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The Devolution will not be Webcast

I was suffering from one of those Viagra headaches last night, and the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate the launch of a 24-hour technology cable TV channel.

I was suffering from one of those Viagra headaches last night, and the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate the launch of a 24-hour technology cable TV channel. A wake seemed more appropriate.

But Vermel was adamant. "C'mon Dad, Devo's going to be there!" Was he even alive the last time Devo toured? "I promised Ammonia Blossom and Jai Pegue that you would get us in!" protested my culturally deprived offspring.

Talk is cheap, I explained. And what was the point, I went on, of hauling three preteenagers out on a freezing San Francisco school night, when surely we could watch all the proceedings from the safety and comfort of our own home via the Internet?

"Geez, don't you know anything?" was Vermel's somewhat familiar response. "Devo was supposed to do a Webcast, but the ZD cheapskates wouldn't cough up the extra 50 grand the band wanted."

A measly 50 thou--so much for Ziff-Davis's deep pockets! For some people in this industry, 50K is the hourly rate. How odd that ZD would neglect to put the show on the Web site, when in San Francisco--as in all but a few small cable markets--the Web site is all we can see of ZDTV.

Thanks to ZDTV's thrift, I wound up chaperoning Vermel and his classmates to the launch party. In the middle of the Skinny Badge concert, which was nothing less than ear-shattering, I made a quick escape to the Imagine Publishing celebration at Ghirardelli Square across town. Now this was my idea of a party: oysters on the half shell with flying fish eggs, kiwi creme brulee, floating tray after tray of bubbly, naturally amphetamine-laced "high-tech" Black Black chewing gum (rumored to be contraband), and name tags hand-lettered by a Chinese calligrapher. But things went downhill when Imagine execs started haranguing the guests about how "passionate" their company is. True, Business 2.0 magazine is a pretty nifty rip-off of Wired and Money, and Click Chick has one of the naughtiest slogans on the Web ("girl sites that don't fake it"), but was that any excuse for the bar to go dry during the interminable product presentations?

Back at techno-TV la-la land, those who were not still murmuring about the Devolution of ZD fees or who hadn't been completely deafened by those elder statesmen of New Wave were trading gruesome accounts of the bizarre labor practices over at Microprose. Rumor has it that a very senior executive of that gaming company paid an employee of some other sex a handsome bonus in exchange for the pleasure of watching her consume seven pounds of broccoli in 120 minutes.

Witnesses say the employee (after negotiating her contract down from 10 lbs., sans stalks) steamed, pressed, and pureed the stinking vegetable into something resembling vegetarian concrete, doused it in various condiments, and two hours later walked away from the ordeal with 1,000 greenbacks and one very green face. Fellow employees who had taunted her with vomit-inducing tales during her ghastly repast gave her a wide berth until the meal was sure to have been fully digested.

One thing I can't keep down anymore is the scuttlebutt about Intuit. Apparently, the company's idea to resuscitate Quicken for the Mac originated not in Sunnyvale, California, but in Redmond, Washington, where $150 million of Apple's current assets also originated. In addition, Skinformants are suggesting that Excite got a helping hand from Intuit--which holds a 20 percent stake in the search firm--in paying Netscape that $70 million up-front fee for the Netcenter contract a few weeks ago. Which begs the question: Where would the sporadically profitable Intuit get that kind of money? Redmond? While 50 thou might earn you Devotion and 70 mil might get you Excitement, I'm hard up after spending all my cash on pharmaceuticals. Penny for your thoughts?