When I was about 18-years-old, I thought the Smashing Pumpkins was the best band in the whole world. Prompted by their breakup, I remember sitting across the dinner table from my dad, waving my arms about and emphatically proclaiming that there was simply no better band or music in the world — and that there never would be. My dad, considered my statement, and took a sip of his whiskey.
Staring off into infinity, he eventually turned his gaze back to me and with a nonchalant smile offered: “people like different things”. When I was young, I knew everything, and so I promptly dismissed the Miyagi-esque one-liner from someone that might or might not have been inebriated at the time.
Here I am today, listening to syncopated, electronic noise, with only vague recollections of album and song names of a long since disbanded Smashing Pumpkins. It turns out my dad was right. Well, certainly not about everything, but for whatever reason, I like something different today.
As my age has increased, my list of heroes have dwindled. No longer do I worship the musicians of bands that provided the soundtrack to my teenage angst and when Ben Collins sold out for money and fame by revealing himself as The Stig, I joined the angry Top Gear mob.
In February of this year, Paul Miller announced his decision to leave Engadget. I was — as I’m sure many were — shocked. I was definitely iterating through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, when suddenly Ross Miller also announced his departure from the Engadget team.
Why was my reaction poignant? Well you see, for the last year and a half I’ve had a four hour daily commute, with the main Engadget podcast, Engadget Mobile podcast, and Engadget Show being the staple of audio content keeping me sane. I’ve seen cars burning, spinning 360 degrees, flipped upside down and piggy backing each other. I’ve seen traffic jams that stretch to the horizon, and road construction that at times would best be considered road destruction, but the voices of these senior editors including those of managing editor Nilay Patel and Editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky held my attention.
I should’ve gotten out of my car and yelled at the absurdity of it all, ranting existentially at the top of my lungs about how I’m wasting 43.3 days of my life a year moving between two points, but no. I’ve laughed and audibly debated (with myself no less), the topics of conversation and as a geek found comfort in the voices of these strangers and now… Now they’re leaving.
I was silently holding onto hope of an Engadget podcast with cameos by Paul Miller, but today, I’m distraught. Over the course of the week, Josh and Nilay too announced their imminent departures and it feels like my favourite band breaking up all over again. With the outpour of well wishes and sadness across the internet, comes the realisation that I, as many others, will miss these everyday heroes as they carve out their next great adventures.
For me, apart from the podcasts, the entire Engadget experience has become tantamount to the quirky and off-beat writing and personality of its top writers, — especially Topolsky’s — and I wonder, will Engadget ever be the same again?
Coming full circle, if I were having a conversation with my dad today, I’d insist Topolsky, Miller and Patel were at the top of their game. Who knows, years from now I might no longer be commuting and I might be getting my comedy-tech fix from somewhere else, but I’ll never forget these gentlemen.
Ending on an up note, Joshua Topolsky will still be Editor-at-large with Engadget and still host the Engadget Show. With the mass exodus of top Engadget talent, you’ve got to be wondering if they’ll team up for a spinoff or join ex-Engadget Editor-in-chief Peter Rojas and Engadget founder Ryan Block at gdgt .
And if they don’t, and go their separate ways? Well, I’ll be keeping track of each individually and silently hoping for a reunion tour…