New York, N’ooo Yoyk!

Bouncing out of Nashville we set about attempting a 2am ETA in NYC and made it!

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Strangely, after all that people had said about driving in the Apple and it being a city that never sleeps, there was hardly a thing on the road and it was a straight forward navigation to our downtown 6th Ave hotel, where they promptly stole the Snot Rocket (our car) for safe keeping.6th Ave

However, the New Jersey (N’ooo Joyzeee) Turnpike is NOT for the faint hearted or for anyone with a shred of logical commonsense due to the clarity of the signage, or indeed no signage. Thankfully, other than a few other lost souls, all was good.

The following day was a mad rush and full on with Gabsatrucker heading out early to chase her own butt up 20 blocks and pound out the rest of her 7 mile run around Central Park.

I jumped in a cab and headed to Chelsea and the new global headquarters of Rocketboom.com!rocketboom gold

Set in tasteful surroundings and interrupted from beavering away I sat down and had a great chat with Andrew Baron about how the future for Rocketboom and how other enterprises were rapidly shaping up to be far larger and indeed a permanent existence in the day on day “must watch” web media  listings 🙂

The evolution of Rocketboom has been long and its consistency in what I call intelligent humour – ie Witt, sarcasm and irony mixed in with a variable amount of new or leading tech, entertainment and global web cultural insight is well established and is still leading in this field.

Andrew’s exceptional ability to seek out great talent for presenting Rocketboom is second to none and the present anchor of the show Keghan Hurst is a perfect example of this.

Andrew Baron’s great strength is not just that he is one of the first true instigators of what we term web media, but it lays at the door of not just knowing what he wants to achieve, but also in listening to so many others without being derailed from his overall aim. In this he has achieved a greater understanding than most within this field and in the creativity stakes there are few to rival what he has achieved.

In the evening Gabsatrucker and I headed over to meet Andrew, his stunning and glowingly pregnant wife Rima and their friend Eli for what Andrew termed Korean BBQ which was a fantastic evening with a lot of laughter.

While we were invited to stay for another evening, our plans were forever changing and we were sadly unable to. As we walked back to our hotel leaving great people and company behind us we came upon Times Square which was very much alive and bouncing.

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Grabbing pictures and a bit of t’shirt swag we called it a night.

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TSqHersh

TSq3

Naked CowGirl

Day 2:

Waking early and packing up our gear, we headed out to catch a few sights before leaving this unrelenting island city.

A fast walk up the street our hotel was on (that sounds like they moved it) and you hit the likes of Radio City and the not so liked News Corp headquarters.

NewsCorp

Radio City

Onto the subway and Grand Central Station for crepes (of course)

NYSub

GCS2

GCS1

Then South to the 911 Memorial.. BUT, remember all the trouble I had getting into the Hoover Dam? Well this time, I’m wearing a Leatherman tool and all manner of sharp objects as we headed into security.

The X-ray operator sees the Leatherman and asks to look at it, calls another guard over and then “Sir, where did you get this?”

Me: “Ebay, why?”

Reply: “I’ve been looking for the same model” before handing it back to me…

Now that is commonsense security!! They acknowledge the item, make you aware they have and then carry on as normal – and where? Where this whole terror thing for this country started!! Well-done 911 Memorial Security with their reasoned, professional and very logical approach to what they do.

I can’t really add much more, this place and most definitely this memorial leaves you silent as it stands for so much more now than the day it all happened, and to a far higher loss than ever before.

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With that, we left the fair city of New York and headed back south, Philadelphia, DC, and on to Virginia – or ENGLAND as I like to call it.

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LA to Sin City : Las Vegas

Rainbow Bar and Grill

After an evening in the Rainbow Bar and Grill we headed over the Mojave Desert to the Nevada border and after a quick stop at a state line mall and with the sun rapidly setting behind us  and the sky displaying strange unusual colours – we crossed the border and descended to a place some call the City of Lost Souls (personally, I thought we’d just left it in California).DSCF1555

Vegas is known for a vast myriad of reasons, most of which are bad to the moral amongst you (not that I know what these moral things are). But like all DSCF1789realities of life, all things good and bad exist everywhere. It is normally only a need to open your eyes – but here in Vegas they’re a nice bunch and prise your eyes wide open for you (with their teeth).

