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Day Five: (Monday, May 26, 2008)

Generally Monday is just farewell day, and so I said my goodbyes to Khylara and others and headed for the Lansing airport.

My stress levels weren’t good as we were delayed on the tarmac (I had to make a connection in Detroit) but then I get to my gate in Detroit just in time to learn we’d be delayed at least an hour! Argh!!! So at least this delay was merely annoying, as I hate missing connections and dealing with the airlines, who act as if it’s your fault it happened.

I got home an hour later than planned and considered myself lucky, unpacked, had dinner, and checked on-line to see how much I’d have to catch up on my flist.

They were active, that’s for sure! But I caught up in few days and have even begun posting fic again.

As for the con, I had a great time. While it was not the intensity of past days as to number of participants and other things, I had one of my best times ever.

It’s interesting to see how fandom has evolved over the years. When I first started going to Media West in 1993, there was no Internet as we know it now, just a version that wasn’t generally available to the public. Fandom was zines, zines, and more zines, and you communicated by telephone or handwritten letter (gasp!). Feedback was few and far between for writers and artists, but you kept plugging away.

Fandom thrived, and so did cons, big and small. Media West wasn’t very small or too big. At 900 attendees it gave you the excitement of a big con without you getting lost in the shuffle. There were no official guests and the frenzy surrounded getting that zine you wanted, not trying to see an actor at his/her panel.

For the last few years, there has been less attendance at Media West. This year that fact was stark from less videos (usually the vid room is constantly showing vids but there were gaps of time when there was nothing this year) to rooms available in the hotel during the con.

Is Media West’s time drawing to a close? Perhaps. They have announced they will be doing their 29th year, and probably would do a 30th. But will Lori and Gordon continue beyond that? Only they know the answer to that question. Thirty years is a long time to run something like Media West.

I hope it does continue. It’s always a great time. If the con has to scale back, I’m happy with that. There’s still plenty to see and do.

Fandom itself may not support large cons anymore. For the first time since ’93, I didn’t buy a single zine. I used to buy my reading material for the year, at least a dozen, at the con. Now I read on-line. It’s cheaper and I can get and give instant feedback for my writing and other people’s on LiveJournal. Instead my purchase list read like this:

LJ Icons (3)

T-shirts (3) 1 House of El (Superman), 1 Batman, and 1 Fairy/Gaia-style image

Jewelry (1) A beautiful red bracelet!

Hair Ornament (1) 1 sky-blue feather!

Chocolate Bars (4)

I was gifted by Khylara with Smallville and Heroes magazines and a gift box for my LJ icons with a pic of the cast of Heroes on the cover.

This year’s lower attendance could be attributed to the bad economy (fuel prices for planes and cars being utterly ridiculous) and the fact that fandom is getting older. Many attendees have been coming to this con since 1979, and others started in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Will younger fans enjoy going to cons, or prefer their fandom on-line? Time will tell!

3/6/08 00:44 (UTC)
[identity profile]
I'm zeroing in on the sky blue feather hair ornament! It will go so well with the blue padawan braid! *g*

Maybe you are correct with the aging of fandom, but I think the economy may be a very big culprit. I'm always trying to limit the amount of time I'm using the car to save gas money so I can spend more money to buy the same amount of groceries!

3/6/08 00:57 (UTC)
[identity profile]
Awww, it's always sad when something that's been around for so long draws to a close. I just attended my first con (WonderCon in S.F.) this past February and it lacked the intimacy that Media West seems to have.

I enjoyed reading about your time there. Thanks for sharing, Brady! =)

3/6/08 14:41 (UTC)
[identity profile]
Yes the intimacy of Media West is one of the things I normally attend it for it's a different head space than the larger conventions. While it covers the same material it's more geared to participation rather than display/audience vibe. I had a right up about the pros and cons of my con attendance decision this year. I found myself sticking to the filk rooms of Balticon for that close knit feeling, that I had to miss out on this year from Media West.a I really miss the door decorations, and attendees open door policies, all other conventions are outright sterile once you leave the programming area when compared to MWC.

