The eerie screeching and wailing goes unheeded. I am once again upon a BART bound for San Francisco. There is a stench of humanity, even urine. The appearance about me is ghetto punctuated by ill; aural protests; eyes tearing with empathy for this old mismanaged system. What once was the pride of our Bay Area now is a beaten down trodden horse heading to the glue factory. But I was determined to make it to the Ferry building just off Embarcadero. So I stayed put. Eventually after a harrowing ride at breakneck speed through a tunnel below untold millions of gallons of salt water; Banshee’s screaming that death was near; it was suddenly quiet; I was at my stop.
I proceeded as instructed by that phone phreak known only as Mark Bernay. He was one of the many interviewed by Phil Lapsley for his book “Exploding the Phone”. It led me to a narrow metal spiral staircase that was barely wide enough for one; yet here I was steadily climbing up as others squeezed by me on their journey down. I know not how many steps it took or flights of same. We were quite far underground. Eventually I walked to yet another set of stairs that ascended into some promising light. This was a real workout; my lungs protested every chilling breath it took.
Finally I was on Market street; the Ferry building was within sight. I met Mr. Bernay at Peet’s which was just outside Book Passage; he sat at a large square wooden table that could have easily accommodated eight to ten. He had recently lost a beloved little white doggie “Janie” who helped him heal when he needed it most. From a playground she chased a ball into the street; sadly; she was run over by a truck! No signs of breathing; Mark picked her up; carrying a limp body to Vet who confirmed Janie was gone. Mark’s words seemed matter of fact but that was just a shield; his name “Mark Bernay” is too.
A small crowd of maybe 40 people listened as a TV crew recorded Phil’s lecture for CSPAN. Questions were called for at the end; at my turn I queried would his next book be “Exploding Wi-Fi”? Some laughs and giggles but Phil insists this is it. Is Lapsley just a one trick pony?
Mark gifted me a copy of Lapsley’s book. I got in line to get an autograph. I explained to Phil I was a friend of Mark’s; better known as “Geary The Russian”. He was kind enough to acknowledge me as a Phreak. He thus endorsed it:
To Geary the Russian –
from one phone phreak
It was a real honor. Afterwards we all went to Gott’s for beer and burgers. Phil was at a long table; we arrived too late to join. Mark and I sat at an adjacent table that could sit only four and was lower in height than the other one. Mark quipped that we were at the children’s table; desperately wanting to be with the adults. Fortunately Phil and another Phreak known as David joined our table; it was such a good time!
We reminisced; good old days; Homebrew Computer Club had done its part in keeping us in touch. Smugly I thought “This was well worth the journey!”. It is not everyday I get to spend being with and talking *phreak *2* phreak*!