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The analog kid 

It was a simple mechanical failure that made me late for Digital Rochester's monthly meet, mingle, and monopolize event at Tonic on East Avenue. I'd gone there to research this week's cover story, "Twenty-somethings to the rescue" (see page 6). Both the Rochester-Area 20-Somethings (R.A.T.S.) and Rochester Young Professionals, a splinter group, were encouraging their members to attend the gathering.

            Michael Finney, president of the newly formed Greater Rochester Enterprise, was this month's featured speaker. A source informed me he'd probably start the slide show at 5:30.

            I got there in plenty of time to down a few drinks before the boring stuff started. Trouble was, my cable lock broke.

            I stood outside the club, bike leaning against the would-be locking tree, trying to get the tumblers aligned, in vain. Soon, I was pondering my options. There were two: ride back home to Milburn Street, nearly to Culver Road, and call a cab, or try to check the slush-dripping mountain bike as if it were a coat.            By the time I cabbed over, the presentation was well underway, and it was standing-room-only along the edge of the dance floor. Weeks before, I'd stood in the same spot and watched a cartoon movie while people writhed to techno in an artificial fog. Now, the relevant points of Finney's presentation were projected on the same screen as he repeated them to a rapt assembly of Digital Rochesterians.

            I made a bee-line for the booze and found a spot next to two cigar smokers. It felt like skipping class. All around the rectangular bar, spiffy businesspeople drank and chatted. Stickers stuck to their chests announced their name and place of employment. Mercifully, my tardiness had allowed me to slip in anonymously, and anonymously I sat, observing as the wheels of high-tech commerce in our city got greased.

            "It's all orbs these days," a man behind me remarked to another, who agreed.

            I was out of my deep, so to speak. Among the pool of high-tech talent assembled that night, I was stuck in the shallow end, making whale spouts by squeezing my palms together, impressing no one.

            Still, for all the hype about high-tech corridors, biotech booms, and business incubators, I know the whole sham will short-circuit in short order as soon as the oil runs out. And when that time comes, everyone there will be just like me, having biked over for nothing more than a beer.

Walk on the wild side

The City Walk, which took place two days later and was also promoted by the twenty-something groups, was more my speed. I was handed a City Walk sticker when I showed up at the meeting place --- Spot Coffee, down the street from Tonic on East Avenue --- but it wasn't a nametag. Wearing it entitles you to discounted drinks at the establishments along the way.

            The people organizing this monthly bar crawl turned out to be genuine, down-to-earth folk. Whereas Digital Rochester is high-tech and uptight, the Walk is low-key and laid back. The subject of orbs never came up.

            The Walk's itinerary is kept secret until a half hour or so before it embarks, at which time a message revealing the destinations is left on the "hotline" (234-9025) anyone not already City Walking can access. How cool is that?

            The night's first stop was Havana Moe's, a small cigar bar with a pool table down the street from Spot. As the group of 25 or so cold, thirsty Walkers crowded around the bartender, some guy asked her, "What's the most amberish beer you have?" Amazingly, a riot failed to ensue.

            The next stop was Mex, on Alexander, where the tequila began to flow.

            Monty's Korner was the final leg. I don't remember much about it (see sentence above), but I know I had a good time. And really, what else matters?

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