Under The Bridge Downtown Pt. 1

HEY HEY! Check out my guest comic over at Dinosaur comics!
Special thanks to Rob D of Cyanide and Happiness [the guy I’m talking to in the comic].

There are certain intangible benefits to attending a twice-a-month computer sale that happens under an overpass in Downtown Dallas between the hours of midnight and 6am. First and foremost among them is observing the high octane batshit crazies that such an event draws. The “First Saturday Sale” as it is known among local nerds (though now it happens on the first and third Saturdays of each month) is something very near and dear to me. It was my first new ritual upon moving to Dallas. My friends would gather up in a vehicle around 11pm the final Friday of the month and head to to an incredibly shady area of Downtown Dallas in search of Pentium II processors, Soundblaster 16 bit sound cards, Ram that was still measured in MB’s and hard drive’s who’s GB’s barely tipped the double digits.

UPDATE: The print is in the store for a limited time! Get it while you can.

Under The Bridge Downtown Print

We used to go to First Saturday with specific missions. Someone’s machine need some sort of minor upgrade and it was up to all of us to dig through hundred of boxes strewn across 4 vacant parking lots (before they moved under the overpass) in order to find it. Eventually haggling over case fans and the like was no longer neccessary as that all computer components could be found cheaply online (and with a much better warranty than “might be broke… might not be”). But I still maintained the ritual for a good while. The thing I came to realize is that the only people weirder than those that would stand in a vacant lot for 24 hours with a rented U-Haul full of slightly damaged 15″ CRT’s is someone who would leave the comfort and safety of their home in the wee hours of the night in order to seek out those same CRT’s. The place was teeming with a magnificent abundance of weirdos.

The people watching became it’s own event. A type of sport. Who can spot the weirdest weirdo? One of my personal favorites was the middle aged married dork couple that spent the whole evening communicating back and forth via giant plastic (possibly toy) head-mounted walkie talkies. “There’s a really good deal on canned air over hear, hun. By the big stack of ATX cases and control top panty hose.”

I seem to remember First Saturday closing down for a few months and just that easily I forgot about it. That was almost 10 years ago. I went back (to the new location) a handful of times, but I hadn’t been in the last 4 or 5 years until last weekend. Rob D. and I had been tossing the idea around for a while. Neither of us needed any particular hardware. I just wanted to see if the general oddness of the whole thing had been properly maintained. Had they cleaned up their act or was it still desperate, ghoulish people selling broken, unwanted e-trash. I was actually worried that it would be super boring and normal and I would have dragged Rob down there for nothing. Let me assure that my fears were unfounded as that the First Saturday Sale was a fucking symphony of obsolescence and absurdity. There is little to no exaggeration in today’s comic. Ok, panel 3 actually contains quite of bit of exaggeration. The guy wasn’t ranting, but he did have an “Obam-ulance” on display. In addition to random computer parts he was also selling lube. I bought a case for my mom’s iPod nano from him for $1.

My plan is to stick with this “story line” for the rest of the week so I hope you enjoy it. Nut jobs and boxes of crap. What else could you ask for?

  • here are a few more Tweeted pics to put the whole thing into perspective: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

When you can see the giraffe’s eyes, it’s already too late

They’ve been talking up this OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) for over a year now. What was originally a sub $1oo computer designed specifically for the 3rd world, is now a $200 geek project box. As a toy these things are incredibly cool. Low power consumption, Linux OS, solid state drive, and mesh networking are all neat ideas but I can’t help wonder if this initiative is misplaced.

I get where the are coming from. If each child in a developing nation had a laptop, they could reach out to the world and find out just how terrible their lives really are by comparison. Maybe they could blog about unimaginable poverty and starvation. Or AIDS! They could blog about a 50% AIDS infection rate. I’m not trying to poopoo on the OLPC parade but I think its all a little idealistic. The fact that nerds are buying these to play with shows how great the separation is between “us” and “them.” We have so much money that we buy EXTRA computers that we don’t need just to play with. I bet most of the OLPCs bought by American’s this month will either end up as iTunes servers or under the NES and GENESIS in the closet. I bet the ones that make it to impoverished nations will be captured by drug lords and/or sold for food.

The hierarchy of human needs doesn’t allow for actualization during a struggle for survival. Only when survival is a relative given can we worry about bettering ourselves. I really do support what they are doing but it sounds a lot like “give all the sick children new designer sweaters! Like Bill Cosby wore!” It’s just not what they need. Potable water might be a better place to start.

On a side note, the sickliness of my clan over the holiday weekend left me with two options. No comic, or cannibalize a previous one. So there you go. Don’t look at me like that. Your eyes are like shame-daggers.

DJ Jonathan Feinstein, hit me with the remix!

Here’s the remix blank for today’s comic. Have fun with it, get creative and email the result to comics at hijinksensue.com. You can change anything you want, not just the text. Go crazy. Surprise me. Have them in before Thursday.