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Your Cyberpunk Stories

The Candy Store

Wayne Clarke
/It was four blocks from the shelter, I used panhandle near it. How
strange it seemed, standing out against the grey smoky backdrop of the
misty streets, the billboards, uniformal chain-stores and the distant
high-rises shrouded in heavy smog. Here was an idealist, tardisian
traveller from another age, an age of wonder. It had an aqua-green door,
and jubilant crimson walls, the colour of apples. It had that Grimm
fairy-tale look about it, wooden criss-cross window frames with red
velvet curtains, and through those windows I saw a view of another
world. Candy, all the colours of the rainbow, chocolates, toffees, all
home-made. How my mouth did water. How I envied those spoilt, buxom,
rosy-cheeked children skipping in holding hands with their mothers. How
friendly the little old man behind the counter looked. He'd talk to his
customers smiling and I'd stand watchin' as the kids sauntered out,
gorging themselves, with lackadaisical smiles under chocolate smeared
mouths. And I wondered why they deserved them any more than me./

History books say the actual Crash came on April 1^st 2029, almost a
century after the Crash of 1929 that so profoundly changed the political
geography of that time- as the Second Crash did our own. This was the
date of the Doomsday Virus. A computer virus of such complexity and
sophistication that it managed to completely halt almost all global
telecommunications, media broadcasts and network traffic for precisely
six hours, six minutes and six seconds. The resultant mayhem earned it
its curious name. Nobody can yet prove who the culprits were. Although,
initially the AU claimed it to be work of the Californian hippie-hacker
gang the Killer Bees, or Kaybees as they became known. The Kaybees were
formed in LA, and spread to San Francisco, and from there pollination
continued. From city to city, state to state, propagating like a newly
engineered super-species, exclaiming their pro-freedom,
anti-exploitation convictions. They were unlike any group that had come
before. Highly organised, highly regimented, highly secretive; almost
Masonic. Their technological prowess was formidable and their political
austerity, exemplary. They rapidly gained support, particularly in
working class areas but also among campuses, the pockets of wealthy
intelligentsia, and had somewhat blurry ties with anarchic militias, as
well as the kingpins of many ghetto crime syndicates. They seemed to
carry quite a lot of hidden muscle, solid and electrical. Fiscal and Fisty.

Their methods could never be labelled brutal as such, and it was
discovered that their basic policy is that of manipulation, rather than
coercion. Basic Kaybee protocol is that of using the force of your
enemies against them, pitting one against the other, using their
leverage, toppling their balance. It was almost a Taoist or Zen
approach. A modular being of infinite patience and a keen, agile,
strategically-orientated group-intellect. An ever-growing hive of minds,
a fusion of skills and knowledge into one highly adaptive organism. A
fully functional, communal, bio-electric think-tank, each pulling puppet
strings, moving arms and legs, not to attack, but to deflect and defend,
reversing all thrusts like a master of the soft Chinese martial styles.
The threat they actually posed was nothing like the threat that was felt
by certain individuals. They were a perfect scapegoat. However no known
Kaybee operatives were ever convicted. On the contrary, many sued the
government- and won.

Europe had their own scapegoats. It claimed the Virus to be the work of
a small, strategically diffuse far-left group known as the Economic
Armageddon Cult. These were a different kettle of fish. They believed
that people were slaves to the god of economics, too wrapped up with
material things and awaited for creation of a New World; free from it
all. They were, in fact, nature-freaks, Greenies if you will. An
obscure, and quite bizarre brand of pagan proto-(*paganist)s, who
believed that Armageddon would soon some. When the Earth spirits would
at last rise up against those who perpetrate the rapine of Gaia. However
the name carried a certain amount of social and commercial
consternation. It was quite easy to convince the public that these were
the people responsible for the attack. The cult was quite primitive in
outlook, almost reminiscent of the Hommish. They had no P.R. man, and no
outside support. If Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder; then Innocence
is in the Eye of the Jury. Murderers are frequently innocent, while
martyrs are often found guilty. So when one member fled to the ABN
{Allied Baltic Nations}, while many others took their lives in bizarre
fashion, it only helped cement the publicís opinion on the others.
Therefore, unlike the vindicated Kaybees, the E.A.C., became villains.
And it wasnít until the eventual leak of Interpol files and dossiers on
members, that the public began to question the case.

Once again they guessed and guessed, now the AU blamed Iran, Britain
blamed Europe, Europe blamed the ABN, the EAC said it was the wrath of
Gaia. While others, considering the exact duration of the crash, claimed
it was the work of Herr Beelzebub.

In reality, there was no Stock Market Crash. Just a rapidly sliding
recession. The Virus was just the catalyst for disaster. There were
other factors, each contributing to a global loss of market confidence.
All congealing in the centre, blocking up the delicate funnel of
financial bandwidth like a global tumour. The oil crisis, the alarming
but inevitable fact that it was soon going to run out, the resultant
"Scare", the inevitable "Sandstorm", the Japanese adoption of hydrogen,
the European bio-engine. These were, in particular, nails in the
American coffin. Another of the more important, and often neglected
factor was that of the predictions of a top New York computer-economist
and Wall Street Journal columnist, Sheldon Weiseman. Who predicted that,
at the current rate, even taking into account current nanno-technology,
mankind would reach the "Moore Saturation Point." Whereby computer
processing speed and capacity could no longer improved upon. Moore was a
20^th Century computer scientist who claimed that year after year the
speed, capacity and capability of computers will become better and
better each year, doubling, tripling, multiplying. Eventually, of course
the ride will stop. Perhaps derail. Meaning manufacturers would
eventually reach a wall that cannot be passed. Moore could never have
guessed that his law would cause such controversy, or accurately guess
when such a limit would be reached. But Weiseman did. He set a date for
it, sometime in the middle of 2029. Weiseman commanded global respect,
when he spoke the multitude listened. It was no surprise there was a
savage tilt in market confidence. Computer Economics was a strange,
relatively new science. A funky power-jive hip-speak for the marketing
elite. Combining what we knew of Old World economic trends, and how they
have gradually accelerated by faster and faster communication and
transport. Notions that now that as networks become faster and faster so
too must business. Exponential growth and the never-ending need for
advancing processing velocity are now a grim reality of the 21^st
Century. Whereby development is incessant, the need for re-education is
constant and technological obsolescence is death.

