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Turntable Lab, Buster Keaton, Adele, Neil Young, Bob Crumb & V-MODA: The Remote Zombie

January was a really long month and it ends with a Spotify controversy, fears of war in Europe, and some excellent books that you need to add to your collection.

Jimi Hendrix, Adele, Bob Crumb and Neil Young

As January comes to a close, I realized that I have a lot to say about some other items that have crossed my desk over the past 4 weeks. We’re closing in on publishing over 80 articles this month including 25 from CES 2022; trade shows are returning in February and March so expect to see coverage from both Tampa and the New York CanJam.

There might be a Montreal Show in March and if I can cross the border without any issues or quarantine restrictions — I might make the 7 hour drive for some bagels and Lester’s.

A very kind reader asked me behind the scenes if I was taking care of myself after such a crazy 16 months at the helm. Publishing almost 1,000 articles over that period of time was a total team effort and while I’m proud of myself for writing more than 500 articles in 2021 — I won’t pretend that I’m operating at 100% right now.

The weather has definitely contributed to my malaise this month; I’m still dealing with long COVID symptoms and the energy level is not great even though I run every single day. I do hope to get my sense of smell and taste back at some point this year.

I’m taking some time in February to visit my parents in Delray Beach and recharge my batteries somewhat. I also plan on visiting family and friends in Toronto and Montreal as well — assuming that Trudeau doesn’t give me a hard time.

Everyone deals with things differently. I’ve learned how to deal with my issues by creating a routine; I awaken each morning at 5 a.m., stretch, run, shower, drink coffee, check NHL highlights, answer some of your colorful emails, and pray.

When I’m done praying, I put away my Tefillin and usually put on some music in the kitchen while I’m making lunch for the kids — Bluesound wireless speakers make that quite pleasurable streaming from Qobuz or TIDAL.

My kids have no idea how many things I get done before they even awaken for school.

My Dinner With Pavel

Like most people these days, I’m following the news in regard to Russia and Ukraine with a lot of interest. I majored in International Relations: Near Eastern Studies in college and I’m a history buff. I think I own almost as many history books as I do jazz record albums. Not as many as Eric Pye, but more than enough.

My grandfather was born in Lviv (which was part of Poland before the Soviet Union invaded), Ukraine in 1892 and I spent most of my college years living with Russian and Ukrainian OTBs inside the Beltway.

I alternate between Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin jerseys when I watch NHL games, and I derive much pleasure from Shostakovich, Khachaturian, and Rachmaninoff.

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I understand Putin. He’s a corrupt relic stuck in the past, but also taking advantage of German and French self-interests in Europe, and our inability to get our shit together. While we fight over mask and vaccine mandates, Ivan is playing a game of global chicken which could have enormous economic consequences for the world at a time when supply chain issues are still very much a problem, people require oil and natural gas to heat their homes in Europe, and the global economy is finally showing some signs of life after the past 2 years.

Americans and Canadians might not get their wheat or corn from Ukraine — but the developing world certainly does.

Any conflict in Europe right now will impact CE in a huge way.

The Bedford Incident

Meze Audio are located not too far from Ukraine in northwestern Romania and I’m sure they are watching recent events with great uncertainty because one of their partners is based across the border.

Change the Channel

Adele must think that all of her fans are suckers; they are for paying thousands of dollars for tickets for her now postponed Las Vegas residency. This isn’t the first time she’s pulled out of a huge show at the last moment and left fans holding the bag so color me not surprised.

The free speech wars took an interesting turn this week. Watching 0000s of people boast on Twitter that they have cancelled their Spotify Premium accounts in protest has been bizarre.

When I suggested that they switch to Qobuz or TIDAL, many told me that they didn’t want to spend that kind of money and that they didn’t care about sound quality or how much artists make.

Neil Young is suddenly a virologist and physician; his demand that Spotify drop Joe Rogan’s podcast or he’ll take his music elsewhere in response to Rogan’s views on the pandemic and vaccine misinformation set off a tidal wave of commentary both in support of Young — but also against him.

Change the channel Neil. Nobody forces anyone to listen to anything. Spotify is not dropping Joe Rogan with 11 million subscribers. At best, they will issue new platform guidelines and let you know in advance if a podcast is offering “misinformation” about a topic.

