Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Scott Shaw Guide to International Travel




By Scott Shaw
            As I spend a lot of time out there on, “The Hard Road,” as I like to refer to it, I am often asked questions in regard to how to best travel internationally. To answer, here is, Part One…
            One of the main things that I have to say, before I go into particulars is, look nice — dress nice. Westerners are commonly looked down upon, across the world, because they do not respect customs, and dress so shabby. This being said, what you wear at home, should not necessarily be your fashion choice for international travel. This is to say, if you dress shabby at home, because that is your style, don’t do it internationally. So, forget about the tee-shirts, no matter how accepted they are where you live or how much they cost. Pack a polo shirt instead. They are just as comfortable and they look so much nicer.
            The reason for this is simple; there are a lot of restaurants, religious shrines, and even museums that will not let you in if you are not wearing a collared shirt. It is fine to be overdressed, but you should never be undressed.
            This is the same with shorts. I never recommend wearing shorts. First of all, you will not be admitted into many places if you are wearing shorts. So, save yourself the embarrassment of being turned away. But, more importantly, they do not protect you from the sun, the elements, or even scrapes and scratches. When you are traveling you want to be able to experience all the sights and sounds as best as possible. So, you do not want to damage your body in any way, shape, or form. Wear pants!
            This brings me to jeans. No!
            Again, though you may wear them at home, you will not be let into many restaurants and higher end establishments if that is what you are wearing. No matter how much they cost. And, we all know, some jeans can be very expensive.
            Why bother holding back your options, simply to embrace your style? There are a lot of very comfortable pants out there that are functional, while being fashionable, (if that is what you are after), while still being acceptable in all establishments.
            Shoes… Since I was a teenager and throughout my adult years, tennis shoes have been my mainstay. I wear them with suits, tuxes, everything… Why? It is simple. They are comfortable.
            Here in the States, culture and fashion is very different from many other countries. We, in many cases, allow room for the artist and the fashionista. Other cultures do not. They find it disrespectful if you show up in casual attire, like tennis shoes. For this reason, though I highly recommend you bring a comfortable pair for walking, have a back up.
            Long ago, I realized if you want to wear tennis shoes to do all of your walking and you do not want to weight your luggage down with a traditional pair of hard shoes, there is a great alternative, dance shoes. Companies like Capezio, make black dance shoes that literally squish down to almost nothing in your suitcase. When you need to go out to a nice establishment, they look as good as any dress shoe.
            The other style of shoes I recommend is, walking shoes. In the mid 1980s a company called Rockport and later Dexter began to make these shoes that were designed externally to look like dress shoes but internally they are like tennis shoes. In more recent years, companies like Sketchers have followed a similar path, but made the shoes much more fashion friendly. If you have limited space and want to travel light, go for a pair of shoes like these. Then, you can have comfortable feet while walking and still look good when you go out to dinner.
            The main thing is, wear shoes that have a rubber style sole. You never want to wear shoes with a slick sole. And, for women, do not wear high heels. I can tell you from personal experiences, as I have been attacked a few times out there on the hard road, if you have to fight and kick someone in the groin, the head, or run, you do not want to be wearing shoes with slick soles or you may fall. You need to always be wearing sturdy shoes that you can maneuver in, and if necessary kick ass.
            This leads me to sandals and flip-flops. No! Do not wear them. They are not good for long walks. They do not look nice, and you will not be allowed to enter many establishments if you are wearing them. But, more importantly, they offer your feet no protection. If your feet are damaged, much of your trip may be ruined.
            Also, always make sure your shoes are well broken-in before you bring them on a journey. A funny, (well not that funny), story happened to me in regard to this matter. Since they were introduced, I loved Nike hiking shoes. Every pair I had were very comfortable and durable. Just before I was on my way to East Asia, I purchased a new pair — assuming that they would be like all the other pairs I had. I arrived and begin to walk. This pair destroyed my feet. As high-end tennis shoes were very expensive where I was, (in comparison to the States), and I couldn’t even find a pair that was big enough, when I was finally willing to pay the price, my journey really suffered. So, break-in your shoes!
            Since 9/11 the rules about what you can and cannot take on airplanes, in regard to shampoos, shaving creams, sunscreen lotions, and the like are continually changing. So, you will need to check that out with your particular airline before you travel. I can tell you about one experience I had. I was flying into Shanghai for an extended stay in the mid 1980s. When I unpacked I discovered that my shaving cream had exploded. Now, this was not my first trip to Shanghai and I knew everywhere to go to buy necessary items. But, nobody had any shaving cream. What I ended up doing was that each day, in the shower, I would soap my face up and in association with the water and the steam I was able to get a pretty good shave. The point is, while traveling, you will forget things, lose things, or things will explode and you will not have all of the amenities that you have at home. What you need to do is not shut down but explore your options and make new things work for you.
            Many people either over pack or under pack when they are preparing for a journey. Both can cause you to not have an ideal travel experience. Here is my normal packing listing. I have used this for journeys that have lasted one week, to trips that have gone on for as long as two months. Though this clothing segment is designed mainly for men. (As obviously, I am a man). It can, however, be easily adapted for women. And, this list includes what I am wearing while I travel.

