Wednesday, April 30. 2014
I've been corresponding recently with Scott Woods, the proprietor of the excellent Rockcritics.com website, and one fruit of that was that he asked me to do an interview (link here). The site has been rather spotty on reviews recently, but back around 2000-02 they interviewed a lot of people, a veritable Who's Who of Rock Crit, and I'm pleased to add my name to that list. I'm reminded now of one bit that I didn't include in the interview. One of the most important books that I ever read, back before I went to college, was John A. Garraty's marvelous Interpreting American History: Conversations With Historians (1970, Macmillan; I have the two-volume paperback edition, but recall a single-volume hardcover). Garraty interviewed several dozen eminent historians, and nearly every single one managed to distill more insight into American history than they did in their many books. Or so I thought, as so much of what I know about American history came from those interviews. Likewise, you can learn a whole lot about popular music perusing through the many Rockcritics.com interviews.
Scott kicked this off by sending me a list of twenty-some rather open-ended questions. I tried to answer them as Einstein advised -- as simply as possible but no simpler than necessary -- and I wound up having to expand on a couple. Scott them formatted the text, added some links, and dug up some illustrations. (The Martin Esslin book cover and Roswell Rudd CD cover are more recent editions than the ones I started with. The S-100 board is the right idea, but note that it's just the CPU board (with a Z-80 processor, two support chips I can't quite make out, an EEPROM (probably 4K), and some TTL for interfacing to the bus (50 lines on the bottom, plus 50 on the other side). The RAM was on a second board -- I had 64K of SRAM that could run at 4MHz with no wait states, and the box (an Ithaca Intersystems DPS-1) housed two more S-100 cards (with a lot of expansion room), one for the floppy disc controller and the other for serial I/O. (A second box, which it sat on top of, housed two 8-inch floppy disc drives. I still have both, but none of the next three or four computers I owned. The second oldest I still have is a 1998-vintage Pentium III, still in use.)
Quite a bit about the Robert Christgau website here, including a framed quote from Christgau's own Rockcritics.com interview. Probably could have used more on music, but you can always explore my website for that. Or, after you've read the interview, you can ask me more questions and I'll try to answer the most interesting ones in a future post here. (Use the "contact" link on the left, or try the blog's awkward and mostly ignored comments feature.)
By the way, for reasons that can be drawn out of the interview, I still think of myself as a Rock Critic (and not as a music or jazz critic), even if I write mostly about jazz. Partly that's due to the way I hear the music, and partly that's my sense of how to write.
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