Keeping America Safe

Anyone with at least  a somewhat thorough knowledge of history, trained military, swat teams, law enforcement people in general- and I suspect the majority of hunters/shooters already know what I am about to say, so it’s no secret really.

Others outside of these groups are also often aware of it. But first:

Nobody gets elected from any party if public perception is that they are “soft on crime” or “do-nothings” with regard to public safety, gangs, organized crime and such.

More and more, prisons are the go-to local employment options (with, I suppose, Walmart) in rural areas, especially smaller towns where industries, even farming has become a thing of the past (unless “big-box” agriculture corporations come around… and even then…).

“SOMETHING HAS GOT TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS LAWLESSNESS- the country is going to hell” is not an uncommon thought, saying and indeed I began hearing it in the very early 60’s as a kid in rural Wisconsin. Violence. Drugs. Crime. Terrorists. Reality and I accept it as reality, make no mistake about that.

With me so far?

As a hunter, shooter, country and small-town, then suburban, then inner-city dude who still thinks and lives “in both worlds”… and as a guy who has at least “a little” smarts, maybe even understanding… I can tell you with zero research on my part that there are MANY, MANY ways any individual can create a dirty bomb, even a load of them, place and detonate them in most places where stark damage can be done in a matter of, oh, 20 minutes with nobody the wiser until the BOOM happens.

The stuff to do such is varied, accessible and with ZERO desire, motivation to ever do such a sick, sinful, demented, demonic act, even -I- know this- and so do most if not all those amongst the groups I named here.

BUT ya just can’t get elected or at times keep your day-job if you ever say such a thing in public. You must reassure folks you and yours are the solution to the horrors of the present. Kool-aid folks, and I find it amazing such is rarely if ever stated.

Now we CAN decide to create or allow a “police state” if we so desire. World history and to a degree, U.S. history provides plenty of information on how those have worked and the actual cost for the given population of those nations where such was or is being done.

I suppose it depends on how much faith you place in flawed, self-interested humans. Personally, in my view, it also comes down to how much I look to Jesus Christ for grace, either to protect me, mine, ours, the city, state, nation, etc., as well as how I navigate if and when He allows such disasterous things to happen in this fallen, sinful world. Wickedness IS, color it any way you like. Americans, non-Americans, there is plenty to go around.

Please understand, I support sane, caring, well-trained police and military. I do not support every move -any- politician or commander makes in their deployment nor do I in -every- case agree with the decisions they make in use of force, and I mean force of any sort, lethal or otherwise. And yet I am convinced we owe a great deal of respect and prayer for those in authority, more so (in my view) if/when they are people of character than in some blanket sense. ALL cops, ALL politicians, ALL who say they are (and they may indeed be) followers of Jesus? No. Nada.

I can hear someone thinking “What??!” when I quote two verses that on the surface seem contradictory, but in the New Testament we have both: “Honor ALL people” as well as “Respect to whom respect is DUE”… it’s a both/and and hard for us to wrap our minds around which fits whom/when/how. “A time for every purpose under heaven” I think. So it’s a judgment call. Overall I think it’s about loving people, not controling nor commanding. When we demand some folks EARN respect while we give others a pass… I’m saying such duplicity often happens. This is why drawing hard, non-gracious lines is such an issue. God has every right to do so. You and I?

How careful are we with extremes? Fear, anger, worry, maybe even hate? Faith, hope, love? Which of these does God command in His Word?

Ah yes- “command”. I must add that God, being God, according to the scritpures IS love… IS perfect… therefore has right far beyond human beings to command. Overall control as well? Yes, even in pure logic sans faith I’d posit He has every right to control. He, folks, is not you, me us!!!

The extreme views of plenty of people often cause shifts in how leaders (who at times seem very much “for hire”) respond to needs. I have a wife, kids, grandkids, friends and even a few enemies ALL whom I’d rather see safe than not every single day.

But for anyone to say horrible acts are preventable in this nation or any other -sans a ruthless dictatorship, the suspension of all democratic laws, the snuffing out of a free press and indeed, secret police in lock-step with those who stand to lose the most, that is, the moneyed powerful? I quit smoking grass, hash and taking acid in the early 70’s.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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Signposts

I admit I’m a geek who loves the communications and study tool of this thing we call The Web.

For years as a young dude singing and/or playing guitar in several bands the trick was how to find our way to that evening’s show. I remember trips when we didn’t (!) even have a map in our van or rental truck and would have no choice but to stop and ask people for directions.

Sometimes 4 people would offer you 4 different and rather confusing routes “just down the road a piece” to get us to the gig. Arggghh!

I truly love the Internet, GPS directions and apps. Use ’em constantly… now.

In countless tours throughout the wide world myself and others of our band, road crew or even regional drivers focused on signposts- and of course still do even in the day of digital directions. You know, road and street signs- that’s how we find our way.

Paying attention to those signs have even put various apps and driving directions to shame in that there is at least on occasion, lag-time between the re-routing of a road crew and the app feed.

What to do? Pay attention to the signposts, in what ever form you find them.

I believe I’ve mentioned that I deeply love Iceland and have toured over much of the country several times with GKB as well as solo.

The landscape is beautiful, surreal and outside of cities and towns can even prove dangerous due to ice, snow, sudden storms off the North Atlantic, volcanic vistas and such. Thick clouds (when in higher elevations) or fog and the countryside itself can disorient you.

That’s when the many old piles of stones (way-markers) can save your very life, moving from one to the next until you finally arrive safe in civilization.

For the better part of my life I have found The Bible to be the surest signpost, the most accurate, clarifying piece of writ/book I know of.

A voracious history freak, I came to believe that Book due to my own studies of human, world and U.S. history. Never before nor since I began reading it have I found a more accurate signpost, an assessment of where I and yes, we stand or fall as individuals, people groups, current earth-dwellers.

My personal relationship with the risen Jesus Christ in Spirit/spirit and in truth is key, core, foundational. There is more than only one signpost of course. And yet my greatest signpost in any fog has been and is the Book He regularly quoted and in fact according to His purported words, birthed -regardless of human involvement.

Are there times the very signs themselves are confusing or seem contradictory one to another? Indeed. And yet I type these words blessed with the deepest sense of His presence, grace and peace due to the most essential signpost of all.

Is the POINT of the signpost to worship it? Never. It directs me more surely to the One worthy of worship like nothing else has.THEBookOfAllBooks

Any of us can talk ourselves into/out of just about anything.

The question is- where are you trying to go and what’s the surest route to get there?

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Cigarbox Guitar Practice Amp Q

A friend online just asked what my (and other’s) views were re. a good practice amp for the little gits we play. Here is my reply to him. Note he made mention that many of these guitars have the pickup wired directly to the 1/4 jack (input) so no volume nor tone control/s. Most all amps do… but even the Pignose I mentioned is designed to accent low-end (bassier) frequencies even though it’s small. This is why I began my reply as I did here:

“If you have a cbg w/o volume or tone, you are correct, it’s all about the amp. You will find as many opinions on this q as anything… I happen to favor (when going super cheap) the 20-25 dollar Danelectro Honeytone.

When talking louder, fuller in the low-end and such, the 90 dollar or so basic Pignose amp. The Pignose is nearly enough to busk in the street with. For me it’s not quite enough there but…I have on rare occasions even had it mic’ed via full p.a., with a great system, engineer and good mic and technique with a lot of e.q. boost it can pass in very small rooms beyond practice amp status.

Going further and for quite a bit more loot I’d say Fender Champ or something like it, Blues Jr. or whatever.

LOTS of folks in the cbg world give kudos to various editions of Roland MicroCube or Cube series amps.

Of course you can dog-leg a practice amp out of a set of old computer speakers, especially w. a.c. plug, even better when battery-powered and really better, with tone control on ’em, but they won’t hold up tonally to the others I’ve named here. Also remember piezo pickups (if that’s what you have in the git) are naturally Bright, often in the extreme… so need added low-end to really sound decent in my view. Sorry for the “book” here Tim, but there you go!”

So my new friend from Australia (Cameron James Henderson) who did a brilliant show at Everybody’s Coffee here in Chicago last night… well we spent a few days together. He wanted to hear some cigarbox and found-object gits. I brought about 6 of ’em to a large room, showed him some of the maaannnnyyyy variables and then pulled out my Honeytone amp and plugged a few in. He played some of ’em as well. Here’s a clip he took on his smartphone yesterday before his gig last night. Remember, this is a mega-cheap piezo pickup and a 20 buck plastic amp… bass cranked up but also like a B guitar string, very bright in a little metal (again, bright-sounding) instant coffee can… but anyhow:

As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

GK CBG Vid Clip and Chat

So from 2016, and in prep. for a soon-to-come blog post on using various guitar slides and slide technique I give you JTL’s fun clip from a tour I did last year in PA in the York area.

