As Christians, we’re taught to reject the things of the world and focus on the spiritual aspects of life. However, there are a few things, a few items, that i own that i take pride in. I enjoy owning them and using them. They are a few of my favorite things (as the song says). This might be a slightly juvenile discussion, but i don’t believe that owning things and enjoying them is always wrong. I do believe that letting the things we have control us or take our attention away from God is a dangerous place to find ourselves. However, i wonder if sometimes we let our guilt keep us from simply enjoying the things God has given us.
So, here are a few of my favorite things, in no particular order, and the reasons why i enjoy them. (This list is not to be confused with my love for the people in my life or my enjoyment of non-materialistic pleasures.)
My Colt M1911 Automatic Pistol (Manufactured in 1917)
Ever since i was a kid i’ve wanted one of these guns. Colt firearms are as American as apple pie and baseball, and i’ve read about and studied them since i was 10 or 12 and found my first Colt catalogue. Regrettably, modern Colt firearms (pistols in particular) haven’t always lived up to the well-earned Colt reputation that was forged in the old west and the early twentieth-century. I found this gun in a local gun store for a price that i couldn’t pass up given it’s condition. It is an original model 1911 (named for the year it was created), manufactured in 1917. As far as i can tell it has all of it’s original parts and, although it has small amounts of rust and most of the original finish is gone, it is in excellent shape for being 89 years old. Other than it’s age, it is collectable and valuable because it still has it’s “United States Property” markings, meaning that at one time it was owned by the US military (and it is highly probable that it was carried to Europe in WWI at least once). The US Property markings were removed from the 1911 pistols when they were replaced by the Beretta model 92F (also known as the M9) in 1985 as the primary sidearm for all US Military forces. Although most M1911 pistols are still being used by certain US soldiers, most have been worn out and retired from service. I have never fired this pistol, but it is in perfect working condition and there is no reason why it shouldn’t function like it did when it was new.
Other than the fact that it is old and a collector’s item, i really like this gun because it is a remarkable example of skilled craftsmanship and design. I believe that God has given us (humankind) a wonderful capacity to create–even when we’re creating weapons. While some people wouldn’t be able to appreciate it, there is a beautiful artistic quality to the design of this weapon. It is, quite simply, beautiful to my eyes. From an engineering perspective, it was so well designed that it (the 1911 model pistol) is still being manufactured today with only very small internal improvements. (On the outside modern 1911s are nearly identical to the original.) In fact, so much has remained the same that i can take apart this old pistol and replace most of it’s parts with parts from my modern 1911 (manufactured in 1999 or 2000 by Springfield). They are basically the same. The 1911 pistol is still the best selling pistol design, even though it was designed over 95 years ago.
Sadly, due to our current financial state, i might have to sell this gun one day soon. That will be a sad day. However, i’ll always remember owning such a fine piece of quality American history.
My Apple Powerbook G4
I originally bought this computer to record my album (still working on it). Quite simply, it’s the best computer i’ver ever owned. Admittedly, i did have a couple of problems with it, but Apple took care of them and the computer is still running as good as the day i bought it (quite a feat for a computer that’s a year and a half old).
I like this computer for many of the reasons i like the 1911. It’s well designed, with an asthetic appeal that most laptops don’t have. It’s thin, fairly light, has no protruding edges to catch in your bag when you’re trying to pull it out. There is no cd tray to get broken off, and the speakers sound amazing for laptop speakers. The battery, will still hold it’s charge for almost two hours (my old HP laptop wouldn’t hold a charge for more than 20 minutes by the time it was a year old.
Much of what i like about the computer is the OS X operating system. At the risk of sounding incredibly arrogant and elitist, i will state that most people using Windows XP are probably doing so simply because they don’t know better, or because they’ve heard outdated stories of compatibility issues between Windows and OS X. Fortunatly for the world, new Apple computers have the ability to run Windows XP as well as OS X. To anyone reading this blog who has never tried an Apple computer: Please don’t buy another PC before you’ve given Apple a try. You won’t regret it.
My Magnum Boots
Sure, i didn’t think a pair of shoes would make it onto this list either. But, they did.
I bought my Magnum Boots over two years ago. They are the Stealth Model Tactical boot, designed for EMS and Law Enforcement personel. On a very few occasions in my lifetime i’ve spent over $100 for shoes, but i’ve never bought a pair that has been this comfortable or that has lasted this long with regular use. For the past year i’ve worn them nearly every day, and they are showing almost no signs of deterioration (which is almost sad–because the new models look really sweet, but i can’t justify a new pair until these wear out). Because i’m a big, heavy guy, i nearly always wear the soles of my boots flat in certain places and i almost always split out the toes of my shoes. The soles of these boots are wearing a bit, but not not badly considering that i walk mostly on concrete and asphalt during the day. The boots are as comfortable as any tennis shoes i’ve ever owned (they are a bit heavier and hotter than tennis shoes–the main drawback). The best part was that they cost less than $100. Considering that i’ve gone through three pairs of $55 tennis shoes in the same amount of time, i’d say they were a good value.
Laugh at me for putting my boots on a list like this if you are so inclined. But they one of the things in my life that i thank God for on a daily basis.
My Martin D-35 Acoustic Guitar (built in 1974)
If my house was burning down and i had the chance to save just one of my posessions I would probably grab the hard drive that contains a year and a half of the non-replaceable work i’ve done on my forthcoming album. If i could grab two things, this would be my second choice.
