On being Prolific

For some reason this week, I got to thinking about people who are prolific. I think it was probably triggered by the release of Ty Segall’s double album, Freedom’s Goblin, or maybe the recent release of King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard’s fifth album in a year. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been immersing myself in the wonderful catalogue of Sun Ra who was remarkably prolific over his long career.

Needless to say, I’m not terribly prolific as a writer or as a publisher, but I’ve admired for some time now scholars like media theorist Henry Jenkins who described himself “as prolific as hell.” And my interest in Philip K. Dick is, partly, owing to his prolific output. He published 44 novels and over 120 short stories in a 30 year career.

I still get a bit uptight about prolific artists, writers, and musicians. I started to wonder whether people could produce something meaningful when all they’re doing is producing. There is no doubt that prolific production causes confusion; Sun Ra’s discography is baffling and wildly variable. At the same time, I came to understand artists like Ty Segall as releasing albums as a way to perform for an audience. (And to be clear, this my reading of his catalogue, not necessarily anything that he has said). In some ways, his most recent album is another iteration in his trajectory as a musician with all its variability and dissonance.

Like jazz musicians who frequently release multiple iterations of the same song, I tend to imagine prolific musicians embracing the performativity of their craft. This isn’t to say that Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debbie isn’t a better album than the complete(ish) recordings of those sessions released as Sunday at the Village Vanguard, but to argue that, for music, at least, the performance of multiple versions of the songs each with their own character diminishes the value of any one performance?  

With writing, this all seems a bit less straightforward. I’ve recently been thinking about writing a third paper on “Slow Archaeology” which has a chance to be published. Part of me worries that playing the same song again in different ways will dilute my original idea (such as they are) or confuse someone looking for an essential version of my thinking. Maybe, like this blog, writing another version of my slow archaeology paper will move my thinking, but necessarily toward some more perfect version of the idea. I don’t think that one slow archaeology paper will necessarily supersede the other.

Perhaps being prolific is a way to embrace the iterative character of life, writing, and thinking. We can avoid thinking of being prolific as a way to achieve terminal expertise through some version of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, but instead consider being prolific in the same way that jazz musicians were prolific or pulp fiction writers were prolific. Practicing in public celebrates the variability of our craft, its unevenness, and the interplay and transformation of ideas over time. It mitigates against the idea that the publication is the last word on a topic or offers something perfected.

At the same time, being prolific allowed musicians and writers to monetize their outputs in an efficient way. The threat of a poor recording or publication diminishing the value of other works offered a bit of a brake on being prolific, I suppose. I recognize, of course, that the ability to profit from a single work isn’t the same for academic writers, but maybe there persists the idea that a bad article or mediocre publications run the risk of offsetting the impact of a good work. Maybe the risk of an “uneven catalogue” could have a significance for a scholar’s career inasmuch as the impact of our work is a measure that contributes to how effectively we gain promotion, win grants, and other monetary aspects of our careers.

I don’t really know how to balance these risks and benefits well or to understand whether we should aspire to be prolific, but I really like immersing myself in Sun Ra’s catalogue.

[As an aside, I’ve recently applied Gladwell’s rule to my to dogs who are awake and active for approximately 6 hours each day. If they follow Gladwell’s rule, it will take them about 5 years to be really good at being a dog. This seems to actually hold true. Argie, who is almost 2, is very good at being Argie, but at being a dog, he seems a bit confused still. Milo on the other hand, who is almost 5, is really good at being a dog. He’s a dog’s dog.]

More Punk Rock (with an interview)

I used to do this more often (and I probably should do it more), but today, I’m going to send you over to the North Dakota Quarterly page where I have a long interview with Brian James Schill about his recently published book This Year’s Work in the Punk Bookshelf, Or, Lusty Scripts (2017). It’s a good book and was just reviewed by the LARB in an article about a few new books on literature and pop music, and Brian was a really good sport about talking with me over a string of emails. 

It was pretty hard to do an interview without constantly blurting out “YEAH, you think you’re SO COOL? Well, I know some OBSCURE BANDS TOO, man! And, like, I also produced a book about PUNK ROCK MUSIC. So, you’re not THAT cool. I mean, pretty cool, but only because you’re LIKE ME, not because you’re book. I did my book in 2014, and MOST PEOPLE only like the earlier stuff.” 

