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I do not care, and I do not care, and I do not care.
January 11, 2012 10:12 PM   Subscribe

I want to see it all catch fire. I want to pour gasoline in the ducts and light a long fuse, and watch from the street as it burns and burns and burns. A Gizmodo blogger confronts his demons … at CES.
posted by rossmeissl (69 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aw.....someone read "Fight Club" one too many times.
posted by bswinburn at 10:21 PM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold...
posted by mediated self at 10:22 PM on January 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


Seemed like he was trying to get his HST on, to me.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:23 PM on January 11, 2012


Aaaand I see I'm not the only one.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been to CES. I've covered CES for Gizmodo. (And at least one other publication.)

It is hell. You get sick. You get pitched stupid gadgets by desperate, sweaty reps. You try not to mock. You get even more sick.

It's pretty rough.

It's definitely something that was fun to have done, but I don't know if I'd go again. I did about four shows between CES and E3 and they were absolutely brutal.
posted by disillusioned at 10:24 PM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


So glad the Internet wasn't a thing back when I was freelancing.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:25 PM on January 11, 2012


The comments on that gizmodo post just pissed me off.
posted by vidur at 10:29 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Fear and Loathing on the Tech Industry's Dime shtick falls pretty flat for me, however this is fairly redeeming:

http://gizmodo.com/5875342/they-wouldnt-let-me-sit-on-the-car+sized-ipod-dock-so-i-danced-with-their-booth-babes
posted by blackfly at 10:29 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone needs to find a new job.
posted by awfurby at 10:33 PM on January 11, 2012


Jebus, I'll never forget getting sick as a dog, worn out and exhausted, working at an E3 show when I was in software publishing. I think it was the fifth trade show I'd worked and I was so over them all.
posted by darkstar at 10:33 PM on January 11, 2012


Apparently Microsoft will no longer be going, this is their last year.
posted by stbalbach at 10:53 PM on January 11, 2012


or, "Redmond will still have a presence, but Steve Ballmer will no longer kick off the show, and Microsoft will ditch its huge booth in the convention center's main hall."1
posted by stbalbach at 10:56 PM on January 11, 2012


I felt like this at SXSW, expect instead of burning it made me want to become an investment banker, buy downtown Austin, and turn it into my squash court. Being overwhelmed can make you mean.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:09 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Palette", not "palate". Jeez.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:13 PM on January 11, 2012


Well, that persuaded me to not buy any more gadgets this year.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:14 PM on January 11, 2012


HST collides with Chuck Palahniuk on the Virgin American 917 back to SFO from LAS.

"There I was in first class, sipping my absinthe cocktail trying to recover my thoughts from the last week"
posted by mrzarquon at 11:16 PM on January 11, 2012


When I started reading that article, I had no idea what CES was.

By the time I finished, I had realized that I no longer wanted to know.
posted by koeselitz at 11:41 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seemed like he was trying to get his HST on, to me.

If you replace "drugs" with "fear of germs"
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Watching Two Girls Listlessly Kick a Ball Is the Most Awkward Thing I’ve Seen at CES Today".

There's video. They look really bored.
posted by delmoi at 12:05 AM on January 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


This does not make me want to return for NAB this year.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:34 AM on January 12, 2012


Dude is definitely going to get sick now that he's used his maps to plaster the bathroom floor.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:39 AM on January 12, 2012


Hi, I'm the writer. I've never read Fight Club. Is it any good?
posted by emptyage at 12:59 AM on January 12, 2012 [21 favorites]


Hey Mat. Chuck Palahliuk's early books are all pretty decent, IMO. Your article definitely sounds like something he or HST could have written, and I honestly found it pretty enjoyable. Other than the odd, germ-obsessed aspect, that's pretty much the way I felt at the last tradeshow I attended.
posted by KGMoney at 1:40 AM on January 12, 2012


GAWKER MEDIA: Man starts Vegas trip with a shit. It all goes down hill from there.
posted by The Potate at 2:28 AM on January 12, 2012


Trade shows are like this. I've done a lot of stuff so I've been to a lot of different shows: book shows, food & hospitality ones (free wine tasting!), I've been to promotional marketing ones, and god help me I've been to New Age therapy shows. I used to like them - they're full of new shiny products that are interesting and people are helpful and make you feel important.

But after a while I find that there's too many people in my space. They're jostling and pushy, they collect catalogues and price lists in little pilots cases and drag them over your feet. The people in the booths have been there too many hours and they're starting to look through you - although I'm sure by that point that I, too, have a thousand-yard stare. The air is stale from too many people, thick with perfumes, sweat, tobacco-breath and worse. You start seeing the imperfections rather than the gloss.

