Love in Hi-Fi

"Yeah, Ryan, we'll be right over after we watch a couple episodes of Curb."

Evening plans formed as Kimmy and I hung around my apartment. A usual night was in order: We'd head over to Ryan/Kyle/Alex/Julia's apartment, maybe play some Rock Band, and conclude the evening with beer and a game of Celebrities, which always proves to kick any other standard board game out of the water, including Scategories.

But before heading over, Kimmy and I just wanted to sit down and watch a couple episodes of our favorite show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. We got distracted though, as is always the case with my blog entries, where plans change due to interest in more exciting forms of clarity, a better understanding of the world. By this, I'm talking about the new Vizio television my roommate Jason bought. (Hold your horses now! Don't get so riled up. I know this isn't a Home Theater blog, but I'm getting somewhere, kinda.)

The television is fantastic: A 32" flatscreen, and I've never really seen an HDTV outside of a bar so it was truly exciting to sit down in front of it and immerse myself in the image. Before popping in the Curb DVD, we decided to watch a few minutes of Shrek on TNT-HD. A few minutes soon turned into an hour.

We sunk into the crackles and grit in Shrek's murky swamp home, or the bristles on Donkey's hair as the wind flew through it, and the ashen-wood textures of the comical, singing welcome-puppets in Lord Farquad's castle. Shrek was no longer simply a movie, but a new unexplored territory where magic truly existed.

Kimmy remarked, "It's like I've never seen this movie before."

I responded, "You know, it's the same for music and hi-fi."

We turned off the TV and delighted in the company of our friends with sing-alongs to "Say It Ain't So" and "Maps," followed by the screaming and miming of our favorite (but at times unknown celebrities), including but not limited to: Jimmy Page, Felicity Huffman, Link, and Joshua Jackson (all regular appearances in our games of Celebrities).

This one kid I know, Sam, once said, "TV's not even worth watching if it's not HD." I thought this was an asshole thing to say, and I still think it is. In our hobby and others, we should never lose sight of the pure enjoyment in the simple existence of the material itself. The craftsmanship and effort and passion should always be fully appreciated if the product is of true quality. Greater definition and clarity simply leads to a fuller, previously unrealized enjoyment. If music through boomboxes were the noun, hi-fi is the adjective, making it that much clearer.

As Larry David would say, its "pretty pretty good…pretty pretty good."


"Guess what I bought?" Kimmy asked me.

"Umm…a sandwich?" was the only logical response I could think of. I was hungry.

"Nope. An iPod! It's little and green, but I don't have a name for it yet."

"How about Everett?"

"That's perfect."


One weekend out of the month, I take the Chinatown Bus to Boston to visit my girlfriend Kimmy. Thanks either to my Grados or my Etymotic ER-6s (recommended to me by Wes Phillips), I've become numb to the 4 to 6 hour ride.

The Saturday of that weekend was incredibly rainy. We stayed inside, watched some Seinfeld, ate food, and talked. That usual feeling of restlessness came about around 3pm. You know that feeling where you just have to get up and leave? Where your body starts twinging and your arms get stiff and your head hurts with confusion of nothing. So we went searching for tennis shoes and sushi.

A normal fun evening followed, and around 11pm, we found ourselves restless again. Then Kimmy said, "Let's listen to my new iPod!" Fireworks of joy shot from my eyes and leaped into her arms. I have been slowly trying to get us to listen to music more and more as a fun way to pass the time, but just as it has been a learning process for me, it has been for her. But shit, who doesn't like listening to music? I think most people don't realize that they actually like to listen to music.

She pulled out Everett. He was a shiny little green alien with a bright screen. I got to pick the album, and I chose The Pretenders compilation, The Singles. I could think of nothing sexier for that moment than Chrissie Hynde's sultry vocal swagger and those pulsing electric guitars.

We laid down on her bed, each with a single earbud in our respective ears and started the album. Kimmy started making out with me, but I said it was way beyond my cheese-o-meter to handle making out while attached at the earbud. She concurred, and we just listened.

While it wasn't "hi-fi" through the earbuds, it was still exciting and fun. Neither of us had ever realized how wild Hynde goes at the end of "Stop Sobbing," with her mantra: "Stop sob, sob, sob, sobbing, sob, sob, sobbing sobbing." Ah! It's classic! It's raw! And it was real! Seeing her in the studio, pounding on her chest, and stomping her feet. Despite the intensity, it was still kinda funny, and we both started laughing. Chrissie's crazy!

We kept listening, giving out random commentary when necessary, although the comments lessened as we got deeper into the album, and we let the music speak for itself. Kimmy was surprised: "It's like I've never listened to this album before." This reminded me of our previous conversation about HDTV, and some annoying urge pinched me to bring it up.

Instead, I just held her closer and said, "I know. Isn't music awesome?"

john devore's picture

Many years ago I dated an audiophile girl. Yes, it's true, I found one, and she was really cute. I have an old Stax headphone amp with two outlets and once we each donned a big, boxy set of Stax headphones (I gave her the Sigmas, I used the Lamdas) and made out on the floor in front of the equipment rack. It was hilariously dumb--our 'phones periodically clunking together and the short, lasagna-like cables always twisting and pulling--but the sheer audio-weirdness of it made it great.Every 20 minutes or so we could readjust the 'phones and cables while I flipped the record...

Ariel Bitran's picture

that is an excellent and awkward story. but hey, when is audio and making-out not awkward. actually, it was probably beautiful at the time. I have a splitter, maybe next time we'll hook it up to the Bellari. my girlfriend can wear my grado's. I can wear my etymotics. and Fleetwood Mac will be our guide.

Ariel Bitran's picture

*Note*--Albums not to make out to: 1. Hemispheres by Rush (never goes well) 2. Romantic Warrior by Return to Forever, also not sexy; chivalrous, heroic, and dissonant are more like it 3.Misplaced Childhood by Marillion; tried that last time.......I need better judgement

Paul S.'s picture

"*Note*--Albums not to make out to: 1. Hemispheres by Rush (never goes well) 2. Romantic Warrior by Return to Forever, also not sexy; chivalrous, heroic, and dissonant are more like it 3.Misplaced Childhood by Marillion; tried that last time.......I need better judgement"-----How about something like Cecil Taylor's "Conquistador"? Or maybe "Big Lizard In My Backyard" by The Dead Milkmen? But seriously, I think that Keith Jarrett's "Koln Concert" would be good to make out to. I know this because I did just that with my ex-girlfriend. For some reason I think that "Music Has The Right To Children" by The Boards of Canada would be good also.

Ariel Bitran's picture

Great albums to make out to: 1. Troubador by J.J. Cale 2. Cat Mother by Cat Mother 3. Miles is always sexy 4. TP by Teddy Pendergrass (another love TKO!) 5. When it Falls by Zero 7 6. Al Final De Este Viaje by Silvio Rodriguez

Stephen Mejias's picture

Somebody's been doing a lot of making out.

john devore's picture

Let us not forget Big Black's Songs About F**king
On second thought, let's do forget it.