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CES 2018 Show Report by Raoul Duke

01-10-2018 | By Editors at Positive Feedback | Issue 95

CES 2018 Show Report

We were on our way to Las Vegas, to the CES show. The desert night was chilly and the road was dark with no movement outside except the occasional fencepost whipping by. My attorney held up a huge orange pill. "You should try this," he said, "It's the same pill that killed Elvis." It must have been six inches around. I just shook my head because I remember what happened when he gave me the thing that killed Michael Jackson. That's how we'd wound up with the Subaru in the first place. He'd found it on the street with the keys in it and by the time I'd woke up we were halfway to Tuckahoe City and already passed by Wall Drug. Shit. In a goddam Subaru of all things. We had to stop but I couldn't control my lips enough to say so. I couldn't say anything. It was probably the mescaline that had done it. We needed it because we had to prepare for CES. There's no sense in going to a show like CES without proper preparation and the editors of Positive Feedback were too cheap even to give us an expense account. So there we were, on Route 40 heading through Flagstaff in a Subaru, choking down these huge orange pills that looked like something Joe Theismann could have kicked a touchdown with. And it didn't even have heated seats. How can anyone today get a car without heated seats? We were doing them a favor by taking it.

We took the 15 to the 215, then the 215 to 604. We took the 604 to 93, took the 93 to rt. 80, took a U-turn at Salt Lake city then took the 15 to 70, took the 70 to 79, then we were on the Bruce Woodbury Beltway headed up north on 95 straight into the heart of Vegas. We made a U-Turn in Portland, got the snakes back into the glove compartment, got back on the 84 and next thing we knew we were pulling right up to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

As soon as we drove through the big glass doors in front and shut the engine off, I went in immediately to the press room. This is because the third rule of journalism is always to get a press pass and make sure you have the right kind of press pass because the police won't respect just any old press pass. The first rule of journalism is make sure you have an open expense account and the second rule of journalism is to eat an entire sheet of blotter acid at once, but sometimes the third rule is the most important.

When I got there, I found my huge Samoan attorney was already there, sharing a bottle of something cloudy with an elderly Japanese man whose badge identified him as "Mr. Yotta," a reporter from "Nihon Kochohahizumi." He could hardly sit still. He had something important to tell us. It was critical. But we didn't speak Japanese so he took us down to the main floor to show us.

It was terrifying. You've never seen anything like it. Cellphones. Baby monitors. Vibrating devices that I can't even describe in a family magazine. But then there it was, the biggest microphone you ever saw, and it was made of glass. He just pointed at it proudly. It was clear, all the way through and you could see the insides in the glass. It was the most magnificent piece of glassblowing ever.

There was a line to try it out, and I wanted to hear what it sounded like but then this woman got up in front of it and she started to sing Il Dolce Suono and she just got higher and higher and higher and then when she got to this one high note, the microphone shattered in thousands of pieces, flying all around. The man from the microphone company was distraught, he was in a fetal ball crying. The custodian came to clean up all the glass, looked at it and explained. "Not for soprano, no. This microphone only for tenor and baritone."

The police were on their way, I was sure. We had to get out. We ducked out into a booth of electronic cigarettes. My lawyer took the opportunity to stop and try an electronic cigar that plugged into a 30 amp dryer outlet. We left him there after he passed out from the fumes and Mr. Yotta took me to a booth where they had keyboards.

There was a huge sign saying "THREE SAIL JUNK ELECTRONICS COMPANY" with a picture of a boat on it. They had the latest keyboards, they were so new they didn't even have black keys on them. It was a cost saving measure. It was brilliant, since most people don't even play the black keys. We needed one of these for the hotel room so I ordered a dozen right there with the company credit card.

