onhifi.com's 2004 Gift-Giving
Normally, Im really happy to be
part of the getting-and-having media-industrial complex. As a matter of fact, you might
say the existence of this -- or any -- website that reviews new hardware and software is
predicated on the gospel of consumption.
But as we put our harvest festivals behind us and start
anticipating our different versions of the winter solstice, many of us in the GAHMI
complex like to pretend that theres more of a purpose to the whole affair than at
other times of the year. We do this by publishing "gift-giving guides."
If you want to give someone a gift, by all means, be my
guest. Youre allowed to do so at any time of the year, not just midwinter. In my
heart of hearts, however, I know how unlikely it is that many adults will be given
high-end audio as presents at this or any other time of the year. My wife would never
give me a piece of hi-fi gear on any occasion -- and not because I review the stuff
for a living, but simply because she knows how much of the thrill is in the hunt.
We audiophiles love to read all the reviews, search the
Internet, scour the thrift shops (hope springeth eternal), and inhabit the demo rooms.
Take all that away by giving us a preamp or a transport and well have so much
less to do. Heck, we may even have to spend time with our loved ones -- which may well
pain the giver as much as the recipient.
Sorry. Thats not really funny. We audiophiles
arent really antisocial, we just spend a lot of time by ourselves in dark rooms, so
we sometimes forget our social graces. Another thing we tend to forget is how lucky we
If were obsessing over the differences between two CD
players, it probably means that we have food and shelter. It might even mean that
were relatively healthy, although if the past year has taught me anything, its
that music is a powerful healing modality.
So I have a suggestion for the 2004 gifting season: Drop
If youre spiritual, think of it as a cleansing fast.
If youre political, think of it as a protest -- and go to Reverend Billys website for a suitably
Even better than dropping out: Spread your good fortune.
Most of us already have favorite charities we like to support -- unfortunately, there
always seem to be more of them than we can support -- but if youd like to add
one of the following to your list, they could sure use your help.
provides assistance for music people (musicians, engineers, and producers) who need it.
This includes financial and medical aid for personal emergencies. The music industry
doesnt have a great track record for treating its veterans well; MusiCares is an
attempt to correct that.
Mark Childrens House is a hospice for children that provides respite
round-the-clock support, transitional care, and end-of-life care for children with
life-limiting or terminal illnesses. Its the only facility of its sort in America.
If you cant imagine anything worse than the death of a child, consider facing the
prospect of that death alone, without medical support, palliative care, or emotional
By the way, if you cant spare cash, the GMCH has a
downloadable "Wish List" of materials it needs -- a list that includes DVDs
(G-rated only, please), stereo and video equipment, books, and tools.
International helps impoverished people around the world become self-sustaining by
giving them animals and plants that can help feed and clothe them, and by working within
communities to offer training and organizational development. For example, a $20 donation
can provide chicks to a family. Within six months, those chicks could be producing up to
200 eggs a year, eating garden pests and weeds, and providing fertilizer for healthier
vegetables. A $10 contribution can provide seedlings, which can be planted to control
erosion and soil runoff, retain moisture in the soil, and provide fodder -- $60 could
provide saplings instead of seedlings.
You could change your system this year.
Wouldnt you rather change the world?