As all know, Sin City has been revamped over recent years and for the most part it has become family orientated. Most street attractions are shut by midnight and then only the clubs, casinos and bars punch on into toward dawn.

Every shopping area on the Strip had designer names above the doors, yetDSCF1804 every promotions person out on the street wear shirts offering you women to your hotel room in under 20 mins.  And while this is a city where prostitution is completely outlawed, the Las Vegas Yellow Pages are a far more of an adult read than any copy of 50 Shade of whatever!

DSCF1810Obviously now with Gabby feeling right at home, it must be said that those looking for the “Old” Las Vegas just need to travel a few blocks over from the Strip and to where shopping changes from Designer names to places that specialise in the attire of Show Girls and if you want a feather for your cap – this City is what you may consider the Mecca of feather sales . Off the Strip you will find a more tradition Sinful evening. So, not being afraid of a little hardcore fun, knowing how to let our hair down in ALL the wrong ways – we went to see the Tim Allen show.

But in the regular entertainment stakes Las Vegas Rocks!! There isn’t a band or performer of any reasonable repute in the world who is not passing through here. And some that have no credibility at all 😉

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Taxi drivers are either friendly and fun – or not of around here… In one cab ride I realised I hadn’t been on a journey like this since being in the Middle East. So I asked the driver where he was from.. “Ethiopia” he replied. Gabby asked “do they even have cars there?” Well frankly they don’t even have food unless we put on a show for them.DSCF1846

Vegas is a must see and do for those never having been, but there is just so much more to see than a few shows, adult titillation and expensive boutiques and great restaurants. But there are some odd sights about the city. Like this line early in the morning outside a Gold and Pawn shop… Many of these people are in a state of pure distress, even men are crying…

A few blocks back takes you past the Heart Attack Grill where  waitresses dress like nurses, will mop your brow, take your pulse and where anyone over DSCF1852350 lbs eats for free!!  They claim it’s “Food Worth Dying For” and indeed, to date, two people have passed on from this world right there in the restaurant. Out of interest (and the inability to write “two fat bastards”), one portly gentleman and one skinny bugger died there, one at the table and one as he was leaving.

Of course Vegas is also a regular town, with ordinary shopping, and ordinary hardworking people. They even have a few major companies based there, so it’s not all adult entertainment, gambling restaurants and shows.

It also has a vast through-put of NATO military personnel heading for the NellisDSCF1554 Airforce base and of course a healthy supply of UFO spotters, complete with foil hats marvelling at new experimental aircraft shapes coming in and out of Groom Lake (Area 51) in the dead of night.

In fact, only a short drive east you will find yourself where Alien’s breed – which is not true, but you will find yourself at the Hoover Dam.

The mosDSCF1598t amazing thing about the Hoover Dam is not the loss of life building it, not the sheer scale or even the balls forward Engineer genius and determination in constructing  it – nope… The single most amazing thing about the Dam is trying to get past the security screening to enter the place.

It was about the point I had removed all metal items, hat, coat, boots, belt, wallet, watch,DSCF1611 change, e-cig, passport, med tag, testicles and brain I had to even ask myself (as someone who understands security and threat) what could I possibly have on me (other than me) that could be a threat to millions of tons of concrete and/or the people around me?!  I was wondering if the pliers would have to come out now for some teeth extracting .

Finally staggering through almost stark bollock naked I was finally clear to cause mayhem. But then there is the Catch 22… “Stand here for your picture to be taken” But I don’t want DSCF1631my picture taken! “oh, it’s ok, it’s so you can buy a gift photo of DSCF1634yourselves later”. No it isn’t because we have a camera, “No Thanks!!”

