Huckleberry, Bagheera, and Me
My old army surplus bag, which has been everywhere with me, was stuffed with a week’s worth of clothes. Already, it was tugging down at my back painfully. Slung over my shoulder was my black tote bag, holding nothing but my favorite CDs: Sonic Youth’s Washing Machine, Smog’s A River Ain’t Too Much to Love, John Vanderslice’s Pixel Revolution, a couple of mix CDs compiled by friends, and about twenty others, including my band’s own self-titled debut (if there’s any album in this world I know intimately, it’s that one). In my left hand, I held a bag full of toiletries. In my right, my laptop. Creased over the pocket of my left elbow, I had two blazers. “What am I forgetting?”
Nothing, as far as I could see.
I’m not familiar with the subway. I do all I can to avoid it. I took the PATH train to the World Trade Center, thinking that I’d be somehow able to catch the N or the R directly to Bay Ridge, but no such luck. I asked the subway attendant which way to go.
“How do I get to 85th Street in Bay Ridge?”
“Okay, this is what you do: You’ll have to take the A one stop to Broadway/Nassau, then transfer to the 6 and take that to Atlantic Avenue. At Atlantic Avenue, you can transfer to the R and make your way down to 86th Street.”
I sighed and braced myself. “Okay. Thank you.”
One small mistake, four very upwards-winding transfers, and three heavy hours later, I was in Bay Ridge.
The cats were waiting for me. Two curious and whiskered faces perched atop a Kloss table radio greeted me.
“Hi guys. I’m sorry it took me so long to get here.”
They didn’t seem to care too much. The friendly one, Huckleberry, purred and wrapped himself around my legs. The aloof one, Bagheera, ran away.
I dropped my bags down, finally, and went to the kitchen to prepare the cats’ dinner.
Normally, at home, I’d first reach down to the good ol’ Magnavox AZ9345 Portable Mini System, and press play. One look at Wes’ current system, however, had me running in the opposite direction, faster than Huckleberry can dart across a table. I’ll give a more accurate description of how the components appear to me as soon as I have a chance to dedicate more time to it, butat first sightI was more than a little shy. The Penaudio speakers Wes is currently auditioning are not the biggest or most intimidating, but they’re much more impressive than anything I’m used to. Reviews of the Viola Labs preamp and power amp will appear in our January issue, and I already know what Wes thinks about them. And the Ayre universal player is something I heard a lot about at the last CES. Taking a quick look around, I was very careful not to trip over the enormous python-like speaker cables. Indeed, they are annoying and ugly. At this point in my life, I can’t imagine myself compromising the setting of my apartment in order to satisfy such a requirement. I can see why so many companies neglect cables and interconnects in their advertisements. And I can see why so many cable companies use sexual metaphors in theirs.
The cats seemed to enjoy their dinner. Afterwards, I went back into the living room. Actually, it’s not so much of a conventional living room, but simply more of a dedicated listening room; there’s no coffee table, no couch, no television. The side walls are covered in musicclassical to one side, not-so-classical to the other side. The back wall is dominated by books (I’ll try to get around to a couple of them while I’m there). In between the speakers and the books, there’s a lot of space. All that’s left are a couple of rugs and three easy chairs:
One for me, and one for each of the cats, I suppose. I shrugged.
Reaching for my bags, I realized I'd forgotten my black shoes. Dammit.
Instead of exploring the hi-fi, on this first night at Wes', I went back to the kitchen, powered up my laptop, and made a mix CD for a friend. It came out pretty good, I think. I hope she likes it.