ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The Guitar on a Stand —

Here’s how a minor point becomes a really odd obsession and a hard-to-explain result.

My fifth interview on the BBS Documentary was Brian J. Bernstein and David Fleischer, who had run a New Jersey BBS back in the 1980s. This intersected with a bunch of my interests, as I’d been in NY and called all sorts of NJ BBSes whenever I had a chance. I loved the Apple II and they ran a BBS on it, and they also interacted (making fun of) diversi-dials, which I also wanted mention of. So I went down to New York City to interview them.

While setting up (and it took me a while because I was so new to this) I marveled at Brian’s excellent apartment. It had all the earmarks of excellent urban living: large living space, huge countertop island in the kitchen area, and halogen lights hanging from the finished-yet-unfinished ceiling. I just thought it looked great and was happy to capture this on video. Here’s some shots of that apartment:

When I saw the DJ setup in the corner, I said, out loud “Man, the only thing missing here is a guitar on a stand.”

Brian said “Oh, I have one of those.”

I said “Let’s bring that in!”

So, if you look at the back of the final shot, you can see a guitar on a stand:

A little joke, a little bit of me enjoying myself.

Well, within a short time, I started noticing a LOT of people had guitars on stands. And each time I saw one, I requested it be in the shot. And people complied.

Beyond the interviews that had them, the number of shots of each person in the final episodes meant that once you noticed one, you just keep on noticing them. It is entirely a construct, something I did in the middle of production on a whim and which stands there, finally, probably confusing someone down the line. But it doesn’t affect what people had to say and nobody referenced it.

The movie’s full of those little stories. I’ll tell more as I recall them.

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  1. Joe Crawford says:

    I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Broadcast News where Albert Brooks’ character is filming Contras in El Salvador — one of his cameramen tells a Contra to put his new boots back on so he can get it in the shot — Brooks’ character is livid and tells the guy to do what he naturally would do. Since he was halfway putting his boots on anyway, he finishes. Journalistic purity is preserved.

    This is the exact opposite of asking for extant guitars to get placed in shots, but it strikes me that it’s your movie, and it’s filtered through you, which is entirely appropriate, and ended up very successfully.

  2. Will says:

    I noticed that watching the film, that there were an awful lot of guitars out there. I was always sort of marching to my own drummer growing up, and when I saw all these guitars I had an idle moment of speculation wondering if guitars were something that were way more popular than I had ever thought.

    “Shit, I don’t have a TV and everyone else seems to have THOSE… now it turns out that everyone’s Eric fricking Clapton.”

  3. Flack says:

    For a couple of years I collected guitar — and not in the traditional sense of collecting things, but rather, for a couple of years guitars seemed to find me. I got one from a friend who quit playing, another from a co-worker who needed some cash, and so on. A few years ago I picked up stands for them when Guitar Center put them on sale for $5 each.

    When you finally make it to Oklahoma, I may put one in every room of the house in honor of this easter egg.

  4. Dan Bruno says:

    I’m reminded of Alchemists of Sound, the TV documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which has a random dude staring at you in the background in all of the interview segments.

  5. Finder of Things and Other Wonderful Intrusions of Daily Life says:

    Dude, you’re a total cock. You should’ve interviewed me for the BBS Documentary. I would’ve willingly and ably provided you with the obligatory Guitar On A Stand.

    Your loss!!

  6. douchebag says:

    Jason, you are a total slacker. November’s almost over and you’ve posted all of two entries. WTF?? Get your blog-neglecting ass in gear, you lazy mofo!

  7. I noticed Jed’s guitar, but are not surprised that a bunch of the guys had one. Next to Jed (picture to the right), did also the Rok founder (picture to the left) a guitar. I don’t recall the guy second from the left, but I would not be surprised, if he is also an artist or had a position that required some artistic skills. The guy second from the right was a programmer, but not a “coder”.

    A coder is more math oriented, but some programmers are actually more an artist than coder. The code is may be not as clean and optimized, but the resulting program often works better than this hardcore-coding power-trip stuff. Speaking of aesthetic and usability.

    Paso, a sysop who also programmed some very creative cracktros and dentros on the amiga was also a very talented musician.

    I am not surprised to find a guitar in the house of an artistic oriented person as I also wouldn’t be surprised to find a programmable calculator laying around in a house of a hardcore coder :).

  8. Carsten, that post summed up for me something that I have been trying to tell people for a long time. That there is a difference between a coder and a programmer. I tend to fancy myself programmer rather than a coder. Now, I love math and optimization, don’t get me wrong, but I’m more apt to right brain a problem and key in the left when necessary. I too own several guitars, some of which are on stands, and I find that my programmer friends also own them.. I find that my coder friends own a lot of RPGs.. So I wasn’t supprised when I saw a number of guitars in the documentary.

  9. Hi Allen,

    Same here. That’s why did I write my comment to make it clear to people who have this misconception about it. 🙂

    I like RPG games too, not all of them and I understand their addictive nature which goes together with the need of a lot of time to play them (which is a bad combination IMO hehe). I don’t play WoW for that exact reason :).

    I am not a coder at heart, but good at programming. Math was not a problem for me in school and I prefer logical thinking rather than emotional driven chaos (although a bit of this chaos is what makes life interesting). I am also on the creative side of things and like to create things that are nice and useful at the same time.

  10. I know what you mean Carsten. I too like RPGs, especially ones like WoW, and as I said so do my coder friends. But I think we like them for different reasons. I like them because they are the next evolution of the MUSH. See, for me, it’s about the people, the connections they make with each other and the environment around them. For my coder buddies it’s about hardcore statistical analysis, how to place things together in the right moment of virtual space time to achieve the greatest effect. So I guess you could say that another difference between programmers and coders is that one is interested in how a piece of code is used to complete a task (programmers) and how well does that piece of code preform its task (coders), and does that make any kind of sense?

  11. Hehe.. yup, it does. I used to play Heroes of Might an Magic a lot. That’s turn based. So you can use one computer, even if 4 guys played against each other. Now we set the time limit per round to 3 minutes, to prevent some people (guess who) from systematically take care of every little thingy. The time limit forced you to make decisions based on the bigger scale of things, which is often not thinking with your head, but with ..mmh… stomach I guess hehe.

    After 7-8 hours of playing without finishing the level (which is hardly possible with any regular map and over 2 people playing) but being piss drunk by that time already, the winner is chosen by debate, unless it is by that time already clear that player x will win, if he will not make a number of stupid mistakes in a row (very unlikely after 2-3 years playing the game hehe).

    It was fun and a great waste of time, but it was fun time for everybody and you had hours to trash-talk with your buddies, so it was not a complete waste after all I guess hehe.

    I think that is in essence what you were saying. I just illustrated it by describing vivid pictures 😉