The WSFA Journal, October 1989

The WSFA Journal


The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association

October 1989                                           ISSN 0894-5411

Available from the secretary: Rachel Russell,
[address censored], Arlington, VA 22204


1 September 1989, 1st Friday

Meeting was held at Worldcon, in Boston, MA. President Erica Van Dommelen called the meeting to order. The notes were taken by Steven Fetheroff, and subsequently lost by your humble secretary who was too poor to go to the con herself. However, the meeting was reported to have lasted under four minutes!! (No business conducted)

15 September 1989, 3rd Friday

President Erica Van Dommelen called the meeting to order at 9:16 pm, at the home of Kent Bloom and Mary Morman.

Committee Reports:

The secretary distributed a WSFA Journal that contained an address list! Further address changes are always welcome, because when I get a bunch of changes, I'll put out another list.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported $4482.73 in the kitty.

Trustees said no.

Disclave past: Michael J. Walsh asked department heads to give him their lists of staff people who should get membership reimbursements.

Disclave present: Irv Koch, programming czar, reported that Eva settled on the same hotel as last year! Pat Cadigan will be an additional guest, and "the usual suspects" have agreed to come. We need a disc jockey. Also, a reminder was made to remember that elections for next Disclave ('91) will be held in October.

Discon III: Had a nice party at Worldcon and got rid of stuff. Smoflahoma was a hit! Corporation Meeting on the 16th of Oct. to decide what next?

Entertainment Committee: We'll have to entertain ourselves. . . .

Committee to Spend a Lot of Money on Something Incredibly Expensive and Extremely Controversial, headed by chairfan John Pomeranz, HAD NO PLANS.

Old Biz: No.

New Biz: No.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Candy is pregnant!!!! Unicon is ended, see the nice letter here in the Journal. Erica and North Lilly were with us for the last time because they've moved to Ohio. Naomi brought cute visitors with her.

ATTENDANCE: Susan Cohen, Alexis R. Gilliland, Candy Gresham, Keith W. Marshall, John C. Randolph, Steve Davies, Henry Balen, Tim Illingworth, Naomi Ronis, Irvin Koch, Dan Hoey, Joe Mayhew, Michael Enoch, Michael J. Walsh, Bill Jensen, Brian Lewis, Dick Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Sheryl Birkhead, Barry Newton, Meridel Newton, Elaine Normandy, John Something, Kent Bloom, Bob MacIntosh, Mary Morman, Steve Smith, Heather Nachman, Dick Roepke, Mike Zipser, Beth Zipser, Larry Baker, Dale Sharrick, Paul Dorm, Chris Callahan, North and Erica Lilly, Rachel Russell, Erica Van Dommelen.

Meeting adjourned at 9:35 pm.

[Fannish peanut butter]
                                          September 15, 1989

Dear WSFAns:

As you have probably heard by now, the board of Unicon, Inc. has decided to end Unicon. The purpose of this letter is to explain our reasons and forestall any ridiculous rumors.

(The credible rumors are not of concern to us. The best we've heard so far is that UFOs stole the committee away and replaced them with brainwiped zombie Elvis clones. The next best is that there was an epidemic of vampirism at the last dead dog party, and none of the committee can go out during the day any more. Neither of these stories is true, although they sound reasonable enough.)

No, the real reason we've decided to hang it up is that most of us are tired of the expenditure of time and effort involved in running a science fiction convention. It's certainly been fun, and we were beginning to get the hang of it, but most of us have other, more pressing matters in our lives -- or we're just tired of the work. And it's not as it there were a large cadre of experienced junior staff we could turn Unicon over to. After the first few Unicons, Unicon has not been a club-sponsored activity, but instead a project of a few interested fans. Unicon has always had a labor shortage, and in spite of our best efforts in the last five years, the situation has not improved much. A quick survey of the last four Unicons shows a turnover rate at the senior management level of over twenty-five percent. In 1990 it would have been closer to ninety percent. We did not believe that Unicon could survive in any recognizable form with so few seasoned managers.

Unicon, Inc. does plan to sponsor a few activities in the future. We will be throwing farewell parties at the local conventions this coming year; this is our way of putting our leftover money back into fandom where we got it and where it belongs. We will also be having a Unicon yard sale some time this fall to sell our supplies and equipment. The items to be sold include office supplies, food serving utensils, and art show hangings. We'll let you know when and where.

Also, a new convention is apparently in the works for late June/early July, provisionally called Multicon. Although it shares some of the staff of Unicon, it is not associated with Unicon, Inc. Even so, we wish them well.