“It’ll only take a second – say cheese!” (pulled faces) click…. Photographer cracks up, security guard glares on, jaw clenched, cheek muscles flexing…

Such is the nature of how Terror has won the war in this nation… Fear causing overt security without any real thought… AND the removal of your own copyright as they actually get you to appear for your own mug shot against a green screen – it’s actually easier to get on a plane thDSCF1681an into the Hoover Dam – think about that for a sec! Besides, surely the best place to do harm is in the highest concentration of people – that would be the queue to get through security then…

The Hoover Dam is and always will be awesome and one of the great engineering achievements of our time, actually before oDSCF1718ur time. What did surprise me as we strolled along through drill and hand carved tunnels was that they really don’t generate any effective power from the Dam. Yet this Dam must be capable of a huge amount of output. But then after reading through the lines of the somewhat bizarre and erroneous talk by the guide – you realise quickly that the full potential of this Dam is and never will be reached due to internal politics. Indeed, we were told one thing while having a diagram explained in one of the vast feeder tunnels – yet the diagram showed something quite different.

Nevertheless, the Hoover Dam is a MUST SEE, but I hasten to add that people with claustrophobia may have concerns on some of the tours they run.DSCF1715

And with all done, we headed on our way towards the Grand Canyon and home…

Published in: on 19 February, 2013 at 06:54  Leave a Comment  
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Valetine’s Day

Ok, let’s keep this nice and simple – and straight to the point…

The moment I succumb to any commercial or third party entity telling me how and when to show my love or affection (because I’d obviously be incapable of showing it otherwise).

I would like to offer the freedom to everyone to simply call me a whore… (think about it) #just sayin

🙂

here is a bizarre short about 10 ways to break a heart

Published in: on 14 February, 2013 at 05:49  Comments (1)  
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A bit of fun…

With most posts to come and many more to be written… here is a little fun today.

TWB Hollywood

Madeline excited about her first train ride

The Blizzard

This actually kinda cool

The Bar Diner is coming along

TWB bar

Published in: on 13 February, 2013 at 18:33  Comments (1)  
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Fender : An Icon & The People Who Help The World To Rock

Click on Images to Enlarge

We had cut some tough driving the day before coming down the old coast road from Monterey, a road NOT dissimilar to that of the coast road between Cannes and Monaco. This morning it was Gabby to take the wheel and drive like psychopath through Los Angeles and get us to the Fender factory before it closed at 4pm – as they were closed for the following day (Wednesday) all day. As I mentioned in an earlier post HERE we turned up the previous Wednesday when closed and they still looked after us!!

The choice of driver was well founded. Gabby who is known on the web asDSCF0629 @Gabsatrucker and famed for International half marathon running, 100 mile cycle racer, former Harley rider and kick-ass big rig driver – can adapt to pretty much to any driving style and can make progress where most people simply can’t.  Her adaptation and traffic reading of the nightmare known as the freeways of LA are not for the faint heart – but every defensive and offensive action founded in years of advanced driving skills were positively put to use.

For me this meant bemused pondering like “Toyota Sequoia drives well on two wheels” and “These brakes are GOOD!” including “The view from the rear window is great” and of course, that old nugget “I left my teeth in the dashboard”.

It was tough going, everything and everyone who could get in the way – did get in the way and this went on for hoursF12!!

Finally, minutes before the 4pm deadline I phoned Fender and left a message to say we were only 5 miles out…

We arrived at 4:10pm and as I walked up to the door – it opened with the smiling face and ever greeting persona of David Brown the Manager of the Fender Visitor Center and Ralph Esposito who is the Projects Coordinator / New Product Development for the Fender Custom Shop.

Running past us was Gabby, hoofing it at speed towards the toilets.

We hung out a while and it was decided that as they’d had an extremely busy day, they’d invite us back the following day (when shut)to carry on and Ralph Esposito wanted to give us a complete, indepth and thorough tour of the Fender Custom Shop.fender-customshop-logo

We set to retire, but was delayed by sudden outpouring of adoration from the Fender team over the two dogs Elsie (who I call Wubble) and Ben, the most timid little fella who we took in from a Dog Shelter. With adoration over, we headed in to Anaheim and a hotel.

The following day was an education the likes of which no ordinary factory tour could ever provide. David Brown took us over to the Factory to check on the body of the Telecaster they’re building for me and which has bF4een principally engineered by David.

