A vintage Hiwatt rig

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 8:52 pm by George Smith

Here are some more pics from my restored Hiwatt DR504, taken at a session on Saturday.

It furnishes a loud, precise and high fidelity sound. My friend whimsically says it does a “clean distortion.”

In stark contrast with the latest e-mail adverts for guitar gear landing in my in inbox — 100 classic guitar amps digitally mimicked in hybrid computer power amps, slaved to a control panel on your iPhone and connected through Bluetooth — it’s simple, direct and old school.

One might say it restricts your choices in a good way.

Play or go home. Don’t twiddle. Everything is there: warm cleans, big jangle, chopping rock n roll rhythm, roaring rave-up into feedback. All of it at the twist of a volume knob on a one-pickup guitar.

Here’s the front end.

At then center, a Nick Greer Black Fuzz. There’s only one way to set it. It’s volume knob, on the left, on full. And the pedal is, generally, left on.

By rolling the volume knob back on the guitar, the fuzz/distortion cleans up into the front end of the Hiwatt. It allows you to transition from a clean warm sound with a little grit, to a chiming rhythm and then to hard rock fury.

To the right is an Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 booster. When the fuzz is off it’s used to kick up the gain into a mild distortion on the Hiwatt.

And on the left is a cheap Danelectro Fish and Chips EQ that pushes up the signal at 800Hz while pulling everything above that down. It’s used to focus the Greer fuzz and add a bit more oomph for thickening as well as lead runs. It works great kicked for arpeggios and some rhythm lines. And by attenuating the highs when on it opens a bigger sonic space for vocals and the high end of the drum kit.

Stomping the LPB on when both fuzz and the EQ are already active pushes the Hiwatt into controllable feedback.

It’s a fairly simply setup and how many Hiwatts were used, with some variations, during the late Sixties and Seventies.

Pete Townshend, the most famous Hiwatt user, employed a set-all-the-way-on fuzz tones (a Univox Superfuzz) for many years. In 1979 he switched to an MXR compressor.

His philosophy was to match his guitar to the amplifier, adding that a Hiwatt made even a relatively simple guitar sound great. It helped to be able to play like him, too, one supposes.

Many years ago I wrote briefly about my Greer Black Fuzz here. This was at the beginning of the American-made artisan guitar pedal boom. Today, everyone makes a fuzz. The market is plagued by glut.

Eight years later, I’m still using it. Nick Greer and his designs are still in business. On his homepage he maintains his work carries a lifetime guarantee. I believe it!

Over the years the look of his pedals has changed quite a bit. The hand-painted lettering, while still practiced, has taken a bit of a back seat to a more uptown and modern approach in graphic design.

Regardless, his Black Fuzz is a great circuit. While I do not avoid digital processing for the guitar, there’s no way hundreds of choices, computing power, emulation or smartphone interfaces can do better in this matter.

With Greer’s Black Fuzz, you turn it all the way up. It’s a silicon transistor fuzz that hews more to the distortion side than brittle buzz but the distinction is moot if you play in the style of late-Sixties or early Seventies hard rock. The volume control on the guitar controls the amount of hair the fuzz gives you. Rolling it down cleans up the circuit while retaining brightness and a pleasant slight compression.

I also have Greer’s Razor Burn Fuzz, now about five years old and of similar hand-painted anti-style. It’s a higher gain unit described as a bit of a cross between an old Fuzz Face and a Tone Bender Fuzz. It runs as a hybrid circuit of two transistors, silicon and germanium.

It has more gain than the Black Fuzz. One might say it’s more greased while delivering a greater degree of the old school hairiness. But in the context of my rig it plays virtually the same role.

On Saturday, I started the session with it and pulled it out for the Black Fuzz because it was noisier in the warm weather here, edging into pulling in a radio station. In truth, sometimes that has its uses and I like it.

And here is the story of the Hiwatt DR504.

Recordings in Pasadena from Loud Folk Live. Rock.


No libtards in the bunkers for the last supper

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Extremism, WhiteManistan at 2:28 pm by George Smith

The American fringe is regularly mainstream. It’s one of many very noticeable national character flaws, not a virtue, since the fringe, when referred to here, is all the property of the political right.

Viral, ugh, attention has been given to a handful of America’s estimated three million “Doomsday Preppers” through publicity granted to photographer Henry Hargreaves’ display of what they’ll be eating in the bug-out shack or bunker.