Well, as the saying goes, goodbye and thank you for your support.

                                          Paul Parsons,

                                          Chairman, Unicons 10 and 13
                                          Secretary, Unicon, Inc.

30 May 1989


To the Disclave committee,

I am writing with regards to the Disclave '89 convention which was held over the recent Memorial Day weekend.

I was somewhat disappointed when I arrived at Disclave and received my membership materials and founded the limited amount of programming and films that were being held. I was expecting a science fiction convention as was advertised, not a relaxicon, and the programming scheduled made it much closer to the later than the former, especially when the convention was over a 3-day weekend. Beyond a especially good dealer's room and a reasonably good art show, Disclave '89 offered very little for the science fiction fan.

My disappointment turned to disgust and outrage, however, when it became clear on Sunday night, May 28, that Disclave had become a convention that was out of control and on the verge of chaos. The only other convention I have seen that was worse than Disclave '89 was the appalling Boskone 24 in 1987. Disclave was lucky (and I mean just that--you were lucky) that it did not become that nightmare, for it would have only taken a very small matter to push the convention over the edge.

What I find especially disgusting was the fact that no matter how bad Boskone 24 was, to me Disclave was especially contemptible because of one simply thing. Because of the number of people attending Boskone 24 and because of the size and structure of the Sheraton hotel, it was impossible for the Boskone committee to deal successfully with the problems that occurred. However, they did tried and did manage to some degree. The Disclave committee did not do this. They stood by and watch this con disintegrate around them and I saw no effort--NONE--to restore any type of order or control to the con. The convention was turned over to a group of immature, self-centered, hedonistic people, most of who were likely not even science fiction fans. I find the committee's behavior completely irresponsible.

In the flyer I received from Disclave, it was stated that "the hotel and Disclave request you do your sleeping in your rooms--not in the corridors or the lobby." Both the hotel and Disclave did nothing to prevent this or stop it when it occurred. People blatantly slept all over the hotel, wherever they could including the main lobby, taking up all the places where those paying to stay at the hotel could sit and talk and relax.

In your flyer, you had a section on "Etiquette." What a sick joke! Disclave was, bluntly, the rudest convention I have ever attended. Boom boxes were banned, yet people playing a stupid ball game in a walkway all night, screaming at the top of their lungs--disturbing those in their rooms trying to sleep--were not told to shut-up and the game broken-up. The flyer said: "Disclave reserves the right to ask anyone to leave for offensive behavior, and to revoke membership. And finally, please wear your badge when at the con. It means that you've paid your way and lets the hotel [know] that you are part of the con and not trespassing." It is pitiful all the Disclave committee did was "reserve" these rights and did nothing to exercise them on behalf of those who paid memberships to attend a science fiction convention. The behavior of many of those present at Disclave was offensive to a incredible degree, and yet, once again, nothing was done. And note that I use the word "present," not "attending." I saw an extremely large number of people there without badges, who clearly and had not bought memberships, who were trespassing, and, once again, nothing was done to remove them. Why did I bother paying for a membership if anyone could walk into the convention?

I am, finally, in total contempt of a convention which creates an atmosphere which encourages the misuse of drugs. The serving of beer in the con suite is reasonable if, and only if, the mood of the convention is that of a convention, not an anything-goes "party". Disclave '89 was the latter. I heard of and saw the use of illegal drugs throughout the convention. I watched someone enter and walk throughout the dealer's room on Monday morning with a half-emptied fifth of vodka in his hand. I am repulsed by a science fiction convention that not only creates such an environment for drug abuse but does nothing to stop this.

I hope this letter shocks some damn sense into you. Your convention needs it--badly. And I want you to be aware of this: this letter is not just from a nameless fan. I am the founder and director of the Gaylactic Network, an international organization for gay people and their friends. The Network serves as a central organization for five local gay SF groups: three in New England, one in Philadelphia, and one in the Great Lakes region. We also hold a convention called Gaylaxicon. Though I am writing this letter on my own behalf and not as the head of the Network, be aware the members of all these organizations will certainly be informed of what Disclave '89 was like.

You will be treated with the same amount of respect your convention showed those fans who attended it.

Franklin [censored]
Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119-1438

21 August 1989

P.O. Box 19951
Baltimore. MD 21211

Mr. Franklin [censored]
P.O. Box 1951, Back Bay Annex
Boston, MA 02117-1051

Dear Mr. [censored],

Thank you for your patience in waiting so long for this response to yours of 30 May. Also, thank you for the copy of The Gaylaxian Newsletter with the Disclave report. In response I am sending you a copy of the FILE 770:80 Disclave report. As you can see there are two rather different views of things.