I think I more or less managed avoid to say those exact words, but I think the sense of that is still there in the background. What can you do, right?  

It’s an epic interview with a bunch of music and a really cool playlist at the end and some fun links to music throughout. 

So go and check it out.


My brain is fried. I didn’t blog yesterday. I don’t know if I can blog today. I’ve written 1,356 posts on this blog and another 859 posts here. I think you’ll find something to read.

Here’s a YouTube of Big Joe Williams singing a song called “President Roosevelt.”

My Year in Music

It has been a great year in music for me and below you’ll find the newest additions to my play list sourced from my “What I’m listening to” section on my varia and quick hits.

No huge upgrades to the stereo this year (yet), but two are on the way in the next week. My biggest change to my system this year is a subscription to TIDAL for full CD quality streaming which I use constantly (but hasn’t necessarily impacted my purchasing of albums). In my office, I stream to a little Audioquest Dragon fly DAC or to a Schiit Modi DAC into my vintage Marantz 2235B amplifier. On the road (or when I’m in the headphone zone) I use a pair of Audeze EL-8 closed-backed headphones and a now discontinued ALO RX MkIII B+ amp. On my main system, I got a AURALiC Ares Mini for Christmas to handle streaming TIDAL there.

All this gear supposed a new list of fun (and rediscovered) music over the last year. Hope you can find something in the list that’s new to you and enjoyable!

Check out my 2014 and 2013 years in music here and here

Duke Ellington, Afro Bossa
Atlas, Real Estate
D’Angelo and the Vanguards, 
Black Messiah
Bill Evans Trio, 
Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Sessions
William Onyeabor, 
Who Is William Onyeabor?
Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
Half Japanese, 
Volume 2: 1987-1989 (Music to Strip by, Charmed Life, The Band That Would Be King)
Natalie Prass, Natalie Prass
The JB’s, 
We are the J.B.’s
Chick Corea, Trilogy
Viet Cong, Viet Cong
Father John Misty, 
I Love You, Honeybear
Live at the Music Hall
The Wave Pictures, 
If You Leave it Alone
Donald Byrd, 
—, At the Half Note Cafe
Courtney Barnett, 
A Sea of Split Peas
Matthew E. White, 
Fresh Blood
Glen Hansard, 
It Was Triumph We Once Proposed
Courtney Barnett, 
Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Big Jon Atkinson, Boogie With You Baby
Miles Davis, 
Original Mono Recordings
Ivy Tripp
Mandalynne Panic, I Sense Harm
Alabama Shakes, 
Sound and Color
The Wave Pictures, 
Long Black Cars
—,Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon
Neil Young, 
Live at the Cellar Door
Neil Young, Live at Massey Hall 1971
Tame Impala, 
Mac Demarco, Another One
David Cloud, 
Today is the Day that They Take Me Away
Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
Neil Young, 
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Neil Young, 
After the Gold Rush
Freddie Hubbard, 
Straight Life 
All Dogs, 
Kicking Every Day
Empress of, 
Lou Barlow, 
Brace the Wave
Keith Richards, 
Crosseyed Heart
Low, Ones and Sixes 
Ryan Adams, 
Teen Men, Teen Men
The Dead Weather, 
Dodge and Burn
Christian Scott, 
Christian Scott, 
Stretch Music
Ahmad Jamal, 
At the Pershing, but not for me 
Ahmad Jamal, 
Ahmad’s Blues
Youth Lagoon, 
Savage Hills Ballroom
Beach House, 
Thank Your Lucky Stars
Built to Spill, 
There’s Nothing Wrong with Love 
Antonio Carlos Jobim,
Fading Frontier
Floating Points, 
Tapper Zukkie 
Man Ah Warrior
Various Artists, 
Ork Records: New York, New York
Allen Toussaint, Southern NightsLife
—, Love and Faith
Bright Mississippi
Paquito D’Rivera, 
Portraits of Cuba
Gloria Ann Taylor, Love is a Hurtin’ Thing
Neil Young, On the Beach
Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra
Nat King Cole, The Christmas Album
Bing Crosby, Merry Christmas
Various Artists, A Christmas Gift to you from Phil Spector.

