Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The daily Poison

The entire show has taken a huge lurch downward (or upward, depending on your perspective) with the opening today of the Adult Video conference in the expo center at the Sands. The porn stars and other assorted sleazeballs began arriving last night and the corridor that connects the Venetian to the Sands has now taken on the atmosphere of a circus with armies of geeks colliding with armies of freaks. I’ve seen more ridiculously huge fake tits in the last half hour than I’ve seen in my entire life. I was drinking my lunch at Pinot at the Venetian when I saw a midget leather boy riding on the shoulders of a blonde giantess; they were strolling toward the casino. Or maybe that’s the after-effects of the peyote from last night.

The psychedelics were obtained at a Nokia cocktail reception and began to kick in just as I arrived for an outrageously swank dinner at Aureole in Mandalay Bay with a group of PR women from San Francisco who seemed to be convinced that I’m actually a journalist and might even write about their awful clients. The wine flowed and we all ordered lobster but when mine arrived I was really starting to get off on the peyote and I freaked out and just sat there staring at it. The poor flacks tried to talk about their clients for a while but then someone steered the conversation quickly downward and we spent the rest of the evening drunkenly discussing such things as shockers, blumpkins, balloon knots, leather cheerios and angry dolphins, the last of which one of the ladies was kind enough to perform for us. She was convincing in a way that led me to believe she’d had real-life experience.

Dinner led to gambling, in this case craps at Mandalay Bay. After an hour of that I was up nearly a thousand dollars and then all of us, hacks and flacks, piled into Albert’s minivan cab and we gambled our way through the Bellagio, Caesars and the MGM Grand while doing tequila shots. Was approached by a call girl and declined her offer but paid her one hundred dollars to talk to me for fifteen minutes and bring me luck. She told me she’d flown in from Vancouver for the show. Turns out hookers from all over North America travel in for CES, and some of the ladies make more in this one week than they make in two months of ordinary work. I asked this woman how many johns she would see by time the show was up. She told me. The number was terrifying.

The last thing I remember I was playing blackjack and losing badly. I woke up in my room this morning, but have no idea how I got there. Worse yet, I’d lost my shoes. I called Albert, gave him my size, and thirty minutes later he returned with a pair of Nike sneakers that almost fit.

What else? The show itself is awful. Nothing, and I mean nothing, worth seeing. I ran into Moshe this morning and he’s shell-shocked by the constant screaming awful music that’s blasting everywhere, indoors and outdoors, without any way to find relief. He says the only time he’s ever seen this before was in Israeli prisons where they used loud music to torture prisoners. He says no human can stand more than a day of this. Yet here we all are, more than a hundred and fifty thousand of us, staggering around like zombies after three days of abuse.

The Asians have been especially hard hit. They’re dropping like flies. Koreans are strewn around the hallways passed out in the same blue suits they’ve had on since arriving on Sunday. I’ve been told that a great number of them do not even bother to rent rooms and instead simply sleep in their booths. Or in hallways. They’re everywhere. It’s like Dawn of the Dead. In the press room the guys from Gizmodo have been playing terrible jokes on passed-out foreigners, putting their hands in bowls of warm water, taking pictures of them holding rude signs, putting lipstick on them — not cool.

I realized this morning as I staggered through the show floor with my head spinning that the show itself is a metaphor for the future of the digital home — and guess what? The future is not a place you’re going to want to visit. The future, in fact, is going to be a fucking nightmare, a total clusterfuck with everybody from Nokia to Seagate to Comcast to Verizon to Microsoft to Netgear launching overlapping products and overlapping services and everyone claiming they’re going to bring all of the zillions of pieces together into some kind of magical coherent whole.

Everybody talks about how you’re going to just move from one screen to another and take all your phone calls and data and videos and music with you wherever you go. The reality is that everybody is pushing only pieces of the puzzle, just ingredients in what is looking more and more like a highly fucked up stew. Hodgepodge city. Everyone agrees that physical media — DVDs and CDs — are dead, and battles like SACD v. DVD-A and Blu-ray v. HD-DVD are pointless. Everyone agrees that electronic distribution is the future. But nobody can figure out how the fuck this is going to happen.

