Of Gibson Guitars and A.J. Delgado

Readability

Of Gibson Guitars and A.J. Delgado

This is one of those “to tell the story I first have to tell you this story” posts, so please bear with.

Dur­ing the early months of last year (Feb­ru­ary, to be pre­cise), I posted a lengthy dis­ser­ta­tion on my per­sonal blog about my favorite gui­tar and its assorted adven­tures since com­ing into my pos­ses­sion a few years ago. Said gui­tar is a 1976 Gib­son Les Paul Deluxe, which as noted in the afore­men­tioned post is pretty much the absolute low end of desir­abil­ity among elec­tric gui­tar players/​collectors in gen­eral and Les Paul afi­ciona­dos in par­tic­u­lari. This holds firm even with the Les Paul being rivaled only by the Fender Stra­to­caster in terms of pop­u­lar­ity among six-​string gun­slingers. Nev­er­the­less, it is my instru­ment of choice.

In my case, I bought my Les Paul off of ebay (some hard-​earned wis­dom when it comes to gui­tar buy­ing and ebay: don’t mix the two). It arrived sorely in need of some ten­der lov­ing care, which after being applied trans­formed the gui­tar into a gen­uinely superb instru­ment despite all the slag­ging said model, made dur­ing said time period, usu­ally receives.

Although it seems impos­si­ble given how you can­not find a rock’n’roll band of any stripe from the past forty-​five years with­out a Les Paul being close at, if not in, hand, there was a time when Gib­son dropped it from its prod­uct line due to years of steadily declin­ing sales. Through­out nearly the entirety of the 1960s, not a sin­gle one was built. It was only in 1969 that demand cre­ated by the Eric Clap­tons and Jimmy Pages of this world among oth­ers reached a suf­fi­cient level for the guitar’s rein­tro­duc­tion, and even then halt­ingly; it would be two decades before new own­er­ship both res­cued Gib­son from immi­nent demise and brought the Les Paul back in any­thing close to its orig­i­nal, highly prized form. How highly prized? The ones made from 1957 to 1960, after which pro­duc­tion was halted, rou­tinely com­mand six fig­ures, often with a crooked num­ber lead­ing the way.

Which leads from this story to the story, namely A.J. Delgado.

Ms. Del­gado was, until the end of last year, a long­time mem­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive new media’s upper ech­e­lon. The daugh­ter of Cuban immi­grants, Ms. Del­gado was an estab­lished lawyer before she started rou­tinely grac­ing assorted high flyer pub­li­ca­tions and becom­ing a reg­u­lar guest on polit­i­cal tele­vi­sion. In last year’s Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — which, by the way, is still over — she threw her sup­port to Don­ald Trump, going so far as to directly work for his cam­paign. It was dur­ing this time period she met a man who also worked for the cam­paign, and as hap­pens (not excus­ing it, just stat­ing the facts) an office romance ensued. Yes, the man was mar­ried, but he swore to Ms. Del­gado that he and his wife were sep­a­rated. It later became appar­ent the man’s inter­pre­ta­tion of what entails being sep­a­rated from one’s spouse was quite dif­fer­ent than the norm, as when Ms. Del­gado informed him she was unex­pect­edly expect­ing, he responded with, “So is my wife.” Awkward.

After drop­ping a few quite unsub­tle hints about what had been/​was going on, Ms. Del­gado went silent on social media for sev­eral months while most every­one who had feted her just weeks before dropped her like a hot potato. No more writ­ing gigs. No more tele­vi­sion appear­ances. It got to the point where a now thor­oughly unem­ployed Ms. Del­gado was forced to move in with her mother. She recently gave birth to a son, and has now re-​emerged on social media talk­ing not pol­i­tics, but per­sonal mat­ters related to being a new, sin­gle mother.

A third ele­ment now enters the story, that being a story in and of itself: Jesus and the woman caught in adul­tery. When you read John’s account, note that there was no ques­tion of whether the woman was being falsely accused. She was guilty. The penalty for adul­tery under Mosaic law was being stoned to death. The law called for both guilty par­ties to be stoned to death, but appar­ently the man involved in this affair was either con­sid­ered insuf­fi­ciently guilty or was deemed inad­e­quate for this exercise’s pri­mary pur­pose which had noth­ing to do with fol­low­ing the law. It was an effort to trap Jesus in His own words. Say let her go, and Jesus would be vio­lat­ing the law. Say stone her, and all of Jesus’ words about for­giv­ing sin and such would be exposed as hol­low rhetoric. Let’s see you get out of this one, car­pen­ter boy!

