On August 14, Logitech International announced that it intended to acquire privately held Ultimate Ears for $34 million in cash. "Ultimate Ears is a perfect fit for Logitech and our audio business," said Gerald P. Quindlen, Logitech's president and CEO. "Since its inception, Ultimate Ears has been driven by innovation, close ties to its customers, and the desire to enable an immersive audio experience. Logitech's success has been built on using a deep understanding of our customers to create products that let people immerse themselves in their pursuits."
Let's do the It's a Wonderful Life exercise, shall we? Imagine what popular music would sound like today without Jerry Wexler. Aretha Franklin would have never returned to her gospel roots, Ray Charles would have continued imitating Charles Brown and Nat Cole, Stax would have been a tiny regional record label, and denatured white covers of R&B songs would dominate the charts. In fact, the music we know today as rhythm and blues would still be called "race music"Wexler having coined R&B while working at Billboard in 1949.
John Atkinson and I were in a Manhattan loft apartment that could have stood in for every sophisticated NYC loft you've ever seen in films. We were surrounded by fabulous contemporary art. Asian and South American antiquities were discreetly displayed. The furniture was sparse but choice. And, over in one corner, facing a conversation grouping of paintings, two sleek metal tower loudspeakers were making extremely convincing music. We managed to delay examination of this urban paradise long enough to drink adult beverages and inhale some music.
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.
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.