The Soon and the Summer

I bought by tickets to Greece for next summer and I need to buy my tickets from Athens to Cyprus this week. After a year away from my work on Cyprus to focus on the Western Argolid Regional Project in Greece, I’m going to return to Polis-Chrysochous for a three-week study season starting May 5. Then heading to Greece for almost two months on May 25th or 26th. This all means that planning for the summer has to start now.

First, the next few weeks will prove to be busy, but exciting.

On April 8th-11th, I’ll host Andrew Reinhard and Richard Rothaus on campus for a public showing of the documentary, Atari: Game Over, and an academic round-table on the archaeology of gaming and the contemporary world.

On April 7th, I take a quick trip to Fargo for a dissertation defense. 

On April 18th, I’ll be in at the Mary Jaharis Center in Brookline, MA to participate in a roundtable on “Byzantium in the Public Sphere” and somehow simultaneously at a Man Camp Dialogue presentation in Ellendale.      

Over the same stretch of time, I need to put the finishing touches on two sabbatical projects. One is the final round of revisions on the North Dakota Man Camp Project paper for Historical Archaeology, and the other is a book proposal for the Tourist Guide to the Bakken Oil Patch, which is become a more and more compelling project every passing week. The book proposal is virtually done and I have a meaningful draft of the manuscript in hand. Now all I need to make is a few final touches and pull the trigger. I’m also doing the final revisions on an article for Internet Archaeology on archeological blogging.

At the same time, I’ve been trying to put together the kit of necessary summer gear that has to be ordered and sorted out before the start of May.

1. New Laptop. My three year old 15-inch Dell XPS has finally become unusable thanks to a combination of Windows 8 and some kind of nagging hardware issues. So I have to order a quad-core Dell Precision 15-inch today with 16-gb of ram. 3D image processing takes a tremendous amount of power.

2. New GPS unit. My trusty, 10 year old Garmin Gecko was stolen from my 12-year-old truck this past fall. We used Garmin Oregon 650s this past summer in Greece because we could upload aerial photographs to them and they had 8-megapixel cameras. In turns out that the cameras were not particularly useful and drained the battery. So this summer, I’ll purchase a Garmin 600 which is the same unit without a camera.

3. Camera. I love my Panasonic GX1, but the camera will be going on its third field season and has enjoyed such exotic opportunities as being used in a landfill in a dust storm, being lugged up every elevation in the Western Argolid without a lens cap, and several trips to the froze tundra of North Dakota. My hope is that it survives this summer, but I bought a fall back camera, a Canon ELPH135, which is discontinued and sells for less than $90 on Amazon. It’s nowhere near as good as the Panasonic, but it’s small, cheap, and good enough for a backup camera.

4. Microphone. With my career as a podcaster slowly gaining momentum, I need a small, decent USB microphone. Suggestions? For our podcasts, I’ve used a Blue Yeti, but this is a heavy microphone and I need to save some weight for, you know, three months of clothing.

5. Music. Living away from home for this long of a time is hard on me for a range of reasons (wife, dog, house, other responsibilities), but part of the thing that makes it hard is that I go from being alone most of the time to being surrounding by people most of the time. My escape is listening to music. To facilitate this, I have seriously upgraded my mobile music kit. First, I got a pair of new Audeze EL-8, closed back headphones and a little bird has hinted that I’ll get a new ALO Rx MK3 B+ amplifier which appears to be getting phased out of the ALO line-up and is now available at steeply discounted prices from their warehouse page. The amp is probably overkill for the EL-8s, but I suspect even in single-ended mode (balanced cables are not yet available for the EL-8s) it’ll provide a bit more oomph for the relatively efficient EL-8s as well as the option to move to a balanced set up in the future. 

6. Books. Usually I make a request for summer reading recommendations, but this summer, it looks like the American Journal of Archaeology has that all sorted out for me. I’m going to be working on a review article featuring several new books on the archaeology of the contemporary world and the growing interest in materiality among archaeologists. That being said, I’ll need to track down a few recreational books to read this summer, preferably with spaceships in them. 

My Year in Music

This was a pretty fun year in music for me. (For last year’s fun, go and read my 2013 post!)