3/6/08 01:06 (UTC)
[identity profile]
Some good points. I don't know what the future holds for the con. I've been attending it since, yup, '79. Long time! Fandom has changed and many fans believe cons must have actors in order to be enjoyed, not knowing what they're missing out on. the internet is a great way to meet fellow fans, but there's nothing like face-to-face contact.

3/6/08 01:58 (UTC)
[identity profile]
I really enjoyed the con a lot this year, too. I have to wonder if some of the mellow flavor was due to fewer attendees. I know I did lots of socializing and entertaining in my room. I loved that!

I've also heard the rumors of two more years for mwc. I've been attending since 1989. I would really miss the con and it's members, so I hope it will continue.

Thanks for your posts. :-)

3/6/08 04:34 (UTC)
[identity profile]
A lot of people, including dealers, couldn't make it because either they were ill or had an ill parent to take care of. Like it or not, the majority of people who attend MWC, like me, are middle-aged now and getting older, which brings along health issues and the like.

MWC increased attendance over the years to around 1500, when you added in the gophers, etc. My first MWC was 007, btw, and the only one I missed was number 11, aka the Double Wedding con (no, not attendees, just a stupid bit of the Hilton Hotel breaking its contract by booking 2 weddings at the same time as the con. I returned for MWC12 at the new/current hotel and haven't missed any since.

But I don't do fanac anymore. I go to see friends and for the art show/auction. The rest isn't what interests me these days and that's often what happens. People lose interest. Or have to work. Or find a new interest with something going on the same weekend.

My hope is that MWC will evolve and move more solidly into the newer fanac areas and younger fen will take over should Lori and Gordon call it quits.

3/6/08 17:53 (UTC)
[identity profile]
I'd missed the Double Wedding con because my roomie at the time had to cancel because she couldn't get off from work. I can't say I'm sorry I missed it based on the horror stories I heard. The water drainage problem on the first floor (from the pool pipes) in the hallway to my room the year before (someone put up a sign: Degoba Swamp) where a small wet spot kept growing and growing til people had to leapfrog over it was enough of an annoyance. ;)

One thing for sure, there are always stories that come out of that con. But it was sad to see all the empty spaces in the Dealers' Room.

3/6/08 13:15 (UTC)
[identity profile]
Not only has technology changed the way we relate to our fandom (i.e. moving on-line), but fandom in general has changed. More and more kids (yeah I know how that sounds) are talking about stuff that I had felt when I was growing up was fandom exclusive (at least mostly). It seemed to me as if suddenly all the "un-cool" things I had loved growing that were so unpopular and the root of scorn from my fellow youths were now "cool". What's more these young people are not involved in the fan scene like going to cons or fanzine's or clubs. They do however know the iconic characters that make up the multi-verse that is fandom. They can talk about them at length without giving you that evil eye look of you're Quasimodo. I don't think there is one simple answer for how or why this has happened but I think of course it's part of what this string is about. Fan run cons thrived for the fact that they were seemingly the singular outlet for our "weird ambitions". Now we have sitcoms like "The Big Bang Theory", where the protagonists have slabbed Golden Age comics on their bedroom walls and have running dialog ranging from Star Trek or Star Wars to Superman. Geeks rule in this new world order. Comic book heroes rule the Box Office. I recall an LP record on which Gene Roddenberry mentioned how Sci-Fi books were like porn, you put them in brown bags to carry them home so no one knew what you were reading. "We've come a long way baby" to steal from a vice commercial of the days. There was a time when people were talking about gays coming out of the closet. Well, is fandom coming out of the closet now? Is it that more people feel safe talking about these fandoms or is it just new generations breaking new barriers? Yes, it's a bit sad to think this, but maybe the day of the fan con is coming to an end simply because they are not needed anymore? I'd hate to think the new fandom is left to only on-line and midnight showings of our fandom favs when they hit the big screen. Sure it's great to go to a midnight showing of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings (Potter & Trek also etc.) and see people in costumes, but hey wait a minute that used to be what cons were for! Still I think there are a lot of factors involved with MWC. Most young fans today aim for either Dragon Con or San Diego Comic Con, for goodness sake G4 channel covers Comic Con annually now. I wonder if those young people are even aware of MWC? I have a long time friend who has attended MarCon since it began, he mentioned they also were down this year and that changes are being talked about for next year. They are concerned about booze and gas prices. So room parties will probably have a cover charge or by invite only. That is a sad change from my first MarCon where the Con Suite was 1 bath tub had soda and the other beer and no monitors. I had my years of chasing the celebrity guest stars in the 80's and 90's. Now I'm satisfied with a nice weekend with my fellow crazies and sharing our fandoms. My wife and I were discussing some films of this year. We were late getting around to "Prince Caspian", we saw it this past Sunday after seeing Indy Jones 4 after we returned from MWC. We are more or less in agreement about PC being more fun than IJ4, but I had to mention this. Something Dean Stanforth tells Indy in the opening quarter of the film seems very appropriate to me this year in relation to this discussion. "It would seem we've reached the point where life takes more than it gives." Now of course that was about Marcus and Henry Sr. However I can't help finding it a bit related to MWC. While many of us like MWC have seen our Golden Age and will one day slip quietly into that sad goodnight, I think it shall not be on the 'morrow, but thine hand of time stayed for a time yet to be. Then again I like to think they will pry my rose-tinted glasses from my hands as they throw the sheets over me as I prefer to see things like MWC and fandom more like a line from "Time Crash"...the 5th Doctor says "To days to come...all my love to long ago, the 10th Doctor replies."