Quote, from the Daily Mail (feel free to Google other news sites, it’s all over), doesn’t really deliver the truth on the prepper demographic:

[Hargreaves] confesses that he expected the series to be more dramatic than the final results he captured, and admits that the preppers might be on to something.

‘Initially I expected this to be a rather sensational series but as I spoke to some of the subjects I actually was surprised by the brilliance in their approach.

‘They have been able to stand back and see the whole food system from afar and realize in any kind of disaster the food distribution chain is the first thing to break and they don’t want to be left vulnerable, if and when it does.’


A word that’s hard to use in description of a photo showing the need for insulin shots after the country is destroyed by “tornadoes.” ONe of Hargreaves’ subjects is a diabetic.

Once in a diabetic coma, or the foot gangrenous due to complications in the extremities, it’s an unforgiving world.

In brief interviews Hargreaves has told viewers of the basic sense of the preppers and the humanizing aspects of the photos.

They’re not all kooks. That’s the message. Is a bowl of crickets and mealworms humanizing?

The lead picture in the Mail’s story, not the one linked in this post, is the Armageddon Supper of Wayne Martin of Texas.

Part of his repast — two cans of gourmet cat food. Why?

When the others from the cities, or just plain bad people try to steal your stuff, they’ll presumably leave your cat food behind.

I’ve fed my cats the stuff advertised as gourmet over the past decades. It still looked like regular cat mush grub to me. However, they always went for it with great relish.

But that reasoning takes us right to the heart of the prepper, formerly “survivalist,” psychology.

It’s predominantly white, Christian and fascist authoritarian, armed to the teeth and convinced the downfall of American civilization will be brought on by a handful of catastrophes, most prominently an attack by electromagnetic pulse.

For the Mail’s pictures, Hargreaves’ coterie oddly has this gone missing. And that’s conspicuous by omission.

If you’re a regular reader, or even an occasional viewer of reality television on preppers, you also know the group looks at the potential end of civilization as a ritual of purification.

The virtuous will survive. Those not so will be cleansed from the country in the end times struggle.

When the unprepared, the non-white, atheist, Democratic, lazy parasites and takers come boiling into the countryside, they’ll be met with armed force.

It takes about five minutes on Google to find prepper pages on the matter, even complicated discussion rationalizing how the Bible, or Jesus, sanctions the deadly force of the gun.

And like any activity linked to politics and the character of the right, it has become an industry, one furnishing everything from keepsakes to any hardware, ammo, or fortification preparations needed.

Parcels of land off-the-grid, hard to find, high in the mountains, possibly near good lakes, away from the contaminating hordes.

It even has it’s own special kind of romance fiction: Thousands of dreadful vanity-published pamphlets and novels of the coming catastrophe and subsequent purification and survival after the fall.

There might have been a testing attack on Washington, DC’s electrical grid. Did you miss it?


Whether or not the power outage in Washington was caused by an attack of some sort, homeland security expert Peter Vincent Pry tells Newsmax TV that it shows there is vulnerability.

The power outage was the result of an explosion at a power plant in Maryland, which affected the electricity at the White House, the Capitol, local museums, train stations, and suburbs as well as the University of Maryland …

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t linked the outage “to terrorism or anything like that.”

Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, told J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Khan on “America’s Forum” on Wednesday that “even though the official explanation is that this was a mechanical failure — this small explosion — I’m not sure I trust that,” adding that “the electric power industry has a long history of concealing actual attacks on our electric grid.”

Preppers — from the archives.

Hail to the Kook — an eminence grise of American doom


Why no Burning of Atlanta re-enactment?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 4:18 pm by George Smith

It’s not hard to figure out.

Civil War re-enactment stories have peppered the nation’s newspapers, particularly this last weekend. All were in advance of the 150th anniversary of the Lee’s surrender to Grant on April 9 — this Thursday — at Appomattox.

The pieces are virtually alike. They deal with white men (“graybeards, they’re called) gently re-enacting elements of battles, almost all of them in the South where the majority of the war was waged. It’s family entertainment and a draw in tourism.

Dressed up in period piece uniforms and equipped with precise replicas of the guns and implements of the time, it’s an expensive proposition for the individuals involved.