It was more than a fad, it was a lifestyle. Dripping with the fat of the
corporate model. Laden with the poetic idiom from the higher echelons of
Nouveux Americana. Such arithmetic maxims included /Time = Money,
Transmission = Time, Speed =/ /Power/. Of course not everyone shared
Weisemanís vision. The King, as he was known, Orville Bates, the
legendary PR man for Hanover-based company, Grieber Integration Systems,
referred to Weisemanís theory as;

"Öcyber-quack scaremongeringÖ Just another unwelcome, unwarranted second
helping of Millennium /Bug/geryÖ"

And he was right for one reason. He knew something the others didnít.
Grieber had broken the Moore barrier and given the world a new product.
A second generation nannochip made from sub-molecular strands of a
meta-conductive compound, encased in a doped polymer similar in
composition to Carbonex. Grieber ploughed thru the corporate carcasses
of fallen multinationals to become the definitive leader in industrial
computers. Only one man stood in their way, or should I say child
prodigy, the infamous Arthur Coine. It seemed that just when Grieber
developed the hardware, Coine was waiting, with just the right software.
STANdard script. The eventual language of AI.

ëAnd boy how they sold us that red herring!í
 
 

ëOurs is a consumeristic society, a shrine built to the gods of
capitalistic overkill. A man's car comes first; job security, love,
stability, happiness, a home, a family- just extras. It's the American
dream. As a child on the streets I once heard the great urban myth of a
Tennessee redneck by the name of Curtis McCall. His wife died, his
children had grown up. He wasn't a rich man, but he owned his own home-
he had inherited his parents' ranch, acres and acres of real estate. He
had grown up there and lived there his entire life. But he was past the
fifty mark, and he had held a clerical job in a commercial bank for
twenty years (this was all, of course, prior to the Crash). With his
wife dead, and no other obligations, he decided to fulfil his lifelong
dream. He sold off his possessions, cashed in his pension, sold the
house the land- everything. When he pooled it all together, he had a few
hundred grand, he paraded into an auto dealership with a suitcase full
of cash, he always dreamed of owning a Lamborghini. He bought one. He
still worked his bank job, but he slept at the shelter, in hostels, or
on the street. He paid a meagre thirty dollars a week for warehouse
storage, home of his precious chariot. Eventually he got smart, he slept
in daytime and at took the nightwatch job at the warehouse, with a
paycheque and a gun- guarding the cargo with his life.í

ëAs I grew up daddy an' me moved around. Daddy was a drunk, he was good
to me in his own unique way. But I always remembered that candy store.
Daddy an' me eventually settled down, it was the most horrible rat
infested fire-trap on the South Side. The water was brownish, it stunk
of cabbage and at night I fell asleep to the lullaby of sirens and
gunfire. But it was home. And in that neighbourhood I made some real
friends. Clancy was crazy from the very beginning, he never knew his
dad, his brother was in jail, and had got a job to help his momma. She
had some sickness, some disease- at the time I was too young to guess
what it was. Clancy was only the same age as me when I met him; eight.
That didn't make any difference, even the older kids were scared of him,
he always got the run of the ball court, and he never got pushed around.
Most kids never went near him; I used to often wonder why. But he had
his crew. I used to hang with him, and at the start the others thought I
was a tag along, but I proved myself in time. One Summer night we was
drinkin' out back by near where the abandoned factory was, daddy caught
me. He dragged me home and beat me senseless. Soon after, Clancy's mom
died. We decided that we'd never become nothin' if we hung around here.
And that we should never return to these chumps until we made somethin'
of ourselves.í

ëClancyís momma never cared that we smoked, weíd keep the olí block
tradition alive, a 40 anna blunt. Maybe some Domino's. And a lotta bored
channel-hoppiní. One night in his house we were chilliní like that and
there was a documentary on about the "Moguls of the IT Era". Midway,
before I got the chance to change channel Clancy started off into one of
his now-famous monologuesÖ

"Iíd like to live ly thah Billy, would you? Yíknow, ye takiní a shit ën
ye makiní a billion while ye doiní it? Thas the life man, those
muddafuckiz, they donít even know ëow tíenjoy id! Thas the real fuckiní
tragedy of it all. Whad they need is someone like us to show ëem how
itís done. Luggat that mothafucka Bill Gates. If I woz bill Gates,
yíthink Iíd give a shid about fuckiní Windows, fuckiní doohs, fuckiní
holes inna wall!"

I began to laugh.

"ÖHeyal no! Iíd be widda 40 anna blunt, as always! ëCept Iíd ava car for
every day adda week, Merc onna

Monday, Jag onna Tuesday, Porsche on Wednesday, ëVette for Thursday anna
/Ferr-ari Friday!/ Aní Iíd ava harem, like inna movies, like tha
towelíeds! A big harem fulla smoke, and fulla pussy, from aawl ova the
/World! /Auditioniní tha bitches for míown private porno movies!"

There were tears in my eyes from laughiní.

