Pwned

I’ve always had a poor relationship with money, and with pawn shops in particular. Currently, my Takamine acoustic-electric (which I’ve owned for a dozen years) and my Carvin Bolt guitar (which I built and finished from a Carvin kit) have both been in the pawn shop for two months. In addition, my Fender Cyber-Twin amp and Behringer foot controller have been in for over two months.

The paycheck I’m getting tomorrow is already committed to other, more important debts (mortgage, space rent, car payment), and I already skipped one month of payments on the pawned items. This particular pawn shop allows a loan to roll over one month; the payment amount is simply doubled in the second month. However, I would be surprised if they will let me roll into a third month without payment. They will probably just call it a breach of contract and put the gear up for sale.

That means I will have to say goodbye to Leslie, the Carvin I built and named after my Uncle Leslie, who was also a guitar player. And I will have to say goodbye to the Takamine, which I never named, but dearly love playing, especially at night with the lights off while my wife dozes next to me. I will also have to say goodbye to the most versatile amp I’ve ever owned.

This is not new for me. There have been a long string of guitars that I’ve loved, but parted with because of poor money management. In reverse order, the guitars and amps I’ve previously given up in order to pay creditors include the following:

Fender Contemporary Stratocaster (Japanese 1986 model)
Peavey Ecoustic amp
Gibson Les Paul Standard (American 1977 model, which I purchased from a friend; that one really hurts, because I not only lost a beautiful instrument, I feel like I let my friend down.)
Peavey Backstage Plus amp
Sigma/Martin acoustic guitar (which I modified to be an acoustic/electric)
Epiphone Strat Clone
Unbranded ES-335 Clone and small practice amp (which I inherited from the aforementioned Uncle Leslie)
Yamaha Classical Guitar (a gift from my first mother-in-law)
Takamine Mahogany Acoustic/Electric (early model; would be worth a lot of money today)
JB Player Strat Clone (nice, with a through-the-body neck and a Seymour Duncan humbucker in the bridge)
Carlos acoustic (a piece of junk, but my first acoustic)
Roland practice amp
Gibson Sonex 180 electric (my first guitar, also purchased from a friend)

As I said, it’s not a new process to part with guitars and amps in order to pay bills. But it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder every time, and I’m tired of having to give up my music equipment in order to shut the creditors up. I’ve been doing it for nearly twenty years now, and it’s getting very old and depressing.

I do still have one guitar at home, thankfully: a Line 6 Variax 300. The Variax is the most versatile guitar I’ve ever owned — despite the fact that it has rather poor build quality — and it’s become my main gigging guitar. I won’t be letting down my band mates if I lose the guitars and amp, I’ll just be letting myself down.

Again.

I’ll talk with the pawn shop tomorrow and see if they will let me roll over one more month. If they won’t, I’ll just ask to say goodbye then and there.

Share this post:

Avoidance, but Sydney Warner too

I’ve been avoiding you. Nothing personal, I just have been avoiding writing in general, which means my Creativity Journal has been neglected. I’m pretty embarrassed about that, and I feel guilty. I’m sorry.

I don’t need or want to go into details about why I haven’t written in so long, so I’ll just leave it at a blanket statement: I haven’t felt like it. I’ve been feeling like it’s a losing battle to write anything, like I should just concentrate on doing my job and spending time with my family. I haven’t wanted to write, despite desperately wanting to finish my “Chesterfield Gray” story. I have been been doing everything except writing, in fact.

“Get used to it.” I can hear you now, and you’re right. If I’m going to make it, I need to write every day, whether I want to or not. Writing must be a habit that burns so fiercely that I need to release it every day or face the danger of being consumed by it. If I don’t do that, I don’t deserve to be called a writer, and I don’t deserve to be published.

The whiner in me says, “It’s a lot easier when you don’t have to work 40+ hours per week and still save time for your family.” True, but that’s just an excuse. The key question is whether I would still be avoiding writing if I had all the money I needed. I really don’t know, and I don’t expect to find out any time soon.

Enough grousing. Onward.

The most significant creative event that happened since I last made a journal entry is that I sat in with Sydney Warner’s band at a club called Balls Sports Bar on Colfax and Simms. I know one of the sidemen through a mutual friend, and he invited me to come down and play with them. I thought I would only be playing a couple of tunes, but I wound up sitting in two full sets with them. Thanks to Sydney, Franco and the rest of the band for letting me play the blues with them!

Last weekend, I purchased a Behringer FCB1010 MIDI foot controller for my Cyber-Twin. I spent part of the day learning how to program, and part of the next couple of days tweaking it to make it work correctly with the amp. Thanks to Harrier and RVWinkle at the Fender Discussion Page for the help in getting it straightened out. Now all I have to do is personalize the patch setups for my own gigging style. (I have a gigging style? Wow!)

Share this post:

Jammin’ With Jim

I got to play music with my good friend Jim for the first time in a couple of years today. I showed him my finished Carvin Bolt Kit and my Fender Cyber-Twin, then we BSed for a while. Eventually, we sat down with our acoustic guitars and played for a couple of hours. It was refreshing to play acoustic with him, and we slipped back into some of our old tunes with no problems. He also taught me the chords to Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue,” which I had always wanted to learn, but never tried. I taught him “Ode to Billy Joe,” since I’ve been working on it for the Tem class on Thursday.

I also got an e-mail from another friend, Bill, who had written a powerful short-short that he wanted me to read. I won’t give away the story, but I was impressed with it. I hope he can find a home for it somewhere.

I had intended to write a review of Word Work tonight and write some more on “Chesterfield Gray,” but somehow a chunk of time vaporized between dinner and bedtime; it’s now after 11:00 PM and I have to get up at 5:30 in the morning. I’m going to listen to my body and sleep.

Right after I read Trey Barker’s Veil of the Soul. Honest.

Oh, the Broncos beat the 49ers to go 2-0 on the season. Good start, gentlemen! (No, that’s not where my chunk of time went. I sacrificed watching the Broncos game to spend time with Jim. I told you he was a good friend.)

Share this post:

Geeking out

Flat Rabbit jam; John wasn’t able to show due to another commitment, but Brad and I went through all our material and played a bunch of other songs and song fragments. I also bought a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum setup for the computer. It has an SPDIF input and MIDI In and Out so I can interact with my Fender Cyber-Twin Amplifier easily. How does this relate to creativity? It’s a music tool. Perhaps I can make some digital recordings and post them to this site as MP3s. (Being a geek, it also makes me very happy to be able to connect my music, writing and computer hobbies all together. 😀 )

I also bought Morrowind, by Bethesda Softworks. This is the sequel to Daggerfall, and could prove to be a huge time sink if I’m not very careful. Perhaps I could use sessions of Morrowind as rewards for accomplishing small writing goals, as Bruce suggested in his workshop.

Share this post: