Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, October 12, 2007

the commodity fetishism of rebellion.

In the summer of 1983 my friend Phil was short of cash and had decided to sell his Stratocaster. I was flush from having worked on a fish-packing barge in Alaska for part of the summer, and I was in a band and needed a guitar, so I bought it for $300. The band was C.F.G., for Civilian Fun Group. We had a lot of fun.

In addition to being a sweet guy and a wonderful guitarist, Phil was also a beautiful painter, in a hard-edge post-punk abstract lyrical stencil-spray style, and he had painted his guitar.

A couple of years later I had pretty much stopped playing electric, focussing instead on my acoustic which I had bought in ’82. But I held onto the Strat and played it occasionally.

By the mid-’90s Phil’s paint job had started to chip off, so I asked another painter friend to paint it, and she did, and I never played it again.

I head off to Michigan tonight to visit family and old friends, including some time at a college reunion, where C.F.G. will play a set after a hiatus of 22 years. To get ready for the show, I had to get my Strat out of storage and set up to play. Its having been neglected all those years made me think it should get “set up,” which is guitar-tech-speak for what a car mechanic would call a “tune-up,” except you couldn’t call gear-work on a musical instrument a “tune-up,” even though that’s literally part of what the job is.

The guy at the guitar shop looked at it, looked at the serial number, shook his head, and said in a low voice, “I hate to make you feel bad, man, but if you hadn’t had the guitar painted it would be worth $5,000.”

I cracked up. Luckily, it was painted when I bought it.

And then I felt bad.

* * *

Probably no blogging from my travels. If you’re in the Ann Arbor area October 19, I'll be playing with my college band, C.F.G., in the basement of East Quad, from 9:00 to 9:30. I doubt there will be stage-diving like in the old days, but you never know.

"Fighting All Who Rob and Plunder" has been a favorite of mine since I bought it at Discount Records back in '86. I used to play it frequently on WFBE in Flint and on pirate radio in Seattle. Gonna try to make it Friday... driving in from Chicago... hope I can make it.
Hope you make it -- thanks!

If you do, please say hello.

(Showtime has moved up to 8:30.)
can you tell me more about CFG's lp? i have a copy and my pal here in seattle wants a copy!! any around? also, your right about john richards...in seattle - where i am - he is both loved and hated. the idea of a non-profit radio station paying the program director/dj 120 'big', that still makes people a bit uneasy. give me the lowdown on cfg!!
I saw CFG in the Half-Ass a handful of times. I still love that album and play it often -- have turned people in Brooklyn, NY onto it.
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