How was South by Southwest 2002? Noticeably smaller. So I had a great chance to actually talk to some folks I've just been seeing or hearing about for years. Quite nice! More intimate.|
[I presented at a panel on Japanese mobile phone culture; the photos and notes are online.]
I saw Rebecca with her gothic coloring and long lace-up boots being thoroughly investigated, her toiletries pawed at the Denver airport. Sympathetic moment; subcultural people are suspect these days.
John Halcyon Styn has had a web site called "Cocky Bastard," he wears his hair uniformly large, he dresses in loud fuzz. After developing himself as a physical embodiment of any animal spirit the Internet might have, he's found his calling promoting global good feelings. My time alive disinclines me to be dismissive of him, because of his boundless good-natured enthusiasm; most people don't bother to talk about global sexual vibes.
Miss M - Marie is a certain sort of priestess.
This may have been the year of Cory Doctorow. A science fiction writer who co-runs the popular weblog BoingBoing, he's developing a reputation for good technology metaphors. He was in the spotlight here as his work in peer to peer was a hot enough topic, he helped dozens of people get online with wireless hubs at the convention center, and he threw an EFF party as a new member of that organization.
Of course one of the reasons he is successful is that he left the parties uniformly early, to return home. Because he lives on east coast time, so he can answer his email and work early in the morning. He wakes up early and writes - this is truth in this profession. Discipline.
Travelling through town with Mark Meadows is a decidedly different experience from most of the conference. A digital artist but a painter, he lives in the smut district in Paris. He has a decided disinterest in order and little fascination with machine fun. He wears a snake-bone around his neck. I came out of a gas station after he had inspired me to buy clove cigarettes (which I smoked one of and felt like dying so they sit unused in my bag). Mark was talking to a very recently released fellow from jail, busted for public drunkenness and then pounded by the police after they decided he was "mouthing off" and "resisting arrest." So he said, as Mark fed him tales of his own time in jail and feelings about police. I chimed in saying I was whistled at in prison, and perhaps we all felt very hearty there at the gas station on the outskirts of Austin civilization.
Harvey Smith - Ion Storm Austin, Doug Church - Ion Storm, Don Wells - SciFi Guy, Paco Xander Nathan - Famous Aspect, Mark Meadows
I didn't go to many panels, most of my favourite discussions are afterwards and between and out on the balcony and in the bar. This interactive narrative panel was a good discussion of the issues and artistry of video games and digital art that envelopes.
Ion Storm Austin is making fabulous games - thoughtful, immersive simulations in rich, flexible environments. Their designers are alumni of some of computer gaming's most seminal companies.
Harvey Smith was a part of the interactive narrative panel, and I've met him at more than one conference now. I visited him at the Ion Storm Austin offices where he's coordinating the efforts to design a sequel to Deus Ex. Besides a walkabout tour, I sat in his office as his peers entered to discuss game design, adjudicate disputes and inhabit the process of making an elaborate virtual world. We had some heartfelt chatting besides, talking about our growing up and some of the mentoring we've had in our lives. Sometimes you meet people and hover near each other for some time before you actually discover why it is you might have been interested to talk with them.
Outside of Beer Land Texas with an Austin female roller derby team.
With Jess Barron, one of the two winners of the Links.net Mileage Giveaway. She's going to soon take a trip to Vietnam. She turned up at South by Southwest, from her brother's funeral the week before. There was a slight trembling to her; not knowing her before I couldn't say if that was from the recent death in her family. She stood up at the Fray Cafe to share stories as she was working through her brother's suicide.
I talked at the Fray Cafe about my time in Japan. I was going to summarize wildly, and then I figured I should express one point. I figured I went there in large part because I would get more attention for myself in Japan, and so this was the topic of my ten minutes.
Watching someone surf the web over their shoulder, I caught up with the people responsible for Bang the Machine, a film about a Street Fighter video game tournament. I didn't get to see the film, as it conflicted some with Fray cafe. Still I had a nice brief chat with the director, a striking young lady who is half-thai but raised by her Jewish grandparents in Brooklyn.
