Backstage at The Other Side

Behind the Scenes at The Other Side Cosmic Café

foo conf Topic 10: Boston Foo Party: The Other Side Cafe
# 97: tom igoe (tigoe) Sun Jan 1 95(19:59) 152 lines

Now cut that out!

Lemme tell you little story...
What a day it was!

Friday's 'dry run' was less thorough than I had hoped, only laid in power and sound and tested a few machines. Hung one of two projection screens over the bar, the wait staff tripping over us at every turn and, I think, kind of amused at our antics. Only one injury when I kicked George in the head coming off the ladder, and he seems to have recovered, although I did notice this strange twitch ever after :).

Got Alan's PC and the bat-phone up first, logged into the WELL, and first news we had was of the abortion clinic shootings. News of a few blocks away came to us via San Francisco. The shadow of this sad news lay over us throughout, and as Fawn and I drove away that afternoon, we passed the media circus in front of the clinic. A chill went through me.

Went to work to relax that night, spent most of the show on the phone. Check-in with Jim Race about CuSeeMe, final schedule with John Adams, provider of most of our net machines, which I had yet to see. Got home at midnight and spent a few more hours answering mail and checking on net details. Gave up at 3:30 when the eyes got too blurry to read. Had upped the font size to 36- point by then.

After a refreshing three-hour nap, woke to finish mailings and conf clean-up. The phone line was dead, so I hopped in the car and went to work to borrow a line. Then off to Fawn's to drop off car, a quick breakfast of starch, grease, sugar, and caffeine, and we were ready to pick up John and the SPARCs. Called him, no answer. Uh oh.

Ten o'clock, took off for the Other Side. Stopped by the clinic on the way there. Many flowers and vigil lights had already been set out, Fawn left one of her own. Shivering from the cold, we went back to the car. Got to the cafe, some of the VR group were already there. Began setting up merrily, including a number of precarious variations on hanging the second projection screen. "Don't worry," I told the diners below me as I stood on the top step of the ladder cutting tie line with a Swiss Army knife poised above their salads, "I do this for a living. Think of it as an adventure in dining!"

11 am, called M. She's working on the generic accounts, needs info she can't find, will let us know. Dave Evans of the VR group is setting up his mac and having trouble getting its video to my TV. Turns out to be he's grounding out on the metal edge of the table; his mac has no case, and its guts lay exposed to the public on the table. I think some of the public liked that.

Noon, we finally hear from SPARCman John. He's waiting for Joe to show up with the other SPARC, will be there asap. A little nervous I am. Ed, the Zappa look-alike, is still working on the big screen, cheerfully thrilling the diners and waitstaff with an eight-foot plastic and metal sail flailing about above their heads on a string. A friend of Alan's who happened in is lending Ed invaluable aid. Amatul, having hung her artwork the night before, is setting up the brochure-propaganda table. The sound guys are looking for a way to the roof to set up their microwave link to the radio station.

Two-thirty, still no sign of John or Joe, the screens are set up, two of the VR demo people are missing as well. Called them, "We'll be there at 4:30." We open at 5. Oy. By this time, Ed and Dave are putting a Pentium on top of the vegetable refrigerator, trying not to drop it into the mixing bowl of cold sesame noodles. Fawn's off feeding kitties and Amatul's cruising the web on Jehosephat, my powerbook. George and Alan are napping and cruising chat, respectively. Alan's got the map up and is marking cities with stick-on stars.

Three-thirty, John calls, "Joe's on his way, send a car for me and my stuff. I'm throwing it all in a laundry basket as we speak." SPARC in the laundry; how quaint. Fawn and Amatul jump in the car to get him. Called M again, she's in the home stretch. Sam and his wife show up, and after eating, Sam takes over Alan's PC and makes it MUSE central. Dave is working on CUSeeMe, Larry's connecting his VR to the other projection screen, and Ed's preparing for a long night in the dark room with his trackball.

Four-fifteen, everyone's finally there, the SPARCs and the last VR machine are being set up. John and Joe can't get the account set up. Tina shows up with a modem for John's mac, Dave's wrestling with CUSeeMe. We have one machine on the net. Early birds are wandering in to see what the action is. I'm sweating and pacing, notepad in one hand, powerbook in the other.

Four-fifty, John's leaping between the SPARCs and his mac, typing ninety words a minute, Joe's wrestling with software, people are wndering in and we're throwing them at the VR and the muse since it's all that's running. Alan's pacing, since he's got no machine to tend, as is Maureen. The bat-phone rings, it's M. She's got the account set up, here's the password. Phone's in one ear, Dave's in the other, I'm tripping over a lamp someone hurriedly set up to give the macs more light, Sean's asking about running a tab for food, I'm flying high on adrenaline, it just doesn't get better than this.

The SPARCs get going, conferencing is opened, Echo chat crashes, the muse keeps going up and down, people are cruising the web and flying the VRs, having a good time. Newcomers, once taught, are teaching others. It's a community-thang, more than I could ever have imagined. John's mac is still offline, so we dump all his PPP/TCP software and load it up from Jehosephat. I dunno who's riding higher on the stress, him or me, but we're both laughing hysterically. Somebody tells me San Fran called and said we could only log in once on (fnboston). Clears that up, now we know why it was feezing up. We finally get the last mac up, and there's the foo page to greet us. The party is in full swing.

Some friends show up from work and I'm showing them the muse, someone hands me the phone, it's Cynsa! Yay! We spend a few minutes yelling gleefully at each other, and she helps me show these people the Treehouse. It's way coo!

Chat is down, but IRC is running, we're pulling locations from the conversation and posting them on the map. 35 cities that we caught, probably many more that we didn't. Dave's looking for HomerPaint partners, but can't find any. Bummer.

Party continues in that general vein, people having a good time, mingling and cruising the net, playing with the VR worlds, a few trivia giveways of the O'Reilly stuff, a good night all around. John got back on Echo chat shortly after midnight, scrolled through three or four pages of logins of 'fnight.' Looked like Stacy had a busy night.

The Other Side closed at 1 am, we got most of the stuff out right afterwards. Last thing was to see Alan and George off in a cab and get the borrowed electrical cable back to the theatre. Got home about 3:30 AM, and upon finding the phone dead, crashed long and hard. It felt great!

It wouldna been bosfoo without a lot of important people, and here's just a few of 'em: Mark Abene, John Adams, John Ambrosone, Maureen Armstrong, David Bonner, Cynsa Bonorris, Amy Bruckman, Sean Collins and his amazing staff, Kathy Dalton, Nancy DellaRocco, David Dunning, Isaac Dziga, Dave Evans, Bill Ewing, Peter Feltham, Fawn Fitter, Eben Gay, Sam Gentile, Sue Grady, Amatul Hannan, Fleur Helsingor, Ed Hill, Stacy Horn, Anne Joelle, Larry Johnson, Mike Joly, Barry Kort, Claudia Kulesh, Brendan Maher, Paul Matthews, Jeffrey Mayes, George Mokray, M Normal, Jim Race, Danica Remy, John Robards, Louise Reilly Sacco, Kathy Schnapper, Dale Smoak, Randall Swimm, Maria Syndicus, Tina Taylor, Alan Turner, Deborah Velick, Gail Ann Williams, and a whooooole lotta others....

Thanks to all. It was a trip!

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