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May 24, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Around 1992 Mondo 2000 magazine asked: "R.U A Cyperpunk?"
posted by The Whelk (123 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stop. I read that when I was in college. I held that issue in my hands.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


...and they didn't give him mirrorshades?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:42 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, a significant portion of that can be replaced with "having an app for that".
posted by tilde at 10:42 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Probably not the tazer.

I recently ILLed the Cyperpunk Fakebook and the Mondo 2000 omnibus, and I've been having fun going through them.
posted by codacorolla at 10:44 AM on May 24, 2012


Wow, in 1992 cyberpunks had a lot of money
posted by Hoopo at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Are you sure that's from an issue? i think it may have been from the book (Mondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge)
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2012


That guy is everything I wanted to be in high school. I got as far as the hair.
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]



Are you sure that's from an issue? i think it may have been from the book (Mondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge)


I defer to people who where not 8 when it came out.
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I bought A User's Guide to the New Edge used a couple weeks ago. 90's post-human cyber-nostalgia is the best kind of future nostalgia.
posted by penduluum at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Remember when Sony made all the cool stuff?
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


I only ever saw issues of Mondo 2000 that randomly popped up at car-boot sales, but I reader the User Guide cover to cover. And I remember that image, so it seems more likely to was in the book and not the mags - I could be wrong. Or it could have been reused.

Boy was Kai's Power Tools a force to be reckoned with back in the day.
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Remember when Sony made all the cool stuff?

I came in here to make a very similar comment. Remember when Sony was relevant?
posted by kbanas at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also my cyberpunk persona is The Plague from Hackers.

(Though really I do not own a skateboard)
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2012


R U sirius?
posted by jquinby at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I defer to people who where not 8 when it came out.

I can't remember. The smartdrugs seem to have worn off, or the dumbdrugs won.
posted by jade east at 10:56 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I forgot, was tarantula venom supposed to be good or bad?
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2012


Sadly I know people who really really wanted to be that guy well into the late 90s. It's amazing how much stuff they had to lug around everywhere.
posted by aspo at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been waiting for an updated version so I can hopefully stop lugging all this shit around.
posted by orme at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love that even Mondo 2000 thought that "GPS" was too geeky to put in print so the use the simpler "satellite based latitude/ longitude finder".
posted by GuyZero at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still hoping Cyberpunk can someday be a viable aesthetic. Or maybe I'm still jealous of Molly's metal fingernails.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I defer to people who where not 8 when it came out.

Oh dear.

Dad spent some ridiculous amount of money getting me my very own laptop for my birthday that year - all 20MB, 486DX, B&W LCD Windows 3.1 running 256K Ram of it on which I played Chips. I still have it and have lugged it to three countries. Don't ask me why. But it works, still.
posted by infini at 11:04 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


laptop - or "Cyberspace Deck"?
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Obligatory perspective on those times.
posted by sonascope at 11:06 AM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


What, no motorcycle? No PXL-2000 camera? What about his portable computer, or Hagelin CRYPTOMATIC 500? Or at least a Radio Shack Tone Dialer?
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:08 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or maybe I'm still jealous of Molly's metal fingernails.

I always wanted the mirrored contact lens. I can't see the fingernails being much good for the touch screen on my phone
posted by Z303 at 11:09 AM on May 24, 2012


I always wanted the mirrored contact lens. I can't see the fingernails being much good for the touch screen on my phone

I know at least one person with custom elbow-length embroidered gloves with capacitive finger tips so they can use their smartphone in the cold.
posted by The Whelk at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Burning Chrome was the aspirational look.

(this thread is turning into way too much TMI for me)
posted by infini at 11:11 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


We are all Lisbeth Salander now.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think I've still got my mirror shades.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:15 AM on May 24, 2012


By my count only the money, the briefcase, the taser, and the monocular can't really be done with your phone now, though I suppose you'd need an add-on to do a voltmeter.
posted by bondcliff at 11:16 AM on May 24, 2012


Make sure you have a voltmeter, so that you're prepared. All that other junk you're carrying around could break on you at any time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on May 24, 2012



Burning Chrome was the aspirational look.


