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New York confessions | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

New York confessions

Picture this: a crowded reception at the American Folk Art Museum on West 53rd street in New York City.  I am at an annual celebration and, so you get an idea of the atmosphere: close your eyes and name 3 New York investment institutions.  They’re here.

I’m not very good in crowds, but having attended this event last year, I know a few people.  Happily, this is a friendly gathering.  Not only that, there’s a tremendous amount of excitement about my project; the folks here are almost as keen as I am about this whole thing.

I’m sailing through this trip like a dream.  On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet the elusive and busy Joel Kaplan.  One of the top ten scores of the year.  I wanted to meet him because I need someone to talk about the rise and fall of APL in New York in the 80’s.  Joel was right in there.  So, of course, my game is to figure out what kind of film presence he is going to have. What luck!  The guy is a natural.  Confident, funny and expressive.  This is going to be a riot!  I have found the perfect representative, 100%.  And now I can say I know Joel Kaplan. Ha!

Thank you Bubba, for the introduction!

So, here I am, at this fantastic party and I’m doing my best, but still struggling to feel comfortable.  I see Joel, a bit away from the crowd talking with two really smart looking young women. Women! Apart from the crowd!  I want to be over there!

True to my Canadian heritage, I make my way over to Joel and company:  excuse me, I’m sorry, excuse me, please, excuse me, I’m sorry… hi.

Scanning their name tags, all I can read at first is Harvard.  Ok.  That’s not so strange, we’ve infiltrated Harvard before. I explain my mission in code, I’m working on a documentary about this technology.

Joel said, she knows about APL; which should have tipped me off.  But, alas, it didn’t.  The conversation still a bit awkward, I’m trying to decipher through the noise, what  this 20-something woman is asking me, while at the same time wondering how on earth she knows so much about the array language community.

Finally, I reach over and remove the blond curl from her name tag.  It’s Natasha Whitney.  Natasha Whitney! Oh! Oh!

Well.  Then.  I apologize and start again.

Your grandfather, I tell Natasha, introduced my father to Ken Iverson in the 1960’s.  Wow.

Of course I mention the J meeting I attended the night before.  Natasha is curious about how J was started.  And that’s a legendary story which involves her father, Arthur Whitney, so I ask Joel to tell his version. Everyone has a version of this legend, and I’m collecting them.

Then we walk into the crowd to hear her mother, Janet Lustgarten, give the keynote speech for the night; and I say, You know, your mother has the best how-was-J -invented story I’ve heard yet – and you should ask her about it, because, you are in it.

Congratulations Kx for another fine year, and thank you for including me in your celebration.



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