My father's family came from the Ukraine. Our Russian name was Kahane. Coming to America, my grandparents and their relatives passed through Ellis Island at different times, the net effect being that none of them were given the same last name. Some Kahanes were to become Cohens, others Kohn; some became Kahan, still others King. My grandparents became Cohens. My father and his brother were born Herbert and William Cohen, respectively. I was born Jules Leslie Cohen. Jules! What kind of name was that? For years, I imagined that my parents envisioned me as some sort of Jewish-French actor/intellectual. Why else would they have subjected me to such ridicule in the schoolyards, ballfields and streets of my youth's tough Brooklyn neighborhoods? It wasn't until much later that I entertained the thought that they might just have been sadistic.

Twenty years later, I had a largely but not completely unhappy affair with an older woman of the world who promptly informed me that mon jules was Parisian slang for my lover; and that Je vais chez mon jules was used to express -- typically -- a married woman's intention to see her gigolo. What a sensational revelation! When my wife and I met, she told me that I looked like a French revolutionary/intellectual. What, not an actor? Zut alors. Close enough though. I married her, realizing it unlikely to find another woman of such insight. I began to think of myself as French. (This was trendy at the time, and in any case preceded by many years of U.S. forays into Iraq. And so, my assumed identity posed no threat to either my health or security.) My favorite films were And God Created Women and Jules and Jim. It was only a matter of time before I would be forced to go Woody Allen and sort out these issues in therapy. In time, I was to learn that my parents' intentions in naming me "Jules" were neither mysterious, grandiose nor sadistic. Apparently, my conception was precipitated by an evening my parents spent at a local movie theater, watching what was then euphemistically referred to as "French films".

I don't know whether in naming me, they were expressing gratitude towards the male lead or suggesting a career option. I am quite sure that they did not see me as a budding intellectual, French or otherwise. They certainly never envisioned me as a revolutionary. We were working-class poor. Very likely, they saw me as either the family accountant or a Rabbi. In either case, someone powerful - close to both God and money, if not necessarily in that order. My father was a terrific athlete and an avid reader; his brother was a rogue and a gambler. My father quit high school to pay off his brother's debts. His debts paid off, my uncle managed to accumulate more. My father tried his hand as a minor league baseball player; he was a catcher in the Dodgers' organization. His career came to a close with the Second World War and marriage.

My father became chronically ill with a slow-growing cancer; my uncle became a successful businessman. My father went to work for his brother in an organization that had strict anti-nepotism rules. To skirt those rules, both my father and his brother changed their last names without telling one another. This level of communication typified their relationship. My father became Herb Coleman; his brother William Cole. It was as close to family as they would ever be.

We were not a particularly musical family. More of a comedic crowd. My father's uncle was Henny Youngman, the comedian best known for his one-liners, including the classic, "Take my wife, PLEASE." We did listen to records on Sunday mornings: some Belle Barthe, a little Nicolo Paone, 'Tony the Ice-Man' and Show Music. Lots of Show Music. Carousel and Oklahoma were our idea of Classical music. We were not a particularly cultured household. Needless to say, we did have a special place on our turntable for Jewish composers (and comedians). We listened to Leonard Bernstein - often. Eventually, our playlist expanded to include Robert Zimmerman and Marc Bolan: both Simon and Garfunkel - the Jewish Everly Brothers. During the Civil Rights movement, I tried to convince my parents that B.B, Freddie and Albert King were Jews and related to us; that they too were Russian Kahanes. They weren't buying it. Thank God for Michael Bloomfield - otherwise I might never have been introduced to the Blues.

The Blues is perfect for Jews: all the misery and misfortune wrapped in a repeating twelve (sometimes eight, sixteen and very rarely twenty four) bar structure. Like life. Well, I never became an accountant or a Rabbi. Soon after my Bar Mitzvah, I converted to atheism. This atheism was a natural outgrowth of my naturalistic and scientistic impulses to comprehend the world through Will & Reason alone. Will and Reason were less helpful in enabling me to grasp the power, majesty and mystery of a quasi religious upbringing. Inevitably and, in retrospect inexorably, I was drawn to philosophy: Analytic philosophy. I had little time or patience, then or now, for Eastern philosophies. I have even less patience now for Postmodernist 'thought'. At college, I studied philosophy and economics. I secured a Ph.D from Rockefeller University (a school otherwise dominated by the Sciences), wrote a dissertation on justice, fault and personal responsibility, and studied law at Yale. I could leave the 'Temple' but not its organizing ideas: Rules, reasons and authority. Can't live under them; can't live without them. During my radical days, I professed to be an anarchist as well as atheist. I used to dress in leather and wear a button that ordered to "Question Authority". That was before I had children. Once I had children, I wore a button on my suits that said "Because I said so!" I soon realized that most of my writings were unconscious efforts to explain and defend authority.

