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Got a response to the Drag/Invasion report (still online at
Read your take on "Drag On" - glad that you had a good time and were
able to appreciate the craftmanship of everyones costumes, but am
sorry to hear that you are still incredibly negative about the event
(although it sounds like the press pass helped a bit). You and I
both know how long and how much work went into DragonCon getting as
big as it did and its growth is not ill deserved - 1,000 volunteers
and 20,000+ patrons can't be wrong. I can't see how you can not
have a blast at this event - sure it's a lot bigger than you would
like, but don't you think that's what all con's aspire to
be...really. The boys over at Fantsm are awesome - they put on a
REALLY fun show - do you think they're gonna complain in ten years
when their event is as big as DragonCon. I'm involved with the
Drive-In folks too - I can't see how Drive-Invasion would be any
less fun if it ended up taking over all 6 screens a few years from
now. Just had to get that off my chest, b/c I saw you on a couple
of occasions at the show, and you looked like you were having a
pretty darn good time - I realize and respect that you have the
right to say anything you want about whatever you want to write
about...but maybe you shouldn't think of DC as the DC you remember
from 1991 b/c it is not. Think of it as the event that just showed
up in Atlanta for the first time in 2002 - tell me you wouldn't love
All the best,
My complaints are not about the size per se, but about what has
resulted from the size.
I ran into a security guy from the Hilton on my way to the liquor
store, since I couldn't find any parties at Drag On itself. He said
"Yep" I replied, thinking it was just another friendly face.
"Ah. Sure glad they moved it out of the Hilton."
"Yeah. We kicked 'em out because they destroyed the place."
"I suppose there's always that danger. They were too big for the
place anyhow. Heck, they can't even contain it in the Hyatt and the
Mariott, it's spilled over into the Peachtree Plaza and even the
We chatted as we walked about what results from having a con get so
big. The inevitable security, the inevitable press coverage, which
results in the inevitable "family friendly" atmosphere. It can't be
too alternative or the parents won't send their kids with money in
hand, something Drag On has been very interested in (Dragon Con
I'm glad there are alternatives. I doubt Fantasm will ever reach the
size of Drag On. They don't allow anyone underage to attend, for
starters, and they're not interested in the big name guests (that
come with the big cost that generate the big membership fee.)
But your email got me thinking about it and it bugged me for a while
- aside from the time Drag On security chased me around for three
days straight for no good reason accusing me of crimes I wouldn't
have even thought of (a long, true story), and aside from my belief
that some of the Drag On fans helped sabotage MOC (though it was
already on thin ice due to the organizer himself), and aside from
the fact that you have to pay extra to participate in the gaming
(though the con was originally begun as a gaming con and the game
masters work for free), and aside from the fact that Drag On's
founder will soon be convicted for pedophilia and/or child
pornography, why did it have such a bad rap with me?
But then I think back to Friday night at 11 PM when I found the
liquor store closed. I thought about my options for parties that
evening (which is to say "none") and I remembered why I'd started to
slight the con in the first place.
I understand the need to retain control and prevent property damage
so the con can return to the hotel again the following year. But
they seem to have no interest in providing alternatives to the
apparently rampantly destructive room parties (though other cons
handle parties just fine) other than non-alcoholic smoke-free shows
that are rarely interesting or different in any way.
I trudged three blocks away to find the only party I could, which
sucks 'cause the thing I love about cons is the parties where
wandering Klingons show up with a cooler full of jello shooters at a
party where the Drow Elves in the corner are spinning tunes and the
kinky couple on the bed seems to enjoy giving a show while the con
virgins stare in utter amazement.
But it's tough to get folks to walk three or four blocks to a tiny
not-con-affiliated hotel. So those parties were not what they could
OTHER conventions, large and small, allow and even encourage
parties. (The last World Con I attended in Orlando, for an example
on the big end. The examples on the small end are countless.) Why
the problem at Drag On for 10 years running? Can't they figure out
how to handle this? Instead you get obnoxious security weenies whose
high point for the weekend is the feeling of power they get
enforcing bullshit rules and running around with their headset
walkie talkies as if in the midst of some sci-fi LARP where any hint
of a party or a good time represents The Enemy who must be tracked
down and destroyed.
Sure, the hotel bar serves drinks - at $7 each and in a
Sure, the con provides tons of shows and guests and such, but a
great many of us don't give a damn about the guests and see better
shows in our living room. A great many of us are there to see
eachother. So when half a dozen of us go to someone's room to chat
over a few drinks and some 17 year old con security guy shows up and
tells us to break it up I'm supposed to happily get in line for
Clive Barker's signature (which he won't provide unless I buy
something) instead of saying "Fuck this, I can drink and raise hell
at the drive in all weekend for half the price!"?
No, as much as I LOVE my con friends, I won't support a con that
doesn't support an environment in which I can enjoy my friends. And
for me, that environment is at a party, with booze and music in an
overcrowded room with a high potential for nudity that will probably
last until the sun comes up.
The response I get from Drag On staffers about why this type of
event can't be allowed is frequently "hotel
security/regulations/fire code/etc." but I still have to wonder why
EVERY OTHER con I attend has ability to support the fetish/live
music/book signing/Betty Page Lookalike/midget wrestling shows, all
just as loud and just as crowded and with just as much potential for
property damage as any room party I've ever been to, AND support for
the occasionally room party.
I've been to Drag On every year since the first one, and I enjoy the
con for what it is, but I won't pay for it (and haven't for years)
when I don't feel like I get my money's worth. And since in the geek
community I'm one of the freaks that doesn't give a damn about (fill
in any big name guest here) and would rather rock n' roll all night
and party all four days and skip all the evens, Drag On is just that
- a drag.
Life imitates art satirizing life:
Nearly 10 years ago I started going to Dottie's regularly. One Tuesday I was drinking cheap beer and shooting pool with what I assumed was just another unfortunate soul who wandered into the bar for a drink. When he said it was time to go I figured he meant back to his life on the streets, but then he picked up an acoustic guitar and got on stage and laid down some fantastic delta blues. Slim Fatz played every week at Dottie's for several months, as well as other local establishments I frequented. Eventually he released a CD, Hard Time Ago, and a few critics took note. Most of them said something like "a voice like Tom Waits" but I think they're missing the point. Both Slim and Mr. Waits sound like heartbreak, like too many hours on the road, too many cigarettes, too much booze, too much blood under the bridge. Slim Fatz sounds like Howlin' Wolf. Slim Fatz sounds like death calling. A few years, a few women, and countless shows later Slim has a new self-titled CD. This one has a lot in common with his first CD, which is a good thing. But you can tell his guitar technique has changed slightly. It's a bit more nimble in places, a bit more complex. But the overall sound is simple and to the point. There are few other instruments getting in the way of his gravely voice and clean picking. The occasional light percussion by Donnie Mac makes use of instruments from a chicken coop to deer antlers and other found objects. There are a couple of female voices in the background from time to time, but they're more like the ghosts calling out of Slim's past than partners in a duet. Even the lyrical content is simple and often used more for sound than meaning. This is what the blues were before the electric guitar, before radio, before amplification, before scratchy 78's made their way into the hands of men who wanted to play music but lacked the life experiences that *forced* them to play this music. Slim is on the road now, so all you degenerates out in San Fran, Austin, and other points near and far hit the Second Heaven site and get his tour schedule, as well as a copy of both his CD's: http://www.secondheavenmusic.com/slimfatzbg2.htm
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