Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jobs' Tears (Macworld pt. 1)

Who: VN Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Joseph Connelly
What: 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo
Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco
When: January 7 + 8, 2009
Why: To find Steve Jobs some protein

Macworld 2009 takes over Moscone Center in San Francisco

The Scoop: Macworld hit San Francisco again last week, making news more for what it wasn’t than what it was. First, Apple co-founder, CEO, and former veg Steve Jobs was in the headlines for not delivering his usual info-geek/rock-star keynote address. The official word was that there were no huge new-product announcements from Apple, and Jobs only gets rolled out for the "big" events. News stories such as this one—which broke as the conference convened—suggest another explanation for Jobs' conspicuous absence, reporting that his drastic weight loss had been a “mystery even to him” and that it was only recently discovered that a hormone imbalance had been “robbing” his body of proteins. Right.

The second piece of non-news—that Apple is pulling out of Macworld and that this would be the company’s last appearance—didn’t put much of a damper on the die-hards, though it did seem to keep non-believers away. I visited the Expo twice in two days, and the crowds, like Jobs, seemed thinner than in past years. Certainly not 40,000 enthusiasts, as advertised.

Still, Macworld is a tour de force, a place where there is certainly something for everyone. My assignment was twofold: Scope out the veg scene, and find eco-friendly accoutrements that might be of interest to VegNews readers. I scored big on both fronts, and also met a great bunch of kids in the process. Today I’ll recapture my food experience; tomorrow I’ll fill you in on all of the hip-and-cool “must have” products I stumbled upon.

Apple-a-Day 1

I picked up my creds and headed to the press lounge, where, instantaneously, the first half of my mission bore fruit. Literally. Two large buffet tables offered loads of cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and grapes, plus bagels, coffee, tea, and juice, courtesy of Fuze, a company that offers “visual, high-definition meetings on your iPhone.” There were some cheese Danishes, butter, cream cheese, etc., but no meat at all. Nice. I enjoyed two ample portions of fresh fruit, and buried a bagel for later.

While breakfasting, I noticed a large contingent of young people at the next table. Yes, the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press crew was also covering Macworld. These little whippersnappers are a sophisticated bunch who are already pros at social and professional networking, as evidenced by a follow-up email I received less than two hours after our first meeting:

“Hi! I'm Mary from the SBMS Teen Press. I talked to you earlier and found out about VegNews. I just wanted to say that I think it's really great that you have a magazine that focuses on vegetarianism. Anyways, just thanking you guys!”

The student journalists of the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press Corps

My future employers and I exchanged business cards, and wouldn’t you know it? Mary and her colleague, Charlie, are both veg. (follow the above link to see a video of Charlie interviewing Apple co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak.)

After my first three-hour venture into the Macworld Expo, which filled every inch of Moscone Center (named for former SF mayor George Moscone, who was assassinated along with Harvey Milk, the subject of this critically acclaimed new film you may have heard about), I used my $15 lunch voucher to pick up some vital vittles from one of the numerous food vendors peddling their edibles in the convention center. While there was plenty of flesh at this juncture, finding veg offerings was a snap. I scored an ample bowl of hearty and flavorful minestrone soup, used the bagel I had stashed from breakfast to sop it up, and complemented both with a nice-and-fresh quinoa salad (zucchini, squash, black olives, mushrooms, a single cherry tomato, parsley). Vegan dessert offerings included more fresh fruit (bananas, apples, pears); since they didn’t give change, I took three bananas, which I gave away to a few housing-challenged folks on my way back to the subway.

Apple-a-Day 2

I returned to Macworld the following afternoon after a VegNews staff lunch featuring special guest Billy Hulting, the Grammy-nominated percussionist in the band Zappa Plays Zappa. Using my Day 2 voucher, I scoped out a different vendor where I procured a pre-made veggie sandwich, fruit cup (cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, grapes), bagel, and banana. I also nailed the $15 exact this time, leaving no change behind.

All said, eating veg at Moscone proved quite easy—surely a sign of progress. Yes, this is San Francisco, but most of the attendees of Macworld come from afar, and while I didn’t survey what everyone was eating, the abundance of (mostly) healthy, (mostly) fresh vegan options made this conference one Apple you could sink your teeth into.

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