Who's it for?

April 16, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

Ok, I'll admit it. I am a Trekkie.

My current favorite Star Trek spinoff is Discovery. In second place is Picard (though it started off so slow I had to skip forward multiple episodes to get going).

Still working my way through Season Two of Discovery, I ran across an episode whose "previously on Discovery" opened with a scene from the original Star Trek featuring Captain Christopher Pike. For those not versed in Star Trek lore, Pike was the starship Enterprise captain before Kirk (and Kirk was the first official captain we grew up with).

Discovery takes place a decade before Captain Kirk's arrival and so at first, it made sense to play a clip from the old Star Trek. A reminder of who Captain Pike was.  But wait. Who's this for? Does Paramount believe there are enough non-Trekkies watching to justify rehashing old film clips?  And, why would someone who is not a Trekkie care where Pike's place in "history" is?

I am often baffled by decisions made in the name of connection. If I were to ask groups of random strangers who Christopher Pike was, the vast majority would have no clue. Once explained they'd be so mystified as to why they were being asked the question as to consider calling the authorities. Ask a Trekkie? They'd likely chastise me for doubting their knowledge.

In the same way, if I were to ask a group of random strangers if they knew what a linear tracking tonearm was, or a bi-wire connection, or a dipole, I'd get the same wrinkled brow. Once explained I'd be lucky to get a shrug of the shoulder.

We're comfortable inside the confines of our community because it exists for us.

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50 comments on “Who's it for?”

  1. I can remember being glued to the TV back in '66, '67 & '68 watching every episode of Star Trek;
    I was only six - eight years old...Tribbles, green alien women, etc.
    I'm pretty sure that the Star Trek writers were snorting as much cocaine as the writers & animators from Warner Brothers 'Loony Tunes' were...when 'Coca Cola' really was Coke & Cola 😉
    I find it hard to believe that Bill Shatner has just turned 90; he doesn't look a day over 76.
    I've heard that decades & decades of rampant sexual activity keeps you not only 'young at heart' but also looking young(er) 🙂
    For me the Star Trek TV series will never be surpassed by the Trekkie movies.
    The sixties were an absolutely magical decade.

      1. I’m streaming more, and enjoying it more. My problem is I’m enjoying it too much. It’s hard getting anything done when you’re always stopping to really listen to the music.

      2. Streaming. I seldom do it, since it very quick becomes background music. For me streaming (even from my NAS server) is more like a FM station that I can choose the playlist. I like the “physical” material, it’s a feel of own it, and also with a history (or story) associated to that material. (Such as, I bought it while live in France or visiting Rome, or passing through the Tokyo airport.)

      3. The only quibble I have with Steve's argument about streaming is it ignores the way many of us stream.

        I don't, for instance, stream anything I haven't chosen. I consciously select what I wish to listen to from a library of millions and then critically listen.

        That's very much different than background music however it gets into the system.

        Let's not bash streaming as a whole because some use it to pick their music.

        1. SG does mention that he finds streaming useful for discovering 'new' music.
          But I agree with him about taking the time to unpack, prepare, sit down & pay attention to the music.

        2. I get what you’re saying Paul but Steve made a point of saying this episode may not be for you if you don’t fall into the category of listening with intent as an outgrowth of streaming music using a platform like ROON. Steve made a point of how helpful and enjoyable streaming can be but also pointed out what I feel and that is that the quality of the best streaming music at the present moment falls short of a CD or vinyl record and that was troubling him.

          I use streaming not only to listen intently but use the platform to find other musicians or similar music that I was not familiar with prior. I also stream while I am cleaning my apartment just to have some background music. Steve seems to know too many people who are falling into what he considers a trap. I do agree with him about that. That’s how I moved on from listening to vinyl only when the quality of the CD became listenable because it was a real pain in the behind to have to get up every 18 to 20 minutes to either flip the side of the record or change it.

          I think both of these presentations by you and Steve are valid and what’s frustrating Steve should be given more consideration as you both live very different lives and have somewhat different mindsets.

