Mothers and Mentors

Written in blue ink on the white space of pages of Fast Company magazine, while waiting for the plane, yesterday morning, at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas.


Jon Iverson once commented that my writing was of an intellectual sort. Misunderstanding him, perhaps only slightly, I disagreed. I've never thought of myself as an intellectual, I thought. Emotional, yes. But, intellectual?

Now, however, I think I see a little bit better.

As I write this, I've become suddenly aware that the words are taking me into suites I meant not to visit. I'll go along, however, maybe to find that special magical connection or some fine tweak.

For the moment, following the words like following the sound of music around the Alexis Villas, I'll say this: there isn't necessarily a direct relationship between the intellectual and the profound. Profound, I am not.

Even a little bit deep? Not so much.

However, I am something of a thoughtful fuck. I have a certain kind of emotional intelligence. I'm a sensitive dude; no secret there. I spend a good amount of energy each day holding back a flood of silly tears, choking on a torrent of mad laughter, or simply dying to confess my love.

I love you, I love this, I love that.

I want to punch walls, hold hands, squeeze tits. I want to fill rooms with chandelier-shattering high-end wail and drop floors with thick low-end boom. I want to wrap myself like a string of golden lights around the tallest electrostatic speaker and shoot off into the cobalt blue sky like a giant Les Paul. I want to sing and scream like a billion bells and whistles all crying at once, stealing your money and making you love me. Sometimes, I'd like to be outrageous, obnoxious, and irresistible like a deck of playing cards covered in porn and scattered all along Paradise Road. Other times, I'd rather be small, quiet, and alone; a little boy drowning in an enormous orange beanbag. Most of the time, these days, I just want to be wherever it is that you are, following your blue eyes, keeping time with your smile.

At the moment, I'm at McCarran Airport, sitting against an enormous plane of glass, planes of the other sort taxiing in behind me. The sun is scattered across my skin and is breaking off into a million different directions. Behind a silver wall, leap the warbling sounds of slot machines, buzzers and zings. A couple to my left sit closely, whispering to one another, sharing a newspaper. On the ceiling are a hundred fluorescent fingertips, like silent sunrays, holding everything together and emitting a certain deliberate energy into the room. They are punctuated by more slot machines, as if slot machines were the center of the universe. Or, at least, the center of Las Vegas.

Now — finally now — I am overflowing with thoughts. None too deep, none too profound. But thoughts, nevertheless. I can hardly keep up. Wes mentioned that, when asked his impressions of the show during one of many late dinners, he had no adequate response. He had been too busy working — covering the events, taking notes, and shaking hands — to process an opinion. Perhaps I suffered a bit of that, too. Jon mentioned that, for every good show the Grateful Dead played, there were at least two or three dreadful shows. But it was the process, you see. It was that moment when all things collided, like a bunch of lightning fingertips in the center of the room — that crazy moment when the guitar riff shot directly into the middle of your brain — that moment was all that mattered, that moment was worth your money, worth all of the horrible shows. And, so, it's as much, or more, about the process as it is about the product; the journey as much as the destination. And do I even ever really want to get to the destination? No. Not if it means the end of learning, the end of growing — even if it means the end of making mistakes. No.

But what do I know? I'm still trying to figure myself out. For awhile, there, at CES, I felt very much out of place. But, I wasn't out of place, at all. I was just in a slightly different place. Working things out.

At one point, towards the end of the show, Ken Kessler came up to me wrapped in wind, vibrating in vinyl, and holding closely to a rolling suitcase filled tight with the stories of 400 trade shows. He asked me: "So, Stephen, anything here change your life?"

My face went blank and white, I'm sure. "Change my life?" I repeated, adding only the question mark to the end. "No. At least, I don't think so. Maybe I just haven't realized it yet."

Sean Toly's picture

Hey Stephen, Did you know Jon Iverson, The great -- Legeandary I should say designer of the Electron Kinetics? What a rare guy to have any conversations with. Ah the eagle 2c and 400, great amps of yesteryear, except for the power switch. Especially mated to the strain gaige cartridge and preamp the eagle 2000.. I remember once riding the elevator at the CES with Corey Greenburg and asking him what motivated his writing style," he said ""heart and emotion"" which is why his articles where so cool to read. Your style seems reminiscent of him. Easy to read and identify with.

