book reading





A novel about Veli's Graphics Bar in Oakland, CA.

Chapter One

Glossary   The French Appendix   Veli's hats & hoodies    Podcast    Buy Book

NEW! Sidecasters is the next book in the Veli's series

Visual performers are throwing beam on the walls of the 'hood

Amoeba Man, the Mexican Lightning Crew, Sal the Shooter, and Big Ed are all down at Veli's, a funky little graphics bar underneath the freeway in West Oakland. Vizrappers and other real-time visual artists have come to make magic on the big screen with a beam of light. Some chase fame, some chase fortune, and some just want the sweet thrill of slinging pixels for a live audience.

Welcome to the world of performing graphics at Veli's.

Tuesday evenings are "Open Screen Night," when beginning and lesser-known artists have a chance to practice their real-time visual riffs. Every week the regulars plus some newbies gather to perform computer graphics in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

The sign outside says "Live Graphics Nightly."

The performers inside make sure they're damn fine graphics.

What readers say about Live Graphics Nightly ...

"I much enjoyed this book. Lakin has a great way of weaving current technology into his future visions in a seamless and tantalizing way."

     Professor Terry Winograd, Computer Science Dept, Stanford University


"Fred Lakin's new novel Live Graphics Nightly is about a jazz club in New Orleans, at the time when jazz was being born      except, wait!      it's about VISUAL JAZZ, and it's happening NOW, with electronic honking computer graphic saxophones and rainbows for musical scales and the musicians      er, graphicists      grooving with the audience as they lay down their, umm, graphic riffs. Think Louis Armstrong jamming with Pablo Picasso. And behind the scenes... well, you gotta read it yourself, I'm not telling."

     Warren Robinett (Inventor of the video game Easter Egg and designer of Adventure for the Atari 2600, the first graphic adventure game)


"Pull up a bar stool and let author Fred Lakin introduce you to the hacker artist performers of Veli's Graphics Bar. Oakland street smarts, Paris sophistication, and Silicon Valley DIY computer culture come together to rock the house. Lakin describes a scene so vibrant, that, if it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it."

     Henry Lieberman, Research Scientist, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


"I have read every word in Live Graphics Nightly. I think it is excellent! I loved the tensions between the performers, Veli and staff, the audience and the community. These human relationships had a ‘page turner’ quality for me. I was stimulated in learning about the technology of live graphics art, and I found some concepts awaking ideas in me that relate to my work in kinematics and geometry. All in all one of the best 20 buck investments I have ever made.
"I have known John McCarthy since the early 60s, Alan Kay since he was at Utah, and Doug Engelbart since his SRI days, so it was nice to see them as influences on this scene."

     Professor Bernard Roth, Mechanical Engineering Dept, Stanford University


"I first met Fred Lakin when he was working on changing the way the world thinks about graphics and I was just a punk trying to crash the servers at MIT.
"In his universe, graphics were immediate and visceral. Things to have fun with. You could ‘play’ a graphics display like Miles Davis could play a trumpet.
"The book is well constructed and immediate. Step into Fred's world. Even if it does involve stepping into a somewhat seedy nightclub in a somewhat sketchy part of Oakland. It feels like you were there just last night. Heck, there's even a ‘boy meets girl’ angle to the story for those of us who like that sort of thing.
"Me? I finished the book on vacation. Who knew hackers make good writers?"

     Drew Lanza, General Partner Morgenthaler Ventures, ex hacker


"Documenting only a single night at Veli's Graphics Bar made this book feel as real time and in the moment as the graphics created there. What I most enjoyed was the level of detail in the descriptions of the visual instruments that the performers use and create. There's no question we'll be seeing more stuff like this in the very near future. Veli's Graphics Bar is the first of its kind, and should be an excellent inspiration to other venues."

     Tim Thompson, musician, software engineer, artist

About the Author ...

once got an MFA in design and decided to build an instrument for text graphic improvisation. So he learned to program, fell in love with LISP, invented a truly visual form of LISP, spent a year as a visitor at the Stanford AI lab, and another year as a visitor in the smalltalk group at Xerox PARC. Then he founded The Performing Graphics Company. Then he worked at Stanford's Center for Design Research and the NASA AI Lab. Now he lives in a cabin in the mountains and writes novels about Veli's Graphics Bar.

And then there was this time he ventured down the hill to do a book reading at SXSW in Austin.

Lakin also writes non fiction: Visual Grammars for Visual Languages and other Graphic Stories    

"Live Graphics Nightly" and "Graphics Bar" are trademarks of the Performing Graphics Company

All text, graphics and images on this site © 2008 the Performing Graphics Company