|Macworld Expo NY
July 17 - 20 2001
Page 0: Not the Knife
Hear Chuck Goolsbee and Shawn King on the first Not Knife party
Many moons ago MacUser magazine hosted Macintosh music jams secreted away in their private space at MacWorld Expo. The gossip was that these jams, along with MacUser's courting of the Macintosh almost-famous by providing lavish food and drink during the Expos, was to compete with MacWorld magazine's overabundance of press because of its ties with the Expo. These jams also competed in status with MacWeek magazine's highly sought after Mac The Knife parties. In those old days, MacUser, MacWeek, and MacWorld magazines were serious competitors for writers, talent, and MacWorld Expo recreation. (I once witnessed this competitive spirit in action when all three magazines almost trampled each other trying to hire Andy Ihnatko after the infamous Mac Jepordhy BCS meeting.) Alas, those stellar jams went the way of all things, along with the magazine, but they were not forgotten.
In the intervening years, companies merged, magazines disappeared, but the spirit lives on. First MacWeek joined forces with Mac User, then part of Ziff Davis merged with IDG and formed Mac Publishing, LLC. MacUser was (wrongly) killed off, a number of writers were let loose on the universe, and the Mac community lost a well-loved magazine.
The Mac The Knife rumor column housed first by the print magazine, moved to the web in 1997(?) as the Electric Knife. The Publisher made the decision to drop the notorious "Knife" party in 2000, and the column was not-so quietly killed off a couple of months later. -->
Although the Mac The Knife party started as a way to reward MacWeek's advertisers and Apple news hounds willing to leak a few choice items, it quickly became an industry insiders "do." The party helped create some of the Macintosh magic and mystique - that mystery that helps foster a community. People often came to Macworld Expo just to get a glimpse of the infamous Knife or capture the coveted invitation. Needless to say, no one ever glimpsed the Knife itself (but I did get to meet Herbie Hancock at a Knife party)!
When I learned that the party was to be killed off, I stepped in to stem the tide. The party embodied the living spirit of the community of Mac users. It provided one of the coolest components of the community - a place where people could gather and tell tales without fear of publication. The mythical party that contributed to the oral history while providing an inner sanctum for its popular writers was too much a part of Macintosh mystique to just let it go down without a fight! Not to mention, it was because of The Mac the Knife party that I met Rob Hess, to whom the Macworld Events List is now dedicated.
To digress a bit...Coincidentally, in 1995 I started hosting parties at the end of MacWorld Expo in Boston. (San Francisco was out of my reach.) The first party was a barbecue for eWorld staff and users. (Someday those pictures will grace the web.) The second (1997) was a down home sing-a-long with Cal Simone (Main Event Software) dancing across the piano keys, with an AOL forum host on violin, and a few friends on guitar. The 1998 plan was to hold an old style MacUser type jam – but those plans were thwarted by Macworld Expo moving to New York. My New York party ended up as an intimate affair with 10-12 of some brilliant Mac enthusiats, including the irrepressible Don Crabb.
The Macworld New York 1999 gathering was a food fest — a deli outing with a number of chat enthusiasts, Mac die hards and my old friend Andy Ihnatko. Bringing together an international group over food and drink at a stereotypical New York deli was lot of fun and helps build the Mac global community. -->
Back to the Point...Needless to say my parties were much more intimate than the previous company supported events. The people who attended paid their own fare and no one walked away with swag. The false milennium, 2000, saw a big change - in parties, intent, and support!
Dismayed at the possibility of Macworld Expo losing its best after-hours no holds barred, exclusive party, I mounted a gargantuan effort to keep "the Knife" alive. With the help of Galleon Software, the first non-MacWeek hosted Mac The Knife party was launched. In order to pull it off in the right style, we had to seek multiple funding sources, which changed the party. A much wider array of people were invited, and the venue was significanly nicer than in previous party iterations.
Originally the Mac The Knife party was the premiere place for writers of multiple publications and various company executives to let their hair down, talk without the worry of being quoted, and as a thank you to a few brave souls who parted with industry secrets. The new party consisted of many of the same diehards, with a new spattering of network managers, developers, and general geeks.
Wake The Knife -
Macintosh Culture Under The Influence - New York, 2000
The first New York party, July, 2000 held at The Torch, on the East Side, featured Annie Raines and Paul Rischell playing blues (with the periodic accompaniement of my 15 year of saxaphonist son). Over 300 people crammed into the long thin bar over the course of the night.
