Monday, January 30, 2012

#96 Grey Area (March 2010)

I used to play in a band with a lead singer who would, for some reason, assign a number to every “personal compromise” he needed to make. I thought it silly at the time. Things had to be done, and so we all did our part to make it happen. He was an ‘artsy’ sort of guy who always wanted to do things for the purity of the art, and things like having to play at the equivalent of the local redneck bar just for the money to enable us to do other things really irked him. More recently, I have been contemplating these things in my own life.

It’s easy to make a stand, lets say, against a company like V-Twin®. Most of their stuff is from Taiwan it seems, and there have been “incidents” where certain parts, such as the ones developed and made by people like Fabricator Kevin and Crime Scene Choppers, have been copied and inferior versions included in the V-Twin catalog. Okay then, that’s the last time we buy from them. But what if you needed a part, and NOBODY else makes it? You have to have it, and there it is sitting right on the offending page of their catalog. Do you go without it? Scour the swap meets for useable original parts?

I was recently accused of not being very “Backstreet” when I advocated a Baker transmission for someone, the thought there being that the cost of that particular piece was more than most budgets would accommodate. Furthermore, since I obviously got a ‘deal’ on the one I run in my Shovel, that made me a shill for the company. The truth here is this: even had I not got a ‘deal’ on the Baker 6 into 4, I would still be running one because I believe it’s such a necessary piece of my personal ride. I would have found a way to make it happen. Some things are not a good subject to compromise.
Or how about you need an electronic part NOW, but you’re strapped for cash? Hey, Wally World has your part for less than you can get on eBay from frikkin Hong Kong... what do you do? No use whining about foreign electronics. How
many computers/TV’s/cameras are made in the USA? Recently, there was a discussion on the online version of Back Talk about people doing tattoos in their kitchens vs. the people who are paying out the ass for licensed premises.
One of the replies went something like “Hey, I’m an outlaw biker, so I don’t play by the rules.” Does that make it right for them to take the bread off the tables of the guys doing it the legal way? Apparently, the aforementioned ‘outlaw biker’ didn’t have a problem with it. Now, I’m sure there are some very talented artists working out of their kitchen, but I don’t think I would be comfortable being worked on by someone with such low regard for his peers. And that’s what it all comes down to I guess: your own personal “comfort zone.”
I recently heard an interview with Pete Townshend in which he said something to the effect of “We stopped playing ‘My Generation’ for years because we felt we would be thought too old to be singing that, but now, since it’s obvious we are too old, we started playing it again.” Again, the comfort zone, something can make you uncomfortable for a while, but then sometimes you just no longer care. I personally know quite a few people who have no problem whatsoever downloading music off the Internet free.

Or watching illegal copies and downloads of new movies, or using ‘hacked’ versions of computer programs so they don’t have to pay for them. I’ll admit that for years I never even thought about such things, but I have come to realize that the theft of intellectual property... is still theft! Somebody, whether it’s a studio technician, a musician, someone who makes a living by working for a promotion company for movies... a whole HOST of characters... are being screwed. You might as well be jimmying the door of their shed and making off with their motorcycle. Oh sure you can point to some example where you found a version of a song where all the members of the band are long dead and nobody really cares, but come on. You can argue that you watching some new movie on an illegal download would only cost Joe the light guy .00000002 cents, but it’s not the point. It all adds up to millions. Joe the light guy gets laid off because the studio can’t afford him any more.

I guess my outlaw biker days are behind me. Sometimes, buying the inferior product is our only choice. When it isn’t, I try to buy the best I can afford. I’ll continue to utilize great tattoo artists such as Jeff Shea and Richiepan. But Wal-Mart televisions? Well, they do sell The Horse there too.

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