Sunday, November 29, 2015


Was sup a la gran pachicas?

Glengarry Gif Ross

just having some fun

Friday, November 27, 2015

Soy Americano, No Soy Cubano!

I dumbly forgot my camera in San Jose so I have no photos of another epic border crossing from Costa Rica into Nicaragua. I almost kept my cool, and the van was running like a vintage Ferrari but it's simply a complicated process with many obstacles and emotional roadblocks. I tried to get to Nicaragua before dark, but it turned into a long day because of the ridiculous traffic in San Jose. I swear that anyone driving into or out of San Jose should simply do it in the night or before 5am. After that you need to park the vehicle and give it up because it was total gridlock for 4 hours and the van overheated and I was swearing and cursing at the traffic, futile, angry, frustrated, anxious, stressed. How the fuck am I stuck in traffic in San Jose, Costa Rica in this ancient van? Packed with a digital piano and mandolin and 4 guitars? Bullshit. I cursed my fate, my decisions, my belly flab, my neck ached. I had moved my many millions of frivolous items from one house back into the van, packing it nearly full of shit and had looked everywhere for anything I might've left behind but cruelly the living room was always badly lit and my camera case was hidden in the shadows and I was distracted and didn't notice it was not attached to my backpack where it belongs and drove some 400 miles to another country and still didn't notice but later got an email telling me it is waiting back at the house. It's possible a sign of decaying mental fatigue, distraction, depression, self-destruction, all of that is possible. Of all the fucking many things I don't need in this van the camera is not on that list. I need that camera to take frivolous self-portraits and music videos of Bing Crosby songs from 1937. Fuck! And since mail is too unreliable to expect it to ever get to this small village on the coast of Nicaragua I must go back and get it if I want it. Who knows what will happen? Maybe the remainder of my life will be spent going back and forth between old residences reclaiming frivolous shit I left behind.

But the trip itself was another test of my resilience and fortitude. The Pan American highway is not safe or easy to navigate in Costa Rica. I swear the worst I've seen is in Costa Rica because there are too many vehicles for that narrow one lane road with cliffs on both sides. At least in Nicaragua and Guatemala there isn't much traffic. The road itself isn't much better but Costa Rica has too much traffic in general. But this is boring talk, my own misery caused by my desperation and self-destructive nature. "Of all the harm that I have done, alas it was to none but me." I accept that. So, I eventually arrive at the border and now I'm in familiar territory since I was here 3 months ago driving south. And the first thing I notice is hundreds of people camping around the customs office. Here's where a camera would come in handy to demonstrate the desperate conditions people were living in, obviously living long term in grievous conditions. But I don't have a camera because I left it in my old house far what you would see in the photo is similar to homeless camps everywhere except at border offices there are hardly any resources so there is no household trash to pick for bedding or shelter. The hundreds of people were laying on paper, the place reeked of human sweat and feet, urine, people bathing openly, drying clothes on International border plaques, fucking behind plastic corridors. I asked what was going on but the Costa Rican officials only smiled at me as they cancelled my vehicle permit. 

Then I merely had to get my passport exit stamp and move along and that's where things began to go wrong because there is a machine that only takes credit cards and the idea is that I would pay my exit tax of something like $7 in colones, or 3500 colones...but I don't trust those machines at all and furthermore the people trying to use it in front of me said it charged their card twice and didn't give them the receipt that they need to get the exit stamp. So I went to the window and asked if there was a place I could pay in cash and yes, there was, around the corner in a green building. The official had my passport and I thought I saw her stamp it but she had stamped some other piece of paper, some exit paperwork that was not my I went to pay the exit tax...and then changed some money at a pretty bad rate of 28 Cordobas to 500 Colones...I know I did not get a good rate of exchange but there was nothing to be done. But I asked the money changer why so many people were living rough and he said these were 300 of the 5000 Cuban Refugees who were trying to go to the United States. Because of some anti-communist agreement called "Wet Foot Dry Foot" any Cuban will be considered a welcome refugee and allowed to stay if they can get to the United States, provided they reach by land*, so they go to Ecuador because they are not required to have a visa, then travel with the good graces of Colombia and Panama and Costa Rica but Nicaragua stopped them. With the thawing of U.S. Cuban relations these people fear that this agreement will evaporate since theoretically they will not be fleeing an oppressive government anymore. This is all tiresome to those still digesting turkey and stuffing, I am sure very distressing to you all as the cranberry sauce still dries on your Brooks Brothers shirt you wore for the family gathering. But humor me for a moment because the story gets worse and these international disputes normally don't involve Oggy but in this one case, I managed to get entangled in a cold war involving 4 countries.

So, these Cubans are in rough spot, plainly, but I have a tight budget that does not allow for any kind of charity. Sure I can give them some of my clothes I've marked for disposal but is that going to help them? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm cautious before I start thinking my gifts are not Trojan horses of destruction. I'm cautious about everything lately because the intricacies of life demand some caution and reflection but this does not mesh with the fast demands of a eat-on-the-run society. So, I leave with my 1000 Cordobas and drive through a few pre-inspection police barricades that are set up to make sure Cubans do not attempt to run into the jungle and bypass the border. Man, we are talking about thousands of miles to Texas, through some rough land and these families and children and single men are trying to basically walk or hitchhike to the United States. But Nicaragua has refused them entry so they are all stuck at the border of Penas Blancas on the day that I am trying to cross. Sad tale. I have my passport inspected, etc. etc. and drive the no-man's land to Nicaragua....and this is also where a nice camera would demonstrate that I drove into a fully assembled army of hundreds of Nicraguan soldiers and police in full armor ready to repel an assault by the Cuban refugees. "Es una guerra?" I ask the Nicaraguan border man. And he looks at my passport. "No tiene estampa!" I don't have an exit stamp? No, of course I do, I just went through three inspections and they all looked at my passport...I'm not carrying Cubans. "No Tengo Cubanos!" I yell with my hands high as the tensions surrounding me with guns and assault rifles, the whole Nicaraguan army is assembled in front of my van...a sight that would've been great to take a picture of if that fucking camera was not on the couch back in San Jose! They suspect I am trying to blow them up or smuggle Cubans. The army surrounds me...the border guard tells me to turn around. I have so many stamps in the passport that I didn't notice I failed to get the exit stamp from Costa Rica. I say, fine, give me my passport back. And he says he will only give it back once I've turned around. He actually doesn't trust me at all, not even to turn around. But to turn around I have to make this ridiculous turn amid a milling and suspicious and armed Nicaraguan army regiment. Oh, it was a low point for Oggy. Not only had I forgotten my camera but I had this irksome van with manual steering that needs a football field to turn around and I only had this narrow road that was filled with the Nicaraguan army all ready to shoot on command, all gawking at this insane "El Conquistador" van and this sweating crazed hippie driving. It was a rough spot and I had forgotten to check the stupid passport for the exit stamp...the stamp that I now realized I could only get once I showed proof of purchasing that stupid $7 exit tax bullshit that I had paid for in cash because the machine wasn't working right.
Man, nothing could be done...