Annie Raines and Marcus
Galleon Software, MacTank, Absolute Quality, Aladdin Systems, Dr. Bott, Farallon (now Proxim), Intego, MacWEEK, Mediafour, Proteron, Space.com, WebEx , & MacFixIt co-sponsored the party. Whereas the old parties had bestowed on the guests a t-shirt and sometimes a mug, each of these sponsors contributed something. Galleon Software coordinated the massive goodie bag effort, as can be seen on the attached page. The sachel people walked away with was legendary and the party was a phenomenal success.
Chris at MacTank wrote: I would like to tell you that we had an amazing time at the knife party. A few days ago I was walking down the street in NYC, and on my way I peered into a minivan parked by the side of the road. Someone had placed a knife t-shirt over the passenger seat and that made me smile. In a small way I was a part of that. We got some good contacts and more good friends. For me that was what the night was about.
... I had a really good time at the expo and being at the Knife party was a special privilege. -- Bill Briggs, Mac columnist
I want to thank you ... people have been telling me [this] was the best Mac the Knife party in years. --Roy Schulze, Galleon Software -->
The Party Formerly Known As... San Francisco, 2001
In 2001 I continued my entertainment quest with a Not The Knife party, formerly named: The Party Formerly Known As... . Mac Publishing had revoked my license to use the Mac The Knife name, so the name evolved and we partied on. The Beale Street Bar (an old MacWeek hangout) was chosen for the festivities. Also, a long thin bar, it provided a stage and two floors. The bar was jam-packed with lively conversation and talent from every corner of the Mac industry.
Bob Levitus wrote of the event at MacCentral, Matthew Rothenberg's (nee MacWEEK) band played late into the night. It was fun, fun, fun, just like the old days. I got to bed very, very late. (The band was The Amazons. )
The party was graciously sponsored by MacEdition.com, MacTank, Farallon (now Proxim), iRez, Kagi, 4D, Inc., Mediafour, BunchMedia , and Aladdin Systems. Guest gifts weren't quite as numerous but gratefully acknowledged. A Proxim key chain, Aladdin software, the requisite t-shirt, and a raffle of 5 iRez web cams specially designed just for the party, were included.
This party was great fun, even though it was plagued with way too many people in too small a space. It isn't often that the host has to wait to get into her own party! On the other hand no on could complain that there weren't some great contacts to be made.
New York, 2001Not to be undone by time, location, lack of support, or the head splitting work of pulling it all together, I set to plan the next great affair. Paul Kent, Macworld conference organizer, stepped in this year and offered to put together the honored Mac users jam in the form of a real live band. Between the two of us, and a great effort by Mac Observer, a band was born. The venue, the Cooler in the Chelsea district, played host to 350+ people, a rockin' good time, and ill-received pastries. As noted on another party report: one word - biscotti.
Our gracious sponsors included: MacTank, TekServe, Kagi, Otherworld Computing, The Mac Smith, University of the Arts, SAMS, and Peachpit. The guests walked away with not only the requisite t-shirt (see below), but a MacTank drink cooler, a Peachpit hat, Aladdin CDs, and a lucky 100 got a leather PB keyboard protector, courtesy of TekServe.
To be honest, pulling these parties together has aged me 10 years. I hope I can round out my 2-year imperative with a lively event in San Francisco 2002. It all depends on the sponsors - or better said, on any company's willingness to sponsor the event. The Macintosh All-Star band is ready and raring to go.
The Macintosh All-Star Band - New York 2001 with vocal credits |
Lead guitar and vocals: Paul Kent
Rhythm guitar and vocals: Bob Levitus
Bass guitar and vocals: Chuck La Tournous - Blue Suede Shoes
Bass guitar: Duane Straub (network engineer)
Keyboard: Scott Scheinbaum (writer)
Drums: Dave Hamilton (MacObserver) - I Saw Her Standing There
Saxophone: Ron Holloway (saxophonist)
Tom Irish (web designer) - Brown Sugar, Jumpin' Jack Flash
Ilene Hoffman (yet to be defined) - Proud Mary
Andy Ihnatko - National Anthem
Don't forget to view the other other shots of Macworld and parties by Ilene too.