Los Angeles, California Gary Coleman Flanked by Strippers

E3 is like a high school reunion, only it happens every year and it’s much much louder.

For those who don’t know, E3 is a big dumb videogame convention that happens here in LA. It’s an absurd spectacle of sleaze and desperation in which it’s not uncommon to bump into, say, an aging Gary Coleman flanked by strippers.


Actually, inmany profound ways, that image pretty much sums up the show.

All the videogame companies pay silly amounts of money for a few fleeting square feet of space on the showroom floor. They frantically compete for attention — not by demonstrating the merits of their products — but by cranking the volume of their booth displays as loud as possible and distracting hapless nerds with the never-ending supply of indigenous and affordable booth babes.

Booth babes are a special breed of female that can only be found in Los Angeles. Their skin is made of naugahyde and they think everything you say is hilarious.

Anyway, for reasons I can’t entirely recall, I chose this industry as the one in which to attempt to make a living. And in doing so, I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years who are obligated, as I am, to converge for this event. So you run into folks.

I spent the day cataloguing the ways in which people avoid prolonged exposure when they encounter each other at the show. My favorite observed techniques are:

– Wave to a person from a distance while looking in another direction. It is preferable, when doing this, to be actively engaged in a completely separate conversation. This diffuses the threat of having the new person come up to you, while letting them know you’re far too busy to talk.

– Say hello while walking by, then continue to walk away as if you’re in a car and unable to stop. The key is to shrug at the person, as if to say, "I’d like to stop, but I have no control over my legs."

– Today I witnessed a more subtle variation on the fake-cell-phone-conversation ruse: instead of picking your phone up and pretending to talk, you wait for the other person to pick up theirs, then walk over, shake hands, and make a quick getaway before they hang up.

I had several of these used on me today, and I used them on others as well. The handful of times that I decided not to, I regretted it. Running into someone on the E3 floor always ends badly. It’s like trying to have a conversation at an orgy…which I imagine would be very difficult.

I haven’t recovered my laptop. I’m close to giving up and moving on. The morning after it was stolen, I canvassed all the pawn shops in Seattle and gave each one a description of all the items stolen with corresponding serial numbers. I told them I would buy back as much as they could get. I also reported the laptop stolen to Dell and they locked the Windows XP key. I filed a police report and checked with their pawn detail. If it shows up at any pawn shop in the country, it should theoretically get flagged and I will get a call. I also checked with their evidence room to see if it had turned up with any recent arrests.

No luck.

I did some research on Google and found there’s a 2% success rate in recovering stolen laptops. It is most likely sitting in the basement of some drug dealer’s house right now. I don’t know where it goes from there – overseas perhaps, or maybe there’s some kind of chop shop for computers that they send it to. But only someone very desperate or very stupid would dump it into one of the legitimate channels where it would eventually come back to me.

I recognize that’s all of interest to no one. For some reason it soothes me to detail my diligent yet futile efforts.

Anyone got any laptop recommendations?

For those wondering about my future wanderings, I’m firming up two trips for later in the year. One is a road trip across the US and the other is to Central America. I’ll post a rough itinerary of tour dates for the road trip in the coming weeks. Please let me know if I’m passing through your neck of the woods. I’ll be happy to dance for a couple beds to sleep on.