Jesus, rather than respond­ing, said noth­ing; instead (depend­ing on which trans­la­tion you read) stoop­ing over or sit­ting down on the ground and begin­ning to write in the dust with His fin­ger. What He wrote was not recorded. Most the­olo­gians and such over the ensu­ing cen­turies have sur­mised Jesus was writ­ing down a list of the sins com­mit­ted by the would-​be rock chuck gang. Could well be. Could also be He was writ­ing, “Get ready to be dis­ap­pointed, boys; you’re about to get the first and last word in mic drop a cou­ple of thou­sand years before there are any mics to drop.” At this point Jesus stood up, said His famous few words about who­ever was there that was with­out sin could go right ahead and start turn­ing the adul­ter­ess into a minia­ture quarry, and resumed his writ­ing as the crowd one by one dropped their stones in more ways than one and walked away, even­tu­ally leav­ing only Jesus and the adulteress.

Jesus, doubt­less thank­ful that Richard Rosen­blatt and Ritchie Cordell had not yet writ­ten “I Think We’re Alone Now,” asked what to the woman most likely seemed like a bizarre ques­tion: where are your accusers? Has no one con­demned you? She sti­fled the temp­ta­tion of respond­ing, “Uh … don’t you see there’s no one here? Why are you ask­ing me the obvi­ous?” Instead, she replied with a sim­ple, “No, Lord.” Pre­sum­ably she had heard of Jesus before this moment; He was the talk of the nation. Per­haps she had even heard Him speak, or heard one of His dis­ci­ples when Jesus sent them out to evan­ge­lize. Per­haps not. Nev­er­the­less, even in her utterly ter­ri­fied state — remem­ber, just a few min­utes before this moment she was going to be bru­tally exe­cuted — she real­ized the Man before her was far, far more than just another itin­er­ant preacher. Jesus had done what no mere man could have done. He had saved her life.

Jesus then said, “Nei­ther do I (con­demn you). Go and sin no more.” Mull this over for a moment. Jesus nei­ther con­demned the woman for her actions nor con­doned them. Instead, he offered mercy and grace accom­pa­nied by a stern warn­ing: leave your past life behind. No more adul­tery. You should be dead right now. Instead, this is your chance to begin life anew. Don’t blow it. (It has long and often been sur­mised the woman was Mary Mag­da­lene, who would later reap­pear in the Gospels, but there is no hard Scrip­tural evi­dence for this either yea or nay.)

By now, the log­i­cal con­clu­sion is, “Ah-​HAH! He’s com­par­ing the story of Jesus and the adul­ter­ess to A.J. Delgado’s story!” Actu­ally, no, although it does serve a pur­pose of illus­trat­ing why peo­ple should lay off the judg­men­tal junk. The real com­par­i­son is between Ms. Del­gado and the Les Paul gui­tar in gen­eral, my Les Paul Deluxe in particular.

Like the Les Paul, Ms. Delgado’s glory days, if you will, came before she went offline to focus on her new role as a sin­gle mom. Like the Les Paul on its first go-​around, Ms. Del­gado was shunned. Like my Les Paul Deluxe, since her reen­try into the pub­lic realm Ms. Del­gado has been con­sid­ered as quite the lesser to her for­mer self, hav­ing had an affair with a mar­ried man and hav­ing birthed a child out of wed­lock. This time last year she was the hot hand, the promi­nent fea­ture. Now, she changes dia­pers in soli­tude, the cam­eras and clamor hav­ing long departed.

It is easy to say Ms. Del­gado is reap­ing what she has sown, thus elim­i­nat­ing the need to extend any of that love, grace, and mercy stuff. Sure, give her credit for not mur­der­ing … er, abort­ing her son when it would have been all too easy to do so, deny all rumors of an affair, and carry on with every­thing as before. Other than that, for­get about it. And her.

There is another option.

