over, Mary Ann Singleton. Here comes Holly Chen.
Holly Chen, 22, is an associate producer in a
soon-to-go-public dot com company, splurch.com, and one of the central
characters in a new novel by Bill Allard, which bears the same name.
Holly works with an oldtime hacker named Norm Dotoshay and a young
bike-riding computer whiz, Salvidor Zaldivar.
The time is December 1, 1999 - May 1, 2000. The place is
Multimedia Gulch and points south.
Walk down memory lane for a moment. Let the
Chronicle recall the way we were:
“We call our area Digitropolis,” said Chad Nuss,
spokesman for Silicon Reed, which is at 17th and Harrison
streets – one of the newer outposts for multimedia. “We feel San
Francisco is the creative capital for multimedia and the Internet.”
Or join Holly’s boss, splurch.com CEO Milena Peterson,
as she heads to work in her Mercedes SLK, her headlights illuminating
“block after block of dilapidated warehouses, ancient auto parts stores,
and billboards announcing the arrival of yet another indispensable dot
com web site.” Next to Milena, on the passenger seat, is a bag of
Christmas decorations, destined to festoon computers and white boards.
“Steve Jobs wouldn’t do this at Apple,” she mutters.
Nor would Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, head honcho in the
Startup.Com, whose company followed the same general arc of
triumph and despair. But then, Tuzman wheeled and dealed in New York
City. Our heroines and their male partners in climbing the millionaire
mountain are decidedly Californian in style. Try to imagine the glum
employees of Tuzman's govWorks.com engaging in this mock battle:
Norm and Sal tried to take the loft by charging up the
red metal circular stairs but were driven back by Holly and her sales
cohorts. When the loft team ran out of water balloons, they started
throwing stacks of recycled paper down on their attackers. Sal finally
gained the loft and chased Holly down the stairs blasting her with his
over sized water gun. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Holly
tripped over Norm’s foot and crashed into the Foosball table.
No, Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more, nor in
But on April 13, 2000 the stock market crashed just as
hard on the West Coast as on the East, disrupting water wars and dashing
dreams to smithereens on both sides of the continent. Devastated, Milena
Maybe they would turn Alcatraz into a debtor’s prison
and incarcerate her and all the other dot com executives that lost
their stockholders so much money in the last couple of days. The more
she thought about it, the better it sounded. Three squares a day and
somebody else to figure out how to drag the stock out of the gutter.
Dozens of “somebodies” are still trying to drag dot com
stock out of the gutter. But Bill Allard, founding member of the comedy
troupe Duck’s Breath
Mystery Theater has figured out how to turn the debacle into
multimedia gold: splurch.com the book will metamorphose into splurch.com
the web serial, followed by what he calls a “breakthrough comedy DVD.”
Says Allard, "The book will be out April 1, the first
scene of the feature will premiere on the internet August 5th, and the
DVD will be released on early September. By next Christmas everyone in
America will know the real story behind dot com fever and what was
happening in San Francisco at the turn of the millennium.” The DVD will
include not only a core 90-minute film but layers upon layers of dot com
comedy sequences and interviews “that turn each viewing of the feature
into another ninety minutes of comedy entertainment.”
But that’s all in the future. Let’s return once more
with Holly to the halcyon days of dot com heaven, known as South Park:
Holly sat down on the bench and looked through the
windows of the Ecco restaurant. Laughing patrons were enjoying their
Sunday brunch. At the front counter a line of people waited for a noon
jolt of joe to go. Christmas was only a week away, but appeared that
none of these web workers were taking time off to Christmas shop.
Maybe if they worked hard enough, their dot com company would go
public that much sooner and they would become dot com millionaires
that much sooner, and then they would be able to take luxurious
vacations and buy their loved ones expensive Christmas gifts.
Bill Allard. splurch.com.
Last Gasp. 224 pages. $12.95