ASCII by Jason Scott

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Vintage Festival East 4.0 —

Saturday morning at 3am found me doing one of my favorite things: getting into my car and heading off into the darkness. Don’t ask me why, but something about the endless abandoned roads and a world lessened in people but not in their artifacts appeals to me. The drive was uneventful, going from Boston towards the township of Wall in New Jersey. Well, except for the issue of the gas can.

I had taken a quick diversion into upstate NY to get a few moments with my dad, just to tell the guy I loved him. Along the last of the roads to where he lives, I happened upon a poor guy who had run out of gas. Realize that at 5am I’m an unbelievably paranoid person, so it took an interaction not unlike consulting with a rabid dog to get me to come enough out of my car to shout across the road at him. So much for brotherhood. I felt bad enough about my attitude that I took his gas can and went to a nearby gas station, filled it, and bought a Mountain Dew for the guy. He was unbelievably appreciative when I returned, and even mugged for the camera.

Only problem was, I guess the top of the gas can wasn’t on entirely straight, and I leaked some gas into the cab of my car. This, I can safely say, is bad. I got it on my laptop bag, and ended up throwing that away after emptying the contents. It actually ate through a copy of my documentary I was bringing along (although that, in it’s own way, was really cool). And the car smelled like a lawmower. Suddenly, I was enjoying my trip a little more in that delightful gasoline-fume-high sort of way.

It’s very surreal to think of these as photos that are within a mere half-mile of New York City, but there you go; this is the Henry Hudson Parkway, one of Robert E. Moses’ great forced public works. The George Washingon Bridge overlooks it, and a few quick turns and you find yourself on it, heading to New Jersey. Between the mist and the morning, it was a beautiful sight.

As mentioned, the festival took place in Wall at a building called the InfoAge Science/History Learning Center, a still-being-renovated facility that has been getting steady upgrades for a few years and whose main ballroom held the exhibits that reign at the heart of the event. People bring in computer systems from all over the countryside to this event, putting up spot-on recreations of machine rooms, displays of prestine historical items, and a smattering of stuff you never quite knew existed.

Naturally, this sort of thing is very much about machines, but even more about people. A lot of buddies I’ve spent con time with were at this event, people who I spend much more time talking to online than hanging with in person, including my biggest fan, Michael Lee, Commodore software collector extraordinare Bo Zimmerman, Ms. Jeri Ellsworth, hardcore Commodore guy Robert Bernardo… many names, many cool people.

As a bonus, I spent time with Curt Vendel, who viewers of the BBS Documentary might recall as “The Atari Guy”. He had a nice display up, containing prototypes and faked-up demo units related to Atari from the last 20 years. He’s doing well, I’m doing well, life is good.

I was especially touched by the half-dozen people who not only came up to me and said hello to me by name, but asked me how GET LAMP was doing. I showed them some footage as a thanks.

All in all, a solid time spent, a reminder of the ever-happening events that happen while I work away in my office, cutting things around and scanning in history. (8 more Krakowicz files just joined the Apple II Cracking Section on, for example). Files and artifacts are good, make no mistake, but what a pleasure it is to spend a moment outside in the sun talking with fellow history-minded folks over a hot dog and a soda.

Oh, and my car still smells like a lawnmower.

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  1. Wow, sounds like an awesome time! I had the opportunity to meet both Bo Zimmerman and Robert Bernardo at the 2006 Emergency Chicagoland Commodore Convention (ECCC). Curt Vendel is awesome, too — I bought my Atari Flashback from him at the Dallas VGXPO. I could listen to Curt’s old Atari stories forever.