While I was there I picked up a box of a hundred drum keys because you never know when you'll need a drum key. Then it was over to the Revozmo booth which was very cool. I couldn't tell what they made but there were a lot of people there talking about it. It was hot! It was absolutely the latest! They had great T-shirts! Then I heard a screaming sound and it was my attorney, sprinting down Aisle 500 completely naked, pursued by an army of security guards. I turned around to ask Mr. Yotta and he was lying on the floor passed out, his bottle of Mitsubishi cabernet dribbling out and making a puddle around his lifeless form. He could not maintain! You must maintain! That is the first rule of journalism!

I did not have time to worry about my attorney at this point, because I needed to find something exciting, something about the highest of high end audio, for Positive Feedback. I needed to cover the story. So I made my way through the Hall of Inflatable Cellphones to the high end audio hall but on the way I got stopped at a booth that was selling washing machines. They were front-loading! They had bluetooth! They had a button to order pizza!

A man in a suit was standing on top of the washing machine, explaining that in the distant past when people talked about the human brain that they compared it to a telephone switchboard. Then, later, as computers developed, people compared the human brain to a computer. But today we know the human brain is just like a washing machine. Ideas come into it all disorganized and dirty and thoughts come out clean and pressed. The brain, it is like a washing machine. I wondered where my attorney was, but I did not wonder long before he ran by the booth, still naked, but this time carrying a huge boom box. It was clear his brain was still stuck in the spin cycle. It was clear this was a show that needed quaaludes, but I didn't have any. Maybe, I thought, maybe they'd have some in the Flamno booth.

Flamno had a huge sign saying "MANY SPEAKER, MORE DRIVER!" They sold a system that gave full surround sound out of one speaker. Terrible idea, you'd go bankrupt that way. The name of the game is to sell more speakers, not fewer. They didn't have any quaaludes either. They say that they stopped making them. They said they were like the Brontosaurus of drugs. I didn't care. I just kept trudging on looking for the story.

Finally I got to the high end section. The first time I went to the CES, the high end audio booths were in the Sands hotel along with the porno film crowd. But then what with all the complaints from the pornographers about all the noise and crazy behaviour, the high end audio people had to leave the Sands and it was found to be so contaminated with bodily fluids that the whole building had to be demolished. Today the high end booths are still in their own section, though, and I felt complete relief when I finally found them.

I came into a private listening room, run by Moxco turntables and Inversophon horn speakers, and when the door closed I could tell I was in a special place. It was so quiet, locking out all the outside sound. Finally, this was what I had come to the CES for. They put on a record, and the stylus dropped ever so gently onto the turntable. I closed my eyes and prepared for the best.

But then... the sound... it was horrible. It was Merilee Rush singing Angel of the Morning, but the sound was so distorted, the pitch was so badly off that it was painful to listen to. Even so, it was mega realistic! It was like someone actually in the room with me. Then I heard the screams, and I opened my eyes and it wasn't Merilee Rush at all, it was my huge Samoan attorney, still completely naked, standing on top of the loudspeaker and singing "Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby!" He actually was in the room with me! There were screams and shouts and all of the listeners were pushing and shoving and trying to get out of the room. They could not maintain! They did not want him in the room with them!

We did not want to be there either. As soon as we left the room we saw uniforms. It was the phone cops! They were coming after us for making a long distance call on a demo cellphone on the showfloor! We had to get out! We had to get away! We grabbed all the promotional material we could find and we ran out the door. Thank goodness they had extra-large T-shirts available to partially clothe my attorney.

Running down the hall!  Running!  There was a pile of a million power strips all connected together in the hall!  I tripped on one and knocked it over!

All the lights went out!  All the power in the whole building was plugged into one power strip!  It was a total blackout!  Everybody was running around in the dark.

Down in the pressroom I sat down at the Royal typewriter provided by the hipsterium center and began to write the story. My attorney snoozed there on the floor, the seconals having finally kicked in. One page after the other, I was able to cover the story.

Even seated in the press room, we were on the move. We were seeing the future, the future at CES. Like I explained to the security people who came out shortly afterward to evict us, the future is here and the future is now at CES.

Cartoon by Bruce Walker