Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba


The most amazing thing happened to me the other day.

Back when I hit my teens, I graduated from comic books to hifi magazines, partly because DC and Marvel started simultaneously sucking in the 80s but mainly because I wanted to build a stereo so loud it would drown out my dad’s screaming at me to turn that @%#$ music DOWN for @%#$’s sake.

Most of the guys who wrote for hifi magazines in those days were, as they are now, pussies, but there was one guy who towered above them all and who wrote with such a powerful, stripped-down elegance that I became kind of a fanboy and actually went looking in libraries for old back-issues just so I could read more of his stuff. His name was J. Gordon Holt, the best and most important audio writer of them all.

Gordon not only invented subjective (i.e. opinionated) hifi reviewing, but birthed the high-end audio industry itself. Before Gordon launched Stereophile Magazine in 1962, there was no such thing as specialty audio, or audiophiles. The “audio hobbyist” magazines of the 1950s assured their readers that everything sounded pretty much the same, i.e. “just fine”.

Gordon was the first person to say, “Wait a minute — some of this gear sounds like crap, and some of it sounds like live music, and here’s what I’d buy if I were you”. It was a radical stance at the time, and it sparked an upheaval that changed the audio industry on not just the publishing side but the manufacturing side as well.

As high-end audio grew into a billion-dollar industry, Gordon continued to burnish his position as the only rock star audio journalism has ever produced. And years later when I found myself writing for Stereophile and barely believing we shared a masthead, Gordon couldn’t have been more kind, generous, and supportive despite the fact that he was a classical music buff on first-name basis with conductors while I eschewed underpants and judged speakers based on how pristinely they conveyed the harmonic delicacy of the Sonics.

So anyway I got an email out of the blue recently from a fine young gentleman named Charles who introduced himself by saying we’d actually met fifteen years ago in Santa Fe when he was a kid and I was writing for a magazine there which had been founded thirty years earlier by his father — Gordon Holt!

Charles had come upon Shaveblog without knowing of my connection to his father — just another guy looking for a better shave. So we e-yakked about shaving and he caught me up on what his dad’s been up to since he “retired”, and now miracle of miracles, Gordon and me are emailing each other on our Macs after over a decade since we last spoke. I’m thinking god, how “Circle Of Life” is this? I’m a kid who went looking for info and found Gordon, and now his kid’s gone looking for info and found me, which led me back to Gordon.

So then Charles says he has something to send me. A few days ago I get a large package in the mail, and it’s a framed, signed print of an old cartoon that Gordon drew back in the ’50s for the Saturday Evening Post back when he thought he wanted to be a cartoonist.

It’s a guy. Shaving. On TV.

I’m not even sure my parents had secondary hair when this ran.