A Much Belated CMJ Report

CMJ in New York City is a clusterfuck. Too many bands billed at each venue for them to handle with ease in one night. Too many shows to choose from all within a 2-block radius with about fifty bands you have never heard of and only nine you have. And too many people who are there for the “CMJ” experience rather than to witness the bands. Nevertheless, this CMJ was a good one.

My first year of CMJ, I avoided it completely. The second year, I managed to catch one show: Prince Rama live the Cake Shop. At the show, I met Sara, a pixie-nosed blonde. Afterwards, we shared a drink at Arlene's Grocery and talked about how it’s possible for a realist to be an optimist. Later we snuck into a 24-gym. That morning, I woke up on the train at Coney Island cold and lonely.

This year, I was determined to make CMJ better. SM slaughtered me with emails for CMJ events. Many events featured sponsorships from various organizations including: marketing organizations (Terrorbird Media, Sneak Attack Media), the press (Noisey, Relix, Stereogum, Nylon), and even the automotive business (Scion). This CMJ, I managed to see nine different bands, a tiny sliver of the 1000+ bands booked in New York City for the five-day festival.

My CMJ began on a Tuesday at the Brooklyn Bowl, a deceptively high-quality music venue with excellent live rock sound, immersive lighting, and plenty of space. A tall and lumpy red-velvet curtain runs high behind a wide stage facing a pit the size of a middle school gym perpendicular to sixteen lanes of bowling. Bowling balls whir up the gutter as others crash into clusters of pins. Cheers follow. All of these sounds then disappear as the band starts to play.

Opening at the Bowl were the sisters of SHEL, a quartet from Colorado equipped with keyboard, mandolin, fiddle, and djembe playing ambitious and hearty (as in full of heart) acoustic pop. Honestly SHEL could become the next darlings of the audiophile world with their diverse instrumentation and rich harmonies. They even have a song called “Vinyl Memories”! Mikey’s gotta hear it. Their self-titled release sounds a little squashed on some of the material and other recordings more dynamic, but holy crap are the songs well-written.

Like anyone who shows up at a-show-of-a-band-they’ve-never-seen-before-where-there’s-a-mandolin-player, I wondered, “Are they going to play Battle of Evermore?” This usually never happens, but by George. Their version starts with a vocal introduction mimicking the original’s guitar and mandolin harmonies followed by a bare-bones verse: mandolin with a simplified strum and lead vocal. In comes the fleshy earth-pounding djembe, and suddenly the girls are in full swing with each other performing with gusto and recreating a classic with respect.

Particularly striking was an instrumental piece titled “Tuscany” by mandolinist Eva Holbrook. A duet between herself and violinist Sarah Holbrook (yes, the girls are all sisters: Sarah, Hannah, Eva, Liza—SHEL—now do you get it? SHEL?). Eva’s dynamic performance featured subtle slow-downs and powerful tremolos and showcased her deft composition skills with witty melodic turns and sophisticated resolutions.

Basically, SHEL deserves your attention.

Following SHEL were headliners The Infamous Stringdusters, a bluegrass 5-piece visiting Brooklyn as part of the PledgeMusic, Relix & Tunecore Present: Silver Sky Tour 2012, Official CMJ 2012 Showcase. The Stringudsters played a jam-filled set to a surprisingly phriendly audience. Most impressive about the Stringdusters was their ability to weave tapestries of string interplay with each individual pick or strum well-placed in the arrangement, clear and supportive. Their bouncy set included the rollicking “The Hitchhiker” and the head-bopping “Fork in the Road”, and while I didn’t get to hear favorites “Rockets” or their heartfelt cover of John Mayer’s “3x5”, the audience was treated to a version of the Grateful Dead’s “He’s Gone”. Everyone sang along. For a download of the Stringdusters show at the Brooklyn Bowl, here’s a torrent.