I upgraded the ole stereo with a pair of new Omen Def Mk.I.B. speakers from Zu. Like the Omen Dirty Weekends that I had last year, these speakers combine with my Audio Research VSi60 to create a genuinely remarkable sense of immediacy and enough detail to satisfy my vague hi-fi tendencies. The most fun has been listening to some mono recordings from Miles Davis and The Who. Since I’m not a turntable guy, I haven’t quite managed to get myself fully aboard the mono band wagon (and obscurely, but seemingly wonderful mono cartridges) much less the 78 rpm revival movement, but I can understand the excitement. 

110214 f gfh punkarchaeology 2 0Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald

I also updated my source after my long-serving Mac Mini died. It had be running continuously for almost 5 years and had barely complained, but it finally gave up the ghost. So after a brief period of mourning, I decided to go with a dedicated, audiophile-grade, digital source for my music and got a Sony HAP-Z1ES and finally retired my old Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Needless to say, the Sony sounds much better than the Cambridge, and has brought me into the 21st century with the ability to play DSD files as well as absurdly high resolution files in other formats. As much as I’ve loved hearing great high-res versions of my favorite music (the high-resolution version of the Bill Evan Trio’s “Waltz for Debby” is breathtaking), I can’t help but still love my old Nakamichi CD4 spinning shinny, plastic disks and decoding through its almost-ancient Analogue Devices 1864N chip.

I also have this idea that I might write a monthly column here on the blog about audiophile things. I know it strays a bit from the “archaeology of the Mediterranean world” theme, but I also figure that, you know, it’s my blog and I can do what I want (or, that some diversity might build a bit of a different audience, or maybe I’ll try to look at audiophile trends and media with a historians’ eye or something). In other words, I have a few more ideas that I hope to develop over the next few weeks.

Finally, for the folks who miss my “What I’m listening to” feature in my Quick Hits and Varia, here’s my complete list of albums that I enjoyed over the past year:

Duke Ellington, (with Charles Mingus and Max Roach), Money Jungle.
Bob Marley, Kaya.
Wooden Shjips, Back to Land.
Frank Sinatra, A Swingin’ Affair.
Laura Marling, Once I was an Eagle.
Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat.
Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swinging Lovers.
Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours.
Miles Davis, My Funny Valentine (Recorded 50 years ago this year).
Bob Dylan, Times They Are A-Changin’ (Released 50 years).
Angel Olson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.
Nina Simone, Sings the Blues.
Nina Simone, High Priestess of Soul.
Beck, Morning Phase.
St. Vincent, St. Vincent.
The New Puritans, Fields of Reeds.
Beck, Sea Change.
The Twilight Sad, No One Can Ever Know.
New Order, Low Life.
War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream.
Unwound, Rat Conspiracy.
Lanterns on the Lake, Until the Colors Run.
Lightnin’ Hopkins, The Herald Recordings.
Bamboos, 4
The War on Drugs, Slave Ambient.
Mac DeMarco, Salad Days
The Budos Band, III.
EMA, The Future’s Void.
The Moles, Flashbacks and Dream Sequences: The Story of the Moles.
Amen Dunes, Love.
Black Keys, Turn Blue.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Sea When Absent.
Owl John, Owl John.
Phosphorescent, Here’s to Taking It Aasy.
Half Japanese, Overjoyed
Ty Segall, Manipulator.
Portugal. The Man, Evil Friends.
Duke Ellington, Ellington at Newport 1956.
Aphex Twin, Syro.
The Velvet Underground and Nico.
Nick Drake, Pink Moon.
Willie Nelson, Stardust.
Underworld, Dubnobasswithmyheadman.
The Vaselines, V for Vaselines.
Ex Hex, Rips.
Jawbreaker, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.
Melody Gardot, The Absence.
Thurston Moore, The Best Day.
The Twilight Sad, Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave.
Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins.
Arca, Xen.
Mekons, Curse of the Mekons.
The Who, The Who Sells Out.
Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street.
Velvet Underground, Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Edition.
Anthology of American Folk Music
Steven Gunn, Way Out Weather.
Matthew Ryan, Boxers.

Maybe you can find something that you like!