I never like film adaptations of Gibson, or his limited group of cyberpunk brethren, because it confronted me with how dorky my fantasy world really was. Somehow it was so much easier to get unselfconsciously lost in the genre when it was set to print and paper.

God damn but I will always love 80s cyberpunk. Neo, Lisbeth Salander, and iphones will never hold a candle to it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tired: Bruce Campbell
Wired: Bruce Campbell with long hair!
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


IIRC Count Zero described the outfit a neophyte hacker picked out when he got to go to the mall, and though it sounded kind of cool on page an actual visual of it would probably bee hilarious.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on May 24, 2012


I actually quite like Willaim Gibson 2012's fashion sense, aside from the INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE bit.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


laptop - or "Cyberspace Deck"?

Every now and then I consider grabbing an old C64 and fitting the insides with modern computing and video output for just that reason. Going off the Neuromancer description it seems like the closest fit.
posted by curious nu at 11:29 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


and though it sounded kind of cool on page an actual visual of it would probably bee hilarious.

Well, he'd picked out that t-shirt with the holo on the front, and the Loa sisters mocked him for it, so, yeah.
posted by curious nu at 11:30 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some kind of space-trousers with accordion joints or something too? Or was it space boots?
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2012


get unselfconsciously lost in the genre when it was set to print and paper.

This is why I don't watch the "movie of the book" (Avengers doesn't count, I had to take the nephew)
posted by infini at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2012


I prefer Bondo 2000, since that what society is held together with.
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are add-ons that give phone cameras a telephoto lens.

Regarding the stun gun: As far as I can tell, a typical stun gun puts out 3mA at 300kV, or 900W. Let's say you need 3 seconds to be reasonably effective, which is .25Wh. That's about 5% of a modern smartphone's battery capacity. I doubt Apple would ever go for it, but I wonder if there could be a niche market for an Android phone that included a stun gun? As a bonus it could automatically call 911 and report an attack if the stun gun was discharged.
posted by jedicus at 11:35 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


how would a leg pager even work?
posted by The Whelk at 11:35 AM on May 24, 2012


"mass consensual hallucination"
posted by infini at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except for the hair, I'm pretty sure this is what Cory Doctorow looks like, all the time.
posted by Ratio at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


He looked down at the black T-shirt he'd chosen, at the square holodecal of cyberspace on his chest. It was done so you seemed to be punching fast-forward through the matrix, grid lines blurring at the edges of the decal. "Yeah. It was too tacky."
I'm pretty sure they sell that on ThinkGeek now.
posted by griphus at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some kind of space-trousers with accordion joints or something too? Or was it space boots?
"Right," Jackie said, taking in the tight black jeans, the heavy leather boots with spacesuit-style accordion folds at the ankles, the black leather garrison belt trimmed with twin lines of pyrarnidal chrome studs. "Well, I guess you look more like the Count. Come on, Count, I got a couch for you to sleep on, up in Jammer's place." He leered at her, thumbs hooked in the front pockets of the black Levis. "Alone," she added, "no fear." "I want some new clothes," Bobby said when they'd climbed the immobile escalator to the second floor. "You got any money?" she asked. "Shit," he said, his hands in the pockets of the baggy, pleated jeans. "I don't have any fucking money, but I want some clothes. You and Lucas and Beauvoir are keeping my ass on ice for something, aren't you? Well, I'm tired of this God-awful shirt Rhea palmed off on me, and these pants always feel like they're about to fall off my ass. And I'm here because Two-a-Day, who's a lowlife fuck, wanted to risk my butt so Lucas and Beauvoir could test their fucking software. So you can fucking well buy me some clothes, okay?" "Okay," she said, after a pause. "I'll tell you what." She pointed to where a Chinese girl in faded denim was furling the sheets of plastic that had fenced a dozen steel-pipe gar- ment racks hung with clothing. "You see Lin, there? She's a friend of mine. You pick out what you want, I'll straighten it out between Lucas and her." Half an hour later, he emerged from a blanket-draped fitting room and put on a pair of Indo-Javanese mirrored aviator glasses. He grinned at Jackie. "Real sharp," he said. "Oh, yeah." She did a thing with her hand, a fanning movement, as though something nearby were too hot to touch. "You didn't like that shirt Rhea loaned you?" He looked down at the black T-shirt he'd chosen, at the square holodecal of cyberspace on his chest. It was done so you seemed to be punching fast-forward through the matrix, grid lines blurring at the edges of the decal. "Yeah. It was too tacky."
copypaste'd from some random website, so blame them for typos and inaccuracies
posted by curious nu at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just thinking, Ministry has changed just as much as the tech here. Now "nerdy Ministry fans" conjures up visions of Alex Jones followers.