Here it is:
One suit (matching pants and a coat).
One sport coat.
Two pairs of pants.
Five shirts.
Fire underpants.
Five tee-shirts.
Five pairs of socks.
One pair of tennis shoes (running or cross training).
One pair of dress shoes.
Two neckties.
One belt, black.
One pair of sweatpants.
One pair of swim trunks.

Here are the particulars of this list:
            Sport coats or suit coats are great for men (and women) because they allow you to look nice while carry necessary items in your pockets.
            Two pairs of pants (in addition to the one pair that is associated with the suit). You can intermingle them as necessary.
            Choose five shirts that you can intermingle and match with your pants and jackets. This way you will always be able to present a fresh look.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing your clothing for travel is that dark colors and prints hide stains much better. As we all periodically spill things, and when you’re traveling you may not have the opportunity to change right away, it is best to wear clothing that conceals stains. This is why solid whites and light colors are not ideal travel colors.
            Five underpants. Wear either briefs or boxer-brief style. As you will probably be walking a lot, you really need the absorption of sweat provided by this style of underwear. Boxers just will not do it and you can easily develop a rash.
            Five under or tee-shirts. Wearing an undershirt is something that I discovered in India many years ago. If you only wear a shirt, all of your sweat soaks through the shirt; then you and your shirt look very bad. If you wear an undershirt, however, all of the sweat is absorbed before it gets to your shirt. I personally wear tank tops. But, whatever style works best for you. It is your choice.
            Five pairs of socks. Ideally, I recommend black workout socks, because they are absorbent, comfortable, and they look fine if you are wearing a suit. But whatever color or style you choose, it is best if they are all the same color. In this way, if you lose one, (as socks always seem to get lost), you can easily intermingle your remaining pairs.
            The reason I bring one pair of sweatpants is that they serve two functions. One, you can sleep in them in association with a tee shirt. Two, you can work out in them with a polo shirt.
            The swim trunks are obviously for swimming. They can also be used to work out in. And, if it is warm where you are, you can also sleep in them.
            When packing all of your stuff there is an endless choice in suitcases. Choose what works best for you. One thing not pack your items in, however, is a backpack. Across the world, everyone associates backpacks with hippies. And, nobody likes hippies.
            A word of warning. Women do not carry a purse, particularly a designer handbag. There is a lot of thievery across the globe and if your purse is loose in your hand or on your arm, you are just inviting a purse-snatcher to steal it. If you must carry a purse, carry a small one with a long strap that you can wear over your shoulder and across your body.
            There are also a lot of pickpockets out there. And, they are very good. You will never know that your wallet or your passport was stolen until it is too late. So for both men and women, if you are carrying things in your pocket, either keep them in deep front pockets or use the button to latch down your back pockets. This is the same with sport coats. Many sport coats have a button on at least one of the inner pockets. If you need to carry your wallet or passport with you, put it in that pocket and button it. Even if it is a bit of hassle to open and close it, it is worth the trouble to keep your items safe.
            Okay, there you have it. The first installment of the Scott Shaw Guide to International Travel. Hope it helps and gives you some food for thought.

Copyright © 2011 — All Rights Reserved.

This article ca also be found on Scott Shaw.com at The Scott Shaw Guide to International Travel.

The Kris Derrig Les Paul



By Scott Shaw
            I have noticed that there has been a lot of discussion about the evolution of the Kris Derrig Les Paul on the Internet. Much of this discussion is speculation and incorrect. As such, I thought I would write a few words on the subject as I was an actual friend of Kris.' I knew him when he was happy and healthy and I sadly watched him fade away into sickness and death.
            For the record, Kris' name is sometimes spelled Chris in the media and on the Internet. But, this is incorrect.

