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Week of Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Guitar Duel

Gibson isn't the only outfit doing interesting digital stuff: Great article on Adrian Freed, UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, and Gibson's new digital MaGIC guitar ["Guitar Dreams," by Bernice Yeung, Jan. 7]. A couple of corrections:

The article said on Page 21: "This month, in part due to his own efforts, Freed's dream -- the world's first guitar with a digital connection -- arrives in stores ...."

Roland has manufactured a kit that attaches a pickup and analog-to-digital converter to a standard guitar for many years.

Furthermore, the Roland standard has a slew of Roland and third-party products that, in combination, do everything that the Gibson system claims. These products have been available for many years. Check out the Roland VG-88, for example.

Fender has a guitar with a built-in Roland 13-pin digital output that has been shipping for many years.

Line6 currently has a shipping guitar with a digital output and it's CAT5. Sound familiar?

Line6 also makes an incredible digital amp, the Vetta II, that can communicate with the guitar via CAT5.

The Gibson product may incorporate a more sophisticated technology, but it's evolutionary, not revolutionary. I can't help but wonder if Yeung bothered to cross-check any of the statements made about the Gibson system with an unbiased expert in the field. (Try any employee at Guitar Center, for starters.)

Eric Kuehnl

Bernice Yeung replies: It is true that a number of digitizing accessories and connections for guitars have existed for some time; the Gibson MaGIC is the first to have this capability built directly into the instrument (which I had hoped was clear in my story).

Though the MaGIC is but one example of the continuing evolution of guitar-related digital technology, I believe that those working in the field of computer music are revolutionizing the way we think about, create, and experience music. A guitar with a built-in digital connector, though perhaps not revolutionary in and of itself, is part of that larger effort. As Adrian Freed aptly put it, "A guitar with an Ethernet jack sounds just like a guitar without an Ethernet jack. There has to be something [else]. That's what we're working on."

We're So Glad You're Entertained, Cedric

But you really should get a life: Many letter writers have been complaining about Meredith Brody's awful food reviews. I, for one, find them quite entertaining. Her writing is so poor, it becomes funny. At home, we play a game: find the most stupid statement in the review. It is so easy, anyone can play. For instance, three weeks ago, she opens her review with:

"Certain words don't show up in my writing because they set my teeth on edge: 'veggies,' for instance, or 'winners,' as in 'Other winners were the stuffed artichokes and the baked clams casino.'"

The very next week, she writes: "There wasn't a loser among anything we chose." Isn't it hilarious? (Score 10 points.)

In her Jan. 7 review of the North Beach Greek restaurant Estia, she writes: "The design made subtle allusions to Greece ... without falling prey to Forum of the Twelve Caesars clichés." Bingo, the cliché would apply to Rome and Italian restaurants. (Score 5 points.) Keep on reading: "[W]e'd dined as well as any of those gods and goddesses fooling around up on Mount Olympus." Here is that very same cliché for you! (Score 20 points.)

See, as a food review, it has no value (shorter version: There is a restaurant, they have tables and food, some good, some not so good. I once had a boyfriend. I like my parents). But as a family game, it is priceless.

Cedric Westphal

Kudos, Attaboy, and Thanks a Mil

Ya done good, son: I was greatly moved by Ron Russell's article concerning the Diego Rivera mural at City College ["Secret Rivera," Dec. 17]. This issue has been a sore spot for many artists here in San Francisco, including myself and the other muralists of Balmy Alley.

Russell and SF Weekly should be commended for exposing the lack of interest of the powers that be at City College in righting the situation. His feature story was informative and thought provoking, and aptly raised and answered many questions, and supported once again the argument for Pan-American unity.

Further, I was intrigued when I saw that he had used Raymond Patlán as a source, since my own project (a documentary film which starts shooting soon) concerns his biography.

Ray's statement in the story illustrated the real heart of the matter: When will Chancellor Day and the rest of the City College governing board decide to move this significant work of art? Will it be another 10 or 15 years of waiting?

Thanks again. Great work on an important subject.

Hector Roberto Escarraman


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