SAN FRANCISCO – For the last couple of years Randy Nauert has attended Macworld with his dog, but he’s had trouble finding a hotel that will allow the animal to stay in his room.
So Nauert, who’s had a colorful and varied career in the music and film industries, sleeps in his car with the dog.
Nauert, 57, drives up to San Francisco from his ranch in Malibu, pays for an expensive hotel room and parks in the hotel lot. He uses the room to take a shower and go to the bathroom, but spends the night in the car.
“I can’t leave her anywhere,” he explained about the dog, a 3-year-old Weimaraner called Valentina. “I’ve tried all kinds of different things. I’ve tried leaving her with the neighbors, but she just howls.”
During the day, while he tools around at Macworld, Valentina stays in the car. She’s quite happy, Nauert said.
Nauert is a part-time Macintosh consultant, offering computer advice to his friends in the music and film industries, some of whom are pretty famous (Mark Hamill, Daryl Hannah), but he’s never sent them a bill, he said. He’s also active in the Camarillo/Ventura Macintosh User Group, and friendly with some Apple executives.
Nauert got his start in the music business as a member of The Challengers, the surf group that helped popularize such hits as “Wipe Out.” The band went through various incarnations, eventually recording 28 albums under different names and recording contracts. Nauert said he met Ravi Shankar, the famous sitar player, and was invited to India, where he spent time with George Harrison.
Returning to the United States, Nauert reentered the music business as a manager and music publisher, becoming involved, he claimed, in the careers of some of the era’s most famous artists, including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Band, Peter, Paul & Mary, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, among many others.
He also worked in film, he said, acting as associate producer of the 1985 Oscar-winning documentary, Broken Rainbow, and as music supervisor for an Antonioni film, Zabriskie Point. Meanwhile, he built a handful of houses in Malibu, including the one where he now lives.
“The damn house is nothing but gold records on the walls,” said John Bass, an editor at CNN’s Los Angeles bureau who has known Nauert for 20 years. “His picture is on the freakin’ cover of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
These days, in addition to serving as a free consultant to the stars, Nauert is the unofficial U.S. manager of the German rock band The Scorpions, but he spends most of his time hanging out at his Malibu ranch.
“So what exactly do you do for a living?” his website asks. “Nothing, exactly. But I do follow ‘the inspiration’ and have been able to survive and enjoy life.”
On Wednesday, he was still in transit heading to San Francisco for Macworld. This year, he said, he has a new plan for bringing his dog to the show. He’s going to put Valentina in a harness that identifies her as a service dog. Under the law, Valentina is supposed to be allowed anywhere her owner goes, including hotel rooms.
Nauert is booked into a fancy hotel, where he was told the dog would be no problem as long as he had some paperwork (which he doesn’t have). He does, however, have a sheaf of Internet printouts explaining the law. He hopes those will suffice. Otherwise he’ll be sleeping in the car with the dog.
Nauert and Valentina volunteer for arson watch in Malibu’s fire-prone canyons, which is how Nauert got the harness. He refuses to wear dark glasses to make him look blind, or pull any other kind of deception. “I shouldn’t need to make an excuse,” he said. “She’s a service dog. She needs to be with her trainer.”
Nauert is among the many people who go to great lengths to attend Macworld, the popular Apple-oriented tradeshow. A number of people drive in from surrounding states and sleep in their cars to save on hotel charges.
Taylor Barcroft, for instance, spent the better part of a decade traveling to various tradeshows in his RV, courtesy of an inheritance.
Perhaps the farthest-flung Macworld attendee is Raena Armitage, a self-confessed “Mac geek” who flew halfway across the globe from Tasmania to attend the show.
Armitage, a 22-year-old computer technician for an Australian government-sponsored scientific research center, is also visiting her cyberboyfriend, Dan Miller, a 31-year-old photojournalist who lives in Ohio.
But instead of spending her two-week visit in Miller’s hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, the couple decided to cover Macworld for the Mac Observer, a Mac-oriented news site. The couple met and have been “dating” for about 18 months through the site’s forums. Miller flew out to visit Armitage in Tasmania last June.
“I’m really, really happy to be here and see so many Mac geeks together,” Armitage said of Macworld. “We just don’t have them (in Tasmania). I can count them all on the fingers of one hand. All my geek friends are PC geeks.”
“I’m glad (her friends use PCs),” chimed in Miller. “She wouldn’t have spent so much time on the Mac Observer.”
Macs are the couple’s “common language,” Armitage said. “We do different things, we live in different countries,” she added. “This is the first thing we have to share.”
According to IDG World Expo, which organizes Macworld, the show attracts visitors from 70 to 100 different countries. “The majority are from the U.S.,” a spokeswoman said, “but we have some really interesting visitors from far-flung places.”