As regards to you letter...

You are quite correct in saying that Disclave's programming was more like a relaxacon. True, and that has pretty much been that way since 1950. When I did the programming at Disclave '87 the complaint was that there was too much programming.

Ideally the flier for Disclave '90 will be a little more explicit as to what kind of con people should expect. We tend to forget that there are folks attending cons for the first time, attending Disclave for the first time and that they should be made aware that Disclave is not like, say, Boskone.

I would hesitate to equate Disclave '89 with Boskone 24 - perhaps Grenada with Vietnam. Yes, there were problems. But none which are going to force us to change hotels and the date of the con - as happened with Boskone. As a matter of fact the Howard Johnson Plaza is quite eager to have us back. And the general manager walked through the property on Saturday.

The ball game you mentioned should have been terminated. No question.

As regards the lobby and the sleepers... this is always bound to occur, though it seemed to me to be not as great as a problem as you think it was. The situation at Disclave is made the all the worse by the smallness of the lobby. However, the presence of sleeping bodies in the lobby should be discouraged.

As for the badgeless attendees... some actually had badges but weren't wearing them and some did not have have badges and were told to purchase a membership or leave. We did not catch everyone. However, we are aware of this and will try to set up a system next year to do so.

As for the misuse of drugs and the use of illegal drugs let me say from the outset that Disclave does not condone the violation of any law, be it local, state or federal. That being said let me note that it is difficult to police nearly 1300 people. I am curious as to what illegal drugs you saw being used and where. Without further information I am afraid I really can't comment much further.

Somebody walking into the dealer's room with an open bottle of vodka is hardly a capital offense. Not an intelligent move on their part granted, but hardly the cause to have someone thrown out of the con.

Finally, though you had some rather harsh things to say about Disclave the fact that you took time write indicates that you think there is some hope for us. And though I do not agree with all of your letter, there is much food for thought. And frankly, some of what you said has been talked about by various Disclave\WSFAns.

I will certainly pass your letter along to next year's chair - Eva Whitley.

I do hope that you'll give us another try. But remember, it's a relaxacon with programming. Bring your sun tan lotion, sit by the pool, relax and talk to friends, old and new.


Michael J. Walsh
Chair, Disclave '89

p.s.: I'll be on the road beginning 22 August ending up at Noreascon. Perhaps we can talk about this situation then. Assuming either one of us can be found at con with a mere 6000+ attendees.

                                          24 August 1989

Mr. Walsh,

With regards to your recent letter concerning Disclave '89, you wrote: "Somebody walking into the dealers' room with an open bottle of vodka is hardly the cause to have someone thrown out of the con."

If this is consider permittable behavior at a Disclave, and not cause to revoke a person's membership, you have confirmed my opinion of yourself, the Disclave committee, and Disclave, as completely irresponsible. Also, given the text of your flyer, what was promised for policies, and what occurred I also consider you and Disclave to be guilty of hypocrisy, at the least.

The review of Disclave I sent you, which was written by someone else who attended, which first appeared in the Gaylaxian Science Fiction Society newsletter, has been reprinted in my organization's (the Gaylactic Network) newsletter and sent to its international membership.

I will not be attending any future Disclaves, until the committee and those attending it act like adults, and not foolish, self-centered, and rude brats.

Do not bother me again with such stupidity.

                                          Frank [censored]

The GAYLAXIAN   Vol. 4 No. 7   July 1989


Disclave '89 was held Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 through May 29, at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in New Carrollton, Maryland which is just outside of Washington, D.C. Since I had such a good time at Lunacon in New York, I've been more willing to travel further afield to see some of the other science fiction conventions on the east coast other than Boskone. I decided to try Disclave since I heard that it was one of the larger conventions and since I needed a mini-vacation very badly. I took vacation days the Friday before and the Tuesday after the con to allow for driving since it takes about eight hours to reach Washington D.C. from Boston.

Frank [censored], who wanted to see Disclave too, volunteered to drive with me. We had planned to leave Boston about 3:00 AM on Friday morning so we'd arrive in D.C. before noon with plenty of time to nap so we'd be fresh for the con. Unfortunately, I was done in by the June newsletter. I had to write the newsletter, copy it, stuff envelopes and mail the newsletter before I left Boston since the next meeting was the Saturday after Memorial Day. I managed to accomplish the newsletter mailing with Frank's help only by staying up till 12:30 AM Friday, which left us with only an hour's sleep before we had to leave. Nevertheless, we did manage to get on the road by 4:00 AM. Fortunately, traffic was very light all the way to D.C. even though it was the start of Memorial Day weekend. The drive was manageable since we split the driving and used AAA's excellent maps and travel advice. We managed to get to the hotel exactly at noon only to find that we had to wait till 3 PM to check in.

The Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel was pleasant. It was easy to find since it was right off the D.C. Beltway, had a outdoor pool in its courtyard, function space in the hotel, and an adjoining exhibition hall that held the huckster's room and massive con suite. Disclave did turn out to be a large convention with attendance of about 1300 fans. The huckster's room was first rate. There was an excellent selection of books, magazines, prints and jewelry without the usual junk that I've seen at other cons. Disclave's Art Show was large, varied and of high quality. The art guest of honor was J.K. Potter who does multimedia works involving the mixing of photography and painting. I found the display of his work in the Art Show absorbing. The con suite was amazing too. It was the only one I've seen that served free beer as well as soda. The film program was fun with previews of summer movies and showings of The Hunger, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and several other movies. Finally, there were some nice inexpensive restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

Unfortunately, Disclave had its deficiencies. Programming was very skimpy with only two tracks that were broken up for dinner and special events. The guest of honor Lucius Shepard seemed invisible for most of the con. Disclave is more of a relaxacon than a Boskone type of convention. Its raison d'etre appears to be the parties sponsored by various organizations. The people attending the convention seemed much younger and more rowdy than the fans at Lunacon and Boskone, which may be why I didn't find Disclave's parties all that appealing. The parties were crammed into very small rooms surrounding the pool. The people seemed more interested in drinking, drugging and partying than science fiction. Worst of all, there wasn't a gay fandom party even though there were several gay fans besides ourselves there. My biggest regret is that I didn't get a chance to meet most of the gay fans since there wasn't a gay fandom party to draw them all together. The people I did talk with said that gay fans in the south were still rather closeted which may explain the reluctance to hold an openly gay fandom party. Well, the flyers describing the Gaylactic Network, local Gaylaxian groups and Gaylaxicon seemed to be disappearing at a rapid rate. Maybe the publicity will help the Network, Gaylaxian groups and Gaylaxicon pick up some new members and lead to the formation of a D.C. Gaylaxians.

Despite the short comings, I had a good time at Disclave until Sunday evening. During the day, a group of fans started to play some kind of ball game in the courtyard. Even though they were blocking the passage way from the hotel to the exhibition hall, they were allowed to continue. I wasn't bothered until they started punctuating their game with shouts loud enough to raise the dead. Indeed, they woke me early Sunday morning. I felt like shambling downstairs with my eyes slitted from lack of sleep and red with anger and giving them what for, but I'm sure I look worse than a Zombie early in the morning and didn't want to scare innocent bystanders. Instead I contented myself with imagining how it would be to stick a straw through their eyes and suck out their brains slowly while they lay kicking and screaming. When a semblance of humanity had returned to me, I got up and found that someone had thrown olives up and down the hallway on my floor. When I made it down to the lobby, I heard that we weren't the only ones complaining. Mark Olsen, the chairman of Noreascon 3, was chewing out the Disclave Chairman for allowing things to get out of hand. Mark was staying on the seventh floor and was disturbed by the shouting, we were on the third and much closer to the noise. I was surprised at the lack of response from the Disclave con chair who just shrugged and allowed the game to continue. I hope every new con I go to has a staff that actively patrols the hotel to put a stop to unruly behavior by a few fans. If a fan's behavior gets out of hand, the staff should clamp down without waiting for complaints from other people.

We had originally planned to stay Monday evening and return during the day Tuesday. But we didn't want to spend another sleepless night and given the lack of response from the con management decided to leave instead. Although we were afraid that traffic Monday would be horrendous, we found it relatively light except for one patch in Maryland due to construction delays. We got back to Boston in good time. Even though I had a pretty good time until Sunday evening, I don't think I'll attend Disclave again in the near future. I still go to conventions for the programming and Disclave didn't have enough of it; Disclave's parties weren't good enough compensation. I'll miss the dealer's room though; I came back with a load of books and a couple of prints. I hope the Disclave committee decides to keep a tighter rein on things or they may lose more fans like myself or even end up where no hotel in the D.C. area will host them.

The Gaylaxian: The Newsletter of The Gaylaxians - Editor: Steve Owens
The Gaylaxian Science Fiction Society (The Gaylaxians) is the New England club for gay people and their friends interested in science fiction and fantasy. For information, call the hot line at (508) 597-LUNA or write: The Gaylaxians, P.O. Box 1051, Boston, MA 02117.