But then I realized I was going to have to wait for some ridiculous line of trucks to get fumigated to enter Costa Rica. Fuck that. I'll park right here and run back to the Costa Rican office since I could still see it about 100 yards away. But the stress was palpable in the jungle heat. The United States was waiting for these 5000 Cuban Refugees who were stuck in Costa Rica because Nicaragua would not let them in and I was in the exact center of this whole huge mess with no exit stamp and Nicaragua would not let me enter and I could not go back to Costa Rica because the traffic was backed up through the fumigation tent. Am I wearing my suede leather pants through this whole ordeal? Yes, I am, and that would also make for a good photo had I not forgotten that damn camera in San Jose.

But parking in that mess proved to be a challenge and I had to plead with a colonel for 5 minutes to run back and get the stamp. He said, "Rapido, Ellos son loco." And he lets me park in a dirt area near the army barracks. Stress was high and I just happened to unfortunately be trying to cross the border at the exact moment the Nicaraguan army was assembling to defend their country. Horrible timing. I run in sandals and leather pants back through the no-man's land and of course a hundred people are waiting in line now to get their passport stamped so I wait jumping up and down with Cuban refugees sweating and babies crying...sweat running down my ass crack, my leather pants are starting to seem like a bad idea in this jungle heat. But fuck it, all my shit is guarded by the Nicaraguan army so it's probably the safest van in all of Central America at that moment. I finally get the passport stamp because I showed her the receipt for the exit tax...and I run back through the inspections, "No Cubano, Soy Americano" and I run back to my van and proceed through the army, "El Conquistador" surrounded by this army regiment and swat team police.

What the Cubans could not do, I was able to do with some work. There are other explanations of why this is happening and my suspicion is that 5000 Cubans intending to go on land through Central America to find refugee status in Texas was seen by Nicaragua as an invasion of their sovereignty. Maybe the Cubans had passports, but that was too many at once and the Nicaraguans were afraid of something. As I've said Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, these countries are stressed to breaking. I promised and will promise again a sea of millions of Central American refugees breaking every border fence down to access the United States. That will definitely happen in the next decade if major steps are not taken to strengthen the economic opportunities in the CA-4 countries. Only an idiot would fear Mexican refugees when it is definitely the Guatemalans and Hondurans and Nicaraguans who will come knocking. It's very grim situation there. So grim that Cubans who do not even want to stay in Nicaragua are not being allowed to enter because their presence will stress the already stressed infrastructure and resources. Arguably, there are no resources for the current residents of there are definitely no resources for 5000 more poor Cuban refugees, even if it is only for the period of time it takes them to hitchhike to Honduras. That's my assessment of this situation and I could be wrong (although this BBC piece supports my conclusion). Maybe Nicaragua just doesn't like Cubans who are not loyal to the socialist cause that Che Guevara envisioned for all of Central America until Ike and Nixon and Kennedy decided to launch a holocaust on coffee farmers to ensure they did not organize for better terms. Well, that decision will definitely come back to haunt America as these 5000 Cubans is nothing compared to the army of refugees who will swarm north to collect an overdue debt.

So, I got to Nicaragua, a place I remembered fondly as the parking lot where I had multiple gas line ruptures when I was driving south. It took forever to get anyone to cooperate...and I was insulted and irked that I had to buy U.S. Dollars to pay a $12 entry tax...any foreigner must pay in U.S. Dollars that one buys from people outside with the cordobas that I had exchanged from Colones only minutes earlier. Bullshit. Raining on my head...inspection from aduana dude...fill out customs declaration form...the aduana official signs that...then a policeman must sort my dirty laundry looking for Cubans....and he signs the form...and then back into the aduana area in the building after getting a entry stamp on the passport. wait around for truckers to get their paperwork. Then plead futilely for more than 30 days, but get only an icy stare from the woman. Please please give me 60 days...50 days...44 days....35 days...please give me at least after New Years day, after Christmas. No? I must leave on Christmas Day? Por favor! Nothing, no accommodations, no diplomacy.

It gets dark and a waxing blood moon climbs through the spooky jungle and finally I have all the paperwork...and weave through the I even want to leave in the dark, or do I want to risk being near the border when war between Cuba and Nicaragua breaks out? These are the hard choices of travel, the fine details the travel books don't tell you about. Night driving in Nicaragua is the worst, but I had seen the anger and fear in the Nicaraguan soldier's eyes who all live 100 yards away. Violence was imminent and this was the first area that would be overrun by the refugees, by chaos and anarchy and my 1969 van would be the first vehicle they would choose to plunder, casting aside my lifeless body, taking my guitars on a ride north to freedom. They all would fit right in to the American ethic that has repelled and repulsed me: consumption, oil profits, dirty energy, land development. These Cuban refugees are more American than I am. Still, I plunged on north since I could not sleep soundly knowing the potential for invasion and war. I had to reach the beach, about 1 hour away, not far, but the roads are dark as a dictator's soul. My head lights flickered and the final border inspection guards looked suspiciously at my paperwork and checked again for Cuban stowaways. None were found but for all I know one had hidden on top of the van and has since escaped. Considering that I crossed on a day when the refugees were not blockading the road, as they did one week earlier, I actually lucked out.

