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Trip To Sin City: CES / AVN 2001 EXPOsed
The adventure travels to the CES, VSDA, and AVN Expo shows
January 5 - 9, 2001 - Las Vegas Convention Center - Las Vegas, NV

With electronic gadgets in every home these days, everyone owns something that buzzes, beeps, chirps or utilizes some mechanized, motorized contraption that supposedly makes their life easier. As it is, a good majority of folks barely know how to set their VCR's, let along their alarm clocks. Thus, welcome to the world of the industrious future where electricity is designed to make mindless zombies of us all - as if we needed help.

By now anyone who reads or watches the news has heard of the annual CES Expo in Las Vegas. The infamous Consumer Electronics show that is held every year to the delight of all who purport to tinker and toy with gadgets of all sorts. At CES, we are privy to all things new and useful to delight and amaze us. Products that are currently available or soon to be are all on display at this exposition most grand. Every year folks gather by the thousands - from across the globe - to Sin City central at the very beginning of January, the obvious time of year to go shopping as we all must have plenty of money left over from the Holidays. Nonetheless, CES goes on as scheduled right after the Christmases, Hanukahs, New Years, and any other celebrations that sucked our bank accounts dry. So, what is there left to do after paying exorbitant fees for hotels and airfare? Window shop, my friend, window shop. Unless you have an executive bank account stuffed full, chances are that they closest you will get to any new gizmo at the Expo will be by your grubby hands and drool.

I had thought carefully about going to this most whimsical of events, this CES, for quite some time. I had planned and ponder and prepared. The time was nigh and I had yet to decide whom I am going with and how we are getting there. I thought all things were in order by Friday, Jan. 5th - opening night, ripe for parties. I was ready to go until, at the last moment, as always, a ride fell through and I was to fall prey to circumstance. Oh hell! Luckily I had not yet disposed of my previously booked airline ticket and was able to use it. Except for - no ride to the airport, yet. After a lot of bustling, all was fine and the mad rush was on. To the airport I go. But where to stay when I get there?

It was one of those situations - planned, yet quite irresponsible really. I had met someone online about a week before. Not really someone new, yet I had never spoken with her personally and had really only emailed her that particular week to ask about a ride from the airport - which turned into begging for a place to stay as well.

There I went - off into the yonder, flying towards the lights of Satan's Playground. I had gone with a one-way ticket to Las Vegas, eight dollars in my pocket, and a phone number of a female acquaintance from AOL whom I was praying fiercely would actually pick me up at the airport - and hopefully not dismember me or worse on the ride back.

Nearing midnight. Well, closer to 11 pm. No one is at the airport I am thinking - forgetting of course that I had no idea what this person looked like, except for being over six feet tall. Just before giving up any notion, she appeared and all was well! Whew! Off we went and the adventure began...

Saturday, January 6 -
CES opens its doors to the public and we all scamper like cattle to the troughs. When we arrive at the Las Vegas Convention Center and step inside, I had to stand there dumbfounded for a few minutes to take it all in. They weren't kidding on all those news coverages - this thing was HUGE! The entire convention center was packed full of showcases, drapes, tables, and products, with all the little ants carrying their collectible bags scurrying around. You could tell who was their to "check things out" - casual dress - and who was there on business - nicely pressed suits. Once the shock wore off, with a nudge from our newly appointed photographer (and caregiver while I was in town), Wanda, we went scampering about as well. There were so many gadgets - practical and not - visible on every turn, one couldn't possibly know where to start. Apparently, we had started right in the middle. Well, might as well get to the meat of the industry. And this was only one building. There were four more sites of stuff to visit. Yikes!

As the day progressed, we visited all the departments we could - audio, video, home entertainment systems, MP3 players, and, communications, oh the communications. How many different cell phones does one need to choose from - let alone different portable MP3 players? This was almost disgusting, but oh so fun. The word "abundance" came to mind over and over through the day. As if the products weren't enough, there were the added enticements. Many marketers and distributors had their "visual aids" in the form of the "convention babes" - hot females in skimpy attire, all to better draw the allure and attention of the male money-spender. In addition, there were the famous and the infamous celebrities. JVC had the Go-Go's and Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx advertising their line of products while signing autographs during meet-and-greets. TiVo had football greats Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott. Mike Piazza made some showings. XM digital radio had such musical legends as Wynton Marsallis, Peter Frampton, and producing genius Alan Parsons. All of these stars were more than gracious to sign autographs and say hello to friendly faces. In metioning TiVo, they did have a goofy TV "talk show" set up as "Late Night With David Betterman" joked with the audiences. This character was a dead ringer for the real David Letterman. Wynton Marsallis, at the XM booth, gave a jazz music mini-course for a hand-ful of students to better illustrate the simplicities and complexities with good musicianship.

