On the George Washington Bridge Project: Fender Repair Edition


In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.


For the past ___ years, I’ve been neglecting my guitars and amplifiers; for example, I stored my ‘blackface’ 1960s Fender Princeton Reverb at my friend John’s house, and everything else sat in the forgotten recesses of closets, which is not exactly the best thing for intonation (in the case of the guitars) and — for some reason in the case of the amps — reverb, which was shot on both. After the long, slow and oddly painful (via ‘learning to be an adult’) denoument of my old band Saturnine, I wasn’t sure that I would ever really want to play any of them again; they seemed to represent a feckless quality to my youth that had left me careening from one pursuit to the next, without ever really considering whether I had sufficient skill/talent/devotion to ‘make a living’ at any of them; at the same time, the idea of doing anything ‘as a hobby’ seemed ‘too mainstream,’ and so I ended up taking jobs that in most cases could not qualify as the foundation to any kind of traditional career, e.g., I sold lens-cleaning fluid, I watered plants, I worked at a record store, and — most humiliating — I ‘temped’ at law firms where my former classmates were a$$ociate$.


In retrospect, of course, all of this can be understood to represent a desire to fuck/buck/rebel against tradition without acknowledging the most obvious way in which I would never be traditional, i.e., the state of being gay/vext/non-heterosexual. This is also why when I see movies about wayward youths who have trouble ‘settling down,’ I tend to project my own past and conclude that he/she must be gay/vext/non-heterosexual, although I’ve learned to be somewhat more delicate in phrasing this opinion (if I phrase it at all) via all sorts of disclaimers, after being told quite vehemently on numerous occasions that ‘not every1 is geigh, u know.’ (To which I always respond with a smile and a nod and an unstated mental rebuttal: ‘that’s what u think.’)


But since subsequently working in a corporate office for almost 1000 years (via the evaporating publishing biz) and experiencing the true weight of ‘fiscal responsibily’ (via lawsuits and Manhattan real estate); I not only became more resigned to the idea that I would never be ‘Steve Malkmus,’ it was a thought that seemed vaguely disturbing and repellent to me, not unlike the way I think of myself as having ‘tried to date girls.’ But as much as I once tended to disavow the past completely, it has more recently occurred to me — via iTunes — that it was not a complete lie; I still genuinely love/admire much of the music from that period of my life — even if it’s not ‘geigh’ like Britney/Madonna/Cher/Coldplay — and moreover there was still a certain satisfaction to be found in writing/recording songs — via Apple Macbook — even if I no longer have a band with which to take them ‘on tour’ and play them to a thousand ghosts in as many empty rooms.


So I took a few months and gathered my gear; I drove to John’s house ‘in Yonkers’ and picked up the Princeton, I threw out ten bags of garbage that had accumulated in the closets on top of the guitars. I plugged them in and like any neglected child, each one had issues — there was hissing/crackling/moaning/howling — and I gradually set about finding repair shops, which due to the ‘vintage’ status of this gear is never an easy (or at least obvious) task in New York City. In the past I had used some stoner in the East Village for my guitars and a toothless genius/punk rocker in Brooklyn for my amps, but nobody seemed to know what had happened to either one of these guys, though everyone agreed it was unlikely that either had endured the most recent decade, which may/may not go down as one of the worst of all time (via Dick Cheney/Alan Greenspan/the Donald/Tumblr).


But eventually for the guitars I found a guy who (miraculously) lives/works on the Upper West Side, so that wasn’t too difficult, while amp guy was in the middle of Queens, where the grid system breaks down and Google Maps will torture you by say, directing you to take an exit from the Grand Central Parkway that doesn’t exist. But luck was with me, and both were technical savants, which you can tell pretty much instantly from the decor of an apartment/workshop, i.e., are there amps/guitars/wires/soldering irons/blowtorches everywhere and no art on the walls, except for perhaps an autographed shot of Stevie Ray Vaughan? (In short, these guys are never geigh.)


Today I picked everyone up and was informed that — after some minor repair$ and adjustment$ — they were all in excellent shape.


This has been a post in which ‘repairing your vintage guitars and amplifiers’ is a metaphor for ‘coming to terms’ with your past. (These guitars/amps are part of me, now.)


I have some vacation days coming up, and can’t wait to spend a few hours playing, even if nobody ever hears them sing but me.


2 Responses to “On the George Washington Bridge Project: Fender Repair Edition”

  1. 1 c.

    Not *everyone* is gay, you know.

    Although 1000% more people than we acknowledge/recognize/are aware of/admit/reveal/tell the truth about/see/and otherwise lie-to/kid-ourselves about are. Generally speaking.

    Heartening entry. Thanks.

  2. 2 JW

    Word. I’ve found myself — for various reasons both interesting and mundane — studying Spanish again, something I last did when I tried to date girls/rebelled against notions of who I was/generally felt lost. It’s interest how much easier it is to learn when you’re not dedicating 20% of your energy trying not to stare at how pretty the boy at your table is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: