The Marriage of Process and Product

I was 22 years old, and had just made it back to New Jersey from a four-month trip traveling around the States aboard Amtrak trains.

Actually, the train-riding part of the trip only lasted a month. It was during the middle of November. If it hadn’t been for that hostel-slash-homeless shelter-slash-psychiatric ward I stayed at in Chicago, things might’ve been different. I might’ve gone all the way out to California. But that cold hostel broke my spirit, and I could go no further west. Instead, I traveled straight down the mighty Mississippi to New Orleans—poor, sweet, wonderful New Orleans—to warm my soul.

I spent a week recovering with red beans and rice at Igor’s Tavern on St. Charles Place, and green-beaned Bloody Marys and the music of piano man, Johnny Gordon, at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon, and the crazy cheeping and chirping like cymbal crashes and brassy jazz of all the little birdies under the old awnings of Caf Du Monde.

And from New Orleans, I traveled back east, to my mother’s house in quiet Deltona, Florida. And there I stayed for the remaining three months, eating and sleeping well, and writing a book recounting the loneliness of travel.

The book was never published as a whole, but poems from it and an earlier collection were soon accepted by a journal in England called FIRE. I remember that this was something that had impressed John Atkinson when he saw my resume. He told me so during the interview. I was surprised.

We talked about music. He saw that I was in a band. By this time, Michelle had moved back to San Francisco for good, and Genie Boom was no more. The new band—which lives still today—was the Multi-Purpose Solution. There’s something that very few people know about the relationship between John Atkinson and the Multi-Purpose Solution. I will tell you soon.

I told John what I loved most about playing live was that it was the marriage of process and product. Playing live is the process and the product, at once. The musician strums a chord and the audience hears it. It’s happening right then and there, instantly. There are few things like that, I think. This blog comes close.

It’s not like a lot of the other work we do here at the magazine, the process taking place months in advance of the product, working on the October issue, the November issue, the Buyer’s Guide all at once, forgetting what month we’re actually currently living in. Working for a magazine can destroy the idea of living "in the moment."

But it offers other joys: there’s always something to look forward to. Each month, when the new magazine comes in from the printers, John celebrates with us, he dances, he shouts, he congratulates us.

And then, he jokes: "Does this mean we have to do another one?"

Ronnie Schreiber's picture

You talked of the process of putting out an audio magazine. I'm a former subscriber - I realized that I liked music more than reading about it so I put the money towards cds instead. However, I still read the magazine regularly as a good friend is a subscriber.I've thought of resubscribing but every time I read an issue I find that some of your writers feel the need to use the magazine as a soapbox for their political viewpoints. Certainly, a publisher has the constitutional right to publish political views in an audio/music publication. The question is whether or not your customers, the magazine's buyers, want to read about politics or good audio and music.In the process of putting out your magazine, what role does politics play?

John DeVore's picture

Your description of playing live music for an audience as the marriage of process and product is perfect. It gets at the core of the communication between the artist and the listener. Or the viewer. Or whatever. I love it--thanks for thinking it through and giving it to us. Also, I

John Atkinson's picture

Stereophile is a magazine of opinion, Mr. Schreiber. Inevitably, some of those opinions will be contrary to your own. Regarding the live music issue, I believe there is more music being made today by more people than in other period of history. Which throws into sharp relief the currently moribund nature of the recording industry.

Alan Jeffrey Marcy's picture

Yup. Making music is great. I never made any great music, sigh, but, I sometimes notice when some great music is playing on my system. I sometimes think some of it is not so great, but, I let it play," anyway. ""Audio Bitch"" is not my style ...It is fine to have political opinions. Of course", they are all stupid, as we are, after all, a race of blood thirsty morons, but, it is fine with me if your writers try and explain it all away :)Never made it to Nawlins, but have friends who live there and love it - in absentia, at the moment. Nothing is forever ...

Stephen Mejias's picture

Hello Ronnie.Thank you very much for reading, and thank you for your comments. I agree with John: Stereophile is a magazine of opinions. One of the reasons why I have fallen in love with the magazine, and why I am so proud to be a part of the magazine, is that it's not simply about music or simply about audio, but about the appreciation of life and happiness and other things involved, including politics. Though you probably won't catch me writing much about politics, I would be terribly bored if I had to only write about audio. But you've probably already noticed that. I'll get around to it; I promise.

Stephen Mejias's picture

John DeVore:
Thanks so much. I'll be there to see you and the Merkin Dream join process and product in holy matrimony at the Knitting Factory on the 29th!

Donald's picture

I wish Art would chime in here with a political commentary. Hehe - sorry, couldn't help myself. Life is short. Enjoy it to the fullest. And if you disagree with something - that is OKAY.BTW I'm from New Orleans and currently reside here - glad you could visit before Katrina! We are coming back - hopefully better than before. And yes, the red beans are already being served on Mondays just like they always have been.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>I'm from New Orleans and currently reside here - glad you could visit before Katrina! We are coming back - hopefully better than before. And yes, the red beans are already being served on Mondays just like they always have been.That is awesome to hear, Donald. Please say hi to New Orleans for me. Such a wonderful city.

SeesseFon's picture

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