31 March 2009

(Some of) The Men Who Sold (Out) The World

Ex General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner goes home with a $20,000,000 pension package. High Five! But if GM does go under, he may only see $1,000,000. Tough break, Rick.

From the same ABC website, AIG executive Joseph Cassano "made more than $300,000,000 at the insurance firm he virtually bankrupted." Way to go, Joe!

Just wanted to remember these names.

27 March 2009

Cheapy "vintage" guitars

My brother's first guitar was a Gibson ES-125TDC.

My first bass guitar was a used Danelectro-made Sears Silvertone. $20.

This is the same model as mine, found on eBay.
Many thanks to the original photographer and BCR.

It had a neck that only Paul Bunyan could love. I can't even say i liked its lipstick pickups so beloved by Danelectro fans, but i believe this was an isolated case as i do generally like lipstick pickups. It was a crap guitar.

I later found at the flea market a Vox Bill Wyman bass with its original body replaced with a Phantom-esque slab of clear lucite. $10. No photo, sorry. Now this bass i fell in love with. Short scale neck, crappy Italian single-coils, exposed wiring, Bill Wyman's name on the teardrop headstock (apparently Bill had next to nothing to do this model! HA!). But i'm the first to admit that it was also a crap guitar.

Many years later, i found this exact Teisco Del Rey EV2T at the defunct Guitar and Drum Center in St Clair Shores. $200 (i probably paid $150 too much for it).

This is the same model as mine, found on the Squinternet.
Many thanks to the original photographer.

I just loved it for its body, not its mind. I can be so superficial. Cheap Japanese single-coils, Vox Phantom rip-off design, knobs, switches and a whammy bar...what's not to love? I've even recorded with it! Eventually i had replaced the tuners, bridge saddles and had the pickups potted (they made Rema-Rema or Sonic Youth sound controlled). Say what you will, but yet another crap guitar.

Which brings me to this recent eBay auction...

Buy It Now: US$890?!? Are they kidding??? Nostalgia and "vintage" aside, it's a crap guitar!!! We're not talking non-uniform Quality Control; all these Teiscos, strangely enough, were uniformly crappy! Let's call it for what it is: a knockoff guitar just this side of a toy that because of demand created by the 1960s "British Invasion" were mass-produced very cheaply in Japan, then today's equivalent of the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut, because they couldn't produce them fast enough or cheaply enough in Italy (the original source for cheap imported guitars into the American market).

A conversation between me and my brother about this very guitar up for auction had me wagering that the highest bid for that guitar would be around $300, $350 max but that's because the seller had found his patsy. Well, ever optimistic, i never thought that someone would offer almost half of the Buy It Now price.

Believe me, i understand that whole "look" thang, hence my ongoing infatuation with 1960s "fetish" guitars. But for my money, that same $405 could get you a MIM Telecaster or Stratocaster or maybe a Gretsch 5235 Pro Jet. Cheap guitars but with a whole other level of quality.

18 March 2009


$165,000,000 in contractual bonuses is to be subtracted from the $30,000,000,000 of a total $180,000,000,000 to be loaned to AIG by the U.S. Federal Government.

Let's lose some zeroes, shall we?
- $1.65

In the big picture, that's chump change. Peanuts, really. It's more about the perception of rewarding the people who put, not only the United States, but the entire world in the economic climate we're in now.

You can add the zeroes back now, for that added sting. Owwch...

09 March 2009

But, but, but

Last post i'd said that Watchmen was the graphic novel that'd made me stop reading comic books. That's not exactly true. Let's say "made me stop reading contemporary American comic books," from 1987 onward. But much as i love them, i can no longer read those beloved golden- and silver-age classics in the same light or with that same innocence anymore. Alan Moore's work is always a pleasure, though. And i'm still reading italian comics, but except pretty much for Carlo Ambrosini's work, that's purely to pass the time on the bus, per se. Ambrosini's Napoleone was the absolute best Italian mainstream fumetto and his newest, Jan Dix, is high quality as well.

08 March 2009


Saw the Watchmen movie on opening day (something i haven't done in time immemorable) with Marina. Being how she'd read it semi-recently (within a year or so, i believe), we spent most of the movie congratulating Zack Snyder on how many details he'd gotten right with quick glances and knowing smiles at each other the entire film.

Yeah, i'd say that i liked the film. I'd say i liked it lots. But i'm biased: i loved the comic book.

I'm almost wondering if Snyder wasn't pandering to the book's hardcore following, myself being one of them. I mean, Watchmen was the comic book...ermm, graphic novel, that made me stop reading comic books. Afterwards, everything else just seemed so...silly. Snyder, in my opinion, translated quite successfully the densely detailed comic book into film. No mean feat: how many times have you heard the old chestnut, "the film wasn't as good as the book"? Hard to say, in this case. Yes, one of the things that the film has going for it, from a fan's point of view, is that it almost uses the book as its storyboard as well as, to a slightly lesser degree, its script. Nevertheless, the chasm between media has been traversed.

Even so, i can't help but wonder if the impact or level of success would be the same for someone who hadn't read the book before going to see the movie. For all i know, as i'd said later that night at dinner with friends, it could just have been close to three hours of self-congratulatory pippa-fest.

My only other lament is that i went into the cinema already knowing the joke and that's sad for me. Most of my favorite movies are those that trick you: Fight Club or Psycho, for example. Watchmen falls into this category but the joke was already ruined for me.

If anything, i can finally say there's a movie based on a work written by the great Alan Moore that...well, doesn't suck!