Believe What You Read

In last year's April Final Mix, I wrote about the invention of the omnidirectional shotgun microphone. Inexplicably, I received a number of communications

In last year's April “Final Mix,” I wrote about the invention of the omnidirectional shotgun microphone. Inexplicably, I received a number of communications from people who had somehow gotten the impression that I made the whole thing up — that it was a hoax or a joke.

But the omnidirectional shotgun microphone is not a hoax. It exists, pretty much just as I described it. (Remember that, at the time, I had not actually laid ears on it.) No, really, it does exist. No kidding.

Jeez, you're hard to convince.

I talked in my column about how I became aware of the omnidirectional shotgun mic at an audio-industry schmooze event in San Francisco. Now San Francisco is well-known as a place where things occur that some people consider to be beyond the limits of credibility. Take, for example, the Golden Gate Bridge. The plan for the bridge was dismissed as a practical impossibility from an architectural standpoint. Even today there are some who hold that opinion. Yet, it's there, and it's orange.

Golden Gate Park, too, was considered an absurd proposal, and the location (largely sand dunes at the time) was rejected as not viable by no less than the famed designer of New York's Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. But several years later, with the park in bloom and growing, Olmsted wrote park designer and original superintendent William Hammond Hall, admitting that he was wrong and congratulating Hall for his achievement.

When considering how the seemingly impossible can happen in San Francisco, let's not forget that the famed Trips Festival in the 1960s was a profit-making, nonunion event held in the Longshoreman's Hall — the very bastion of American unionism.

Still not convinced? How about the fact that a bunch of not particularly pretty San Francisco musicians who played endless, formless, meandering songs, frequently with out-of-tune vocals and out-of-mind substance-enhancement, lasted for 30 years in the rock 'n' roll business, during which time they were consistently one of the nation's largest live-performance draws whenever they were on the road — which was most of the time. Some Grateful Dead-deniers now claim that they never really existed; all you need to do is look around at all the tie-dye in American society today to know that, in some fashion, they did exist.

So you see, San Francisco has a long history of the unlikely, impossible, and bizarre coming to pass. I'm sure that, by now, you can understand how aggrieved I was to receive missives accusing me of using my bull-dinghy pulpit to foment untruths. I am not pleased at this accusation, which casts aspersions not only at my veracity but on that of Electronic Musician. No, I am very angry about these unjustified attacks and so is my little dog, Fala.

The part that frustrates me most is that, as far as I know, the patent for the omnidirectional shotgun has not yet been filed, so I am not at liberty to disclose the hard details that would prove my statements and indicate vindication. But it really does exist, and it works almost exactly as I described it. I saw and held an omnidirectional shotgun microphone in January at the 2003 Winter NAMM show.

Admittedly, I had to change the names to protect the unpatented. And to make sure that the inventor wasn't recognized, I admit that I filled out the biographical information on Norman Hardiheering (not his real name) a bit. So, okay, I stretched a few facts, but everything else I said is true.

Oh, don't be so picayune! Fine, I admit it, there was one other thing in the story that wasn't quite true: the omnidirectional shotgun microphone was invented in New Jersey, not San Francisco. And that's the truth. Believe it. You can ask Scott Wilkinson — if you can figure out what his real name is.