Hello, Langford. This is a fanzine; what you are supposed to do is print a suitable number of copies with Ansible and hand them out at the Tun. You should see this first as a fax; you have my permission (indeed orders) to use the fax as a master if the airmail version fails to reach you in time. I'm putting this bit in here so that people will realise it's not your fault if the thing is less than beautiful in appearance. I'll give you the money when I see you. Now stop dithering and get on with it please. Thanks to Andy Hooper for loan of computer, and to Arnie Katz for colonial duplication. Art by Bill Rotsler (pgs. 1, 2, 3) & Bill Kunkel (page 4). Copies may be available from Abigail Frost, 95 Wilmot St. London E2 OBP.
I need to know they're there to be able to work....
IF IT'S SEATTLE THIS MUST BE WEDNESDAY
Arrived at JFK Wednesday evening; G Farber waiting and even recognisable at the gate. Despite all my elaborate precautions against being taken for a wetback (most of my Abbey National account converted to traveller's cheques, addresses of practically everyone I know in the States, Official Looking Letters from ReinCONation and from J Bowman masquerading as WSFS Inc, lunch invitation from Famous New York Publishers etc) they just waved me through Immigration and I was mildly disappointed. Renewed acquaintance with subway and crashed out in the famously grungy Lower East Side.
Next day, lunch with Patrick and Teresa (and, as it turned out, Tom Webber). 'Listen, Gary,' I'd said, 'I'm here to spread peace love cosmic harmony and mutual understanding between North American and European fandom. New York City can sort out its own shit.' Tor Books was oddly homelike; reception littered with stuff being sorted out and people eating pizza at desks. David Hartwell passed by waving a fax from Golly's. (I come all this way to see people who are having lunch with Richard Evans?) Froze to death at lunch (airconditioning! An invention of the devil! And there will be more of it!); grilled by P&T about Joy Hibbert (why, I still can't work out).
Met Gary at the Tor lobby to walk about in search of a bar which, he said, sold good American beer; then decided we hadn't enough time so started walking in the other direction to meet le tout New York for dinner. I'd forgotten that aspect. Le tout New York was fine, and talked all the time. Back to Clinton Street for party. Crazed and increasingly desperate search for paper cups along the way ('Couldn't you decant soft drinks into empty beer bottles?' I suggested, and got looked at like something out of Animal House. Paper cups! We must have paper cups!). Lise Eisenberg discovered plastic bottles of what, if it's reached California and I have anything to do with it, will be the next British fan cult:
Blue Stuff, aka Blue Raspberry Drink. 100% chemicals and very nice with gin. Ended up pouring half my gin into a soda bottle to take with me, and leaving half as a thank-you for the unrich Farber. Don't Americans drink gin?
It would seem not. In Minneapolis Geri Sullivan and Jeff Schalles pressed the best part of a bottle on me, bought for Chuck Harris was it last year and not finished indeed barely started by him. I did my best for the honour of Britain with it, especially once I'd discovered that consuite sour cut with club soda made a fairly reasonable mixer in the absence of tonic.
ReinCONation was -- wonderful? weird? I am still weighing up its sheer strangeness. Everyone tells me it's the nearest thing to a British convention in the US;. substitute consuite-life for bar-life and yes, I can see it. I failed to get to much of the programme (partly because, in the hotel that hosts vast Minicons, it was just so far away), but we have nothing like as much fan programming anywhere, even at Mexicon. But the fan panel I went to seemed just like home, except that all the panellists seemed much more articulate than any of our usual suspects. But... but... there was something I don't think I'll ever quite nail down that was that little bit alien.
I come from a fandom, indeed a national class culture, where the sign of total acceptance is that they start to ignore you; when they really love you they insult you. I suspect it has to do with the upperclass life in which everybody was at boarding school with everybody else and remembers them being sick at dancing class at the age of seven. I don't come from that segment of society, but it's sort of in the water and in any case if, like me, you get sent from a decent state school to Oxford you rapidly learn to sink or swim in it. Your typical Minneapolis fan has an almost imperturbably sunny nature, an inalienable friendliness, which is not at all easy for your standard sharp and snarling London fan to deal with. If you encountered anything like this at home it would be phoney to the nth degree; here it isn't. Step back and try to imagine Michael Ashley here. It's painful. Try to imagine Chris Bell. It's hilarious. Try to imagine me, and I suppose it's just puzzling. [The Plain People of Fandom: You overestimate yourself, sunshine. It's obscene, that's what it is.]
