Love + Gratitude - REALLY, really?

Hangin' w/ my boyz Warren Chi (CEO, Cavalli Audio) & George Gill (fellow man of many hats)  at The Source A/V in Torrance, CA

For Those Who Stuck With Me

This particular Mercer Memo is (if not painfully obvious) a continuation of the last, which took a week-and-a-half to finally deliver. I could tell you all the stories and even play-down the dramatic events that kept me from fulfilling my obligation to the readership of OccupyHifi - but I'm not gonna do that FOR ONCE. NOPE. I'm simply going to say that I am drawn to offer my sincere apologies, but that won't meet the goals I've set for myself and this blog.

So, enough of that horse shit. Right now (and YES, the date above is in fact correct ;) I'm going to hit the button and make this page live, even though I haven't even written the meat of the piece yet. WHY? Because I must. There have been times when all I had were notes from devoted readers wondering how I'm doing. They didn't ask for the latest review. They didn't beat me up on promises left un-delivered. They simply showed they care. And for them, I need to make good on what I promise. This is a new chapter in my life, and so it is also a new beginning for OccupyHifi. I'm gonna go hit that switch and get to work. Thankfully, I am no longer nervous, as I've been carrying the weight of the world around with me lately because I didn't do what I said here. So, instead of moping, and feeling sorry for myself - it's time to get to work. And this time, I'm not gonna tell you when the rest will be completed.                      

JK! - Cuz even if it takes 4 pots of black coffee, 3 eight balls, and an ounce of Blue Dream (this is California - Google it) I'll have it up, hopefully by sunrise Pacific Standard Time. Here we go... I'll ping it out when completed as always. I still wanna say I'm so fuckin' sorry - but who gives a shit right? I also wanted to fit two cuss words into one sentence before I begin - just to piss some people off.   I know, I'm a bad bad man. I mean, I just thought to myself; if I had the party favors stated above, it's more likely this Mercer Memo would involve topless maids dancing on the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab and probably wouldn't get published til' this Wednesday! Have no fear, I'm only sportin' one eight ball, and a half-ounce of Sour D (again, this is Cali baby - Google it if you don't know). Time to get deep INIT'...(around 2AM)
I'm not sure how this is gonna go, so just hang in there with me my OccupyHifi brethren:

And... Posted this at precisely 6:00AM Pacific Standard Time. It's time for an early-mornin' smoke, the rest is on its way!

