Friday, June 17, 2011

Brittany's New Axe

HM3 Brittany Saulsberry is a US Navy Corpsman stationed at Bastion Hospital in Afghanistan. 

She says her friends call her 'Steak'.  I didn't ask why, but I'd guess that it's her favorite food.  She sings in the church choir, brings a lot of joy to hospital patients with her bright smile and witty disposition, and she wants a cigar box guitar so she can further advance her passion for music.

In her words, "Any setting of a hospital can be dreadful, and so I do the best I can to build morale.  Music heals the heart.  When it's all down, music will always be around, and it heals the body faster."

So, Brittany, here it is . 

A three-string electro/acoustic that is based on an Oliva Robusto cigar box.  It has a nautical feel to the design, which I thought would be appropriate, since she is Navy Corpsman.  Like nearly all cigar boxes, the body is Spanish cedar with an oak neck and poplar fretboard.

Share your enthusiasm with your friends and patients, and enjoy your new axe.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On the DoD Radar!

I have a stat counter on this blog, which I periodically check to get a feel for who is  visiting, and from where.  It's kinda neat to see cyber contacts from places I'll never visit, who are interested in funky little musical instruments made from discarded cigar boxes, broomsticks and screen door wire, which can be used to create music, or to swat flies.  Pretty harmless stuff, right?

Well, the other day, I checked details in the counter and was surprised to see that along with interested folks from all around the USA and nineteen other foreign countries, there were multiple hits coming daily from the Department of Defense (DoD) Network Information Center, which serves the need of POTUS, the Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Combatant Commanders, and other Department of Defense components under all conditions of peace and war.

Wow!, here's ol' me, a senior citizen, who has never been arrested; can fly without being on a no-fly list; hasn't had a traffic violation in more years than I can remember; don't take any medication; married to the same woman for nearly fifty years; occasionally drinks a glass of really good Chardonnay; never smoked dope; and who can still boogie to a good Bob Segar song, is being monitored by the DoD . . . Ya, that's right, the DoD!

How did they ever find BinLaden, when they're watching guys like me?

So, I Googled the reference and found it's mission:

DoD Network Information Center Mission Statement:
To provide information and services that are critical to the operation of the worldwide IP router Defense Information Systems Network (DISN), and other DoD sponsored networks.

I like my guitars, and I think they are pretty well designed and crafted, but to catch the eye of 'Big Brother', these little devils gotta be cool. 

I'm so damned excited, I'll probably wet myself . . . not sure if it's from being critical to existence of the DoD, or if it's because they have nothing better to do than to watch or monitor, (who the hell cares it's all the same), intrusion into an old retired guy's hobby building guitars for a few US servicemen/women who are serving our country and dying, in a place nobody in their right mind would visit.

I bet Leo Fender or C. F Martin didn't have the Gov watching them.  Damn, is this hot or what!

What's next? . . . a visit from the boys in a blue suit and striped tie?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Music in the 'Stan

Today, I shipped a three-string guitar to HM2 Eddy Phouthaboun, a US Navy Corpsman stationed at Bastion Hospital in Afghanistan.

The basis for the guitar is a collectors limited edition Arturo Fuente Opus X Piramide cigar box commemorating 'The Lost City' production directed by Andy Garcia.  There were only 600 of this particular box made and issued throughout the world, so he'll have a special creation soon.

Eddy wanted a design that is, as he said, "nothing fancy", but with a theme that would reflect his home and remind him of San Francisco.  So, on the back of the body is a collage of photos that should do the job.

I love being able to share my creations with new friends serving us in the military, in a place I would not visit under the best of conditions.  I have the greatest respect for them . . . not one time has any one of them complained about the job they are doing . . . something many of our citizens stateside could learn from.  Talk about working in a hostile environment for minimum wage!

Eddy and his friends are my heroes!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Music in Afghanistan

The Afghan girls, 'Crystal' and 'Blondie', arrived at Camp Bastion a couple days ago (just over a week in route), to keep US Navy Corpsman Charles Setzer company.  Geez, it took less time for this package to arrive half way around the world, than it does to ship to Montana.  Go figure!

Chuck got his guitar, and this is what he had to say:

June 8, 2011

Hey Jess,

I just got it yesterday. It came into the mail center and I picked it up as I went to work.  I love it! Several others at work were very impressed too.  After I finished with the only patient I had last night I just sat up and played all night long.  It's very cool.  I love the artwork and the finish.  It looks amazing!  My friend Eddy and I took turns with it.  I took several pictures as well.  Thank you so much for taking the time to make this for me.  I am very grateful and it's already helping to take my mind off of some of the crappy things here in Afg.

I threw in a desert sunrise picture just for the hell of it, and I threw in a picture of a box of rocks.  Sometimes the box is smarter.  I just thought that was kinda funny.  It's a door stop in the hospital, but growing up my mom always used to say, "he/she is about as smart as a box of rocks".  So, that made me laugh when I saw it.

Well, I'm off to the gym, before I go to chow, then to work.  I'll be taking Crystal with me to work every night.  It's nice to have a faithful woman at my side, who can make me feel happy.
:) he he.

Thanks so much!
HM@ 'Chuck' Setzer

I will continue to build cigar box guitars, if for no other reason than to share them with the people who give so much, so I can enjoy security and freedom here at home, what better way to say 'Thank You' to them.  They are my heroes!

Photos of Chuck . . .

Yes, it's packed well.  
That's not a bottle of hooch by the chair, it's the amp.

OOH, I think Chuck likes his lady!

Afghan culture looks like a concrete wall.

 How dumb is that?

The start of a breathtaking 120+ degree day at Camp Bastion.
Nothing like an early morning sunrise to make things look good.

'Sully' Is In Good Hands

US Navy Nurse LT Virginia Sullivan, stationed at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, shows us the three-string guitar I created for her.  The LT, her friend Carrie (my friend Witchita Sam built hers), and Corpsman Chuck Setzer find a little enjoyment in their free time playing their guitars.