by Gonzo
July 5, 2006

This article originally appeared in Issue 4 of the zine Patterns of Recognition.
Reprinted with permission.

In those days, my L.O.S. days, it was something we had talked about. Sure, we knew about 2600, and its meetings, but we never went. I’m not even sure if N.J. Transit’s “Midtown Direct” service was around then, so even if we would’ve gone in, I’m not sure how we would’ve done it. Looking back at it now, we should have.

After L.O.S. disbanded, I kept up with things, and did what I could. One night, I was watching a t.v. program about hackers, and it mentioned Off The Hook. I made it a point to check out the show. Many blissful nights were spent on my bedroom floor listening. Then, I heard some thing mentioned about an upcoming conference called “Beyond H.O.P.E.” I had to go, and I did.

I remember calling N.J. Transit’s customer service, and was told that there is, in fact, a way to go directly into Manhattan. This was my way home. Getting in was no problem, either. My friend, Rachael, had to go to the Village to do some shopping, and she gave me a lift in. I was a bit nervous while I was walking to the corner of Lafayette and Houston, and into the Puck Building.

I felt incredibly out of sorts there. I was alone, knew no else there, and had no idea what to expect. I roamed around for a bit in the vendors’ area, and saw someone selling books, and one of them was Jim Keith’s Black Helicopters Over America. That was Bob The Bopper a.k.a. in the N.Y.C 2600 meeting as “Conspiracy Bob.” I was into conspiracies and learning about the evils of Big Brother and the N.W.O. I talked with some chick that worked on “Steal This Radio.” I played the Double Dragon game that was there, and I even remember seeing Phiber Optik standing in line to buy a Major Hacking cookie. I left later in the day. Standing out in front, waiting for a cab, I met someone else, Skarecrow, and we’re still friends to this day. Then, I heard a two-way radio go off. It was someone doing security, and there was an announcement that someone was jamming the live broadcast of Off The Hook. Some scrawny guy with glasses started running all over the area looking into car windows and around corners to see what was going on. That was Rebel. We weren’t then, nor are we now, friends. A whole new world had opened in front of me, and I HAD to walk in.

In October of that year, ’97, I went to my first 2600 meeting. I wasn’t alone, though. At the time, there was someone else I was trying to teach about hacking, and it later turned out to be a waste of my time, but at least I had someone else there. I was hoping to see a familiar face, but none were to be seen. My then friend and I were standing outside of the then known Citicorp Building. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but I heard a voice.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?”

That was Lupus. He, and his friends whose names I can’t remember introduced themselves, and brought us into the conversation. I talked about the group I was in, and was surprised that others remembered us. That was the day I learned about cloning a cell phone. Lupus left early, for some reason.

“Someday, the body will be the ultimate hack” he said over his shoulder to me as he headed up to the corner. I never saw him again.

I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. The meetings became, and are still, so important to me that I would social engineer my way into leaving early on the first Friday of the month just so I could go in.

group photoI haven’t missed a meeting since ’99, and my head spins when I think about all that’s happened, all the scrapes with feds, drugs, roaming around in Barnes and Noble, holding court in restaurants, meeting Kevin Mitnick twice, conferences, 9/11, and vast characters of those came, and those who stayed. I have overly strained relations with my biological family, so 2600 has become my chosen family. Family, or, more appropriately, chosen family is something I learned the importance of a long time ago and family is one of the dearest things to me. God only knows how many times they have been there for me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly show my gratitude.

It’s not surprising that I get nostalgic often when I think about the times I’ve had, like coming back to Dover on an insanely quiet summer night, and listening to Art Bell, and every other things that’s happened to me that I fall in love with over and over again. I even have a hacker pop culture ritual that I do just so I’ll be in the right mindset for this long download, and I won’t click “Cancel.”