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Topic: Clark Johnsen.

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 04-09-2020
Clark Johnsen’s passed away yesterday.  I visited him in hospital a few months back, had a good talk about life and about end. Clark was probably the most interesting listener who visited my listening room. We had the strangest conversations sometimes at the level that very few can support. We were siting, drinking wine and I was pitching something that he disagreed. To prove my point I named a specific performance. He responded that he see my point but retorted with name of another performance.  I saw his point… and learned. I liked what I played for him something and he always understood why I was playing it. A great listener and a great loss. My condolences to his friends and family.

Posted by Paul S on 04-09-2020
Wow, I have been thinking of Clark lately, hoping he could steer clear of CoVid 19, and I mentioned to Mark just today that Clark visited me out here a couple of times, that he was very well educated, and he had some "unusual" ideas about tuning a sound system. He sure loved good Music, and I think he had the most records of anyone I ever knew, certainly the most good records. Our readers might be interested to know he wrote quite a lot about audio-ish subjects, including for Positive-Feedback.

Paul S

Posted by mats on 04-10-2020
A long time ago Clark, with utmost kindness, 
helped me understand polarity, and opened doors for 
a deeper understanding of music. And also how to be 
a respectful person in this world, without compromising. 
In his last novel, All That Is, James Salter wrote:
“The fame of the poet, when it appears, is like no other,
and this happened to Lorca. He was killed in 1936, at the 
very start of the civil war, arrested and executed by 
right wing countrymen and buried in an unmarked grave
he was made to dig for himself. His offense was everything 
he had written and stood for. The destruction of the finest
is natural, it confirms them. And for death, as Lorca said, 
there is no consolation, which is one of the beauties of life.”


Posted by Romy the Cat on 04-10-2020
Actually my interest with Bruckner in a way was very much associated with Clark. A couples years back, when I confronted him with that memory, my wife even begin to express to Clark her gratitude and she got a husband out of this deal (Amy and I met because we both live Bruckner). It was back in 1995-96 I think, just after I moved from Phila to Boston. I visited Clark for a first time, we were eating, drinking and arguing about something. Then we were somewhere in his third floor and somehow an LP of Bruckner 4 materialized in my hands. I asked Clark why I never was able to understand Bruckner. Clark responded in his estimable manner: “Because Bruckner requires a patience and you never can accumulate patience because you never shut a fuck up.” I was laughing then but I certainly took a note…

