteristic. The very same characteristics I always put forth when courting a lady, because that’s usually what they seek, whether that’s stated or implied or even wanted to be kept secret. Money, power, fame, physical traits of virility, which of course are more base but valid, success, earning power, countenance, upbringing, family stability, intelligence, security (both physical and otherwise), the promise of bearing healthy children within a functional family environment, and so on. “Mr. Right,” in other words.

Yet it never occurred to me in all these years that there might exist a person who would seek specifically to trade down. Someone who didn’t want intelligence, earning power, chivalry, security, manners or refinement, or any of the virtues listed above. Someone who was inferior intellectually, financially, and irresponsible. Someone who a three-year-old child calls out for being gross because of a disgusting blowing-the-nose-in-the-towel habit. A toddler!

This might seem like a stunning desire. What would cause a person to behave such a way? The answer: someone who doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone. No expectations of them of any sort, and wants simply a brainless, spineless pet to sit in the corner. Someone who only wants their mate to bring the feeling of superiority to the table, and nothing else. Except maybe free childcare and what low level of housekeeping are desired, if any. Someone who asks no questions and is fine being kept both as a type of live-in gigolo and kept in the dark about any of his mate’s despicable past. How long would it take to find such a person with such low standards? Apparently a couple of months.

I never imagined such people existed, but live nearly 50 years, and similar creatures just may ooze and jiggle across your path too.

Rose

Rose

Rose is a Taylor acoustic, #59, born on Jan. 7, 2003 and is a model 414. She has golden Gotoh tuners, I believe model #SXB510. My aging eyes aren’t good enough to make out the numbers anymore, but these replaced the originals. This guitar was originally in West Virginia, then sold to a strange person in the hills of Kentucky, who I bought it from for a fair price but had to run a gauntlet to retrieve it from the mobile home in the middle of nowhere to give him the money for it and run. I immediately had it set up professionally by Bill Barney here in Louisville, and install a Pure Mini electronic pickup with volume knob. The knob barely peeks out of the sound hole, needs no batteries, plugs into the bottom strap plug, and sounds incredible. Rich and full and everything you’d expect out of an American made Taylor. Even with a strap embroidered with roses and gold leaves. Nothing ornate, but a true American Beauty. The magic is in the details. The binding is immaculate and the neck is effortless to move around. The gold tuners and rich wood grain are sublime.

volume knob

Floramay

Floramay

Floramay is a 1977 Guild D-40 Bluegrass Jubilee acoustic with electric pickups inside and a carefully-chosen Genuine Harris Tweed handmade strap to befit her. She’s a spruce blonde bombshell with a dreadnought body and is the most fun guitar you’ll ever play. A child of the 70’s, she’s grown more lovely with each year and she sounds as sweet as she looks. Mother-of-pearl inlay and a fine patina immediately tell you she’s out of your class. Her tone is impressive, clear and sterling, with a jangle that blends perfectly with Bluegrass jams, fingerpicking solo, or if you want to show off to a crowd and hook her up to an amp. And it just so happens I know a girl named Floramay who is also all of those things. You’ll never forget her.

guild d-40 bluegrass jubilee

Jessica

Jessica

Jessica is a favorite. She is a 2014 120th Anniversary Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus model. Gibson has offered a variety of finishes over the years but this my favorite. Some are subtle, some aren’t. Some pronounce the tiger flame and some gloss over it. Some Les Pauls are solid colors, and the most expensive, like the gold-tops, which many guitarists painted black. The solid colors are ho-hum to me, even with their patina and cracks. And to downplay the beauty the wood can offer is boorish and a tragedy to me, who loves the earthiness and organic qualities that acoustic guitars have. I prefer acoustic guitars in fact and only got back into electric with the acquisition of Jessica.

les paul finishes

The brilliance and seriousness of this instrument are what set it apart, to begin with. I keep the pickguard on it because I find myself having a stronger attack with the pick that would blemish the finish, to use poetic words, which is appropriate when describing this masterpiece. Known for eternal sustain, and a thick, fulfilling sound thanks to the humbucking pickups, I can’t imagine the experience of playing an electric guitar being any greater than with Jessica. If that weren’t enough, she has auto tuners which I hadn’t ever even considered before but adds a magical concierge characteristic that eliminates the worry of ever being out of tune, which should be a primary concern for any player. No matter how good you are, you won’t sound good if you’re out of tune. And the electronics that go into play and are precisely perfect are a wonder to me. To tap a button and have the tuning keys wind themselves into tune with a small buzz like that of a Shakespeare fishing reel when a fish strikes are very cool and satisfying. It tunes each string, then flashes in cadence to say “All set- Go!” is awesome and a really nice little situation.
les paul electronic tuners

There’s no way I’ll ever let this guitar go. She has great sustain, but I have greater. And if you couldn’t figure it out, her name is derived from the equally untouchable Dickey Betts song of the same name, written about/for his little girl.
jessica

Red Molly

Red Molly

Said Red Molly to James: “That’s a fine motorbike.”

