Always up for a challenge, a couple of weeks ago, the Loco staff decided that we’d participate in a free write. The topic? “If I had a hi-fi.” What followed was an experiment in just how many different interpretations can come from just one almost-nonsensical sentence. Enjoy!
When I was 11 years old, I heard the album “Yellow Submarine” for the first time on my father’s hi-fi. This began my cripplingly long addiction to two of the world’s most pleasurable substances; audio and hallucinogenic drugs. See, after listening to “Yellow Submarine” on my father’s amazingly set up hi-fi audio device, I too embraced the life of an audiophile. Only buying headphones with advanced noise-blocking technologies that were recommended to me from the highest tier of audiophile online forums, I was on the nonstop search for the highest quality of sound. However, besides the sound, I loved the album “Yellow Submarine” so much that I ended up watching the cartoon film “Yellow Submarine”, a product of the album’s success and the Beatlemania of my father’s childhood. However, even at the age of 11 when I first watched the film, I felt that I was missing a key detail to it. I could tell it was enjoyable, but it felt like it was supposed to be more enjoyable than it really was.
I was 16 the first time I took LSD. It was an odd experience. I didn’t really plan on doing it. I had been smoking marijuana with a couple of the older boys from my high school’s baseball team. Seemingly out of nowhere, one of them produced tabs that they claimed were acid. I hadn’t really wanted to delve into the world of hard drugs, but after two hours everyone had taken their tabs and seemed to be seeing things I couldn’t even imagine. One of them cried at the comfort of his Nike athletic socks. Craving to feel the same passion for anything that Mark felt for his socks, I too decided to take a tab of acid.
This did not start my addiction to hallucinogenic drugs. No. Rather, I spent the next four years up until I was 20 simply experimenting from time to time. I took acid twice after that day. While I enjoyed it, I never craved it. I once had a shake with shrooms in it. The taste was so awful that the effects of the drug almost weren’t worth it. However, one day I decided to take a tab of acid with a girl I had been seeing. She fell asleep rather quickly, which surprised me, so I simply decided to watch the “Yellow Submarine” film with my HD660s on. The visuals, combined with the astounding sound quality of the film, brought my audiophile addiction to a new level that was enhanced by the hallucinogenic qualities of “Yellow Submarine” and acidic tabs.
Unfortunately, one addiction beat the other. Today, I sadly sit in an empty apartment surrounded by no furniture, zero pairs of headphones, one DVD copy of the “Yellow Submarine” movie and a manila envelope filled entirely with 126 tabs of LSD. Perhaps things would be different If I had a hi-fi.
I invited her over for sex. I may as well be upfront about that, because it’s true; I didn’t like her personality at all, I thought she was stuck-up the way she always brought in sandwiches cut diagonally across and ate them at lunch all proper and everything. I didn’t like the way she was so smart and called out answers just before raising her hand in class, cutting herself off at the pass somehow. I didn’t like how teachers rolled their eyes at her. I didn’t like how nobody else liked her, how she didn’t have friends and she always wore that weird pilly sweater to class.
I didn’t like her hair, her nose, but I did like her boobs, and that’s the golden ticket. That’s why I invited her over. I had to lose my virginity and I had to do it quick. It was like I was just sitting there and then one day I looked up and all my friends were having sex, and I was just that loner in the Virgin Circle jerking it.
She came because girls like to be liked, or something. My parents were home, my dad downstairs in his office doing taxes and my mom was making dinner, but she said she had already eaten so we went into my room. I closed and locked the door, then went to my dresser to turn on some music.
Except I remembered Colin borrowed the hi-fi last week and never returned it, so there was just a rectangle with no dust sitting on the dresser where the hi-fi should have been.
I looked back at her judging me and held up my hands. “Well I don’t know, I don’t have any music, but that’s okay, we can just do it without music.”
The room squatted silent around us as I got down on top of her on the bed, and the only noise was the squeaking of the mattress and God, my mom in the kitchen singing. It was always a racket but I usually didn’t notice it.
Kissing is noisier than I thought it would be, all the smacks reverberated off the walls and for some reason my knee kept popping whenever I would shift positions – which was a lot because I didn’t know how I was supposed to be. How was I supposed to not crush her but be on top of her?
I felt like I could hear the echoes of her answering goddamn questions in class in the silence. 1776. The Treaty of Versailles. The Krebbs Cycle.
I could hear her breaths too, and then my mom stopped singing and put her foot on the bottom step and banged on the wall of the stairwell and called, “Do you guys want dinner or not?”
Yeah. If I had a hi-fi, I couldn’t have heard any of that shit.
If I had a hi-fi, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Not because I have an endless amount of ideas for the device, but because I have no idea on what to do with such a contraption.
I love all kinds of music, from the Baroque to the dubstep, as each genre gives me a different kind of mood.
Some days, I’ll want to play some smooth jazz to relax my nerves, while other days I’ll want to play some heavy metal to give me a strong dose of energy.