After that, it all gets a little funny. People are funny. They do strange things. You start feeling a bit disconnected - like an anthropologist on Mars, to borrow a simile. Things become amusing, but it's probably a lack of oxygen and the sugar rush from an overpriced coffee that you had to queue for ages to get.

And when the coffee goes, there's just the hate left boiling around in the bottom of the cup. The feeling that you are failure. That all that you have to show for your hard work is THIS. This place. This fucking hellhole full of the damned. The lost souls are milling around you, mouths like wet red holes opening and shutting, flapping away, screeching...

And then you're out. Out a side door, out the main entrance, out the "IN" queue with door bitches giving you a dirty look. Who cares? You're OUT, man. And you're sucking in big lung-fulls of fresh air. It's city air, so full of fumes and smog and shit, but it's fresh to you at least and it feels great. And you take off your stupid fucking tag, stuff it in your bag with the photocopied prices lists and stacks of business cards of people far too important to answer you right away (they'll get back to you, condescending pricks), and you'll think "I'm never doing another fucking trade show as long as I live."

Fight Club? Fuck no. That's far too full of hope.
posted by ninazer0 at 2:41 AM on January 12, 2012 [19 favorites]


Fight Cub, along with The Godfather, is one of those rare example of a movie that is better than the book it is based on.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:06 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gizmodo writer bares his soul. Gizmodo readers discuss bathroom hygiene.
posted by superelastic at 3:33 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've had to quit reading tech blogs this week since it's all crap about CES and mostly they're just re-writing marketing prose, taking a picture and then slapping it up as a blog post.
posted by octothorpe at 4:48 AM on January 12, 2012


this is the most honest coverage of a trade show I've ever read
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:59 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am so not his audience, but I sure liked his writing, he carried me right along and clarified my own feelings about the gadget thing. I could feel the tension building in the writer, which could easily ignite in fire and violence. I smell novel.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:01 AM on January 12, 2012


The best part is the comments section, where the relative filth of womens' and mens' rooms is discussed.
posted by Renoroc at 5:06 AM on January 12, 2012


Someday a real rain will come and wash the bloggers, tweeters and scum off the streets.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:17 AM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The best part is the comments section, where the relative filth of womens' and mens' rooms is discussed.

What's the difference between the bathrooms at CES and a meth-addled prostitute?
In an emergency you can shit on a meth-addled prostitute.
posted by porn in the woods at 5:18 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've done CBit in Germany, and shows in the UK, Holland, Paris, other American shows, and CES, and I gotta say, if you have to do a zillion person show, go for Germany and then Europe, but do anything to avoid big American shows. They are gawdawful. I don't know if it is because the Europeans are more polite, or because the booths usually have a quiet area where journalists can have a coffee and get away from the masses while they get chatted up by knowledge experts, or the fact that I was so jet lagged all I could see was rainbows and fluffy bunnies, but I can't imagine that any publication would pay what it would take to get me back to a big American show again.
posted by dejah420 at 5:46 AM on January 12, 2012


Gizmodo writer bares his soul.

No I'd say he's bared the empty, cold hole where his soul is supposed to be and realized he'll continue sucking the schlong of the tech god anyway.
posted by spicynuts at 5:58 AM on January 12, 2012


Those "extraordinarily beautiful" frames for your TV are hilariously hideous. Go ahead and give them the clicks; it's worth it for the "YOUR TV HERE" alone. Plus, they'll think it's good for them. Win-win!

(Yeah, it's a cute, fun piece about the idiocy of trade shows [triple capuchinos to gear up for the real fun after 5pm is all I remember from mine], and yeah, emptyage, you briefly captured the horror at the heart of the tech love you make a living from, but it's really hard to take the rant seriously when we all know you're going to go right back to doing the same thing tomorrow. Perhaps it would work better as a resignation letter.)
posted by mediareport at 6:07 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I liked this. I've been places that made me feel this way.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:07 AM on January 12, 2012


Translation: "I'm so angry that Engadget got all the good scoops this year."
posted by Pastabagel at 6:27 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very gonzo. I have to admit, I've felt the same way after participating in a long event like this.

CES must get very liminal for some people who have to be there.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:30 AM on January 12, 2012


I went to CES sometime in the mid 1980s in Chicago. They had the latest televisions (32"!), VCRs, PCs, sottware and video games. Good times.

