Railroads were once common in my life. My mother was a secretary at the Canadian Pacific Railroad HQ in Montreal. Close by our house were two double track railway lines where trains moved constantly every day – huge trains pulled by chains of locomotives. One was the CPR, the other was the CNR. Both went from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I took the CPR Canadian across Canada and back, on vacation with my parents. I once took the CNR Super Continental out to Edmonton. Then I switched to flying, like everybody else. The train got too expensive here, but not in Europe. The last train ride I took was from Geneva to Dusseldorf a few years ago. That cost 100 Euro! I never see trains on Vancouver Island now; there are none. All we have is an abandoned railway line that some people are forever trying vainly to resurrect, which will in all likelihood never happen in my lifetime. Freight still moves by train, although I never see a freight train. One of the first songs I learned to play was Freight Train. I met some hobos in Thunder Bay once, at the rail-yards, when I was attempting to hitch a ride across Ontario. They said they were going to jump a freight train, but since I had no food and no idea where that train was going, I declined to join them, so I took the train to Montreal, sitting in coach overnight and all of several days for $60.
Yamaki guitars were well made, and many had solid tops. The bracing is a copy of a Martin D28, as is the body size. The scale is a bit shorter than Martin, 640mm vs 645mm. The interior bridge plate is rosewood, indicative of high quality. Cheap guitars have spruce. One thing I don’t like is the thick lacquer on the top. I might strip it off, which should improve the tone. A poor man’s D28 for about $50 after I buy tuners and strings.
In 1976 I had the good fortune to have lunch with Deiter Rams at the Braun Headquarters in Kronberg, Germany.
Rams gave me a tour of their design department where they were working on the latest Nizo Super 8 movie camera, among other things. I have owned lots of Braun products, like the coffee grinders, and the wall clock and alarm clock, as well as Braun electric shavers. I still own an old series 3000 shaver that continues to work well, but for the fact that I stopped shaving again and grew a beard. I was surprised however, when last week I spotted a Braun wristwatch in a consignment store for $18. I liked the look of it, and being an admirer of Braun products I decided to buy it. I pried the back off with some difficulty and replaced the battery (379) and it began to work. When I did some research I discovered that Rams didn’t design this watch, but it sure looks like something he would have designed.
I asked Rams why all the Braun products came only in white, or black, and he just said that was how it was. In other words, “it is what it is”. I wasn’t sure if I got it back then, but I recently read an excellent explanation of “it is what it is” in “The Log of the Sea of Cortez” about John Steinbeck’s sea voyage to the Gulf of California in 1939 with his friend Ed Ricketts. I am told that Ricketts actually wrote much of that book, but that Steinbeck got all the credit. So I am not sure who wrote the part on “it is what it is”, but it was fascinating nevertheless.