AngiePen (angiepen) wrote,

Ain't Fannish Politics Lovely?

OK, this has to do with BayCon. Long before I was involved with fanfic fandom, I was working SF conventions. I gofered at the first BayCon, rose through the staff and chaired in '88 and '89, and was on the Board of Directors for a number of years. So far as I know, hardly anyone who goes to BayCon is on my Flist, but I need to rant so here I go.

First, I'm posting as myself, not representing anyone or anything. I haven't worked BayCon in several years, and haven't had any contact with anyone on the current BayCon staff or Board or with anyone associated with Artistic Solutions (BayCon's parent corporation) since last year's convention.

The following post went up on baycon a little after one this morning:

John McLaughlin, BayCon's first Chairman, will not be able to attend BayCon's silver anniversary celebration.

Despite the fact that his contact information has remained identical for almost the last twenty years, nobody sent him any sort of invitation or other notice about this event by any perceivable means of communication until about two weeks ago, and by then it was too late, as we have made other plans for Memorial Day Weekend.

We hope everybody has a wonderful time at this event.

Thank you --

Brin-Marie McLaughlin

Brin is John's wife.

In response to this rather public flounce, I have a few things to point out.

1) BayCon is held on Memorial Day Weekend every year, and has been since 1985, well before John stopped working the convention. In fact, John is one of the people responsible for choosing that weekend, after the '83 convention when it was determined that holding the con on Thanksgiving Weekend, opposite LosCon, was hurting both conventions and that as the newer con ('83 was only our second year) we should be the ones to move. John did not need "any sort of invitation" to know when the convention was.

2) As the first chairman and one of the founders of BayCon, John was well aware that this was indeed the 25th anniversary of the convention. If it was important to him personally to celebrate that milestone, I would think that he would've been planning to be there whether or not he was particularly invited. For myself, BayCon is very important to me and I'd be there for the 25th year if I had to start two weeks early and walk from Long Beach.

3) As someone who's well aware of how conventions work and what it looks like backstage in the year leading up to an SF con, John knows that a lot of things get done at the last minute. It's easy to stand on the outside and say, "Hey, it's not like the 25th year snuck up on them -- why didn't they have whatever celebration they're doing planned way in advance? They could've sent out invitations three months ago!" True. But this isn't how fan-run SF conventions work, and John knows this as well as anyone. Things are put off and delayed and procrastinated, people involved have work and family crises and other real-life priorities, and there's a mad scramble towards the end. This has always been true and John knows it.

[And this year was particularly hectic because the convention lost its hotel, after having been held on the same property since the first con in '82, and there was what I can only imagine was a mad scramble to find a new hotel. As it is, we're in San Mateo this year and will be in Santa Clara next year. This is not an optimal solution, which leads me to think that the search was likely hectic and stressful. It would've delayed a lot of planning, and I'm sure there was a lot more planning this year to figure out how to work things out in a brand new property. BayCon staffers are used to knowing the hotel better than the hotel staff; this year they're starting over, and they'll be starting over next year too. Putting the convention on at all, in some sort of a hotel where it could be wedged in with a shoehorn and a hammer, has a higher priority than planning a party and getting the invitations out promptly.]

It would've been just as easy for John to call Sabre (this year's chair) or send an e-mail (or post to the community since he -- or at least his wife -- clearly knows of its existence) and ask, before he made his other plans, whether anything special was going to happen for the anniversary.

4) The passive-agressive tone of offense in Brin's post leads me to think that John (or at least Brin -- it is possible she did this without John's knowledge or approval, I'll grant) believes that the delay in inviting him to whatever celebration was intended as a deliberate insult. If this is so, I'm wondering how he (or she) imagined this happened? Maybe he/she thinks that everything was planned three months ago and holds some delusion that whatever other invitations were sent went out at that time, but that someone with a grudge against John said, "No, wait, hold John's invitation -- let's not send it until two weeks before the convention. That'll... do something... he won't like. For some reason."

I mean, seriously. :/

I'm also wondering about the timing. If John and/or Brin were that offended, or even if they just wanted to send greetings and well-wishes to people they wouldn't be seeing this year, they could've done it two weeks ago when John got his invitation and they realized they wouldn't be able to go. When the above post was made, very early Friday morning, pretty much everyone working the convention was already in the hotel. I imagine that most people aren't as addicted to LJ as I am and wouldn't have been checking all that often, being busy setting up and running the con. It looks to me like the primary intended audience for that message was fans and guests, who overwhelmingly arrive at the con on Friday or later, and that the post was timed to reach as few staffers as possible (and in particular, anyone with community mod privs who might've deleted it?) until after the convention was over.

Or maybe that's just me thinking uncharitable thoughts.

One of the things BayCon was always known for back when John was involved was for keeping our dirty laundry private. I heard John himself brag more than once about people who worked other conventions coming up to him and going, "The BayCon staff gets along so well! You people never fight! How do you do it?!?!" John was incredibly proud of this. We've certainly had our share of public blow-ups, but it was always -- always -- publicized by someone who came on staff later. The old timers had more class. It's too bad he forgot that old school BayCon staffers keep it in the family. Or at least, that he forgot to tell his wife.


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