There’s a melancholia shot through it. First, that the actors are now predominantly old men. There’s no great enthusiasm among the young to refill their ranks. That is some indication of progress.

The melancholia is also present in the very nature of how the battles are play-staged. None of the newspaper articles state what one can read of the reality of them in authoritative histories of the Civil War.

Both sides are honored, as if the Civil War was a clash between two armies of good men, both fighting for noble, if different causes. All the result of some tragic national misunderstanding, the nature of which cannot be mentioned without risk of ruining things.

Therefore, there is no re-enactment of the burning of Atlanta, described last year by the New York Times here.

There was, instead, a re-enactment of the Battle of Cheatham Hill — one of the last holding tactical victories for the Confederates in Sherman’s advance on Atlanta.

I’ve argued, sometimes whimsically, sometimes not, that the Confederacy won the Civil War.

The appeal of the ways of Dixie spread throughout the country where its old philosophies are still fueling culture wars, virulent hatred of the first black president, the worship of capital, the right to chain and depress labor so it can be stolen, somehow always equated with freedom, the resentment-filled campaigns over states rights and sovereignty and the marginalization and caging of enemies through predatory legislation.

The bed rock of the Republican Party, a party for those inclined to neo-Confederacy.

And it’s broadly acknowledged, the American dilemma for which no one has an adequate answer.

Yesterday in a sad editorial piece by columnist Leonard Pitts, marked at Pine View Farm, yesterday.

“Name the issue — immigration, race, abortion, education, criminal justice — and law and custom in Dixie have long stood stubbornly apart from the rest of the country,” wrote Pitts, in a good summation.

This, today, followed by a New Republic piece, unintentionally farcical, suggesting Lee’s surrender be made a national holiday, along with other measures designed to render illegitimate the South’s continued veneration of its Civil War soldiers.

Reconstruction was foiled and the United States could never do what it and the Allies would virtually a century later on the global stage when the costs in human lives and treasure were, by orders of magnitude, much greater.

Germany was de-Nazified and rebuilt. And Army General Douglas MacArthur reconstructed Japan, removing its worship of warlordism and instituting land reform to break up a system dependent on rich owners served by tenant farmers. Emperor Hirohito was not tried as a war criminal. But he was made a figurehead, his status as a deity expunged.

The thought experiment is an obvious one: Construct an alternate history in which the states of the Confederacy went through a similar process. Not one in which an entire mythology built on the imaginary nobility of a lost cause took root, slavery was repackaged through re-branding and immoral legal installations with the cooperation of southern money and industry in the need to maintain a labor force in poverty, of no social status, presumed inferiority and living in fear with no recourse.

Which brings the post to a small parcel of trivial reality on the alleged lessons to be learned from it all.

Here, a review of a new book on the war, from a newspaper in Montgomery, Alabama:

The Civil War is the lynch pin [sic — a review of the South and its role in the war with one of the most unfortunate mistakes in usage, it should be “linchpin,” I’ve seen in years. One is tempted to call it a true Freudian slip.] of the region’s history and self-image, and its memory runs like a river through the century and a half since it ended in the spring of 1865. Americans from other parts of this nation often wonder why its memory is so alive here. Historians have written countless books about every aspect of the conflict, but we still struggle to understand it …

His great grandfather, who was born shortly before the war and remembered it and its aftermath, told him stories as a boy that he could not forget. Their theme was the heroism and honor of white Southerners and the hardships they faced after the conflict.

How many of us growing up in the South have heard such stories and continue to remember them? I suppose most of us.

Gaillard only began to seriously question what he had heard and read growing up in the context of the civil rights era.

What the review actually means to say is anyone’s guess. And there’s no “struggle” among legitimate historians in understanding the Civil War.

“Horror and honor, the South sought to resolve that conflict in the years after the Civil War by emphasizing honor and heroism — not horror,” it reads. It resolved the conflict through a lot of other means, too, all of them well-documented, leading up to many of the problems we have now.

There’s not a single use of the word African-American or slave in the entire piece. The civil rights movement, yes. But the cause of it, gone missing.

Consider also, recent common use of the phrase, “War of Northern Aggression:”

A small ceremony is scheduled for April 18.