Posted by rickmcinnis on 04-10-2020
Clark demanded that I, too, concentrate on Bruckner.
At first listen I thought it was lacking in that frenzied intelligence of Mahler - too simple.  With time I see how idiotic that impression was and my listening to Mahler is almost nil where Bruckner must be listened to every week.
Clark was the only audio writer I ever wrote to - the only one who interested me with his great desire for all of us to connect the dots of perception.  All of the senses are analogous and what we learn from one sense is applicable to the others.  Learning how to use your brain ...
I was shocked when he wrote back and we continued a fractured correspondence for over a decade.  
I would write an essay and Clark, the pedantic one, would make notes within my paragraphs.  Never received a real letter from him - I think he figured the column was his long form and I was grateful for them.
I got the opportunity to visit Clark about nine years ago.  He told me I was welcome to stay at his place which I appreciated since I am a Scot and therefore cheap; thrifty is a euphemism.  I expected a guest bedroom but was directed towards the sofa in the listening room which had become more dedicated to his projection TV.  I have never been in a house quite like Clark's.  Disconcerting at first but after a few minutes one realized this is the only way Clark could live.
Clark was a man who had no desire for the bourgeois life but he never looked down on those who did   A true libertarian he asked to be left alone and in return he wanted others to do as they thought best for themselves.  We closely shared these beliefs though i must admit I could not live in quite the same circumstances!
Maybe it is common in Boston but in the mornings when Clark would come down from his bedroom he would light a burner on the gas stove and that provided the heat.  Not that it was Winter yet but it was chilly.  The one rule he gave me was no conversation in the morning, which was quite difficult since all I wanted to do was ask questions.  He would not impose this for too long and the bantering would begin.
I know I disappointed him with not wanting to drink beer.  He had some assortment ready for appraisal when I got there the first evening and I had to tell him I like beer but do not drink it since I think it aggravates my susceptibility to gout.  So I would drink my Rye whisky and he would enjoy his beers.  Not to infer that Clark drank LOTS of them.  He was a man who knew his limits.
When I first brought up coming to visit, yes, I invited myself, I asked him if he knew Romy the Cat.  He told me with a big smile on the phone, "I know them all!".  To this point I had no idea they were actually friends.  It makes me happy to know these two knew each other and were friends.  Plus I was determined to hear the great system!  In addition Clark took me to meet and hear the system of Dr. Gaw one of Clark's oldest audio friends.  Dr. Gaw had been a customer of the LISTENING STUDIO.  You just don't meet people like this often.  Dr. Gaw's system remains the most elaborate I have ever seen and heard.  From the pictures in the magazine he wrote for it looked like a big jumbled mess which it was anything but.  I had thought that video and audio were best kept in separate rooms but this was the argument against that.  He played the video of the BAND's LAST WALTZ a recording I had never been that fond of even though I think the BAND's first two records are among the best popular music ever made.  Can't remember which songs were played but the totality of the thing brought tears to my eyes.  It was emotionally overwhelming.  I think Dr. Gaw could sell tickets for the experience.  I hope he is well.
The next day we drove around the Massachusetts countryside going to Concord and Walden Pond as we slowly meandered our way to Romy's house in the country.  He had recently moved.  When Clark called Romy he was told him the system was not anywhere close to being set up.  Clark relays this to me and I say well I still want to meet him.  Romy, as you would expect, thought that was idiotic but said it was OK to bring me.
My first experience with Romy was responding to one of his posts on AUDIO ASYLUM when I was even dumber than I am now - defending my edgarhorns - I liken what Romy did to me to the last scene in O LUCKY MAN when Lindsay Anderson slaps Malcolm McDowell with the script.  All of us need someone to care enough to tell us when we are stupid.  I had also mistakenly attributed some cap recommendation to him and he thought I was trying to do something nefarious.  I wanted to meet him and let him know that was not the case.
I knew I had to be prepared for this "brutal" man as the popular lore would have it, even though Bruce Edgar said Romy was a pussycat with true affection but you never can be sure ...  He was initially perplexed in his actions towards me and I was quietly obeisant.  Then he asked if it was OK to smoke a cigar and I said without hesitation - "it is your house you should do as you wish in it".  I think it was from that point we were at ease with each other.  though the system was incomplete one could hear, even in mono, what he had accomplished.  
So one could be wondering  - am I writing an encomium to Clark or to Romy? Ever since then they have been intertwined in my mind.
Clark and I continued to correspond to the almost end.  I thought he had already died and that no one had bothered to notice.  
On the internet yesterday afternoon at six-thirty I went to enjoythemusic which I never do, cannot remember the last time I did, and see he had posted moments before that Clark had died.
I guess it was in May of last year when he told us of his trip to the hospital?  I thought he was going to outwit this thing.  He did last longer than most which I have to attribute to the friends of his who took care of him.  There was one fellow he told me who brought him dinner every evening.  I cannot remember his name.  I suspect he did not realize how long his kindness would be required!  
I was so glad but not surprised that Romy would post about this fine fellow.  I know Clark thought very highly of you, Romy.  I sincerely think he was proud to know you and grateful that such a person would be close enough to be real friends.  No matter how hard one might try there is no such thing as a long distance friendship.  Dear acquaintanceship maybe but not making it to that far more rarefied place.
Please forgive my discombobulated post.
Take care,

Posted by Romy the Cat on 04-16-2020

Posted by Romy the Cat on 04-18-2020

Posted by Paul S on 04-18-2020
Thanks, Romy. Nice to stir up his presence. Perhaps the term "Renaissance Man" is used too often; but it certainly applies in Clark's case.

Paul S

Posted by Romy the Cat on 04-30-2020
After Clark passed away I created a web site for him in order for his Boston, Music and Clark to be together for posterity. It is still a work in progress but the basics are there. During the next few weeks I will continue uploading Clark’s favorite recordings. >>I think he deserves his little place in the Web….

Posted by oxric on 05-03-2020
 Romy the Cat wrote:
After Clark passed away I created a web site for him in order for his Boston, Music and Clark to be together for posterity. It is still a work in progress but the basics are there. During the next few weeks I will continue uploading Clark’s favorite recordings. Stick out tongue>gt;I think he deserves his little place in the Web….

Hi Romy,

The memorial website, even in its initial state, looks beautifully done and perusing it, gave me a better sense of the warm and intelligent personality behind several contributions to your forum, which always has a very distinctive identity of their own.

As an aside, I think also that it shows a kind and generous side to you that does not always come across in your audio musings but I am quite sure that introduction to family life will have been in a large measure responsible for that! 

Best rgds,Rakesh

Posted by Romy the Cat on 11-15-2020
Yesterday a few folks who knew Clark had we have Clark Memorial event. Well, it is coronavirus time, so it was over Zoom. It WAS ABOUT 20 people from all around US for 2 hours shared some memories about Clark. I am sure if Clark still be with us he would the event even through he with disagree with each of us.

Photo by Mark Kahan

Posted by Romy the Cat on 11-15-2020
I just posted at Clark’s site a video of Clark leading an anti-digital demonstration at the site of Boston Tea party in 1983.

Posted by Paul S on 11-15-2020
Glad to have known Clark, and always nice to reminisce. And I will mine that Best Performances List, for sure!

Paul S

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