City Paper is not for tourists
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“Before we record your acoustic guitar, it will be necessary to remove all absorbent materials from this dining room,” I informed a friendly local musician. This musician had requested access to my ultra-low-budget home recording studio. I suspect he was motivated by my unbeatable price: $0/hour.
“Why must we move anything?” inquired the musician.
“Well, I’ll tell you,” I replied. “My dining room has marvelous sonic properties. When not being used for dining purposes, this room is ideal for recording acoustic instruments and vocals. The reverb is quite remarkable. I speculate that my dining room is the best-sounding dining room in Washington, D.C., or at least in Ward 1.”
“Marvelous,” commented the young musician.
“Indeed,” I replied. “I first recorded an acoustic guitar in this dining room in the fall of 2000. At that time, I did not dine in my dining room, and my dining room was empty. I was recording with a friend, who commented, ‘Justin, this really is quite a remarkable room.’ Three years later, my friend came back, again to record acoustic guitar. This time, the room was stuffed with furniture—-a couch, a desk, and a pile of clothing. Though now functional as a dining room/clothing storage space, the dining room was useless for recording purposes. The couch, the desk, and the pile of clothing absorbed all natural reverb—-the very character of my dining room-as-recording studio. When my friend and I listened back to the recording we made, he frowned. ‘Justin, there is too much stuff in this room,’ he observed. ‘You have gone and ruined your dining room.'”
“Tragic,” the young musician remarked.
“Indeed,” I replied. “I find the issue paradoxical. My house is over 100 years old. Before the age of recording, someone designed my dining room to be eaten in. However, as of 2007, I rarely eat in my dining room, and would rather use my dining room for recording. Yet, the very properties which allow my dining room to fulfill its designer’s intent—-furniture, tables, chairs, food—-make recording impossible, and the very property that makes my dining room perfect for recording—-sheer emptiness and reverb—-make eating impossible.” I cleared my throat. “So, as the presiding judge in the case of Eating in my Dining Room’ v. Recording in my Dining Room, I rule on recording’s behalf.”
The young musician did not laugh at my remark about “eating in my dining room v. recording in my dining room.” I had intended this remark to be humorous, but had missed the mark.
“OK!” I exclaimed. I walked to one end of my dining-room table. “Can you get the other end of this table so we can move it into the hall?”