An Abridged History of Extravagant Gifts

Cari Carissimi,

That salutation is a joke, dear dearests, and so was that and so, I suppose, is this.

Full disclosure, this broadcast was mentally conceived in skeletal form, by which I mean I had .3 ideas, prior to this most recent round of ground-gaining by some nonzero number of horsemen of the apocalypse. Nevertheless I am going to tell you about gratitude even though it feels like a wet noodle or that “wah wah wah wah” sound, at absolute best, if you have your eyes open and anything at all beating in your chest. Or maybe “at best” would be something like you mentally saying “thanks, Andrea, for being remotely oriented towards joy about anything these days” and meaning it. 

The image above that graces your inbox or web browser is an iPhone’s rendering of the insides of my Wurlitzer 200, which until that photo was taken I thought was manufactured in Logan, Utah, on some day falling between 1972 and 1974, but the guy to whom I delivered this instrument and who will be conducting its full restoration looked at me with confuzzlement, which is a word that my son invented, when I made the claim. I suppose one of you could have heard or even invented the word “confuzzlement,” in which case we have an interesting iterative situation going: I say “the guy was confuzzled at my claim about my electric piano’s date and place of birth; “confuzzle” is my son’s word,” which would make you feel just like the guy in question as I present highly contestable information: confuzzled. Relatedly, I knew someone who claimed to have invented “issues,” as in “I have issues with this paragraph.” 

Ok, congratulations on getting out of those weeds. Let us move on to How I Came To Acquire This Instrument, and the relationship of said acquisition to a Dean Markley amplifier and an espresso machine, all unfolding over decades and indicative of my foundational concept of generosity. The Wurlitzer Electric Piano in both 200 and 200A form became a fantasy instrument to me in a two-step process: 1. Coveting the sound of my friend nicknamed The Stroke’s playing in Cloud Nine Music in Ann Arbor during my escape from Graduate School the First; then 2. playing my then-new songs on Steve Albini’s instrument at Electrical Audio in Chicago at a 2005 recording session. The recording session had nothing to do with my then-new songs, and full disclosure I also attempted Billy Joel’s “Summer, Highland Falls” which is way harder than my little knickknacks, and I think the whole incident embarrassed the rest of the band. Sidebar: Steve Albini discovered that you could dip Nutter Butters in chipotle salsa and it would taste Not Bad at about the same time that I re-discovered my devotion to the instrument, which rhetorically serves to further link music to refreshment such that the aforementioned espresso machine’s arrival, in a little while, might seem seamless.

Shortly thereafter I mentioned to my parents that I loved beyond measure the Wurlitzer 200/200A Electric Piano, and even though Operation Make Music had to that point resulted in significant credit card debt and an office job in times square writing fake standardized tests, upon my 25th birthday I was presented with this one, that my father drove out to Bay Ridge to pick up after winning an eBay auction. (He was well-practiced in eBay auctioning, coming off of cornering the market on approximately every California Raisin figurine in existence, but driving from New Fairfield to Bay Ridge to Sunnyside was significantly less in his comfort zone).

I was knocked out and immediately ran it to an amplifier and played. But before fingers pressed keys, as I handled the 1/4” plug, I imagine I might have remembered another cable run, this time early in high school: FINALLY my guitar amp was back from the repair shop and I could play the one scale I knew on my black and white Squier, yet ANOTHER gift, but something weird was happening: I could not plug in the cable because the crappy amp made less crappy post-repair was actually NOT the amp I was plugging into. It was a NEW amp, a Dean Markley, big step up. Surprise! 

This keeps happening. In fact it happened last week, as my parents prepared to leave Northfield for points east. “You probably should let me hold onto the espresso machine,” I’d joked, pretending that the other retirees in their building might be lured in by the promise of lattes and recyclable pods. They laughed. And then a new one arrived on my front porch a few days later. Surprise!

This is how they are. They can be that way and the world can be this way and holding those realities together is A Lot To Process but it has the virtue of being true. 

I wish you gratitude in difficult times and shower you with an abundance of spent nespresso pods which are recyclable,