November 2002 Archives

Buzzkill at the EMP


The OOPSLA 2002 gala event was held at the Experience Music Project Museum. I'd been looking forward to it for months.

We’d all timed our drugs (such as they are these days, a dangerous mix of caffeine and Merlot) so as to have them kick/we’d peak in just as we got to Paul Allen’s Hendrix Mausoleum at the base of the Space Syringe, ‘er Needle.

I was quite amazed by the lengths to which the folks at the EMP went to make our rock and roll experience as authentic as possible. Indeed, some of the most disagreeable aspects of said experience were uncannily reenacted in meticulous detail.

We were promised full access to the building for as long as we needed it when we were shown it last year. Indeed, we were told that our booking was the inaugural deal for EMP’s use for this sort of event.

Instead, our attendees were greeted at the doors by a phalanx of beefy bouncers who could have been flown in from the Meadowlands, and herded to the back doors for a vivid taste of that quintessential cheap seats experience.

Indeed, many were told not to enter the building at all if they wanted food. They were directed instead to a waterlogged plastic rain tent across busy Denny Way, where a platoon of off-duty Seattle cops sat complacently, evidently just in case any rowdy hackers revolted at their treatement and rioted.

There were portapotties, waterlogged tents with drenched dancefloors. These rugs were best cut in galoshes.

The reason for all of this was MTV’s Paul Allen/Bill and Melinda Gates benefit, replete with stars like the Dave Mathews band, J. Lo, and God knows what rap acts.

We got black curtains and velvet ropes. The young and hip and beautiful were ushered past like royalty, while guards glowered at middle aged techies as if each was a potential gatecrasher.

Heaven forbid that a beer gut, bald spot, or PhD recipient might appear on MTV, or that an actual techie might show up at Paul Allen's building for a Gates Foundation sponsored event...

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