Where to start?

Generating a sensible, useful and logical biographical sketch is always a challenge. I have selected the path of chronos, a time-line approach. I trust this will not ramble excessively since a lot of water has passed under this bridge - sometimes murky, but fortunately, more often than not, fairly clear. (I will have more to say about water another time.)

Born in a log cabin, deep in the woods, he was a lonely and serious boy. No, sorry, that was for a different publication. I experienced a happy normal childhood, growing up in New Jersey, almost in the shadow of the Empire State building. New York City played a major role in my personal evolution and I am pleased to say, most of it was a blast!

While radio was my largest, regular early contact with recorded music, I am thrilled to note that it included Frank Sinatra and other luminaries of that ilk, via a fine station, WNEW-AM and the "Make Believe Ballroom" show of William B. Williams. My folks enjoyed the big band sound, so Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, Count Basie etc. were fairly common names in my young lexicon. My uncle Joe, who lived next door, actually owned a mono sound system composed of a Miracord turntable, Eico amplifier and Stephen's Trusonic speaker system, so this gave me additinal exposure to jazz, since he was a sax player in the army, among other things.

For live music, I depended on doses of well-played pipe organ music each Sunday at church. As a young person I found this to be powerful, enlightening, enjoyable and even inspirational, at times. By high school, the marching band and keyboard lessons had a contributing role, but the best was yet to come.

Through a close family friend, I became enamored of the New York Times. My parents always read the NY Daily News and the Jersey Journal, but the NYT was a whole new world for this 14-year old. That is when New York City started to find its way into my heart and mind.

For one thing, a high school buddy, deeply into building amps and preamps from scratch, introduced me to Radio Row in the Cortlandt Street area of lower Manhattan. It was the mecca for ham radio guys, for burgeoning audio guys and other electronics addicts. That meant plenty of ferry rides to NYC to visit all those cool shops, even before people actually started to say 'cool'. This was the beginning of the HiFi adventure for me. I built a Heathkit preamp and my pal created a 20-watt tube power amp out of raw parts and it all made music through a bass reflex enclosed 12" Stromberg-Carlson coax speaker. This was fed by a Garrard turntable outfitted with a GE Variable Reluctance cartridge. My guess is that many of you have never heard of that stuff; I loved it and still remember my first system with fondness and nostalgic bliss. All this generally meant that frequent visits to NYC and Cortlandt St. would engender a stimulating Saturday routine. I quickly learned about the totally extreme stuff from JBL, Berlant Concertone, McIntosh, Marantz, Thorens, Revox, and on, and on. Clearly none of that was going to be in my system for decades, but the chaps running the shops were really nice and even allowed a whippersnapper like me to hang out and listen to great music on terrific mono audio systems.

Then it hit! Something called stereo was being introduced to reproduced music. Now it meant two of everything, (including newspaper routes for me)! Well, it took a while but a Weather's Turntable system entered my home. Golly, now we were talking 'stratospheric' stuff. With time and more money, a pair of Janzen electrostatic bookshelf speakers arrived, along with a fancy Fisher X-1000 integrated stereo tube amplifier. Times, they were a changin'.

Other remarkable things occurred, including unfolding adventures in concert-going. After learning about free folk music performances in Washington Square park in Greenwich Village, my Sunday afternoons produced an enlightening new chapter in music appreciation. Some of the great folkies of the 1960s were there in flesh-and-bone and I could not only hear them, but even chat with them. Oh joy!

Yet again, the biggest step happened when I figured out that a properly dressed teenager could get into Carnegie Hall on Sunday afternoons for little expense to hear the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. I can still remember, with incredible vividness, my first hearing of Pictures at an Exhibition. I had turned a very big corner! Live music has been a major factor in my life ever since. Finding ways to recreate that emotional and intellectual thrill at home, however, continues to be elusive. You may know what I mean - wink, wink.

Well, many systems have come and gone. Speakers such as AR3s, JBL S7Rs, Magnaplanar Tympani I-Ds, IMF Reference Monitors, Rogers LS3/5As with custom subs, and the Nestorovic System 12A have spent time in my various abodes. Electronics from Eico, Fisher, Dyna, Ampzilla, Crown, McIntosh, Marantz, and Audio Research, among others, were in the mix. LP players from AR, a Technics SP10, Thorens, Rabco, SME and Linn/Naim were employed. FM tuners from Dyna, AR, Magnum Dynalab have delivered much fine radio and numerous types/styles of wire have carried signals aplenty. Of course contributions from tapes also happened courtesy of Ampex, Tandberg and even a Nakamichi 700 ZXL. These days, CDs are played via machines from a few makers, but mostly Naim. I have always been fond of orchestral music, especially large scale symphonic works, from composers like Beethoven, Stravinsky, Prokoviev, Copland, and many others.

Pipe organ repertoire still scores high with me, especially from Bach and some of the French masters. Small ensembles whether of the wind or string persuasion fit in there too. Choral music is always important. Straight-ahead jazz is a constant favorite especially when we include Count Basie, Ella, Bill Evans, Miles, Stan Getz, and too many others to itemize. Rock from the 60s and 70s is still a good thing as long as I can listen to the Beatles, Stones, the Band, CSN&Y, Pink Floyd, Traffic, the Allman Brothers and things like that including folkie stuff. Admittedly, I consistently fail to enjoy the Muzak styles that have invaded too many places, while hard rock, heavy metal, punk-funk and rap music collectively just don't do it for me. (I'm merely conveying personal biases here, and wish to not pass judgment on others' preferences.)