As always, thanks for stopping by:) -Glenn

Cigarbox and FoundObject Guitar Inspiration

Work in a school, library, museum or craft shop? Work with kids,  serve poor shelter folks, disabled or other needful adults? Home-school or otherwise teach and/or simply care about the arts? Maybe you’re already a musician, even a guitarist, in a band and you’ve “tried it all”… not. Maybe you just have “cabin fever” in the middle of winter (or whenever) and need something crafty to mess with? Read on!

Who knew -I sure didn’t see it comin’- that I would one day view the world through the lens of simple primitive 1 and 3 string slide guitar, etc., making?!

Well… I think God did, but hey, the deal is (as others have said about other obsessions) “it’s a disease”… but such fun and something that opens up a LOT of doors for educating people on building, outside-the-box creative thinking, problem-solving concepts, the use of simple (or no) tools or even machine and wood shop power tools, learning music-making on a stringed instrument that can be played -many- ways, songwriting, on it goes.

It’s about imagination, little or no money, and mainly a bit of  time, energy and some patience. Art is often like that. LIFE is often like that I think.

So today picking up a few items for my wife and I at our local Target store I saw this:

TargetCoolnessCBG

Ok, it’s 3 bucks, made in China (everything else is too…) fairly solid and easy enough to cut, place a wooden neck in and string up. I really should have bought it. Then again, one can easily create it or re-create it printing a great quality picture and affixing it (several ways with clear varnish on top to seal and protect it) and there you have a slide guitar… or even fretted if you want to bother with that. Plus it’s a “smiler”, good advice for big kids like me and you as well as the younger ones.

These days I surprise myself by what I notice!

I recently found a discarded (round) skill saw blade in the garbage at a worksite. A good cleaning, a good sideways sawing into 3/4 inch conduit, drill a few holes to attach blade to conduit “neck”, one for a guitar string on one end, larger for eyebolt/lock washer/wingnut “tuner”, add a pickup and plug ‘er in and you got heavy (actually, pretty light) METAL baby 🙂

Like I said, it’s a disease. There is just no end of how one can create a guitar of stuff, re-purpose items in a whole ‘nother way.

The other day I finally found an online recipe for creating a bow (as in violin, cello or psalter bow) and a great source for very cheap yet useable ersatz horse hair, one small shank from which with a little wood and some rosin, allows one to then -bow- a one stringer as you might a fiddle or cello. Add a pickup, long enough neck, big enough body (of whatever) and tune it wherever and you have an entire different musical instrument on the cheap.

For years I have considered making a fully wooden 1 stringer (diddley bow) with nothing but the guitar string and wood. Whipping up a box and neck with wood scraps, carefully pre-drilling holes, then lightly, carefully pounding good dowel material to peg the box together and to attach the neck in the guitar may well not even need glue (but may…) if done carefully and tightly enough. Then I would whittle a friction tuner (as on violins) and choose whatever gauge guitar string. This too could be a slide guitar or fiddle or if large enough with the right string, a cello-sounding instrument. Add or do not add a pickup and there it is!

See, there is just no end to the possibilities.

Perhaps I’ve stirred your thinking a bit? I hope so.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Cigarbox Guitar-making and Songwriting Class

For me, 2017 is off with a kaboom in the best way.

It’s hard for me to express the pure joy of knowing I have had a part in inspiring a person or group in learning, in imagination, in productive creativity.

Every cigarbox guitar workshop, clinic and teaching opp. I get to do just lights the fire brighter.WorkshopPrepSetup

Maybe being a mentor as a parent, grandparent and sometimes teacher over my lifetime brought me to this realization.

So most years I am invited to do a songwriting class and sometimes a cigarbox guitar making class at a Chicago school. The kids in the high school always seem pretty interested, and after a bit of a lecture on the history of these gits along with some great help from the amazing teachersClasstime and myself they build their own.

BuildingCBGs

After a couple days of class instruction in building and songwriting which I give they and rehearsalsRehearsal Rehearsal2write complete songs from scratch, then play them live for staff and one another.Performance1 This year they divided up into 4 groups and honestly, they were (as always) SO COOL to see and hear!
The pleasure of them really engaging in the process not only with myself, but more importantly with one another and progress so far so quickly is nothing short of immense to me!
So you can see a few pics of my set up, the students at work, creating and rehearsing songs and performing -in some of their performances using cigarbox guitars (not required) they themselves built only a couple days ago.
 FinishedGits
Sweet. And big kudos to UCS Chicago for the invite and great work!
As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn