The good and the bad

I am back in the south bay for my high school reunion, and I visited two places that I have always loved.

The good: Guitar Showcase

The place to go to find the finest new and used stringed instruments for the discerning player
The place to go to find the finest new and used stringed instruments for the discerning player

Way back when I first started playing guitar, I was introduced to the legendary Guitar Showcase in Campbell. It is an iconic music store, and naturally has a wide selection of guitars (as well as other instruments).

They have greatly expanded the store, and added a lot of floor space. They still have their vintage room (they also put their jazz boxes there, and the PRS guitars, probably to keep us plebe’s from drooling on them) that is fun to browse. I know they will let you play many of them, if you ask, but I have never had the courage to ask.

One thing that has changed is that they have moved the acoustic guitars from the back room to upstairs. And they have a lot more. I played a cherry Taylor nylon string (felt a little strange, a steel string neck, with a radius and all), a genuinely awesome sounding 814ce (I have a 1996 vintage Taylor 814C (no electrics) that is pretty sweet), a dobro resonator, and a few of the spanish made classical guitars (I also played a mid range Yamaha classical guitar that was pretty sweet for $400).

Downstairs, I was looking hard at the Gibsons. They had a few cherry SG’s, the classic, light weight, ultra fast neck, and just gorgeous.  They also had a pretty good selection of Les Paul’s. One that caught my eye was a $2200 Gary Moore signature series. I love the simple finish, and the feel of that guitar. They also had a very cherry Les Paul standard custom for $1600 that was ultra nice. Very light wear, and a truly sweet guitar.

I did manage to walk out without dinging my credit card, but I have to admit it was hard.

The bad: Fry’s Electronics

Being a geek, growing up and living in the bay area, my first stop for tech product was always Frys Electronics. From the original Sunnyvale location on Lawrence Expressway (now a few blocks north of Lawrence) to the other Fry’s, they were always clean, well stocked, and helpful (even if their workers weren’t the brightest bulbs). I bought many a stick of Ram, CPU, motherboard, or power supply there.

SInce our hotel is only a couple blocks from the Hamilton Avenue Fry’s, we swung by this afternoon. I was horribly disappointed. Lots of empty shelves. Product that is poorly stocked, and outside the TV area, it just looked ratty.

I guess I can understand that they are no longer the preferred vendor for tech odds and ends. I suspect Amazon and other online resellers are matching and beating their prices, but I was shocked at how ratty Fry’s had become. An icon from my youth/young adulthood is in decline.

Ah well, 50% isn’t a bad batting average…

What I am reading – Catcher in the Rye

I had read it a long time ago.  I think I bought a used copy at one of my trips to Powells in Portland, but a recent re-run of a South Park episode, “Scrotty McBoogerballs” caused me to pick it up again.

Certainly one of the best works of the 20th century.
Certainly one of the best works of the 20th century.

I am talking of course about Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. A story told from the eyes of the main protagonist, it is alive with the references and language that a troubled teen would use. When I was in high school, the words were different, and I didn’t go to a boys only prep school, but we used the lingua franca of the times in our daily conversation, much as Holden does in Catcher.

I did not read it as a teen, because at that time it was prohibited from the library. But had I, I would have identified well with Holden. Perhaps not as brusk or abrasive, but, like many, High School was a tumultuous time for me.

The premise of the South Park episode is that the boys are assigned the book, and told it used to be banned.  Thinking that it was filled with foul language, sexual innuendo and other titillating tidbits, the boys are disappointed in how tame the book was.

Likewise, my original thoughts on reading a “banned” book, the first time I read it I was looking for the causes of that banishment, but failed to “get” the whole point of the story.  This time through, I am reading it carefully, enjoying and savoring the experiences of Holden Caulfield, and his recounting of his experiences. It is both entertaining, and thought provoking.

If you haven’t read it, or read it a long time ago, I highly recommend picking up this classic, and re-reading it, perhaps a few times, to truly grok its fullness.