Category: real life

The Resurrection of Uncle

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That Old Guitar on That Old Guitar

Uncle, a 1934 Gibson L-1 flat-top acoustic, came to me via my wife Cat’s father, Steve, a stellar pianist and big band leader in Chicago. Cat’s great Uncle Ernest, Uncle’s original owner, bequeathed the guitar to Steve.

Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021
Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021

Cat & I found Uncle (in his original case) in Steve’s basement on a trip to her Chicago home. I tuned him up best he would, and strummed an open G major (the strings were a dozen years old, at least). He rang for less than a second before the bridge popped off. The sound of the chord was brilliant, however, and I took him back to New York, where the luthier of legend Paul Schwartz of Peekamoose Custom Guitars worked his magic (he is “The Moose” in the lyrics).

Paul has modded all my guitars, and also built me Fabien, an extraterrestrial Peekamoose M2 that’s the only electric guitar I’ll ever need if I ever need to have only 1. Definitely the one I’m grabbing, running from a house fire.

Fabien et moi
Fabien et moi

Uncle’s restoration process at Peekamoose involved a lot of micro-movements, acclimation periods, and clamps. And took almost 2 years.

The original bridge and half of the top’s bracing were not salvageable, and got replaced. Everything else is a time capsule, a literal message in box. The fretboard is still worn where Ernest spent most of his time playing (lower frets in open G tuning from what I can trace), and the flat-top’s 87-year-old finish reveals the most gorgeous cracks when the light hits it just right.…

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[words] rip, ric

under the cold and darkly sky / you trip the light and go…

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the cars were my fav growing up. their records and lateral solo projects not only will come with me to any desert island, they are my desert island — if i had to choose an island.

ric ocasek catalysed my adolescent desire and urgency to play the electric guitar and to write songs. all-lowercase, overdriven-jangle, and quirky-jerk, ocasek was also endearing, intelligent, and accessible. the cars became my crash course in how to bring depth to “disposable” music; that is, how melody married to meaning could still court the coolest girl in class.

more importantly over the long-arc of my teenage daydreams, some of which linger to this day, their music spoked out innumerable adventures in sonic discovery. riding with the cars, in the backseat i found (among many more) roxy music, david bowie, and t-rex; in the side-view there was robert fripp, steve reich, and john cage; passenger side would find buddy holly, the byrds, and tom petty; and in the way-way-back, crouched flat out of sight of the driver, there were new order, blondie, suicide, the cure, and eventually the ramones, the replacements, and much of what i’ve loved since.

the early 80s was still a world where intelligence and cool were a tough tightrope walk. ocasek and the cars hovered over it all, saying, “c’mon, man, the fringe is the cool. one foot in, one foot out — that fine line — that’s the place to be.”…

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Eye-Roll 20190617a

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Most car horn use is an expression of a driver’s loneliness, masked as urgency.

Car horns should not only be all in the same key, but also the same mode. Doesn’t have to be major. I’ll take Mixolydian, even Aeolian.

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Frivolous horn use should be per honk – $0.25 for the first second of duration, $1.00 each additional second. Call the oversight/enforcement system HornHeeder – like ShotSpotter meets EZPass.

Using a car horn for anything beyond a true warning is the same as when a dog barks out of lonesomeness, or chews its paw out of idiocy.

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supermarket matrix glitch

On 03 May 2017, at around 17:45, on 6th Avenue and President Street, a man and a woman passed me by, empty-handed, as I walked home after shopping. I had been in the market for approximately 12 minutes, and was about 3 blocks (so 2 minutes) south of the market when these two walked by me the other way.

I was heading south on the west side of 6th Avenue. The man was going north on my side of the avenue. At the moment he passed by, behind him in my visual frame, the woman crossed the avenue, and then turned left on the east side of 6th, also to head north.

Thing is – they both were just in the market with me. And here they were, headed back, opposite me, with no groceries, towards the market.

I recognized the man, because after getting caught behind the market’s front door while grabbing a bouquet of flowers, I held the door open for him to enter the store. He was skyscraper tall, perhaps 6’5″, and rail thin, so we’ll call him “Stick.” Approximately 3 minutes later, I was leaving the produce area by the store’s entrance, and saw the woman enter the store. She was memorable as she was African-American with long beautiful platinum blonde braids. The braids flowed down below her waist. We’ll call her “Tress.” They were separate shoppers, for sure not together.

9 minutes later, I swear Tress and Stick were still in the store when I arrived at the check-out, and neither alit at any adjacent cashiers while my cashier (we’ll call her “Samantha”) scanned and weighed my stuff.…

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Write On The Exhale

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analog truth, typos make

Communication is a form of respiration.

“You want to know what I think…?” is the same as asking, “You want to know how I breathe…?”

Resonant, meaningful discourse flows as a meditation, where we think on inhale and communicate on exhale. Thinking, writing, and speaking — these mirror different stages of breathing, and together form a respiratory cycle.

We draw our breath to prepare, to gird, and in doing so, leave ourselves vulnerable to enter the unknown. Will we take in enough air? Will we make the train? Is there anybody out there?

Conspicuous breathing in — the audible struggle for air — gasping — happens under threat of drowning, choking, or asphyxiation. Apprehension and uncertainty underwrite every inhale.

Confidence and awareness, by contrast, infuse every exhale. Breathing out means we have another breath to take, or that we will rest in peace and/or resignation, knowing the one just released will be our last. Everything renews every time our respiration cycle refreshes. You change the world every time you exhale.

Writing and speaking are subsets of exhaling.

Speaking comprises shorter inhales and exhales — faster thinking, quicker tongue. Writing involves longer breaths and slower output, more thinking, more holding your tongue.

Holding your tongue is not the same as holding your breath.

“Held my tongue,” lasted at minimum a full cycle and a half of respiration, in which you thought twice, and didn’t speak. You inhaled, then exhaled, then inhaled again. Then spoke.

Holding the breath is a frozen inhale.…

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