alcoholics anonymous

Posted on

SINCE ANCIENT TIMES  grain and fruit have been allowed to ferment into alcohol.  Fermentation is the process in which yeast breaks down sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Whether your pleasure is okolehao, scotch, or makgeolli, every culture has a drink to cure ills, relax nerves, mark occasions, and calm stomachs.

When things get a little too calm, alcohol works the other way.  So it seems.  Then there’s the “Thank God it’s Friday” excuse to consume mass quantities.

After all commercial exaltation is exhausted and peer pressure ignored, an acceptable vintage port by a crackling fire with a nice book is probably good for the mind, body, and soul.  But when this (almost) all-natural beverage becomes a destructive force?  Who do you call?

Since the 1930s Americans have turned to Alcoholics Anonymous.  An approach to manage an addiction through abstinence.  Now an international fellowship, membership is one of America’s more constructive exports.

Surrounded by creative types all day, every day, we see eight sides of the issue.  In the end, one phrase sounds more true than all the others.  Sobriety brings clarity.

Nelson Wood Shims

Posted on

In today’s iPhone age most forget simple tools which make our lives comfortable.  Lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw.  Archimedes got it.  A few millennium before him with these simple tools Pyramids were build.  Two+ million years ago stone scraping tools, precursor to the wedge, were made and used before humans were around to criticize its design.

Banging pipes within a wall had me turn to this tool invented before humans roamed the land.  With a wedge of wood I cured a sick installation, relieving stress and worry from countless users of this plumbing system.  A simple shim of wood inserted between pipe and metal stud eliminated an issue which existed for decades.  I made sure to “reconfigure pipe within wall” when no one was looking.  Can’t share all my trade secrets.

When it was time to shim, I turned to Clyde.  He in turn points me to the rear of his store, where both loafer and curmudgeon gather around a re-screening table for coffee and lies.  Just past these antiquarians lies a trove of shimming choices.  Six flavors of Nelson Wood Shims.  Today, a thin package will satisfy my needs.  Plus a few extra for the toolbox.

A Slant of Light • jeffrey lent

Posted on

jeffrey-lent-by-geoff-hansenAisle L.  Always a joy.  Two years have passed.  People browsed, flirted, exchanged glances.  Plans made, advances ignored.  There is always love in Aisle L of our local library.  Requited, engaged, spurned, savored.

Since my last visit Jeffery Lent has published another book.  Mr Lent is a time traveler.  He closes his eyes, fiddles with levers and dials in his imagination, arrives at his destination and time, then opens his senses to new surroundings.  And writes.  Beautifully.  We see, smell, and hear small town America a century ago.  Before automobiles, electricity, or telephone.

The Lenten tornado of imagination plucks me from my routine and drops me within his world.  Late 1860s in rural New York.  Small town courthouse.  Country lanes. Hard farm work.  Simple murder, anything but simple.  You are not reading.  You’re an observer, tagging along, wondering what will happen over yonder hill?

a-slant-of-light-jeffrey-lent

Mohawk Leather Protector

Posted on

mohawk-finishing-products-leather-protector-wipes-aWhen you buy well made items and take care of them, they will typically last.  A mid-1990s leather jacket makes good example.  Lands End, expert stitching, made in Korea, a solid product.  I had to have one!  At $157, the most expensive article of clothing I’d bought to date!  Who would have known I’d still have it?  Glad I ordered a size larger!

After two+ decades my coat remains perfectly serviceable.  Garnering accolades from all, the well-worn leather garment has been a solid investment.  Life, however, is not without maintenance.  A button resecured.  Pete expertly replaced pocket linings ~ I scratch my head over his magic.  The leather?  Dry here, cracked there, discolored in areas.

I tried a few reconditioning products.  Foam had its chance.  Expensive and uneven.  A couple of years later, liquid spray.  Well, that was a mess.  Oversaturated, gummy, plus the spray gets everywhere!

mohawk-finishing-products-leather-protector-wipes-bPete inadvertently provides the solution.  I repaired his bouzouki and was most happy with Behlen’s nitrocellulose spray finish used on the instrument top.  An American Toolbox article ensued.  Behlen parent company Mohawk became aware.  Their social media guru reached out with thanks and offers of sponsorship and product.  Banner ad?  Sure!  Product?  You bet.

I chose products for which I had use.  Mohawk dropped them on my doorstep.  No strings, no expectations, no editorial review.  Except badgering from their legal eagle, who wants me to stress I received FREE PRODUCT FROM MOHAWK.  A subtle reminder I pass on to you.

Mohawk leather products come different ways.  Leather Protector Wipes are chosen.  At this point, keep it clean and let it age.  The protector is delivered via pre-moistened towelettes.  Easy to apply, good coverage, nice smell.  Perfect amount of wetness.  Very neatly done, Mohawk!  

Wow, WHO KNEW the leather was so filthy!  My jacket gratefully sheds misapplied waxes, dirt, grime, and oils.  Absorbs the Magic Mohawk dose of goodness.  I’m GENUINELY pleased with the reborn look and feel of the leather.  Maybe I’ll wear it one more time this season.  Soon my beloved coat shall pass to the next generation.  My nephew will look so cool in it!