Richard Carpenter is an excellent songwriter, and like most songwriters, goes through life not getting the recognition for his work. But the royalty payments help ease that suffering of the ego. One of the main reasons the Grateful Dead have been so successful was their association with prolific genius-level lyricists from the very beginning. Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh weren’t slouches by any means, and their solo albums prove that, at least with Jerry and Bob “Ace” Weir. But for the main complex arrangements that were meant for public consumption John Barlow and Robert Hunter, as well as a few others in the circle, were there and ready all the time, and quietly helped produce some amazing work. Barlow had an exceptional life beyond his insane success as a songwriter.

Richard Carpenter is another prolific wordsmith, and artists regularly dip from his well. Del McCoury is a fine man and artist and songwriter, but his touch on 52 Black Lightning is indelible. And as good as it is, I think it would even be better done with a baritone or meatier instrumentals. I’d like to hear Eddie Vedder give it a go.

So anyway, that brings me around to this guitar of mine, whose name is “Red Molly.” A 2018 Fender Telecaster Professional electric guitar with a maple neck. No tremolo. I am the original owner and will care for it as such.

I’m not a maniac about Fender guitars, electrics or even certain models. But this is a guitar I’ve always wanted for several reasons. It’s bright red, which is a given. But it also takes me down roads that have been walked by The Smiths, and a zoo of other notable players of varying genres that have used this make and model. The sound and tone is unmistakable, and with a beefy maple neck, it’s super-fun to play. You can do anything with it. It’s also pretty light, compared to my Les Paul. But the build quality, fit and finish, sound, playability, and craftsmanship make it a stunner. It plays itself, and it takes you for a ride you don’t forget.

red fender telecaster maple neck

Stella Blue

Stella Blue

One of my favorite guitars I have is a limited edition 2016 Fender American Standard offset Telecaster in Lake Placid Blue with a maple neck.

All of my instruments I have are favorites or else I wouldn’t have them. I don’t have the budget to own anything like that aren’t favorites. But I have reasons to acquire the instruments I do, and the reasons are pretty concrete and sound. This one fits them all, and it’s an amazing guitar to play and hear.

The first thing about it is that it’s American-made. I don’t necessarily have anything against foreign made-instruments – I own a few. But the market itself treasures American-made. Go figure. Secondly, It’s perfect for getting a certain sound for the persuasive ways I’ve gone about learning music, and the people whose style and technique and sound I like to emulate most on guitar. Those people are Jerry Garcia, Dickey Betts, Jack White, and of course Johnny Marr. And a few others like John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Bob Weir, and so on, depending if I’m trying to play rhythm or lead or whatnot. Each has a distinctive style and is a master of the instrument with discernable techniques that they employ either physically or with electronics or gear or with the actual instrument itself. But this guitar is a tool to pay tribute to Johnny Marr.

Offset Fender Telecaster

Garcia has played Stratocasters, Telecasters, and ended up mostly playing custom instruments that allowed him to do what he wanted optimally. Bob Weir owns over 100 guitars, but sticks to several that give him a certain sound, and Dave Matthews likes Taylors and Jack Black has a truckload of different impressive guitars as well. They all do, but they usually grab just a couple when they head out onto the road.

Johnny Marr uses Rickenbackers a lot, and I’m in the process of having one built for me, and it will be my crown jewel and hopefully in my possession in May 2019. A black Jetglo 360 12-string with maple neck, of course. But he also plays telecasters and acoustics to get that signature Smiths sound, along with some masterful tweaking of pedals and effects, as seen in the above link. I could watch that video for days.

When I was looking for that Rickenbacker I also decided I wanted a couple of other electrics as well. I’m not much of an electric player, but this is a fun road I’m heading down. I’ve owned a bunch of electrics before but nothing to speak of at length – just pawn shop quality beaters to learn on. These guitars are for serious playing so they’re the best these manufacturers offer, and they’re either new or in mint condition. I’m not even a huge Fender fan, although I’ve owned both acoustic and electric versions before. I don’t intend to get a Stratocaster and I even still own a klunky Fender acoustic. But I did want to get a Telecaster, which I did, and I wanted a very specific one, which I found, and will write about in due time. But during the search for that, I came across this guitar, which is a mashup of a Jazzmaster, which is argubly one of the best electrics you can have, and a Telecaster, which have a long list of reasons of being great that are discussed in Facebook groups and on Guitar forums to the Earth’s end. I also have a Les Paul, which is required for any Allman Brothers song, and it’s just unbeatable to play. It feels so much more refined to me than any Stratocaster.

The deep arctic/Lake Placid blue is an awesome color for this guitar with the maple neck, and the depth of the paint job reminds me of that of a Ferrari or Porsche, with 10+ coats. Photos don’t do it justice. But with the simple singing voice of a Custom Shop Twisted single-coil neck pickup and a vintage-style Custom Shop single-coil Telecaster pickup and chrome hardware, it’s gorgeous looking and sounding. These were made in 2016 as a limited edition too, which shouldn’t hurt the resale if I ever am forced to go that route. And every guitar has to have a name, right? You’d better believe the name of this one is Stella Blue.

I run it through a Yamaha THR10C Boutique Amplifier, which is perfect for getting the Smiths sound I want without a bunch of pedals and crazy gear (even though I have a bunch of pedals and gear I do run through it when needed). I love this amp. I’ll do a write-up on it sometime too because I spent a lot of time researching gear before finding and settling on it.

yamaha thr-10c guitar amp