Well, here we go! Told you I wouldn't leave the desk til' I was finished, and a bit more coming:   
The reason I wasn't sure: This is supposed to be the Memo where I offer my Love+Gratitude to those friends and peers in the high-end audio communities: Headphone culture & 2-channel audio; that, no matter what crazy shenanigans I pulled (and believe me, there was plenty of stupid shit on my part) they never gave into rumor and innuendo. If anything, as my friend Andy from JH Audio said to me months ago (well, he kinda-yelled it actually, but he was giving me a well-deserved rebuke shortly beforehand): He said: "Michael, if I'm concerned about you, I call you." "I don't continue the rumor-mongering by calling someone else, I go directly to you.". He also went on to tell me "and anyone who doesn't do the same, in my opinion, isn't your friend." Andy's right on the money I think. Another friend last year told me I had to start doing a better job of separating real friends, from industry people/contacts. He was also right. It's one of the few disadvantages of actually growing-up in the high-end audio community. Harry (Pearson, Founder of The Absolute Sound and dearly departed friend and mentor) told me something else many years ago while I was working at Atlantic Records. We were talking about my return to the hi-fi community, and Harry told me: "Moishe, remember you have a naturally disarming way about you, and with these people, many of them have literally watched you grow-up." "So, even if you end up working for a competitor, many of them will also naturally want to see you succeed". I think he was right too. I just wish I were more "naturally" skeptical of people. It would've come in-handy when it came to business, period.
All that aside, I know I can't blame anybody for my divorce, nor the events that proceeded it. I also, despite many inquiries, don't regret taking a stand for my good friend Bruce Balls health over everything at T.H.E Show Newport this year. If you have no clue what I'm talkin' about: I wrote about it at Positive-Feedback for my Behind-the-Booths-and-Back series. Long story short: Bruce was having some chest pain and other symptoms on set-up day, and I was working for him at the time as Brand Master. Next thing you know, because we are friends first, and co-workers second. I was quickly out-of-a-job, but I got Bruce to the hospital to get checked out. While I'll leave those details to Bruce and I (and NOBODY else knows the truth) I wanted to share here what eventually happened as the result of that lil' medical adventure:
One of the leading cardiologists in the Country read my article, and reached-out to Bruce. As it turned out, either he aleady owned a QP1R and was a Questyle fan, or he bought one and then got in touch, I honestly can't remember. We'll let Mr. Ball answer that in the comments section if he wishes. Nonetheless, the cardiologist asked Bruce if he would come down to get checked-out more thoroughly. He offered Bruce a work-up worth a sum that I haven't yet asked if I can share, but lets say you could purchase a car with the same amount of money. Bruce took him up on his offer, and as it turned out, he has something that needed to be taken care of. So, do I regret losing the gig working with Bruce? Absolutely, in more ways than I can tell you. Would I do the same thing again? No choice for me. Now, that was about Bruce and I - however, I feel obligated to share some thoughts on the man who literally gave me a roof, a place to stay during what amounted to be the most-difficult, scary, transitional time in my life.
Bruce and I go way back. I remember when he was the hotshot thirty-something coming over to Harry's place with phono cartridges, cable-lifters, and all sorts of audio goodies. Years later, he was running XLO and would drop by with goodies from them. Bruce loved Harry, and Harry thought Bruce was Salt-of-the-Earth. It was actually one of the first times I can remember that phrase being used to describe someone. He couldn't have said it better. When I was crashing on Russ Strattons couch (a HUGE SHOUT-OUT to the Stratton Family - you will ALWAYS have a very special place in my heart - that family gave me a place to crash when all I had was my John Cooperworks Mini, and as cool as that car is - it doesn't really provide the most comfortable accommodations for long-term living) - but when I was crashing on the couch Bruce asked me if I wanted to perhaps rent a room in his families old home in The Valley. He's now the owner of the house he grew up in here in Los Angeles, a Stones Throw away from North Hollywood (or "Noho, as many Angelinos are calling it these days). He lives elsewhere in LA with his lovely bride Youn Sun, and he occasionally heads up there for deliveries, and other Questyle business, and he also wanted someone to look after the house. PERFECT! This is one of those rare occasions where I can honestly say I'm not sure where I'd be without Bruce and Youn Sun. I haven't had any luck with regard to getting help from my family out East, and Bruce has also been a source of inspiration for me when I've been really down.
He'll come over and talk to me about the different projects I'm working on, and how to better organize them. He's also responsible for my ability to present some of the projects I've managed. Most of which I wrongly assumed were common knowledge in the industry (like my work in social media for Positive Feedback, RMAF, Audiongine, Nordost, CEntrance, HRT). He's also talked to me about how to better present my offer of services for things like social media and influencer marketing. Mr. Ball is a serious self-starter, and has been working his ass off since he discovered the concert merchandise business in his teens - so he also has roots in the music industry, and ended up in high end audio. I went the other way, from TAS to Atlantic, and who can believe all these years later - the man literally saved my life. I can't thank him enough for the gift of sanctuary he's given me, and I can only pray to be able to do the same thing for someone else one day. So, Mr. Bruce Ball, you New Wave Rock-n-Rolla: I salute you good sir!

Bruce - Mr. Questylin' & Profilin' 

Check out my post at my Sonic Satori Tumblr post bout Questyle Audio's 600i excellent headphone amp/DAC

