Hearnet and MediaCast present the netcast of Vibe-O-Thon


by Allen Whitman

weather: warm middle evening, a breeze freshens inside the hot room. Laughter and concentration hover around at eye level while at ear level somebody hangs up the phone with a disgusted "fuck YOU!"

The woman manipulating video and graphics files consistently invokes Jesus when all of her applications work together. She inspires confidence.

The technical wizard sits in the biggest chair. Some things never change.

Time for the next band. I pull them earplugs out of my pocket and insert 'em in my ears. It's the VKTMS. A punk band from the seventies. They have a song called "My Baby's A Midget." The crowd mills about. Upstairs at the lighting balcony ("blue laminates ONLY!") I am approached by the inventor of the tactile floor. He's removed his tie. I ask him why it's so bright in this room. He tells me it's for the video. Oh yeah. I always forget about the requirements of successful technological reproduction.

Lets find out about the technology available for live sound that will (allegedly) decrease the risk of hearing loss by lowering the overall volume of the PA system and increasing the vibration of the lower frequencies. Bone conduction...let's ask the inventor.

Thomas Clark Fenner, born forty-odd years ago in Littleton, CO, worked with the Coast Guard and as a technician testing industrial hearing loss. He tells me he noticed that people were going deaf. Hell, he was going deaf. He was hanging out at a friends house in the seventies and they were blasting Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" at top volume upstairs from where he was sitting. He says he started thinking about how it should be possible to recreate the audio quality he was experiencing without the overall volume.

In 1978 he developed the first prototypes of his "Tactile Sound" transducers for use in waterbeds. It was a technical success but a crashing financial flop. The transducers, though they worked admirably, cost more than the bed.

Though there is quite a bit more in between we're gonna fast forward past the government contracts etc. to the present. TCF inserts his transducers inside of a heavy duty floor module manufactured by Wenger, in Owatona, MI. The floor piece is 4'x8' and retails for about US$550.00. The transducer is 8" square and retails for about the same amount. One 8'' square transducer drives one 8'x4' heavy floor bit that is built to withstand people leaping up and down and beer spilling all over it. It can be cleaned and reused!

Mr. Fenner says he will include the cost of shipping for orders over US$2500.00.

He also assures me that the discrete audio signature of any and all instruments, including the human voice, can be reproduced by his floor, even sans any form of public address system whatsoever.

He's enjoying his Valentine's Day. He's going back to look at his wife--one of his favorite pastimes, lucky for him!

Another band oozes out over the stage. Colorful, self-conscious, tacky in the extreme....Omigod it's The White Trash Debutantes! A circus sideshow of freaks, transvestites, crossdressers, shaved heads and fake hair. And they're great! Only in San Francisco. Where else can an indulgent and loving urban mother like The City encourage and coddle her teetering offspring into a confident and mature psychoband.

Full out wackyness.

© 1997 MediaCast