In real life, I am a Professor in both the Law School and the Philosophy Department at Yale University. I have a fancy title: Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy. Whatever their modest ambitions for me were at the outset, my parents would have been proud. My mother died too young, but my father lived long enough to see me awarded the Distinguished Alumni award from Brooklyn College in 1988. That award and presenting the Clarendon Lectures in Law at Oxford are the proudest moments in my academic life; all the more so because I was able to share both with my family. I write books and articles that very few people outside the academy read. Not that many inside the academy read them either. The titles say a lot about what interests me as a legal and political theorist: "Risks and Wrongs"; "The Practice of Principle"; and my personal favorite, "Mischief and Misfortune".

My brother Reed is a writer as well. He writes detective novels. In a way, we are both obsessed with life's fundamental mysteries. The difference? His protagonists normally solve the mysteries they confront, whereas I content myself with clarifying what the source of the mystery is and pointing in the direction in which a solution might lie. Of course, I am too close to my brother to have any judgment about just how good a writer he is, so I asked one of my best friends, the poet John Koethe with whom I used to teach. I said, "John, tell me, how good is my brother as a writer?" He replied, "Jules, I don't know, but he has one hell of a way with sex scenes." No one ever said anything like that about my books. No wonder he sells more than I do.
I write the occasional essay on popular music as well as serious stuff. I am also a special advisor to the President of NYU on academic planning issues. I have a wonderful family, a wife of 32 years who gave up a fabulous art and modeling career to pursue a life of insecurity with me. She insists, however, on referring to me as the 'incumbent' and not just during the political season. We have a home in Connecticut. Our three children live in NYC; two are in college, one is a recent graduate and a musician. All remain on the family payroll. I have an apartment in the Village to be near the kids and my 'second' job.

As a kid, I sang a little doo-wop and toyed with the guitar. I loved the more obscure doo-wop songs and groups: Sonny and the Sunglows' "Talk to me"; the Impalas' "I ran all the way home (just to say I'm sorry)". I had been taught that there was a correlation between musical talent and mathematical competence. We were poor. I couldn't afford a proper guitar, so I joined the high school math team. Couldn't actually sing then. Still can't. Don't sing anymore, but still play lots of guitar - mostly blues. I am an avid if not an accomplished guitarist. I take lessons. I'm a teacher by profession, so I take lessons to learn. Playing does not come naturally to me, though complaining does. That's halfway to the blues. My son, Jeremy, is a talented musician, however. When we play together, I vacillate between embarrassment and joy. I have a fine selection of electric guitars. My childhood friend is Matt Umanov of Matt Umanov Guitars [left]. He and Zeke help me pick guitars. Actually Zeke does; Matt mostly complains about having to sell to me at a discount. My current favorite is a 1972 Tele Thinline. It's light, bluesy, warmer than most Teles, yet still has some bite in the treble. Like most Teles, it is largely unforgiving: Great attack and leading edge, quick decay but more harmonic structure than your typical Tele.

I got into high end almost 30 years ago when we lived in Wisconsin. At Koss, I had a friend in R&D. We got our hands on some fancy stuff on a regular basis. I loved it. It's been that way ever since. My first serious rig consisted of Magneplanar Tympani speakers, Dynakit amp and preamp, and a Connoisseur Turntable with a Formula 4 arm tracking a Decca Plum cartridge. Not so much high resolution as a big wet kiss. I amassed a large record collection that followed me from job to job. Every move precipitated a change in system. When we left Wisconsin for Berkeley/California, we went from a large house to a shoe box. Out went the Tympanis; in came Rogers LS3/5A and JR149s. So it went. In time, my colleagues at various Universities began seeking my advice about purchasing equipment.

I devoured information, loved listening, tried my hand at building equipment, and generally obsessed. I still obsess a lot and worry about that from time to time. I don't obsess about it - at least not yet.

Most of my friends outside academia are either athletes or musicians, sometimes both. Audiophilia overcame me completely when I took my current position and moved to Connecticut. We bought a house and added a large family room and master bedroom above it. Completely without planning, we built and furnished a room that, save for a few oddities, turned out to be perfect for listening to audio equipment. Almost everything brought in to try in that room sounded as good as it could. We got much better sound in the Coleman family room than we've heard in any room at the local high end emporium. We also had more fun than they did.

Needless to say, this spawned massive purchases, long listening sessions with friends and a major obsession with gear. I was already hooked on the music, Now I could really begin to appreciate ever more fully music playback. I couldn't keep anything for too long. Once AudioMart and then AudiogoN came into existence, I was lost to this world. I helped everyone I knew buy equipment and learn how to listen. I even became something of a snob. I wasn't an academic snob at all. I thus needed something to be a snob about and audio was it. That, plus the fact that nothing stayed in my house longer than six months meant that it was inevitable that I would someday become a reviewer.