Now get off of my lawn.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 7:09 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


...apparently so long ago that software was called sottware. I'll bet you didn't know that.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 7:12 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel the same way about travel. So many people crowding this blue dot. I hoped I'd bath under a pristine waterfall in some far flung place. Turns out there's someone there trying to sell me overpriced beer.

"Perhaps it would work better as a resignation letter."

What? BAD ADVICE.

He would miss out on the epiphany that is TOBII!!

Upstarts currying favour everywhere... you know you gotta keep the faith... stay gold pony-boy.
posted by panaceanot at 7:13 AM on January 12, 2012


...apparently so long ago that software was called sottware. I'll bet you didn't know that.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley


That reminds me of the time I installed a bunch of sotware and my fucking laptop emptied my liquor cabinet.
posted by COBRA! at 7:18 AM on January 12, 2012


Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity

>implying that spiritual vacuii have not been common to human experience since we lived in trees
posted by LogicalDash at 7:25 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's difficult for me to relate to this author. Retreating to the ladies room because the men's bathroom is too dirty? Harden the fuck up.
posted by exogenous at 8:06 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


emptyage: "Hi, I'm the writer. I've never read Fight Club. Is it any good?"
Yes. I imagine the ladies' rooms are also pristine in Palahniuk's world as well.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:29 AM on January 12, 2012


I've shat in the ladies room at VMWorld and Microsoft TechEd. It was nice and quiet there both times.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:33 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like his idea of programming all the high-end 3DTV systems to play hardcore gay porn. Nifty concept.

Anyway, this is the way conventions and convention centers are. Once you've been to a few of them, you learn to avoid what you need to avoid and get in and get out. It's definitely a mind adjustment, but it's doable for predefined stretches of time. At least you can escape. The poor vendor reps are stuck there for the duration having to wear business suits and paste plastic fake smiles on their faces and look interested and lively all day long with nothing to fortify themselves but cheap shitty coffee-resembling liquid from the convention dining concern.
posted by blucevalo at 8:38 AM on January 12, 2012


blucevalo: "I like his idea of programming all the high-end 3DTV systems to play hardcore gay porn"

The problem with this plan is that this is Las Vegas; everyone has already seen hardcore gay porn littering the street on the walk to the convention center, so at best, you'd get massive eye rolling.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:40 AM on January 12, 2012


> Once you've been to a few of them, you learn to avoid what you need to avoid and get in and get out.

Yep, and being hungover probably made it all seem much more surreal and sensory overloading than it really needed to be. Although, the CES does have a particular stink above most other tech conferences due to the incessant gadget fetishizing. Still, a good nights rest and a touch of sobriety makes the world a much easier place.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on January 12, 2012


I like his idea of programming all the high-end 3DTV systems to play hardcore gay porn. Nifty concept.

Wouldn't be the first time Gizmodo got in trouble for screwing with the TVs at CES.
posted by the_artificer at 9:07 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having been to a lot of conferences and trade shows, I enjoyed this article. Glad the author is among us.
posted by fake at 9:08 AM on January 12, 2012


I've been to a dozen CES and even more broadcast conferences.

What Mat wrote was not fiction or exaggeration in the least.

The only thing he missed what guys trying to hand you cards for hookers while standing at the urinal.
posted by Argyle at 9:09 AM on January 12, 2012


You haven't been there, man.

What he said. I have done trade shows in the UK and the US for, oh, thirty years? First as a bright-eyed punter, then as a booth denizen, latterly as an aisle-slogging hack. The glory years of the PCW Show in the UK. Comdex, in Vegas and Atlanta. Others, all lost in the haze. From Brighton down to Norleans, from Moscone to Barcelona.

There comes a point in all of them, when you're there on someone else's money and can't just leave, where the sensory overload collides with the essential vacuity in some fearsome particle accelerator of the psyche. The human mind is not wired to cope with the peculiar business of being with so many strangers, making contact, doing the 'are you important to me?' protocol prior - perhaps - to information exchange, assessing what you've got and then breaking off, over and over and over and over again. The process mutates. The desperate stakes of getting into the minds of people mutated by the melange get higher and higher. Every sense strains and shatters.

And of course you're fucking hungover.

It is worst, by far, when you have to haul away to the press room (or, more often, slump down on some crappy island of carpet behind a booth; you don't have time to get back to the press room) and file copy. In the old days before the Internet, when journalists had news cycles and periodicals had monthly deadlines, you can at least draw breath, build strategies, make plans. Now, you better get your shit out NOW while blogging and tweeting, and don't miss the three things that are going on at the same time - or, worse, there is absolutely nothing that's worth it but a hundred desperate marketing teams pretending.

