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The HoHoCon 1993 Experience by Count Zero. All e


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...presents... The HoHoCon 1993 Experience
by Count Zero

>>> a cDc publication.......1994 <<<
-cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-
____ _ ____ _ ____ _ ____ _ ____
|____digital_media____digital_culture____digital_media____digital_culture____|

This was HoHoCon 1993... Austin, Texas.

All experiences are relative.

With a sigh of fatigued steel touching down on the tarmac, I was jarred
into semi-consciousness. A tourist from Japan seated next to me immediately
passed gas and smiled bemusedly, mumbling something incomprehensible. I
decided against the quick escape of the Emergency Exit and blinked away tears
of joy and olfactory irritation... my destination beckoned me. Snatching my
baggage and fleeing the pursuing odor, I arrived in Austin in the best of
spirits.

They grow 'em big in Texas... as I saw the 20 feet tall inflatable Oki 900
cellular phone anchored on the lawn of the GTE Mobile office, I knew this to be
true. "Life is made up of moments, and this is one of them," I said to the
driver of the airport shuttle van. He agreed, and we sat silently in awe.

Hotels are mini-ecosystems, quietly humming with the caretakers of
travelling human spirits. The Hilton reminded me of an elegant pueblo, draped
with pottery and sandstone artifacts. "Smoking or non-smoking?" asked the
receptionist at the front desk.

"Smoking," I replied. "Definitely." In my room, I sparked a Camel
cigarette into life between my teeth.

The Deth Vegetable met us in the hotel restaurant, bearing gifts. A
silver cow's skull was pressed into my hand. Pinning it onto my lapel, I felt
accepted without question. The Spirit of the Dead Cow burned in the metal with
a bright, hard light. Upon realizing that the waitress had only charged me for
a fraction of the many screwdrivers I had consumed, I felt a moment of
confusion. "It's the Cow," Swamp Ratte' muttered as he stared beneath his
low-brimmed cDc cap. With alcohol-numbed fingertips I fingered the metal talisman on my jacket.

"Yeah...." Somewhere, a dishwasher dropped a tray of wine glasses.

More HoHoCon guests arrived, milling around the lobby like cattle on the
open plains. Nearby on a table was a pottery bowl full of stalks of wild grain
and strange softball-sized spheres of paper-mache. Without a word, one of the
hackers plucked a sphere from the setting and placed it into his backpack.
"Perhaps he has a genuine need for it," I thought, "but *what*?" After an hour
of pondering this, I decided I needed a drink.

Somewhere beneath the mound of salsa, cheese, sour cream, and bean dip
lurked my nachos. I knew they must be in there somewhere, obscured by the
landslide of Mexican toppings. Louis Cypher and I alternated between chain
smoking and tugging frantically at the chips. While struggling with a
particularly testy slab of melted cheddar, we discussed our plans for the first
night. "6th Street" I offered. "Plenty of clubs and music to sooth our
souls." Giving up on my nacho excavation, I focused my frustration on my
drink. It wielded without a whimper.

Swamp Ratte' steered his truck to the side of the road. "Damn it, we lost
Hoss's truck" cursed Deth Veggie in the front passenger's seat. "Now we'll
never find 6th Street." Without our escort, we were hopelessly lost in a stray
suburb of Austin.

"Check my map," Swamp Ratte' said. We did. It worked flawlessly. Within
minutes, we found 6th Street.

"Cool..." said Deth Veggie, "but I can't seem to fold this map back up."

"You never can. Some things are like that," intoned Swamp Ratte'.

Exploring 6th Street, we found ourselves walking among a large field of
automobile dealerships and antique shops. "This looks wrong," I remarked.
"Let's call base for guidance." Pulling my handheld cell phone from my
sportsjacket, I contacted the Hilton front desk and asked for directions to the
"hot spots" of 6th Street. Within minutes, we were back in the car and in the
thick of things.

"You're a gadget freak," Kingpin told me.

"Be quiet, and give me back my laser pointer," I countered. It returned
to my sportscoat pocket, nestled comfortably with other smooth, black-matte-
finished electronic devices of questionable purpose. I'm Batman.