"ÖAní Iíd git me wunna dem Scorpion Glidiz I seen on TV? Aní Iíd turn id
into a Club! The fuckiní Mile High Club! And bíwoy? If you wanna go up
there? You gotts to git /mii-dy/ /high!"/í

ëWe were always in trouble of some kind, drink, drugs, stealiní cars,
breakiní aní enteriní. I done lots of jobs, mostly solo, and I never
enjoyed one as much as my last one. I told Clancy about the place. He
said it was fate, somethin' I had to do. So we done it. Cleared it out,
took all the cash from the till, any money or valuables, and I helped
myself to as many candies as I could fit in the bag. We got caught, but
we were too young for prison, they sent us to "Sesame Street," a
juvenile correction centre in upstate Michigan. They fed us sloppy
oatmeal and burnt toast, cold beans and gritty hamburgers, foul smelling
stew, lumpy mash and stale bread. They punished us, they whipped us,
they tried to teach us useless crap; like the Bible an' shit. All about
AIDS and the evils of drink and drugs. How to carve wood and solder by
hand. We never listened to what they told us. But we learned shit,
learned to play poker, learned how to survive, Clancy an' me learned
shit we never thought possible. We learned to be men, how to stand on
our own two feet; and we learned how to put others on their knees.í

ëAfter doing time we ended up in another shelter. There we met the man
who changed our view on life. Bobby Powell. He was a streetwise old
timer with a sterling smile, mischief in his eyes, and love in his soul.
He wore tattered Chinese-style sandals, torn flannels and big, baggy,
old-skool jeans. He laughed out loud and talked with his hands, waving,
waving, BIG expansive expressions. A flip-flopping, hunchback, parading
loudly down the drab, soaked streets. In one hand he carried his
Bourbon, in the other was his "bag of tricks." An MS Infinity console,
Lucent cell-com, doctored call cards, pocket scanner, Phillips HDU,
Pioneer mini-op quad-deck, Coine EPROM tray, a fossilised flash-drive,
his impressive arsenal of DIY "magic boxes" and numerous connectors,
wires, and gaudy antennas. He was a salesman. He was a conman. ("Ain'
much 'va difference!") An electro-trickster. He'd managed to swindle
thousands of dollars off on-line auctions, manipulated numerous
important, rich people with telemarketing gimmicks. His cons were
elaborate, high tech, and oh so cheeky. But they didn't come along that
often. He had numerous asides, he cheated at cards, set up shakedowns,
sometimes he just conned people out of small change or new clothes. Now
that the winter is fast approaching he's gearing up for the Christmas
rush. At a scrape Powell could get his hand on fake watches,
pornographic screensaver-discs for HDU's, imitation VB-boy keyrings,
(you might just remember the things, the little sound-sensitive LCD
breakdancers) Nintendo Holoboy cartridges with over six thousand games,
hot Casio notepad computers complete with Hewlett Packard stylus and
X-RAM add-ons with celebrity voicemail messages. Elvis is the top
seller: "/Aw-haw-haw! Hello this is Elvis Presley, there's no-one here
to take your call, so leave your message after the tone-
Thankyu-very-much!"/

Tacky electronics were his speciality, cyber-crap, hi-tech didn't amount
to shit in his world.

We passed by a Zorro-masked street performer, he was convulsing in a
bizarre, blinding, aerobic Kung-Fu ballet. Something like that shit they
do in Brazil, but with a lot of chopping and boxing. ëTrodes gelled to
his dome, rainbow braids of ribbon cables and slimline coaxial wires
running from head to foot. On his silken suit were silvery conductive
threads criss-crossing the thousands of multicoloured LED sequins; all
blinking in time with the music. At first I thought he was just dancing
and hitting things, but he wasn't, he was performing. The evolution of
the human beatbox. A bizarre array of drum machines, samplers and
Nu-MIDI sequencers, wired straight to his noodle . The free-form,
pneumatic breakbeats were coming from those pads he was hitting in a
lightning blur. His crazy legs, as they whipped around a grid of
infrared beams were in fact the biological aerials of some thundering
thermin that pummelled us with subbass harmonics.

"Dig tha' keeyid! See that's what I mean, it ain' high tech, bud it's
original! Next mon' he might be the half-time show faw tha 'Wings. Aftea
that? The Jessie Thomas show, MTVN, Who knows? See the big companies
sell what they tell the people they need. Sure you can get a console
that matches tha' black lacquered shelf system ya got in the Brick. Get
yaself an Ikea min-op rack and a subscription to Music Lover America,
every month a new volume of American Rock'n'Roll history delivered to
you home. Get a matchin' AKAI Blue-Range console, about yeay big, widda
hundred watt credit-cahd speakas to listen to id on. But I know not
every house wants one. 'Cos I sell crappy Cambodian ones that look like
an antique gramaphone- complete with fully functional record player!"

And he was right. I've seen the shit he sold. Compare a grand's worth of
a Remington /Laser/ with his product; the /Cut-throat/. The thing has
all these sensors inside, turn it one way it goes, "/oh-oh!" /another it
goes, "/whoops!", "sorry about that buddy!" /etc. And if it actually
does manage to cut you, it starts shrieking, "/OH MY
GAAAAAWWWD!!!!SOMEBODY CALL 911!!!!!"/

The busker follows us along the street, prancing along like a homicidal
Energiser bunny- Powell continues, "ÖChristmas howeva, thas tha
gold-rush! Yu star t'unnastan awl tha' shit about this here country
bein' tha land a' oppuh-tu-niddy. 'Cos it can be, /Ah-mer-ee-ca!!!/", he
begun to sing.