The whole situation is crying out for someone to come in and make sense of it the way Apple made sense of digital music with iTunes and iPods. Lesson there was simple: People will give up freedom and sign away their souls if you can make a system that works. Whoever figures this one out is going to make a holy shitload of money.

Our Apple spies have been working the floor hard and shutting down anyone who’s showing iPod accessories without permission. Caught some grumbling about this in the Mandalay Bay casino last night. Took photos of the complainers with my iPhone and we can ID them when I get back.

Highlight of the show for me is that someone — I won’t say who — has been going around the show floor with a hidden device that shuts off TV screens. They’re standing in the crowd, blasting displays and befuddling the booth idiots. The perps film themselves doing this and are compiling a movie. I’ve seen some of the raw footage. It’s amazing. Bam goes the screen at a gamer booth. Bam goes the screen at a Motorola press conference. Bam-bam-bam goes an entire wall in the Panasonic booth, thirty screens snapping to black. Best thing I’ve seen here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The daily Poison

As I write this I am using an EVDO card and sitting on the floor in the hallway outside the CES press room, having been banished from that hallowed space for violating the “no food or beverages” rule when I was caught sneaking a sip of Cuervo from my flask. No worries since the press room is overcrowded and smells like ass. It’s the Europeans. The hallway is also crowded, butt to bellybutton, with filthy hacks crouched on the floor snarfing their horrible free lunches from paper plates. Oh, the humanity! I can barely look at the swill that’s being served to the hacks, let alone attempt to eat it. Anyway I am now on a starvation diet trying to kill the bastard parasite whose presence in my intestines has been confirmed. Not to get too graphic but put it this way — there has been a sighting.

I spent most of last night in the company of some Sony engineers from Japan playing blackjack at the Venetian. We were winning and the Sony dudes were drinking even harder than I was and celebrating the death of HD-DVD (everyone here says it’ s now officially dead) and raving about their new OLED 11-inch screen which sells for $2,500 in the States. Spielberg and Seinfeld have both put in requests personally via Howard Stringer and will be receiving units from the first shipment of 400 coming into the States. Occurs to me — a ridiculously overpriced and not entirely useful product that sells out because it looks cool and there’s lots of hype? Sounds perfect for us. I collected business cards from the Japanese some of whom said they might be willing to share information. Moshe is working on them today. The Japanese by the way claim to have loads of experience with parasites and said hot sake was the way to go and so at three in the morning I found myself downing a bottle of near-boiling sake while my companions cheered and cursed the devil inside me. Johnny-san, guaranteed you pass this evil being by morning, they told me. They lied.

Also joining Operation Tapeworm were Luz-Maria and her friend Margaret who arrived near dawn and suggested that instead of killing the parasite one should attempt to lure him out. Sweets were said to be the favored food of these beasts so an ice cream sundae was procured from room service and strategically positioned you-know-where. Luz-Maria and Margaret lit candles and knelt on either side of me chanting prayers in Spanish and waiting. Nothing. The bastard is too smart! He knows I’m after him. We gave up, finally, and smoked a joint and ate the sundae and the girls did their thing with the four-handed massage and we all agreed we could try again tonight. I need to get this thing out of me before I get back to San Francisco — as you know, Piers, my life partner, is incredibly squeamish. I want to spare him this horror.

What else? I slept my usual three hours, woke feeling Frank Booth, the parasite, stirring inside me. Immediately hoovered my breakfast — three fat lines — on my iPhone. Did you know the glass on that device is just perfect for this? Then shared a cab to the convention center with two dudes from Pioneer who were also incredibly excited about the demise of Toshiba’s HD-DVD, saying the whole industry has hated this stupid standards war and has been praying for someone to just put a knife in the heart of one of these things so we can all just move forward blah blah. Turns out Pioneer makes Blu-ray players for Sony. Who knew? Pioneer guys also were talking about Apple announcing these new products today and they were laughing saying Apple looks like a bunch of punk-ass bitches and who gives a shit about some new 8-core MacPro and a new server and does anyone actually buy Apple servers and who the fuck cares about Apple in general and sure last year the iPhone stole everyone’s thunder here but Apple is really starting to smoke its own Kool-Aid if they think the whole world is gonna stop turning every time Steve Jobs pops out a fart out there in Cupertino.