        3. There seems to be some unintentional straw manning going on with regards to pigeonholing everybody who streams into a certain category of non-intentional listening.
          You can have music going all day in the background regardless of source. Who, before streaming was available has not had the radio going, or their own mixed tapes, or vinyl albums and why would you bother conflating background listening with active listening.
          As far as active or critical listening goes, I find my listening sessions much more engaging now that streaming is available. That hour or two of listening is Zen, I get hypnotized and the constant interruptions of getting up to change the record or the CD break that mind set and bring me back to what at the time seems like the harsh reality of the real world. It is so nice to be able to choose a list of songs, then sit back and enjoy without interruption while getting deeply relaxed, completely enveloped by a soundstage and more aware of how amazing some recordings can sound. If I am getting up to change source or reading liner notes or admiring album art I am not listening with intent.
          The quality of file that you can stream from a source like Tidal is not always good, but so what? I have plenty of vinyl that sounds amazing and plenty that sounds atrocious. I have many CD’s that sound fantastic and plenty that sound like crap. The fact that there are millions of files available on line means I can find more good sounding music to stream than I could ever afford to own.

        4. Agreed. It is selectable music - not spoonfed radio. And the 'similar tracks' that continue after my selected tracks have completed has opened me to a vast amount of new great artists & releases. What a great tool. And yes, it frequently leads me to cd purchases. And streaming at $20/month for HQ - that is an insanely phenomenal deal for music lovers. No to mention the available info such as credits, guest musicians, solo by "insert musician" which also opens a new rabbit hole of seeking and listening.
          Streaming is superb!

          It is the Amazon of music - immediate musical gratification. Except not at the expense of your fellow human....

        5. Letting the algorithms from the streaming service of your choice pick the music is not unlike listening to an FM radio station. It's just binary code based choices instead of DNA code based choices. "Who do you love?"

    1. I also grew up with the original Star trek series. It’s part of me. Love it for the sci-fi effect, it is so unreal from today’s CG point of view, but it is so enjoyable. Sorry to say I am not really enjoy the newer series, because the CG effect is too real. I feel something missing w.r.t the original Star Trek. I guess the unrealistic effect, as a child, allows me to have a “realistic” imaginary role play game with my buddies. What a sweet childhood memory!

    2. Yeah, but you gotta admit the Enterprise NCC-1701-E is one drop dead gorgeous looking ship (that kicks ass, take that Borg cube). The original Constitution-class Enterprise was a revelation back in the day. I just bought a book about the three Connies (yeah, I know, usually short for the Lockheed Constellations; I'm an aviation geek, too). The original is a much loved '57 Chevy. The refit and the -A from the big screen are '61 Impala Sport Coupes. Ahhhh, but the -E is a McLaren Speedtail.

  2. Seeing how irrelevant even music listening is to most of the mankind, we have no clue how non existing and unbelievable much of our bothering with even the most basic audio topics is. We’re on one of the most far away planets in the universe with this hobby and our “problems”, maybe topped by collecting tusks of white tigers.

    We mostly even can’t share our hobby with anyone properly, because they either don’t want to listen to our music, not on this volume level or they don’t fit on our sweet spot seat 😉

  3. Paul, I believe Pike’s reintroduction is just that. New ST fans are born everyday. Most newbies don’t know the backstory, so these tidbits and opening scene invites the new fan into the ST universe in a way that makes them feel like special members of a club. For them it’s all new and watching a new fan explore the ST universe is an amazing thing. Probably a lot like your book does for newbies to the audiophile world .

  4. Ahhh, the Rabco SL-8 tone arm, made in Gaithersburg, MD, three miles from where I lived at the time. And the H/K Rabco ST-7 turntable. Yeah, I guess if I were to explain them to the average Joe, I’d get looked at like I was the plague.

    1. The HK ST-7 arm was reasonably reliable but the tables metal chassis rang like a bell. They could have done so much better. The ST-7, Citation 16 amp and Citation 18 tuner were interesting looking, somewhat futuristic designs for their day.

  5. I'm here happily listening in multiple formats, but, I am still waiting for @stevemartin to ship me a lightly used Moon Rock stylus to complete my forever system.

