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Wired's 5th birthday bash: All grown up now?

Once inside the massive hangar-cum-warehouse where the party was getting started, I made my way to the Moroccan room.

Navigating the evening drizzle between two desolate warehouses in San Francisco's SO-SO-SOMA district (South of South of South of Market), I wasn't surprised that the hip post-retro-neos at Wired magazine would pick a location this God-forsaken for their fifth anniversary party. After all, this is what Multimedia Gulch looked like a decade ago before the digerati dojos took over--back when South Park was neither a moronic cartoon nor a picnic lawn for Wired slaves but a heroin junkie hangout.

Once inside the massive hangar-cum-warehouse where the party was getting started, I made my way to the Moroccan room. As I nursed a crisp Cosmopolitan to get in touch with my feminine side, Mr. Wired himself, Louis Rossetto "Stone" entered for a press conference. He waxed tres mellow about the company's rise from a humble 12-person outfit to...well, you get the picture. Except most didn't, as Big Lou tried to show a "Day in the Life at Wired" film but was flummoxed by uncooperative video gods. I guess Netizen on TV wasn't enough of a lesson.

Ah, mais le party, as we say on balmy Quebec summer nights. My well-placed Skinformers throughout the festivities had a chance to talk to the fresh Wired blood, namely Editor in Chief Katrina Heron and Publisher Dana Lyon, both of whom bring Big Apple pizazz to the decidedly Left Coast goings-on at Wired Ventures. I mean, when you've worked as these two have for the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, respectively, pulling all-nighters with the likes of Tina Brown and perhaps even legendary publisher Si Newhouse, you must have something to bring to the table. The sharp, incisive commentary offered to my people by these incoming editrixes gives me the distinct sense that the adults are back at home now that the kids have had their party. Let's not forget, however, that Louis's kids have had not just fun but profit--on the print side, at least.

Of course, the Absolut Vodka Power Drinking Luge contributed just a wee bit to the sense that these Wired folks know more about fun than profit. The infernal contraption consisted of a slanted ice sculpture, into which was carved a series of yard-long tunnels. If one was so inclined, one put one's mouth at the bottom of a tunnel while a gorgeous dame--or maybe a guy with great legs, it's a bit hard to tell sometimes--with a sand-white wig and blue raincoat poured the vodka flavor of your choice down the chute and right through your gullet.

After quenching my thirst at the ice luge--Currant, no chaser--and gorging on baby shrimp, seared beef, and vegan concoctions, I made my way to the dance floor, donned a black feather boa and joined the ravers, proving that I may be Skinny but I'm still funky. I left around 1 a.m.--on a school night, no less--certain that no matter the status of Wired in the publishing world, they still know how to let loose. Thank you, Louie-Louie!

Another guy who knows how to let loose is writer/Web publisher/Wired alumnus Dave Winer, who runs a mailing list devoted to his own industry observations. Over the New Year's hiatus, in lieu of his usual tech punditry, Winer bared all in a series of Robert Bly-ish emails, covering such topics as male anger, tears, a woman's critical role in shaping boys' psyches, and other gender study tropes. Citing his desire to make a fresh start in 1998, he sailed through these delicate waters with gusto and wound it all up by saying "The first few days of 1998 have been an incredible growth period for me, and I hope for you, too." In this macho, boy-toy world of hard drives and stock maneuvers, Winer's "off-topic" ruminations were a breath of fresh air.

But enough feel-good vibes. A site called "Disgruntled: The business magazine for people who work for a living" has picked Ken Hamidi, a former Intel engineer who uses the Net to air his critical views of the chip giant, as its 1997 Disgruntled Employee of the Year. Hamidi beat out some serious competition to win the award, such as NBA coach-choker Latrell Sprewell and former Navy pilot Kelly Flinn. If Intel's rough start in 1998 continues, Time's Man of the Year, Intel CEO Andy Grove, might be the winner of next year's Disgruntled crown.

Speaking of Kelly Flinn, who was drummed out of the Navy and a promising career after admitting to an affair with a married man, sometimes you have to rein in those urges any way you can. Visitors to the Postfeminist Playground might try that site's "Worst Porn On the Web" collection. With links to such would-be erotica as an X-rated Gone With the Wind, the amalgamation should work as well as a cold shower or a naked slide down the Absolut Vodka Power Drinking Luge. Brrr. When it comes to rumors, don't leave me out in the cold. Warm the cockles of my heart and send me a real barn burner.