Emo's was a young crowd of funk and grunge. A Lethal Enforcers game
eagerly swallowed my handful of quarters as easily as I swallowed my lukewarm
Rolling Rock. Alcohol and violence mix well. Like vodka and orange juice.
Wandering, I randomly slapped HoHoCon '93 stickers on every available surface I
could find. "Like the numerous young of the great sea turtle, only a few of
these shall survive to maturity," I thought. Natural selection is everywhere.
Darwin rules.

"Good place to park," I thought as Swamp Ratte' pulled his truck into a
space under a tree. Stepping out of the black Chevy Blazer, we noticed a
brooding flock of hundreds of birds chattering immediately above us in the
branches. Their spotty droppings covered the heavy steel fence in front of us,
making the scene in a bizarre pointalistic flair. "Uh, maybe this is a
disaster waiting to happen," someone suggested. Swamp Ratte' moved the truck
to an un-defecated zone. We praised him for his foresight.

"Any club that is named after the universal symbol of resistance has got
to be cool," I told Kingpin.

"I just want to meet girlies, yo," he replied. We entered Ohm's and
grooved to retro-techno 'til our eyes itched with white noise.

"This town is great... I could live here," said Deth Veggie.

"At this moment, we do," I grinned, sucking down a gritty Kamakazi.
Videos on the wall flashed silently, superimposed over dancing silhouettes.

"You dance very '80s," Veggie told me.

"Art fags must die," I grunted.

In the depths of an overstuffed couch, Swamp Ratte' stared at a sparkling
disco ball. White Knight appeared, enhanced by various narcotics. "I can't
stop dancing into that damn pole," he commented. As quickly as he had
appeared, he vanished into the belchings of a fog machine. A payphone suddenly
rang, but no one answered. Life doesn't accept incoming calls.

Saturday, the conference proper began. Tedious hours passed in a crowded
conference room. "You are all part of the cyberspace landscape," said Bruce
Sterling.

"Then I am a shrub," I countered. Sterling preached against the ills and
evils of viruses. "Sounds like the bitter rants of a man who recently lost his
FAT table to Stoned," I spoke up. Other speakers came and went. Bryan
O'Blivion (the lawyer) spoke eloquently of the hacker spirit. Captain Crunch
spoke of the benefits of PGP and raves. Try as I could, I could not imagine
Crunch raving or trading disks with PGP keys in so-called "chill rooms." "I
got an idea... how about using blotter as disk labels? Lick my disk and get my
PGP key as well?" I asked Kingpin. He simply grinned, licking his gold tooth
suggestively.

Eventually, Kingpin and I collected ourselves. I donned my shades and
carefully arranged the Cow Talisman in the center of my suit. We moved to the
speaker table and practiced our gang hand signals to Drunkfux. I spoke about
the L0pht and packet radio. Other speakers distributed handouts like confetti.
The crowds boiled around the table grasping frantically, reminding me of
mornings on my grandfather's boat... as we chummed for sharks in the dark
waters.

"Information not only wants to be free, it wants to be consumed," I
pondered. LoD members in spiffy matching shirts described their laudable
project to archive the t-files and message threads of years long past. Items
of semi-worth were raffled off, and most people went away happy. Small
acoustic couplers in vinyl pouches still smelling of free monomers finally
found homes after years of neglect. Throughout it all, Torquinada filmed the
event for her video project... like an unblinking eye it captured all without
bias. Video is cool. "The cathode ray tube is the retina of the mind's eye."
I wish I had said that.

Kingpin and I presented a packet radio demo after the formal speaking
broke up. A third person brought his own packet station, and soon we were
burning up the out-of-band airwaves on 2-meters with 3-way network traffic.
The demo was stopped when we were informed the police were coming to
investigate the theft of a telephone handset on a nearby table. Packet
equipment was quickly squirreled away, and we fled. Law enforcement officials
dusted the area for prints, but found only cigarette butts and the faint echoes
of radio traffic in the ether. File this one under "Elusive."

Back in the Suite of the El1te, I grooved to a CD titled "Sedated in the
Eighties" that Deth Veggie had offered. "Election Day" by Arcadia mesmerized
me. I wandered the pool area with Diskman in hand and eXtended bass pulsing in
my ears. A bubbling hot-tub beckoned to me. Touching the waters, Deth Veggie
found it was ice cold. "Freaky," I mumbled. The Cow Talisman suddenly felt
as hot as liquid steel.

