punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Ode to FanTek

I have been busy, but one of the big things that has happened to me was that my friends Bruce and Cheryl have announced that they are no longer going to run conventions. Not for a while, and maybe never again. If conventions come back, it won't be in a form that they are now. The full letter is on their FanTek page. FanTek will still be around, with events at The House, and so on, but their cons are officially no more after EveCon 21.

I have mixed feelings about this, but I have concluded in my heart they have done the right thing. I did sort of know about this ahead of time, and Cheryl gave me her personal thoughts on this, and I gave her my personal thoughts, most of which will be expressed here. Bruce and Cheryl are, first and foremost, my friends. They helped me when I was down, took me in when I had nowhere to live, fed me when I had no food, and taught me a lot of lessons about the real world I never got at home. They weren't perfect, no, but nobody is, really. It seems in fandom you either loved them or hated them, and frankly, most of the people that hated them I didn't like much anyway for other reasons. The rest, I figure, just misunderstood. To me, they are my family. And like family, we all love each other, flaws and all (and I am certainly no perfect angel ... if they can put up with me, I feel they are better people than I am). And for the last few years, I have seen the cons drag them into misery. I helped where I could, in my own modest way, which I still feel guilty wasn't enough. Bruce and Cheryl as people, not "the legends," are doing well. This was a joint decision made from love. Bruce and Cheryl are both starting new careers, and they are as close as ever. At this point, and this is my opinion, the cons were "the old way" in their lives. And the old way was no longer needed, and was tying them down, making them unable to grow.

Of course, I'll miss the cons terribly. I'll miss the people first and foremost. I can't even count how many friends I made through FanTek, and FanTek alone. Sure, we've had some bad apples from time to time, and sometimes people got mad and left in a huff, but I knew a good thing when I saw it and stayed. The cons taught me patience, tolerance, humility, and unconditional care. The rewards of late night jam sessions, sleepy chats in the lobby, spaced-out chats when we were all up too late. I met some of the smartest people I have ever known. They didn't focus on guests, but we had a few famous authors and a few celebrities come by anyway. In FanTek, no one was "exalted" to a degree like other cons can sometimes do. There was no "green room," really. No way to separate one group of people from another.

From my first fully paid, multiple day EveCon 2, FanTek was to be my guide to a better future. I had spent a day at Worldcon (Constellation), and Balticon 18, but EveCon was much different. It seemed to be run by more down-to-earth people who didn't mind I was so young (16) at the time.

The links of people who change my life start at FanTek cons. Here's just a few examples:

Met Betty at EveCon 2, bought a dragon from her, and was on a panel with her and Jim at EveCon 4. They introduced me to Joann, and all three of them introduced me to Christine. Christine and I had CR. Betty and Jim introduced us properly to Wicca, too. Joann posthumously later introduced me to Sara (Sawa), which is an odd story in itself. betty and Jim are now "Elspeth and Nybor," biggies in the Spiritual Nature community.

From FanTek cons, I met " ... and the Prune Bran Players," and ended up writing for them. This helped me start my book, and gave me a lot of confidence writing comedy. Through them, I made long lasting friends like Brad, Missie, Sean, and countless other funny and witty people. Later, I made friends with some of the great people that make up Team Chicken Salad (Gorm, Dave, Travis, Complex) and The Mad Women of Schlock (Marnie, Missie, and Lori).

The FanTek BBS gave me friends like Rogue, Tocstan Brighteye (now BJ), and Irv Koch. Then it also introduced me to Suzi, who illustrated my book, and then got me my first technical job, which got me rich through Internet stock, and I sold it before the bubble burst, and now I have a nice house. I ended up with a computer career because of Suzi, and now I work at a place I love, gives me challenges, and teaches me new things.

Through the FanTek art show, I met Mark Mandolia, who led me to Katsucon, which introduced me to great people like Keith and Pocky, which gave me contacts to work at Worldcon (BucConeer), introduced me properly to anime, and eventually back to Balticon after my 10 year hiatus from them. Because of this, I am now part of BWSMOF.

These are just some of the examples. How can I thank Bruce and Cheryl? How could I possibly express the positive impact they have had on me? I can't. I'm a writer, and I can't express how much of a foundation FanTek has set for me because it's so interwoven and complex that as I write this, part of me goes, "Remember this? And how that made you do that?" It would take days. Weeks. Years. If I have even half the impact FanTek has had on me on anyone as long as I live, it would still be a monumentous task. How can I give all this back? Wicca has this threefold law, and I will be spending my life trying to life up to this. Part of me listens to those voices that someday *I* should try and form such a group and have conventions, but I doubt I have the energy, courage, patience, and resilience that those two had. I don't even think I am mature enough to put up with hotels yet. I don't know how con chairs do it.

"EveCon: The first and friendliest convention of the year," was their logo at one time. It's true. Not just the first part, but the friendly part. And now those friends will be scattered apart. Sure, I'll see some of them at other cons, and some will be friends for life no matter WHAT happens, but a few will drift away. Some will be part of the huge and growing, "What ever happened to?" part of my mind. I have a thousand memories of late night talks with fascinating people. I don't get that with anime cons much, mostly because of their size. I still have Balticon, but cons are far and fewer between these days. This worries me, because I will become more isolated as my social lines dry up and move away. But maybe that just happens with age.

I will still be at a few FanTek events here and there, and I am thinking of future endeavors I will take upon when my writing career tries to spread its leathery wings in 2004. The future holds interesting things, but I can only owe most of where I go to where I've been.

Thank you, Bruce and Cheryl. You have truly made me a better person.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000301.html
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