"/Where tha' streets are paved with gold/- and suckahs, which amounts tu
tha same thang lemmie tell ya. Aye give you boys an example. Rememer
lass yeer? Dem whatchamacallit's, /Bibikis/? All ova tha siddy, parents
tramplin' each other, fighdin' ly rabid dawgs. Ova whad? A piece 'a
Japanese fluff. Some whyde muddafucka inna /dee-zy-nah suit/ steps up to
my stall an axed me did I have any 'a them Kiwi's or whadeva, /'you know
whad I mean,í /he sez,/ ë furry green spikey thing, big googley eyes?í/
Shu' do ma man! Soul' fah hun-red dollas! It wasn't exactly what his kid
wanted but whad the fuck difference it make tu me? Twenny yeahz along
when they ass' why d'e shoot awl them people from up in that bell towah?
He sez it's 'cos he wanted a Bibiki fah Chriss-miss bud 'is dadday got
'im a Taiwanese /Bibuki,/ m'I gonna give a shit? /Hehyal/ no!"í

ëIt started small, and you could say it was almost legit. I was the
business man, and Clancy was the expert jive-talkin' salesman. They
called us the ëHood Samaritans. We were given saint-like status. In a
world where telecommunication devices are fashion accessories and every
technological vogue adored like a clothes-designer's new season
collection, why not surf the lucrative wave. Piggyback the profits of
brand-name profusion. We'd seen billionaire geeks on TV and wonder what,
besides the money, they had that we didn't- a company, simple as that.
We saw a number of gaps in the market that needed to be filled, we
filled them adequately. Where we were, Hi-tech wasn't exactly par for
the course. But we delivered Hi-tech at low cost and set up our own
ghetto monopoly. Anything you want, talk to Clancy.

"Recession's a bitch huh? /Inflation, crippliní thaí nation/ as
Duck'n'Cova once sed. Yeah I hear yu ma brotha! Gotts to keep it real,
yeah I get you a copy, you name the names aní I kin git cha da choonsÖ"
 
 

The Washington Netcops had failed to secure the networks. And the big
record labels and movie companies had failed to completely monopolise
them. Many independents were bought out by the majors and their output
was fed into the corporate meatgrinder. Their databases were full to the
brim with digital recordings, shelved, never to be released. All
password protected, locked in corporate e-vaults. It was all in the name
of economics. The entertainment industry was a carefully regulated
sector dominated by a regimented set of guidelines. Under the AULC,
{American Union Licensing Committee} who controlled output to protect
market saturation, certain demographic, financial, racial and cultural
markets were mapped out, and each company were allowed a certain share.
Legal and administrative bigwigs were hauled in to deal with the surplus
of media, and the slate was wiped. The rest of the world followed the
trend. Most compensation and anti-trust lawsuits were lost, and the
lightspeed marketing of sub-cultures began.

Music was a perfect example. Due to the system revolution the economy of
the 1^st world had slowly but surely shifted up several gears over the
past number of decades. Once upon a time an artist might have a hit
album, go on tour, and still, years later live comfortably on his/her
royalties. Today the artist might have a hit song one day, sell billions
of copies worldwide then be forgotten the next. Most of the pop music
that comes out is, like everything else these days, a product of our
instant, pre-packed, ready-mix, disposable society. Pop singers
generally make it on the strength a single song. That song played
non-stop for one week. Then a new sensation is thrust forward, while
another is incubated. An assembly line for hyper-fashions, mass-produced
trendiness; cute, thin girls, pretty, muscular boys. The heart-throb
master race. And it's */BIG/* money. In the AU alone over two billion
dollars a week is spent on developing new copyright protection systems-
but 5 times that is made in piracy.

ëWhen we set up the studio we decided to avoid trying to hack the bitchy
MMCS copyright systems and instead went straight for the jugular. We
were originally on the mailing list of /The Rig/. In fact toward the end
we became one of its biggest financial contributors; tax free and
shrouded in 'Bee subterfuge. The Rig was /the/ pirate joint back in the
day. The last virtually impregnable fortress of free digital
transmission. It took the multinationals' labcoats an eternity to figure
out how they were doing it. They never coded their signal in a sense.
They simply disguised it and transmitted worldwide on a low frequency
microwave, from an abandoned oil rig off the coast of Alaska. It simply
piggy backed the legitimate data highways with the appearance of
sunspots or polar magnetic noise or what have you. And reached your home
having passed thru numerous secret stations that received, boosted and
re-transmitted before finally going thru extensive wave filtering
software on your receiver. There was no MMCS with these fuckers, their
agenda was philosophical and subversive. Veterans of the underground
scene. Data guerrillas, defending independent production from the
majors. They gave the people what they needed. A choice. They gave
generously and we burnt it, duplicated it and sold it. Of course the Rig
would never ever bow to convention. They were Alter-net B4 the term ever
became a corporate buzz-word. For the more mainstream we had to look
elsewhere. Popular media was a much bigger headache. A headache we
simply avoided. We just used the same digital editing and vocal
synthesis techniques as the majors. So for example when a new plastic,
test-tube, boy/girl band came on the scene we simply fed in the relevant
data and re-synthesised the entire song. The software had numerous basic
templates for creating the music. It was simply a matter of entering the
key, length of the piece, the type of song {Lovesong/Ballad, Dancefloor,
etc.} The style, {Latino Soul, Hillbilly Ska, Tech-Metal etc.}. The
target market, the sex, age, size, along with sexual and ethnic
orientation of the "singer." Then the sound presets, melody and lyrics
could be filled in later.í

ëOh it was bad shit, no doubt about it. It was enough to make you ill;
Rainbow Greenie-pop, Industrial hip-hop, bitch-bands like Jailbait
(Clancy ended up married to one of them!) or the caustic squeaks and
screeches of sexy feline Hong-Kong punk temptress Miss Meow-Meow. I
could never bow to the notion that I was uncool, kids told me this all
the time, naw man, DuckíníCova, ëtill I die man, thatís music. They
could play, they could rhyme, they could paint soundscapes and take you
to new worlds. Me aní Clancy had all their albums. To hell with
Tech-Metal, DuckíníCova were rougher! Fuck your Beat and Crash- they
were doiní that shit ten years before. Purists reckon they were the
killers of rap, the death of RockíníRoll. I agree, yes they were, they
killed it, obliterated it, and when they did they made sure it didnít
die with a whimper- but with a resounding apocalyptic *Big Bang!*

I was just old enough to remember the block parties, when the brothers
once rocked to the sound of hip-hop.