Sunday arrived, and at the last minute I rescheduled my flight for Monday
afternoon. "I don't feel ready to leave," I told my companions as they left on
a flight back to Boston. Drunkfux swiped my cellular phone as I napped out by
the pool where Erik Bloodaxe was being interviewed by Torquie. I didn't have
to watch... it would all be recorded to video for later viewing. "The ability
to fastforward any experience... that is my dream," I thought as I woke up,
frantically patting myself down for the missing equipment. Later, a group of
us went to the local mall for exploration, finding the usual wasteland of
pastel and suburban clans. A later trip to Wal-Mart proved more inspiring.

That night, we vegetated in the hotel bar, where I unsuccessfully tried to
seize control of the remote TV with my universal remote control watch. "No, it
really works," I told Crimson Death.

"Yeah right, now give me that laser pointer." He proceeded to frighten
our waitress with coherent light.

"Try these cigs, they're French... they're harsh," said Rambone.

"I believe you," I replied, eyes watering after sniffing the foil package.
Torquie polished off more margueritas than I could count. "Hollywood has left
its hedonistic mark on her," I thought. Back in a room, I noticed that Crimson
Death had hacked the pay TV box into giving them free access to the soft porn
channel. "Interesting technique," I said, brushing away the tiny pieces of
broken plastic under the forcibly-opened case. When in doubt, use more muscle.
A neverending melange of porn played on their television. Porn wants to be
free. And so it was.

The last night, we went back to Emo's. It was strangely quiet and
abandoned. "Probably because it's 1 A.M. on a Sunday night," said Drunkfux.
We drank heartily and fed quarters into the jukebox. Crimson Death keyed up
several Sinatra tunes. The final song played was one of my requests... the
theme to the "Space Madness" episode of Ren and Stimpy. I felt blessed.
Blessed by the Cow.

Back in Crimson Death and Rambone's room, we talked and laughed. Byron's
tattoos still impressed me. Torquie eventually fled with Drunkfux, escaping
the steamy porn channel. "Human nature isn't always pretty, but it's always
fascinating," I thought as I watched the action on the tube. Byron and I
discussed a particularly nasty GIF he had uploaded to my BBS months ago. We
succeeded in nauseating ourselves, and eventually went to sleep.

Final day... woke late. Torquie lost her battery charger. We heard
stories from the hotel staff of smoke bombs, a compromised UNIX-based hotel
management system, and bootleg phone extensions run through the hallways with
reckless abandon... the usual. I couldn't find my friends as I caught the
shuttle bus to the airport. Disheartened, I rode alone to catch my plane.
Later, at 30,000 feet, I thought about the con. Life is good. I enjoyed
myself more than I usually do. Maybe it is the fleeting nature of such
meetings that make them so significant to me. We never get to speak with
everyone we want. Several attenders had disappeared before I could say goodbye
(including Swamp Ratte'), but I still felt satisfied.

My plane was de-iced in Pittsburgh. A prehistoric-looking crane spewed
clouds of frothing liquid on the fuselage. Bizarre. Looking down, I saw that
I was still wearing the Cow Talisman. I closed my eyes and slept.

Now, finishing this piece in the L0pht, I can relax to music and watch
mesmerizing fractal patterns on one of my monitors. I think of a con years
past, where Crimson Death and I were talking with Bruce Sterling standing next
to a payphone. "I don't need to hack... I have money... I can make that
payphone do anything I want without hacking," said Bruce. "Yeah Bruce,"
replied Crimson Death, "but can you make it dance?" I laughed and accidentally
extinguished my cigarette in Bruce's unfinished beer. Hackers make machines
dance. Beautiful.
_______ __________________________________________________________________
/ _ _ \|Demon Roach Undrgrnd.806/794-4362|Kingdom of Shit.....806/794-1842|
((___)) |Cool Beans!..........415/648-PUNK|Polka AE {PW:KILL}..806/794-4362|
[ x x ] |Metalland Southwest..713/579-2276|ATDT East...........617/350-STIF|
\ / |The Works............617/861-8976|Ripco ][............312/528-5020|
(' ') | Save yourself! Go outside! DO SOMETHING! |
(U) |==================================================================|
.ooM |Copyright © 1994 cDc communications and Count Zero. |
\_______/|All Rights Reserved. 05/01/1994-#259|
 
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