The Kris Derrig Les Paul
            The story of Kris' Les Paul creations, (in California), occurred when he was hired in the mid 1980s by my long-time friend, Jim Foote, (who is every bit the luthier that Kris was). At that time, customizing and creating custom guitars was a common order of business. Jim, who was then working on guitars for many of the top rock stars of the era, hired Kris to help him refinish and customize guitars. In fact, many superstar bands of the era, such as Ratt, Great White, Dokken, and Guns and Roses, commonly rehearsed at Jim’s shop, the Music Works, which had a rehearsal studio set up in the back building. From this, many of the bands had much of their guitar work done at the Music Works in association with their rehearsals.
            Kris’ Les Pauls have become somewhat legendary in the industry as he only made a few before his untimely passing, from lung cancer, at the age of thirty-two. Most notably, Slash plays one, as does Lenny Kravitz. There are only about seven or eight other California made Kris Derrig Les Pauls out there that I am aware of. When he was making them at the Music Works, he had more than one client, who would further age the guitar, once it was created, and then sell it as an original 1958 Gibson Les Paul. So, some of his creation may never be found — as they are thought to be a true Gibson Les Paul. But, for the aficionado, if you look at the routing and the pickup cavities, Kris created them slightly different from the Gibsons of the late 1950s.
           Side Note: A little known fact is that, aside from being a luthier of guitars, Kris was also a hairstylist. He had been trained and practiced his craft when he lived in Atlanta. As such, he would periodically cut the hair of staff members, customers, and friends of the Music Works.

The 1960 Kris Derrig Les Paul
            The history of the guitar he made for me began when Kris had some free time and began to create a new Les Paul to sell — as he was always in need of money. In association with making guitars and customizing others, he was busy converting a vintage Pontiac Tempest into a GTO. Each week he would go to the pick-a-part junk yard seeking parts for his automotive creation. One afternoon, at about four o'clock, he called me up. He had found a part he really needed. I forget what it was. But, he needed money fast. $950.00 to be exact. This is what he asked me to pay him for the Les Paul, though he normally charged in excess of $1,500.00. I went to the bank and gave him the money later that afternoon.
            As it was still not complete, I wanted Kris to take the guitar in a slightly different direction from the other Les Pauls he had crated while at the Music Works. So, I brought him a set of, “Patent Applied For,” gold Grover tuning keys that I had laying around, a set of Gibson PAFs with gold posts and pickup covers, and a vintage gold Gibson ABR bridge. He finished the guitar the next week, grabbing some of the remaining needed parts from the wall of the Music Works, which annoyed Jim. "Someone has to pay me for those parts!" I guess it was Kris, because it wasn't me.
            Kris made the guitar with the inspiration of the 1960 Gibson Les Paul. The neck is thin like a 1960 Les Paul and the Serial Number reflects 1960 Gibson. All of Kris' other Les Pauls are based on the late 1950s Les Pauls, which makes the one he created for me a very unique piece of Kris' heritage.
            When Kris created the guitar he tried to match the sunburst of the 1960 Les Paul that he saw in books, but the color was somewhat off. I knew this because I owned an actual 1960 Gibson Les Paul. In the early 1990s, long after Kris' passing, I had Jim Foote refinish it for me. He did a great job and matched 1960 Gibson coloring perfectly. He then let it hang in his shop for a couple of years, as he was distracted by other projects. Though I would have preferred to have it put together, the time did sun-age the finish perfectly.
            And, that is the story of the creation of the 1960 Kris Derrig Les Paul.
            From a personal perspective, I played the guitar at a few recording sessions. It is the guitar I played on my Neil Young inspired instrumental, "Hurricane," on the album, Beggar’s Grave and re-released on Psychedelic Jazz. I also used it at a couple of photo shoots, and in a couple of films. Most notably, The Rock n' Roll Cops, where I played the Derrig Les Paul and loaned my co-star my '64 Gibson Trini Lopez.
            Mostly, Kris was a great guy and a close friend. He has been missed since his passing over twenty years ago. He was one of those unique individuals who left this place we call LIFE way too soon.

