Thanksgiving 2022 is almost upon us and with the snow falling on Buffalo, Bruce defending $4,000 ticket prices for his concerts, and the New Jersey Devils leading the NHL standings — it feels like a good time to get a few things off my chest, offer some advice on Black Friday 2022, and recommend some new food options if you are ever passing through the Garden State.
Winter is coming. And I’m perfectly fine with that because I grew up in Canada, don’t really hate the snow, and Buffalo is 8 hours from us on the Jersey Shore where the first signs of winter have only been a minor irritation for those of us who run in the cold, windy mornings along the Shore.
The past 3 years have been mentally draining. We love the work that we do here, but it certainly takes a toll on the mind and body.
When my wife told me that she might have cancer a few days ago — I felt very differently about all of this. Life. And why do I need all of this stuff.
The mammograms and ultrasounds were inconclusive but it didn’t look good. 3 biopsies had to be conducted and I sat alone in the cancer testing center listening to some awful stories that made me feel like a fucking jerk to lose sleep about reviews, some hard edits, and consumption in general.
My mind was overcome with thoughts about money and how I would need to get another job in case she couldn’t work for 6 months, or to cover what our health insurance might not.
Baruch HaShem — the biopsy results were all benign. I won’t even pretend that I didn’t cry the entire drive home. None of this stuff is important folks. It’s just a bunch of boxes that make sounds.
Some of us have more than one job in case you were wondering; some of us even have 3 because college isn’t free, food is ridiculously expensive, and audio companies are struggling somewhat at the moment.
Whatever transpired during the pandemic with tens of millions of consumers stuck at home with nothing better to do but watch Netflix, Disney+, and create endless Spotify, TIDAL, and Qobuz playlists — is over.
Bob Iger is back at Disney because Disney+ has become a major money drain.
Manufacturers that took advantage of that unprecedented level of home isolation, closed movie theaters and live music venues, and growing resentment of those who were lucky enough to live on yachts in the Mediterranean — did really well until supply chain issues tanked enthusiasm and inflation made non-essential items like $40,000 speakers seem rather stupid.
This is going to be a soft Christmas buying season. Even with all of the great deals currently available.
The Murderer of Main Street
I almost choked when I watched Amazon’s Lex Luthor, tell consumers not to buy a new TV on Black Friday or expensive new appliances because a recession is coming.
He’s perfectly fine with you buying one of Amazon’s branded TVs, however. Clicking on their “Top Selling TVs” list confirmed my suspicions.
I suspect his warning about saving your money was really for the 11,000 employees he was going to fire a few days before Thanksgiving. Mission accomplished.
Things are not well for the Murderer of Main Street. A number of new Amazon facilities in our part of the Garden State sit dark; less than a few months after the company finished their construction. Roving herds of deer left homeless in the wake of unchecked construction on the Jersey Shore during the pandemic to keep up with the mass migration out of NYC, now occupy the parking lots of said facilities.
His personal $200 billion fortune is just fine; in case anyone is worried that Jeff Bezos no longer has enough money to purchase every single NHL or NFL franchise with enough money left over to buy every single high-end audio brand for fun.
He will be fine.
But what about Black Friday?
All of this must sound rather sacrilege coming from the EIC of a high-end audio/video publication.
If you save a lot of money using our links, that’s great and we certainly appreciate your loyal readership and trust in that regard.
But what all of these huge discounts should tell you, is that audio and TV manufacturers are really desperate to move product right now. What’s even more telling is that most of the products being heavily discounted are rather new and top-rated — versus the usual garbage they try to push on you for $179 on Black Friday.
There is a reason why a TV is selling for $179. It sucks and nobody wanted it at $300.
Some of you are probably wondering when I became a Communist.
I’ve certainly not lost my zeal for Capitalism. everyone should be so fortunate to live in a swanky town near the beach and enjoy the opportunity to watch obnoxious tourists from Connecticut become confused when they discover the New Jersey pizza is better than CT pizza.
