Friday, December 19, 2008

Adieu, MacWorld

".... and I want to go to MacWorld in New York." April 1999. That was the final request I made when negotiating for my new position at work. I was pretty happy. I received a raise; I got to work in a funny looking five-sided building; I was being paid to buy cool stuff and play with it and tell someone what I thought; but best of all, I was going to MacWorld. For someone like me this was a dream come true. It was my Haj; my pilgrimage to Lourdes; my quest for the Northwest Passage.

For three days the Jacob Javitts Center would be turned into Apple Xanadu; a glass domed Macintosh pleasure palace, full of wonders. Printers. Scanners. Graphics cards. Free stuff! Ahhh, free stuff. My reward for my journey through the maze of Microsoft reps, software vendors, magazine subscriptions and electronics vendors.

After making my way towards the giant Apple "Think Different" banners; there she was. Her siren's song as powerful as those who called out to Jason and Odysseus. She, in her white Apple polo shirt, beckoned me to hear her seductive song. "Would you like an Apple sticker?" she sang. This was the song I had waited so long to hear.

I was struck dumb. She blinked then finally, I replied, "C-c-can I have two?"


It was like I found the Holy Grail, The Ark of the Covenant, and the Golden Fleece all at once. What more could I possibly ask for? Wait! "Where did you get that cool orange digital clock?" I asked.

"Over at the EarthLink booth, aisle 6, I think. They have a whole box full and their giving them away."

"There's more stuff? Free!?!"

That's when my quest for free stuff at MacWorld really started. I got pens, pencils, clocks, stickers, books, silly putty, cups, lanyards, candy, food, calendars and every other piece of wonderful Apple-related crap you could think of. Every night I would take my treasures back to my hotel room, lay them out of the bed and gaze upon them. This was the best job ever!

2001 was the pinnacle of my free stuff orgy. In addition to all the normal booty, Apple gave away a free mouse to everyone at the keynote speech. This same keynote, that through some clerical error, I was given a VIP badge and was allowed to sit right up front to worship at the altar of Steve. Steve's keynote speeches were part rock concert, part liturgy, and part Christmas morning. If you've never been to one, you'd never really understand.

It got even better when later that day as I was on my quest for free stuff, Steve himself walked right toward me on the exhibition floor. As he passed he game me that little knowing "Get the f*@# out of my way!" look. I did. The air was electric for a moment and was then gone as he went on to be annoyed by the several thousand others who were in his way. It was the best day ever!*

(*of course not including our wedding day, birth of children, romantic dinners or other days my wife would be upset about)

My last Macworld was 2002. It was cancelled in New York soon after. And now, 2009 might be the last MacWorld in San Francisco. Nancy and I thought it might give us an excuse to visit San Fran in the next year or two, but it looks like now the Bay Area can only entice us with mild weather, good food, beautiful scenery, and cable car rides.

It's the end of an era. I still have lots of pens, posters, a few stickers, my orange EarthLink clock and even an egg or two of Microsoft's silly putty. But a world without MacWorld will be a little emptier, at least for me.

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