Bing Blog

The Consumer Electronics Show gets underway

CES

Vegas, January 8 -- You wouldn't believe the portions they serve you here. It's almost like they sit planning the menu for people who are looking to keep their weight at a nice, round 300 pounds. Who wants a pizza with scalloped potatoes on it? It's the house specialty where we had dinner last night. The drinks are small and expensive. A vast majority of the waiters look like potential chorus girls or Chippendales. The others appear to be eunuchs from the local sultan's harem.

The night before the convention was scheduled to start, the casinos looked pretty empty to me. At the Palazzo, there was one poker table working. No Hollywood, Bollywood or Silicon Valley royalty seemed to be in evidence. At my hotel, the slots were occupied only by the usual assortment of sad, droopy gray people, their cigarettes mostly ash hanging from the corners of their mouths, giving the enormous, ridiculously gaudy emporium the air of an extremely tricked-out Trailways bus terminal. There was plenty of traffic outside, though. So maybe today will be different and the town will explode with nerdish life.

There are, of course, as is traditional for this week, two conventions in town - the Consumer Electronics Show, which is my focal point on this iteration of my journey through life - and the Adult Video gathering. The plane on the way from LA was thus filled to capacity with an extremely bifurcated group of individuals. There were the sometimes rumpled, sometimes crisp graduates of their high-school audio-visual club, with assorted peppering of sleek media and internet business executives, and then there were the tattooed, the augmented, the highly scented, spangled and perhaps too-juicy.

I was on an aisle seat sort of up front of the plane. My associate and traveling companion, who I'll call Ted, was on the window. Between us, at the very last minute, plopped down a pneumatic six-foot tall, platinum blond young woman, dressed all in black, with glitter on her fingernails, which were not of organic material and were so long she had to employ special means to manipulate her touch-screen IPod.  She spoke a very plump, expressive Russian on her cell phone until we took off. Then she read Cosmo. Several articles appeared to be more interesting than the ones in my Economist, but she was flipping the pages too fast for me to really follow them very well.

It's not a coincidence that the porn industry meets at the same precise time as the wonks fly in for their annual tech fest. Somebody from the adult business obviously figured out some time ago that it would be wise to hold their extravaganza right now, when the town teemed with guys who spent the best years of their lives with their hands on their joysticks.

My pal Weaver told me yesterday that "nobody goes to CES on Wednesday," so maybe the scene will change today. Sources say that the meet is going to be somewhat smaller this year, with slightly less hotness. That wouldn't surprise me. First of all, conventions like this one have a life span. A few years ago, you couldn't get in the door at COMDEX. Now it's gone. For years, I attended a gigantic raving bacchanal that was host to some of the greatest extreme depredation I have ever enjoyed in the world of business. At its height, it was in New Orleans. Man, was that fun. Then it moved here to Vegas. Time passed. The business changed. Now it's pretty much a ghost town, with tumbleweeds rolling between the booths, which are mostly filled with guys from Sri Lanka handing out complimentary flash drives. Stuff still gets done there. But a party it's not.

And then there's this little recession we've got going on.

So I kind of wonder what it will be like to stand in the middle of the CES floor this morning and feel the vibe. Last time I was here it was like a cross between the bar in Star Wars and the Golden Calf scene in The Ten Commandments. I'll keep you posted.

19 Comments Add Comment

Keep us posted, I have always seen this kind of conventions as an indicator of how things are really going to be, if you ask the people on the booths how is the attendance today vs. last year you get a good picture of things to come.

head over to watch the ioSafe team demonstrate their new fireproof / waterproof hard drives. 1500 degree fire and a pool. I think they are doing the demonstrations at a place called Screwballs, but I could be mistaken. CNN and MSNBC are running info today.

So if you were on the aisle and Ted was at the window, with a seat in the middle, it means that you were not flying business class.

Man these cutbacks are hard.

Bing, head back to business class and stimulate the economy.

On Southwest?

Bing,

A person of your stature should not be staying at the El Cortez in downtown Vegas. Although, times are tough and vintage Vegas may be more economical. On the subject of convention life spans, I think CES and the Adult convention where a match made in heaven. You would make a mint if you could figure out how to get Comic Con, CES and the Adult show all at the same time...and inter-mingle the booths as well.

If I where you, I would be golfing at the Wynn

I love reading your stuff. That bit about the juxtaposition of the porn industry with "guys who spent the best years of their lives with their hands on their joysticks" is priceless. Have fun.

Hi-teck and porn-o-graphy, At last two things I can relate to as a consumer/investor.

When it comes to hi-teck, my knowledge is limited to putting the pointy end of the batteries in, just like it shows on the diagram.
oh well enough about hi-teck.

People make fun of the porn industry not realizing that it is and old, old industry that will out live many others especially in hard times (pun in there somewhere).

I hope Flynt and the guys get the 5 billion bailout they are asking for. America cannot afford to lose another vital industry.
Think positive, next time you see a hooker, try to think of her as an unemployed actor or a budding starlet who is waiting to be discovered.

Some friends of mine recently came back from vegas, they said if you mounted a cannon on a roulette wheel and fired it everytime it stopped..your chances of picking the number was better than hitting anybody with the cannon shell.

Bing you have a great job, I really envy a guy who gets to go to such places and rub shoulders and other parts against the captains of industry.

So did Weaver mean that on Wednesday everyone from the CES goes over to check out that "other" convention?

Bing,

Vegas has got to be the strangest city on earth, an adult Disneyland with everything from gambling to porno conventions to that pizza with scalloped potatoes you spoke of. Your piece rememinded me of some strange acid trip, or a very funny dream. I imagine you're gather tons of entertaining material for future articles, or maybe even a new book: Silicon Valley T & A.

Bing

What's uglier than Vegas in broad daylight?

The hotels in Vegas have dropped rates so low that much of the CES and other events have moved from the Convention Center to the casinos/hotels to save a few bucks.

How was the menu at the Adult Video Show? C'mon.. 'fess up!

Since you have less to do and see at the CES, are you going to update us on the happening at the AVN?

Not on your life.

Some description. Some environment. I hope you have on those comfortable shoes you promised yourself. I mean really really comfortable shoes. Like running shoes.

I never imagined the linkage between these two groups. Though I had heard somewhere that the porn industry is a huge user of many technological innovations. The naive optimist in me has a tough time accepting that fact, if indeed it is one.

I also didn't know that the Adult Video industry had organized conventions like this. The mind reels.

Good reporting, Bing. Keep us posted.

In the pre-wifi era, I remember being in that Kinko's on Paradise while the CES and AVN shows were underway, waiting a couple of hours for a laptop connection to check email on the way through to Utah...pretty much a freak show then, and you nailed the ambiance perfectly.

Bing's not 'slummin it'....he's operating deep undercover.....taking the pulse of the common folk.

None of you know sad until you've been sent to a convention in Bismark, in the dark depths of a North Dakota winter. It's doubly depressing....sin is always in very short supply in the Dakotas (except for one delightful August week in Sturgis).

Okay...bacchanal...I am going to Dictionary.com...yer awesome Bing...have fun...buy me the L3 watch, I wannabe Dick Tracy!

sounds like Bing is doing Vegas 'Hunter S. Thompson' style - a la Raoul Duke. Bing, watch out for those Dinosaurs in the lounge.........

I wonder if Hunter S. Thompson ever wrote a similar piece.

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