Speaking of Russ Stratton: He's a dear friend, fellow music addict and proud audiophile. He's been in a couple of my Sonic Satori columns at Positive Feedback, and was also featured at Part-Time Audiophile when I was on-staff there (in a piece entitled Mercers Winning Combo: covering my early adventures in portable hi-rez audio).  Russ is also a live sound engineer, so we can talk about recording/production, all kindsa' good shit related to music. After all, those of you who know me know I like to talk. Even though he's far from a motor-mouth like me Russ was kind enough to offer a spot in his living room for me to crash despite my running mouth. I was also so grateful when Russ told me his sons Miles and Dylan were both OK with it. I'd met Miles before, but I hadn't spent any time with Dylan (the youngest, and, IMHO, perhaps the most critical of the Stratton Clan). I was previously informed by Russ, specifically about Dylan: "Dylan's the lynch-pin here, if you can get Dylans approval you're golden." Now that's a good dad. I wasn't quite sure if I'd made the cut to be honest. But in the end, I spent many glorious months over at the Stratton household. They even included me in some of the family holiday affairs. For this Jewish boy from New York, spending Christmas with this wonderful Christian family was indeed a blessing. Christmas tree, songs at church, and all. Hey, so much has transpired in the last 18 months, I find myself pondering everything, from spirituality to various paths for music delivery that yields high-fidelity to the masses. It's better fit for a documentary or a book than real life (and I have the next person to thank for inspiring the latter). I'm probably going to repeat this at the end of this glorious segment of the Mercer Memo - so please forgive me in advance: But all the quotes and well-known phrases about getting to know who your true blue friends are in times of crisis? Yeah, unfortunately, the fuckin' cliche (that one was for you Dylan ;) is true.
When I was flush: When we lived in Pasadena, and I could toss money around at-will, everybody was my friend. But I moved back up-North, things went pear-shaped, and all-of-a-sudden I'm the hottest fodder for the haters, rumor mongrels, and biiaatches (I know I know, that's been happening for years). I was perhaps the most grateful for the fact that Russ always gave me the benefit of the doubt, and called me when he heard something about me that troubled him. He did what Andy talked about: He came to me. I appreciated, and I appreciate it now, so very much, I don't wanna get all sappy and kill the flow just yet, because this family did so much for me in so many ways. However, I JUST realized that I hastily left someone very special outta this part of the story: Jennifer. Russ and Jenn are, sheesh, what are we calling couples these days? I guess the ol' standard boyfriend-girlfriend status applies here. Am I correct guys? Anyway, Jennifer had to make some sacrifices too, occasionally giving up what would be a quiet house on Friday evenings with her man (when I didn't make it out for the night). What a good sport! She also made me feel at-home and I will NEVER forget that time of my life. I was so un-certain about everything. Fort Stratton (as I later dubbed it) became the place I realized it wasn't gonna do me any good continuing to look in the rear-view. I had to, as my friend Mike Hobson says, "roll with the clock baby, and it only rolls forward." Thanks to Russ, his boys, grandma Stratton, and Jennifer for making me feel like less of a leaf in the wind, and more like someone who's simply going through another transition. And aren't we always doing things like this as the clock ticks on? Well: For a latch-key kid like me (yeah, I know, I'm in my forties now - so sue me) sometimes, it takes sacred things like witnessing the very special bond of a strong family foundation to remind me that I can build that same foundation on my own, whether it's there for me in another place or not. For that: I am forever in your debt guys.

Russ & Jenn. I love these guys


  • There's more coming about a few more people that must be given their due! I'm still here because of their generosity of spirit, time (financial in some cases) and overall love and acceptance.
  • UPDATES POSTED ASAP - as I am crossing into Official Delirium Territory! A lil' sleep deprivation will do that! 
  • To those of you who saw this Mercer Memo begin on the page, update live, and then disappear: I'm so sorry bout that.
  • I'm working on the best way to keep the Memo more interactive, give it somthin', but admittedly I wasn't ready to give everybody a live lookin' glass into my creative process JUST YET...  
  • So, I had to take it over to a draft spot for a lil' while - Back to the Memo!! (around 3:30AM) - concurrently, I've since posted the latest part of this Memo in this series that, I guess, could be called the Love+Gratitude series here at OccupyHifi
  • Sorry for all the bullshit.
  • I swear, I never aspired for lots of material things, despite was the Lab may look like! You should see the rest of the room - almost no furniture to speak of, the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab is all I have after 20 years in the business, and a 20-yr marriage that seems to be ending far more bitter than I ever could've imagined after so long together.
  • But, then again, that what all divorcee's say huh...  All I want is to write about music and high-fidelity - and perhaps build a dedicated space for affordable gear reports daily. Chasing dreams...


I put together this lil' compilation, from this proudly confessed music addict to ya'll: Our faithful readers and OccupyHifi devotees, of some truly AMAZING live DJ sets - from Thom Yorke (Radiohead's prolific front-man) to Kenneth James Gibson to Recondite (his new 2016 Essential Mix here is DOPE). I sincerely hope you dig the Playlist!!!!

PLS Donate to OccupyHifi! - Keep Mercer Flowin'