“Why My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Geoff Edgers | The Washington Post
In the past decade, electric guitar sales have plummeted, from about 1.5 million sold annually to just over 1 million. The two biggest companies, Gibson and Fender, are in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars. In April, Moody’s downgraded Guitar Center, the largest chain retailer, as it faces $1.6 billion in debt. And at Sweetwater.com, the online retailer, a brand-new, interest-free Fender can be had for as little as $8 a month.
What worries Gruhn is not simply that profits are down. That happens in business. He’s concerned by the “why” behind the sales decline. When he opened his store 46 years ago, everyone wanted to be a guitar god, inspired by the men who roamed the concert stage, including Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Jimmy Page. Now those boomers are retiring, downsizing and adjusting to fixed incomes. They’re looking to shed, not add to, their collections, and the younger generation isn’t stepping in to replace them.
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“African Americans Have Lost Untold Acres of Land Over the Last Century”
Leah Douglas | The Nation
It was Dennis Allen, Matthew’s great-grandfather, who purchased the land on Hilton Head. The son of slaves, Dennis Allen bought his first parcel of nearly 20 acres in 1897, at a time when African Americans were purchasing land across the country. Today, the Allen family owns the largest undeveloped lot on Hilton Head.
But as the land enters its 120th year in the family, the Allens are struggling to hold on to it. Because of ambiguities surrounding the land’s title, there is no primary owner of the property; all of the heirs of the original owners—and there are more than 100 known heirs—are legally co-owners. As such, the land is classified as “heirs’ property,” a designation that makes it vulnerable to being sold without the family’s full consent. As the Allens attempt to overcome a stacked legal system—exacerbated by corrupt lawyers and predatory developers—they are at the center of a decades-long fight to retain black-owned land across the South.
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“Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment”
Katie Benner | The New York Times
More than two dozen women in the technology start-up industry spoke to The Times in recent days about being sexually harassed. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails, and pointed to high-profile venture capitalists such as Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups.
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“The Woodner: 65 Years Of D.C. History In A Single Building”
Brakkton Booker and Tanvi Misra | WAMU
In its heyday in the 1950s, The Woodner was a swanky apartment-hotel, where residents and guests entered the massive lobby through a door held open by a doorman and walked to the elevators over a carpet emblazoned with a cursive “W.” Celebrities like Bob Hope and Jimmy Hoffa roamed its segregated lobby surrounded by women in glittering gowns. Today, the massive building at the northern tip of Mount Pleasant on 16th Street overlooking a branch of Rock Creek is one of the last bastions of affordable housing in the area.
Local historian Izetta Autumn Mobley calls The Woodner “an entire cultural landscape,” a microcosm of the changes Washington has undergone in the last 65 years. As the area around the building transformed from upscale in the 1950s to crime-ridden after the 1968 riots to multi-ethnic and middle class in the 1980s, the community within the Woodner also changed. Now the neighborhood is gentrifying, and The Woodner is moving in the same direction, threatening the sense of community that makes this place unique.
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