Collecting and Listening

As a member of Kostis Kourelis’ book club, we were encouraged to read Amanda Petrusich’s Do Not Sell at Any Price (2014). The book describes the remarkable world of 78 rpm record collectors. 78 rpm records were produced largely before the war (although they were made until the 1960s) and usually contained pop music, “race music” (including blues and jazz that were marketed largely to an African American audience), and “ethnic music” that was not widely played on the radio. The discs themselves measured 10 inches across and were usually made of  a hodgepodge of unreliable materials that allowed for the fledgling recording business able to produce and circulate music quickly. Most of the masters for these cheap records are lost and in many cases the only recordings that we have of prewar pop music exist on the handful of poorly manufactured discs held dear by collectors.

In fact, Petrusich argued that collectors of prewar 78s attracted the attention of folk and blues artists starting in the 1960s (and Harry Smith’s 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music was often their introduction to music recorded originally on 78 rpm discs) and spurred the popular revival of these genres. This connection to 78s  has continued to attract the attention of Jack White and a handful of other oldey timey music fans. 

I won’t review this wonderful book, but I do want to use it to make a few little observations about how we listen to music (and some of my comments relate to my interest in recent trends among audiophiles).

1. Authentic Sound. One of the most remarkable things about the survival of 78 rpm records is the incredibly poor quality of many of the prewar discs. First off, the record labels made these discs of schellac which was a rather fragile and inconsistent material that did not lend itself to consistent pressings. Compounding matters is that up until 1924 or so, recordings were made by the “acoustical” method. That is, the performers played into a horn that amplified the sound enough to move a cutting stylus across a master cylinder of wax. These recordings could not capture the same sonic range as later electrical recordings made into microphones, but are more coveted by collectors. The inconsistent character of shellac discs, however, continued to compromise quality at playback as did the tendency to press records that did not play at precisely 78rpm and used various frequency response curves idiosyncratic to particular labels.

As a result, the sound from 78rpm discs might be described as inconsistent, but to some extent the sound we hear from them defines an era of recorded music. There is an undeniable authenticity that audiophiles, in their relentless pursuit of perfect sound, tend to overlook. Recent debates about the LP revival, for example, tend to focus on the idea that LPs sound BETTER than the compressed sound of mp3 recordings so popular with “the kids these days.”

At the same time, it is hard to deny that our compressed-to-distortion mp3s are the authentic sound of  music for this generation just as the crackling, warped, and distorted sound of relatively inexpensive 78s was the sound of recorded music prior to the war. I’ll admit that I’m not a LP guy and, in fact, I find the sound of digitized 78s difficult to enjoy. At the same time, I’m not as mortified by the sound of MP3s, as say, Neil Young or other audiophiles. While I still prefer a CD or even a high-resolution download, reading Petrusich’s book has reminded me that there is something undeniably authentic about both 78s and mp3s.

2. The Song. One of the great tropes in the audiophile press is how the kids these days don’t have the patience for long-playing records or even albums. They just want the poppy singles, loaded onto mediocre sounding portable mp3 players (so called “iPods”), and lasting no more than 3 minutes. In fact, some argue that they simply don’t have the attention span for a LP.  This, of course, is crazy as these same young music consumers can watch movies, the NFL, and go out to concerts in healthy numbers and all of these things last for longer than a single song. 

More than that, the LP era was an aberration in how we listen to recorded music. The 78 era, lasting from the late teens to the World War II, was all about 3 minute singles. And the average listener couldn’t afford to sit still for too long because once the song was done, they have to get up and flip over the 78! Perhaps our short attention span for recorded music is the norm, and the LP generation was, in fact, a group not only too lazy to get up and flip over an album, but also dulled their music senses by subjecting them to endless, pointless, mediocre b-sides on long-playing records.

3. Rituals of Listening. One of the great aspects of Petrusich’s book is how she describes these 78 collectors listening to their prized possessions. None of these guys (and, yeah, they’re almost all men) hesitated at all to PLAY their records for the author. More than that, almost all of them clearly enjoyed hearing the music. They tapped their feet, squirmed in their chairs, fell into trances, gestured in the air, and generally reveled in the listening experience. They felt the intensity of these authentic listening experiences.

More than that, once they began to listen to 78s, they listened to more and more. The records flew off their shelves and onto their turn table. More than once the author had to extract herself from an emotionally draining listening session before her host was done spinning records. 

I found her descriptions of these events to be among the most compelling parts of the book. The way these seasoned collectors still found something invigorating in these poorly produced singles reminded me of enduring power of simple rituals.

