Hacker Homecoming

Having paid the price for his computer trespasses, a digital Robin Hood called Phiber Optik is out of jail and back online

THE NIGHTCLUB IN DOWNTOWN Manhattan is swarming with reporters, cameramen, Internet bohemians and online celebrities, people with handles like "Mnemonic," "Razor" and "Garbled Uplink." The center of attention -- a fashionably wan, cigarette-smoking ex-con known as Phiber Optik -- shows up an hour late, even though the party is in his honor. Phiberphest '95, they're calling it. Onstage is a band called Foamola, consisting of a bald male organist, a homeless man playing what appear to be a pair of rocks and a female vocalist who yowls, "When I read a book, I always read Balzac!/ When I take a drug,...

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