3/6/08 14:20 (UTC)
[identity profile]
I have to say Balticon did have a large contingent of new blood fans and we even had a number of new first time filkers too, something I didn't expect to see from the young. So maybe not attracting younger fans has more to do with the way it's pitched rather than the con scene itself. As in the fore mention Comic-Con and the con that swallows Atlanta: Dragon*Con.
Oh one quick edit by the way Dragon*Con is still a fan run con.
Edited 3/6/08 14:23 (UTC)

3/6/08 18:17 (UTC)
[identity profile]
Interesting points. I love both big cons (I've been to 3 WorldCons and loved them) and small, fan ones. But even fan run cons can suck. A few I went to in New Jersey were too small to have been worth attending, and one year, I ended up just going over to have lunch with friends who were attending the con. MediaWest, when I discovered it and went the first time, was a big party and the chance to meet the people I'd been corresponding with and whose stories I was reading.

I was lucky. I might've grown up in the '50s and '60s, but my parents were "fans." My parents both liked sf and comics and while none of my friends did, I was able to feel normal at home. In fact, my father announced one night that we were going to watch a new TV show called Star Trek. We had only 1 TV, so this was a big deal. My younger sister hid in her room while my father, mother, and I grooved with the crew on the Enterprise. I wrote my first fanfic back in the late-'60s, and I always wonder what my life would have been like if I'd discovered fandom back then, to know others were writing stories and printing them up.

In 1981, I did discover fandom, thanks to a friend who wrote an article about it, and found a home for the stories I was writing for myself. I learned about the "Circuit," where a group of slash-minded UNCLE fans passed stories on to people in the circuit via the US mail. I found letterzines and newszines and zines that listed zines. By then, though, I'd already attended a number of comic conventions here in NYC, including a birthday bash DC Comics threw for Superman.

The internet changed how information was disseminated. Instead of subscribing to a print zine that listed new zines (and not all because not every zine editor submitted info) and having to wait for new stories to arrive in the mail, we can simply go online to find new zines, or even the stories, themselves. Fanfic is more in your face now. It's discussed in the mainstream media. I can still remember the unusual nature of a Newsweek article about Trek fandom back in the late-'60s or early-'70s. It was like someone had opened a closet door a crack and strange things spilled out to freak out mundanes.