If I had a camera I would upload a picture of the beach I'm near and my breezy room overlooking the town, the clear skies of the high season in the tropics. No better time of year to be here. The clock is ticking already as my passport is good for 90 days but my vehicle only has 30 day permit. fuck. And I have to hitchhike back through the swarm of Cuban refugees back to San Jose, Costa Rica to get that stupid camera. And this is life.

* Talk about insanity: a Cuban who is only 90 miles from Florida must go south to Ecuador and through the whole of Central America and Mexico to arrive in Texas with dry feet...rather than just sail a boat to Florida. What the hell is the difference? And I would strongly argue their feet are not dry simply because they tramped through Central America and didn't sail a boat. That's just idiotic reasoning. For the love of God, America needs to think about these crazy loopholes that cause people to travel thousands of miles out of their way to satisfy some insane diplomatic clause. It's not only causing an international scandal in Central America but it's seriously depleting non-renewable resources used to sustain these travelers. Ponderous situation.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Saint Lennon

San Jose, Costa Rica has a few pedestrian corridors that make it feasible to walk around without being killed. In Guatemala I would usually walk 2 blocks before nearly being hit. And if I walked 4 blocks then I would be nearly hit twice. And if by some miracle no one nearly hit me after 6 blocks then I was about to be hit. But San Jose's traffic is so miserably bad it never moves fast enough to hit anyone. Cross walks go around cars stuck in traffic. Pitiful.

One of the pedestrian walks has John Lennon sitting on a bench and I was going to sit with him but found his lap occupied. This guy should charge money to let you take his picture like this because it's a pretty classic composition. I saw photographers lining up to get this same shot so it will be all over the internet soon.
Imagine all the people...
I will be traveling for Thanksgiving but I'm not so selfish and self-absorbed to ignore my blessings. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Top Gun: Riskier Business

I'm going to write a 30 year anniversary review of Top Gun a few months early. It was released in 1986 when Reagan's insane pandering to the Military was in full plumage. I think he believed was a fictional organization in a movie that he was acting in and his befuddled mind basically ignored that the director never called cut. I imagine him going home to Nancy every night and asking, "How did I read my lines today?" He was a sick man, later had no memory of flooding Los Angeles streets with Colombian cocaine to fund Osama Bin Laden's mujaheddin rebellion against U.S.S.R, but democracy allows the people to elect sick men. It's good to know all that crack and cocaine profits not only crippled a generation of drug addicts, but also enabled bloody dictatorships in El Salvador and Nicaragua and Guatemala and also funded a terrorist organization. If Reagan were a character in a movie he'd be a villain in a James Bond film....except no one stopped his plan to destroy the world. And this is the President known for the D.A.R.E anti-drug campaign. Laughable, like a parody of a disaster.

Reagan's jingoistic rhetoric is not really at the heart of Top Gun, because the movie is about taking risks. It's a personality study of high-risk activities...and the genius, yes genius, is that the odd coupling of Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise, is forced into the pigeon-hole theme of high-risk activities. All the sex metaphors are thrown in one's face, "Crashed and burned...aggressive move...went over the top...come from behind....launching missiles...switching to guns..." these are lines from a parody porn movie but in 1986 they were average double entendre nonsense. They all point to sexual combat. Even the term, Wingman, as a reference to a friend who provides support at a bar, originates with Top Gun.

The movie actually has too many tropes to mention...the son living in the shadow of the father, who was lost in mysterious circumstances...and who flew with the lead instructor...etc etc.
Top Gun falls into the category of the worst movie with the best director. Tony Scott had a high water mark in the '80s with Beverly Hills Cop, True Romance (which would've been ruined by writer Q. Tarantino), the excellentand prophetic Enemy of the State, before moving on to direct Denzel Washington (the black Tom Cruise) in 4 respectable action films. But Top Gun's action sequences are superlative. The script reads, "I can't see him, I can't see him." "He's on your tail..." for like 30 minutes...and it's still watchable.
Because showing an erect penis would totally change the film's rating.

Action is the key word with Top Gun...sexual action....airplane action...emotional action. The movie is its best when gloriously worshiping fighter jets and their clan. It's simply military porn and I like it. The intentional vapor release from the jet engines is absolutely ejaculation symbology. Even the famous "I was inverted." line is basically a sex position reference.  However, the chemistry between McGillis and Cruise hangs on a thread of credibility. The character McGillis plays, a civilian adviser/trainer/instructor has zero credibility, but making her civilian takes her out of uniform (a plus) and removes the clumsiness found between Demi Moore and Cruise in A Few Good Men, six years later. But it's implausible, even treasonous, that a woman with no combat flight experience would be advising top gun pilots on 'textbook tactics'. But the viewer would be overthinking this role, because the romantic intrigue and action in this relationship is supposed to be a social statement on sexual combat. Everything about Top Gun is forced into combat analysis: Maverick fighting his own inner demons, Goose fighting Maverick's 'need for speed', Ice Man fighting his own fading youth, Jester fighting his students, Charlie fighting her instinct for combat safety, Viper fighting the secret of how Maverick's father died, The U.S. fighting a war for freedom. Cock against Cunt, the battle as old as time. So, the fight is either visual (air combat) or it is emotionally conveyed with dialogue and body language and songs by Berlin. But the dialogue that is used has such tired connotations "I've fallen for you" "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" "take me to bed" "I'm going to take a shower." "I flew with your father." "This is going to get complicated" that only Cruise rises to the occasion, demonstrating the maturity that would lead to far better films. McGillis is a decoration and she seems to know it; everyone wants to see Maverick get naked but we can't admit it.
This is pure intercourse metaphor as two inverted F-14 fighter jets 'fuck' in mid air. There is a simultaneous orgasm, ejaculation at the end...
...I guarantee Tony Scott said, "After you come out of the barrel roll, both of you discharge the vapor trails at the same time." How obvious!

