As the dirty doors slid open, letting us out into the blue and gray smear of Grove Street station, he asked: "You don't happen to work in academia, do you?"
"Is there any chance that you work in academia?"
"No, but thanks for asking."
"You look the part."
"Well, I always kinda wanted to be an English professor."
"What do you do?"
"I'm an editor."
"What do you edit?"
"I work for a magazine called Stereophile."
There's a shop on the corner of Grove and Newark which offers colorful and fragrant sundries. The back wall of this shop let's call it The Corner Store is an orchard of magazines waiting to be picked. Stereophile has its own little branch. As we talked, I pointed into the store: "It's in there," I emphasized.
"Oh," he said. "You cover audio?"
"Yeah: hi-end hi-fi gear. But it's really all about the music. Or, it should be."
An ambulance hollers down Newark Avenue (from now on, we'll play in the present tense) and a gang of pigeons scatters into a blue and gray blur. We duck and swerve.
"I can imagine that there are people who value recordings more than the actual live event," he says.
"You're right, I think. And beyond that, there are those who end up listening to the gear even more than they listen to the music. But that's something we try to work against. Of course, it'll always be there the gear becomes an object of desire but we try to remember that the music is what really matters."
A pimped-out Honda slithers down Jersey Avenue, its frame trembling with bass. Three kids, in their identical uniforms of oversized white t-shirts and ill-fitting jeans, move so slowly and pay such close attention to their slices of Helen's cheese pizza. A thin tree litters the sidewalk with pink and white confetti.