Letter to Stereophile Magazine

I wrote the following letter to Stereophile magazine in reply to another letter to the editor. My reply was was published in the December 2007 issue.

Editor,

I would like to chime in on the side of all of us “crybabies, whiners, and other sniveling jerks out there” [letters, Patrick Bajtka, Oct 2007]. I am certainly used to bandpassing content and filtering out personal soap-boxing. So I agree with Mr. Bajtka that you’re doing a good job with the magazine. But unsolicited personal rhetoric is still annoying, because it gets in the way. And it’s also annoying because it’s presumptuous. Whether I agree or not, the author is thinking I might magically find his personal political opinions relevant to the music or equipment I’m thinking of buying.

I really do enjoy a lot of the work of Phillip Glass, so when an acquaintance suggested I look at the DVD for Powaqqatsi, I went to Amazon and read the peer reviews. Now, here’s a case where the reader is pre-sold on the music; for me it was just a question of which “-qatsi” DVD to try. Most reviews that I saw would have me think Powaqqatsi is a thinly disguised leftist commie pinko plot to one end only: to defame the whole idea of capitalism. One writer took it upon himself to explain for the benefit of all that wealth is good and probably intrinsically so; folks mired in the rut of a third-world slum or caste system would do well to look at certain political philosophies in the USA for a get-real explanation of how they’re going to feed the family tonight.

And I do think wealth is simply ducky, though I don’t have a lot of it, and I could probably have articulated the Amazon reviewer’s political position better than he did, though I mostly disagree and just don’t give a rat about his opinion anyway. Worse, I didn’t find out anything about whether the DVD could possibly be interesting — once you filtered out all the editorializing. One reviewer actually did remember to mention the music. I think the word he used was “lame”. Hell, I just bought the DVD to find out for myself if I can supply meaning to the video that fits the music.

Alex Forbes
Castro Valley, CA

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