February 2: Turntables, continued & concluded

Anyway, the days of Kuzma and Dynavector lasted as long as my days of a reviewer. Great tables, arms and cartridges (not to mention superb phono preamps) can give a careful listener a look within that little else can. Eventually, though I bought my first REGA Planar 3 and used it as a kind of everyman’s table reference. That second REGA served me well. Somehow, it ended up on the other side of the table when I got divorced. Also, I lost a good number of LPs (well over a thousand) and my beloved Magnepan MGIIIa to a flood of hot water caused by a plumbing leak, when there was no one around to simply turn off the damn water.

That was then and the is now and I have another REGA Planar 3. It was set up for me by none other than the legendary Brooks Berdan. If you’re interested you can read about it here. If you’re not, just know it’s a been a great table and I’m happy to be giving it some exercise during the transfer of my remaining LPs.

I am sentimental about this particular table but not about analog generally or LPs specifically. They are the technology I grew up with and while I find their miniature renaissance amusing, I am under no illusions that they create a corner on the market of musicality.

In the early 90s, it seemed like they might. Early CDs were abysmal for a number of reasons, most notably lousy DACs and misunderstandings about how digital recording changed and didn’t change the requirements of microphone placement. The truth is that things got better fast when it came to CDs. That said, a CD is not an LP and there is no reason to expect one to sound like the other. It’s rather like tubes which is, if I decide to go down that particular rabbit hole, a question with a longer answer for another blog post. I am not immune to nostalgia but I am when it comes to the mechanisms that deliver my music, I simply don’t care what device or technology brings me decent sound, I just want it. Thanks for reading. Tomorrow, no more turntables…I promise.

February 2: Turntables, continued & concluded

January 18: These days

I ended up sleeping in today quite late. I must have been a bit more worn out by the drive home from Sacramento yesterday than I realized. Today was a little lonely but I managed to get a few things done. I got an email back from Alba telling me that she was working on a revised version of the cover for Cottonwood right about the time I was sending her a message through Instagram telling her that I was close to deciding to stick with her initial artwork. Then, I heard from my client, Yoshi, in Japan about an issue related to putter shafts.

Distractions, but nothing felt quite important enough to hold my attention.

I took an abbreviated walk so I could get my other chores done and still make it to the post office. Then I heard from my friend, Jess, and made plans to meet him for dinner. I’m glad I did this. Even though he can be a little frustrating and even vexing at times he reminds me of what someone said about the idea of nostalgia…that it’s a kind of homecoming.

These days, these days beyond the middle days of our lives, can find us looking ahead and behind at the same time. There’s something a little disconcerting about that. But, still there’s something about these days, these days of change and unexpected and often unwelcome change, that make this time feel special. So many years ago Jess and I would have seldom had the chance to share a relaxed dinner. But, these days it has almost become commonplace, even though we know it isn’t. It is an easier time to find a little time but there will never be enough time for everything we’d like to do, or to do what we would like as often as we might care to.

Yes, it’s confusing.

In economics these kinds of times might be called a scarce good, like clean air, pure water or an enduring friendship. None of these kinds of goods come without a cost whether we are able to identify it at the time we enjoy the good or not.

So, on this day and in this hour, I have a found a few moments to recall the times that have come before, may come tomorrow, as well as those that find me writing in my journal of the year 2022. I hope to tomorrow might bring a day of sharper focus but I can’t guarantee it. All I can do is put my head on the pillow with gratitude and a humble hope for what might come next.

As this day slides toward tomorrow I find myself listing to The Yellow Cake Review, Farewell to Stromness buy the L.A. Guitar Quartet from their 1998 record, L.A.G.Q. Sure, I wish they called themselves The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet but that’s another story. This is a lovely, gentle and articulate interpretation and arrangement of Peter Maxwell’s sublime piano composition of the same name.

If you never do anything I ask of you, go out and buy each piece music today. You will not be disappointed. Enthralled? Yes. But never disappointed. Thank you, as always, for reading.

January 18: These days

January 2: Quality, music & nostalgia

2020 was a year that I started to try to get a handle on my music collection. Years ago I lost over 2,000 treasured LPs in a flood. The insurance company first offered me $1 per record and ended up paying me $3 each. Still, that pretty much took out my collection save for the few hundred that escaped the hot, ravaging waters of the broken pipe.

