By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
He selects the classic '90s rock opera, Atlantis,by the rock group Queen and patched up his hardware in the "mix" mode. A picture comes up on the 2-by-3-foot screen on the wall. As credits appear on the screen, Bobby tears open a red, white and gold pack of Golden State brand marijuana cigarettes. California's best, from the enormous grass farms in Kern County. He's been smoking since he was 13; all age limits on marijuana smoking have been eliminated by state proposition 7 in 1993.
The entertainment conglomerates, especially Warner Communications and Polygram International, dominate the leisure drugs market, having successfully out-marketed the major liquor companies and the tobacco giants. America’s radio network was the key to Warner's success.
The rich smoke hangs in the air as Bobby starts to play with his Beta-Mix machine. Chrome knobs, 24 of them, control the volume of each of the 24 tracks of sound on the master tape, allowing him to remix the Queen album to his own taste, and mix it differently every time. He can enjoy infinite Queen. By recording a mix, he creates a new album. The American Society of Tapists (AST) sponsors an annual contest for amateur mixers. Though it's been done lots of times, Bobby has an interesting version of the Apollo II trip tapes mixed with the help of his computer with some ancient Pink Floyd and synthesized parts of Stairway to Heaventhat he wants to enter in this year's contest.
Bobby has an appointment this Saturday at his friend Steve's house. Steve is 23, a college dropout and an artist. He belongs to an artistic and music collective called "Cable Phreaks" with which Bobby has been associated for nearly a year. Artistic descendants of the "blue box"' telephone builders of the '70s, who ripped off the phone company so successfully, the Cable Phreaks have broken many of the secret communication codes of the cable and telephone companies, allowing them to access instantly millions of home or business computer-TV terminals.
Helped in part by Bobby's computer skills, the group learned to interrupt feeds from the entertainment companies and transmit their own materials. Through underground news bulletins, the Cable Phreaks managed to open the way for "guerilla" musicians and artists long ignored by the entertainment conglomerate to get their work before the public "Guerilla art," it was called, and though denounced by the L.A. Timeseditorial page as "juvenile" and "undemocratic," it had found a waiting audience and was being taken very seriously. Security people from AT&T and the entertainment companies, backed strongly by the FBI, were searching hard for the "guerillas"-in part because of their potential economic impact should the trend grow; in part because of federal worry about organized crime use of the codes. In Washington the guerillas were just more ammunition for the enemies of the entertainment conglomerate. Bobby and Steve were wanted, and it was no joke. Only last month a San Francisco "guerilla" had been sentenced to four years in prison.
In Steve’s entertainment room is a computer-realized oil painting. The latest commercial manifestation of computer art is the breakdown of painting masterpieces into their basic elements and the reconfiguring into cubist, impressionist, or randomly abstract versions of the classic painting.
Also in Steve's room is a holographic, video projection, which he uses mostly for erotic simulations. It is 3-dimensional sex in whatever form turns you on, technology having broken through in the field of voyeurism. The holographic "orgie" by Jim Hanes, Jr. in Paris in 1992 was the first to allow the spectator to be in the midst of this
incredible scene. Visible from almost all angles, the sexual scene is viewed in freedom and leisure. There is, of course, nothing to touch (but one's mind). The impact of this art was lessened only by the fact that the real thing can now be legally purchased in many states.
Steve subscribes to the new LTS: Laser Transmittal Sound systems. From a listing of more than 100,000 albums, he can select programs of his choice. From the electronic Schwann catalog, Steve gets the code number for a couple of albums. On his telephone, he punches up the control code number, his subscriber code and the album and cut code. The cost of each play (approximately 38 cents) will be charged to his monthly LTS bill. Inexpensive, considering the current $35.00 cost of discs and tapes.
To kill time before an important meeting, Steve and Bobby decide to drive to the latest biofeedback amusement center in downtown L.A. They take positions across a two-way read-out screen. Donning lightweight plastic conductor headbands, they nod "start" to each other. The headbands pick up electronic changes in their thought patterns, convert them into impulses and run them through the computerized game board. Bobby beats Steve in two warm-up sets of tennis. Steve comes back to beat him in a very fast cross-country road race. Bobby takes dominance with a strong showing in "Space-to-Space" Missiles.
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