  6. I’m rather a Star Wars guy if I had to decide...Star Treck always was more like intimate theater and too dialog orientated for science fiction for me. As if they had to avoid cost for any scenario and special effects outside the spaceship or outside today’s ordinary big city scenarios when they visited earth. Deep Trekkies always were kind of a mystery to me 😉

    1. Star Trek or Star Wars? Beatles or Stones? Coltrane or Rollins? You are more than welcome to have a favorite, but I do grow weary of this 'either/or' stuff when there is 'and'. I'm an ecumenical sci-fi geek.

  7. This describes the unknowing and uninterested vs. the enlightened. There’s a middle class of those who are in the interested and learning development phase (yes, I realize we are all continuously learning). It’s rarely either/or, except in politics these days.

  8. FR,
    I'm with you. Original 60's Star Trek fan and I re-watched every episode at the start of the pandemic. Shatner will never be replaced. Have you listened to any of his "music"? Talk about some of the most tongue-in-check silliness. Anyone who doesn't take himself too seriously is alright by me.

  9. Paul, To answer your question "who is it for?" it was for me. In 1966, 67. 68, 69 I was an undergrad physics major, studying hard so I could get my butt into grad school. Even though I was a townie there were many nights that I had a burger or pizza for dinner and spent the evening in the physics library where you could hear a pin drop and thus get some high quality studying done. I was fan of Star Trek but when I had to study I missed it. There was no such animal as a VCR back then.

    There are plenty of people who watched some of the original Star Trek episodes but not all of them. Some of them are lucky enough to still be alive and some of those have watched Star Trek Discovery. Not everyone who watched Star Trek Discovery is a true Trekkie and not everyone has seen and remembers the Pike episodes ( I happen to have seen and remember them, but I understand why CBS did what it did ).

  10. Well put Paul. I too have been following the new Discovery time frame, and it is very good. Picard did pick up speed after the first few episodes, looking forward to Whoopi's character making a return next season.

  11. I'm from half of the classic Star Trek and Star Wars audience that thinks the newer Trek TV series are largely woke-laden and poorly written garbage... And the JJ Abrams Bad Robot produced Star Trek and Star Wars movies are overwrought cartoons made for a common mass audience of ADHD stricken sheep to generate as much capital as possible.

    Need an honest example of modern TV fantasy-scifi that's done right? The Mandalorian. God bless Jon Favreau.

    Discovery is a best example of the newer troubled Trek TV series and even if it wasn't written expressly for a woke audience the writing and production is still mostly terrible and insulting to many of us who appreciate the classic series for the thoughtful and clever elements that made them great. Elements that the current producers apparently can't conceive. It's as if they're too obsessed with cramming ridiculous cartoon visuals, cartoon sound effects, and extraordinary progressive wokeness into the writing to give consideration to producing with a sensible unbiased quality that twice again as big an audience of fans could easily commit to. I appreciate woke content that's sensible and well written like in HBO's excellent Euphoria show. In Discovery it looks like it's there in excess just to proudly cram it in the audience faces... Look how super woke we are! We cater to our all-woke audience in abundance! Er, we mean only the audience that matters for the way we want the world to work!

    There are a lot of disgusted old fans like me that actually exist in spite of being treated like we don't. It just another form cancel culture. The fact of the matter is the current lot of Trek producers proclaim magnificent success with their work when the truth of it is there are many old fans who participate in the internet fan community who are disgusted with the newer products. But that's okay because we're on the side of a line where we don't exist as far as they're concerned.

    I'm still looking forward to the potential of Star Trek Strange New Worlds. I think those characters have better potential than anything the current producers have made so far. Trek Picard has been a bit more interesting just to see Patrick Stewart playing the character again. It was recently announced that the second season will pursue conflict with the omnipotent TNG "Q" character (John de Lancie). So that could be fun and interesting.

  12. I do recall watching some Star Trek in the distant past. The only Piccard I recognize now is Bertrand Piccard. The first time I met him, he was speaking to a huge corporate event I was attending. He was mesmerizing. I then asked him to speak to a very large group of European rheumatologists and almost all of them were fascinated by his story. I went to see him to his flat in Lausanne, Switzerland, before the doctor's talk to let him know about the audience and it looked like a Freud decorated place. He is a psychiatrist by training but became famous as the first person to go around the world in a balloon. You can see his balloon now in DC. He also flies with solar power. His family history is amazing. But the way he discusses the issues is absolutely incredible. For his accomplishments, he could be haughty, but he is the most charming and friendly guy around. When you are with him, it is clear he focuses on you intently. A truly wonderful human being.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Piccard

  13. Try just LISTENING to the very early ST episodes with no video. You will know exactly where you are, whose speaking and what is going on. After all aren’t we HiFi listeners? Anyway. I remember reading quite some time ago, Gene Roddenberry’s storyline that was scripted for TV was originally produced for radio. Urban legend? I don’t know.