He looked down at the black T-shirt he'd chosen, at the square holodecal of cyberspace on his chest. It was done so you seemed to be punching fast-forward through the matrix, grid lines blurring at the edges of the decal. "Yeah. It was too tacky."

I'm pretty sure they sell that on ThinkGeek now.


I'm pretty sure I had and wore this shirt for a brief CyberGoth phase in the early Aughts.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2012


Except for the hair, I'm pretty sure this is what Cory Doctorow looks like, all the time.

Needs more steampunk
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I had and wore this shirt for a brief CyberGoth phase in the early Aughts.

Was it from CyberDog? Because I probably had the same one.
posted by griphus at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the Sprawl in an age; going to have to go through them again now, I guess.

Stupid pointless nostalgia.
posted by curious nu at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2012


Was it from CyberDog? Because I probably had the same one.

Highly likely. I believe I bought it off eBay.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2012


Just realised I'm in all black right now... so still living the life (sort of - polo shirt, shorts and slippers probably not sufficiently 'punk)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, I'm flipping through the Mondo 2000 Guide to the New Edge right now and didn't see the FPP picture in it, but did find an advertisement for the print version of Boing Boing in the back.
posted by codacorolla at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Needs more steampunk

So I must have been jetlagged or something last weekend and even before I got on the plane I made the egregious error of purchasing a book called "Corsets and Clockword: Steampunk Romance" - it was cheap in that currency and I thought oh what the heck, lets see what all this nonsense is about. I've managed to read one and half stories and its sitting there, accusingly, on my night table.

Someone take me out back and shoot me please?
posted by infini at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually remembering it as a doublepage spread with another, no doubt equally ridiculous image.
posted by Artw at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2012


Oh man, I think I still have that copy around somewhere. Along with all of my copies of Fringeware Review and schwa.

*sigh*
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:50 AM on May 24, 2012


Oh yeah, Schwa. I still have my Planet Operator's license framed in my writing room. I lost a lot of the other stickers, signs and doodads that came with that.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


hey, Jolt Cola is kinda sorta still around!
posted by vespabelle at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it X Day yet? Where did all my Slack go?
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is it X Day yet? Where did all my Slack go?

Silence, pink.
posted by jquinby at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hah!

1) I wish I could find a link to this cartoon where the protagonist basically realizes that Mondo 2000 made shit up all the time. In an age where having an email address at all was pretty exotic.

2) Minus the weaponry, I know I guy who worked in early digital video who actually dressed like this because it was legitimately handy. Among other things, the leather jacket kept him from getting cut by sharp metal edges. He was one better, however, in that he kept a bunch of circuit-board-y stuff strapped to the jacket that were actually spare Amiga components.

Nowadays he wears a red jacket made of some kind of breathable bike armour stuff and carries an iPhone.