Farber gave me a good tip before I left NYC: 'If there's anything to do with music going on, go; it's not bloody filk.' Dead right there, mate. Are you listening, Glasgow? Give these people a slot and a decent sized room with a PA and tell them just to fill it for the evening. I was too tired to take in much of the Friday night concert but the Saturday jam sessions were a delight.
There was also a trip to the Renaissance Fair (more music, things [besides me] on sticks, thoroughly bizarre crafts, especially immensely complicated multicoloured dragon candles); lunch with Joyce Scrivner (I think the first American fan I got to know, back at Seacon 79) but for now, perhaps, that's enough Minneapolis.
IT'S WEDNESDAY, SO IT'S SEATTLE.
So far, not much to report. Langford and Wells get black marks for not describing Andy Hooper adequately; for future reference, the American equivalent of Mike Dickinson will do. (I forgot to say that ReinCONation boasted two Roy Kettle clones, one of whom knows Dermot Dobson. Loud Bangs across the sea.) Fortunately, it did not quite get to the point of Carrie Root going off in one direction to page me, and me going off in the other to page them, but it was a close-run thing. By the time one's adjusted to the fact that Seattle airport has its own internal subway all past instructions have dissolved in awe. Very good Malaysian meal with Andy and Carrie; successful hunt for British Sunday paper (five bucks! Ouch! On the other hand I bought one in Minneapolis too and it turned out to be LAST WEEK'S!); trip round a supermarket. I am thinking of organising Supermarkets of the World package tours.
I hate, I hate, I absolutely hate long flights. Never again, I said, carefully ignoring the fact that I have to get back home somehow. Fortunately these days they give you free drinks, and right back in the smoking section you get all the drunks and flying-fearers so it might as well be a convention. But, to my amazement, after four of them I realise I love internal flights. Dear little plane, upholstery a bit tatty, none of this pretence that we're all international jetsetters wanting to send faxes in mid-air. No bloody passport control; turn up and get on. And of course, by cricking one's neck a bit one can see vast tracts of Great American Landscape. Musing on the odd appearance of clouds from above ('why, that might almost be an Arctic coastline with icebergs') on the way to O'Hare I suddenly realised that it was a coastline, as a Great Lake just exactly like my school atlas loomed plain dark blue out of the scuzzy white.
The airports are nice, too, when your bags are checked in and you have just a few minutes to catch a ciggy in the carpark (O'Hare! World's greatest airport! Has a smoking section right by the gate!). Shall retain fond memories of Denver: 88 hot, dry degrees, clear sky, views of distant mountains. I mean New York's ok, you know, but it's not what you'd call foreign....
SO FAR, SO [*COUGH!*]
Have not yet been assaulted by rabid anti-smokers; in fact people seem apologetic about it. Having no great trouble really. In fact, all this bit is is a convenient spot to tell you about, oh, god, I can't remember the name of the place, but it's near Gary's housesit. Imagine Spaghetti Junction, the Blackwall Tunnel exit and Hyde Park Corner all rolled together. Lots of cars, coming from several different directions, and it's rush hour and they're all standing there packed together with the engines running. Above the whole unbeautiful mess is a billboard advertising cigarettes, with compulsory Surgeon-General's Warning, which the random factors have made: CIGARETTE SMOKE CONTAINS CARBON MONOXIDE. At this point, Get a Life! seems an appropriate response.
If you don't know from personal experience what the Wrath of Frost can be like, ask Langford. Or if in the US, ask Seth Breidbart, who's seen it in action though not aimed at him. Put it this way: Joyce told me that there are a couple of US cons (or possibly other fan organisations, can't find me notes) which will give $500 each to the appropriate fan fund for each complete trip report published. Now, what's Peter Roberts ever done to you that you shouldn't warn him? Or Kevin Smith? Do you really want to see Rob and Avedon permanently hospitalised? Greg's a fragile and sensitive soul, isn't he? Lilian and Christina -- life would be a little greyer without them, wouldn't it? Pam Wells is having a hard enough time already, isn't she? So do your duty and get the buggers writing away before I come home, ok?
WILL SOMEBODY ELSE PLEASE DO THIS
In the nature of things, when staying two nights with G Farber you end up with a certain amount of what I am normally far too grand to call smoffing. Result of this one is suggestion of a new fan fund: exchange between anglophone and non-anglophone countries. This is plainly the next frontier for fan funds; question is, how to do it at all without things getting totally smeared all over the place, and how not to make it we-the-anglophones-spreading-the-true- gospel-to-the-underprivileged.
Think about it. Talk about it. Then execute it brilliantly without me or Gary having to do a hand's turn, please.
That's what I like -- a man with a five-and-a-quarter-inch drive
95 Wilmot Street
London E2 OBP