It's not just going from mimeo to desktop publishing, or from splicing videotapes to using computer software to make vids. There was a time when the con had filking. That's how I first learned about filk, back at MWC 007, when a friend and I wandered into a basement room at the old Hilton Hotel when we heard music. Now, that's gone. Some of the activities listed sounded new to me, but I can't recall what they were as they didn't interest me.

For all the lateness of things, and I understand the hotel wasn't sure how many rooms they'd have available due to renovating, which delayed the reservation process, along with things not being all that well organized on the con side, some things were actually early, ie on time this year. The art show standing panels were there Thursday night! As someone who went one year not all that many years ago to Gordon and Lori's house on Friday morning with a bunch of other people to fetch the panels out of their garage so the artists could set up, that's quite an accomplishment. I think it was Karen Klinck who told me Lori had rented storage space this year. If anyone's ever seen the inside of their garage, you'll understand what a mess getting the panels from there had been.

Yeah, there are always stories. Lots of stories.

3/6/08 14:15 (UTC)
[identity profile]
The lower attendance this year could be attributed to the economy and or gas prices, but I lay the fact empty hotel rooms at the the hotel's feet. They got the lists of names relatively early but didn't go over them for weeks and that caused issues. For me I had already eliminated driving (12 hour's + straight but always end up with at least one night in a hotel going and coming) to the Con this year, and Amtrak wasn't cheap, Greyhound would have been intolerable (I used it for a con half the distance away, miserable experience), so that left flying. Last year I had a not so nice experience in an over flow hotel that I won't mention (*Cough*Day's Inn*Cough*) but got into the shortly con hotel because a friend told me they were canceling due to finances. This year I wanted a stay at the hotel only, pre-regged last year for the con and put my name in the hat. Nothing , no contact from the hotel, called them 3 times to find out status and every time it was call back next week and we'll have it sorted. Well airline prices went up so I changed my plans to Balticon, that was within 2-3 hours driving distance for both myself and my companions (another one who had also pre-regged at MediaWest). The hotel finally contacted me on the day of the reservation for the convention to tell me I had a reserved room, that's no way to run a business, I politely said no thanks due to the lateness of the notification.
At Balticon I ran into a number of east cost MediaWest goers who had broken ranks after a number of years, also due to the hotel situation and finances.
Lori and Gordon need to hit the hotel management with a large wet noodle for this.

3/6/08 17:39 (UTC)
[identity profile]
A month isn't that bad but the day of the reservation? That was just silly. It wouldn't have been so bad if I was at told I was on a waiting list or something when I called.

3/6/08 18:25 (UTC)
[identity profile]
As I mentioned in another reply, my friend and I were told that the hotel was waiting to see how many available rooms they'd have due to their ongoing renovation. If the con had managed to get updates out reasonably early, they could have kept people appraised of the situation.

Many a time in the past, my friend and I have booked into another hotel, only to get the call as we were about to leave (one year after we'd already started driving across Pennsylvania) to tell us we were in (we'd been on the waiting list). We picked up an impromptu door decoration on the way.

Of course, there was the year they mixed up my reservation with someone else with my last name and it was really his room, not mine, which we didn't find out til we called to check (we do that obsessively in the weeks before the con) while en route. Which is why we now book under my friend's less common surname instead of mine.

Given the horrors at other fan run cons, MWC and the hotel do fine. At least, it's secure, unlike the hotel in NJ where I attended a SpyCon and my friend's luggage was stolen before we could get it up to the room. We had to go shop for clothes for her to wear.

4/6/08 00:24 (UTC)
[identity profile]
it's hard to get inside the mind of the con hotel at MW ... at times they seem friendly and want us, then again they wish they didn't have to bother with us. Getting notification on the day is ..just poor business. I've been lucky to get a room either by staying the night at another hotel or someone who can't make it gave me the room. I agree there should be some other way to get the stuff out to people earlier, but unsure how to do it.

Either way I do hope that Media goes on for a long time. I love meeting up with old friends and talking to new people esp about the same interests.

4/6/08 01:25 (UTC)
[identity profile]
I agree there are always reasons to come back


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