I bought my D-35 on ebay a couple of years ago. Buying an expensive and delicate guitar on ebay is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are dozens of factors that could have made this the worst purchase of my life (or second-worse, next to my failing business). Anyway, the guitar was listed as excellent condition with one small flaw, which was shown in the pictures. The pictures were high-resolution and shiny, so i decided to take the plunge. I’m glad i did.
When i first took the guitar out of the case i was amazed at how brand new it looked. The finish on vintage guitars tends to change from clear to yellow with age. That was the case with this guitar. But, the amazing thing was that the rest of the guitar was spotless. There was no scratches, no dings, dents, cracks or anything anywhere on the guitar. An educated guess was that it was probably played no more than a few hours in it’s first 30 years of existence. Like the seller mentioned, the pickguard was coming unglued from the body of the guitar, but other than that it was flawless. I was forced with a decision at that point–to keep the instrument as clean and as spotless as it was and hope it would go up in value, or to treat it like a regular guitar and use for it’s musical value. I chose the latter. A perfect guitar that I couldn’t play wasn’t worth anything to me.
The guitar isn’t as spotless as it was when i got it. I’ve put a few scratches in it, a couple of dings, and i’ve drilled a couple of holes in it to install a pickup (that was a frightening day). Vintage guitars are often known for their wonderful, aged sound–this guitar doesn’t seem to have that yet. It sounds like an old instrument, but still seems like it needs to be broken in, which i’m in the process of doing. It’s starting to sound better and better. I’ve used it extensively in the studio while recording my current project, and i’ve used it in Asphalt23, and to write many of my newer songs. It’s an instrument that i will probably replace someday, but one that i hope i never have to sell.
Martin D-35 guitars are known for their three-piece backs. In the early 1960s rosewood from Brazil started getting harder and harder to obtain. An embargo had been placed on Brazilian rosewood, and supplies started to get thinner. To make better use of the supplies that they had, in 1965 the CF Martin company designed a guitar back that was made from three smaller pieces of wood rather than two larger ones (thus the 3-piece back). Indian rosewood was obtained to replace the brazillian rosewood, but the logs needed time to cure before they could be cut. Eventually indian rosewood replaced brazillian rosewood in all but the most expensive guitars (which use brazillian wood that had been stored since before the embargo). A cool fact about my guitar is that, although it was built mostly with indian rosewood, the middle piece of the 3-piece back is a piece of brazillian rosewood–something i never thought i’d be able to afford. In reality it doesn’t mean anything to the sound or quality of the guitar–i just think it’s really cool.
I bought this instrument at a pawn shop about a year ago. I’d been looking around the area for a dobro to use on the CD i was about to begin recording (what’s it called? The cd of doom?). I was trying to find a dobro to borrow or a cheap one to buy and i had noticed this one (a real Dobro by brand) several months earlier hanging in the window of a local pawn shop with all the other cheap guitars. The price tag said the asking price was $1,000.00. Needless to say i passed it by.
When i started getting serious in my quest though, i decided to ask what sort of deal they would make me–expecthing them to say $800 or so. So i asked the guy behind the counter and he told me that he’d do some research (the instrument had been hanging on the wall for a while) online to find out what it was worth, and then he’d let me know what they wanted for it. Over the next several weeks i stopped in several times but he’d never done his homework and couldn’t give me a number. I was about ready to give up, but decided to stop in one last time.
A bit of history: Back in the 1920s guitar players were having a problem. Their guitars were simply not loud enough to be heard over the brass instruments as they were playing the new music that we being developed at that time. The brass was too loud and electric guitars and amplifiers hadn’t been invented yet. So, some men went to work on the problem. Eventually, two men came up with an idea to use metal resonator cones to make the guitars louder. Thus, the National guitar company was born. Eventually however, the men had a falling out and split the company. National continued building tricone guitars (a steel bodied acoustic guitar with three resonator cones) and the new Dobro company began making wooden bodied guitars with a single cone. Since that time, “national guitar” has become synonomous with tricone and metal bodied guitars, and “dobro” has become synonomous with wooden single-cone guitars. The term ‘dobro’ has become to resonator guitars what “coke” has become to generic cola.
Back to our story. The last time i stopped into the pawn shop the guy behind the counter recognized me and said, “I finally looked up your guitar online. Unfortunatly, it’s not worth much.” He went on to explain that when they did a search for “dobro” they came up with several thousand results that returned prices ranging from $100 and up. “So,” he said, “it doesn’t look like it’s worth much–definitely not $1,000.00. If you take it today you can have it for $300 out the door.”
Needless to say, i jumped in the car (it was 3:45pm) and barely made it to the bank by closing time. I returned with the money and brought the guitar home, where Elizabeth promptly named it “Luna” because of the stars and moons cut into the resonator cover. The dobro i bought was made sometime in the early 1990s by OMI, the company the owned the Dobro name until Gibson bought it in the mid 1990′s. So, it’s a real dobro, and i’ve since found out that it’s worth a good deal more than $300.
I’ve used the dobro a lot on my record so far and plan on using it a lot more. It was a very sweet tone when using it with a steel slide–i think it will sound really good when the record is finished. Can’t wait for y’all to hear!
So there they are. A few of my favorite things. I hope you have all enjoyed a glimpse into my private world. I do believe that i’ll eventually post a second post like this in the future–as i was compiling this list a few more things came to mind. We’ll save that for another day.