3) The 1992 event that convinced me we were in the future was when a guy I knew negotiated over a BBS for free BBQ meat skewers. Post-scarcity, here we come!
posted by mobunited at 12:00 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


1) I wish I could find a link to this cartoon where the protagonist basically realizes that Mondo 2000 made shit up all the time. In an age where having an email address at all was pretty exotic.

Wish (pre-emptively) granted.
posted by griphus at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my. The Zeerusty memories. I still have an outfit from that era (though it does not come remotely close to fitting me now) - a skirt and top combo sewn from cloth screen-printed with images of Aleister Crowley. There was some shop on Haight Street that sold Crowley-themed stuff as well as the obligatory rave/"cyber" themed clothing.

I bought that outfit at a sidewalk sale and it generated many oohs and aahs when I wore it. I've hung on to it all these years because pre-Etsy I doubted I'd ever find anything quite like it again, though I have absolutely NO place to wear it now, as I've grown old and boring and uncool, iPhone or no.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:48 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just realised I'm in all black right now... so still living the life

It's too hot and I'm too fat to wear black, while hawaian shirts and open toe sandals are so not my thing, so I'm stuck with the van dyke and ponytail while wearing boring ass smart casual office wear.

Still got two adminspotting t-shirts and a pair of docs somewhere in the house though, does that count?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:58 PM on May 24, 2012


Make sure you have a voltmeter, so that you're prepared.

Your phone has an exposed ADC in the form of its microphone jack. If you ever need a voltmeter, all you need is a handful of resistors and a spare headphone plug. Use the microphone input wire as the positive lead and the ground as the negative, then use a pair of resistors to divide the target voltage down below 3.3V. Now check the sound level, multiply that percentage by 3.3V, then divide by whatever fraction you used for the voltage divider. presto: your phone is a voltmeter.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:01 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I still find this look distressingly sexy. I must have imprinted on it in my early adolescence, and now nothing else can compare. Steampunk? Bah. Goth? Needs moar outmoded technology.

And I still think text interfaces using monospace fonts are the height of unf.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:01 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Your phone has an exposed ADC in the form of its microphone jack.

Yeah, but it's AC-coupled and probably not very linear. By the time you've rigged up some sort of mechanical chopper to modulate your signal in to the flatter part of the input filter's passband, your friend has already pulled the enameled wire and magnets out of his earbuds and rigged up a d'Arsonval movement, and who's feeling silly now?
posted by hattifattener at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


So rather than worry that all your gear is going to be obsoleted in 18 months, they went out and got gear spangled with brass cogs that was obsoleted in the 1800s instead, so that they'd never have to worry again.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


text interfaces using monospace fonts

I have two enormous monitors on my desk at work here, and they are both completely filled with columns of identical green-on-black xterms. It just feels right.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:26 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Black on green translucent xterms
Back on Aeron
William Gibson's dead
posted by griphus at 1:31 PM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


So did wannabe cyberpunks really think they were going to walk comfortably carrying what looks like 15kg of electronics strapped to their body?
posted by PenDevil at 1:59 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A person who tries out this look in real life may find themselves dismayed at how noisy it was.

For example, if you were to sew, embroider, and otherwise attach a bunch of dangly plastic computer-ish bits to a jacket, and then try to walk around in that jacket, you might realize that it turns you into a walking clattering tambourine of sorts.

I mean, you might. I would never do such a foolish and silly thing, not even with the particular recklessness inherent to being 22 and nerdy in the year 1994.
posted by ErikaB at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


To be clear here, I think Mondo was being a little tongue-in-cheek about its own excesses with this little piece.

At least I think so.

Maybe.
posted by workingdankoch at 2:08 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember going to a 2600 meeting where a guy showed up wearing a fishing / photo journalist vest, each pocket had a piece of electronics gear that he claimed to have just dumpstered from a government office building.

