Welcome to Growing Up Geek, an ongoing feature where we take a look back at our youth and tell stories of growing up to be the nerds that we are. Today, we have our very own Associate Editor, Joe Pollicino.
Growing up geek? I'm having trouble believing I did. In preparation for this piece I scoured all of my family's photo albums (these stop at around 2004 -- must've been that digital camera craze), and the pictorial evidence to support my geeky ways just doesn't seem to exist. Notably, I had to start wearing huge glasses in kindergarten, but to me that's merely a trapping of the stereotypical nerd aesthetic -- though I do
fancy my current Rivers Cuomo-esque horn-rims.
My father was -- and still is -- a city boy at heart with the skills to shred on his electric guitars and start his own jewelry business in Manhattan's diamond district. While he was off working, my mother studied computer science in college, took care of me and our condo and somehow still had enough time to play Nintendo. Basically, I was gaming and sitting in on her QBasic and COBOL programming courses when I was still in diapers. Suffice to say, I've known my way around gadgets since I was a toddler, but aside from being intrigued by Sega, computers and my dad's guitar licks, I wouldn't say I officially qualified as a geek until I was about 11.
I was an outsider in Catholic grade school. By the sixth grade, things weren't going so swimmingly and my parents put me in a more artsy school in Hoboken, New Jersey called Steven's Co-op. Around this time, I had my first exposure to Macs, upgraded from a beeper to a Nokia cellphone, began learning how to play guitar and received my own Toshiba Satellite laptop as a gift from my grandfather -- a very tech-savvy fellow indeed. It kept my prying hands away from my mother's prized Sony VAIOs, though unluckily for her, I had
discovered the power of my room's phone jack and the speed of my laptop's 56K modem. That and how perfect the two were for surfing the web, chatting on AOL Instant Messenger and finding guitar tabs so I could learn Blink-182 and Green Day songs with my band. Let's just say that by the early 2000s I'd become a master at running up excessive dial-up internet and cellphone bills, much to my parents' dismay.
High school was odd
, to say the least. The short version is that it felt like middle school all over again -- after the Co-op, I found myself in a place with a huge sports focus, and that just wasn't me. Throughout freshman year, I got more into music and started going to local ska and rock shows. By the next term I had taken up the drums, fallen in love with the electric bass guitar and started trying to get bands together. This was also the year my school hooked up a WiFi network. I carried an Acer convertible tablet with Windows XP Tablet Edition in a failed attempt to rid myself of binders, but it mostly helped me spend classtime skimming MySpace for new friends and attempting to code my profile in HTML. I also got heavily into online gaming and would stay up all night playing SOCOM 2
. Somehow, though, my grades didn't tank.
Senior year was a game changer for me. As much as I wanted to love Windows it just wouldn't play nice with me, and I finally made the switch to a black MacBook that runs decently to this day. Keep in mind, I was the kind of guy who went for a brown Zune over an iPod, so this was a big leap. The second important thing I embraced was Engadget. I'd always been curious about gear, but hadn't found a site that held my interest the way this one did. By the time college rolled around I was getting further involved as a bassist and playing more shows, and in my downtime would obsessively check the internet to get my gadget news fix, usually starting here. Constantly wanting to do more, I figured this blogging thing might be fun to try on my own, so I took to YouTube, talking to my iSight camera about my quest to acquire a PS3 and HDTV. Surprisingly, my terrible videos weren't doing half bad and, incidentally, neither were the bands I was involved with. That was my life, in a sentence: going to school, gadget vlogging and generally trying my best to be a rock star.
I did get to play some big shows and even hit the road in a van and trailer a few times, but after a while I realized the music industry was an even bigger gamble than I imagined. I continued at it while becoming more serious as a blogger, focusing on headphones and gaming gear, and nursing my dream of one day ending up at this very site. On December 1, 2010 I played my last gig at NYC's Roseland Ballroom and decided to put all my energy toward that goal, and amazingly half a year later I was on board as an editor! There's no doubt that technology is huge part of who I am and covering it professionally is the best thing I could've hoped for. I haven't forgotten my rocker roots, but I don't think I'll ever love it as much as writing on my laptop and listening to Blink with cans on while wearing my favorite skinny jeans.
Joe Pollicino's one of the most multifaceted gents you'll ever meet, with a loud speaking voice and a love of the great indoors. He'll sometimes announce his next pizza delivery order or complain about gadgets on Twitter (@akaTRENT), and when he's on the move there's always a laptop by his side in some sort-of crazy bag. Any time he has left, he spends pwning n00bz on PSN (ID: akaTRENT)