The event is called “Confederate Memorial Day,” but Edmondson said the event is not to honor the time the men served with the Confederacy, but what they did after the war …

The memorial day comes at a time that many lawmakers in Texas are starting to question the state’s romanticism as a member of the 13 states that broke away from the Union to form their own nation, though it was never recognized by foreign countries. The Civil War — or the “War of Northern Aggression” in the South — lasted from 1861 until 1865 and is considered the deadliest war in American history. — the Odessa American

“We have a big division in the country today, but at least we don’t have any states that have seceded yet,” [Franklin County Republican Carl Bearden] said.

He added that “it was generally known as the Civil War. Depending on which side you were on it was also known as the war of Northern aggression.”

While these were tough times, Lincoln stood on principle, Bearden noted.

Lincoln said America will never be destroyed from the outside, but from within, Bearden said, adding, “If you look at what’s happening today that’s what’s going on.”

Liberties and freedoms are slowly slipping away and people should be very scared about what is happening in Washington, especially in the White House, he said. — The Missourian

I married into a family that has generational roots in Gainesville. They go back long before the War of Northern Aggression. — The Gainesville (Georgia) Times

At a cemetery in Sparta, Tennessee, where the allegiance to the Confederacy is still very strong and they refer to the War of Northern Aggression, we attend a ceremony to honor General Dibbell who is buried there, and hear from fifth graders, in Civil War era uniforms, who were given the task of learning the biography of a Civil War figure.

[Nathan Bedford Forrest]: Soldier and social club member. — The NY Daily News

The link goes to a letter and it worth the quick travel, if only to see the picture and caption, the “social club” being the ku Klux Klan.

The U.S. government had functioned without an income tax for more than 100 years, except during the time of the War of Northern Aggression, when Abraham Lincoln passed an unconstitutional tax on income to fund his war machine. — Personal Liberty

It has been 150 years since the end of the Civil War. Some Southerners prefer to call it “The War Between the States” or “The War of Northern Aggression.” Many of our brave Southern ancestors fought for what seems to be a lost cause now, some even died for that cause. You may disagree with me but I believe that they fought and died for the right to have slavery, even though many had none …

I understand that some people believe the Civil War was fought over “States’ Rights” only, if so then it was over a state’s right to maintain the unholy institution of slavery. There was nothing noble, honorable or glorious about the institution of slavery. — Lynchburg (Virginia) News & Advance



White Christian and Heterosexual People’s Protection and Freedom Act

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 1:32 pm by George Smith

It’s what the Republican Party will be counting on in 2016. As it did in all of the last elections.

The fringe crazy is a mainstream power and there’s no arguing with it. All across the fractured country, in state legislatures controlled by the radical Republican core, they continue to pile up and pass legislation that is plainly insane and unconstitutional.

All of it, from the banning of non-existent shariah law, to the anti-gay pieces disguised as religious freedom laws, to nullifications that insist the state government can choose to ignore federal law and regulation, to even the weirdest matters, like law to look into protecting the individual state from electromagnetic pulse attack by terrorists or Iran, tends to pass.

Newspaper editorial sections and alt weeklies in a couple of big cities in red states cluck and call it hateful but it goes forward, anyway. And the next election, more fascists are elected, not less.

Follow it to an endpoint and it’s catastrophic.

American collapse was always going to be unique to its own historical nature and a Stillson as President with control of Congress is not a faint possibility. Hillary Clinton could badly damage the Democratic Party merely being herself, a wealth centrist who stands for nothing except power and not-the-crazy-person.

I’ll come at it from another angle.

Decades ago I worked at a newspaper in an area that was red Pennsylvania. It still is.

I was assigned to cover a local meeting around the time of the first Iraq war. I sat in a cinder block hut on the edge of some little town for hours as one of the local burghers kept bringing up emergency preparations. In case, you know, if Saddam Hussein hit the local part of Interstate 81 with Scud missiles.

Everyone pretty much ignored him because he was crazy.

Just before the war broke out another reporter at the paper, an acquaintance of mine, came to my desk to ask who he could call in my ring of contacts at think tanks in DC who could provide comment on what Saddam Hussein might attack in the Lehigh Valley.

He knew he’d been assigned a ludicrous task. I laughed and told him I could give him some names but that everyone would say the same thing, that there was nothing in the Lehigh Valley to be attacked nor was there anything in Hussein’s arsenal that could reach it even if there was.

Some type of story was cobbled together, for the sake of the local angle and to humor a couple reactionary and stupid people. But they were still just the fringe. They didn’t drive elections. They didn’t create law.

