The Baseball Desert

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Licence To Thrill

I remember a conversation I had many moons ago, whilst in the process of purchasing my first real audio system from a local hi-fi specialist, where one of the guys who worked in the shop shared his theory about the role of good quality audio equipment. He said that people obviously buy good hi-fi to listen to their favourite music under the best possible conditions, but he also pointed out that one of the other roles of the equipment was to provide you with the means of discovering music you might not otherwise have listened to.

The shop encouraged multiple visits and many hours of listening before any major purchase, and prospective buyers were asked to bring in favourtite CDs to listen to. However, the shop had a whole stack of other stuff that it played for people for the following reason - if you're a Springsteen fan, then Born To Run is going to sound great whether you listen to it on a £1000 CD player or on a crappy car radio; what the £1000 CD player allows you to do is discover that Van Morrison and Stravinsky are worth listening to as well.

What is true for quality hi-fi also holds true for quality writing. Certain writers - in this case, certain bloggers - have a gift which allows them to transpose their enthusiasm for a particular subject into great writing, even if the subject in question is somewhat off the reader's beaten track. If you'll allow me to run with the analogy for a second, baseball is my Born To Run - I'll happily read about it all day, whatever the source. However, if you can get me to not only read but be fascinated by posts on character actor Charles Lane and Nine Inch Nails, then I think that you're doing something right somewhere.

I know I've plugged both Sheila and Beth before, but I make no apologies for doing it again. If you read their blogs already, then you'll know what I'm talking about - that golden combination of enthusiasm, humour, insight and just damn good writing; if you don't read their stuff on a regular basis, then I can only raise my eyes to the heavens and pray that you see the error of your ways before it's too late.

In case you still need convincing, I'll leave Sheila - in a personal, Baseball Desert "on this day in history" excerpt - to have the last word. From The Ferry:
The World Trade Center, the Atrium, the Concourse, the floating dock ... all of that stuff, on my Monday nights, felt like that for me. I never got used to it. I never was "over" it. I never strolled through there, not noticing where I was. This may sound like retrospective romanticizing, but I assure you it is not. I have the diary entries for my Monday evenings for over 2 years to prove it. It was almost as though the class I was taking was incidental, and not really important. The REAL thing to learn was from the concrete, and the space, and the quiet down there at that time of night.
It's like being able to reach out and hold a slice of the past. Wonderful stuff...