January 10th, 2011
After a gig in 1994, I stopped to drop off another friend at his apartment, and while inside for a few minutes, someone broke into my truck and cleaned me out – I had just returned from a move from Alabama with all of my gear in the truck.
I lost EVERYTHING – five guitars (two of which weren’t mine which I was to sell for a friend PLUS the first guitar my father bought for me when i was 15), a ‘64 blackface Bassman head, a 2×12 cabinet with new MojoTone speakers, my pedalboard, and an expensive pinstripe suit & wingtip shoes.
Ten years later TO THE DAY my friend Marc calls me and asks “Did you ever own a blue Strat?” and proceeded to describe the guitar that was stolen – I freaked out and started thanking him for finding it. Turns out that he didn’t know it was stolen from me, he thought maybe I had sold it years before & had just bought it but (reluctantly) sold it back to me for what he paid for it (which was like $25, to which I added a nice bottle of scotch whiskey). A miracle!
stolen May 1994, recovered May 2004
Lightning apparently strikes twice
This past December 22, 2010, I lost my two favorite guitars, a blue ‘89 Fender Strat and a late-model Gibson Les Paul Special, in the French Quarter. I was literally sick; my stomach hurt to think of it. I made an agreement with myself to just let them go – to amortize and depreciate them in my mind as “business expenses” that had paid for themselves – to keep from letting the anger eat me alive.
Well, two weeks later my friend Jack Pearse emailed me a link to a craigslist ad for a blue 1989 Strat – sure enough, it was mine! I called the guy up and told him about losing it AND the Les Paul… He said, “Well, I have them both here – if they were taken from you then I can’t rightfully sell them. Come over and get them.”
Apparently some shady guy he knew owed him money and gave him my guitars as collateral, then disappeared, welching on the deal, so he decided to sell them. He wouldn’t take any offer of reward or anything, saying that he believed in karma and that he wouldn’t want the sale of stolen goods on the balance of his soul.
En route to his house I stopped at a store & bought him a cream cheese-filled kingcake (Google it if you’re from outside Louisiana) and hid a hundred dollar bill inside. When he opened the door I was taken aback – he was all tatted out from neck to knuckles, in sort of a thug/skater style – not the image in one’s mind of a Good Samaritan. When I offered the kingcake he at first refused, but I handed it to his friend standing next to him, who was also simlarly tough-looking and tattooed (teardrop by the right eye) and made him agree to take it. I wish I could’ve afforded to give him more. The world needs people like that.
I think I never realized how living in downtown New Orleans had jaded me. There are so many street kids and beggars and junkies and hobos and drunk people and crazy schizoid people what-have-you walking around at all hours (everytime someone calls me “sir” I automatically bristle, expecting them to hand me a bullshit story and ask for money) -I’d let my prejudicial survival instincts destroy my bigger-view perspective. I’m going to carry this lesson with me, and try to remember it everytime I’m tempted to think “people are shit”, or judge someone by their appearance. Looks just ain’t always a plain indicator of character.