The result, the national shaming of Indiana notwithstanding, today: The controls are all destroyed, replaced with purposeful unreason.

A couple weeks ago Paul Krugman called ours the post-truth society.

It’s normal and easy for the insane right to find a “think tank” in DC with “experts” who will tell them, yes, their hometown is at risk.

Not just from one thing, but from many. And they will do it in great detail in any media form you like. They will even send custom-made teams to red state local government meetings to give lectures on such matters.

Yes, shariah law is being instated across the land. Yes, American civilization is threatened with total extinction by Iran. They’ll use the electromagnetic pulse!

All the old reasonable people have been swept away or marginalized and replaced by “experts” who cater to the insane right’s network of beliefs. And it’s been financed and guaranteed by America’s billionaires and huge corporations.

And this is why the Democratic Party and the left have often failed so abjectly. They have no answer to it.

The fascist right has made a gigantic industry of it. It has monetized its culture of fear and paranoia, as well as used it as a hard weapon to defeat progress.

The left, on the other hand, doesn’t financially support its “experts” and troops with any kind of the same fervor or hard resources. Crowdsourcing for the left doesn’t work as well as plutocrat money from the the right.

Yes, white Christian America. You have much to be afraid of but the Republican right will protect you. It will write hate laws to stop the homofascists.

It will enact law for the purpose of vilifying small urban Muslim populations.

It will disenfranchise non-white poor people because they’re dangerous.

Food stamp benefits will be rewritten so that the few dollars a day can only be spent on kohlrabi, water and unleavened bread.

If elected to the Oval Office, Iran will get bombed, ISIS will get bombed more, everyone who threatens “freedom” and can be made to look scary to the right wing white tribe will get bombed.

You’re not irrational if the thought of Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States brings on headache and nausea.

Excerpts, from press on her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn Heights, enough to trigger the gag reflex:

The Heights site offers opportunities for almost any mood the candidate might find herself in over the long course of the campaign. In search of patriotic inspiration, she might cast her eyes south to Liberty Island, where the green statue tirelessly hoists her torch. To reflect on the marvels of engineering of which man is capable, she might contemplate the bridge that tied the suburb to the city in the wake of the Civil War. If she’s hungry, there’s Shake Shack. — The Guardian

Critics said the campaign’s location in an office building some call the “Morgan Stanley building,” in one of New York’s richest neighborhoods is hardly edgy.

“It’s located just a short ride across the bridge from Wall Street,” America Rising, pro-Republican political action committee said. “This is all terrible news for Elizabeth Warren Democrats!” — NY Daily News

The median household income in the area hovered above $100,000 in 2013, about double the national median, according to government data.

The neighborhood’s amenities and proximity to Manhattan have attracted celebrities. Comedian Lena Dunham moved to the area last year. Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, an Academy Award winner, also bought a home there with his poet wife.

Saint Ann’s, a private school with arts-intensive programming for pre-school through high school students, charges upwards of $25,000 per year and is popular choice of parents in the moneyed, creative class … —Reuters

Here’s the non-choice: Hold your nose and vote for Hillary Clinton because the alternative is the complete implementation of the White Christian and Heterosexual People’s Protection and Freedom Act.

They don’t make ’em like that anymore

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 11:38 am by George Smith

Finally, a good snapshot of my 1982 Hiwatt DR504 head. Looks to be in excellent shape for something made 33 years ago.

Used in countless dives and stages in southeastern Pennsylvania. Been on tour as far as Maine (woo) and now still amplifying the rock in southern California.

The Hiwatt’s recent restoration, after a sudden failure, the first ever, is written about here.


Ted Nugent explains where racism comes from

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 12:03 pm by George Smith

And you won’t believe the transcript.

I listened to him so you don’t have to.

At RockNYC:

“I never smelled racism. I never heard of any racism except this celebration of divisiveness in the media, academia and by our own government. So when I hear the racism from a gun-running attorney journal and they side with an Al ‘Not So’ Sharpton racist mongrel, it breaks my heart because nowhere in the Nugent world, nowhere on tour, nowhere in my hunting camps, nowhere in the school activities or the charity activities, nowhere can I find racism except coming out of the White House!”

And that’s just one of the eye-watering parts. Follow the link for the rest.

« Previous Page « Previous Page Next entries »