With Christmas coming, I wrote a seasonal poem to get you in the shopping mood entitled:
I haven’t eaten meat or fish for the past forty years and in all that time I have never been remotely tempted to regress. On the contrary, I am now trying to stop consuming ALL animal related products and switch to a completely plant-based diet.
The wisdom of following a vegetarian lifestyle is, to my mind, beyond dispute and arguments for taking this one step further towards veganism are equally compelling.
It is relatively easy to explain why I don’t eat raw steak, ground veal or chicken legs but the processes that lie behind the mass production of eggs, milk and cheese are just as closely tied to barbaric factory farming methods. You don’t have to be overly squeamish or sentimental to see that the routine practices of animal agriculture are increasingly indefensible and unsustainable. Continue reading
THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT directed by Alexander Mackendrick (UK, 1951)
Built-in obsolescence has become so much the norm these days that most of us take it for granted.
Part of this is due to the rapidity of technological advances but as devices get increasingly smaller, lighter and thinner, it often gets to the point when these ‘improvements’ become simply ways to induce the public to buy the same product over and over again.
It also seems self-evident that it is not in the manufacturer’s interest to produce a perfect product that will last a lifetime.
This is the premise for ‘The Man In The White Suit’ in which Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness) is a brilliant research chemist in a textiles factory who invents a material that never gets dirty and never wears out. Continue reading
VINYLMANIA:WHEN LIFE RUNS AT 33 REVOLUTIONS A MINUTE directed by Paolo Campania (Italy, 2012)
Vinylmania is a lively, good-humoured documentary which was chosen as the official Record Store Day film in 2012 and is also being shown at many stores this year. When it comes to music, Italian director Paolo Campana passionately believes that there is no substitute for the analogue sounds of vinyl. At the beginning of this 75 minute documentary he rejects the digital alternative saying “a click is not enough”. CDs were originally marketed as offering a superior sound to the established format, something that even non-audiophiles now recognise as baloney. London-based DJ Eddie Piller puts the case in simple terms : “nothing sounds better than vinyl”. Continue reading
Neil Young says he’s not an audiophile but his Pono music device is surely destined to get most of the early adoration from discerning hi-fi enthusiasts.
Young’s pledge is that with he is saving a dying art form but lossy music and streaming sites are what most consumers have grown up with and persuading the masses that they need another format and dedicated player is a hard sell.
On top of that, the failure of the Super Audio CD (SACD) does suggest that there is at best only a relatively small market straining at the leash for high-resolution digital audio. Having said that, the huge success of the Kickstarter campaign means that Shakey’s brainchild should not be dismissed out of hand.
If all you want to listen to are ‘classic’ albums by established artists then Pono might be more appealing. But even though I love stuff like Highway 61 Revisited or Dark Side Of The Moon, these are not records I go back to that often. I’d much rather hear something new than go on some nostalgia trip. It remains to be seen how much of Pono’s music store will cater for marginal tastes.
Nevertheless, the video promo for the device does make me curious to hear what all the fuss is about. A series of star names are full of superlatives after having taken a ride in one of Young’s vintage automobiles which is presumably fitted with a state of the art sound system. Though you ought to take what Mumford & Sons say with a pinch of salt, you begin to think there may be something in the Pono to when the likes of Beck, Rick Rubin and Gillian Welch sing its praises.
I don’t for a minute doubt Neil Young’s sincerity but my gut failing tells me that it is a product that has arrived too late in the day. I regard myself as more than a casual listener but even so my musical addiction is already well catered for by web services such as Spotify, Bandcamp or Soundcloud. When on the move I’m happy with my iPod or smart phone and am prepared to accept a poorer sound for the convenience.
The proof of the Pono pudding will be in the hearing but I seriously doubt it will the game changer some are claiming.