Even though I’m vaccinated and have had COVID twice, I’m not telling other people what they should do with their bodies or own children. Neil Young has every right to express his opinion about the topic but to think that Spotify would fire Rogan after spending $100 Million on the exclusive rights to the podcast is rather stupid.

Spotify decided to lower the boom on Neil Young so apparently money talks. You can always find Neil’s music on TIDAL and Qobuz and kudos to Apple’s marketing department for trolling Spotify.

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One telling item has been Spotify’s stock price which has fallen by almost $70 since January 3rd. Some quick math tells me that Spotify’s market cap has fallen by over $2 Billion in the past 7 days.

I am increasingly convinced that Apple may have hit Spotify where it hurts in 2021 with Apple Music with Spatial Audio and upset the lossless streaming applecart.

Spotify HiFi might happen sooner than Spotify planned in Q1 to stop the bleeding but it’s clear that the platform is having some issues right now that Apple, Amazon, TIDAL, and Qobuz need to exploit.

Clean Your Damn Records

Turntable Lab is definitely one of my favorite online record stores and destinations for replacement cartridges. I recently interviewed Peter Hahn (co-founder and CEO) and he was pretty frank about how the business has navigated the pandemic and been forced to adapt like everyone else or face extinction.

Both of us are big proponents of record cleaning solutions for the simple reason that they do make your records sound better, but more importantly extend the life of your cartridge. Dirty records put a lot of wear on your stylus.

Tripe Operation Record Brush

They very kindly sent me a sample of their Triple Operation Vinyl Record Cleaning Brush ($24.95) and so far I’m impressed. I have rather large hands and the contoured handle feels very secure; nothing like having a record cleaning brush take a sudden bolt towards your unsuspecting cartridge with the platter in motion.

The TOVRC (not a great marketing name) but it’s definitely effective. Two non-abrasive cleaning pads pick up dirt + larger particles, while (2) rows of carbon fiber bristles pick up dust + finer particles. The conductive design adds a charge to the carbon fiber bristles to help attract dust and the damn thing actually works.

Spin Clean Record Cleaner
Spin-Clean Record Washer MKII

I’m still a big proponent of using something like a Spin-Clean ($79.95) or Record Doctor VI on both new and used records because dry cleaning fails to really clean the grooves. I’m less than impressed with some of the new pressings I’ve purchased over the past 5 years which have come with a weird film on the surface; and therefore requiring a wet cleaning before I even play them for the first time.

I’ve tried the brush so far on 13 records and am very pleased with the results.

People Still Read?

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book…Groucho Marx

A very kind literary agent reached out to me during 2021 to find out if I would be interested in reviewing a galley of a forthcoming title about silent screen legend, Buster Keaton.

That’s like asking me if I’m interested in going out for pho with oxtail followed by a hockey game and 20 minutes alone in a record store with found money.

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Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century Book Cover

Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century ($26.98 at Amazon) by Dana Stevens chronicles Keaton’s enormous contributions to both film and American culture; Stevens does an excellent job filling in the gaps in regard to both his comedic genius and groundbreaking filmmaking.

If you’re a fan of Keaton, there is a lot of new material that has not been covered in other literary works and I would consider this to be an essential read if you love both silent film but also want to learn how we ended up with Hollywood and how technology changed everything in the 20th Century.

Keaton, Ford, Kurosawa, and Hitchcock all belong in the same conversation if we’re talking about the true innovators in cinema.

I’ll Take Some Blues with My Side of Poutine & Fries

A childhood friend of mine is an esteemed Professor of Social Work and Fellow at McGill University in Montreal and she recently sent me a wonderful replacement copy of a title that was damaged many years ago during a flood in the basement.

I owe her some BBQ and fries with poutine if she ever makes the journey south.

I’m not sure how many people knew who the late-Bob Crumb was before American Splendor, but color me guilty in that regard. I recognized his wonderful illustrations post-viewing but Crumb was a really fascinating man; he had an encyclopedic level of music knowledge and the documentary about his life is well worth watching.

R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country Book

R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country ($13.49 at Amazon) is a beautifully illustrated hardcover title with an accompanying 21-track CD that belongs in every audiophile’s book collection.

There’s a wonderful scene in American Splendor where Crumb and Pekar meet at a garage sale and suspiciously eye one another looking through a stack of records. Their mutual love of records, jazz, blues, and country music inspires a lifelong friendship and collaboration.