And here’s video of their performance of “He’s Gone” recorded by YouTube user blwoodable:

Following the Stringdusters, I hopped on the L train to catch Sparxx, a Brooklyn-based pop act that use deep synths and ambient guitar bursts to support hypnotizing choruses. Heather Sparxx performed graciously for her crowd at Legion by walking and swaying with the crowd while singing and smiling, a pleasing contrast to her stark and cold synthesizers. Guitarist Justin Matthews replicated Alex Lifeson’s atmospheric gusts of notes from the mid-to-late 80s Rush records while also throwing in blasts of fast slides and distorted triplets. I asked Matthews if he listened to Lifeson after the set, to which he cackled and then yelled to drummer Cinque Kemp, “Did you hear what this guy just asked me?” as if this had been a topic of conversation before. Matthews then addressed me: “Most definitely.” Sparxx’s songs are delightfully simple with catchy melodies and ethereal and spacious sonic effects. Total ear candy. Sparxx’s music can be heard here.

Thanks to a nod from Music Hall’s Leland Leard via SM, I awkwardly attended the ultra-hip Fred Perry sponsored live recording showcase at Stratosphere Sound on 11th Avenue on Thursday. Bands participated in short live recording sessions while attendees enjoyed Oreos and Brooklyn Lager. I caught a performance by Slug Guts.

Bands recorded into Stratosphere’s room-sized 32-input NEVE 8068 MkII console from behind a sound-proofed enclosure. Vocals were recorded in a separate booth. Two large unused Genelec speakers rested within the walls. Monitoring was instead done through the classic Yamaha NS10s. Here’s a great article by Gizmodo’s Bryan Gardiner summarizing why the harsh NS10s have stuck around since the 80s as a reference for studio monitoring.

Slug Guts of Brisbane, Australia played aggressive boogie rock with angry howls and odd time signatures. A saxophone punctuated their experimental edge with out-of-synch blasts from his horn. The bass player had a paper-thin yet crunchy attack to his sound at Stratosphere. Their latest release Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat can be streamed on Spotify or purchased at Sacred Bones records.

After Slug Guts was a band called Bleeding Rainbow, but I had to get moving to meet some friends at Cameo for the Carpark/Paw Tracks CMJ showcase where I saw Dog Bite, Dent May, Young Magic, and Prince Rama. Dog Bite, an alternative band from Atlanta, Georgia, were disaffected and unanimated. I thought the southern boys would bring a little bit of that Southern rowdiness, but instead, they were just trying to be another boring Brooklyn band. Fortunately, the ultra-peppy Dent May from Oxford, Mississippi came in to save the room with their 80s inspired disco hipster frat-rock. They even played the Dead’s “Shakedown Street”! That’s two Dead covers in one week! Not bad.

While bundles of sage were lit and circled around the room, Young Magic began their set of throbbing drones and heavy drums. Laser dots speckled the audience for the most packed show of the evening. Sullen and seductive guitarist Melati Malay conjured evil and foreign sounds from her multi-effected guitar, which she arpeggiated flawlessly while singing. Young Magic impressed with their cohesion and inherent grooves, a suitable opener for Prince Rama’s oncoming rhythmic onslaught.

Taking the stage at approximately 1:30am were headliners Prince Rama, a late start probably due to their complicated stage setup. Sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson seem to have been working for years on their vast collection of synthesizers and percussion instruments. Taraka surrounds herself with samplers, Casios, and rich-sounding synthesizers. Nimai circles herself with layers of tom-toms, splash cymbals, and a cowbell or two. Also performing with the band that evening was all-purpose dude Christopher Burke on bass and guitar. All band members smeared their faces with gold glittery face-paint.

At the start of the show, Taraka is carried on her back like a funeral procession by a willing ensemble of men. As she is carried forth, her spirit shrouded in white haunts the crowd, like a possessed “Like a Virgin Era” Madonna with stark poses and spooky chant. Taraka’s ghostly introduction served as a death-knell to Rama’s hyper-rhythmic, transcendental, and Krishna-inspired chats of older albums and ushered in the a new era of Prince Rama. Nimai Larson and Burke join the stage.

