There Is No Cat

Groovy '60s Sounds from the Land of Smile!

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

God save razor blades, splicing blocks and dirty heads

WNYC's On the Media, one of my favorite radio programs (and one I've even appeared on) brings the sad news of the death of analog audio tape. Quantegy, the last company manufacturing the stuff, has declared bankruptcy and closed their plant in Opelika, Alabama. (Every time I think of Opelika, I think of a shortwave radio station that was proposed about 20 years ago that was going to be headquartered there. It was called NDXE, which stood for "In Dixie". Clever. Sadly, the man behind the station was all hat and no cattle, as they say. But I digress....) This is sad. I still treasure my old steel splicing block, and I spent many an hour hunched over the Otaris in the production studios at school, block and blade in hand. I once produced a promo for one of my radio shows ("The John and Ralph Total Anarchy Doom and Destruction Hour, with special guest... The Fuzzy Bat") that contained over 70 edits in the space of a minute, all with analog tape and a splicing block and razor blade.

The good news is that there are some investors looking to buy the plant and restart it, so there may still be some life in the old dog yet. Still, it appears that analog recording may be on its last legs.

Posted at 11:16 PM

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Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

coincidentally, i received this from my friend scott last week:

funny article in our paper yesterday taken from the wall street journal - purist artists such as wilco are moaning because the supply for analog reel-to-reel tape is drying up. you can pay up to a $100 for a reel. and who saw this coming, has been stockpiling, won't give away his secret sources, but donated a couple reels to wilco? steve albini. dude.

Posted by shirley at 9:15 PM, February 2, 2005 [Link]

Alas, the hand that wielded the blade is not stilled..

"Which is why I, as a member of the great unwashed, come to sit on your back porch and throw peaches at passersby."

My editing block resurfaces every time I move, reminding me of a time when the creative alchemy of moments was rough-hewn, of a stronger magic and now forgotten. Oh to find a way to bridge the analog/digital chasm, extracting the selected past in accessible gigabytes of RAM large enough for who am now to meet who I thought I might be. And of you, my brother, suffice it to know that we once fought that good fight together...and lived to tell of it.

Posted by Dick Knupp at 1:10 PM, February 18, 2005 [Link]

Dick!!!! Holy crap, I haven't heard from you in almost 20 years! How the hell are you? And how on God's green earth did you find this site? :-) And why on God's green earth can you remember, after all these years, that I once committed egregious and embarrassing poetry?

"You've reached the Knupp summer home. Some 're home. Some 're not. Some 're out walking in the wind."

Posted by ralph at 9:49 PM, February 19, 2005 [Link]

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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