Todd Steponick's picture

The Land Of Beyond - Robert Service Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, Have ever you heard of the Land of Beyond,That dreams at the gates of the day?Alluring it lies at the skirts of the skies,And ever so far away;Alluring it calls: O ye the yoke galls,And ye of the trail overfond,With saddle and pack, by paddle and track,Let's go to the Land of Beyond!Have ever you stood where the silences brood,And vast the horizons begin,At the dawn of the day to behold far away The goal you would strive for and win? Yet ah! in the night when you gain to the height, With the vast pool of heaven star-spawned, Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream, Still mocks you a Land of Beyond. Thank God! There is always a Land of Beyond For us who are true to the trail; A vision to seek, a beckoning peak, A farness that never will fail;A pride in our soul that mocks at a goal, A manhood that irks at a bond, And try how we will, unattainable still, Behold it, our Land of Beyond!

william2johns's picture

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Todd Steponick's picture

I hate the forced text formatting on that poem above, but at least you can make sense of it. I found a reference to this poem on the back of a Bill Drummond record from 1986. True to the trail indeed. - Let's go to the Land of Beyond! - On our way.- Roar!

Stephen Mejias's picture

>Hey Stephen, Did you know Jon Iverson, The great -- Legeandary I should say designer of the Electron Kinetics? Hi Sean. Nope, unfortunately, I never had the pleasure. But at least I'm now curious to take a look back at his work. Thank you. And thank you, also, for the Corey Greenberg compliment; I never met Corey either, but I've heard good things about his writing. I'll be sure to take a look at some of his work, as well.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>I hate the forced text formatting on that poem above, but at least you can make sense of it. At first, I thought that it was one of your post-world raps. Thank you for sharing; it put a big smile on my face. I always love it when I can inspire poetry from you.By the way, I'd follow you anywhere, brother. On our way.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>the man exposing Stephen to the Dead," Jon IversonThat's what I should have mentioned when KK asked me if anything had changed my life. ""The Dead have changed my life"," Ken.""
(Not really.)

Jim Tavegia's picture

When KK asked you if your life was changed and you had to think, you will now know that is has, hopefully for the better. You chose a swell boom box while working at the esteemed Stereophile magazine. You took your job with little interest in audio, at least it seemed that way. You seemed to like you work and your associates.You accepted the responsibility to blog every day about what comes to mind. If more bosses felt like JA the world would be a better place. You took in comments and advice most graciously. You now listen on a reasonably high-end audio system.You chose to go to CES last year and get your feet wet. With no hi-fi experience trying to convey all you saw and heard. This year you jumped in with a basis of basic understanding of what to look and hear for, and what this industry is really all about...really expensive audio toys for big kids. You have great tutors.Every choice you made did CHANGE YOUR LIFE and take you down a different life path. This is not insignificant.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>Furthermore, John Iverson disappeared in the 90's, an event that has been the subject of considerable speculation, whereas Jon Iverson is very much with us. (And a good thing, too.)Thanks for the clarification, RD. And, yes, it's a great thing, indeed, to have Jon Iverson with us. It is a wonderful pleasure to work with him, just as it is to work with you.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>This is not insignificant. Thanks so much, Jim. Similarly, all of your kind words - your thoughtful advice and encouragement, as well as your participation in our forums and the enthusiasm you hold and share for this hobby and your appreciation of life, in general - is wonderfully significant, is so, so, so important to me and to all of us here.Yes, I feel very lucky - I feel blessed - to work with such great people. And to create for such caring and passionate readers is a real joy.Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Dave Kerr's picture

As an owner of an Electron Kinetics Eagle 2a' I often wonder what ever happened to John Iverson. I have a letter from him ('89) explaining that the Eagle 2 I sent him for upgrading was mistakenly sent to another customer. So he sent me a NEW Eagle 2a'. Shortly thereafter John went MIA. Eventually, my amp will crap out and I will be left with a hefty reminder of audio days gone by. Oh well, by then, my hearing will be shot and any old amp will suffice. Where are you John?

gg's picture