Milking it to the end, gettingí their last few kicks while the
machine-men gradually castrated it, bleached it, and re-packaged it for
a new generation. In the immortal words of DuckíníCova;

/"ÖStreamlined, streamlined for thaí Mainstream. Lo-Phat beats, remove
thaí CreamÖ"/

They made it lo-phat, they took out the cream. The beats that went from
blocks to cubicles. Gangstaís to accountants. Oreo OGís to CEO MCís. The
black flamingos of Maí Microsoft.

{and her sister companies MicroMobility, MS-South, MS-Canada, MS Inc.,
MS Home Systems and Apple Computers.}

Righteously pledging to address all non-MS product incompatibility
issues and toiling to fix all bugs with future upgrades- /Respect bíwoy!/

Plaguing housewives with requests to register their refrigerators,
bringing technology to the illiterate and tears to the eyes of androids.
But the way they said itÖ /Like poetry!/

Oh it was everywhere. Infectious. The Business of doing Business. The
Evolution of the Professional. The Men with Armani faces. Pin-up lawyers
and supermodel salesmen. The New-Speak. The Nu-Skool, New Jack
/Yuppiez/. The laws and principals of Weiseman Disciplesí dogma carried
with them the dynamic swagger of a true player. A "cyberpunk" bad ass
with a Mac Explorer 1250 ëstead ova Mack 10. Representiní for the
demographic study of inner-city uneducated African Americans. /Keep id
real G!í/

ëMy Daddy was a country boy. Used work on a farm for an old whitey
called Thomson. Thomson used to say how much rap music sounded like a
cattle auction. My memory recently afforded one subsequent glimpse back
thru time at the mega-hip macrocosm of MTV. Its laconic legacy of
angst-ridden sound-bytes and feral, viro-visual debauchery. A crude
electronic, barbaric canvas of blood-red brutality and artless white
noise. Black leather and cold steel chains, pretty hate machines, teen
spirits and acne cream commercials. I couldnít but agree with Thomsonís
notion. Instead of selling cattle it was safe sex, cosmetic drugs and
loud RockíníRoll. Bitches and guns, attitude and image- records and
over-priced concert tickets. Itís only a primitive manifestation of the
pop-art movement. Strobe selling, disco bass-thumping pumping marketing.
The flashing, neon-coloured, cherry-flavour gum-bubble, forever
inflating without managing to pop. The expansive evolution of the
trans-media consciousness. A stepping stone for the next generation of
trendy culture-sculptors. The people who shape our perceptions, document
our era with fashions, fossils and other such vacuums of material
strata. Who give us the definitive version of not whatís right, or
wrong, but tell us whatís /Cool/, and whatís /Essential. /Who give each
generation its structure. Without a mind and a backbone what are we?
Jellyfish junkies, formless, translucent and soft. Consuming and
digesting all flotsam without thought or action. Aimlessly wandering in
the seas of addiction, lost beneath the waves of ignorance and
impotence. Waiting for the next fix to float by. Another lollipop to
suck on, another soluble drug for rapid absorption into our social
bloodstream.

Looking at it this way one begins to see a similarity with the olí Wild
West hawkers of the travelling patent medicine shows. The true pioneers.
Men who had /skills./ Who projected a sharp-edged wall of rhythmical
eloquence. A snake-charmersí syreen aria, catching their prey in the
hypnotic, hyper-sensual coils of perpetual prose. Now can you see how
the seemingly crazy coalition between Wall Street and the ëHood was
founded. Two very different worlds. But the basic principals stayed the
same; make ëem buy your lines, outbrag your opponents, crush ëem with
your verbal flair, donít stall, donít stutter, donít miss a beat. Push
ëem harder, faster, make ëem sweat. Break it down, rise it up, roll,
rock, freak and fly. Make the bitches want some, make the men want what
you got.

Let your people talk to my people- /and they can suck my motherfuckiní
dick!/

And you can guess who learned the lingo. Oh yeah, Clancy had it. He
didnít learn it from MTV either, he had it in his bones, in his
heritage, in his blood. The Talk, the Walk, the Act, the Look- The
/pitch/!í

ëBut it was small-time. A sponsorship, that's what we needed. We got a
no hassle deal, we do whatever we want, it's our show, just a 15% cut of
future profits for them and they'll supply the capital for now. Thanks
to Kaybee intervention we were now in the luxury market- brand names,
designer labels, we'd contract out our workers for big time suppliers.
We had it made, you could say we ran things. We was the only guys on the
block with a colour TV. I drove a Cadillac at a time when a tricycle was
a big investment. We had tailors, software pirates, hackers, circuitry
wizards, forgers; you name it, we had 'em. Cut out the middle man, cut
out the front man- direct to you. "Yeah, well my good man, what if I
said I could get you a tailor fitted Armani suit delivered to your doh
by this time tomorrow. An' nobody an' I mean nobody's gonna think youse
a cheap-ass sonova bitch, cos our product is I-dentical to the real deal."

The cops came, the cops left- with bargainsÖ

It prospered, we grew, we expandedÖ

"What tha fuck you think this is, a junkyahd? Dayam! We /oooh/-nleh gots
the best, best shit here my palefaced brotha! For onlay five gran', in
less than two weeks, you can find yawsel' 'fron-ova brayn-new Toshiba
LX425 enner-tainmen' console. Supa high definition liquid crystal, 50
inch wyde-screen, most kickin' sirround sound on this here planet, cable
an' satellite de-scramblez; anny channel you wan- /Worldwyyde/! You let
me know I can get you the bible-bashin' hillbilly channel, or some
serious kickin' hardcore shit straight outa Amsta-dam or Bangkok,
whateva' floats yaw boat, whatever you wann. Cos wid us, you /GIT/ what
/YOU/ wan! An' I know yo gonna wan the most ultra-fast mini-op drive on
the market, it's all in the package- an' for no extra cost a
Mitsubishi\Capcom Omega card for da keeds. Is it hot shit? Yeah it's the
hottest shit in town ma-man! But it ain' stolen; see I ain't no crook,
an' you look like the kinna man that wouldn't deal with a crook. See
these models ain' even got a tracer circuit in 'em. Technologically
impossible?! Dat whad you think? Ain't no such shit as technologically
impossible, 'cos were just the kinna mothafuckas whose job it is, is to
everyday achieve the impossible! C'mon now, this is the Hi-tech age, an'
/we's/ a bunch a Hi-tech niggis!"í

