Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Story of 213 Howard Street on Cushing Corner, Rockland, MA

Our house at 213 Howard Street was once part of the old Cushing Homestead, a property which included 213 and 214 Howard Street, as well as the main family house and barn at 131 East Water Street. “Cushing Corner”, as it is known, was designated as a Rockland Landmark in 1981, and is marked as such with a granite plaque, right near the intersection of Howard and East Water.

The Cushings were an industrious, prosperous and well-respected family in Rockland, having settled in the town in the early 19th Century. The family’s history on the South Shore of Massachusetts can be traced all the way back to 1639, when Matthew Cushing of Hingham England and his wife traversed the Atlantic to Boston, settling in, appropriately, Hingham, Mass. Matthew became a town father in Hingham, cutting the template for generations of Cushings to come. Over the next 150 years, the Cushings proliferated around the South Shore. From Hingham to Halifax they were town clerks, teachers, ministers and masons. One of those Cushings, Thomas, became the lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, and is buried in the old Granary Burying Ground in Boston. The family history says that anyone with the surname Cushing in North America is a descendant of Matthew’s. To this day, there is much evidence of the Cushing name on the South Shore, in place names and street names. (It is doubtful that the well-known Richard Cardinal Cushing, one time Archbishop of Boston, is part of this same Cushing Clan, as the Hingham Cushings were English Methodists, not Irish Catholic as was the Cardinal).

One member of the original generation of Cushings to settle in East Abington, later re-named Rockland, was William S, born in 1827, who resided at the family homestead at East Water and Howard Street. He was one of nine Cushing siblings, and the oldest male. The main family business before the Civil War was trunk-making and wood-working. The youngest of the nine was Henry Jacob, born in 1843, who served in the Union Army in the Civil War. In later years, he often participated in Civil War memorial events, parading in Union Square in full uniform.

At some point after the war, the family business turned to meat and ice, two endeavors that went hand-in-hand in those days. There was an ice-house near the house on East Water, whose purpose was to both refrigerate meat and provide ice to Rockland residents. The Cushings operated a meat-wagon (lettered “Vermont Hams”), and an ice wagon; both horse-drawn, of course. They harvested the ice at Cushing’s Pond, now long gone. (What remains is Cushing’s Brook, which crosses East Water just a couple of blocks east of Cushing Corner). During the summer months, Henry Waldo Cushing (son of Henry J. and known as Waldo), sold home-made ice cream from a cart.

Having met his future bride, the lovely Julia Lane (the Lanes were another prominent Rockland family), Waldo set about to build a house for the young couple. He did so right on the Cushing property, just south of the barn, facing Howard Street. The address was 213. It is not clear exactly when construction began, but it had to be sometime in the early to mid 1880’s. (Documents dating the house to1850 are incorrect). On March 7, 1888, Waldo and Julia were married, and he carried his brand new bride across the threshold of their brand new home. A local news article from 1938 reports the Cushing’s Golden Wedding Anniversary celebration, which included an open-house reception at their 213 Howard Street residence.

Within three years, the Waldo Cushings of 213 Howard added two new residents to Rockland; sons Lester (b. 1889) and Burton (b. 1891). Lester went on to graduate from Harvard and became a professor at Lowell Technical Institute. The athletic fields at the college still bear his name.

After early years spent helping his father Waldo with the family business, Burton graduated from M.I.T. and became a teacher at East Boston High-school. He authored a text-book, “Fundamentals of Machines”, published in 1943. Burton built and lived his entire life in the house across the street, 214 Howard Street, and was a highly respected civic leader in Rockland. He was a life-long member of the Chamber of Commerce, The Kiwanis Club, and occasionally submitted op-ed views to the Rockland Standard newspaper. Not bad for a kid who started out selling ice-cream from a horse-drawn cart!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Review of the ADAM P22A 2-Way Active Studio Monitor

This review appears in the current issue of Tape-Op, a 'zine I ocassionally write for. It's a great publication geared toward the DIY musician, engineer and producer:

I love great-sounding speakers. I guess you could call me a monitor guy. Ever since I blew up the studio’s last pair of NS-10s in 1990, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect tracking and mixing monitor, one which exhibits the rare balance between musicality and accuracy. It’s not an easy thing to find, as I’m sure all you Tape-Op readers know. I am also a true-believer that an excellent pair of monitors, well-matched to the room, should be at the very top of any gear wish-list when assembling a project studio. Really, how can you get any work done if you aren’t hearing the full spectrum of sound?

My own quest started seventeen years ago, when I experienced Genelec S-30 ribbon monitors for the first time. They were the most realistic speaker I had heard up until then. I couldn’t quite get them rocking loud enough for my tastes, but they sure sounded good. At this point I realized there was no going back to the Yamahas. By ’92 I was using Meyer HD-1; the first popular self-powered console-top monitor. By ’94 it was the first generation KRKs, and then it was on to the Genelec 1031A in ’97. In 1998, I first encountered the Dynaudio BM15A, a discovery which changed my life. Never before had I heard a speaker so dynamic, so three-dimensional and detailed, so punchy, and so versatile. I’ve used it for tracking, overdubbing, mixing, you name it, without getting fatigued. The bass is deep enough even to track drums and bass. I thought I’d found the perfect studio monitor, and to this day, I love that speaker. Since then, not much else has grabbed my attention…until now.

I recently became hip to the
ADAM P22A, and wow, I am lovin’ that monitor! And I thought I hated ADAMs! All I had heard before was the ADAM S3A, which some people swear-by but which I have never been able to get a handle on. I guess they are a, “Can you handle the awful truth?” kind of speaker. And at five grand a pair? Fuggedaboudit! I’ll take my Dyns any day, thank you.