Tom Cruise, as an actor, is highly professional and he has great camera/movie instincts. He knows what each role requires and seldom lacks personality. Yes, he leaves Scientology leaflets on the craft services buffet table, but that's because he's better than everyone else and he's also the producer who can do what he wants. If I had his teeth and hair I would leave all kinds of crazy propaganda around. He's a proud peacock and a number of scenes of him in either his underwear, a towel, or shirtless in jeans are adequate eye candy...and he is never camera shy or allows Val Kilmer to steal scenes. For instance, why the fuck would Maverick be wearing an insulated bomber jacket on the coast near San Diego? Because it stands out! It's Mav's movie and Cruise owns the role.

It's amazing to me that Cruise returns to the abysmal and redundant and repetitive Mission: Impossible franchise year after year. These movies are like fast food for the eye. If you've seen one then you have definitely seen them all. At least the James Bond franchise can say it turns out dramatically different (if worse) movies from time to time. Yes, the character is the same, but the photography of Spectre, for instance, is cloaked in an impenetrable darkness so that I can not see anything. Every face is some small blob of flesh in a sea of grey. No, the Ukrainian video piracy is not to blame. It's a very dark film. Simply because the title is Spectre doesn't mean the movie has to look like a ghost. I remember when James Bond movies were almost technicolor. I can't find a screenshot of even a single shadow in View To A Kill from 1985, it's all filmed in the daytime or bright artificial light, but Spectre is lit entirely in shadow or at night and sometimes at night and in shadow, like the whole franchise is trying to hide in Batman-esque mist. Top Gun may be puerile but at least you can see what the fuck is happening. And while we're on the topic of James Bond and lack of personality, can I say it's a relief Daniel Craig has decided to retire as the autistic James Bond whose entire personality seems to be reduced to a botoxed version of an emotionless automaton who can fuck anything with garter belt and stockings. His villains have more personality! His cars have more personality! For a character with so much mystique, it's incredible he was allowed to turn his personality scale down to zero for this role four different times.
Angry James Bond

Sad James Bond
Sexually Excited James Bond
Grieving James Bond

Perplexed James Bond
Laughing Hysterically James Bond

Jeffrey L. Kimball is probably more responsible for the alternative lighting choices in Top Gun, it's not too bright and it's not too shadowy...the choices are natural and effortless. The multiple sunrise and sunset shots over the Nevada desert are not manufactured...the message is 'the boys are still out playing after their mother has called them in'. Turn the audio off and Top Gun is a shrine to military might and human engineering, like taking The Right Stuff one step further to remove all subtlety: These Men Kick Ass! shouts this movie. Humility is totally extinguished and what is left is a vacuum of testosterone and jet fuel killing faceless targets over an ocean.

Point Break is probably my guiltiest pleasure and I only watched Top Gun recently because it was in English with Spanish subtitles so I thought it would be educational. If I brag that I watched Top Gun in the theaters along with American Ninja, Rambo Part II and Lone Wolf McQuade, I'm basically admitting that I am an ancient old man, from a generation that predates computers. I met a park ranger who said haughtily, "I was born the year Top Gun was released...I'm just saying." Well, I was the intended audience of Top Gun and it's not as shallow as people think. Actually, it's more shallow as cold war jingoism is merely a smoke screen for softcore porn.

Once I cracked the sexual combat analogy code that is written into every single interaction of this movie it actually became very boring because the writing forces every scenario into this sex theme. But that's the ultimate beauty of Top Gun; it thinks like a good soldier and does what it is told, it never deviates from its mission of military and man celebration. The message is simple: We kill, we fuck, we feel good, we win. If you want something more complicated then go watch Apocalypse Now. Top Gun is not apologetic and we are not going to let morality get in the way of our mission. Top Gun is basically a 90 minute commercial for erectile function.

As America enters a new phase of 'defend the borders, burn the refugees' cold war against a Putin-led criminal organization in Russia and a shadowy gang of brown men in hand loom scarves, a sequel "Top Gun 2" is predictably in the development stages. I wonder if they will mention the obvious impact of Reagan's blindly funding radical terrorists who would later attack N.Y with illicit drug profits hidden from Congress? No, that would be moralizing, and Top Gun is a very good case study in writing and making a movie that has a single purpose and pouring all the resources into fulfilling that purpose. If you do that then you can make a pretty bad movie that is still circulating television 30 years later. Spectre, like most modern movies, won't be circulating 30 months from now.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Looper and Guitar

Just The Two of Us is a tune recorded by Bill Withers and released by both Withers, who sang, and wrote, the classic track, but also by Grover Washington jr. who played saxophone solo on the same track. Washington was a kind of modern day Eric Dolphy with multiple skills on brass and reed instruments. It has a progression that endlessly goes C/B7/emi/G   (the original recording seems to be in F, so F/E7/ami/C) over and over so it is sort of made for a looper.

The guitar only took 20 years to save the money to have built. It's got all I want. Fylde is an English luthier co. with Roger Bucknall slaving away in the workshop for as long as I've been alive. The quality of craftsmanship is A+, the wood is not super exotic in this case to make it affordable. No Brazilian rosewood, or African Blackwood or Bloodwood. No fancy bindings, but it does have custom width striped ebony fingerboard, and custom Native symbology inlay and installed pickup. I guess I'd forgotten that Fylde's necks are not a perfect oval, they have the slight modified V running down the center, or maybe that's required for the inlay of contrasting wood on the back, or maybe it's just this particular Alexander model. I usually avoid that kind of V as I've found it on old Martin's I don't like, but in this case I will trust that this is my future and adapt. I can see there is a slight advantage of having more wood there to rest the thumb on when playing single notes and while playing chords there is no difference. There are many many factors to consider when ordering a custom guitar and neck profile was one I did not consider deeply... Actually, I found an email I sent almost 2 years ago that says,

"The width of the nut is more a preference and the profile is something I don't have much opinion about as long as there isn't a big blunt edge like I've seen on some guitars. I'm accustomed to a shallow neck."