All the hard drives were drilled through naturally.
posted by jonbro at 2:10 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man., Mondo 2000 was the stupidest shit ever. I still remember How To Mutate and Take Over the World as the biggest waste of time ever. R. U. Sirious and those other smart drink and rollerblades cyberpunks ruined every mailing list they touched going on and on about 'nyms and all kinds of stupid shit. Its been like 20 years and I'm still annoyed.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:18 PM on May 24, 2012


Ad hominem, thank you for reminding me of smart drinks! "The drugs of the future" or something, that would give us all superhuman abilities (it may not have been as hyperbolic as that, but I do distinctly remember hyperbole surrounding these things).

Not a smart drink, but remember Skeleteens Brain Wash Blue? Aka "drink this and it turns your poop blue!" A comment in the linked review notes that R.U. Sirius wrote about this stuff in one of his books, and says it was one of the first "energy drinks" (it contained the now illegal ma huang).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I loved my Mondo 2000 book but got it in 2004 or so.

All that black? He must not own cats.
posted by drezdn at 2:56 PM on May 24, 2012


I have photos of me circa '92 wearing mirrorshades at a concert. Also a silk kimono and fuzzy tiger paw slippers.
posted by Sparx at 2:57 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fucking smart drinks. I was like 13 and incredibly uncool but I always heard rumors that there were like underground cyberpunk clubs and they served nothing but smart drinks and I guess they played nothing but Information Society or something. I assumed the smart drinks had serious drugs in them and thought "How can they get away with that, they must be serious scofflaws, I gotta check that out". Then an older and much cooler journalist I knew went to one and I asked him "Did you try those smart drinks? Were you freaking out? what was in them, lsd?" and he said "Yeah, they just have vitamins or something in them". That was depressing.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:05 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know what's even more depressing? I paid god knows how many quid for god-awful smart drinks in somewhere in Camden, they tasted horrible and had aminoacids or wotsit in it.
posted by dabitch at 3:09 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess they were probably full of ephedrine, which would make you nice and jittery for your night of rollerblading around and arguing about nyms and mixmaster remailers and whatever else those people did.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still find this look distressingly sexy. I must have imprinted on it in my early adolescence, and now nothing else can compare. Steampunk? Bah. Goth? Needs moar outmoded technology.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:01 PM on May 24


Ho yeah. I used to imagine that the guys making industrial music looked like this, then I started going to shows. For the most part, they look like the I.T. guy from down the hall dressed in a black UPS uniform.

But, a gal can dream, right?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:28 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always wanted the mirrored contact lens

Uh, Molly had sunglasses implanted into her face. Not contact lenses.

(crawls back into hole and plays Shadowrun)
posted by lumpenprole at 3:35 PM on May 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


I remember showing the Mondo 2000 book to a friend who was a rockabilly dude rocking a James Dean thing. He turned pages for ten minutes, mouth agape, and handed it back to me with an ashen look. "I hate everything about this," quoth he.

Twenty years later, all that stuff has evolved into dubstep and Lisbeth Salander and all my friend's stuff has evolved into Guy Fieri. I'm not sure what to think about it all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:39 PM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I remember way back in the day an item on a tv show* an item on self-identified 'cyberpunks' which showed them dressed in all-black running around a park at night playing some glorified game of tag which involved some sort of mini-torches and mini-walkie talkies... it was basically sub-LARP and I just felt embarrassed for them

*probably Network 7 or something off DEF II
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:46 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always wanted the mirrored contact lens. I can't see the fingernails being much good for the touch screen on my phone

She had 'normal' finger nails and the metallic ones slid out from underneath them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:54 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