Performing songs from their latest release Top 10 Hits At the End of the World, Prince Rama’s new material was everything their title indicates: apocalyptic, sacred, and full of joy. While Rama’s previous shows were plagued by their severe spirituality, the new songs brought their spiritual intensity into a global and accessible context of pop music. Nimai’s wild and wide grin no longer looked like a mad spirit induced from their divine yet unearthly incantations but now an expression of the unadulterated happiness that their music's positive energy spread around the room. On the closing number, the sisters jumped into the audience for a song’s performance full of synchronized dance moves. The smiles between the sisters brought on such a warm fuzzy feeling of familial love, far holier than anything I’d seen or heard from the sisters before. After the show, Nimai was ecstatic to share, “We’re done with the serious stuff!” Prince Rama’s Top 10 Hits At the End of the World is available from Paw Tracks records. It’s even available on vinyl!

Although there were no late-night rendezvous nor piercing cold winds, I’m happy to say it was a great CMJ.

mrplankton2u's picture

Ariel Bitran says :

"CMJ in New York City is a clusterfuck."


Really, Ariel? Is use of the word "clusterfuck" supposed to make your article seem more cool or compelling? 


Given that your Editor-in-Chief is prone to using the expression "STFU" in these webpages, I'm not surprised at the first sentence of your "article". Perhaps in your magazine's desperate attempts to reach new readers - you're all pushing that envelope a little. I get it. But then I'm also glad that none of my children (all 16 years of age and under) feel the need to read Stereophile's website. They love music - all three are top level performers on flute, clarinet, and saxophone. And fortunately, they're not into dorky articles written by amateurs edited by "professionals" who claim to know what "negative frequencies" sound like!!!

In the last couple of weeks, I'm beginning to see what JohnnyR was talking about when he suggested he read Stereophile for the laughs. Thanks for the laughs guys...

music guy's picture

Completely agree with your post...think Ariel is vulgar and I'm no prude.  Where is the editor?  This kind of language when not in the service of some greater point is moronic.

Ariel Bitran's picture


Hey guys,

I’m sorry I have offended you with my word selection, but this is precisely the word I wished to use to describe exactly what CMJ is: a clusterfuck. 1200+ bands in one city at a limited number of venues, some of which can barely hold 3 musicians on the stage, where you can’t hear the vocals or the guitar are too loud, or some event-spaces of which have been created just for CMJ and thus lack any staff or organizational skills needed to run a proper event, with wait times longer than the sets between acts, with crowded rooms of drunk people, hundreds of unknown corporate sponsors barraging you with their name, and long lines at bathrooms keep you from catching the artists. They can’t even fit all the events on their own website b/c there are too many so they leave it to other independent organizations to try and list all the shows in one place. Thus, there’s never even a consistent resource to find out where all the shows are even happening!

The only word that I could possibly think to describe the insanity that is CMJ is clusterfuck.  

Referencing urban dictionary’s definition:

Today, however, "clusterfuck" is commonly used to descriptively generalize any situation with a large scale of disarray. 

possibly synonyms: mess, disaster

1. "Well, that concert was a clusterfuck." 

This word originates as a military term, where it was used to describe situations which were FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair) or in NATO as “Charlie Foxtrot”, a polite way to say clusterfuck in front of your commanding officer. Unfortunately, I don’t think many people know what I mean if I say CMJ in New York City is a Charlie Foxtrot.

Hope you enjoyed some of the artists in this article. There are a lot of great musicians out there.

music guy's picture


A picture of you with your tongue hanging out and an article with an, oh! so clever but, oblique reference to pot are cool when you're 15 and spend most of your time spanking the monkey over the toilet of your parent's home but not in an international magazine speaking to a world community....but then again, we haven't heard from JA. Maybe this is the newer, dumber and more vulgar world that Stereophile needs to extend its brand.


john abramson's picture

i enjoyed the SHEL video enormously. on the other hand, you hyper-rationalize and over -defend your choice of  use of the words "cluster fuck". assuming for the sake of aargument that the words fit the siuation, you unfortunately experienced, you do demonstrate lazy writing skills, when your justification falls back on " The only word that I possibly think to describe the insanity that is CMJ is cluster fuck". and then follow up that excuse  with a didactic shell game.

