WANTED: Sidekicks and the Right Sort of Mate

WANTED: Sidekicks and the Right Sort of Mate
Jonathan Foote
3 February 2002

How Does One Make it in High-End Audio Journalism?

Is it necessary to have earned electrical engineering degrees? Excepting the Ph.D. from the Offshore Mailbox School, $1250 prepaid, major credit cards accepted, perhaps. But maybe not. We’ve all seen those debates among techno-poobahs on the follies of designer cabling or how really to measure a loudspeaker’s performance. One cleans the other’s clock, and vice-versa, at an altitude at which the laity swoons. Does anyone actually finish these graph-&-formula-salted tracts? Or even understand them? About as often as we tune into televised sermons.

If you want to make the scene, a sound technical grasp of your subject is of less value than an appealing family circle and nice, goofy friends – the sort of merry zanies who populate sitcoms. Accents are helpful. Not yours of course. Some faithful hanger-on rather. A straight man. Norwegian maybe. Norwegians are safe. “Yumpin’ Yimminy!” I mean, really, whom does that offend? But Mexicans as grist? “Ai chihuahua! Viva Zapata!” I think not. How long would an audio journalist flourish were his columns peppered with cutsie-pie locutions some significant sector reads as a slur?

This does raise an interesting issue: what’s safe and what isn’t. Matewise, France is good. Excellent in fact, if you report by and large on big-ticket items. “Sacre bleu! Zut alors!” We associate France with elegance, the birthplace of off-the-wall Gaultier rather than off-the-rack schlock. Russia maybe, for sitcomedic, Norwegian-type chuckles in a rather more modest market niche. A Russian’s even better if you’re married to one, which permits the audiophile to haul into his narrative members of the family-in-law. Remaining with this sitcom milieu, a French spouse beats out a Belgian by some slight margin – a female Hercule Poirot? – arriving at the finish line furlongs ahead of a helpmeet, say, from Secaucus or Queens. Radio Shack country. In sitcoms, I mean. Some of my best friends….

It has also proved productive to report as a patient, good humored mate on an audiophile’s obsessions. So much more entertaining than the complaints of a disgruntled neighbor on the other side of a too thin wall.

Taken together, these injections of a sitcom sensibility into what would otherwise resemble an unsmiling obsession do an effective job. They help convince us – we audiophiles, I mean – that we’re not quite as unsmilingly monomaniacal as a disinterested bystander might at first conclude. And one needs no doctor’s prescription to get into the swing. That’s a good thing.

  Don’t forget to bookmark us! (CTRL-SHFT-D)

Be the first to comment on: WANTED: Sidekicks and the Right Sort of Mate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Classe Audio (68)Bella Sound (75)Als Audio (66)

Stereo Times Masthead

Clement Perry

Dave Thomas

Senior Editors
Frank Alles, Mike Girardi, Key Kim, Russell Lichter, Terry London, Moreno Mitchell, Paul Szabady, Bill Wells, Mike Wright, Stephen Yan, and Rob Dockery

Current Contributors
David Abramson, Tim Barrall, Dave Allison, Ron Cook, Lewis Dardick, Dan Secula, Don Shaulis, Greg Simmons, Eric Teh, Greg Voth, Richard Willie, Ed Van Winkle, and Rob Dockery

Music Reviewers:
Carlos Sanchez, John Jonczyk, John Sprung and Russell Lichter

Site Management  Clement Perry

Ad Designer: Martin Perry