The Naked Truth

Anybody in my world knows I’m not exactly obsessed by current news. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t have an opinion here and there, I simply have a lot to do in the here and now tending to the garden at hand. This is the garden that feeds me, and provides something for your world – in fact it feeds mine BY providing something for yours, and I want everything I can control to be as good as it can be… so I stay focused on that and feed it with other things than the daily dose of doom & drama. For some reason I’m far more peaceful and productive this way, can bring more to what I do, can get more done, and can thus share and impact a lot more this way. So that’s what I focus on – the seed I can plant and the service I can do.  That said, when I check my email there are certain news headlines there on the screen in some side box and there was one that inspired me. “Naked Passenger Forces Turnaround of Alaska Airlines Flight.” Now, I didn’t read the story but my first thought is it was probably a guy, that’s kind of a guy thing to do. And if indeed the flight was headed TO Alaska in early February, let the man off the plane naked if that’s how he wants it. Play silly games, win silly prizes. But then I’m thinking why in the world would you turn around an entire flight over this, no matter how badly behaved? There are quick ways to settle a man down for a bit, especially when he’s outnumbered 200-something to one. And he’s naked, he’s not hiding any weapons. This is nothing a smack in the peen and some good strong duct tape can’t fix in about five minutes.

But that’s the topic this week – nakedness. If you’re facing a situation and it is buck naked, there’s a bunch of what a different one could be hiding that this one is not. Most people when they buy an old car think “Well at least if it’s painted already, I can fix up the mechanical bits and be so much farther ahead!” Not really. If it’s covered up with fresh shine you have absolutely no idea what it’s covering. Oh sure you can whip out a magnet and start clanking it to all the usual problem areas on a classic to see what’s still metal under there and might not get physically thrown out of a driveway. But what was replaced and why? What was needed and how well was the job done? Without a keen eye, a fair bit of time and a garage with a lift, on something covered up you’ll only see part of the story if anything. An old vehicle with original paint all faded and scrapes & a blue fender is much more revealing as to what it really is; what you’re up against. What you’re really getting. You might have to look away from the nasty bits, but you know that’s probably as bad as it gets. 

What’s under that thick paint on a factory guitar? Not the wood you see on finished ones where it’s going to show! And that neck pocket? Is it tight because the layers of paint and gloss helped fill the gaps or is it because one piece of wood was shaved to fit tightly in the other? How many pieces is this body really – obviously there are cosmetic laminations and stringers and that sort of thing, as well as practical considerations as to why halves or 3-pieces happen. But am I playing a guitar made from scraps & sweepings? Now, just like the occasional unexpected streaker in life it shouldn’t be all that shocking or turn the whole flight around, these are not deal breakers. If I’m going somewhere there’s probably good reason and if I’ve got to wash off a little trickle I’d rather do it where I’m going than where I left. So if the price is right, sell me that old Trans Am, the panel gaps are good and it doesn’t look bent; I’ll risk the rest. And there are plenty of painted guitars out there doing wonderful service; I know and love a few myself. I'd rather, though, have one of a few pieces of imperfect mahogany than filled & dipped balsa wood however pretty the color. If you want to know, if you really want to know what you have, sometimes it’s better to face the naked reality warts, cracks and all. This has been a public service reminder from your friends at the Wingfeather Workshop encouraging you to embrace the naked where it is good. Where it isn’t? Go all Greco-Roman on his ass like those weird little wrestling statues my Italian relatives used to have on the coffee tables. 

Balls to the wall,

Listening to: Ted Greene. His album, some trio recordings & solo atmospheric pieces. Perry-era Journey (the Escape album I’m very attached to from my youth), and some old Clapton. His ‘70s stuff always makes me think of an art teacher and her early encouragement of my creativity… any of my success here has Ruthanne Arbeit’s ripples in there too. She loved Clapton and I enjoy a little more in her memory.