i guess the only words i can possibly think to describe that excuse is bull shit. granted, ja is not the next coming of maxwell perkins, but i think he could have done a bit of editing on your piece, or returned it to you for a quick re-write,even if you were unable to unearth an equally descriptive term; that is what i meant by lazy.

you are right to note that "there are a lot of great musians out there", and i do realize that one aspect of your work is to write about tne new music. i appreciate your efforts in that respect, but, damn it, don't become a lazy writer. you will not be doing your readers or yourself any favors.


himynameisjuan's picture

Had no problem with the term "clusterfuck." Seemed to fit the circumstances.

The use of "pixie-nosed blonde" was a little strange though.. I mean, of all her memorable features you chose to recall the nose?

mrplankton2u's picture

Why did you focus on such a minor, insigficant apsect of Ariel's article?" Pixie nosed " is such a harmless description of a person. Were you shitfaced when you posted that comment? I know "shitfaced" is a little harsh but it's the only word I could think of to describe your apparent condition...


: )

Ariel Bitran's picture

@juan: while Sara was certainly somethign to look at, with her tiny frame and button nose, that was unfortunately the most I got to of know here. nothing really happened there, so all I was left with was the memory of her face.

melodichord's picture


I created an account just to respond to this thread.  Here goes.

As a professional adult, a working musician in New York City, as a well-traveled internet user & reader with a deep love of language and an appreciation for vulgarity when appropriate....and as someone living in the modern age—living, not in agitation of things like 'vulgarity', or a blog post which, while not brilliantly composed, certainly delivers an informed opinion in a respectful manner... but rather, living in fear of fools like the first two people to chime in on this post, who feel the need to attack someone for a word choice, and to imply all sorts of ridiculous character-flaws in doing so, and to generally become so very annoying and whiny and problematic—maybe it's time you logged off, and didn't come back for a while.

The idea that there is absolutely no place, even for words like 'clusterfuck', even in a well read publication such as Stereophile, is an ancient one.  This is the internet, you twats.  It's a clusterfuck of ideas, images, sounds and thoughts.  It's a scary place.  It may not be for you.  

Oh, and your sweet, flute-touting 16 year old?  She or he probably knows, and uses, the word clusterfuck, and many others like it—or will very soon.  And guess what?  She or he...will be just fine.

IF you allow yourself to be offended, disgusted, to become so bitter over something like a word, to launch into an attack on someone's character when they have said nothing personal against you (user: music guy), even after you've attacked them and they politely respond — I have sad news for you.  You're not built to last.  The times are changing—the times have changed.  And you are a fool.

User 'music guy' claims that 'Bitran is vulgar' while, then, saying things like "when you're 15 and spend most of your time spanking the monkey over the toilet of your parent's home"—Right on.  Way to bring it full circle for us.

Not trying to bitch any more than anyone else.  I just think you people who are 'offended' by something like a word—a word which, despite there being alternatives, is not going to hurt you, should probably shut your traps and just read something else.

mauidj's picture

...and that is what some of us will undoubtably do if this guy is the future of Stereophile!

mrplankton2u's picture

Yes, you found your inner asshole -  no big surprise there. Everybody has one. Glad this article and the responses to it compelled you to participate. 

For your information, I have three daughters.  ranging in age from 10 to 16. All three as noted earlier are music lovers and instrument players. My ten year old does know how to read and frequently looks over my shoulder at what I'm doing/reading online. 

Contrary to your perspective (doubtful you even have children),  not all 10 year olds know what "clusterfuck" means. And that probably is not appropriate language for a 10 year old. 

I never thought I'd see the day when I had to cover up my screen when my kid walks by to prevent her from seeing commentary by ASSHOLES. But I guess, that's where we're at. 

