[SoundStage!]Paradise with James Saxon
Back Issue Article
June 1998

Slacking Off

Grandpa once observed, "You want anything done, don’t ask that boy to do it." He was referring to me. Adolescent work assignments drove me into a zombie-like pre-occupation. My hands and feet would move, but the object of the exercise would remain undisturbed. It was as if I were on automatic pilot. I could see myself moving about, while my brain enjoyed an out-of-body experience. Unfortunately, I was not excused from chores despite the extra time it took me to finish them.

During the present buying hiatus at Casa Saxon, I have assigned myself daily menial missions to accomplish. I seldom succeed. When you have nothing to do, doing anything is ponderously difficult. For instance, I recently determined that some of my used equipment would be better off returning to the United States for resale. With the aid of Monica the maid, I managed to box up a thousand pounds of components. Then, for some strange reason, I could not lift the telephone to call the freight company to come pick everything up. Every day I would look at the phone, and say to myself, "Today is the day." Then, the handset would recede into the background, and my mind would drift upward toward the ceiling. Some day the boxes will move out of the kitchen. But for now, they are stuck.

Following up on repair work has become difficult. When I was busier a few months ago, I returned an original Theta Data Basic transport to the factory for repair. Nowadays, I can barely recall it. When the customer phones up from time to time to inquire, I have a twinge of guilt and the urgent desire to help him. But the moment I put the phone down, my mind goes blank. It’s as if the conversation never took place. Maybe I have a virus or something.

Ordering new equipment, which is an all-important part of the job, has proven to be impossible. First of all, there’s no money for new purchases, and secondly, I have lost confidence in my judgment of which products to import. Like everyone else, I read equipment reviews as a vicarious way to audition products. Believe it or not, this used to work from a business standpoint, but no longer. The divergent tastes among the many, many reviewers (they’ve multiplied like rabbits), the crumbling of the Chinese wall between advertising and editorial departments, and the sheer number of product introductions each month, have created a treadmill of rave reviews that one can no longer keep up with or take seriously. Even the Sultan of Brunei would have a hard time stocking all the components recommended in the audio press. Yet, I still get complaints from people who say I don’t carry enough product lines! No wonder I feel lethargic.

At least I don’t have a lot of music to distract me. As a result of cash-flow needs (funny how eating becomes habitual over the years), I was recently forced to liquidate my entire music collection. I can justify the sell-off as a way of clearing the decks for DVD, DSD, DAD, and all the other Ds that may come along in a rosier future. In the meanwhile, I spend a lot of time listening to a compilation disc friend Mario recorded for me last year. Mario has impeccable taste in music, so in some ways I am better off without all the under-used jewel boxes lining the bookshelves. Besides, I like listening to Sara K. punish the tune "Brick House" over and over again. Moreover, the sound of the room has improved without all the hard-sounding plastic edges present.

Which brings me to the worst confession of laziness: I no longer listen to my audio system. Every morning at seven, I fire it up faithfully. The auditioners never come. The system cooks all morning, all afternoon, all evening. It does not play music. I watch television. In fact, I have become such a fan of the Chicago Bulls that I no longer answer the doorbell during play-off games. This behavior is economic suicide, I know, but a person has got to have something to cheer about.

In fact, as I write this piece, I realize that I have shortchanged my employer, Soundstage!, which has been patient with my excuses and procrastinations over the last few months. In order to compensate, I promise to send in the first review ever of an incredible break-through product. I have had this super-thing on hand for several weeks and know it like the back of my hand. So stayed tuned to "Paradise" for the scoop of the year. Yes, Viagra is coming to SoundStage! It’s been that bad here.

...James Saxon

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