[Tetris Color Change Mug. Gift from Will Russo.]
My father is the greatest Tetris player I have ever known. He was also the first kid on my block to beat Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. I used to read Nintendo Power as a kid and they would publish the highest scores on a bunch of different games. Most of them were unfathomable to me. Not the Tetris scores. I routinely witnessed higher scores from my bunk bed.
I fell asleep most nights to the sound of Music B on Tetris. My Dad was a block juggernaught. His scores were routinely over 500K. He refused to clear any line that wasn’t a four-line Tetris. He lived and died by the long piece.
After a while, he realized you could warp ten levels ahead by holding A and pressing start. Maybe it was B. It was a long time ago. He never started on a
His journey to greatness was not without peril. He met his white whale in the form of a tiny spaceship next to the castle. The players of Tetris are rewarded with a victory screen after their games in the form of a series of ever increasing spaceships. They got bigger. And they would take off. That was the rule.
After getting the castle to take off and earning an extraordinary score, a lone alien spacecraft appears. It blew my mind as a kid. It drove my Dad crazy. He, rightly, assumed a high enough score would cause the spaceship to launch. He worked tirelessly for years to make the craft jettison. It was a Sisyphean task in both its absurdity and difficulty.That was my bedtime story. I was lulled to sleep by that Russian serenade everynight. I can’t hear the theme music without smiling. I always admired him for it. He banged his head against the wall of impossibility and came back for more. He blew a soap bubble and took it seriously. I am my father’s son and inherited his obsessiveness and diligence. And I hope someday that tiny spaceship lifts off and Ahab gets his fish. Maybe we all need to believe that someday our labors will pay dividends. I fear the world doesn’t care about our projects and we will stare into the abyss until our last breaths. But it still makes me smile.
I want your skull.
I owe my beliefs evenly to existential philosophers and punk DIY culture. And though my Chucks are dusty, few things are as close to my heart as the Danzig-era Misfits. The Fiend Skull is as recognizable as a Coke bottle. And handsome and shit.
If Elvis died, came back from the dead, and played a zombie prom, that would be the Misfits. Whether it’s the (literally) one-note solo of “138” or the tasteless brutality of “Last Caress,” the Misfits brought the lo-fi graveyard to my bedroom.
I saw Danzig with Doyle at Riot Fest in Chicago last year and it felt like I had kissed the girl I’d had a crush on for most of my life. Stop what you are doing and start a punk band.
I have done a bunch of shit in my life. I’ve been a performer, teacher, business owner… and I can say this with absolute certainty: nothing is better than being in a band. Playing music with your friends is unparalleled.
Pick up a guitar. Get some friends together and suck. Suck for a while. Then get pretty good. Then do that until you can’t pick up a guitar any longer.
I own four 301 Series V Bose speakers. They’re were the cornerstones of my home theatre when I lived in a place conducive to big-ass explosions in surround sound. There were nine speakers that made up my 7.1 system. It ran two different subs, one down-firing for LFE effects and one smaller front-firing for musical bass.
If you asked anyone who ever sat and watched a movie in my theater, they might comment that I spent half the movie tweaking levels and measuring in decibels the pressure of sound in the sweet spot (where the equilateral triangle forms between the front left and right speakers and the viewer). It didn’t matter much (for me at least) because chances are I had already seen the movie a number of times and valued it for either its visual or aural elements. I built retinal bias backlights from scratch, I read books, I learned to calibrate television sets, I even founded a company to do for others what I spent so long fiddling with in my apartment. And while most people laughed it off, occasionally someone would comment that they could no longer watch other people’s televisions or listen to records when they weren’t on my system. That always made me happy. I loved when people rediscovered something and heard/saw it in a new way. And while I’m sure there were millions of better, more expensive systems available, for a 20 year old, it felt like living in a movie palace.
I still love the science of AV and think the pursuit of reproducing an artist’s vision for a given medium is worthwhile. The goal of a great sound system is not to be noticed. The art should be front and center; the machinery should disappear while enveloping the viewer.
And while 20 year old Nick is cringing at the idea of me listening to MP3s through my laptop right now (despite the fact I ripped it at 320kbps and calibrated eq to compensate for the inherent weakness of MBP speakers), Depeche Mode presses on. And now that I’ve drawn attention to it, I switched to my Koss PortaPros through a portable headphone amp.
I don’t understand people who don’t have hobbies. And while my AV noodling has ebbed in recent years, primarily due to the fact I had to leave most of my gear behind when I moved, a deep love remains. A fondness for all my old hobbies lives on. When I become interested in something, I want to know everything. I want to know which girl builds the best DACs (digital audio converters) at the factory and seek out only the CD players she built. How could you not?
At the moment, coffee is my focus. I signed up for a coffee course at Ipsento and have been experimenting with my AeroPress for weeks now. I measure my beans (roasted within a week and stored in a vaccumm tight container) and filtered water on a digital food scale.
I want to know how the world works and how it can be made more efficient, more enjoyable, and more robust. How could you not? If you’re going to do something, you might as well dedicate a substantial portion of your life and free time to it, right? Right?!
When I meet someone who doesn’t have any hobbies, I look at them like they just said they hate sex and pizza. How do you fend off curiosity? How do you pick something up and not immediately start digging into the settings menu?
I love things and am fascinated by the world. I don’t know about most things in the world, but the handful I’m proud to call my hobbies, I know inside and out. And to those other things: I’ll get to you.