Glomming Free Internet Swag

Written by Alan Cabal on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

Fortunately, they were giving
away a lot of interesting swag. I got about 20 pounds of it (including the printed
matter) in a fast 40-minute pass through the event before I caved in and left
to smoke, never to return. The swag is really the only reason to attend these
events. I’ll never have to buy a pen again, and I’ve got enough tablets
of Post-It note paper to print out Gravity’s Rainbow.

The first thing I got was
a plastic swag bag and a press release kit from a cheerful Ebonics-speaking
teenager. The presskit contained the usual Prozac-influenced prose I’ve
come to associate with the dot-com crowd. I first logged on in early 1984, to
CompuServe, which I found unwieldy and very costly at the time. I switched over
to MCI Mail as soon as it became available, and used it very happily for about
a year and a half. I mainly hung out on the numerous odd and diverse bulletin
board systems of the time. There were a lot of so-called "pirate"
boards around at that time, and while I don’t pretend to understand a third
of what they’re talking about, the computer outlaw subculture has always
fascinated the hell out of me. They’re like bikers: it’s a pure meritocracy.

I got a bunch of bright
translucent yellow plastic pens from an outfit called, an online employment
agency. This is actually a pretty nifty idea. Taking advantage of the current
job market, particularly as regards certain types of IT professionals, is a
great idea. This has the added gimmick of offering a sliding scale
bounty of referrals, so it is theoretically possible to register with them,
obtain no acceptable work and still turn a very nice dollar on the occasional
referral. It’s something to think about; I’d have to look at the details
of this referral bonus. The pens are nice and fat. I like fat pens.

I grabbed three nice red
mini-Frisbees and a big load of refrigerator magnets (the make-a-poem kind,
with individual words) from, a travel agency specializing in last-minute
travel arrangements. That’s not a bad idea for the amateur traveler, but
I have a solid and very beneficial longstanding relationship with my travel
agency, and know for a fact that there is no one better for my travel needs,
certainly not some distant person I’ll never meet.

I also acquired something
called an e-brick, the "Official E-commerce Source-book," which reads
like one of the sporadic e-mails I get from, the Internet
company dead pool recently on the block at eBay. This little book will come
in handy if I ever want to buy lightbulbs or lobsters online. I got three bumperstickers
that say, "Kill Time, Not People," three "Mightygrip" tools,
good for opening jars, handling hot lightbulbs or removing lint from clothing,
a pair of size-36 white Hanes briefs from, two lemon meringue Balance
nutrition bars, four packets of Sour Skittles, four three-way highlighters from
Datek, a very tight elasticized terrycloth headband from some hiphop venture
called Hookt, two tins of Altoid-style mints from, two spare corks
with nice wooden tops and three handy little corkscrews from, three
kazoos from Lycos, four Bic lighters from, about a dozen more
fat pens from various and sundry dot-coms and the very best thing, a big fat
pen with a built-in refillable bubble-blowing device. This thing is the best
piece of swag I’ve gotten in years. I got it from It appeared
to be the last one left. Otherwise I’d have grabbed a dozen of them.

I also got a bunch of mini-CD-ROMs
that won’t run on my Apple and a big pile of printed matter related to
a new offer from Time Warner Cable, a company that I will do business with when
it rains Guinness. I canceled my cable because of Time Warner’s idiotic
billing practices, and the idea that I’d want them as my ISP made me burst
out laughing when I walked past their booth.

I left feeling that I really
should have gone to the beach, but the bubble-blowing pen is a very cool object.
The commercialization of the Internet doesn’t have anything to do with
me. I make all of my purchases with cash or checks, and I like to meet the people
I do business with. I spend a lot of time online, but my favorite sites have
nothing to do with commerce. I guess my very favorite site these days is,
a collection of diverse images and news items of an inspirational nature. They
got into a little trouble a while back for posting pictures of Princess Di’s
autopsy. I’m also very fond of, where I keep up with the winners
and runners-up of the "Drunk of the Month" contest. There’s no
prize, just the dubious honor of having your picture on the Internet in some
awful state of drunken disarray for all the world to see. I go to sometimes
to check in on Charles Manson, and I like the Nazi sites and for
laughs. I check every morning to stay abreast of new technology
and related stories.

Long after Jeff Bezos has
filed his inevitable Chapter 11, will be providing me with uplifting
distraction and will remain the best argument for knowing when
to quit. The shakeout continues. The last time I checked eBay, bidding for
had reached $85,000 in just 48 hours. That’s a lot of money for an online
dead pool.