So, Roger indeed took that into account and gave me a very very slight modified V, which he probably did from tradition or on instinct that I would need that little bulge to rest the thumb on. At any rate, I see that neck profile can be ordered and since I didn't specifically say I wanted a completely oval neck identical to the Seagull, he made me a modified slight V, and I'm sure with time it will be perfect for me.I will measure it with a caliper but I feel it's actually no deeper than the Seagull but the bulge still feels different to fingers used to a perfect oval.

 I also found the width of the nut is the same as my requested 46mm but the spacing of the strings is different/wider by about 1.25 mm, and that also takes a slight adjustment, but at this spacing there is never a danger of accidental bumping of strings. After playing the Fylde for a while the Seagull seems narrow. The guitar's name is Native Spirit and it's a tribute to our roots. I've gotten used to the dull sound of my Seagull, the spotty intonation and the buzzing and general sloppy-ness of the 20 year old Seagull. Odd, because everyone who plays it is impressed. I might do a comparison of the two one day but it is sad how lifeless the solid Cedar top/laminate sides Seagull sounds compared to a Cedar/Sapele solid instrument. The Seagull has about half the volume of the Fylde and 3/4 the sustain. The Fylde, for instance, overwhelms the camera's microphone and causes it to spike. The Seagull never had this problem. So now I own the level of acoustic guitar at which there is nothing higher. All solid wood guitars sound basically the same to me, since I am half deaf, but the details are custom and craftsmanship are different. It's a paradox because it takes about 10 years of playing for a guitar to warm up and break in, so ask me again about this Fylde in 2025 and I'll give another review. It's too new to discuss, but I can promise to keep it busy while I can. I'm amazed actually that I played a Fylde in Hobgoblin music in London in 1995 or 1996 and at that point it was the guitar I wanted most. And when near San Francisco I went to Gryphon to have my newly purchased Seagull's action adjusted and the end block repaired, and I played every high end guitar they had, which is pretty much a buffet of Lowden, Breedlove, Collings, Froggy Bottom, Santa Cruz, Martin...although no Fylde. I played all of those other guitars and only the Santa Cruz and Breedlove compared in my mind, but the first love remained for 20 years and I've played every guitar I could find to see if it was a better fit, but still the Fylde was the tops if I was buying what I consider a "Heritage" guitar, something that I don't own, but merely care-take for the future. But I only now realize that after 20 years there is no reason a Fylde will be the same kind of Fylde I played long ago, so why would I expect this guitar to sound the same as the ones I played then? But it not only sounds the same but the light heft, the balance, the construction, the aesthetics all still surpass anything I've played, though I know I could live with any fine instrument. Even looking at a video of me playing it looks normal and I can't say that for every guitar. I still handle it lightly but once I've dinged it on a moped pedal or scratched it with a metal necklace or something that is bound to happen then I will handle it less carefully and it will become absorbed into my collection. It's amazing that it fits so well because my tastes never changed in this realm of guitars. Price tag never was the deciding factor as I felt everything had to appeal to me. This is not the most expensive guitar and definitely doesn't have the most exotic woods, but it's exactly the guitar I would buy again over all the ones I've played. Picking it up today, a few days after I finally got it into my possession, feels normal, like it was always mine and Roger simply helped reunite me with it. I think it's too personal a decision to purchase a custom solid wood guitar, but I certainly recommend playing a Fylde. Of course my video doesn't showcase the natural acoustics of the guitar because I'm trying to learn to use an amplified looper, which requires the guitar go through a bypassed digitech multi-effects processor and into a Jamman Express and then into a portable Fender Amp Can, which should not normally be played while it is charging because of the hum. So this is the humblest audio for such a great instrument. It deserves to be played acoustically in a van. Heck, when I turn the amp on it's volume is the same as the guitar itself.

Some stats comparisons (all measurements in mm):
                                                 Fylde                     Seagull
Nut Width                                  45.89                      46.20 
12 Fret Width                             56.82                      55.28 
Profile 9th Fret                           28.64                       28.46
String Spacing at Bridge              58.31                      55.46
E-A                                             13                            12.42
A-D                                             12.18                        11.55
D-G                                             11.14                         11.91
G-B                                              13.13                       11.32
B-E                                              11.36                        11.25
Action Height at 12th fret*            5.63                          4.63
*I later adjusted the Fylde by sanding the saddle down 1.5mm. I think it's 1/64th from where I want it but will live with it for now.

Noteworthy comments are that I specifically asked for the nut width to be identical and I asked for 46mm. Considering the luthier and I were about 5000 miles apart that measurement was no small chore to coordinate. My micrometer has a user error rate of 5% so that number is perfect. .1mm is too small to feel. The12th fret is equally important but I didn't request anything specific and they are about 1.5mm different. The main difference I feel is the G-B string distance of 13.13 on the Fylde. I'm accustomed to more uniform distances in the 11.5mm range and this is almost 2mm wider but that G string is also the last wound string considered a "bass" string, so I wonder if this width is intentionally separating the bass from the treble unwound B and high E strings*. After 20 years with my Seagull I can tell any difference of less than 1 mm so 1.8mm feels like a chasm. I may have that changed with an offset groove in the bridge but I don't know yet. There are no luthiers I trust here in Central America so any adjustment will have to wait until another day. The main adjustment is the action, which I neglected to request lowered. 1mm in extra height is a major change especially when combined with the spacing difference. I like an acoustic guitar with low action for lightning fast lead lines like my Ibanez electric. My Seagull actually held the original action I had set up at Gryphon Music in the Bay Area way back in 1995 when I only owned one shirt. Now the G string buzzes and the E string buzzes and I think the frets need work plus a change of nut and bridge. But 20 years is pretty damn good lifespan for the action on a regularly used guitar.

*After further inspection the small string slot on the saddle for the B string was not perfectly aligned with the string/peg hole so the string was coming out at an angle that added up to a wider string spacing. Or maybe the initial placement of strings back at the workshop cut the groove slightly off center. After moving it so it is straight, the strings are now closer to uniform.

