Tickling the Binaries
Alan Rich writes, apropos of the sound quality of early digital recordings [“Looking on the Dark Side,” July 7-13], “.?.?. there was a scientist at Caltech who ran demonstrations on the superiority of analog to digital reproduction (as long as you had $50,000 to spend on equipment), but you don’t hear from him anymore.”
He seems to be saying first that ultra-expensive gear was necessary — or regarded by the scientist as necessary — to show the superiority of that era’s analog sound over its digital; and second, that the scientist was forced by circumstances to change his tune ±— that he was wrong, in fact. The scientist was me, and anyone who knows me or my work would identify me from this reference. I was pianist in residence at Caltech for 30 years, and also lecturer in music in electrical engineering and founder/director of the Caltech Music Lab.
Mr. Rich attended a demo I gave 20 years ago. The equipment didn’t cost one-tenth of the figure he cites — probably not one-twentieth. I never had to change my tune because I never said anything incorrect about digital sound. I never said, for instance, that it could not be good enough, only that it was not yet good enough. Everyone now agrees that the digital of that era was lousy.
As for “you don’t hear from him anymore,” my writings are right there on my Web site, www.performancerecordings.com. I’ve appeared in dozens of concerts at Caltech, LACMA and elsewhere.
About 20 years ago my sister had a conversation with the late violinist Nathan Milstein about Los Angeles, who said L.A. was hopelessly provincial. I thought it rude and dismissive, but reading Steven Mikulan’s review [“Tête Offensive,” June 30–July 6] proves Milstein accurate. Like the CTC producing The Black Rider a decade after I picked up the remaindered CD album, Mikulan proves we Angelenos are hopelessly provincial.
Mikulan would do better to trumpet the tremendous performances in this revival of La Bête and spare us the critical theory. If local critics can centralize attention behind our local talent and create a nexus, L.A. might emerge as a great incubator of theater rather than a ragpicker of greatest hits.
I’m on my fifth day of a 30-day detox (with a much more restrictive diet) and it’s been incredibly tough already .?.?. I feel like I’ve been on a bad acid trip! Steffie Nelson’s article [“Toxin Avenger,” June 30–July 6] inspired me to stay on track and I’m now more determined than ever not to cheat with a small cup of coffee (with cream!) like I did this morning. I just want to thank her for inspiring me to, ahem, come out the other end of this successfully! What perfect timing to read her story.
Proposition 187 was in no way anti-immigrant, as David Zahniser claims [“Unequal Division of Labor,” June 9-15]. It was anti-illegal alien, a big difference. Immigrants come to adopt the host country’s culture, language and traditions. Illegal migrant work is more like robbing Wells Fargo: the workers ride into town, take the money, and ride out of town. It remains to be seen whether these robbers will be curbed by proposals like gamma radiation at the border or the constitutional amendment to forever ban voting by those who came illegally or were given amnesty. But equating them with immigrants is a fraud.
Repeating the mistake of 20 years ago with any accommodation to criminals certainly makes no sense. What’s needed is a combination of making criminals’ lives very difficult, and confiscating every penny (as all was earned illegally), while at the same time confiscating the assets of those who employ illegals. Criminals will be pressured to deport themselves on their own dime. The few left can be deported at taxpayer expense. Not enforcement first, enforcement period.
Due to an editing mishap, last week’s theater review of Adam Rapp’s Nocturne inaccurately stated that the director, Rob DeRosa, had “split Rapp’s one-act into two.” In fact, the director staged the original full-length version rather than a one-act version, which was presented locally in 2004.