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Analog man


The Marantz brand was the Mercedes of stereo back in the day.

When I was a college freshman, one of the guys who lived across the hall, Arnie, had the first component stereo system I had ever seen: a receiver, a turntable, a reel-to-reel tape deck, and two big loudspeakers.

At that time, my equipment hadn’t advanced further than a small record player with small speakers. Occasionally I had to tape a nickel to the turntable’s tone arm to keep a record from skipping. It was like a turret lathe. Arnie’s turntable, though, was a surgical instrument compared to my record player.

His system was loud, but the sound was clear, and I heard things I had never heard before in albums I’d been listening to for a long time. I immediately wanted a component system for myself.

That day came during the fall semester a couple of years later, when I bought a monster sound system. The only problem was that I bought it with all of the loan money I was going to use to pay for my spring semester. But that’s a tale for another time.

Over the years, I kept buying more powerful receivers that cranked out decibels with no audible distortion. I had an equalizer. Each new speaker system had more oomph, especially at the bottom end. My last turntable didn’t even have a tone arm, it was so advanced. I had a three-head cassette tape deck—although I suspect no one reading this knows why three heads were better than two. In fact, I can’t even remember myself. At any rate, I finally had the system I’d always wanted.

Then came the iPod and digital music. My component system started collecting dust, except when I wanted to listen to an LP that wasn’t available in a digital version. Pretty soon, I wasn’t even doing that.

A couple of weeks ago, Sherry and I were moving furniture from one side of the house to the other, and one of the cabinets we moved contained all of my stereo components. To get them out of the way, we took them into the cellar. They sat around for a while, and I told Sherry I was going to sell them.

“I don’t think anyone would want to buy them,” she said in a digital dose of reality for my analog hopes.

I couldn’t just haul them to the dump, though. Instead, I loaded them all—receiver, tape deck, CD player, turntable—into a box and, with no little difficulty because the box was so heavy, hoisted the box onto a shelf. Then I took my kickass speakers and tucked them into an out-of-the-way storage space. I keep telling myself I’ll use them again someday, but truth be told, I know it never will happen.

Maybe I can display them as antiques someday.

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Wish I'd Said It

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“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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