We were providing a service, we were supplying the people with anything
they wanted, and we were supplying the establishment another service. We
became the yardstick for which other undesirables were measured. We were
renegades, we were scum; we were rich and carefree. The operation
multiplied a million-fold. And the 'Bees decided it was best to go
online, hidden behind their world-class Network Defence Technology. They
helped us on the industrial espionage side of things, even managing to
help us get access to Coine processors. However, a processor is only as
good as it's software, and that was even harder to get a hold of. We
decided to span our operations. Consumer electronics were all fine and
well, but this was the age of STAN-dard software and nanno-technology.
We went deep underground and set up our "R&D" department. Our R&D boys
were superbly pro, top of the line. Crack safes, evade security, snap
the specs on the retina cam and get out. We'd hit in the blink of an
eye, and be gone. The big companies would have to go down on their hands
and knees with a magnifying glass and meticulously comb the gutter to
find even the slightest trace of us. Anything they did manage to dredge
up would be unwelcome information. A little message, understood, we know
a lot more than you think so back off. Working with R&D were a multitude
of hackers along with scores of inside operatives. We also had an
analysis team, their job was to descramble codes and acronyms. Often
even a printout from a wastepaper basket could provide invaluable data,
and be the missing piece of the puzzle.í

ëThe Pandora was our first real success. Available thru Globex
subscribers. Globex subscribers meant either the 'Bees, or more numerous
wasps. Bad fuckers. Net-pimps and pirates. Sharks and eels, you want to
see XK-rated porno or hire a bounty hunter from Armenia go onto Globex.
You'll invariably be approached by some shifty surfer and called into a
room and asked if you want the hippest new designer drug, LNS with
anomalous molecular tails, or imitation /Asashi/ cocaine. You may even
find a P.E.S. dispenser. And refusal to buy such highly illegal
chemicals (they're much more lenient on Plutonium traffickers) can be
just as terminal as being caught with them when the /he knows too much/
shit hits the fan. And that, is only the tip of the iceberg. Itís a
different world down there in the cyber-slums. A crackly world of noise
and static. Low fidelity, low lives, hi-stakes and hi-times. Because
there ain't nothin' like getting' low down and dirty- and /goin' analogue/.

Logging onto Globex is like walking into a real tough bar. The sight of
an outsider immediately triggers bit-streams of bad vibes. The place
hushes itself and the people crawl back into the shadows/ /to observe
you. And you know there's tension in the air. Around each table sits
some global heavyweight, and if you're seen to pry, or simply lack the
street etiquette you're a threat, and you'll be dealt with. Globex is
the electronic favela, the Netcops never could establish order, and
indeed even the top /N5-O's/ that tried now lie in comas. Therefore on
Globex you maintain, you watch your back, you keep quiet, you keep out
of other peoples business and they keep out of yours- /etiquette/. If
your going to make any moves then you better have a serious crew behind
you. And be ready for a synaptic firefight to the death. Not that we
needed to worry. Because we were tight with the 'Bees. And nobody on
Globex was ever foolish enough to try take on the Killer Bees. We were
seen as an umbrella faction. A subsidiary. Selling our wares like ol'
Powell on the street corner. Selling in bulk to global distributors.
Selling things like the Pandora. Wow! Our enemies never could link us to
that, never. Some baby-faced lawyer from the Jonathan French Agency took
care of that little copyright faux pas.

The Pandora was a black box about twice the size of an old 5x3 mini-op
tray. The box opened up like a book, and on one side were the slots for
cards, nanno-SIMMs and EPROMs. On the right were the I/O connections, a
skeleton key for data, catering for every type of cable and transmitter
from the latest nanno-dish relays right down to prehistoric COM cables.
And then, under all that were the brains. And oh! How sweet they were.
You see the amount of processing you need to run software thru any
generic operating system is tiny compared to how much is used in
practice. Firstly the hungry old MMCS monster and secondlyÖ?í

Ever since the primordial circuits of the early nets people fought for
the power that comes from the /System Revolution./ How to get into your
data but lock you out of theirs. Strip this away however and it frees
you up to load it with other things. Your average domestic console has a
direct and open tracer line with the manufacturer, despite the Orwellian
overtones the reason, besides market research, is that when a new
version of the software comes out it can upload it without you even
realising it. And so murdering the notion of backward compatibility.
These were back in the days when OSOL-8 {Operating System On Line} was
popular. An insane attempt to wean away the technically inept Microsoft
users. And until the aforementioned put it out of business with its own
pre-Synotech uber-net mallet, was a cheap and cheerful voice activated
service that managed your files, linked all sloppy software pathways,
watched your house, answered your calls and done everything that your
average, technically illiterate housewife would ask. In essence it was
the ultimate in user-friendliness at the expense of real control. It's
selling point, and for many its most nauseating feature, was that it
turned the info-superhighway (to use a vintage term) into a leisurely
stroll down Sesame Street. But the Pandora didn't do thatÖ

ëThe Pandora was what I like to call hardcore-ware. It didn't stick
tracers up your ass or fuck you with credit transfers and censor-guards.
It got you what you wanted, and it got it five minutes ago. It could run
anything from old Sony /Buddy/ hacks to the latest /Synthasium
/conversions. It could grab any cable or satellite for free, and, it was
the best system out there if you wanted to catch Mojo Malik's Crash-Hop
hour on The Rig.í

