aqua fortis

Friday, August 04, 2006

Great American Musings, Part 2

Sorry. I had a beer and a half and now I'm loquacious.

Thinking about the Great American Music Hall led me to thoughts of working at, back in the days of heady spendthrift dot-com revelry. One year we had our company (the company at the time being holiday party at the Great American Music Hall. It was a fancy-dress occasion; the band performing was made up of twentysomething employees; there were hired young ladies in silvery elf costumes running around taking black-and-white Polaroids of everyone. There was a buffet dinner. The place was mobbed.

Midway through the evening, the CEO (who was merely thirtysomething himself, of course) announced the winners of various sumptuous raffle prizes: ski lift tickets, a snowboard. I still have the dress I wore that night--a cheap, black, sleeveless silky number that came to about mid-calf and had rows of blue spangles along the bust area. I still have the jacket, an extra-long black fitted blazer that has come in handy for work many times. Rob wore his three-piece suit. The black-and-white picture of us has gradually been fading.

I even vaguely remember our IPO party. It was in this warehouse loft space somewhere in San Francisco. Random representatives of all our corporate partners--mainly from the video game world--were there. I talked to some game testers from Sega for a long time. They had quite a high opinion of themselves for people who sat around playing video games all day for shit wages. (Not that that sounds entirely bad.) And I remember going to some Tomb Raider-related party thrown by Electronic Arts at Bimbo's 365 Club, which is down the street from the Art Institute. There was free food there, too, and free video games (of course), and a free Tomb Raider wristwatch for all guests.

Sigh. A good time was had by all. Until the bubble burst. And until I got a bitchy boss at the same time as I realized there was no hope of career advancement in the desired direction. And then half of my friends got laid off; whee. No more happy-go-lucky games of Quake on the LAN. Far less Razor-scootering around the office. The commute just didn't seem worth it any more. They were good times (as I'm sure you've gathered, by the sheer frequency with which I ruminate nostalgically on them). I just have to keep finding other good times, I guess.


Seren said...

You make me smile in your reminiscing. I find myself sometimes similarly nostalgic for the same period of time -- which was when I'd first moved to California. I didn't work for a start-up, but I think there was something in the air in NoCal at that time regardless of whom exactly you worked for -- something about the prosperity and hopefulness maybe? I know Pari has thoughts like this, too.

Lovely picture of you two.

And, go, beer!

DaviMack said...

I so totally feel your nostalgia, and sense of loss. The feeling that somehow, if the bubble hadn't burst, life could have gone on with work being a semi-fun part of life; that you could work at a job which actively courted you, as opposed to treating you like you were somehow dirty for asking for decent wages. Sigh.

Chris Cope said...

The cool thing about that photo is that it looks as if it was taken in the 1930s.

a. fortis said...

Ah, yes; craptacular photo quality and insufficient lighting. And the three-piece suit contributes to that effect.

And don't even get me started on the decent wages thing. I had this whole issue with writing two columns per day for a year and a half and not getting compensated. Yay. I don't miss that.