|Paradise with James Saxon
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Talk All Night
As the SoundStage! insomniac, I occasionally tune in to Art Campanas controversial radio show, Talk All Night. Arts topics, such as UFO sightings, assassination conspiracies, and survival techniques pander to paranoia, but are generally non-inflammatory. Recently, however, Talk All Night ventured into dangerous waters, namely a discussion of hi-fi equipment. The first two segments, dealing with solid-state components and loudspeakers, were uneventful. The third and final segment began with an interview and ended with a sudden loss of signal. Luckily, I recorded the last show on my trusty Nakamichi 1000, and submit herewith a transcript. Maybe someone can come up with a theory about what happened that night?
ART CAMPANA: Welcome to Talk All Night. Tonight, we end our hi-fi series with a discussion of tube gear -- you know, the old-time glass bottles that glowed in the dark, and blew up once a year setting grandmas curtains on fire. You wont believe this but there exists a group of diehards whod like to put a tube amplifier into your living room and light your curtains on fire. Weve invited a prominent member of this tube cult to Talk All Night. Here to defend the fiery-furnace theory of home stereo is Steve Rockman, founder of The Joy of Music website and author of the worlds weirdest book. Steven, welcome to Talk All Night.
STEVEN ROCKMAN: Thank you, Art. May I say first that my name is actually Steven Ro.
AC: Dont worry, Steve, well get to the plug soon enough. Tell me, what is this thing youve brought us? You say its a book? Damnedest book I ever saw. People, you should see this. Im holding in my hand what looks like a small-bore eight-inch barrel with gold fixtures on each end.
SR: The barrel is a actually a piece of stiff cable. I believe in stiffness [LOL]. The ends are RCA connectors, Art.
AC: RCA? I remember that label. OK, wheres Nipper? Gotcha. You dont even know who Nipper was.
SR: I only have about fifty albums with Nipper on the cover.
AC: Go on, tell us about the tube-book.
SR: Well, you unscrew the connectors, then you tap the "barrel" on a hard surface and pages of information fall out.
AC: Look at this, its like a spy pen. Suddenly, spirals of paper snake their way out of the barrel. Lets see. One, two, three.... Whats this, Steve -- four pages -- thats a book?
SR: Umm, according to my publisher, Schneider Publishing, books as we know them no longer exist. Now, the medium is the message. Well, almost. I still had to write something to stick inside the cable.
AC: Yeah, if you can call four pages something. Whats the title of this magnum opus?
SR: Its humbly entitled, Do It Yourself Digital Cable.
AC: Would it be fair to say that this so-called book is a distillation of all you know about digital cables?
SR: I think, um, no, thats not fair to say.
AC: Well get to that. People you should see this guy. Hes dressed head to toe in black. Hes wearing sunglasses; its after midnight. And his head is punctured with pieces of jewelry -- not exactly your typical hi-fi buff.
SR: May I humbly suggest .
AC: Hold that thought, Steve, while we go to a break.
[Commercial for Sunburst Home Insurance]
AC: Were back with Steve Rockman founder of The Joy of Music website and author of the soon-to-be-best seller, Do It Yourself Digital Cable. How many of these books do you expect to sell, Steve?
SR: I have orders for five hundred and twelve so far.
AC: Wow, 512. Is that nationally?
SR: Well, actually, overseas sales are included. Theres a person living in Paradise whos agreed to buy 500 copies. It was either that or I planned to sue him.
AC: How interesting. How much does the book sell for?
SR: Twenty-five dollars.
AC: Twenty-five bucks! Are you kidding?
SR: Twenty-five is what the Paradise person agreed to pay. The book actually costs about forty cents to produce, but you know, like, thats hi-fi for you.
AC: Not for me, pal. Hi-fi, schmi-fi. I use Bose. You ever hear of Bose? Whatever Bose doesnt make, I dont buy. So go on, tell us why we should introduce hot, lethal, unreliable tube gear into our living rooms.
SR: Well .
AC: By the way, you see the No Smoking sign above my head. Thats real, pal. Whatever youre puffing on, either put it out, or share it.
[Several seconds of silence]
AC: Thats good stuff, man.
SR: As I was about to say, tube electronics are more than a way to listen to music. They are a way of life. For example, the way I look, the way I live are results of my belief in simple circuit design using old-style devices called triodes.
AC: Triodes? Are those tubes?
SR: You can call them tubes, or valves, or thermionic devices -- theyre all made of glass. In my humble opinion, tubes make the music sound more emotional than transistors do. Ive owned a lot of transistor equipment in my life and the sound of transistors is flat, lifeless, dead. Tubes sound alive, dimensional, connected to the music.
AC: Are tubes better than transistors?
SR: Umm, I thought I just explained that. Do you want me to repeat myself?
AC: Hold on a minute. Someone is coming up to the trailer. Joel [Engineer Joel Paige], whats going on out there?
Joel Paige: Looks like a bunch of deer hunters have pulled up. This is deer season, you know.
AC: Its always deer season. Thats why everyone has a rifle. Steve, you might want to duck down if these people come in. We have a lot of conservative ex-Canadians living around here and they might not like your looks. Joel, go out and tell those fellows this is private property, posted "no hunting."
AC: Hello, there. Can I do something for you?
Male Voice: You got a transistor-basher in here?
AC: Not at the moment. This is a radio show. You fellows want to be on radio, this a hell of a way to go about it. Why dont you call in?
Male Voice: Whats the number? Well use the cell phone.
AC: 420-61 .
MV: Just kidding, pal. Were tracking this man. Have you seen him?
AC: Wow, Id remember that face if I saw it, and believe me I dont remember it.
MV: Do you mind if we look around?
AC: Do you mind if we call the police?
MV: Thats a good one. We are the police. Sort of.
SR: [Inaudible] with the Mounties?
MV: Well, hello there! Just the man were looking for. And Art couldnt remember seeing you.... No, were not with the Mounties. Have you ever heard of GL Semiconductor -- largest manufacturer of bipolar transistors in the world?
SR: The "Evil Empire?" Yeah, Ive heard of it.
MV: Ill bet you have. When they offered to buy your website, you shouldnt have turned them down.
SR: They offered to buy Joyofmusic.com? When? How much did they offer?
MV: It was all in the contract they e-mailed you last month.
SR: [LOL] I thought that was spam. Just tell them to resend it.
MV: Thats not our mission. Our mission is to take you with us.
AC: No one leaves these premises against his will.
MV: Say, what is that -- a .357? That little pop gun wont help. We got serious fire-power here.
AC: Maybe, but Ive never lost a guest and dont plan to start now.
SR: Thats OK, Art. Ill just download the contract, sign it, back-date it, and Ill be home free. Can I use your computer?
[Two minutes of silence]
SR: How do like that -- I must have erased it. Say, Mr. Gentleman, would you mind calling GL Semiconductors and ask them to resend?
MV: Sure, well do that from the office. Come along now.
AC: Its a trap, Steve. Dont go.
SR: Dont worry about me, Art. The tube gods will protect me from the transistor devils. Let me take my audio shaman from the backpack and -- voila!
[At this point, transmission ceases.]
There you have it, gentle reader. Art Campana is back on the air, but he has never mentioned this episode or its conclusion. If anyone has a clue to the outcome of Steve Rockmans run-in with the transistor devils, please let me know via secure transaction -- or simple e-mail. I welcome any and all suggestions. Column ideas are hard to come by these days.
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