Please forgive me for noticing this. Maybe I"m late in the game and fuckups have been spreading their foul language on this site for some time. In any case, I'm now aware and prepared for that circumstance. Again, thanks for your useless opinion and glad you found something compelling enough for you to get off your fucking ass and participate.

music guy's picture

I think you're completely incorrect in your response..l used the Monkey spanking image as it is in line with the language and tone of Bitean's relatively juvenile prose.  That this language Is used is not offensive to me at all (I'm a big boy) but it is merely reductionist, juvenile and suggests a strangled, limited vocabulary.   It's unnecessary.

I'll shut up now

mauidj's picture



I was begining to think that I was becoming a grumpy old man after reading the recent writings (sic) of Ariel Bitran. So it's a bit of a relief to see that I'm not the only one completely unimpressed by his meandering and childish style.

I've been a reader of Stereohile for over 30 years and of course there have been ups and downs. Also not everyone can be pleased all the time. But having said that, I am rapidly become disechanted with the content of the magazine and web site.

As for Mr. Bitran's so called appology..."I'm sorry I offended you but" I'm going to use the F word somemore just to rub it in!!! 

More like a slap in the face or dare I say "FU readers"!

So if he can say what he wants then I can too.....Mr Bitran in my opinion you are no writer...or artist for that matter. The fact that you could only find the word in question out of the thousands available to you to discribe the situation is proof that you are no wordsmith. Your prose (and cartoons) are lame and rambling. It serves no purpose in entertaining or educating and at present is driving me from the magazine I have loved reading more than any other.

Keep up the good work!


melodichord's picture

Aww, mrplankton2u, you seem a little aggrivated now.  Maybe you need a nap.

mrplankton2u's picture

I'm actually enjoying this thoroughly... It's good to finally see some hot air bled out of the giant windbags at Stereophile purporting to do a service for the community that celebrates good music. Among other causes, it's been the unscrupulous support of sham tweak products and promotion of talentless writers that have caused the "audiophile community" to shrink. Recognizing you have a problem is the first step to fixing it. And I've been doing my part to hold up the mirror to this "journalistic entity" that is now celebrating 50 years of "service" to the community. Nobody likes criticism - constructive or otherwise. I'm sure these people don't appreciate getting an F (for fuckup) on their report card.  But in the end, I think they'd much rather get F's and keep their jobs then get faked A's and see readership continue to decline to the point of closing the doors.

john abramson's picture

There are a number of posters, myself included, who, were disappointed  with  AB's cruel attempt at writing.  Giving AB the benefit of a doubt, let's assume  that his shambling unprofessional writing style is a consequence of him having little to no experience with producing print quality journalism.  If AB  has a modicrum of writing talent, is he receiving any mentoring, as would any young writer? With all due respect, JA, has been absent from these posting exchanges.No doubt Ariel is a fine young man; but do readers have to be subjected to his high school level writing? All I ask for is professional grade writing. Most importantly the new Stereophile demographic deserves quality writing.

i expect just a bit of reconsideration, a shred of rehinking from AB, rather than his'know-it-all' rentrenchment in his adolescent rebuttal.l. Perhaps, I  set my expectations too high. In that case,  I am will continue to derive pleasure derived from reading Fred Kaplan and Robert Baird. My thanks to JA for keeping Fred and Bob on staff.

michaelavorgna's picture

By everyone who is offended!


Censorship is the work of McCarthy-loving dilettantes who prefer to drink milk from a bowl cowering on their knees rather than live free! OK maybe not but maybe those so easily offended who are in turn even more offensive are just overreacting because they have more sour grapes in tow than a truckload of farmhands can pick in a lifetime. "Pick me, pick me!"

Make wine, not whine.

Long live the word even if that word is clusterfuck!


music guy's picture

...that was clever.

mrplankton2u's picture

I'm not offended at all. I may have to minimize the screen when my kid comes by and looks over my shoulder to see what I'm reading - big fucking deal!  I just thought it was shitty (read: lacking imagination) writing and shittier editing. But now I'm offended that you think I'm offended...

: )


Btw Michael,

Your article "Reflections on the Audiophile Image" is my favorite to date. As good as it was, it would have been even better if you attempted to explain the role of trade rags like TAS and Stereophile in helping create a shrinking audiophile community of freaks and OCD sufferers.

