Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Guitar Cabinet Theory of Life

Every person generates their own system of value based on their various obsessions. Avid gardners look at the payments for a new car, and probably think "that payment is akin to 10 oak tree seedlings, or a season's worth of annuals and perennials." I know my friend Brad, the skateboarder/artist dude of Sharklahoma, probably waits in line at the grocery store and looks at the total, going "my week's food is worth three skateboard decks." I think my friend Dave, who plays bass in Crowds and Power, looks at his bar tab sometimes and thinks, "I just spent one-eight of an Ampeg SVT cabinet this evening." I know my brother Phil likely looks at his municipal bill from the City of Berkeley, and wonders, "Is that worth a 32nd of the airfare to New Zealand?" People are screwed up when they view the world through the lens of their passions and obsessions.

I'm much the same, because when I ascribe value to the mundane and inane things we need to buy in life, I measure them by guitar cabinets. I like guitar cabinets since they are loud, a vehicle for amplifying artistic creation, and they are somewhat artistic/architectural in their design. For a thing that sits on the ground, it can have amazing power emanating from it when hooked up to a 100 watt head, which can cause something akin to hypnosis by sound. They are also something I use everyday, more so than my car or other big ticket items that people acquire for themselves. My favorites are Marshall and Vox cabinets, since they are loaded with celestion speakers, and also old vintage guitar cabinets like this Ampeg cabinet I bought from my friend Johnny Morrill, which I think is from the late 1960s. But any guitar cabinet with good speakers loaded in it sounds good.
So when someone asks why my wife and I don't have a new car, we always say we don't drive much, our cars are kind of like motor-driven grocery carts that little old ladies in South Philly drag behind them to the store, since we tend to drive once or twice a week living in Lincoln. But there's more. When I look at new car payments, I'm like "that car payment is equal to one Marshall cabinet, no way!" A year of car payments is an arena setup of guitar cabinets, 12 to be exact. Why have a new car when you don't drive, and ride your bike everywhere? Exactly, you catch my drift. This same mentality also rules our gardening and landscaping at the new house, and also painting and remodeling our house ourselves, "that's' a 5-gallon quantity of paint," "that's 4 rose bushes." I'd rather live in a garden oasis of a house than have a flashy new car that costs 2 years of college tuition to service!

I've met other mentally-deranged people that measure value by things like the equivalent of a Gretsch hollowbody guitar or Les Paul Standard; by tubes of oil or acrylic paints; by digital and film cameras; by skateboard wheels; by obsessively hoarding books and enshrining them in their home; and also by the lumber required to build a halfpipe in your backyard. Then there's people with designer clothes and expensive sports cars, and the like, and I guess they are accepted as normal.
Yet is doesn't cost much to play your guitar or skate an irrigation ditch either....