William Gibson's dead

He's still a charming fellow in person.
posted by ead at 4:01 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, the aspirational memories. I bought a set of ponyfalls and goggles and big clumpy cybergoth boots in 2002, long after the trend had passed, and then only wore the whole shebang once.
posted by subbes at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll have an ice-cold can of Asahi please, and something made of krill.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:16 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember living in SF during the early/midde 90's and some of the Mondo2000 folks drank coffee at the same cafe I lived at, and they weren't too far off from this "parody". Of course, it goes without saying i was insanely jealous that they were living in the cyberpunk dreamworld I only aspired to.
posted by gofargogo at 4:36 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The first time I saw one of those Zero Halliburton briefcases I thought it was from K-Mart for like 25 bucks. Then a few weeks later I heard they went for 250 and were trendy. Then a year later half the guys in my office had one. I also thought the innovation of having a camera on your cell phone sounded ridiculous the first time I heard about it.

I never bought a copy of Mondo 2000 but I couldn't help riffling through those suckers at the newsstands. Now I can't recall offhand the last time I actually was inside a newsstand.
posted by bukvich at 4:38 PM on May 24, 2012


1) I wish I could find a link to this cartoon where the protagonist basically realizes that Mondo 2000 made shit up all the time. In an age where having an email address at all was pretty exotic.

It's not Mondo 2000 fakiness at its worst without a mention of their pet fake hacker, Michael Synergy. Why they kept promoting his nonsense I'll never know. Charitably I speculate they didn't know better.
posted by scalefree at 4:51 PM on May 24, 2012


Stop. I read that when I was in college. I held that issue in my hands

Shit. It's in a box in the basement. (along with my Wired Issue #1--"William Gibson on Cyberwar").

Once, I was an aspirational cyberpunk. Now I'm just middle-aged....
posted by Chrischris at 5:06 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


...without a mention of their pet fake hacker...

Nor is it right to omit mention of the rather less-fake person nearer the center: Judith Milhon.
posted by ead at 5:08 PM on May 24, 2012


Oh yeah, Schwa. I still have my Planet Operator's license framed in my writing room. I lost a lot of the other stickers, signs and doodads that came with that.

I still have some Schwa stickers. Random story time:

There used to be an Shakey's or ex-Shakey's pizza joint where my local BBS had weekly (!) meetups where people basically hung out, played the arcade games, bought access credits from the sysadmins, drank pitchers of bad beer and smoked weed in the parking lot. This was in the 89-93 time frame or so.

The place was a dump, the owners were assholes and the pizza was terrible, but it was one of those symbiotic relationships because no one else would host 20-40 drunken nerds and weirdos, and the place was usually empty the rest of the time except for local little league teams or neighborhood softball teams and such.

Many years later in the late 90s I was in the neighborhood with an ex-girlfriend and the place was still there. It was still dilapidated and gross and basically hadn't changed at all.

But the first thing I saw was one of those coin operated vending machines that dispensed stickers or temporary tattoos, and for some inexplicable and totally confusing reason one of the slots featured what appeared to be legitimate Schwa stickers.

So I bought one to check it out, and it was a very nice sticker printed on vinyl holofilm, complete with the Schwa copyright/trademark in tiny print on the border. There were some rather subversive and unusual designs on the display portion of the dispenser, not just the usual black/white alien head logo.

So I proceeded to empty the machine, because, what the fuck? Schwa stickers? Here? Why? Ok, whatever, shut up and take all my money!

I never did figure out the story behind that, or if it was at all related to the many years of BBS meetups from various BBSes from the era. Maybe some BBS prankster came back and filled the machine with them or something, I don't know.
posted by loquacious at 5:14 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was some shop on Haight Street that sold Crowley-themed stuff as well as the obligatory rave/"cyber" themed clothing.

That was probably "Housewares", and the store was very well known among the cyber/rave/industrial scenes. I can't find a link for it but I think it's still in business in some form.

They used to have some seriously crazy clothes. One of their specialties was holographic foils. Yeah, you could get holographic rainbow diffraction pants and shirts there among other things. The catalogs were often large "rave poster" style affairs with the state of the art in design.
posted by loquacious at 5:19 PM on May 24, 2012


On the one hand, I greedily lapped up Mondo 2000. On the other hand, I always blamed Cyberculture for causing Einst├╝rzende Neubauten to buy keyboards.