JohnnyR's picture

.........to say STFU like he did in another thread? I mean Ariel is just mimicking Fearless Leader's language skills as of late. Please lets not use the term "shit faced" some people on the staff get peeved for some reason.

Regadude's picture

Yup, this thread is going down the crapper. Who is responsible? Well a member of Johnny's "troublemaker posse", Mrs Plankton. 

Wherever there is trouble on this site, Johnny, George or Plankton are usually front row and center...

mrplankton2u's picture

And what have you contributed?

"Great going guys....I love Rega turntables....your turntable review was downright inspiring..."

Over the past several months, I've posted a few congratulatory comments for well done artilces. Unfortunately, they have been few and far between as of late. Unlike you, for example, I don't consider Meijas' debut review of a VPI turntable - full of his personal relationship details to the manufacturer - to have been a credible work worthy of publishing.  It was rather an embarassment for a review magazine that wishes to present at least the outward appearance of objectivity, impartiality, and credibility. You on the other hand were thrilled with it - go figure. So we may have opposite viewpoints. I'm guessing my viewpoint is more mainstream as evidenced by steadily declining readership (Editor-in-Chief's assertions notwithstanding).

If you feel the need to heap accolades on Bitran's article, by all means - have at it. But your attempts to stifle dissenting view are just typical of the incestuous "our little club" bubble mentality that Stereophile and other trade rags have been fostering and living under. The current, tiny, stagnant audiophile community reflects that situation.

Btw, the article was shyt to begin with. And the three critics you love to antagonize are not the only ones voicing that opinion.

John Atkinson's picture

mrplankton2u wrote:
I'm guessing my viewpoint is more mainstream as evidenced by steadily declining readership (Editor-in-Chief's assertions notwithstanding).

As I have told you before, mrplankton2uyou are entitled to express your opinions, but not to disseminate falsehoods. Stereophile's readership is not declining. Here are Stereophile's ABC-audited circulations for the past 5 1/2 years:

2012 (first 6 months): 71,969
2011: 71,900
2010: 72,293
2009: 71,192
2008: 74,843
2007: 74,609

Yes it declined slightly from 2008 to 2009, but that was due to the recession that hit hard at the end of 2008.

It is fair to say that as Stereophile's circulation was >90,000 12 years ago, there has been a decline in the longer term. But that decline halted some years ago and the figures above show small variations around a mean for the past 4 years, ie, not a steady decline.

Any further attempts by you or other trolls to insist, without evidence, that Stereophile's readership is declining will be deleted without warning.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

JohnnyR's picture

........dissenters  who dare speak badly about Stereophile!!!!! Our perfect little world has been invaded by a "posse" of objectivists and free thinking people.........how horrid indeed!!!

Yes Regadude, you have found us out,we three decided to get together and post here. It's all a commie plot designed to infiltrate and take over.

Now that I have confessed to your intelligent sleuthing, I have some ocean front property I am willing to sell to you for  a bargain price!!!!!!!!

... the above was SARCASM. [Edited by John Atkinson to remove flame content, as JohnnyR was warned in other threads.]

bej's picture

Really, what's wrong with all you people? Is the use of "clusterfuck" threatening the moral fabric of america? does it mean the world is falling apart? It' shard to believe that this one article could cause you such a huge problem. 

If a minor sees a word like "clusterfuck", first, if they don't know what it is in the first place, then they won't know it when they see it, and if they do know it and you have done a good job educating your kids, then they will know it's a bad word (and that's also a relative term). 

Please, just state your opinions, respectfully, and move on. 

I enjoyed the article and will look up some of the bands. Thanks Ariel.

Twochannelman's picture

1. While the word in question is correctly described as a military term, this is not a military related publication; so it has no place in this publication.

