The Bean: An Epic Tale of Music, Money, Madness, and Selling One of America’s Rarest Electric Guitars

Travis Bean

Here’s something new via the fine folks at The Billfold:

I can’t even look at it.

It rests inside its case in another room, upright and disused, as it sat by my left shoulder in my office for four years. And before that in a storage shed, and a garage, and before that beneath a bed and a futon. Before the futon it knew a different life entirely, one of bright, sonorous roars in the half-light of clubs and rehearsal rooms, aluminum on nickel on brass back on aluminum, tightrope walks of semi-competent musicianship and curious sideshow regard. Few who encountered it in those days had seen anything like it, and their inquires as to its identity and provenance gratified its owner as he followed their eyes down the length of its neck and across its gleaming curves and answered with the same unfailing, almost intoxicated pride that always accompanied every such reply:

“It’s a Travis Bean.”

And the rest…


  1. CL says:

    I’m a bit late to the table here – somehow never caught on to The Reeler while it was active. But I read your stuff at Movieline, especially the remarkable (and riotous) Oscar Index. To thumb one’s nose at an institution yet at the same time apply a near-Talmudic level of dedication to analyzing it – well, a cinephile’s love/hate view of the Industry was never better encapsulated.

    With your departure and that of Stephanie Z, they might as well turn out the lights in that house. (I hope it wasn’t the Aurora essay that pissed somebody off.) Didn’t know where I’d find your byline again, until a link from Roger Ebert, of all people, brought me to this article.

    I know basically nothing about guitars, but I can relate to the economic and emotional aspects of your story. So a dose of encouragement seemed in order – hopefully not too mawkish – along with thanks for the unique spirit of your work. It is well and truly appreciated.

    Take care.

    • admin says:

      Thank you, CL! I really appreciate your compliments, encouragement and continued readership. Nothing about any particular piece ended my tenure at ML; it was just time for everyone to make a change, alas.

      I am not sure what’s next, though a few things are developing, and I expect that you’ll find whatever transpires linked here as it happens. Keep an eye out, stay in touch, and many thanks again!