Go back to flaming metal, dammit!
posted by lumpenprole at 5:29 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So did wannabe cyberpunks really think they were going to walk comfortably carrying what looks like 15kg of electronics strapped to their body?

Yeah, I actually tried that at one point, but it was later in the 90s after I got my first real laptop. I didn't have a head mounted display but I mainly wanted to be able to have my laptop running in my backpack and be able to control winamp with voice commands so I didn't have to pull it out of the bag to skip tracks, because MP3 players were freaking expensive and tiny and my laptop had a "huge" 4gb drive.

So for about a week I was going around with a laptop backpack wired up with a boom mic kludged onto a decent set of headphones and not only did it look ridiculous, but it didn't really work. Plus the battery life on that laptop was about 45-55 minutes with a known good battery, and I was carrying around two or three of those 2-3 pound batteries. (They were spares from work.)

But I basically wanted a GPS, a head mounted display, one of those chording keyboards, a handheld mouse, headphones, mic, and webcam all wired into a central brain and wearable.

Which I now basically have all that in my pocket on my phone.

I also have an MP3 player the size of a matchbook that has 4gb on board and can support up to 64gb microSD cards, and it has a display. And I don't have to shout stupid commands at it like "ALT-TAB TAB SPACEBAR" to control the wonky voice control system in winamp's weird interface just to make it skip a track.

I have way more industrial friends that did go around with 15kgs of gear strapped on them, but it was usually more along the lines of a Psion3 or other early PDA, a TENS unit, a stun gun, perhaps a flogger and maybe some useless wires just for the look. Not to mention lots of metal plates, buckles and leather straps. (Hello, Fetish!)
posted by loquacious at 5:29 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's amusing to imagine the guy in the photo somehow becoming frozen in the moment (smart drinks gone bad?) and still going around with 15Kg of early-1990s computer gear suspended from his cargo belt. And him still doing this in 20 years' time, having been transformed from hip cyberfuturist to crazy old guy who collects junk merely by the passage of time.
posted by acb at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2012


Steve Mann?

That guy is legit, he started in the 80s with an eyepeice from a camcorder strapped to his head. I hope google hooks him up with some of the google glasses cash.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:46 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Steve is a stone cold freak, born several decades too early. He's dedicated his life to realizing his vision (err, so to speak) of bridging the gap between people & computers & didn't care about looking foolish or ridiculous along the way. He's been living in the future for a long time now; the rest of us are getting closer but he's still out in front, marking the path as he discovers & creates it. I liken him to a character from some of Michael Moorcock's novels, pushing back formless Chaos as he dreams at night & extending Order by discovering the newly created territory the next day.
posted by scalefree at 6:17 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


These days I rock a backpack with a light weight, aluminium, multi-core x86_64 processor brandishing laptop. It runs a GNU/Linux. I've got two 2.5" 1TB USB3 external drives with cabling. Several books.. a pair of Linux mags...

A multi-core ARM phone, running a non-standard firmware... also a GNU/Linux...

Cabling galore... and wireless syncing when I'm feeling froggy....

I've got more CPU cores in a cluster of systems in my humble flats room... and more RAM than I know how to fence off on others....

I sit on an inflated sphere because chairs make your core soft...

I go to concerts and other events when not encumbered by the responsibilities of work...

Where I have access to more hardware than I ever thought I'd live to see with my own eyes...

I cycle were I can, when I can...

Staying light footed... and hard minded...

Trying not to get lost in the sprawl...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 6:25 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here's yer dang newfangled C64
posted by lordaych at 7:05 PM on May 24, 2012


For example, if you were to sew, embroider, and otherwise attach a bunch of dangly plastic computer-ish bits to a jacket, and then try to walk around in that jacket, you might realize that it turns you into a walking clattering tambourine of sorts.

