In 1993 I went to California for training. I was in my first computer job ever, had dropped out of college, and was running AGIS (Atlas Geographic Information System) and being a sysadmin, system operator, DBA, and print monkey. Oh, and paper jogger. The office was a side business in a bank owned by a senator. The job was to create targeted mass mail. Junk mail, tailored for your specific demographic and geographic area. The demographics and geographics came from me.
When I started the job we had two small offices on the 2nd floor of a three story bank building on the Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. We'd installed a large Xerox printer (it had a Sun SPAC-10 for a control panel) and I'd sorted out connecting it to an IPX to IP gateway to talk to our Netware network. We used Netware 3.10 (we'd migrate to 3.11 while I was there), and all our PCs were 486/66 or better. My particular specialty, AGIS, required a fairly decent video card and a bus mouse / tablet. And a Houston Instruments pen plotter. And a hell of a lot of troubleshooting the config.sys to get all of that plus netware's client to load without cratering. I did everything from DOS.
The opportunity comes up to go to AGIS training. The training was in Orange County, out in Newport Beach, at a Meridien hotel. The boss put me up at that hotel (I can't imagine what the cost was) and gave me his credit card. I drove my broke-ass Mustang to El Paso, got on a plane, and flew to LAX.
Now, I'd never been to Los Angeles on my own. I'd only driven through except once when I was a kid and we went to Disneyland (not really LA). I'd been on a bus trip once from Cruces to San Francisco (had enough cash for Greyhound but not enough to fly) and we stopped at the Los Angeles bus terminal at 3am, where I waited for an hour and a half for my next bus. My take on LA was this: it's a HUGE thing. At the time the state of New Mexico had about 1.1 million people. Los Angeles County had 10 million. From the plane all I could see was city and some mountains lined with roads and houses, surrounded further still by actual forest. Odd.
The airport was nuts. The lady at the rental counter wouldn't take my boss's credit card, so I had to find a rent-a-wreck type shady budget place. Some random middle eastern gentleman picked me up and took me to his grimy little office, and I rented a used, battered 1987 Toyota Corolla with nothing but my New Mexico driver's license and a pre-paid 3 day rental.
Then off to the highway. Driving over south central, seeing street names that'd been on the news the year before during the riots, I turned up the cheap stereo which was tuned to KROQ and heard, for the first time, WMA by Pearl Jam.
Holy shit. The DJ had the same reaction. "Holy (beep) that's a fantastic (beep)ing song. Let's play it again" and he did, three times. Then he just played the whole of Vs from track one on.
I was in LA traffic, travelling westbound, the only guy in the area with no story. Driving flat out full throttle the car would barely hit 85 and that kept me up with traffic, and I got lost, and I didn't care because, hot damn that was a fantastic album.
Finally got to the hotel where the valet scoffed at my car, my ripped jeans, my Jesus Biker on Meth hair. Got my room, jumped onto the bed, turned up the radio, and just went raging crazy as they played the album again. Jumping up and down, floor to ceiling window wide open to the mass of humanity below.
Goddamn boring trip, but every time I hear anything from Vs, all I see is ragged bits of LA, a complete oddity in my own GIS, something I can't explain properly.
Ended up at a party with famous types. Did drugs. Got drunk. Drove to the coast and stood in the ocean in the middle of the night. Could not relate to anything around me. Odd that one of my favorite albums ever is tied internally to an area that I care nothing about.
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