We went through the main factory and into some parts where no one from outside goes, through the paint shop, curing areas and final assembly. In the waiting area of hundreds of guitarF8 bodies we found my Telecaster body and inspected work already done prior to that evening’s satin coating.

We headed out in search for a walnut neck to see if there had been any left over from the limited run of the Stratocaster’s, one of which I had purchased. With none left, we headed down past the wood shop we entered the Fender Custom Shop and was taken through to catch up with Ralph.

FCSTo describe Ralph is easy – he knows his shit! He’s been there a long time, believes in what he does and believes in getting the very best for whoever the customer is. He’s knows that what they do in the Custom Shop is the very best of their efforts and abilities, yet FCS1with so much knowledge and insight he’s very down to earth and easy to listen to and indeed – learn from.

We were taken through every work area, if there was a master builder about we were introduced and where not – Ralph explained the work that Gt1each did. We talked and talked as he led us through a history of music from a side few rarely see. We moved on to the Gretsch Custom Shop and then into an area where they’re building a special run of Eric Clapton guitars. WeF1 went further to where they turned the finished necks and so much more.

Back in the Custom Shop, examples of models they make and have made were everywhere, and even one incredibly light weight Stratocaster which was so light I thought was made of balsa – but obviously wasn’t. With much talk of food and beer next time we’re in town – thus sealing my return at some point (it was this word : “Beer” that did it) we headed back to F2Visitors Center so I could put the rest of my guitar parts together with David Brown.

There was still more to choose including neck type, electronics, metal furniture and finally the information to be placed on the Neck Plate of the guitar. This Neck Plate will show the name of the guitar which is TWBrit, F11the date and where it was born and finally “Engineered by David Brown” whom has been the most outstanding, outgoing and friendliest person from the F5outset.

Together David Brown and Jane Esposito of the Visitor Centre are a great team; they’re knowledgeable and  passionate about what they do and the products they provide.  In fact it was Jane’s husband Ralph who we’d met the evening before while waiting to go home who taken us around the Custom Shop and all it’s workings.

Now I’ve said this before; We’ve been to Gibson hollow body factory in Memphis, We’ve been on a fantastic tour of Taylor Guitars in El Cajon, San Diego (who had no interest at all when I wanted them to build me a custom guitar). But out of these, nothing prepared us for the welcome, friendliness and great people at Fender. While this is easy to throw all under the title “Great Customer Service”, of which I am the greatest of sceptics and picky when presented with the good stuff – the team at Fender humbled us! No, they didn’t make us feel special, they made feel welcome and like friends and that is very rare, very rare indeed!

David, Jand & Ralph

To David, Jane and Ralph who did so much for us

Thankyou

Of the three guitar companies we have visited; Fender has not just done a little more or been a little better than the rest – they have and are miles ahead in the entire experience of dealing with and understanding customer wants and needs. They go the extra mile without being asked and around the world Fender and these great people in Corona, California create things so iconic to the USA and music as a whole it is amazing how they take all this in their stride without any of the pretentiousness of so many other companies.

Gibson for instance will charge hundreds and hundreds of dollars to add a plastic strip around the edge of a guitar (called a binding) and in some cases, add $1000 for that added extra – not great for the present financial climate and considering how much work you have to do to get Gibsons truly playable.  But with the “can do – will do” and friendly reception that awaits all at Fender; Fender is certainly on the road to a better recovery from the financial doom and gloom of the past few years – and frankly? I will buy from the people who give me their time and effort and appreciate their customers where so many others don’t!

Fender Musical Instrument Corp is now one of (if not) the biggest guitar manufacturers in the world! Their other products include:

Squier

Gretsch

Jackson Guitars

Charvel

Hamer

Tacoma

Guild Guitar Company

SWR Sound Corporation

Sunn

Brand X

Orpheum

Olympia

Heartfield

Starcaster

They are also exclusive the U.S. sales representative for Sabian Cymbals and exclusive worldwide distributor of Takamine Guitars and Gretsch Drums.

Fender APPROVED

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