March 30, 2003
Source and Tags

While on the subject of a 6502 adolescence (since mine coincided with that of the machine), I was thinking recently about tags, and the ones I knew and the ones I didn't. I had a friend in high school who was fearless, a hardcore hardwire graffiti artist, long dead now though "they be scrubbin his name for the next hundred years."

Whether I took the express bus or the 1 train to school, I'd see his tag everywhere. It was routine landscape, almost invisible for that very reason. I knew his tag long before I knew him, and I saw it around long after I saw him last.

But then also, when I'd get home at the end of the day and boot up my Atari 800, there was this other landscape, all in pixels. A landscape of cracked video games on 5.25" diskettes, moving through the sneakernet. What I'd forgotten until just now is that these pirate worlds too were also signed, tagged, and painted. I forgot how every game had to get cracked somewhere, and how you sign what you crack, and how that flash and spark were an integral part of the boot-up commute.

I recalled all that just now while browsing through Low Level All-Stars, "the best cracker tags [e.g. AVIs 1, 2, and 3] selected from over 1000 games available for the Commodore 64 computer." I don't know what it would be like to watch these without the attendant nostalgia, but I find them very moving. Now that pixels are so cheap, now that everyone's name sits somewhere in pixel form, you can feel it low level: these guys were astronauts, pilgrims, and lest we forget, teenagers. All-Stars.

Posted by kevin slavin at March 30, 2003 11:14 PM
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