It also made me want to go and put a CD in my ole CD player (a 1992 vintage Nakamichi CD4), warm up the tube amp (a very recent Audio Research VSi60), and listen to my big Zu Omen Defs with their old school full-range drivers. 

Grading Music

Today is a pretty intense grading day for me, so instead of my usual Friday Varia and Quick Hits, I thought I’d provide my grading playlist:

For me, grading is all about maximizing my flow:

Bob Marley, Exodus

Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever.

Frightened Rabbit, The Midnight Organ Fight.

Boston, Boston

Iggy Pop, Lust for Life.

Iggy Pop, The Idiot.

Grace Jones, Nightclubbing.

Fleetwood Mac, Mr. Wonderful.

The tunes are coming from a late-1970s-ish Marantz 2235B driving a pair of Energy C-2 book shelf speakers. The source is my reliable MacBook Pro running unmodified iTunes through a Schiit Modi DAC. Cables are all Audioquest.  

IMG 1321

Archaeology and Audiophilia

One of the trickiest things about having a blog is making the decisions about how far one can stray from the main themes or topics that my audience expects. Every now and then, I feel the overwhelming urge to blog about something unrelated to Mediterranean archaeology, teaching, or academic life, and recently I’ve had to itch to blog about my audiophile habits. This is in part because I’ve been riding my bike on a magnetic trainer indoors this winter. This is boring, but I do have plenty of blank time to relax and think about random things.

The past few weeks, I’ve been staring at this crazy pair of old speakers that I think I acquired from a graduate student buddy. They are Realistic Nova 10 speakers. They were introduced in 1981 and have 8 inch drivers paired with extended range tweeters and a 8 inch passive radiators in sealed cabinets. They’re not big and not unattractive in that vintage kind of way. They sound sort of like crap, with a pretty shrill upper midrange and almost no bass extension. Presumably the passive radiators was an effort to compensate for that, but even with the passive radiators these speakers only extend down to 80 Hz! The tweeters are super live and harsh even when driven by a Peachtree Decco with a tube stage. This is all bad, but they were free and their main job is to provide enough of a din to prevent me from noticing that my legs and lungs hurt while churning out stationary miles on the bike. In other words, they serve a purpose.

IMG 1147Resource

They are a far cry from my “grown up system” in my living room which features more exotic equipment from Audio Research and Zu, and not nearly as refined as my office system at home with a vintage Marantz 2235B and a pair of lovely Energy bookshelf speakers. (My office at work has a sweet little NAD 312 (the last iteration of the 3020) driving a pair of Pioneer SP-BS41s and a little Vali headphone amp from Schiit). This got me thinking about how these completely different system could exist side-by-side in the same house. The gear ranges from the early 1980s (the Realistic speakers and the Marantz) to the 1990s (the Energy bookshelf speakers and the NAD) and rather more recently. The points of origin range from Japan (Marantz, Realistic) to China (Marantz) to the U.S.A. (Zu, Audio Research) and Canada (Energy). Despite all of this stereo equipment being “disposable” consumer goods, they nevertheless present a diverse, diachronic, and functional assemblage.

As I’ve been spinning out the miles on my bike, I started to wonder about how this kind of diversity in an assemblage could inform how I think about pottery in 7th century Cyprus. The 7th century has traditionally been seen as a period of decline, but recent scholarship has suggested that this perspective misrepresents the persistent vitality of the island. In particular, scholars have recognized that high-quality consumer goods (so to speak) like Cypriot Red Slip pottery continued to be produced and circulated on the island well into the late 7th century (and perhaps later) as did more pedestrian types like Dhiorios cooking pots from kilns in western Cyprus (that circulated widely in the region) or Late Roman Type 1 amphoras and their decedents produced either on the island or in nearby Cilicia in Asia Minor.

What is even more striking is that Marcus Rautman and others have identified rather crude handmade vessels in the same contexts as more “international” objects like Cypriot Red Slip. At first, we might be inclined to argue that these handmade vessels reflect a general decline in the quality of material culture associated with these periods, but their existence alongside more refined objects like Cypriot Red Slip suggests that the 7th century consumer continued to have access to finer quality vessels, but chose for whatever reason to select relatively poorly made vessels. The obvious (if partial) answer is that economic problems in the 7th century led to a decline in the market for high quality red slipped wares, but not its complete collapse. This is not too dissimilar to my decision to use the Realistic Nova 10 speakers on my basement system. They were free and (I’ve been told that) the (very) local economy could not support more stereo equipment at this juncture.