I am no longer someone who does this. I hope, for the sake of the souls of the damned, that soon these sort of trade shows will belong in the Myths of the Analogue Age. It is inhuman torture, and a perverse game the industries play with themselves.

Would like to have done Comdex on acid, though. Just the once. Yeah. I know.
posted by Devonian at 9:21 AM on January 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: where angry pseudonyms go to snark on the snark.

I liked the parts where he channeled JG Ballard.
posted by Nelson at 9:31 AM on January 12, 2012


I've been there (and to Comdex) many times. It's no big deal, really. Typical trade show, but with more flashing lights. Nothing to wax poetic about, although with every tech journalist on earth there I understand the need to try to outdo everyone else's "woe is me; this is really painful" narrative.

Comdex was more crowded, with fewer interesting gadgets.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:36 AM on January 12, 2012


I can only spend about half a day at E3 every year before the need to get the fuck out sets in. Then I have to either head to the convention center bar, where my coworkers usually are, or drive back home and sleep for the rest of the day. I can't even imagine how sucky it would be if I was covering it as a member of the press.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:57 AM on January 12, 2012


Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity

Sounds like they sent the wrong guy to the CES.

As a teenager I got tired of the endless rules and empty duties, willful ignorance, judgement and petty-mindedness that filled the lives of many of supposed adults. There was a vacuum of civility and imagination.

As Dylan put it: Yes, I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes/You'd know what a drag it is to see you.

The 'problem' isn't modern. Spiritual vacuums come from inside, not outside. Gadgets won't solve the problem, but buying them is not a diagnosis indicating the ennui of a too-deliberate or underinspired life.
posted by Twang at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2012


What I got out of that article is that Radioshack has quietly discarded its "The Shack" rebranding.
posted by nanojath at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, there are late night poker games at tech cons? I need to start going to these things.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:33 AM on January 12, 2012


I am fascinated by the comments section. I'm wondering who exactly makes up the Gizmodo user base if a blog post attracts only 16 comments and 14 of them are from people who claim experience cleaning out women's restrooms.

I mean it's not just minimum wage jobs we're talking about. I've worked a fair number of those and never ended up cleaning a women's only restroom. These are people who worked in specific areas and jobs that required cleaning a women's restroom.

Is there something about this post that brought them all together? Do they have searches running so that all posts that mention women's restrooms come up and they can run to comment? Or do 87% of the commenters at Gizmodo have this sort of experience?

As I say, it's fascinating.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fight Cub, along with The Godfather, is one of those rare example of a movie that is better than the book it is based on.

Also The Warriors.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2012


Also Blade Runner.
posted by mediated self at 3:38 PM on January 12, 2012


neophilia (ˌniːəʊˈfɪlɪə)

— n
a tendency to like anything new; love of novelty
posted by Wild_Eep at 3:42 PM on January 12, 2012


My Dad, who covered CES and COMDEX in the 80s, relates the following:


Ken worked for what was then a first-tier Japanese hifi company. At the time -- it was the eighties -- companies exhibiting at CES gave shit away. Shirts, pens, calculators... you know: trade show crap. Rather than have his giveaway get lost in that sea of crap, my friend decided to give out pocket-sized mirrors, each encased in a blue silicon sleeve emblazoned with the company logo. His Japanese masters said "Ken-san, why you give away small mirror. We don't understand." And Ken-san said "trust me, they'll love it." And they did, because a) it was the eighties, and 2) while some preparatory activities are best done on a cardboard record jacket, others require an unyielding surface. I should add that the notion of including a single-edge razor blade in the package crossed his mind, but was rejected as being too on-the-nose.
posted by dmd at 4:02 PM on January 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


too on-the-nose

So to speak.
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:13 PM on January 12, 2012


I'm wondering who exactly makes up the Gizmodo user base if a blog post attracts only 16 comments and 14 of them are from people who claim experience cleaning out women's restrooms.


I think they were just being polite: trying to make something positive from this writing exercise.
posted by Flashman at 7:04 PM on January 12, 2012


infinitewindow: "This does not make me want to return for NAB this year."

NAB is basically a version of CES where everything is exactly the same, except the pricetags of all of the gizmos have an extra ,000 added onto the end.
posted by schmod at 8:59 PM on January 12, 2012


i approve of this.
posted by 3mendo at 2:53 AM on January 13, 2012


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