Is There Anything as Still as a Sleeping Horse?

I was unusually happy, and now I’m sad.

And that's
the way
it goes.

I’m proud of the last few blog entries. The stuff over the last two weeks — being away from home, in an unfamiliar place, and with the much longer commute offering me all that time to think and worry and think and love and worry — was kind of inspired, I thought. People seemed to like it, too; I received all kinds of really sweet comments and e-mails and phone calls. It made me feel very good about myself.

But then, after posting the piece about the maple syrup, I wondered if readers would question the blog’s relevance to hi-end audio.

This morning, I found this message in the comments section:

Posted 10/31/2005 at 14:202 — By Iz150
Sorry — what do any of these posts have to do with audio?

This didn’t hurt my feelings or make me mad, or anything like that. It actually struck me as a very good question. Incidentally, just before I discovered the question — What do any of these posts have to do with audio? — I was visited by our group business director, John Hutchins, as he welcomed a new co-worker to our office.

John Hutchins is always so nice, even when I interrupt him to get his authorization for a writer’s payment or some other random invoice. I’ve worked with four other business managers in my time here at Stereophile, and I was scared of every single one of them. Walking into their offices, I inevitably felt like a huge nuisance. This is not the case with John Hutchins; it’s quite the opposite — John is always happy to help, he handles my concerns with the consideration he dedicates to his own. And he smiles. And he’s pleasant. Which is to say: he treats me like a human being. I like him.

Anyway, when John Hutchins came over this morning to introduce me to the new co-worker, he sort of stumbled when describing the content of this blog.

"This is Stephen," John said. "He’s one of the editors here for Stereophile, and he’s recently gained some attention for his blog. It’s great. He writes nothing about…" John paused.
I started to blush.
"Well, I shouldn’t say nothing," he continued, "He writes about the music he loves and his time here."
I blushed some more.

The point here, of course, is that John was going to say: "He writes nothing about hi-end audio." And, then, I discovered the question — What do any of these posts have to do with audio?

Alright, so I think I have some explaining to do.

Well, I guess the latest posts haven’t been directly, or clearly, related to audio. One could easily argue that none of my posts have been related to audio; I haven't been talking too much about hi-end gear or audio industry news or recording techniques or any of the things Stereophile generally covers.

I have been talking about music, and what music makes me feel, and I do think that these things can be important and interesting topics to our readers. Music, it seems to me, is really what this is all about, and — especially for me — it’s a way of connecting with the hobby of hi-end audio, it’s a bridge between my passion and my career. Luckily, my passion and my career have been growing closer and closer together. Some day, my passion and my career might be one thing. Is that the goal? Sometimes I think that it is. Then again, I can also see how some separation of the two might be nice. At the same time, I think that some combination of the ingredients which make up "passion," along with the right combination of those ingredients which make up "career," might result in the perfect thing. Is there an easier way to say that? There must be. I’m kind of crazy about combinations and relationships. There are always these two seemingly incompatible things, I think — like: loud and quiet, or dark and light, or the thrill of confusion and the satisfaction of being sure — that, if you could just figure out how to make them work, or find the place where they live in balance, you’d create true happiness and everlasting love.

And, if you ever thought that I was rambling in the past, now you have a better idea of what it means for me to ramble. I’m sorry. I’m in a stupidly thoughtful mood today, and: What am I trying to say?

I've been working for Stereophile for just over five years now — first as editorial assistant, and currently as assistant editor — with many duties along the way. This blog is just one new part of my job.

The question, stupid, was: What do any of these posts have to do with audio?

Alright, alright. There is some concern that the hobby of hi-end audio is dying; that, in fact, if you believe Rolling Stone, it is already dead; that hi-end audio is simply for lonely old men; that young folks will only listen to crummy MP3s coming out of awful computer speakers; that I will never fall in love, that I will never fall in love, that I will never fall in love. None of this crap is true, okay? I can’t let it be true. I want to obliterate these ideas. I’ll hurl myself from erstwhile marketing manager, Josh Heisenrether’s, 9th floor windows — I swear to the gods of hope, beauty, and onions; I swear to the gods of beer, taco bowls, and the D train: I will hurl myself out of windows — before allowing any of this to be true. I swear to god, I will.

And so, with these concerns in mind, we recently re-launched our website and added several new features, including my daily blog, "Elements of Our Enthusiasm," in which I document my personal journey into audiophilia. The goal is to give the hobby and industry a more human touch in an attempt to attract a younger and more varied audience, while reminding our current audience of why they fell in love with audio in the first place. I also hope to create a strong bridge between the music that I personally love — independent rock and punk, for the most part — and the gear that I'll explore.

I don’t know if I answered the question. I mentioned earlier that I used to be in a noise rock/performance art/experimental band called Genie Boom. I also mentioned earlier how I’m crazy about combinations and relationships. Well, there’s still this John Cageian part of me that wants to say:

Like acrostics, mesotics are written in the conventional way horizontally, but at the same time they follow a vertical rule, down the middle not down the edge as in an acrostic, a string spells a word or name, not necessarily connected with what is being written, though it may be.

Or, simply:

As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency.

But John Cage gets to be a jerk after awhile, and I don’t mean to be a jerk at all. I guess the real answer is:
I’m getting around to it.

I just received an Arcam Solo in the mail. I’m taking it home tonight.

nina's picture

well i swear to the god of junior's chocolate cakes and XYZ car services that if you ever stop WRITING as beautifully as you do, i will hurl myself out of erstwhile executive editor bonnie davidson's 9th floor windows and plummet thru the chez lawrence roof into a very empty cash register. ya hear? ok, enough with the creepy stereocidal references. bottom line, nix, is that i love reading your blog, and i think you do an exceptional job of incorporating music and relationships into a very small space. i, personally, can relate to the things you say, and i think many of the people reading your blog feel the same way. if you were to change your style, while you may attract new fans, you would also risk losing the ones you've acquired. so, for fear of sounding like a high school yearbook entry, please don't change a thing. always stay the same.

Monty's picture

The experience of writing this blog is going to prove very useful to you in the future. Someone wise once said," ""to know and not to do is to not yet know."" It takes a lot of courage to write anything for others to read...and even more courage to write about intimate details of ones life. As for the critics", that's all part of being in the game as opposed to sitting on the sidelines. Stay in the game; all but the lead dog in the pack have the same view and this experience is worth more than you may realize.

Monty's picture

Oh, I almost forgot, congrats on the Arcam. What a fine little machine to begin your journey. This could get interesting...

iz150's picture

Thanks for explaining what you want to do with this blog.That said, there are already thousands of blogs about how and why people are passionate about music. I agree that your job is to make people passionate (again) about this hobby. Yes - it's a means to and end (the music), but let's move on.Break out of Sam's rut (ignore everything but Musical Fidelity)," re-capture some of the crazyness that Corey Greenberg and J. Scull had. Tell me how to make what I have sound better. Point me to the small companies/designers I should know about. And yeah - tell me about great music and how it moves you.Just don't start there. The perfect vision learned this lession. The long articles about the history of technicolor are gone and they focus on interesting new gear and how to make what you have look and sound better.I called Stereophile a year ago and was shocked to learn that JA tries to pawn off ""How we See It each month. The mag reads like he's board.Your job - get me excited again. You can

Alan J'Marcy's picture

Apostrophile. Ruined pianos and CIA Eastern European Truth and Beauty Camps. Yes, I am old, but, so were all my great-great-grandfathers ... well, for a while. What has anything got to do with Audio? Music only seems charming ;)