I have attended about 130 trade shows and association gatherings over the years, not including events hosted by suppliers for their dealers.
During that time, I’ve seen Las Vegas transform itself from a shabby, sordid city into a gleaming, sordid metropolis, wondered why New Orleans never sent taxis to its convention center when a show closed for the day, and took many extended stays.
I wheezed my way around the top of Pikes Peak, hiked up Mt. Rainer to a snow-fed creek, walked the streets of Tombstone, Ariz., watched the sun set in Maui, and waited for a groundhog to emerge from his cove before dawn in near-zero weather in Punxsutawney, Pa.
Some of my convention activities were also quite memorable. I wore new shoes during one of my first CESs. I went to the emergency room during one CEDIA Expo. The diagnosis was poison ivy - in my eyes.
But I also have some great memories. One of the best press events ever held at a trade show was organized by Qualcomm in the 1990s to introduce its Q phone, the first phone to display data sent over cellular. Special guests were the actors who played Q and Data on Star Trek-The Next Generation. I wanted to ask whether Q was more powerful than the Borg, or whether the Borg could assimilate Q. I asked about price and availability instead.
Years earlier, in Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of interviewing Seka, then a well-known adult-movie actress, though I had never heard of her. The topic was supposed to be an upcoming promotion of some sort. I got sidetracked. I asked how she got into the field and what her parents thought of her career path. A few years later, I found myself wedged into an elevator with many of her peers.
I met Roy Orbison after an after-show concert in Chicago, heard Linda Ronstadt sing at a Sony-sponsored concert, shook hands with the first George Bush (whom my uncle pulled out of the Pacific during WWII), listened to people who really mattered - including Neil Armstrong and Mikhail Gorbachev - and made a few friends.
I’m looking forward to making more memories.