Fair enough. The result was an assemblage of equipment that is functionally similar, but, nevertheless, represents a diverse set of economic circumstances that accounts for relatively modest gear interspersed with somewhat more expensive and refined equipment. 

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My Year in Music

This has been a good year in music for me.

I said good-bye to my first genuinely high-fidelity stereo system.


I became more familiar with some vintage (or at least old school) gear.


I developed an affinity for portablehead-fi”:


This includes the lovely ALO National portable headphone amp.


The second half of the year saw the arrival of a pair of Zu Omen Dirty Weekend speakers and after a few false starts the glory that is the Audio Research VSi60. Speaker upgrades are on the horizon taking advantage of Zu’s generous upgrade policy. I also got some good Schiit for Christmas to feed my head-fi interest. My wife is pretty awesome and indulgent in this stuff. Be sure to check out Scot Hull’s site, Parttime Audiophile’s year review. He was cool enough to let me to contribute from time to time.

IMG 0960

I also listened to a bunch of music. The lists below shows some of the music that I listened to seriously and mentioned on my weekly “What I’m listening to” feature in my Friday Varia and Quick Hits:

Rock Music
Wooden Shjips, Back to Land
Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt
The Knife, Shaking the Habitual
Francis and the Lights, It’ll be better
Bad Religion, Christmas Songs
Ex Cops, Hallucinations
The Soft Pack, Strapped
Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism
Los Campesinos! Now Blues
Arcade Fire, Reflektor
Lou Reed, Transformer
The Walkmen, Heaven
The Radiators, Ghostown
Chvrches, Bones of What You Believe.
Meat Puppets, Meat Puppets II
Minutemen, 3-Way Tie (for last)
Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse
Crocodiles, Crimes of Passion
The Clean, Vehicle
The Mekons, Fear and Whiskey
Mumford and Sons, Babel
Sea Lanes, Sea Lanes
Mikhael Paskalev, Jive Baby
Sleep Study, Nothing Can Destroy
Various Artists, Anti Records Summer Sampler
80-R, One Night
The Oblivians, Desperation
Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse
Alphaville, Forever Young
Daft Punk, Random Access Memory
The National, Trouble Will Find Me
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
Mikal Cronin, MCII
Pete Murray, Feeler
The Men, New Moon
Big Scary, Vacation
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Mosquito
Frank Turner, Tape Deck Heart
Young Galaxy, Ultramarine
Shuggie Otis, Inspiration Information/Wings of Love
The Gospel Whiskey Runners, Hold On
Bim Sherman, Miracle
Kurt Vile, Walking on a Pretty Daze
Shout Out Louds, Optica
The Clinic, Free Reign II
Phosphorescent, Muchacho
My Bloody Valentine, mbv
Ten Years After, Cricklewood Green
Ten Years After, Ssssh
Ten Years After, Stonedhenge
Autre ne Veut, Anxiety
Atoms for Peace, Amok
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II
Jack White, Blunderbuss
The ABCs, Stona Rosa
June Panic, Glory Hole; Frightened Rabbit
We Are Augustines, iTunes Sessions
Son Lux, At War with Walls and Mazes
Foxygen, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
The Bears of Blue River, Dames
Yo La Tengo, Fade
Kishi Bashi, 151a
Father John Misty, Fear Fun

Lucky Dube, Prisoner
Lucky Dube, Slave
Freddie McGregor, Bobby Bobylon

Stan Getz and João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto
Ella Fitzgerald, The Cole Porter Songbook
The Jazz Crusaders, Live at the Lighthouse ’66
Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, Jazz Samba
Miles Davis, Dig
Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain
Miles Davis, Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet
Donald Byrd, Up with Donald Byrd
Grant Green, The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark

Hip Hop
De La Soul, Three Feet High and Rising
Tribe Called Quest, Low End Theory
Guru, Jazzmatazz Volume 1
EL.P. and Killer Mike, Run the Jewels
Kanye West, Yeezus