York Daily Record, Pa., Mike Argento column
Mar 05, 2013 (York Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
"You might call data the new punk rock."
- Live guitarist Chad Taylor, announcing the band's latest business venture, United Fiber & Data, which plans to build a $29 million fiber optic data line that will link four $40 million data centers.
Dozens of police in riot gear were summoned to an East Side Chili's yesterday when a business luncheon featuring The Data Pistols got out of hand and resulted in a near riot that caused damage estimated in the low double-digits.
It is the latest in notorious behavior tied to the group of former software engineers from Initech best known for its hit server, the HAL 9000, also known as the "Google The Police" data pod.
"It was a zoo," said Chili's manager Bob Slydell. "They started yelling at patrons and got them chanting 'Steve Jobs is dead,' and then things just went south."
One witness said the scene escalated when The Data Pistol's assistant service manager Bob Smith, who goes by the name Johnny Solid-State-Drive, spit Diet Coke at the crowd and implored them to butt in line at the salad bar.
"He kept yelling about how we were sheep and that the only way we're going to get any bacon bits was to take them ourselves," the witness said. "So we did. It really got crazy."
At least three people were reported to have been slightly insulted and two others were treated for contusions to their feelings. They were treated at the scene and released.
It took police several minutes and a few polite warnings to disperse the crowd and return order. Police spokesman Steven Seagal said, "It was a dangerous situation. When these guys get a few hot wings and diet Cokes under their belts, they get pretty riled up and start tweeting. Who knows how it will end But this wasn't our first trip to the rodeo. We've had to deal with this kind of thing before, like that time a bunch of Yahoo yahoos split a six-pack of Bud Light and posted fake Google doodles on Facebook."
The Data Pistols are well-known to data fans -- and police -- for their raucous public behavior. They caused a near riot at last year's Consumer Electronics Show when they descended on the Apple booth and taunted executives, saying they wouldn't know an Intell Quad-Core i7 from an Intell Quad Core i5. They were tossed out of the show after they took two lanyards each from the Cisco stand and called security personnel "wankers."
It is part of a larger picture that is troubling to conventional society -- the data underground, populated by a large group of disaffected young engineers and data service workers fueled by anger caused by having to upgrade their wireless routers every three to five years. Several bands of rogue software engineers have taken up their banner, leading a cause that is known for its nihilism, disregard for societal convention and wardrobe that consists mostly of polo shirts and Dockers.
The Data Pistols are among the leaders of the movement, joined by the Black Server, X, the Dead Gates and the seminal Steve Jobs' Corpse. They are all known for a brand of hard, fast data that expresses the angst of the modern era and plays upon the friction between iPhone users and those who own Droid-based devices.
"What we're saying is that we've been lied to all of our lives," said Steve Jobs' Corpse frontman and diagnostic systems manager Jello Biafra. "Our brand of data is our way of telling the masses that the world is a terrible place and that if we band together, we can develop a system that will have enough bandwidth to allow us to transfer large video files with ease. While Skype-ing too!"
The now-infamous Chili's disturbance occurred on the heels of the disappearance of The Data Pistol's former customer service manager Steve "Keyboard Shortcut" Jones. Jones was found in a Chelsea hotel room last month after he had been missing for three days. Police said he had holed up in the hotel to watch a marathon of "Big Bang Theory" on Netflix and had apparently accidentally overdosed on Mountain Dew, Slim Jims and Taco Bell chalupas. He is recovering in his parents' basement, where he spends much of his time blogging about the scientific impossibilities in the plot of the recent Fox hit TV show "Fringe."
Data Pistols' help-desk manager Joe "Pixilated Porn" Strummer said the Chili's incident was unrelated to Jones' disappearance and that the group has nothing but well wishes for its former member, despite their differences over the possibilities of time travel between alternate universes as depicted on "Fringe."
"We don't have a beef with Keyboard Shortcut," Strummer said. "I mean, we kind of feel sorry for the guy for not seeing the possibilities of time travel between alternate universes. I mean, Einstein Hello! Read a book. Geek."
Mike Argento's column appears Mondays and Fridays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints. Reach him at email@example.com or 771-2046. Read more Argento columns at www.ydr.com/mike. Or follow him on Twitter at FnMikeArgento.
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