One could try the nei­ther con­don­ing nor con­demn­ing tack. You know, what would Jesus do. Or, in this case, did. He offered the adul­ter­ess a fresh start, bring­ing her back lit­er­ally from the brink of death and telling her you have another chance; don’t throw it away by throw­ing your­self into the wrong man’s arms again. He offered her grace and mercy. All she had to do was accept it and, going for­ward, walk with Him fig­u­ra­tively by her side, fol­low­ing His teach­ings and allow­ing her­self to be trans­formed by His love. You know … like my Les Paul Deluxe when it was prop­erly treated, chang­ing it from a some­what bat­tered and thor­oughly unwanted relic to some­thing of immense value. At least to me. And cer­tainly Ms. Del­gado is of infi­nitely greater value than any guitar.

So what do you say? Maybe extend the same love, grace, and mercy to her God has extended to each of us? Maybe send her some encour­ag­ing words and lift her up in prayer? Maybe, just maybe, acknowl­edge that in devot­ing her­self to her son Ms. Del­gado is doing some­thing of great value, some­thing that deserves a tip of the cap to the per­son doing this thing?

C’mon. We can do it.

Let’s do it.

https://youtu.be/UH5wFCc5ZKg

This is one of those “to tell the story I first have to tell you this story” posts, so please bear with.

During the early months of last year (February, to be precise), I posted a lengthy dissertation on my personal blog about my favorite guitar and its assorted adventures since coming into my possession a few years ago. Said guitar is a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, which as noted in the aforementioned post is pretty much the absolute low end of desirability among electric guitar players/collectors in general and Les Paul aficionados in particulari. This holds firm even with the Les Paul being rivaled only by the Fender Stratocaster in terms of popularity among six-string gunslingers. Nevertheless, it is my instrument of choice.

In my case, I bought my Les Paul off of ebay (some hard-earned wisdom when it comes to guitar buying and ebay: don’t mix the two). It arrived sorely in need of some tender loving care, which after being applied transformed the guitar into a genuinely superb instrument despite all the slagging said model, made during said time period, usually receives.

Although it seems impossible given how you cannot find a rock’n’roll band of any stripe from the past forty-five years without a Les Paul being close at, if not in, hand, there was a time when Gibson dropped it from its product line due to years of steadily declining sales. Throughout nearly the entirety of the 1960s, not a single one was built. It was only in 1969 that demand created by the Eric Claptons and Jimmy Pages of this world among others reached a sufficient level for the guitar’s reintroduction, and even then haltingly; it would be two decades before new ownership both rescued Gibson from imminent demise and brought the Les Paul back in anything close to its original, highly prized form. How highly prized? The ones made from 1957 to 1960, after which production was halted, routinely command six figures, often with a crooked number leading the way.

Which leads from this story to the story, namely A.J. Delgado.

Ms. Delgado was, until the end of last year, a longtime member of conservative new media’s upper echelon. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Ms. Delgado was an established lawyer before she started routinely gracing assorted high flyer publications and becoming a regular guest on political television. In last year’s Presidential election – which, by the way, is still over – she threw her support to Donald Trump, going so far as to directly work for his campaign. It was during this time period she met a man who also worked for the campaign, and as happens (not excusing it, just stating the facts) an office romance ensued. Yes, the man was married, but he swore to Ms. Delgado that he and his wife were separated. It later became apparent the man’s interpretation of what entails being separated from one’s spouse was quite different than the norm, as when Ms. Delgado informed him she was unexpectedly expecting, he responded with, “So is my wife.” Awkward.

After dropping a few quite unsubtle hints about what had been/was going on, Ms. Delgado went silent on social media for several months while most everyone who had feted her just weeks before dropped her like a hot potato. No more writing gigs. No more television appearances. It got to the point where a now thoroughly unemployed Ms. Delgado was forced to move in with her mother. She recently gave birth to a son, and has now re-emerged on social media talking not politics, but personal matters related to being a new, single mother.

A third element now enters the story, that being a story in and of itself: Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. When you read John’s account, note that there was no question of whether the woman was being falsely accused. She was guilty. The penalty for adultery under Mosaic law was being stoned to death. The law called for both guilty parties to be stoned to death, but apparently the man involved in this affair was either considered insufficiently guilty or was deemed inadequate for this exercise’s primary purpose which had nothing to do with following the law. It was an effort to trap Jesus in His own words. Say let her go, and Jesus would be violating the law. Say stone her, and all of Jesus’ words about forgiving sin and such would be exposed as hollow rhetoric. Let’s see you get out of this one, carpenter boy!