By popular request, a few words about Pete the tailor:  

Pete the tailor has been a friendly acquaintance for years.  The first time?  Bringing in a treasured garment for repair, I politely ignore his “No new customers, please” sign.  We share bonds of musicianship and craftspeople.  I fixed an old guitar his kids trashed, two hours on a $5 guitar.  He was ecstatic.  He’s Greek, from Greece, and owned a genuine bouzouki bought in the home country decades ago.  I was asked to fix his treasured bouzouki after years of hinting and delay.

So Pete, he finally let me give it the old college try.  Unlike college, I did finish the bouzouki.  With its cracked top requiring a new lacquered finish, I tried a  nitrocellulose spray made by Behlen.  Parent company Mohawk came into my orbit while I spread the word on social media.  Then came more product after, actually, I wrote a second materials-related piece, Behlen Hide Glue.  Then came Buffer’s Polish, Fingerboard Oil , and now, the leather conditioner.

ATB’s coveted “Six Thumbs Up” is proudly bestowed upon Mohawk. pete-havertown-tailor-bouzouki

Mainline Plumbing Products

Posted on

ml2l2155-drawing“Jed, gimmie two toilet seats, elongated, open front, less lid.  Please.”, I tell the shuffling counterman at our venerable plumbing supply.  He reaches under the counter and PRESTO there appears before me one of America’s finest.  All plastic, ADA compliant, stainless nuts and lock washers, ready for my 9/16″ hollow shaft nut driver to bring it all home.

Nothing says “I love you” to a new toilet like a new toilet seat.  Some customers want a newish old seat swapped onto a new toilet.  I am not a “seat jockey”, but I keep that to myself.  Easier to explain of buggered threads, damaged hinge, unsanitary practices, or if all else fails, It’s on the bill already.  I can leave it here for later if you like. 

With features I want and an American flag on the box, I know I’m installing a great product as well as keeping our economy rolling.  For an item which gets as much use as this, buy the best.  Mainline. 

mainline-toilet-seat-ml2l2155-specifications

Sudal’s Scottsdale

Posted on

jim sudal jserg 01His world is clay. But to us, he is rock.  Rock Star of the pottery world Jim Sudal continues to amaze.  While other artists rest at their benches, content to watch understudies handle production and reproduction, Jim continues to design and produce.

Careless for my own safety, I venture another visit.  Pushing into hordes ten deep, from screaming jumping teenagers to powdered octogenarians, I secure two tables for local friends.  Perfect for the patio, outside or in.

A few wall tiles completes my purchasing experience.  There is something for everyone.  It is always a pleasure giving my hard-earned money to Jim.  Because he earns it!

Jim Sudal Ceramic Design   7037 E 1st Ave  Scottsdale

Gibson Acoustic Guitars

Posted on

There is always a story behind the story.  Smells of clean sweat and grass at twilight on the ball field.  Echoes of Widow Baxter next door reciting her daily Rosary.  Seeing the bent man uptown most days as he stops to gaze wistfully at an old mansion just off Main Street.

Every guitar tells a story.  One glance at an old guitar speaks volumes.  Years later, a don-everly-j-200few strums can recall times past.  Adolescence.  High school.  Slow afternoons at the feed depot.  Waiting for an infant’s birth, dropping your guitar by the fence to run inside at the newborn’s first cry.

Even before high school, I knew my cousin’s Gibson was special.  It sounded better than guitars on the records he played.  Jeff claimed he bought his guitar from Keith Richards;  Aunt Joan said it was her father’s guitar.

The clocks’ century hand has now completed a quick four decade sweep.  I find myself before a WALL of Gibsons!  At the finest music store this side of Planet Earth,  Acoustic Vibes Music.  Some of these sound exactly like Jeff’s guitar.  But that was years and years ago …. How did Gibson make a new guitar sound like an old guitar?  Investigation time!

Repeated visits to AVM, I enter Room Gibson and sample each of twenty-two on display.  A plush Cadillac with the sleeper screaming motor, the soft cowboy crooner, a punchy piece that looks 80 years old … and sounds it!  The Vintage series Gibsons receive a proprietary Thermo Cured top – well worth 25% more.  No doubt, Gibson has made an amazing return to top-flight build quality from near bankruptcy in the 1980s.

elvis-presley-1959-gibson-j-200After playing all these guitars, to which do I return?  An unlikely mating for a man convinced a smaller-bodied short scale acoustic would be his one and only guitar love.  The Super Jumbo body of the SJ-200 is a perfect fit, with curves in all the right places.  The SJ-200 Vintage has the tone I can grow old with.

The SJ-200, like all my favorite artists played from the ’40s to now.  Now with a premium Vintage top.  The Adirondack red spruce top is Thermally Aged giving the look and sound of a seasoned SJ-200.  The SJ-200 Vintage is my pick!

Tight body, no doubt.  In the silent Gibson Room, I can feel the guitar coming to tune via harmonics between adjacent strings. As tones oscillate closer toward unison, Gibson build quality becomes unmistakable.  Solid guitar, solid tone. With sound so clear, so crisp and exact, you’ll think you’re in a studio atop two million in equipment, recording your next Platinum Record.  The one that should have been.

Ray Whitley went to Gibson in 1937.  He asked Gibson to create their biggest acoustic guitar.  It was given the name Super Jumbo or J-200.

ray-whitley