I ate at Las Marias [from dana: the name of the restaurant we ate breakfast at was las manitas and not las marias. 'las manitas' means 'little hands' which is actually what you ate. lots and lots of little hands. i hope you especially enjoyed the pinky fingers...i know i did.].
I ate at Las Manitas three or four times during my trip to Austin. Memorable Mexican food downtown.
I found a last-minute hostel in a fantastic location, thanks to Prentiss. I booked a private room so I could write. It was a queen-sized bed and two bunkbeds. I loved walking home through the throngs of drunken folks making quiet mayhem. But the power outlets in my room didn't work and for 75$ a night, I could pay half of Molly's room at the Omni. And then I get a chance to chat with Molly in the morning and evening! Fun gal.
I watched her apply her make up in the morning and it looked like too much fun to pass up. I did myself up mildly with some base, some rouge, some mascara, some eyeshadow. Not outrageous though; this is Texas.
Finally I stayed with Lisa Rein, who was kind enough to offer me a crashpad for about two hours before my flight left.
San Francisco musicians Jay and Bevin Blectum set up for their set as part of SXSW music. Ryan Junell over to the right was sharing his video talents with them as well, "Talon Slalom" a narrative video meditation on the visitation of an Alien lady to our American earth.
Their electronic music has both propulsive or ponderous beats. It's not driven to make people dance, but to delight perhaps. Myself and Lisa found moments of excellent samples and sound layering to enjoy.
Bevin plays her PowerBook for a crowd swaying before Ryan's video.
BBQ. A heaping plate of cooked meat slathered in sauce. From the IronWorks, convenient protein near the convention center.
Sitting around Dakota Smith's house with Ben Brown and John pictured, Dana Robinson and Andre Torrez on the other side. We yakked the night long, particularly discussing moments of Internet embarrassment, mistaken online identity and the perils of detailing life online. It was a detailed conversation, the sort I could likely have with relatively few folks alive today.
I managed to see one film; "Journeys with George." A stunning documentary about the current president, where he can be seen mugging in front of one lady's camera. They have a marvellous human rapport of jokes and pokes and chatting in strange circumstances - before and after rallies, in crowded aisles packed with drunken journalists dancing on the press plane following the campaign, on his way to being president. Bush eats Cheetos with his mouth open, gives her romantic advice, even leaning over to kiss her cheek in the most scandalous moment. It was scandalous in that you glimpsed that there was some bit of sexual tension to their interaction, and even with the cameras rolling he indulged in a slight bit of intimacy.
Reportedly, the Bush administration officials are not excited about the film. Still I think it is quite a boon to them - it adds a second dimension to a one-dimensional character.
A long table with quite a few friends. Hello Peter.
Bruce Sterling's daughter and friends look over my Japanese mobile phone. I was on my way to an upstairs bathroom, hopefully unattended. I passed a room of early teenaged girls, with candles, a computer, chatting. They seemed foreign to me, being outside of the annual festivities downstairs, here typing away in goth costume, and so I spoke to them in Japanese. And they recognized it! 15 year old goth girls who have been studying Japanese as they are fans of animation. I spent a good chunk of time sitting watching as they played me downloaded video clips of Everquest Budweiser parodies ("Do you know Everquest? It's this online fantasy game." the crimson-haired gal offered. I grumbled audibly.) and Japanese animation clips sequenced to "Dude looks like a lady."
Ben Brown married to Ani Moller, from New Zealand. I hadn't really met her before. She had a delightfully brusque manner, at least with me. I commented that her nose quivered downwards as she talked; I guess that's flirtatious talk. Look at the two of them in their glasses; weirdos!
This just before Eugene Mirman approached and worked to provoke Heather. He held a finger in front of her face and poked her in the nose. Things grew thick; it was hard to tell if he was drunk or just weird; she was not laughing and he seemed intent on testing her physical/emotional boundaries further. As much as I enjoy social provocation, this was escalating fast and ugly; I stood up between them. He seemed less interested in poking me than her.
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