Audiophiles probably know Steve Guttenberg for his writing about hi-fi and home theater in numerous publications, as well as his blog The Audiophiliac. What only a handful of folks know, however, is that Steve is a talented graphic artist, manipulating photographic images to express the world as he (sort of) sees it.
In July, I received an invitation from Bentley to participate in a "driving event" involving the 2009 model Continental Flying Spur and Continental Flying Spur Speed. How come? Because the 2009 Bentleys have the Naim For Bentley music system and, in addition to debuting it for the automotive press, Bentley wanted some hi-fi writers along for the, umm, ride.
The Continental Flying Spur was demonstrated in two varieties: The "regular" Flying Spur, which has 19" tires and a 48-valve, 552bhp W12 engine, and the "Speed," which put the Flying Spur on 20" rims, and a 600bhp version of that W12and outfits it with Bentley's carbon/silicon carbide brakes.
After the Nubble, we switched cars and I got to ride in the rear right seat of a Continental Flying Spur with a "Comfort" package. That means better leather, a rear-seat entertainment package (including DVD player and noise suppressing headphones with a Bentley logo) and a lumbar-massaging seat, which really made being driven an even better experience.
I walked over to Giles Corey's cenotaphhe is of course, the sole "witch" not hung, but rather pressed to death by heaping large rocks upon him until he was crushed. It took three days. As Arthur Miller memorialized in The Crucible, his last words were, "More weight."
While the Naim for Bentley system has a six-disc changer, I found its glove-box mounted iPod cradle awfully useful. It has the MFI (made for iPod) authentication chip, so all of your iPod's playlists, titles, and other metadata are displayed on the GPS touchscreen in the center of the console. All iPod functions can be controlled through the touchscreen, including scrolling though all selections or leaving a playlist for shuffle.
The pack o'Bentleys drove out of Boston and east to the Maine coast, following the twisty shore roads up to Port Neddick and the Nubble Lighthouse, purported to have been featured on more post cards than any other lighthouse. I didn't know where that was, so I followed along in the middle of the pack, playing my uncompressed ALC files through the Naim system.
Salem is full of New Age and Wyccan shoppes and it has an overabundance of "museums" that are more wax museum than serious repositories of historyheck, the place even has a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in her role as Samantha on Bewitched. But it also has the Salem Witchcraft Trials Tercentenary Memorial.
Adjusting the EQ for every 1km change in speed, the Dynamic EQ has over 300 settings. Other fun tricks include various EQ "modes," allowing the system to be voiced for the driver's position or for the rear right passenger's seat. ("Home James, and give me the sweet spot!")
Naturally, this NY resident, who doesn't own a car, was given a Speed for a starter car. No problemas it turns out people get out of the way when they see eight Bentleys coming at them. As a result, I managed not to hit any pedestrians or guardrailsonly the road.
Of course, any city with a maritime history has pirate history, too. In recent years, Salem has skewed more towards witches than pirates, but some traditions remain, including Beavis and Butthead tavernor in this case, liquor storenames.
After the driving was complete, Bentley got us an after-hours tour of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. Nice placeespecially if your taste runs to Venetian Renaissance palazzos filled with fine art. The tour was eye opening and afterwards we retired to the cloisters for adult beverages and a catered affair, complete with chamber music in the courtyard.
A hand-written cookbook of 58 dishes, meticulously hand-written and illustrated by Corporal James Abraham Harrison will be auctioned next month. The gimmick to this cookbook? Harrison was one of Montgomery's Desert Rats and served as mess chef in the North African desert.
You'd think I would have learned to trust Matthew Polk by now, but I attended an NYC demonstration for his new SurroundBar 360 with relatively low expectations. That's because there's a current vogue for low profile, multichannel "bars" that give flatscreen monitor viewers a low profile, single-mount solution to the "problem" of all those extra speakers a multichannel A/V system requires.