The Great High-Stool Debate

I am sitting in a chair - mock-jock Howard Stern would call it a "stool" - in the rear of a new home theater. The chair is made of sturdy wood (perfect for Stern show lap dances), is cushioned in fine leather, and boasts Mediterranean-style carvings that would be a natural in my parents' living room. It does not swivel.

This Emperor's chair - flush against a granite counter - is one of a set of triplets that ultimately led to the Howard Stern Show smackdown between Howard and the chairs' owner, Howard's long-suffering producer (and S&V "Gadget Gary" columnist), Gary Dell'Abate. The fracas was ignited when Howard first spied shots of Gary's completed basement cinema.

"You put in a home theater, and you put in stools?" Howard bellowed on his Sirius XM satellite-radio show back in January. Gary shot back that they gave guests a place to eat and drink. "Wow," Howard replied, "that's a f---ed-up experience. Who chooses to sit on stools in a movie theater?" Within the hour, the rest of the Stern crew would ultimately take Howard's side in the Great High-Stool Debate. And on the next show, the embers were reignited. Despite pro-Gary support from listeners and a pro-stool statement from S&V Editor-In-Chief Mike Mettler, the Sternies again tore into Gary's chairs.

But no matter. The home theater - stools and all - were part of the dream Gary had when building his Connecticut A/V castle (see "The Real King of All Media," May 2007). And his vision is finally a reality. So Gary threw a party to celebrate.

What's the correct description for an event where a guy invites his guy friends over for an evening of home theater content sampling? A Tupperware party for dudes? "I would say it's more like a book club," Gary answers. "But instead of discussing the book, we're discussing the equipment."

Yep. Gary Dell'Abate actually has friends with enough techtosterone to fill his 11-seat (including those three stools) home theater for the purpose of sampling a selection of visual and aural fare, piped in by way of a variety of gear. "It's just an excuse to get together," Gary says. "Listen, I could fill that room with people who would be bored shitless, who would think we're geeks, talking about how crisp the picture is and how good the sound is. But for guys into the tech aspect, it's fun to be there. You just watch stuff and see what you like."

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