The looper is a new Jamman Express Xt and is a budget item to give me some entrance to the looping phenomenon. It's not the most basic, but it's pretty basic, which is what I decided I should have. There are many loopers on the market and I had a hard time deciding which one was best for me. The loopers with SD card and memory options all involve proprietary software coded in Pakistan or Myanmar which barely works and looks like it was coded from a room in 1988. Functionality was Steve Jobs real genius and if you like Apple then the software that comes with some of those loopers will make you weep in your mock turtleneck nest. And drums that are included on these digital devices are usually horrible and limited to a few boring rhythms, not to mention that I already own a unit with digital drums. The option to reverse a track or play at half speed is useless to me. So, that left me with choosing a basic looper in a small box and there are about three that would work for $90, but this one is Digitech, which is reliable and economy. There was some static at first which was either the cheap cable or else the brand new input jacks. It went away after changing the cables around. The unit runs off a daisy chain 9v power adapter that runs my other digitech multi-effects unit I never use. The 9v battery has a lifespan of about 30 minutes because there is no on off switch. When plugged in and a guitar cable is inserted, it turns on and stays on and draws enough juice to kill the battery.

At first I thought there was a flawed delay in the start of the recorded loop but it's definitely the timing of my foot that is the problem. I would recommend starting with a very basic and regular bass line to practice. The lack of automatic start (found on the fancier pedals) means one must begin playing instantly after touching the switch or else the track will begin with a pause. Since music is a timed exercise, the idea of timing a guitar strum with the downbeat of hitting a foot switch (but not before hitting the switch) is pretty essential for starting a loop right. To make matters worse, this looper has a fancy switch that engages on the UP of the button, so hitting the switch is only half the act, as the loop will begin to record when the switch is RELEASED. This allows one to hold the button down and clear loops without starting them playing, which would happen if I simply hit and released the switch fast. And ending the loop must be done with equal precision at the instant before the start of the loop will fit in naturally. There was no flaw in the unit but this takes some practice and the first, fundamental, loop is the most important. After that, your looper will take everything played, while in overdub mode, and replay it. This will happen infinitely even if you don't leave overdub mode. Whatever is played during overdub mode will replay when the fundamental loop goes full circle. You can leave overdub mode and let it all play and noodle around or go get a drink, but if you start a 3rd overdub then that 2nd loop will be absorbed into the fundamental loop and you can't delete it without deleting everything. But the 2nd and 3rd loops aren't as hard for me to segue into and out of because something about the timing of the fundamental loop is memorized and I know what to expect. But recording that initial loop has no click track except in my own mind so I have to hit the switch at exactly the right moment or else there will be a pause or if I hit the switch too late then it will only play 7/9ths of the first beat. This is true with all loopers but some have fancy adjustments if you have a click track that will extend the recording to fit the click track. This jamman express has none of that fancy stuff and I hope to work out some blues and soul arrangements. I figured that with an ipod I can have whatever backing track that I want and the need to have additional memory on a looper is redundant. Endless reviews of all loopers suggest there are lemons in all manufacturers. I will revisit this topic after I get settled in my next gypsy hideaway.

1985: I Survived

Yes, this is what I wore
I had a chance to revisit my illustrious/colorful past and found these inexplicable photo. Puberty does awful things to a man's mind and I was no exception as the mixture of Chess King fashion, Miami Vice popularity, a pretty staff girl at the racquetball court named Darcy Devins, and a jock mentality saw me romping with beach bunnies in Florida solely on the magnetic strength of my white suspenders and dinner jacket and striped shorts. Personality, conversation, job skills...all of these were ignored in favor of 'the exact right cologne' and 'big hair'.

There was a sad stretch of time when I was very interested in fashion of the day. Now I have come to terms with my personality and the fashion that it favors but back then in 1985...30 years ago...I was a slave to Guess ads and John Hughes movies, Swatch watches...Wham! etc. Although these clothes certainly had character, I feel they have the wrong character for me now and then. In High School we wear the clothes and lust after the girls that we are supposed to lust after. As we grow older we find our own tastes. It's very possible that I was wearing white elastic suspenders under neath that dinner jacket to hold up my shorts! Why?

I owned matching white canvas shoes and wore them with no socks because I was wicked cool.
No drugs were involved in this photo, but some trees were harmed. Maybe 1986, when men's spiked hair was normal.

'85 or '86. My pre-porn career in white short shorts and white Red Sox pullover polo shirt. I still wear this ensemble from time to time.
home made sweater with a young Oggy

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hairy Ape Flies in Tube at 35,000 ft.

When is traveling at 450 mph high above an ocean a good idea?
Oggy is a land mammal but sometimes he fools himself that he can fly. I recently returned to Costa Rica from a tour of the land of ice and snow. I'm glad I'm back and am going to the beach in Nicaragua to drink mojitos and swim in dangerous rip tides for a month to recover the feeling in my fingers. It's no good living that far north. For me, the ideal latitude is between 0 degrees and 20 degrees. 23.000 is the tropic of Cancer. God help you if you live north of 25 degrees. But 40 degrees and further north is simply insane. I've been to 66 degrees north, which is the Arctic Circle, and I didn't like it one bit. No, sir. I saw the northern lights in February and at -35 F my breath crackled into ice as it left my mouth. A deep breath brought tears to my eyes, which instantly froze my lashes shut. So, watching the northern lights is costly.
who is that elderly hippie?

