THE SIGNAL by David Katznelson

"The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man (AND WOMAN)."-Euripides

A friend of mine recently picked up a 1924 Columbia Gramaphone on etsy…one of those beautiful standing ones with the hand crank on the side and rotating slats underneath the platter-area for the horn/speaker. And once I saw it in action (he sent me a video) I was left direly wanting one. I have purchased several smaller models over the years and all of them break after a while. If you are not fluent in how to fix them, they pretty much stay broken gathering dust…perfect fodder for a garage sale. But if you do have records from the acoustic era…from the early turn of the last century to the late 20s/early 30s..and I have (for better or for worse) hundreds…you really need an acoustic machine like the Columbia Gramaphone that will bring out the audio on those shellacked grooves.

So I went on craigslist and found the same machine a few miles away that looked beautiful for a great price. My wife and I threw some moving blankets into the car and drove off, me full of excitement, Barb supporting my continual pathetically record-driven enthusiasms. And when we got there with cash in hand, we found a Columbia Gramaphone that just didn’t sound right…too tinny even for that period of time…and on top of it with a starting lever that stuck when trying to turn it to release the turntable spring (anything problematic like that can break quickly….I have learned).

So now I am back on the hunt…looking for the right acoustic record player from antiquity…trying to give voice to the records that are sitting gathering dust in my basement. I am thinking about taking this time to refurbish my electric 78 player from the 60s that will allow me to once again play those 78s from the 30s til the 50s, when that format was replaced with 45s and LPs. And if you are wondering why I couldn’t play the earlier records on that device, the answer would be: YOU CAN but they will not sound the same as if you played them on the acoustic machine that was used when they were originally released.

The truth is, recorded music sounds best on the machines that were used when they were originally recorded. The producers mixed the music to sound great on the popular devices of their day….so the common audience would dig them. Led Zeppelin will sound best coming off vinyl through a solid-state mid-70s receiver…music of today is mixed generally for the digital experience (with the exception of some fanatics continually mixing stuff for the vinyl collector market). If you ever REALLY want to hear the low end on a Fats Domino record, you are going to need a tube-driven 78 record player, preferably from the 50s, that was often included in its day in plush liquor cabinets. That being said, those records from the 20s…Ma Rainey, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington….those early records recorded on acoustic (non-electric) equipment…they are going to sound best on the acoustic (non-electric) devices they were made for, when you can find a machine with all the original parts that works well. And if you have room in the house for one, and can find one that works….it is a time machine into that moment of music history, changing the molecules as the needle rides the group towards the center of the disk….


My friend Gillian Laub’s new photo book is a sensation of photojournalism/art. I have had the luck of following this work for a few years now and have gotten to witness a presentation by Laub, telling the stories behind the photos themselves (which there will be opportunities for…Reboot will be announcing a conversation with her soon). The stories she tells through these photographs are the stories of our time…

Lee Morgan :: The Complete Live at The Lighthouse

I listened to some of the jams from this Lee Morgan discovery and they really are top notch. As said in the article, the documentary about his life, I Called Him Morgan, is masterfully done and showcases a full life ended too soon. Getting glimpses into his late-period artistry through these Lighthouse recordings is a gift.

Found: An Early Merlin Tale, Hidden for Centuries

It is pretty incredible that these papers were found “glued into the binding of a late 15th-century tome.” Anyone interested in the stories of Arthur are in for a treat…especially since they deal with the wizard Merlin and the enchantress Vivianne, with a new cast being spelled where she casts spells to guard her on her groin and on a ring…

How the 21st century would have disappointed HG Wells

'Wells believed in a literature of ideas; art that engaged with the world and dared to ask questions. He imagined a future where “women are to be free as men”. Daring to write about taboos, he supported not only gender equality but also the sexual liberation of women, so that they would be “in no way enslaved or subordinated to the men they have chosen”’

Psychedelic Wonder Drugs: Madison leads the way in a potentially transformative field of medicine

This comes from my wife’s University of Madison alumni magazine, so it will have a slight feeling of propaganda, but the work they are doing in the field of medical psychedelic research is very interesting and is just exciting to see college after college jumping into this until very recently taboo research.

Gaia review – attack of the killer mushrooms

…and then there is the darker side of the mushroom!

To Be a Poet

By: Jaroslav Seifert (Translated from the Czech by Ewald Osers)

Life taught me long ago
that music and poetry
are the most beautiful things on earth
that life can give us.
Except for love, of course.

In an old textbook
published by the Imperial Printing House
in the year of Vrchlický’s death
I looked up the section on poetics
and poetic ornament.

Then I placed a rose in a tumbler,
lit a candle
and started to write my first verses.

Flare up, flame of words,
and soar,
even if my fingers get burned!

A startling metaphor is worth more
than a ring on one’s finger.
But not even Puchmajer’s Rhyming Dictionary
was any use to me.

In vain I snatched for ideas
and fiercely closed my eyes
in order to hear that first magic line.
But in the dark, instead of words,
I saw a woman’s smile and
wind-blown hair.

That has been my destiny.
And I’ve been staggering towards it breathlessly
all my life.


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