The evening was approaching as we went off to the Press dinner and showcase. This was the big affair were select companies showed off their goods for public awareness. There were some definitely fantastic products there which we will be talking about and reviewing in upcoming issues. But, let's talk about the dinner for a minute. Upon entering the meeting room, the first thing we encountered was the martini bar, competely made out of an ornate block of ice. Cool bar for cool drinks. From this bar came the Cosmopolitans that helped us to enjoy the show a bit more. Behind that was a fabulous layout of coconut chicken, pasta dishes, ham, turkey, and too much more to remember. All exceptional. As the night wore on, after all this visual input was beginning to flow out of my head, it was time to go back.

Sunday, January 7 -
The sun was shining - which woke me up rightly - and it was time to hit the CES once again. This is not a convention that one can run through in one day, let alone four. We stopped in to visit some of the other areas of the Expo that we had missed the previous day. From there, in the afternoon, it was time to head over to another two conventions in town - the VSDA and the AVN Expos. The Video Software Distributor Association and the Adult Video News people usually have their shows in the summer months, but had decided to move it to January in order to cash in on the CES. This wasn't going to happen as planned, at least not for VSDA.

About half the size of the previous year (July 2000), VSDA was sparcely populated, by both exhibitors and attendees. There was some grumbling about lack of proper promotions and the entrance fees. There was also some misunderstandings about whether or not CES attendees get in free - which should have been the obvious case. All in all though, I enjoy the VSDA Expo. All the latest in DVDs and videos (although VHS will be on the way soon enough) are to be found here. There were a few companies not in attendance but the rest had plenty to share.

Next door the AVN Expo was running hot! Who can get enough of naked females - or females that you have seen naked at some point. This adults-only affair is one of the most jumping and festive conventions to attend. Everyone is more than friendly (pun intended) and there is plenty to see (another intended pun). We got to meet up with a few names and chat with them for the magazine, as you will find in upcoming issues. It is nice to know that, while some adult entertainers are viewed as somewhat brainless and talentless, and possibly abused, there are some very together people involved in the industry. The women who we met are all on very solid ground and know exactly what they are doing and what they want out of life. Sex, money, fame, music. All of life's basics. (Isn't that guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution somewhere?) It was all one big party atmosphere.

Nearing 7 pm -
It was time to head to the Microsoft / Intel private parties. First up was the infamous Blue Man Group, known for the recent Intel TV commercial absurdities, performing at the Luxor. We missed that but did make it to the House Of Blues for Microsoft's private concert with Lenny Kravitz. Wow! What a show. If you have never seen him perform before, this was the way to be introduced. Lenny truly brings back the long lost spirit and freedom of music from days gone by. The extended jams, the slowing down to accentuate the simplicities of his melodies, these were all just incredible to watch at this small club. After the show, all in attendance got "goodie" bags from Intel, as a "thank you," containing in each, a digital camera, a sound morphing computer toy, and some knick-knacks. All this can only be done at the CES.

Monday, January 8 -
8:45 am, and it's a whole new adventure beginning as I am dropped off in the middle of downtown Las Vegas on a drizzly morning. Wanda is off to work and I am off to meander aimlessly - heading towards the Bellagio hotel for a meeting with NXT. After that, it is back to the CES. Woo hoo! More stuff to look at and more people to meet. It's back and forth between that and the VSDA/AVN shows. After 4 pm, Wanda returns. We head off in search of the noted parties, but somehow manage to miss most of them until we reach the Doors party at the Venetian hotel. Here we have original Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and his band performing an entire set of all, and only, Doors hits. During this time, the Oliver Stone film, "The Doors," is being shown on a screen above the stage. Off in the back is an oxygen bar that we missed - but KAOS2000's other photographer Matt Kriege did not miss. He imbibed and found that the rumors were true. A big enough hit of oxygen really DOES perk one up. Hmmm... who would've thought. I mean, it's only a gas that we need anyway.

Tuesday, January 9 -
It's the final day and again, I am out on the streets at 8:30 am this time. Argh! It is Tuesday. It is the final day for all the Expos. I am only now truly realizing my dilema. I had only purchased my one-way ticket to GET to the Devil's Dormatory. I had not really made plans to LEAVE. Oh hell, again. I did, wisely, remember to not cancel my return flight however. It sat there in limbo though. Reality sets in tightly as I struggle to figure out how to purchase a $127. plane ticket with only my remaining $3.65 in my pocket. Quandry indeed. Oh well, off to the CES I go. If I am going to be stuck somewhere, I may as well make the best of it. After all, I am only there to check out all the latest products and report on them. I am not there to worry about my personal problems (although in retrospect, at that time I probably should have). In the end, plans are made and all is sorted out as I hurredly make it to the airport to catch my flight - which was leaving in about 20 minutes.

Of course, upon my return, wouldn't you guess - Southwest Airlines just HAD to lose one of my suitcases. How convenient. But, home I was and happy to have gone through it all. This was a true Rock 'N' Roll adventure that one rarely gets a chance to do - and make it all the way through. The CES Expo was fantastic. The VSDA and AVN Expos were fun as always. All was good in the land of silicon and electricity once again as I had returned to the Valley. Now it's off to write reviews.

Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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