Sunday, October 23, 2005

Greg's Manly Media Room

The media room is the temple of manliness.

It was my cousin Greg who taught me about the finer things in life. Greg is a manly man who loves fine living. Like the Victorian gentleman, he believes that prosperity and luxury are the reward for living a manly life. When I was five years old Greg taught me all the words (all the words) to “The Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish. I don’t know if my parents ever forgave him. When I was a teenager, Greg taught me about sushi, sports cars, cognac, and fine cigars. He made me eat Uni (sea urchin) saying it was a test of my manhood. He took me to my first IMSA race. Like all men who live in Portland he has an affinity for micro-brew beer, but he also drank Tooth KB Lager and Tooth Sheaf Stout from Australia. A lover of samurai movies, his house was always full of Japanese art and artifacts, Samurai swords being a special love. He drove a Q-45 with a 40 disc CD changer in the trunk—fast and luxurious, like the El Dorados of old. He’s also got an old rat pickup ttruck that he dropped a monster engine into, which he takes out to the local drag races to shock the teenage boys in their Cameros.

The centerpiece of Greg’s house is his media center. Greg had a media room long before it was popular, when only the really rich or the really fanatical could afford the components. What is supposed to be the dining room in his house has been taken over by a huge screen and a professional quality video projector hanging from the ceiling, surrounded tall thin column speakers, and a very nice sectional with seats that recline. The amplifier, which weighs a hundred pounds and vaguely resembles a stainless steel engine block, sits in the middle of the floor like some kind of polished altar. Unlike the highest of the high end media rooms, the components and the wiring are all exposed. He installed it himself but didn’t want to rip up the walls so speakers and wiring could be hidden. Kept the cost down that way. The one inch thick speaker cables ride on little feet to hold them off the floor and reduce static.

This, not the kitchen table or the living room, is the social center of Greg’s house. We gather in front of the big box even if we aren’t really watching it. Conversation flows back and forth punctuated by news reports, laugh tracks and the occasional home run cheer. Like the foyer (which actually means a room with a fireplace) of old, the media room with its glowing box is the world’s new gathering place. This is probably due to the influence of men, for whom T.V. is a birth rite. Reclining is a big deal in Greg’s world. Whether inside in front of the TV or outside on the porch, all Greg’s chairs were designed for kicking back. Long nights spent on his back deck, with cedars towering overhead, sitting with our feet up, sipping Napolean brandy and smoking contraband Cohibas, is where I learned that men can be sophisticated as well as masculine.


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