ëAnd that's when it all started to change. It became immediately
apparent to all involved in the venture that we would eventually have to
take our technology to the masses. We had the style and /oh man/, we had
the talent. And rumours started to fly around the organisation from our
techs to the Kaybee overseers, everyone was buzzed into a state of
frantic silence. It was that same type of hushed murmur that blows thru
a company when a take-over is /not/ announced. But take-over wasn't the
term, oh no, the term was /going legit/. And at the beginning it was, in
fact, Clancy who disliked the notion. He didn't want to leave the cosy
but barbaric Globex bunker. We had our own turf there. Nobody could get
in, and there were just too many people who were prepared to wait for
however long it takes for us to come out. If we were to legitimise then
it was certainly inevitable that the 'Bees would not only drop us in a
flash, leaving us defenceless against both the authorities and our
numerous rivals, but they too would /disapprove strongly./ And it was
this that made Clancy so uptight. The Kaybees were known as terminators
of terminals. They could fry your buffers like an egg on the Alamain
Airdock. "No, no, no, no!", was Clancy's mantra, "I've made a deal with
the devil, and good demons stick together. No fuckin' way m'y gonna fuck
widda Kaybee, ahm cray-zee, but I ain't /STU-pid!!!"/

What we didnít realise was that the ëBees were on the same tip. ëCourse
thatís the way the ëBees worked. Theyíd been preening and polishing our
public image. Devising our gameplan. Shaping us up for a corporate coup
díetat, silently waiting for the right moment. They wanted us out there,
competing, creating trouble for the big-leaguers, stirring shit, mixiní
it up with the Micro-Macks. And making them a little cash on the side.

Venture Capital to adventures on Capitol Hill, man it was all there for
the takiní. We grew stronger, richer, and the Bees loved us for it.
Hi-Tech, Lo-Cost. Ghetto Industry- In your fuckiní face! We made
clothes, our own label- Gangsta Gear- the kids took it seriously. We
produced our own records, movies, ëzines. Our own brands. Any time we
were criticised for our dubious past it only made us more credible. More
disreputable, meretriciously marketable. More bad-ass than ever! We had
some pleased Bees man! They were beaminí Bees, we were their knees! The
industries fleas. They didnít think itíd last that long though. Then
again, neither did I. I decided to do the smart thing, went to niteskool
got my high-school diploma, went on to college, got me some education.
Broadened my horizons. Took me a few years.

Clancy, meanwhile, had superseded everyoneís expectations. Going from
strength to strength. He made the Bees proud. He made me proud. And he
too, was proud of me. When I returned, following my graduation, Clancy
hired out the function room of a fancy New York hotel and threw a huge
party in my honour. Some of the biggest names were there. Hotshots,
photo-ops, journalistsÖ

"I didnít invite them fuckers, they juss gate-crashed yípardee! Díonlay
two people, otha than aw-selves thad-reí invited are these two gennel-menÖ"

He gestured toward the stage, and the curtains opened. There, standiní
there, /mean as fuck/, Cover-up Carl, and Joey the Duck. MY band! The
only band! DuckíníCova! Playing a gig just for me!"

I could have kissed him, Clancy knew, his eyes were as bright and
excited as mine. He shook my hand again, hugged me, congratulating me
with teary eyes. And as the first few chords of /When the Skudz Fly
/rang out over an incredulous swarm of cocktail-drinking suits, he
whispered in my ear;

"You feeliní ah-igh?"

I nodded, tears welliní up.

"/Good. *So* *lets wreck this fuckiní place!*/"

Only I knew when heís being genuine, and that night he was more honest
and kind than I could ever imagine. For me, it marked the end of an era.
The last night of the Old Clancy. The following day he called a
conference with the Bees proposing to terminate the agreement. Clancy
had ideas. He told them to us all, while we sat there- dumbfounded. One
such notion was that he decided to venture into multimedia. Clancy
wanted to set up his own software firm. He decided to give it a smart
name, a parody, a one finger salute to the establishmentÖí

ëToday Microdot is one of the world leaders of Alternative software.
Bringing ol' Powell's philosophy and Lo-Fi legacy to the masses. We made
designer viruses and whoopie cushion bugs, peddling the electronic
equivalent of rubber dogshit. We invented and perfected the trade of
novelty operating systems. Our best seller is Merlin. A cheeky magician
that talks in some /"Awrigh' Gov'na!"/ English accent, laughs at you,
insults you, when you enter your name it develops some irritating
nickname for you, makes all your files disappear every Friday the 13^th
, has databases that play April Fools jokes on you and an intelligent
word processor that jumbles the words into new meanings that are quite
obscene to say the least. You can send this document to you're friends,
who won't be able to read it correctly without Excalibar, our Merlin
decoder. It was all Clancy's idea. He commented that one of the most
popular urban myths that exists in society today is the belief that all
operating systems, be they Coine, MS, Synotech or whatever, display some
sentience, and exist with the sole purpose of pissing you off. So, he
thought, why not design one that comes right out and says it. I am the
almighty machine, you are an asshole and I'm going to make your life
absolute fucking hell- It sold billions worldwide.í

ëBut where do we go from here? Clancy had toyed with the idea of
gen-eng. Selling pet perversions like Mini-Mammoths, pink piranhas and
polka-dot tarantulas. I've seen many disturbing sight in my life. But
nothing so unnaturally ominous as one. The eerie Amazonian star of many
a nightmare of mine. Clancy's most perverted achievement; a towering
malevolent green Martian; the 7ft Venus Rat-Trap. It lasted a day
outside its vat before it's own gastric cocktail managed to eat through,
volcanic boils grew to the size of fists, bulging and popping in a lush
chloro-mucus Blitzkrieg of toxi-plasm and acidic vapours. I saw those
sharp teeth-like hairs oscillating wildly, puppet head thrashing, that
enormous jaw flapping uncontrollably, I could smell its enzyme-heavy,
sour, rusty breath. And I could swear I heard it screaming. Within
minutes we were scrubbed down as the bio-janitors scattered around in
protective suits, hastily mopping up.