Excuse Me While I Print Your Headphones…

V-MODA and Roland DGA have teamed up on a very interesting headphone project and I’m grateful to have been sent the “Jimi Hendrix” version of the headphones. The quality of the print job on the ear cups is really quite something and I’ve had more comments about these headphones from strangers at Starbucks than any other that I’ve worn over the years.

V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless x Jimi Hendrix Headphones

I will have a formal review of the headphones next week along with a deeper dive into the Roland DGA technology that made this project possible.

The limited edition V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless x Jimi Hendrix Over-ear Headphones are available now from $219 at Amazon.

Related Podcast: Hearing What’s In Our Heads

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. ORT

    January 31, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Cool! Just plain, good ol’ cooool…

    And I have recently become a fan of TTL along with LP Gear and will look into getting one of these brushes soon (it is time to pay the house note first!).

    And Neil Young still “sings” like an emasculated, fat, old, Hobbit (Blobbit?). Decades ago when asked his thoughts on the Vietnam War, Elvis replied (and I paraphrase) “No comment. I’m just an entertainer, man”… Neil is a Blobbit.

    I have a pair of V-Moda ‘phones that were bought for someone that failed to pick them up, so I am giving them to a friend. They are too small for mah giant HEED! I just gave a pair of immaculate Koss closed back Tony Bennett headphones to a co-worker and he is quite happy with them.

    If and when V-Moda gets around to making a Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mathis set, I will do my best to be there! ‘Tis early here and I am getting ready for work.

    In all ways and for always, be well.

    ORT

    • Ian White

      January 31, 2022 at 12:30 pm

      ORT,

      I find the selective “freedom of speech” thing rather tiresome.

      Nobody forces anyone to listen to anything. Rogan had another 20M listens in one week because of the coverage.

      I really only liked him in CSN&Y and never really liked his music otherwise.

      The Hendrix paint job is amazing. Like “how did they do that with a printer” amazing.

      Ian White

      • DJ

        February 6, 2022 at 7:19 pm

        It’s so awesome to come here and read the comments, and find those who are awake, and not that juvenile retarded term “woke.”

  2. Darwin

    January 31, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Your comments about Rogan are stupid. You are doing the very thing you accuse Mitchell and young of. Keep your dumb political/medical opinions to yourself. They have no place here. No wonder you had covid twice.

    • Ian White

      January 31, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      Darwin (figures),

      I support this crazy thing called “free speech” and made it very clear that both of them have the right to express it.

      They have no place here? Who are you to tell me what I can post as EIC?

      Just for your edification, I was exposed to COVID in early March 2020 by my boss who came back from China with it. #2 happened recently after being exposed to it by two people who were boosted. I’ve been vaccinated for 9 months and wore a mask everywhere for 18 months.

      Didn’t die. Still here. Can’t taste/smell anything.

      Still support Rogan’s right to free speech.

      Ian White

  3. Michael

    January 31, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    You wrote: “Between Putin, Adele, and Neil Young ā€” Iā€™m not sure which individual has been a bigger narcissist this month.”

    So you’re conflating Neil Young’s, Adele’s, and Putin’s “narcissism”. Putin’s narcissism results in political upheaval and murder. Nice.

  4. Michael

    January 31, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    Wow, one minute my comment is there, the next it’s not. Just a simple internet glitch? Or maybe I was guilty of defaming Putin by questioning your conflation of him with Neil and Adele. Or maybe free speech isn’t so important after all.

    • Ian White

      January 31, 2022 at 11:07 pm

      Michael,

      Nobody removed your comment. I just got home and generally review everything because of spam, etc…

      So perhaps sticking Putin in with Adele and Neil was a tad harsh. But all 3 can be narcissistic in their behavior.

      Putin is a thug and murderer so he definitely exists on a different level. I’m the grandson of survivors and my grandfather was born in Ukraine and beaten by the Russians so I’m no Putin fan.

      Ian White

  5. ORT

    February 1, 2022 at 2:18 am

    I think I have met some of these kids at T.H.E. venues in recent years. šŸ˜‰

    This is not reality my friends. If you want to pick on some one, look for the crippled old toad with the Lofstrand crutches at an audio show and do your bestest. Sheeeesh! šŸ™‚

    ORT

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