Grapevine was a computer program.
Unlike many programs available on Central Michigan University's
academic mainframe, Grapevine was not required for any class. That is,
no class required use of Grapevine nor was it written as a
class assignment. Yet hundreds of people used it.
Grapevine was a mail and conferencing system written by Brian K.
"Wiz" Yoder, a man who
seemed to have time for everything except sleep. When he arrived at
CMU, he was disappointed to learn that the academic mainframe had no
electronic mail system. So he wrote one.
Pseudonyms were required. Conversion was encouraged. It became a
meeting place -- a place where people left notes, announced parties,
discussed politics. It served the functions of e-mail and Usenet when
those services where just a distant rumour. On the computing island
that was the CDC Cyber 170/730, Wiz merrily strung phone lines and gave
everyone a phone.
It's hard to describe the cameraderie that existed on this system. No
BBS has matched it. No internet provider has matched it. People met
and made friends on Grapevine. The heaviest users still get together
for parties, movies, or any excuse that comes to mind.
The Dead Bird Party
In 1986, the first Dead Bird Party was held. The history
of the Dead Bird Parties runs somthing like:
- (1986) The First Dead Bird Party is thrown by B. Gabriel Helou,
Audrey V. Sperko, C. C. "Bosh" Gillett, and L. Michael "The Corporal"
Carson at The Ozone. A hastily-dug pit in the back yard with racks from
the oven formed the makeshift grill. 50 lbs. of chicken is purchased.
After cleaning the butcher shop out of chicken halves, the rest of the
order is filled entirely with wings (about 12 lbs. worth). In the two
weeks that follow, the Chef du Ozone creates Fireball Chicken Wings in
the oven; no fire extinguisher required.
- (1987) The Hygrade Dead Bird, held at Melanie Casler's home.
Good hot dogs, but it wasn't bird. The decision is made to keep the
- (1988) The Impromptu Dead Bird, where many of the original Dead
Bird crowd gather at the home of Donna Husted.
- (1989) The Arbitrary Pool Dead Bird was held at the
home of Russ and Melanie Rogers. Bosh and Russ create the wading pool
in the back of Bosh's truck. This gave rise to the first watermelon
creation, the "arbitrary shark". Russ and Mel are subsequently
considered highly strange by their neighbors.
- (1990) The De Facto Dead Bird, at Gabe/Donna's 30th birthday,
celebrated with co-birthday boy Mark Strandskov, held at the home of
Gary Gielincki and Gini Kasten. Smoked Beef and pork were served,
but no bird. This was the last bird-less Dead Bird.
- (1991) The Reversable Dead Bird, held at Joe and Lisa
Besko's new home. Cheryl took the now-famous reversable photo on the
back steps; several people followed her lead and have mounted these in
clear frames so you could see the front and the back. Jen participated
virtually by calling from LA.
Later in the summer, The Ad Hoc Dead Bird Encore was held at
William E. and Renee Deb's home. Several firsts at this one: the first
time it's ever rained on a Dead Bird, first time we cooked Spam and ate
it, and the first time we smoked the birds. Also, the first time we
started scheduling for the following year's Dead Bird.
- (1992) The Whole Two Yards Dead Bird, held in the
two back yards of Russ and Mel. The event was commemorated by the
construction of The Troll Bridge.
- (1993) The Sunday Dead Bird, held at B. Gabriel and
Audrey V. Helou's home-under-reconstruction. This one was held on a
Sunday to cope with Gabe & Audrey's summer wedding schedule and included
the environmentally-safe, solar-powered watermelon craft.
- (1994) The Home Brew Dead Bird, at the home of Mark and
Cheryl Strandskov. Bill and Gabe bring their secret-recipe beer.
- (1995) The Cadillac of Dead Birds, held at R. Scott
"Dealer" Cadwell's place. This marks The first official Dead Bird
sleep-over. A bi-monthly Brunch is held the following morning.
- (1996) Dead Birds meet The Dead Crustaceans, where
C. C. "Bosh" and Debi Fillmore-Gillett played host to the longest Dead
Bird Party to date. Four days of food, friends, family, and fun. It
marks the first time the guests of honor were boiled alive, as well as
introducing Tandoori-style chicken to the Dead Bird Party. Also the
first time Dead Bird has been held outside of Michigan.
- (1997) The Tectonic Dead Bird. Long-term analysis
indicates Lansing-based Dead Bird parties are shifting east at the
rate of 0.125 backyards per year. As a result, plans call for
this year's gathering to be at the home of Russ and Mel.
- (1998) The Dead Birds Come Home to Roost. Dead birds return
to the home of Joe & Lisa Besko, only to find it's moved.
- (1999) The Well-Oiled Dead Bird. Held at Bill & Renée
Deb's home, this was the first time the dead birds were not barbequed. Instead,
they were marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.
- (2000) The Last Dead Bird of the Second Millenium
will be held at Gabe & Audrey's, whether the kitchen's ready
or not. Inspired by Bill's cooking the previous year, a Middle-Eastern
dead bird feast is planned.
- (2001) A Dead Bird Odyssey.
For the first time in six years, the dead birds fly north for the summer.
Who We Are
Former Grapevine users can be found here and there around the Net . . .
Talk is now available. It's just not really busy at the moment.
- Brian K. "Wiz" Yoder, The Wizard
- C. C. "Bosh" Gillett, Mr. Science
- Melanie (Casler) Rogers, Please Don't
- B. Gabriel Helou, Lord Vader
- Audrey V. (Sperko) Helou, Lady Vader
- Lisa L. (Weiferich) Besko, Laraine
What We've Been Up To
1996 has been a good year for getting together.
We still need to get some of the far-flung people to show up for
gatherings, but we know they're showing up in spirit.