J.P. Barlow Remembers… US? Interview About MONDO 2000 (Reality Hackers, High Frontiers)

Stefan Z., Amelia Rose, J.P. Barlow, Morgan Russell


John Perry Barlow was interviewed for an oral history of MONDO 2000 several years ago. That version of a MONDO 2000 book has been displaced by something more essay/idea oriented (albeit with some memory mixed in) — and that leaves us free to use some of the interviews here on the website.

We did not, however, expect to be using the Barlow interview so soon. But now, with everybody remembering Barlow, we’re going with Barlow remembering us.

Some or all the persons and references herein may be unfamiliar but with a modicum of intuition and /or imagination, you should be able to get into the MONDOMania as J.P. Barlow recalls it.


Meeting Reality Hackers

I met Morgan Russell either at SIGGRAPH Boston or Macworld Boston (1989). But I didn’t really put it all together, I don’t believe, until I ran across Reality Hackers. R.U. Sirius was at a hackers party at the Exploratorium giving away copies of Reality Hackers and High Frontiers.

I just thought this was marvelous. I thought, this is exactly right because there had been this thing that had been gathering in my head, I thought, somewhat independently, about the relationship between consciousness in computing and psychedelics.

I knew about them and I was interested in them for a good long while before I discovered that they had this house that was kind of an artist collective — an atelier of some sort — that was gathering energy around this whole thing. And I was in fundamental agreement and even felt like part of their auto-conspiracy.

Coming to the MONDO house

I was almost certainly lured by Morgan. I thought that the house was a truly magical place. It was out of a Hermann Hesse novel, filled with these people the likes of which did not exist anywhere else. I felt like I kind of made them up. They were so perfectly aligned with something that I wanted to exist.

They were telling the story of something that was going to be a natural continuity of a thread that I’d been tracking ever since I became a teenage beatnik when I was thirteen.

I had been on that path in some form or fashion through LSD and hanging at Millbrook, and finding out that my official best friend was a member of the house band for the Acid Test and all these kinds of things through college and subsequently.

I was re-engaging with something that I had been out of the loop of. I mean, I’d gone off to Wyoming for seventeen years where I’d been a cattle rancher. And yeah, I’d been writing Grateful Dead songs on the side but I actually didn’t feel myself to be at the core of that movement or any kind of countercultural movement… and I very much felt like I was re-engaging what seemed to be my life’s work that night, meeting those guys and becoming part of whatever it was that you were up to.

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The 7B2 in Handel Gothic (It is steampunk)

lThat nag of the wristwatch to be real, be present, and to stick by one’s intended boundaries of privacy is more powerful than the nag of the phone. The phone nags differently.

by Woody Evans


I regarded it, but this little Casio did not regard me as I settled onto the toilet. In that moment, the watch won me over, and now I’m in the analog-gadget bag, big time.

The face is marred at the fifty-six-minute-mark on this black resin Casio MQ24-7B2 wristwatch. It is physical, is analog, it doesn’t quite fit the left wrist right, and I love it. It’s just too small for me except when worn on the last couple of notches, and over the last year I’ve banged it up working in the yard; some third of a millimeter of plastic is gouged out on the southeast or five o’clock side — scraped the fencerow or something, I dunno.

Over this first year, though, it has kept time to within thirty seconds (runs a little fast), and the numerals’ font is a  homogenous mix of the slightly-too-serious and the slightly-sci-fi (in the Handel Gothic family, @greatdismal (aka William Gibson) and his Twitter friends suggest).  It is “water resist.” My son gave it to me last year— unclear why he thought it important, but he turned out to be right.

I love this watch for all of the above particularities, and I love it more than any other wearable bit of tech I own.  I’ve got a few small blades, including a thumb-sized Mad Max looking lockblade that rides on my keychain. I go, too, for a Night Ize first generation DoohicKey, which isn’t exactly a knife, but has a beveled edge which works for most minor box-cutting-type jobs, carabines onto my extant keyrings, and works as a wrench, bottle opener, and a 40 millimeter ruler. I have a small red SanDisk .mp3 player that’s going on 10 years old, but still works great. Then, in my pockets, I have tins and a palmable plastic bottle or two for mints or meds… and, of course, the phone (Samsung Galaxy S4 — glass face replaced last month after a proper shatter on ceramic tile as I leaned into the fridge for beer and it leaned out of my shirt pocket for gravity). Read more “The 7B2 in Handel Gothic (It is steampunk)”