A few of the survivors and my beloved Per Madsen Rack.

I would include a photo of my CDs, but they’re just so boring looking. Yesterday I wrote about Paul Simon’s disdain for contemporary music and I alluded to my music collection. I find that the more I write the more music I listen to. The listening is different, for the most part, than when I worked in and wrote about the high end audio industry. It is more of an accompaniment or a soundtrack. I no longer have a system, though I can still play LPs and CDs and hear them in free space. When the music or my brain demands it I listen on headphones, either wired or bluetooth. This is all heading toward how I intend to manage and grow my collection without as much physical mass to manage. The idea of using FLAC and dumping what’s left of my LPs onto a bunch of really big (an well backed up) hard drive is appealing. So is buying most (but not all of my music digitally through either iTunes or Bandcamp. I can’t quite wrest myself from the appeal of the physical so when I bought Deep Sea Diver’s new record I bought the LP from Bandcamp and it arrived signed by Jessica Dobson herself. Plus, Bandcamp tends to pay musicians a high percentage than iTunes.

C’mon, Jessica sent me Xs and Os…How do you pass that up?

It’s cool, but it’s also pretty damn physical. There may come a day where my enjoyment of buying and listening to records goes away altogether but I am not quite there yet. Digital and digital storage is just so convenient and it usually sounds fairly good. There’s a good chance one of the few benefits of aging will be the fact that my ability to discern good sound from bad sound will continue to decline. If I end up being happy to listen to a portable radio that’ll be just fine. My hearing already rolls off above 14kHz so I’m on my way!

Enough preamble. The word of the day is nostalgia. And my question is this: If you like something that happens to be old is your appreciation inherently possessed with nostalgia? What do we say when what’s old is really good let alone possible better than what’s new? Say we’re talking about Van Halen’s 1978 eponymously titled record or Steely Dan’s Katy Lied from 1975. Yup, I grew up with both. Still, each record is still fantastic by any measure. Do I have to admit that some of my appreciation for either work is dripping in nostalgia? Think about it and let me know. More tomorrow. I’m trying to keep the daily posts between 300-400 words. Wish me luck…

January 2: Quality, music & nostalgia

January 1, 2022

Seriously, I have to write more already?

Overnight I realized that this whole one year journal idea meant writing on something like a schedule, like other writers do. I read that Shelby Foote started each day writing 500 words, using a quill pen no less. I think I realized this in the back of my mind. As some of you might know, I finished my second novel, Cottonwood, a month or so back. I’m now waiting for my faithful formatter and cover artist to be available so I can get the book up on Amazon where it’s sure to make big bucks. I have a handful of ideas for my next book and I figured that writing everyday would keep me sharp in case any of those ideas suddenly grew from acorn to seedling. That fit in nicely with the one-year countdown to the end of my job at the law firm. Anyway, here I am on the first day of the year. To paraphrase Joe Friday, it’s breezy and cool in Los Angeles today. The high is supposed to hit 57…a tad chilly for me.

A while back I heard an interview with Paul Simon. In it, he was asked what music he was listening to these days. He mentioned that he’d been listening to the Elvis station (disappointed), along with B.B. King and Sinatra. He went on to say that he didn’t really listen to any contemporary music. I thought to myself, what the hell and I’m not totally surprised. Paul Simon’s a somewhat prickly old guy but I would emphasize old more the prickly. It struck me that he had either lost the energy he once had to sift through the crap that is most of everything to find the contemporary music that had worth or that he was simply more comfortable with music that was contemporaneous with his early life and what came before it. That gets me to the word nostalgic. I’ve been thinking about the word off and on and I’ll have more to say about it later. Anyway, I’m glad I haven’t thrown in the towel when it comes to contemporary music. There is some very good new music out there. Is it harder to find than it was in days gone by? I suppose that’s possible, but so what? If you love music you have to take the time to seek it out.

Drop by tomorrow if you’d like to hear more about my efforts to simultaneously organize, preserve and grow my music collection.

January 1, 2022