2. The writer stated that he wanted to clarify where the term comes from and what it means as he admittedly assumed that most people would not be able to get the hang of what he is trying to describe. For those of us who do know all of that, regardless of how that knowledge came to be, I have this to say about it: I am an armed service veteran from the army active duty and the army reserves and the coast guard active duty, and as such, I have gladly defended and helped to maintain the freedoms and civil rights that we all thankfully still have as Americans. That being said, it does not make me better or more of an American for having done so as it was a choice of mine each time to serve. What irritates me about this is that while I have the used the term too, the right to freedom of speech came with a dire price to many people who lost far more than what most of us ever will have to. That freedom to say or write such things as this article with the word in question may be this writer’s right, but the writer and his boss (Mr. Atkinson) would greatly benefit the readers if he applied a generous dosage of respect for others as he crafts his work so that the end result that is printed is actually relevant, appropriate (meaning no profanity or vulgarity of any kind or amount), and at least seems professional in skill levels and vocabulary as fitting for a writer.

3. The use of the word in question displays a complete, deliberate, and blatant lack of respect for every reader as profanity of any form and amount has no place in this publication; especially this word of profanity as it implies a sexual connotation to things, and this is not a sexually oriented publication.

4. The clearly obvious unrelated and unprofessional content (subject matters) of this writer’s article shows that this publication is getting further away from and already is so far away from what its original intention was: to have highly qualified professionals credibly and thoroughly review audio components in a beneficial and appropriate way so as to inform and educate readers for potential purchases and as the hobbyists that many of us are.

5. The supposed apology from this writer shows a complete lack of sincerity as he uses the word in question (or a portion of the word in question) several more times. If the writer has any true sense or humility and remorse, then the apology would not have attempted to justify, rationalize, explain, and condone the reasons for selecting and then using the word in question. Being married for eight years now has taught me that you do not offer an apology and then try to condone your actions or statements because it nullifies the apology. Either actually apologize by admitting wrong doing that should not have happened, as is the case here, and perhaps even ask to be forgiven for it, or offend the recipient(s) again by defending your position as was done with explicit terms and attitude.

6. This writer’s professional title is editorial assistant. He has a boss; the editor, whom he assists. We all know who this is: John Atkinson. It is the complete professional and moral failure and dereliction of duty of the editor to have even allowed this article to contain the word in question to begin with and to allow so many of these replies to contain it. If it is true and correct that the editor uses the internet term “STFU” to interact with people, then is that not a violation of the terms of conduct for these forums just as much as the word in question; be it from this writer or anyone replying to this article ? Profanity and sexually related content and subject matter have no place in this publication as they are not only irrelevant, but also simply inappropriate. Simply stated, John Atkinson has failed and has been completely irresponsible and negligent in his job to have allowed any of this. He is responsible.

7. Lastly, many of us readers have no interest at all in any of the subject matters of this article or so many others written by this writer and a few others as well. Many of us readers would simply like / prefer to be able to purchase a printed copy or log onto the website and find one component review after the next without any of what this article was about or contained and without any advertisements from manufacturers or dealers. Many of us readers are savvy enough to get on line and find the manufacturer’s site, find the nearest authorized dealer, and contact them that way. Perhaps removing the advertising would allow for more of what this magazine’s original intent was. Regarding that point, personally, I do not want to have to wade through one article after the next that is completely or substantially unrelated. Articles about the best guitar solos are pointless as they are merely opinion based to begin with from a writer who clearly has little command of this language to draw upon in spite of having an electronic thesaurus at his finger tips as we also do and that subject matter is covered by Guitar Player magazine. Stereophile has truly gone to the dogs and serves the gutter better than its readers. John Atkinson’s lack of addressing the use of the word in question in this article proves that he truly and completely does not care about the content unless it offends him or comes across as racism or something hatred based. While I hate no one, he has grossly failed us. If or when Mr. Atkinson edits my response(s), it will only serve to prove my point as being valid, correct, and truthful that much more.

John Atkinson's picture

Twochannelman wrote:
I am an armed service veteran from the army active duty and the army reserves and the coast guard active duty...

