Stratocaster 60

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It’s not just the 45 rpm vinyl single that turned 60 this year. It seems that one of the most iconic instruments in producing most of those wonderful vinyl singles, the Fender Stratocaster, beloved the world over by rock stars, bluesmen and garage bands alike, also turns 60 this year.

 

Some of the most famous (and infamous) guitarists have embraces the American cultural icon, that’s become best known in the biz as a “Strat”. The first Strat, a 1954 Fender Stratocaster, serial number 0001, is owned by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. They can sell from anywhere between $800 and $24,000 – a mere bagatelle compared to the estimated $2m the Seattle Seahawks owner and former Microsoft squillionaire Paul Allen paid for Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Stratocaster used during his legendary Woodstock gig of 1969.

 

And I suppose this gives me yet another lame excuse to show a close-up photo from the legendary Hendrix bronze statue by local Seattle artist Daryl Smith, which sits pride of place outside the Blick Arts Materials building on Broadway and E Pine.

 

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I’ve got to that stage of my life where I start to forget things and begin to panic I have that memory-wasting disease I can never remember the name of (See what I mean?). I have also been in the predicament of trying to determine whether the image I hold in my head of a photo I’ve taken is of the actual experience or the memory of the image itself. Or whether it’s because of the image that I have taken that I remember the experience around the image. The point being that if I did not have the image to conjure up, the old grey cells would be all the poorer for it.

 

The reason I bring this up, is that I was interested in a new study in the journal of Psychological Science, where one of those white-coated boffins with a clipboard has recently been arguing that there is a “photo-taking impairment effect”. That means if we take a photo of something we’re less likely to remember it than if we’d looked at it with our eyes. “People just pull out their cameras,” says study author Linda Henkel, researcher in the department of psychology at Fairfield University in Connecticut. “They just don’t pay attention to what they’re even looking at, like just capturing the photo is more important than actually being there.”

 

The good Doctor Henkel could be on to something here – I recently developed a roll of film I’d had from last summer, and was totally flummoxed by the fact that I couldn’t remember taking this picture of the woman in Ballard, using her iPhone to take a picture of something that she’s probably forgotten about also by now.

 

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At the always energetic Pike Place Fish Co. at the Market, they like to make a show of their work. The staff… Let’s call them boisterous. They’re loud. It’s loud. And it’s brilliant. They’re holding the attention of a large crowd by chucking huge salmons between them like NBA stars with a basketball.

 

It led me to have the following discourse with one of the fish guys:

 

“Do you ever drop it?”

“We’re human, of course we drop it!”

“What happens then?”

“We pick it up… But we don’t sell it to humans. It goes to the zoo for the bears.”

 

It could be worse, I suppose…it could well be a giraffe at a Danish zoo named Marius.

 

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With the polar vortex again causing weather mayhem in its wake, it is indeed “caulder days,” as we would say in Glasgow. But for this blog entry, “Calder daze” might best describe my recent and very cold meander along the Olympic Sculpture Park, the centrepiece of which is dominated by Alexander Calder’s dazzling, biomorphic red-painted steel sculpture the Eagle, caught in the late afternoon silhouette with the equally stunning background vistas across Puget Sound.

 

Originally, the sculpture was made in 1971 for a bank headquarter plaza in Fort Worth, Texas; when the bank building was sold, it then spent a year sitting outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the hope of the building of a Calder Museum in the artists’ hometown. When patrons in Philadelphia couldn’t come up with the asking price, in 2000 two Seattle collectors named Jon and Mary Shirley paid more than $10 million to bring his 39-foot red Eagle to Seattle.

 

 

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There’s a great scene in Woody Allen’s 1973 time travel movie Sleeper, where Allen finds a dusty old VW Beetle that has been parked in a cave for 200 years. After looking round it, he climbs inside and it starts first time. “Sheesh,” Allen says, “they really built these things, didn’t they?” That says it all.

