A rainy Friday evening's entertainment may be had by downloading the BBS section tarball from textfiles.com. I found myself engrossed in the ASCII and ANSI art banners from these bulletin boards of yore. I decided to render some of them and make screenshots to post here, both in the interest of further preserving this bit of history, and to offer a highlight tour to those who lack the patience and resources to view them directly. Click on any thumbnail to see the fullsize image.
Always there is the sense of being in the ghetto, or at least on the fringes of it. Instead of gangs, we have cracker/phreaker clubs and cyberpunks. They are quick to give a shout-out to their homies, and if the operator of one board is friendly with another, they let you know right away. Instead of drugs, there are "filez". Many of the more inscrutable ASCII fonts resemble the distorted (but styled!) lettering of urban gangland tags. There is the criminal "pride", bragging openly about what wanton lawbreakers they are and leaving taunting massages to dispirit the authorities. But there's the code of honor amongst theives, too: never steal without sharing your spoils with your peers, and never, ever leech. Much of the ASCII art resembles the kind of doodling you might see on the odd wall in the wrong end of town, and a small bit of it is of the same theme as one might find in a distressingly sordid men's restroom. And then, just like the kind of graffiti that qualifies as an urban mural, there are the big splashy masterpieces, left behind by some midnight artist whom you'll never know the real name of.
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