Travel + Leisure just named my neck of the woods one of the “50 Best Places on Earth to Travel in 2023” — which compared to the other 49 destinations made me feel like none of these people have ever visited Long Branch.
Bruce was born here, but even he had the intelligence to build an isolated $100 million estate 5 miles up the road in Rumson where nobody can bother him.
Speaking of Bruce Springsteen — some fans have taken exception to the dynamic pricing for his upcoming tour (the first in 6 years) and while I think spending $4,000 to see anyone perform live unless Freddie Mercury or Elvis never really died is Garden State Parkway robbery — nobody is forcing you to spend that kind of money. Bruce and the E Street Band will be fine if you don’t go.
His recent 4 night hosting gig on The Tonight Show was almost interesting because the musical selections were better than his own music; not that he has the voice to do any of those classic songs justice.
To Boldly Go Where No Wireless Has Gone Before
2022 has been a watershed year for wireless speakers. You can read my thoughts on the current state of wireless and Bluetooth loudspeakers here and I promise that you won’t be surprised by my prediction that passive loudspeakers are going to be mostly irrelevant by 2030.
They have to be.
And not because some woke idiots like Justin Trudeau or Emmanuel Macron are going to force you to save energy by only owning one pair of wireless loudspeakers.
If you think I’m kidding, the EU’s new energy rules have already caused issues for TV manufacturers with specific 4K and 8K TVs that might not quality unless you watch them in “dim” mode — ironic to say the least.
Wireless loudspeakers are starting to make me reconsider every system that we presently own and how I can reduce the clutter and make It easier for my family to enjoy listening to music and watching movies.
That doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on analog sources but merely looking at a way to better integrate them into my daily listening habits.
I use streaming and CDs a lot. Especially when I review.
The truth is that there are some exceptional wireless speakers available now and they are good enough for 99% of the population. Including myself.
Loudspeakers like the Dynaudio Focus 50, KEF LSX II, and Triangle BOREA BR03 BT excite me; they offer excellent flexibility, connectivity options, and the sound quality is rather superb when set-up properly.
Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just telling you what you already know is inevitable.
It is your destiny.
CDs and Eggs & Ivy League Punks
“Princeton needs a guy like Ian.”
Those words were never uttered to my father by an admissions officer after an evening of booze, drugs, and high-priced prostitutes in the Toronto suburbs. Nope.
I had plenty of other solid options — and like usual in 1989, I selected the wrong one.
GWU wasn’t the best academic decision but it did let me experience D.C. (both during and post-college working in the cyber engineering world) which was the best part of the deal.
I erred in not attending KU (University of Kansas) in Lawrence where Gayle Sanders of MartinLogan would have hired me as an intern on the spot, but the universe had other plans.
Princeton is a 45-minute drive from the Shore (it’s actually 65 minutes but I know a few shortcuts) and it offers an interesting preview of future entrepreneurs and Nobel Prize winners.
It’s also a great place to shop for CDs and records, before hitting up one of the local eating establishments filled with tigers, attorneys, and future billionaires looking for places to hide their crypto money. #Bahamas
Maman is a rather popular bakery chain with locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bethesda, Ardmore (PA), Toronto, and Montreal.
Because I was raised in a food industry family, I pay attention when new places open in the Garden State. I’ve driven 16 hours for BBQ so 45 minutes for breakfast and excellent coffee isn’t much of a stretch.
MamanNYC’s new location in Princeton is a rather chic build-out a few blocks from Nassau Street and Princeton Record Exchange.
The doors having opened just 2 days prior, we were not sure what to expect.
Bustling. French. Arrogant and smiling Ivy League punks happy to spend $15 for smashed avocado tartine, $5 for a cappuccino and $5 for pistachio chocolate croissants.
I had all 3.
The aforementioned croissant is like how I remember them in Paris.
Fuck you Princeton. I’ll be back on Tuesday.
We were pressed for time, but it was interesting to visit PRX to discover that the record bins continue to be stripped clean and the wall racks and bins filled with some excellent deals on used CDs are still very viable options to find great music.
I may have hidden some used jazz gems in the back corner for next week. Never trust anyone under 25.