This is a response to Steve’s comment about my sensitivity/allergy to some things I need to put inside or on my ear… 

I know very little about the subject but here is what I heave learned. 

Multiple doctors have told me that using something for many years does not make it less likely that we become sensitive to it. In fact, it makes it more likely! I am taking this to mean that the longer we live the more likely it is that we discover sensitivities to all kinds of things we touch on a daily basis. So, older = greater chance of having an allergic reaction. 😄

I never had any type of allergic reaction at all, until 1997. That Spring I spent seven weeks in Italy and for the first time I found it hard to breathe. My throat just seemed to close up. I remember going to a pharmacy and communicating through pantomime what I needed. I don’t remember what they gave me but it worked. It might have been an inhaler of some kind. I continued to have this problem even after returning to Santa Fe. Then I heard that eating local honey can help with Spring bloom allergies. It sounds equal parts crazy and kinda logical. Bees incorporate all kinds of pollen into their honey… perhaps that can have an effect. Perhaps the honey worked, or perhaps some allergies simply go away as suddenly as they appear, but I haven’t had anything like it since.

I have been using IEMs since 1994, when we started to wear them to record the live album. They never gave me any trouble. The first sign of a problem came when I started wearing Apple EarPods, that early generation of wired earphones. I would wear them constantly and made many extended phone calls with them. Sometimes I wore them for three or more hours at a time. Suddenly my ears were secreting liquid–I called them my weeping ears– and then they started to get infected. Just putting my IEMs into my ears was painful.

I learned–from a comment to this post–that I may have a reaction to the kind of plastic Apple uses for the EarPods. It seemed that many other people are allergic to it. I stopped wearing any Apple or Beats earbuds and all was well for a while. Looking back I think the culprit for the most recent flareup may have been the silicon ear tips that I found to be comfortable with my Audeze Euclid IEMs. I used the ear cream the ENT wrote me a prescription for exactly once and switched to the memory foam tips. Since then I haven’t had a problem. It’s infuriating that those little silicone tips were able to give me so much pain and worry. 

That seems to be the thing about allergies… in my experience, they may show up, they may stay a while and then they may, or may not, disappear again. But you are pretty much on your own, trying to figure out what it is, unless you want to take a serious allergy test. None of those tests look like a lot fun–Link to Wikipedia.

Words + Music

Sometimes, after I have read a review, I don’t want to hear the music and want to close my eyes and just imagine it. Here are a few examples, all by the same writer… no need for the names of musicians or the titles of songs.

like listening to an ambient record on headphones at such a low volume that the background noise of the metropolis bleeds through

illuminated by the lens flares of flugelhorn and then slightly darkened by some fragmented guitar figures

washes of melody that drift to the surface before slowly sinking into the depths again

dissolving the sound into a glossy decay, as though a Rothko painting were slowly fading to black

eventually, the curtain is pulled aside to reveal the piano behind the noises

there are sharp bursts that stir these dreamy tracks quickly awake

pulsing minimalism given an acidic tang via tones that sound like a bad mobile phone connection

imagines a repeating four-chord sequence as the blinking eyes of a dozen androids while little flutters of electricity and long pulses flow through the room

it is nearly overwhelmed by the drunken bass notes and fluttering racket going on around it

This only works when the critic has a way with words and has good ears to go along with that… All examples were pulled from the writing of Robert Ham for Pitchfork.