My takeaway? Announcing the products today was a profound mistake and makes us look insecure. And the whole thing about “We’re just so excited that we had to roll these out right away” is something not even the biggest frigtard in the world would swallow, let alone Apple fanboys. My sense is there’s been a sea change and that at some level people are just kind of sick of our bullshit and need us to shut the fuck up and start being nice again or at least stop looking people in the eye and straight-out lying to them. I mean if we’re going to lie then we should make an effort to dream up believable lies. We really have to stop treating customers like retards. Just my two cents on this.

On the way to the center, riding with the Pioneer guys, we saw a very sad-looking hooker, a girl no more than 25 but already wrecked by crack or crystal meth, sitting on a curb in a miniskirt outside a convenience store, eating an ice cream cone. We were sitting at a red light. She waved to us. I waved back. She threw me a kiss. I almost cried. Then the light turned green and we zoomed off to the show.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sorry about the confusion

Bit of a mess here on the blog this morning. Johnny has been trying to blog from his iPhone and says it keeps fucking up on him. Hence the blank post. I just called him to chew him out and explained to him that the problem could not be with iPhone and must be with him. He says it’s the slow EDGE networking stuff. I reminded him that our EDGE networking is not slow; in fact it is the fastest networking available on any smart phone, and we’re really excited about the performance of iPhone.

Meanwhile some updates from Johnny.

1. Internet connection in the press room has gone down. No wifi, no wired connections. Nada. Zilch. Hacks pissed off. Very impressive performance from the folks running a high-tech trade show.

2. Motorola held a roundtable about the future of video and mobile telephony and set-top boxes or something. The future, anyway. Johnny attended and says the food sucked, and there was no alcohol, and it was a panel of extremely old guys in suits talking about the convergence of TV and computers and the Internet. Says just looking at these guys you can realize why Motorola is so fucked. And why just replacing Zander isn’t going to be enough.

3. Supposedly Dvorak was spotted on sidewalk outside north hall receiving CPR. We’re not sure if this one is true. Johnny says the guy looked like Dvorak but that might just have been wishful thinking. And Johnny is operating in a somewhat altered state.

FWIW, some folks have written in complaining about Johnny’s drug use. Not much I can tell you except that drugs have really helped a lot of people expand their consciousness, and Johnny is one of the most expanded minds at Apple.

Medical alert

Pulse rate 180. Bathed in sweat. Seeking alcohol to bring heart rate back down.

High noon

It’s just noon and the eight-ball is gone thanks to my pal Julian from the BBC and 2 members of his camera crew. Great to see old friends but what is it about Brits and their shameless hoovering of other people’s drugs? Albert is dropping me at north hall for a lunch meeting with REDACTED then he is going out to score again. I gave him 2 grand and told him just get as much as he can.


Just saw 2 Russians in shiny suits tasered by a black lady sheriff for trying to jump the monorail gate. Awesome. Now on train staring at dandruff on French dude’s shoulders. Not awesome. Peace out.

A bulletin from Moshe

Team is installed. Operation Cold Sore in full operation. Listening devices installed at Microsoft and Sony suites. We are compiling list of products that claim iPod compatibility without paying for Apple approval. Subpoenas to be served tomorrow. Special ops working to undermine network connections to booths of HP, Dell and Lenovo. Where possible we will compromise display machines themselves.

Meanwhile in Bay Area Microsoft spokesblogger Om Malik is recovering from heart attack and has been made aware of how this happened; promises to change his ways and start loving Apple. Biological agents ready to go on other Microsoft shills. Waiting for signal from you.