  14. Kirk and Scottie - Canadians!!!

    We also gave you Joni Mitchell, Rush, Triumph, Diana Krall, Lanios, Gordon Lightfoot, Guess Who, Trooper. Prism, KD Lang, The Hip, The Band, Leonard Cohen, Kim Mitchell, Gino Vannelli, Shania Twain (you're welcome fellas), Red Rider, Paul Shaffer, Frank Marino, Pat Travers, Bruce Cockburn, Streetheart, Terry Jacks, BTO, Mystery, Wilf Carter, House Of Not, Neil Young, Buble, 50% of the Blues Brothers... and Johnny B (Drummer from Sweeny Todd) - my old boss from my stint as a car audio guy in the 80s...

    So.....does that make up for Nickelback and Justin Beiber?

    Ya, I didn't think so.

    We're sorry.

    PS - Nickelback has just come out with a new 5 - CD box set.
    It is called Nickelback's Greatest Hit.

    1. I can never figure out why poor ol' Nickleback gets so panned by everyone...
      they're not that bad...Beiber on the other hand...
      America/Canada...Australia/New Zealand...classic rivalries.

      1. Well if you like ONE Nickelback song, you're gonna like every other golldang one that they do.
        Kroeger and his Ramen Noodle hair.....
        Would it KILL you to learn a NEW chord?
        But I suppose you can pout a bit because everybody makes fun of you......while you're adding up the interest you collected on your bazillions of dollars this month.....
        Sigh.

      1. And Tim Horton!
        Yeah, I was trying to keep to music guys to setup the Beiber slam & Nickelback joke....
        But INDEED!! Our hockey past-time! Pucks & Timmies.
        And yeah, he's a bit goofy but Shaffer is pretty skilled, with credentials up the hooplah....

    2. pikpen,

      Some good names in there. I’m sure the list is endless but how could you forget Jann Arden, I’d call that “Insensitive” and Paul Anka, someone who really could say he did “My Way”.

  15. Or Shatner's 1968 album The Transformed Man album, Nimoy's 1968 album - The Way I Feel...
    Sheer musical....what's the word I'm looking for here?

  16. Looks like Paul is familiar with Prime Directive. 😉

    And yeah Streaming is for convenience and it is background noise. I have my critical time where I use CDs, but for the sake of quick playlists and song choices streaming can’t be beat. I’m not against it, however I don’t ever use it for serious listening.

  17. My son and I are Huge Start Trek fans. I love the original series with the original 7 Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Doctor McCoy, Chekov, Sulu, beam me up Scotty.

    Guess they had to fill in the gaps with Pike in Discovery since he was the first Captain in the original series too in the episode "The Cage".

    But equally I like the next generation (Picard, Data, Worf, Geordi La Forge, Crusher, Troy, Tasha, Guinan, O'Brien, Riker (Number one), Q. and deep space 9 with Sisko, Quark, Odo, Warf. Dax, Also Voyager with Captain Janeway (the first woman Captain on Star Trek), Chakotay, Torres 7 of 9, Paris, Neelex. Kes, Harry Kim, The Doctor who was a sophisticated hologram with real feelings. Love them all and had to mention their character names.

    Love the newest movie with the original crew all coming out of the academy together to fight the psycho who had a black hole machine that devours planets in minutes. We have tons of collectables and signed lithographs and photos.

    My second hobby to audio is a Trekkie. Gave up card collecting but still have them packed away in boxes. I still buy the occasional card but I'm too into my audio collection and music to do that anymore. Hoping to get back on the concert trail and my NFL season tickets to the Buffalo Bills. I have Billy Joel and Rolling Stones tickets on ice right now. And many other tickets to various cover band concerts that my cousin bought.

    It's not a bad thing to spend more of my free time with my awesome stereo system though. Not bad punishment. 🙂

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