Thank you for your service. My brother-in-law is finally back in the US after having served in Afghanistan and my wife can finally stop holding her breath. However, please note that your service doesn't give you any more rights than any other American citizen, nor does it confer any greater weight on your opinions when it comes to questions of English usage.

Twochannelman wrote:
John Atkinson’s lack of addressing the use of the word in question in this article proves that he truly and completely does not care about the content unless it offends him or comes across as racism or something hatred based.

I haven't commented because Ariel expressed my own feeling on the matter: that while I don't condone a writer's gratuitous use of profanity, there are times, such as this one, where the profanity truly is the word that best expresses the specific meaning the writer intends.

Twochannelman wrote:
If it is true and correct that the editor uses the internet term “STFU” to interact with people, then is that not a violation of the terms of conduct for these forums just as much as the word in question; be it from this writer or anyone replying to this article ?

Yes, it was ill-advised of me to use this phrase. But if you read my entire posting at www.stereophile.com/content/50-years-stereophile?page=2 - it's the comment entitled "Trolls," posted on November 11, 2012 at 3:06pm - I was reaching the end of my tether with 3 people who, while not being readers of Stereophile, were despoiling the comments section with trolls and flames. They were both attacking other people and disrespecting the many talented people with whom I have had the privilege of working alongside since I took over from J. Gordon Holt as Stereophile's editor. If my usage bothers you but not the behavior I was condemning, then so be it.

Twochannelman wrote:
If or when Mr. Atkinson edits my response(s), it will only serve to prove my point as being valid, correct, and truthful that much more.

I haven't edited your comments. Where I have edited or deleted comments from others it is to get rid of flames and attacks on other readers. Note that I have given those posters fair warning that continued offensive behavior on their part would not be tolerated.

And "file a formal complaint"? I am not sure what you mean by that phrase. Please clarify.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mrplankton2u's picture

Atkinson said:


"Yes, it was ill-advised of me to use this phrase. But if you read my entire posting at www.stereophile.com/content/50-years-stereophile?page=2 - it's the comment entitled "Trolls," posted on November 11, 2012 at 3:06pm - I was reaching the end of my tether with 3 people who, while not being readers of Stereophile, were despoiling the comments section with trolls and flames."


Really Atkinson? I'm not a reader of Stereophile? Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you follow me to the mall to see what magazines I buy at Borders? You've really thrown your considerable weight around here - calling those with constructive criticism "Trolls" because you don't like the message. Being Editor-in-Chief does not give you carte blanche to "kill the messenger" as you seem so intent on doing. You may stifle opinion on a forum such as this. But you will do so at your peril. People who have supported you and your employer have legitimate gripes. DEAL WITH HERE OR DEAL WITH IT AT THE NEWSTAND.

There are a lot of clusterfuck things in this world. Your warped sense of reality is certainly one of them. How dare you!

mrplankton2u's picture

Thank you for yor service to the country and your service to the community that appreciates the accurate reproduction of fine music. I agree whole heartedly - particularly with the part concerning a publication's duty to respect the reader. Given that the industry at large (can't blame just Stereophile) has been peddling things like Bybee Golden Goddess Speaker Bullets for years to balance the checkbook, it's pretty clear that principles such as respect for the reader/consumer have fallen by the way side a long time ago. The damage has been done but I hope it's not too late to correct course. It's easy to get buried in the anger, frustration, and sarcasm. But underneath all that, there is genuine concern for the future - making quality reproduced music accessible and affordable to all who seek it.  It's sometimes hard to envision a better future when every other add or press report seems to be covering a $10,000 preamp or $1500/meter power cords. But that should not discourage us from continuing to push for change - and a little  R-E-S-P-E-C-T.


Twochannelman's picture

Someone's right to say or write something stops at my right to not have to be subject to it; especially in an industry established publication where such subject matter and content was not an issue because it was written and edited by people who displayed fundamental respect and dignity to its readers. Sadly, here is proof that has changed. If this article with its subject matter and content and unskilled quality of writing is the current and futuristically accepted method or form, then I will gladly focus my attention and disposal income on its competitors such as The Absolute Sound or other credible and clean publications.


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