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Calamari Connection

[whitespace] By Michele Jenkins

Sometimes it feels like the Internet--everyone's favorite (pick one) electronic superhighway/Satan's mouthpiece/temporary fad/savior of mankind--is some sort of massive data squid with too many tentacles for its own good.

Scott Beal, head of Laughing Squid Productions and primary nerve ganglion of the Alpha Squids mailing list, has managed to muster some of the Internet's massive potential for the forces of good and weirdness.

The Alpha Squids mailing list, which allows Beal to send 450 squidlings email about upcoming events, exists at a bizarre crossroads of the San Francisco underground scene. Alpha Squids are the first to know what's going on with projects and organizations such as Burning Man, Anon Salon, Bianca's Smut Shack, the SF Cacophony Society and, apparently, the time and date of certain local company parties.

Last month Beal flexed his cyber-tentacles by organizing a mass crashing of Wired magazine's fifth anniversary party. Email was sent out at 3:30 the afternoon of the party calling for Squids and friends to convene, in costume, on a street corner near the party so the crashers could descend on the unsuspecting partyers all at once.

The missive, which seeped onto other lists faster than ink in the ocean, explained Beal's semiserious belief that Wired "owed" many of those on the list free wine and cheese because of the profit Wired has made from commercializing the annual Burning Man festival (which perhaps should change its unofficial slogan from "No spectators" to "No book deals"). But mostly it was an "excuse to party and tweak the digerati."

Less than eight hours later, 20 cephalopods and their comrades stood in the rain waiting for their cue. According to Beal, by this time most Wired folks knew what was coming and apparently didn't mind sharing the brie and booze.

"Wired seemed to think it was great," said Beal. "All this sudden craziness, and they didn't have to pay for anything."

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From the February 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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