I mean, you might. I would never do such a foolish and silly thing, not even with the particular recklessness inherent to being 22 and nerdy in the year 1994.


As a pretty nerdy 22yo guy in 1994, I can imagine I would have followed that jangly, clakety jacket anywhere...
posted by pupdog at 7:08 PM on May 24, 2012


Damn this makes me feel old. I was like 21 when this spread was printed.

And now I am a forty-year-old lady who has more computing power than these guys could dream of in her pocket on a regular basis. How time flies.
posted by egypturnash at 7:11 PM on May 24, 2012


Jesus what wankery.
posted by newdaddy at 7:35 PM on May 24, 2012


drezdn: "All that black? He must not own cats."

Actually, the hack to fix that is quite trivial. Own black cats.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:36 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know what is hilarious? My freinds and I discovered cyberpunk during high school and thought it was awesome. We read Snow Crash, I read old essays on it, one of my friends got really into a lot of the old manifestos.

The year? About 2005. I realized it was dead pretty quickly, but yeah, some of those ideals still appealed to us two decades after the height of the movement.
posted by Canageek at 8:07 PM on May 24, 2012


Virtual Light was out in 1990? Now I feel old.
posted by pompomtom at 9:23 PM on May 24, 2012


I'm glad they gave the Billy Idol album props. I thought it was ahead of its time, even way back then.
posted by Metro Gnome at 9:48 PM on May 24, 2012


Remember when Sony was relevant?

They don't mean it, Minidisc. They don't know you like I know you.

tee hee tiny discs
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:29 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The year? About 2005.

An ex of mine claimed to have invented sokmethng called CyberGrunge. This was in about 2004, and I'm still not sure how it would work. Grunge never really took off here, and I think he was doomed to fail as he was convinced that if he connected his laptop to the internet, Microsoft would somehow know his copy of Word was pirated and send a 'computer-wiping virus'.
posted by mippy at 3:41 AM on May 25, 2012


Eventually cyberpunk may come back as a self-consciously period/retro movement, like steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk and helvetipunk.
posted by acb at 5:10 AM on May 25, 2012


I've always been trying to get Atomic Punk to catch on. You have ray guns ripped from the covers of sci fi mags from the 50s, and everyone lives in ranch houses.
posted by drezdn at 5:52 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Atomic Punk
posted by jquinby at 6:26 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Drezdn, are you aware of a little series called Fallout that is basically that?
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not. I'll have to check it out.
posted by drezdn at 9:00 AM on May 25, 2012


It's six bucks on GoG, but they gave it away for free a while ago and may do it again.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, for all y'all foaming at the mouth over the fashion aesthetic (I legit cringed, because I still kind of dress like this sometimes... but I have better-conditioned hair/am female), might I recommend cryoflesh.com? Here's a 15 percent off code for Memorial Day weekend: memorial2012.

Now, I'm just going to go over and put my copy of Snow Crash in my Pelican case next to my zip drive, my minidisc player (ugh, I took one with me to Italy in 2002, forreals!) and a few copies of 2600; I've got an RTmark project to finish in Copenhagen this weekend.

see you guys on /. later, amirite?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:21 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: ray guns and ranch houses.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:48 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So just realised I've had a BLJ in my wardrobe since '89*... so original CP

*BrownLJ since 83
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:17 PM on May 25, 2012


drezdn: As classic as the first two are I found the second rather painful when I attempted to play it. Fallout 3 is much more modern, though fans of the original are of mixed opinion on it. The humour is a bit different, and it is a FPS/Action-RPG, but it keeps the 1950s aesthetics.
posted by Canageek at 10:42 AM on May 27, 2012


if he connected his laptop to the internet, Microsoft would somehow know his copy of Word was pirated and send a 'computer-wiping virus'.

Also known as Windows.

Boo-yah! Mid 90s humor for the win!
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:23 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


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