There’s a great part in Alexander Pope’s Epistle To Dr. Arbuthnot where he sarcastically thanks the “Great”, meaning the titled aristocracy, for showering riches on the most servile and repugnantly talentless poets out there and, by making pets of them, sparing Pope the hassle of having to read their work. “May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands!” he snarls, before remarking that the aristocracy chose to ignore the genius of John Gay. To be fair, Gay was offered some preference by the “Great”, but he usually turned it down. His goal was to succeed on his own merits by appealing directly to the public, and in this goal he was eventually successful.
In a nutshell, that’s how I feel about Ronnie Schreiber. He’s one of the strongest writers in the business, a tireless researcher, a polymath with the ability to converse intelligently on any number of subjects, and a true friend. Time and again I’ve seen great opportunities pass him by and go to various congenital liars, con artists, talentless emo hacks, and fat-assed bench racers. All those dunces, whistled off my hands into cushy gigs where they rewrite press releases or make up stories about shit that never happened. Meanwhile, Ronnie perseveres. A while ago, he was the target of a slander and harassment campaign that nearly drove him out of the business and cost him a couple of lucrative outlets. Instead of crying about it, Ronnie sat down and… invented an instrument.
The electronic harmonica isn’t a new idea by a long shot. A working electronic harmonica, however, has been unicorn territory. Until now. This past week, Ronnie debuted the Harmonicaster at Nashville’s Summer NAMM Show. I was there to help out a little and hang around a lot. The music industry’s response to Ronnie’s self-financed, self-designed, self-promoted, and self-marketed invention was little short of staggering. In the space of seventy-two hours, the Nashville crowd realized what the cowards at Hemmings and elsewhere couldn’t figure out in five years — Ronnie is a brilliant, inventive, tireless man. And now he has a patent pending for a genuinely new thing. The young harmonica players love it. They’ll remember Ronnie long after everything his detractors have accomplished vanishes into dust.
Which reminds me — last week’s “Weekly Roundup” did vanish into dust, courtesy of my attempt to stay ahead of my work and travel schedule while dealing with some pretty unpleasant injuries suffered at a skatepark. I’m not quite back on the horse yet, but today’s the day to start catching up.
At TTAC, I answered a Charger question, discussed the strange science of cost-cutting tire replacement, told a pair of tales about buying my new truck, and asked the readers about the socially unequal future of autonomous car use.
Brother Bark had a blockbuster article on the dealer-related issues faced by the Focus RS. Check it out.
Stop by this upcoming week; we might have a few contributions from a couple of new writers. Until then — if you would like to be one of the first fifty owners of a Harmonicaster, let me know and I’ll get you the details.