Then one day not too long ago ADAM’s Dave Bryce informed me that ADAM makes monitors in every size shape and price-range, so just because I disliked the S3A didn’t mean I should condemn all of the ADAM range. He asked me some questions about the type of speakers I like, and then suggested the P22A. I’m very glad he did. Thanks, Dave. For one thing, I'm a fan of vertically aligned two-way monitors (like a BM15A). So the P22A is a good match for a guy like me. (Even when I used the old NaSty-10s back in the day, I never laid them on their sides. Do people listening at home put their speakers on their sides?). I found the P22A to have tight yet deep bass, high SPL, fast, supple mids, and highs that are sparkly but never harsh. There are many things about the P22A I really like. First, they have a very wide and solid sweet-spot. Sometimes ribbon monitors bother me because the off-axis response gets phasey and weird, and you have to lock your head in to one tiny little mix position to get a clear image. This is not the case with the P22A at all; they have nice dispersion. Second, you CANNOT hear the crossover. It's absolutely transparent -- no odd valleys or peaks, which is a very desirable trait. Smooth from bottom to top. Even my beloved Dynaudio 15As get a little fussy at the crossover-points. Third, the speed of the folded ribbon gives the P22 really nice dynamics, detail, and three-dimensionality. This enables fine sculpting because you can really hear your EQ, compression and effects.

Fourth, they’re LOUD, rating 109db in the SPL column. You rock and hip-hop guys can get them cranking, which again is a trait not typical of classic ribbons.

Fifth, the P22A has deep bass, going down to 38hz, so you can feel the bottom octave, but it’s a tight, defined low-end, never boomy or rumbly. For many applications, this avoids the need for a subwoofer. But what I like the best is that the P22A is a very musical monitor. The silky highs, supple mids and punchy lows make it a pleasure to work on all day long. Most importantly, they translate AMAZINGLY! I usually have to mix and remix a song a couple of times to get the frequency balance right. My very first mix on the P22A was perfect. One and Done! (One song on a ten-song CD was mixed on the P22A, and I liked it so much I told the mastering engineer to use that track as the model to match all the others to). It's a rare speaker that is both musical AND accurate. Usually real "happy" speakers don't reference well, and super-accurate speakers are boring and no fun to work on. I can count the monitors that do both on one hand. The P22A is in that rare group. At half the price of the S3A, it lands at the same $2500.00/pair price-point as the Dynaudio BM15A.

Yep. I think the ADAM P22A just knocked my Dyns off the console.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sad Day

Well, our house went on the market last week. This is yet another big chunk of fallout from my firing back in February. We moved to our home here in Rockland on Feb 1, 2001, and over the next six years poured every bit of heart soul blood sweat and money in to our little scrap of the American Dream. Never did we think we'd see a "for sale" sign--one placed there due to duress--in our front yard. And this is NOT a good time to sell. It's a beautiful house, but in a buyer's market where in this town alone there are 150 houses for sale. I'm most sad over losing the baby's sweet little nursery, which I spent all winter making ready.

I look forward to the day when "He Who Shall Not Be Named" gets his come-uppance. Oh and what a come-uppance it will be!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Viva Zaragoza! Drewcifer's Cinco de Mayo Margaritas!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I’m gonna give you not one, but TWO of my secret special ‘rita recipes. Well, actually, I’ll give one of my established recipes, and then I’m going to concoct an all new “Cinco-rita” for the occasion.

1) The Silver Armadillo: This is a really simple and delicious “white” ’rita which has a refreshing, silky smooth taste. It should have very little green or yellow color, thus the name “Silver”.

Put lots of ice in a cocktail glass or jigger
Put a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice on the ice
Squeeze a little real fresh lime juice on the ice
Pinch a dash of margarita salt (aka kosher salt) on the ice
Big shot of blanco (aka silver) tequila (see suggested tequilas below)
½ shot of Triple Sec
Top off with Collins Mix (I usually use Polar)
Mix well
Wedge of lime and salt the rim to taste
Serve on the rocks or strain in to a martini-type glass for a chilled “straight-up” ‘rita.

Recommended Tequilas
Good: El Jimador Blanco
Better: Herradura Silver
Los Mejores: Espolon Blanco, Corazon Blanco, Corralejo
Blanco, Patron Silver

2) The Margarita Cinco-Cinco: I figure since its May 5 (5-5), let’s make one with five main ingredients.

Uno: Good Reposado Tequila
Dos: Presidente Mexican Brandy
Tres: Gran Gala Liquer
Quatro: Orange Juice
Cinco: Grenadine
(This is sort of a cross between a Presidente Margarita and a Tequila Sunrise)

Put lots of ice in a cocktail glass or jigger
Put a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice on the ice
Squeeze a little real fresh lime juice on the ice
Pinch a dash of margarita salt (aka kosher salt) on the ice
Big shot of Reposado
¼ Shot of Presidente Brandy
¼ Shot of Gran Gala
Top off with Orange Juice (or Polar Orange Dry)
*Dribble a little Grenadine in for color – “Montezuma’s blood” (don’t use too much because it will make the drink overly sweet)
*Mix well and pour in to appropriate glass BEFORE adding Grenadine
Garnish with a wedge or slice of orange

Recommended Tequilas
Good: Sauza Conmemorativo, El Jimador Reposado
Better: Chinaco Reposado, Cazadores Reposado, Herradura Reposado
Los Mejores: Centenario Reposado, Corralejo Reposado, Patron Reposado

Viva Zaragoza!

It's All About The Tone, Baby!