Copyright © 2006 — All Rights Reserved.
This article can also be found at Scott Shaw.com, The Kris Derrig Les Paul

Is Scott Shaw a Nihilist?


By Scott Shaw

            I was cruising down the coast between Santa Barbara and L.A. a couple of weeks ago with this sweet young lady. She was looking at her twitter feed and she noticed that somebody had quoted me.
            It is pretty common that people quote my books, Zen O’clock, About Peace, and Nirvana in a Nutshell on twitter, because they are made up of short spiritual aphorisms.
            Anyway, she noticed that somebody had commented on the original tweet, “That sounds pretty nihilistic.”
            She turned and asked me, “What does nihilistic mean?”
            Her question made me smile due to the fact that she didn’t know what nihilism was.
            I gave her the basic off-the-cuff definition… Someone who is nihilistic believes that life has no absolute meaning and that religions and philosophies hold no absolute truth.
            “Are you nihilistic,” she asked.  Again, I smiled.
            Do I believe that life holds an absolute meaning? No.
            Do I believe that religion possesses an absolute truth? No.
            Do I believe in a specific religion or philosophy? No.
            Does that make me a nihilist? Maybe… But, I think it is a bit more complicated than that.  By nature, I am extremely optimistic. I believe in people. I believe in goodness. I believe that people will make the right choices and do the right things — even though I have been proven wrong time and time again.  But, I still believe!
            So, is Scott Shaw a nihilist? Maybe. But, as a nihilist that would mean that I also don’t believe in absolute definitions.  So, the whole question possesses no merit.
            Ultimately, if Scott Shaw is a nihilist, he is an optimistic one. :-)

This is Life.
This is Zen
This is Scott Shaw Signing Out. 

They’re the Ones Talking About Me I’m Not the One Talking About Them


By Scott Shaw
            Long ago I coined the statement, “You know you’re famous when people you’ve never met say things about you that aren’t true.” This came about when I read an article someone had written about me that was full of unsubstantiated falsehoods and flat out untruths. Yet, the person who wrote it had the appearance of being credentialed in his field and presented the paper in a very formulated format. Though the reading of it amused me to no end, I later began to contemplate how someone who didn’t know me and read it would believe the false words to be fact, not fiction. And, here is where the problem(s) begin…      
            Ever since I first began writing poetry, novels, articles, books, painting, and making music and movies, people began to draw conclusions about me. This is a fact of life, when you create, people who love, hate, or don’t care about what you create are going to come to their own conclusions about your work and yourself; be they true or false.
            In times gone past, opinions were kept to one’s circle of friends. If you were going to send your opinion about a person or their creation to a magazine, more times than not, the magazine would fact-check the writing before it was ever published. This is the world I grew up in. Throughout my studies at the various universities I attended and later when I began to be published as a journalist and an author, what I wrote had to possess a verifiable factual essence. You had to prove what you said. Then came the age of the Internet and the publish-on-demand world of printing. Anybody could say anything and there is no one there to challenge what a person says. Sure, you can get into twitter wars with a person but what is the point? People believe what they choose to believe, whether it be true or not.
            The fact is, in today’s world, when someone says something about somebody that is not based in fact, the lie simply continues to spread. I have seen one person say something about me that was completely untrue and then I have seen that same statement quoted by another and another. All false, yet it is presented as if it were the truth, when it is not.
            This is the thing about the life of the creative… The creative, create. The others talk about those who create.
            Whenever I teach a university class or a seminar I always pose the question to my students, “Who do you want to be? The creative or those who talk about the creative?”
            In a world where you can say anything about anybody with little consequence, the only person you are beholden to is yourself and the karmic destiny you lay out that will unfold in front of you based upon your deeds, actions, and words. Therefore, it is you who must ask the question of yourself, “Are you a person who speaks of others, expounding your opinions about an individual based upon your own appraisal of their words and creations or are you a person who is the source of your own creations?” Yes, being the source point of your own creations will put you in the bull’s-eye but it will be something wholly you own. If, on the other hand, you spent your time focused upon analyzing the creations of others and the personage of who created them, all you are doing is further spreading the myth of that individual.
            If you speak the truth that is the truth, then the truth will be known and the truth will embrace you. If you spread the lie, based upon your judgment(s), then all you will be known as is a liar once the truth is revealed and all you will be defined as is an individual who relished in the limelight of others.

This is Life.
This is Zen.
This is Scott Shaw Signing Out.