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The Rock & Roll "Aesthetic"
When people ask me why I "retired" from acting a couple of years ago, I always tell them, "Because I don't like other actors".

So why I decided to get back into playing music is a bit beyond me. While actors and theatre people have their constant drama and their singing songs from musicals at cast parties, in many ways it pales in comparison to the juvenile society and culture that exists around rock and/or roll.

This is my first real band since The Province of Avocado (Ashley Proffitt doesn't count) which was, like, back in 1999 (so last millenium...) so I hadn't bothered to maintain my equipment. After dealing with a shorted out instrument cable for a month (and a shorted speaker cable for even longer), I finally decided it was time for new cables.

I really hate guitar shops. They are crowded, expensive, staffed by former members of my high school heavy metal band, and one has to hear (repeatedly) some kid (badly) playing either:
  • Metallica's Seek and Destroy
  • Metallica's Master of Puppets
or, if they want to show how sensitive they are
  • Metallica's Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
It almost makes you nostalgic for the poorly played Stairway to Heaven you used to hear.

So, a couple of months ago, with the Benz overheating, I drove across Atlanta to Guitar Center to buy some cables. It was everything I feared and worse. To boot, their cables were really freaking expensive, and since Selena's reluctant about my spending $35/mo. on rent for our practice space, she would really freak out if I spent $100 on cables.

So I went home and bought all of my cables for somewhere around $30 from Musician's Friend. This, naturally, put me on their mailing list.

So when my first catalog arrived, I was transported back to high school. Oh sure, some of the companies are different (although not that many) and some of the gadgets are high-techier (although not much), but the vibe is still the same. And for a 32 year old, it is a vibe of shame.

Let me get some things clear before I continue:
  1. I went to high school in Chattanooga, TN.
  2. I graduated in 1990.
  3. When I graduated, I had hair halfway down my back.
  4. My ensemble routinely consisted of tight jeans, converse all-stars (or wrestling shoes) and either a Metallica t-shirt or a Queensryche t-shirt.
  5. My first bass (a Peavey Foundation) was purple.
  6. In my senior year, my band performed for the entire school some Tesla song and Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train.
What I'm trying to say is that I've been in the belly of the beast of bad taste and it's nothing to be proud of and it should not be perpetuated.

So imagine my horror, 15 years later, when I see this. And this. And this (Dave Mustaine?!). How about this one? Even moving over to basses, where I belong, and had hoped (erroneously) was more "dignified", revealed this. At least there aren't as many cheesy graphics.

The struggle for the average musician is navigating between the heavy metal death schwag and the jam band "kind" look. My current bass strap would make the unsuspecting bystander think I play in the "Dave Matthews Cover Band", due to my frustration at trying to find a comfortable, padded bass strap a couple of years ago. I hate it, but I hate skulls and flames and snakes even more.

Dear "rock & roll industry": Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani and George Lynch weren't that all that cool or interesting 15 years ago, please stop trying to sell me their crap now.

Also, I still have my Peavey, but it's no longer purple and it sits in pieces in my shed.


At 3:53 AM, November 08, 2005, Blogger jennygirlyx said...



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