Jesus, rather than responding, said nothing; instead (depending on which translation you read) stooping over or sitting down on the ground and beginning to write in the dust with His finger. What He wrote was not recorded. Most theologians and such over the ensuing centuries have surmised Jesus was writing down a list of the sins committed by the would-be rock chuck gang. Could well be. Could also be He was writing, “Get ready to be disappointed, boys; you’re about to get the first and last word in mic drop a couple of thousand years before there are any mics to drop.” At this point Jesus stood up, said His famous few words about whoever was there that was without sin could go right ahead and start turning the adulteress into a miniature quarry, and resumed his writing as the crowd one by one dropped their stones in more ways than one and walked away, eventually leaving only Jesus and the adulteress.

Jesus, doubtless thankful that Richard Rosenblatt and Ritchie Cordell had not yet written “I Think We’re Alone Now,” asked what to the woman most likely seemed like a bizarre question: where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? She stifled the temptation of responding, “Uh … don’t you see there’s no one here? Why are you asking me the obvious?” Instead, she replied with a simple, “No, Lord.” Presumably she had heard of Jesus before this moment; He was the talk of the nation. Perhaps she had even heard Him speak, or heard one of His disciples when Jesus sent them out to evangelize. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, even in her utterly terrified state – remember, just a few minutes before this moment she was going to be brutally executed – she realized the Man before her was far, far more than just another itinerant preacher. Jesus had done what no mere man could have done. He had saved her life.

Jesus then said, “Neither do I (condemn you). Go and sin no more.” Mull this over for a moment. Jesus neither condemned the woman for her actions nor condoned them. Instead, he offered mercy and grace accompanied by a stern warning: leave your past life behind. No more adultery. You should be dead right now. Instead, this is your chance to begin life anew. Don’t blow it. (It has long and often been surmised the woman was Mary Magdalene, who would later reappear in the Gospels, but there is no hard Scriptural evidence for this either yea or nay.)

By now, the logical conclusion is, “Ah-HAH! He’s comparing the story of Jesus and the adulteress to A.J. Delgado’s story!” Actually, no, although it does serve a purpose of illustrating why people should lay off the judgmental junk. The real comparison is between Ms. Delgado and the Les Paul guitar in general, my Les Paul Deluxe in particular.

Like the Les Paul, Ms. Delgado’s glory days, if you will, came before she went offline to focus on her new role as a single mom. Like the Les Paul on its first go-around, Ms. Delgado was shunned. Like my Les Paul Deluxe, since her reentry into the public realm Ms. Delgado has been considered as quite the lesser to her former self, having had an affair with a married man and having birthed a child out of wedlock. This time last year she was the hot hand, the prominent feature. Now, she changes diapers in solitude, the cameras and clamor having long departed.

It is easy to say Ms. Delgado is reaping what she has sown, thus eliminating the need to extend any of that love, grace, and mercy stuff. Sure, give her credit for not murdering … er, aborting her son when it would have been all too easy to do so, deny all rumors of an affair, and carry on with everything as before. Other than that, forget about it. And her.

There is another option.

One could try the neither condoning nor condemning tack. You know, what would Jesus do. Or, in this case, did. He offered the adulteress a fresh start, bringing her back literally from the brink of death and telling her you have another chance; don’t throw it away by throwing yourself into the wrong man’s arms again. He offered her grace and mercy. All she had to do was accept it and, going forward, walk with Him figuratively by her side, following His teachings and allowing herself to be transformed by His love. You know … like my Les Paul Deluxe when it was properly treated, changing it from a somewhat battered and thoroughly unwanted relic to something of immense value. At least to me. And certainly Ms. Delgado is of infinitely greater value than any guitar.

So what do you say? Maybe extend the same love, grace, and mercy to her God has extended to each of us? Maybe send her some encouraging words and lift her up in prayer? Maybe, just maybe, acknowledge that in devoting herself to her son Ms. Delgado is doing something of great value, something that deserves a tip of the cap to the person doing this thing?

C’mon. We can do it.

Let’s do it.