It’s what makes the very idea of music so wonderful. And yet, with every pro that’s found within each genre, there’s a pulsating con, ruining my enjoyment and the rest of my day.
Smooth jazz is relaxing, but I will have lost any energy or yearn to do anything for the rest of the day. Metal’s loud and boisterous, but my neighbors will get mad at me for playing it so loud. Classical is gorgeous, but people will think I’m a weirdo hipster for listening to it. Punk rock is full of emotion and feeling, but then I’ll get reminded of my cringy middle school days where I thought I was rebellious ad deep for liking some punkhead emos.
At that point, I would probably give the Hi-Fi to someone else.
Old mother candied yams sat in her torn, yellow recliner as she always did on a Saturday morning. She began to sing old songs from her youth – the ones she’d write but would never perform. “Roxy, I should have been a star,” she said as she pet her aging cat.
That’s all Roxy ever had to say to any of Mother Yams’ comments.
Discouraged by Roxy’s inability to provide effective conversation, Mother Yams got up very upbrubtly from the couch and stood on her balcony. She was tired of never having anyone hear her mediocre voice and she knew that her days were numbered. She sang and she and and she sang for the neighborhood to hear seeking validation from someone, anyone.
She did this daily, for a fortnight.
By the fifteenth day, two men passing by from a neighboring town heard her voice and her songs.
“Her voice — it, it reminds me of my mother,” said the man to his assistant. The man was a record producer and was looking for a new voice to represent his label.
“Sir, I hope you’re not thinking of actually–“
“Silence, assistant. Ever since mother passed, I’ve never heard another voice as aged and mediocre, until now. We must meet her,” said the producer.
“Oh boy…” said his assistant.
The two men knocked on Mother Yams’ door and she invited them in. They all sat and had a cup of lukewarm rooibos tea.
“So, I heard you singing earlier. Were those original songs?” Said the producer?
“Oh yes, of course! I wrote them as a young girl,” Mother Yams exclaimed.
“Splendid! Well, I see you are nearing the end of your life and, if it pleases you, I would like to add you to my label,” the producer said very frankly.
“Do you hear that Roxy? He wants me to make me a star!”
“Uh…yes. A star. So, will you give me a copy of your records?” Asked the producer?
“My label does not have a recording studio so we only accept records.”
The woman cried out in despair!
“I don’t have any records!” She said as she wept.
“That’s unfortunate,” said the producer. “Good day.”
“If I only had a hi-if…I could have been a star,” Mother Yams said to Roxy.
Roxy just meowed.
What would you do if you had a hi-fi? Too many possibilities. What would you listen to?
The physicality of music is something that changes too fast to keep track of. What happens if all of a sudden every iPod and iPhone stopped working? Would we go without music? I think not. Stereo systems were truly how good music was meant to be listened to on solely because it should be LOUD and no Beats speaker or Braven Balance can top grit from an old speaker?
Sure music now is influential but what if the music now was only accessible to us through the same mediums as our parents generation? Would it be good? Would we feel the same way if we couldn’t see what everyone else was saying about it on Twitter? If I had a hi-fi let me tell you I don’t think I would listen to have the music that I like. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Have we been conditioned to only listen to the music that we’ve formulated ideas about because of our friends? Or better yet, did we hear someone we thought was cool listening to something and then decide that we like that music as well? Would that happen if I had a hi-fi? Probably. I think that’s just how music is. That’s how we work as humans. Adaptation to fit into a mould that we probably don’t want to admit is there. If I had a hi-fi I don’t know if anything would be different with my life or the if the music I listen to would change or if I would have a different friend group, but one thing is for sure, I think I would look cool as fuck.
One afternoon I walked down to the local thrift shop, a typical thing you’d find me doing on a warm Saturday afternoon. I walk in and begin browsing, starting with the clothes and quickly making my way to the back where all the cool stuff is. I see the normal thrift store treasures, vintage chairs, old rugs, you get the idea. As I turn the corner something caught the corner of my eye. Sitting in the midst of old radios, karaoke machines, and miscellaneous electronics is the golden find: a lightly used record player. These are gems of the thrift stores nowadays. With the revival of the record, it’s hard to come across record players that aren’t overpriced at Urban Outfitters. My eyes were frozen on this beauty and my mind began to wander…What if I had a hi-fi? The thousands of records I’ve wanted to purchase but never had a means to play them…The countless records sitting in boxes in my mom’s basement from when she was my age. I could picture it now: a late Friday night, nothing else to do so I head down to the basement with my new record player. Dust off the box marked “Records” found underneath the stairs. The only proper way to break in the player is to pick some tunes from the box. I close my eyes, reach in, and enter a new world of a musical journey. I’ve listened to radios, mp3 players, ipods, CD players, you name it. The one thing I haven’t owen before is a record player and I can only image the strange and unusual music I would listen to if only I had a hi-fi.