I hope this starts a new chapter of creativity and invention in the tropics. I should be able to control those forces by now but I'm helpless, fearful, scorned and distraught. 
moe still packs a punch
I've been missing my steroid injections since I was gone but I managed to smuggle some back along with the ignition points and some black market spark plugs so I should be able to get my priorities in order. I also brought back some bikini brief swimwear that I had to order from a blatantly gay website. Like, only homosexual men are allowed to wear spandex bikini swimsuits?
finally, a denomination I can support.
Seems discriminatory, and wrong, and I decided wearing the same board shorts as a 19 year old crack dealer, when I am almost 50 years old, was also wrong. So, I bought spandex swimsuits that rides tight up my ass and stretches around my junk. Bungie smugglers, they are called in Australia. I don't know if I will take pictures of this obscene sight, but I also have a guitar you'll be interested in hearing.
This was custom made for the acoustics of the van

All in good time.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Boot Bling

Boot Straps

These serve no purpose, but I think they could be adapted to be used with spurs, which my spine will not allow me to do. Boot straps are the most frivolous of leather crafts but they are also the craft that is a good one to practice on because it really doesn't matter what they look like. Quality hand tooled leather boot straps are around $125, but the material is around $2. There are some super luxury boot straps out there, leather lined, fancy, but these are basic variety with Star Conchos and some generic stamps. It's all to go with my newly tailored Spanish American suede pants.

It's been a productive period of time in Costa Rica, nothing miraculous happened, urban living in Central America is thoroughly marred by car alarms set to go off when any vibration passes near the vehicle such as a motorcycle with no muffler, or an earth quake, or other car alarms going off. ALl day and night car alarms are going off because of nearby vibration and no one cares. I feel like making fliers in Spanish explaining that on the car alarm there is a small dial that changes the sensitivity level of the vibration. Setting it at the lowest sensitivity means it will go off only in the event someone actually runs into your vehicle with another car. The highest sensitivity will cause it to go off if a dog takes a shit nearby, and this is the level Costa Ricans like to set it at. That way they know their vehicle is nearby because the alarm is going off every ten minutes. GOOD PLAN! I won't miss this neighborhood.

I also finished the leather dashboard but I need Chicago screws to install it and those are impossible to find here. There's no big hurry on any of this. New adventures await, and I will meet them in suede pants that fit me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Don't Want to Set The World on Fire

I guess if you play guitar long enough you will encounter tunes by the Ink Spots, a WWII era quartet with Huey Long on the guitar and some vocals to make you smoke a cigar.

They play this song in the key of F Major, which might work for those Texas tenor voices but old Oggy must lower it to A Major. A capo on the 4th fret would make this easier since I learned all the chords in F, but I guess it doesn't matter. The lesson here is quality song crafting, each phrase is a question that is answered by the next phrase:

"I don't want to set the world on fire....I just want to start a flame in your heart.
In my heart there is but one desire, and that one is you, no other will do.
I've lost all ambition for worldy acclaim, I just want to be the one you love.
And with your admission that you feel the same, I'll have reached the goal I'm dreaming of, believe me.
I don't want to set the world on fire...I just want to start a flame in your heart."

I'll bet there were other lyrics and someone finally said, why bother. These lyrics, in fact, that single sentence, says it all. There is simply nothing else to say. I don't want to set the world on fire. I just want to start a flame in your heart."

what point is there in repeating yourself after that line? None. The song could end after one sentence. But the melody of each A phrase is completed by the B phrase and that's why it is a complete composition. It's call and response. Simplicity. From the heart. Honest.
This song is not in my dusty music box, which is a project I may have satisfied, but the Ink Spots recorded When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano...which is in the box...and that song led me to the Ink Spots, which led me to this song. I dig it. The chords are easy enough to find, but the challenge is to play different voicings of the chords as I play because clunking away on the same voicing is boring. The F major to start the song could easily become an F Maj7, F6, F7, Dmi7. and then re-voice those chords for each beat so there is an appearance of movement when not much is actually happening. It's an Eldon Shamblin trick and all Western Swingers use it in Rhythm guitar. The two important skills for a jazz rhythm guitarist is to re-voice chords, and substitute chords, which are kind of the same thing. I'm just happy to re-voice the chords I know rather than substitute new ones, but even if it sounds complicated I think the reasoning is that these guitarists basically got bored of playing the same chords and experimented with different sounds until a few rules of substitution could be formulated. If you are not bored with a chord progression then you probably aren't playing it over and over every night of the week like the kings of Swing Era Rhythm guitar were. They experimented to keep their sanity.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Criminalize Cancer

I received a bulk email from U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and was disturbed that it demonstrates thinking from 1970, when Richard "Nuke Cambodia" Nixon decided the best way to suppress anti-war activists was to heavily criminalize drugs sold at CCR concerts. Smoking pot might ruin your life so we are going to throw you in jail for ten years to guarantee your life is ruined. Ok, that's some real fucking brilliant thinking from a guy who axed a sensible health care plan, buried his own contradictory studies on pot, ended all efforts to alleviate poverty started by L.B.J, hired goons to spy on his Democratic competition, secretly bombed Cambodia and sent thousands of Americans to die in Vietnam without any support system when they returned. A true piece of shit with twisted, sick values cloaked in clever pageantry. Any other culture would've hung or beheaded Nixon but he simply walked away with a pension. Rule of law applies only to poor people; the rich have no consequences to their crimes.

I thought we had dispatched with gross lies and were now electing obvious monstrosities, but it doesn't seem to be true. Ayotte's email is pure Nixon-ite 'wage war on poor people' thinking but it's got a tricky vocabulary that makes one believe she knows what she is talking about. No. Her goal is pure One World Order nonsense, attacking Fentanyl users under the pathetic umbrella of pro-active legislation.


"I wanted to share with you an update on my efforts to combat the heroin and prescription opioid abuse crisis facing New Hampshire and our nation.
This is the most urgent public health and safety challenge our state is facing, and I've been listening to families, treatment providers, first responders, and others in the community as we work to identify effective strategies to combat this epidemic.
As New Hampshire's former Attorney General, I have seen firsthand the negative consequences of illicit drug use and drug-related crimes, and I am working to ensure that law enforcement officials have the necessary tools to do their jobs and respond to this problem."