He became a kind of Freaky Frankenstein, fuckiní with DNA like a kid
with a chemistry set, obsessed with the creation of hyper-hormonal,
gene-spliced abominations. Mutated lizards with abnormal stegosaur and
dimitroden growths on their backs. Cats that go woof and dogs that meow,
he put both prototypes together in an enclosure. The shareholders hadn't
arrived yet. Hairy Hiroshima, they devoured each other, the Ottawa Riots
with teeth and fur, and claws. The cat killed the dog, and seconds later
the cat, its wounds exposed, convulsed, snapping its own bones as its
immune system kicked it. The animal rights fuckers protested- /Big
time./ They said it went against AU animal rights laws, the GEN-EC
charter, and the most important of all; the law of nature. He threw a
tantrum when the message was relayed to him. They wouldn't dare take on
*him!* Clancy immediately went to DefCon 4, as his workers called it. He
summoned his lawyers (he called them his High-Flying Monkeys) to the
War-room, and sent them on their seek and destroy missions. But it was
just a phase, that sort of thing happened weekly. Those who worked with
him knew that they had to grin and bear it. He forgot about it the
following week and got his mind snagged on another scheme. Another
stroke of geniusÖí

ëClancy's starting to believe the hype. I think he's becoming what the
media tells him he is. Or maybe he's just playing the game. Maybe he's
fuckin' with them. You never can tell with Clancy. Even I canít no more.
Nothing is as it seems. One minute he says he's going to set up a news
network that tells you fictional news, alien invasions, the six-headed
woman, all that kinda net-tab shit. He came close to it, but when the
development team showed him the pilot he screamed on their ass, ranting,
raving, fired them all on the spot. It wasn't tacky enough, it was all
done with "gay" digital terragon graphics, it "sucks cock!", he would do
it all himself. But he never got around to it. One of the team sold the
idea to Fox, who warped it into their own diluted comavision soup-
/News-squad; /fuckin' lame ain't it!

One thing you can't fault about Clancy is his philosophy, he's
consistently cheesy, and he still has the vision. He steers the company
in a way that has made it a household name, but never, ever, have we
become stale, never will Clancy let us become predictable. The company
mirrors him now. His personality, his eccentricity. I rarely see him
anymore, perhaps at the AGM, or some emergency board meetings. Most the
time I see him is when he's in the papers; the rich playboy, the
rockstar entrepreneur, the owner of the /Mile/ /High Club/. Husband of
ex-Jailbait star Kandi Kain. Teen Idol to the masses.

He actually was on MTVN once, perhaps a fitting arena or perhaps itís
way too easy to forget that we used burn pirate disks and steal patented
electronics. Surely Wall Street has. But I know he hasnít. He went to
some sombre award ceremony dressed in a white tux, red alligator shoes,
Cuban cigar in his mouth, Martini in his hand, flocks of beautiful women
on his arm. He started talking to all the reporters, buttering them up,
charming the shit outa 'em. Talking all this intellectual shit, ah! This
must be the new mature Melvin Clancy, I could imagine him, waitingÖ Yeah
it got 'em alright, hammered drunk, down to his boxers, breakin' on the
table of some fancy French restaurant, bustin' a rhyme about the McCoyís.

"/Hey Mr. Prezzi-den, yídaught-da gawd ass!/ /I had the first lady but

she wonít be tha lass!/"

Clancy is the personification of the, "no such thing as bad publicity"
maxim. The master of self-promotion.

The Candy Store is his baby, an extension of his crazy creativity and
colourful persona. I'm a billionaire, a fucking tycoon, in charge of the
A&R dept., loonies, jackasses, freaks, sluts and space cadets. I know
what Clancy likes. I deliver. He lines 'em up for his shows like
dominoes. Then he'll send me a voice message, something like, "Yeah man,
yeah man, that's /IT. /That kid Rodja?! He had /IT/. That's what I'm
after, crazy, crazy. That muddafucka, he was /GONE/!!!" Then he'll
regress into a more business-like tone. Somethin' like, "Keep up the
good work, Billy." It don't bother me, I have more important shit to be
doing. Three years ago I set up the Robert Powell Memorial Foundation,
helping inner-city kids with problems learn proper shit, that'll help
'em. I work down there myself. The kids think Iím cool and they always
ask about Clancy. I tell 'em we grew up together, we're tight. He's my
boy. It's bullshit. But I tell 'em anyway. Whatever you want to be go
for it. Thinking if just one of you skinny little bastards can make it
to 21 without spraying some gooks brains all over a liquor store window.
If just one of you, in your baggy shorts and scabby knees, can keep that
pipe outa you mouth, that needle from your veins, that slow,
demoralising killer that took Clancy's mom from your door; then maybe
none of this would have been the waste of time I feel it has become. I
use his name as a lesson, a fucked up Walt-Pepsi, American Dream; sickly
sweet like Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. Powdered faith. Instant optimism.
Cheez Whizz philosophy. Manufactured, synthetic, fake.

Marx called religion the opiate of the people, and according to Clancy
MTV and the Home Shopping Network was their crack. He decided to prey on
the gullibility of the world. If they bought 5 billion hectares of
"talking" Bibiki action-figures and three-hundred and 77 episodes of
"Everybodyís People" then they deserve to be insulted. And for him the
ultimate insult is one youíre willing to pay for. Willing to showcase
your absolute materialistically blindfolded ignorance by handing over
your hard-earned cash to be framed by a "black Motown grease-monkey." To
make a "nigga from Detroit" a billion dollars richer each time he takes
a shit. And to go home, with an expensive designer product you know was
deliberately manufactured not to work- smiling from ear to ear. Itís
poetic, heíll say. "Iím like Coine, ën Gates ën all them othaí fuckas we
used to see on TV," he once told me, and I couldnít think up a reply,
much as I wanted to. Clancy is what Clancy sells, he sells the world
nothing but their own stupidity, I seem to be selling hope in a can. And
I wonder if either of us should bother, for who else is really going to
profit from it?í		
		
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