 

It was German Chancellor Adolf Hitler who launched the VW in 1933 when he called on the legendary Ferdinand Porsche to design a low-cost “People’s Car,” or Volkswagen. However his needs for a “People’s Tank,” or Panzer became a more urgent order of the day, so only about 600 were produced before 1945 (and most of these went to Nazi officials), and large-scale production didn’t begin until after World War II, and world-wide success was a while in coming.

 

And with Disney casting the Beetle as the star of the Herbie films, the little car went on to become a cult-classic. Even John Lennon’s white Beetle featured behind the Beatles on the cover of Abbey Road. The last of the original-design Beetles rolled off the assembly line in Mexico in 2003 (with over 21 million produced), five years after the debut of a newer and more futuristic Beetle, which has just rolled into model year 2014.

 

But the original Bug is much-loved and much-restored. And this one in today’s photo, like the dusty Bug found in a cave by Woody Allen, is not dead but sleeping, being in the first stages of a major restoration that will see it coming back from the dead with new life long after its original glory years.

 

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A New Year comes with people making resolutions to better themselves into the future; the main one invariably being  to exercise more.  And for many, this usually sees a short-lived jogging epidemic that lasts about as long as an unopened bottle of champagne on the chimes of midnight going into 1st January. My resolution is each morning to do 100 lift-ups. And two days into 2014, my morning regime is working out very well – first 50 lift-ups with the left eyelid, followed by 50 with the right eyelid.

 

In downtown Seattle, many joggers frequent Myrtle Edwards Park that weaves scenically along Eliott Bay. And this is appropriate, because, just beside the Olympic Sculpture Park, they can get invigorated by the sight of artist David Govedare’s 1986 aluminium life-size sculpture Ten Feet into the Future that I photographed on my very bright but chilly Christmas Day walk (see, I do exercise). With the omnipresent Space Needle in the background, it shows five joggers; a more careful look reveals that the ten feet belongs to five different ethnic backgrounds are represented. The lead runner is an American Indian, symbolising that American Indians were here before all other peoples and the artist’s view that “in a spiritual sense” the Native American is leading the others onwards into the future.

 

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The Seahawks steamrolled the Rams on Sunday, winning the NFC West crown and the No. 1 playoff seed. The road to the Super Bowl will travel through Seattle – they get a bye in next week’s playoff games, and then have the big advantage of two home games to get to New York.

 

This is Seattle’s biggest shot at winning a major sporting title in recent years. Although they got to Super Bowl XLI in 2006, this year’s team is far, far better – and many pundits think this could well be their season. In quarterback Russell Wilson, they have one of the brightest new talents in the NFL – and his popularity is such, that his coveted Seahawks No. 3 shirt was the most popular bought throughout the whole of the USA during the Christmas period.

 

But Seattle’s biggest winning number has been No. 12 – the legendary 12th Man, a nickname given to their legion of devoted and very vocal fans. This season the 12th Man has screamed louder than any other supporter in history, with ‘a minor earthquake’ decibel count of 137.6 early December that earned them an entry spot in the Guinness World Records.

 

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Words can be such particular things. Internationally recognised conceptual artist Ann Hamilton designed and fabricated 7,200 square feet of hardwood floor for the Seattle Public Library. The floor includes 556 lines of text, in reverse, in 11 languages and alphabets – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese – and consists of the first sentences of books found in the collection.

 

What makes the flooring particularly engaging is that Hamilton inverted both the characters and sentences, serving two functions: First, the floor references the history of book printing and moveable type. Second, with the backward sentences shown in relief, Hamilton provides a surface that invites people to crouch down in order to investigate and touch. “It refers to the history of print production, and it’s tactile underfoot,” Hamilton says. The idea of creating a similar floor using metal was floated during the project’s early stages, but Hamilton instead chose wood (maple), a more significant material in the history of printing.

 

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It’s official. The Seattle Seahawks are the creme de la creme of the NFL. Their latest 34-7 annihilation of the New Orleans Saints on Monday night gave the Seahawks a mighty 11-1 record and look unstoppable as the season heads toward the homestretch. The Hawks also extended their home winning stretch to 14 games, becoming the first team to clinch a berth in the playoffs and are just two wins away from snatching the all-crucial home-field advantage come the postseason.

 

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