Drug-related crimes?? Ayotte must be familiar with this evil trope because as Attorney General she was the top thug in the Live Free or Die state's holocaust against pot smokers. She's one of the evil elite who was in a position to do something effective and rational to stop criminalizing drugs but instead she invaded private citizen's lives across the state and destroyed lives on her quest for power, which she achieved thanks to the deluded voters. She simply sacrificed the lives of thousands of drug users for her own selfish gains and did it smiling and waving, manipulating everyone with her narcissistic guile, while her numerous victims rot in jail. Since it was Ayotte who prosecuted these private health care decisions and now she is guaranteeing they continue to be criminalized then shouldn't we call them "Ayotte-related crimes"? I could easily draw a connection between the crimes and the drug related fines that the offender is required to pay. They aren't stealing car stereos to buy drugs, no, they are stealing car stereos to pay the court fines they are required to pay because they got caught with an 1/8th of pot in their pocket. But that kind of reasoning isn't going to help the courts line their pockets so it's dismissed.

What the hell is a drug related crime? Is any crime not related to drugs, or food, or soda, or sex? Ayote's sick propaganda team leans heavily on this disgusting trope that should be retired with micro-beads in soap and asbestos. We are ruled by chemistry and biology. Our bodies produce every drug we need.

The number of 'bills' and 'acts' related to the war on drugs that Ayotte signed is absolutely ridiculous:
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524)
Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act (S. 1134)
Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (S. 799)
Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act (S. 2027)
amendment in the fiscal year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 113-291) that devotes additional resources to the detection, monitoring, and interdiction of illicit trafficking across our Southern Border.
Second Chance Act Reauthorization Act (S. 1513)
Opioid Overdose Reduction Act of 2015 (S. 707)

These are only the ones she dealt with most recently and I will again reiterate that the topic of drugs is simply a political chew toy. It has absolutely no business in Washington. If a State Senator even mentions drug use they should be immediately denounced and impeached. It's an extreme reaction but all the evidence has shown this topic to be one manipulated by politicians for the benefit of politicians. It has no substance as a debate topic and has no Federal concerns. It's purely a personal health care issue that has been hijacked by meddlesome pundits and career politicians. The fastest way to reveal a crooked politician is to find out their views on private drug use and Ayotte fails on almost every corner as do all the Senators who signed those acts. Their motives are purely about posing as 'active' and 'concerned'. Complete bullshit. Their continued criminalization of drugs, like the Prohibition of booze in 1919, is politically motivated and ignores blatant evidence that their actions only complicate and exacerbate the problem. They know they are doing more harm than good, yet their acts and bills and bullshit genuinely require lots of charades and business lunches and lobbying, and eratic gestures and 'work' to demonstrate that they are 'doing something.' Well, their work is counterproductive, poisonous, disproven by science, contradicted by history and is selfish, hurtful, expensive, useless, wasteful. If Ayotte was an idiot then I could understand, but she's pure Villanova Law School pedigree, which means she's got a diabolical genius that makes Nixon look like the village crack whore. I really fear people like Ayotte more than the many Fentanyl addicts I've met on the street. The crack whores and heroin junkies are nothing compared to a Catholic school lawyer. Were the junkies self-medicating themselves to death? You betcha. Is that anyone's business? No, unless God authorized Ayotte to make it her business. A Fentanyl junkie's only problem is living in a culture where Ayotte uses Fentanyl junkies as political chew toys.

There is no magic piece of legislation that will solve addiction problems that are as old as humanity. But, as I've said before, the CIA and the DEA and now the Senate are equally addicted to drugs. They are addicted in a slightly different way, but I promise you that Ayotte demonstrates identical crazy thinking and self-justifying babbling and manic picking at the social scabs in her own delusional fantasies that I have witnessed on skid-row.  The DEA thug and the skid row junkie both have this babbling rant about their own needs. It's all the same thing, but Ayotte is a junkie with eye-liner that matches her suit pants and a Villanova degree so she lords her wisdom over the Fentanyl junkie masses, and her paycheck is a result of the power she hoards while destroying lives. Such a gross state of affairs. The puppet masters with their clever strings, dangling drool and pompous disdain like she has to wipe my ass for me. So disgusting. How did people elect that filth?

So, I was going to recommend the criminalization of cancer, because that makes as much sense. Make it illegal to contract Leukemia. That will teach those kids a lesson! Breast cancer should come with a 5 year prison sentence. Sure. Why not? The masses of fucked up suburb sheep will surely get behind that bill because it's all trying to end the scourge of drugs. So, I went to find some legislation that criminalized cancer, and in fact, found the exact opposite! In Wisconsin, a state that gleefully criminalizes drugs and would happily imprison a person for smoking pot, is overwhelmingly in favor of making chemotherapy drugs more available to cancer patients! What kind of insane hypocrisy potion are they drinking in Madison? Why are they enabling these sick, deluded individuals with Bile Duct Cancer? How many burglaries are committed by people with anal cancer? Those criminals have to stop taking drugs and go to jail! Right? So, let's make Liver cancer a crime! Because it's associated with drug use. That will, according to the twisted logic of Ayotte, prevent liver cancer! But then I learn Wisconsin is legalizing and enabling drug use to treat cancer, gee, sounds reasonable, but not heroin use. Why? It sounds like cancer is being rewarded! Cancer victims are treated like people. They are not villainized. They are respected. What a good approach. But because heroin users are regarded as marginal scum bags they are instantly locked up. Pot. Acid. Fentayl. PCP. Meth. These are the drugs of lunatics and monsters. But oral chemotherapy, which causes
  • Stomach upset (nausea)
  • Throwing up (vomiting)
  • Loose or watery bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Skin changes
  • Low blood count
 For some reason, this oral radiation therapy is encouraged, but Fentanyl, which makes you feel like you have the spine of a Russian teen gymnast, is discouraged by Ayotte and using it without some official approval is a criminal act. Bullshit!

I don't meddle in politics because I'm radical and a Fentanyl junkie with bad breath and suspicious of the corrupt politicians but I can't ignore it when a Senator sends me a bulk email which clearly demonstrates the evil that has been elected to power. People need to take a deep breath and start making changes because there are some evil snakes calling the shots right now and it's going to lead to major problems down the road. Ayotte is a sick person and she needs to be impeached immediately before she can destroy more lives in her twisted quest for power.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.