The novelty has worn away at your heart and soul and you’re in a Best Western eating a mammoth plate of quesadilla for breakfast, washed down with a coke and ESPN’s dramatic bellowing working its way through your ghastly hangover. No respite. There’s no respite in Las Vegas. That’s the way everyone likes it.
Preparing your appointments for the day means resting your laptop, netbook or smartphone next to your plate. Your diary is full but this is a convention and it’s hard to keep time anyway. You’ll need to keep an eye open. What are your rivals doing? Where are they going? Check and you’ll see it’s nothing to worry about. They’re all pissing blood over tablet computers. Today ioSafe sends me a link to the Wall Street Journal. They’ve been shooting hard drives with shotguns and I wasn’t invited. I edge my way in.
You pull up your socks and prepare to head back to the convention centre. Bewildering memories of last night shoot through your brain like an electric shock, you can still see the bright lights of Vegas that outshine the sun, and slot players keep pulling on their own personal hell, one poor woman slumped in front of an unlucky machine cramped in the same position as yesterday. She’d be there the next day too. For now you catch up with your colleagues in the UK, tired as the jetlag’s got you, and bare for the brunt of the internet-free CES halls. It is the biggest technology convention in the world. Sony, Microsoft, LG, Intel, AMD, Everyone. And the internet sucks.
No one is phased by it. I’m the only journalist I encounter who takes it in the way a small sponge would absorb a gallon of sick.
The Asian attendees are all chainsmoking by the entrance while tech geeks queue up for bumper beers at Woody Allen’s stand just past noon. Flitting between the press room and the front rooms of the central hall, past the smiling booth babes killing time before time to kill hard drives. I spot a large booth left-of-centre, a Chinese portable media player outfit, the products feel like plastic turds but the screen is bright and it can play all your music and movies. Time to go.
Waiting out the front next to an important man from a wealthy website I can’t remember. The limo will pick me up. It doesn’t – they stand me up after waiting in the desert’s weird January heat – I’d get an apology and a pick-up tomorrow but the traffic’s crazy and a detour was out of the question. I go back to Woody Allen’s stand and buy a bumper beer.
The temporarily usual takes its role and at last walking around CES and taking briefings turns to mundane but interesting normality, compared to the stripping glitz of the Strip just a five minute drive away and the haunting obtrusions of craps dice bouncing against a table’s edge. All the thought leaders are typically useless and you can’t get a word out of the booth help that isn’t “solution” – this in mind I take a taxi to the Sands convention centre, around the back of the Venetian, to check out the AVN show. It’s pornographic.
The taxis out here: the men and women who drive the cabs love the Brits. I’m told by a few separate drivers that parts of their families moved to England. In a bizarre turn of coincidence they all live by Picadilly Circus.
Lydia Leavitt from TG Daily is already there, so is Sylvie Barak from RCR Wireless and Nicole Scott from Taiwan-based Netbook News. They’re meeting up with talent Raven Alexis to take some videos for Aroundthe.net. The first thing that strikes me is a looming wave of absurdity: here I am hunting for unseemly scoops on semiconductors and I’m trying to find them at a seedy, dim hall covered in tits.
There are more pubic hairs on the toilet seats than most people’s bodies.
No discredit to the noble pornography industry, standing alone and trying to take its multi-million operations seriously in a sneering world. But its fans and advocates carry a stench of sleaze you couldn’t find staring through a carefully placed hole in the wall. Physically, the stench is real, too – I was at the Sands a couple of days earlier. It didn’t stink. Today it stinks.
The AVN show actually offers discounts for any CES attendees: they know their market well. Brian Gross is in charge of press here and he’s a good worker. He looks up TechEye on Alexa and gives me the go-ahead while some drunk American hacks spit beer on the floor and themselves. Porno mags are cast all round, opened up to the centre folds, catalogues sit stacked on a table selling racially-themed gangbangs for mail order but the viciously sexual designs don’t reflect on many in the press room. It’s all good fun. An overweight man who identifies himself as “The Snowman” interviews a porn actress, casually asking her questions on scenes about anal sex in the most stunted interview manner I, as an awkward hack with a string of awkward interviews behind me, have ever seen.
There are legions queuing to have their mugshots snapped with porn queens including Raven Alexis. Sylvie Barak skips the line and waltzes next to her for a quick talk. I’m told they have been filmed blowing balloons up until they pop for fetish websites but they didn’t get paid. A man recognises TG Daily and hands Lydia a vibrator, as a gift. No one recognises TechEye but if they did we’d probably be asked to leave. Similarly to CES a couple hawk beer out the front entrance – I buy what I’m told is the alcoholic’s choice, a 40 ounce can of warm weak Coors beer. I chug it down, smoke a cigarette and catch a taxi back to the Best Western for more quesadillas. And get back to work.