How To Be A Seattle Fan
(On Iboga Root), 1997
by Andy and Victor
As the great wheel of the subculture turns again, it's time to take a moment to assess the expectations and necessities of life for the contemporary Seattle fan. What better fans have done before we'll do longer and worse.
There are now three professions open to fans living in Seattle. The most popular is designing, writing and de-bugging code for any of a thousand software start-ups, which ultimately fail or are bought out by larger firms that decline to retain your services. The second most common choice is to become a Licensed Massage Practitioner, spending 80 percent of your time bartering massage from other LMP's ("practicing" or "picking up technique") and most of the rest complaining about the lack of paying opportunities. The third career option is to "do something with the Web" (see option number one), which can include designing Web sites, providing content for them, or simply collecting lists of links in much the same way a derelict collects aluminum cans. When any or all three of these choices fail to provide a living, there's always temp work at Microsoft (see option one). In the end, everyone will work for Microsoft. And like it.
It is now permissible, if not required, to have once worked at Boeing, but not to work at Boeing now. Unless your Union is on strike. Then do a rabidly pro-labor newsletter.
Of course, you can always write. It is assumed that a Seattle fan has something in a drawer somewhere, probably on a 5.25-inch floppy. But even if you have a large number of novels, stories and chapbooks in print, don't let it make you happy. Try to look as glum and pensive as you did when you were unpublished. Have a brush with Hollywood, and emerge bloody but unbowed. Swear never to do it again. Collaborate on a CD-Rom multimedia celebration of your favorite deceased author of ornate high church fiction, and lose your shirt when sales are suppressed by the collective delusion that his eyes follow the viewer around the room. Ultimately, sell out and write Magic novels.
If you're a journalist, tell contrived versions of the latest murder in great detail to gross out your buddies in the smokehouse. Act jaded, until you get too excited to pull it off anymore. Then, curse profusely. Whatever it is, it goes in the back seat. Take enormous pride in never getting lost, even if the party is in darkest West Seattle. List the two wrong turns you took, and explain why the city's Byzantine political structure deters solutions to the street-sign problem. If you are not a journalist, make it clear that you read nothing in the mainstream press whenever journalists are around. Except the Sunday New York Times.
Regardless of what you do for a living, you should take nothing so seriously that it keeps you from maintaining your own small press, design bureau or calligraphy studio in your spare time. If you do publish a fanzine, do so very infrequently. If you once published a fanzine and haven't officially killed the title, hang your head when someone asks about the next issue, but hold a silent resentment against active fans. Alternatively, you can publish a frequent fanzine, but for this to have any credibility, you have to keep the number of Seattle fans on your mailing list to a minimum. Faunch desperately for an angel of mercy to take over publishing costs.
In editorials and pontifications, take on a vague air of geographical superiority, and try to convince the reader that you don't pay attention to what happens in the rest of the country. In reality, read letter columns with the Rand-McNally at hand, and occasionally target obstreperous fans for airstrikes launched with red pushpins on the corkboard above the credenza. Make lists of fans linked through geographic proximity, and analyze their demographics for maximum fannish impact. Print the results in a box. Send the information to Mike Glyer and Guy Lillian. Sow conflict between other fandoms, but if necessary, destroy them yourself.
Live within shouting distance of North 40th Street for many years, then move to the rustic suburbs. A good plan might be to buy a ranch in Duvall to raise vicuna, mix with the trailer people at the Broken Spur, then write a novel about them. And get out of being asked to hold Vanguard.
If you're not a Seattle native (and unless you were crew member #6 or lower on Karrie Dunning's Starbase, you're not), and have relatives in cold places far away, remember to keep alive the wintertime tradition of gloating about cherry blossoms whenever they call.
If, like many Seattle fans, you are afflicted with serious allergies, try to have fun with them. Acquire a large air circulation/purification device to save you from allergens in your home, powered, if possible, by a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp aircraft engine. Spend your off hours finding parts. Concoct heinous baked goods or "alternative sweets" to take to parties, served on ceramics you glazed yourself, and savor the looks on your friends' faces as they taste what you are supposedly forced to subsist on (remember to add extra spelt and garnish with Wensleydale). Try to convince other fans that talking about cigarettes can give you hives. Demonstrate. Choose "Puffyboy" as your screen name. Above all, cite any infirmities to avoid helping other people move.
In any group of three Seattle fans, there is a 50% chance that one of them is wearing a Freddie Baer T-shirt, and a 30% chance that two are. But if two are wearing the same shirt, a terrible chain reaction will occur, tearing apart the very fabric of space-time. Oddly, this has never happened.
Rant about the cliquish, kif-addicted people downstairs while you are upstairs, then go downstairs and complain about what stiffs the people upstairs are. Or pass through the basement quickly, complaining the upstairs was too crowded, then leave bitching about the smoke.
Profess and promote polyamory, but live with the same partner for 16 years, and if possible, choose someone who looks just like you. Never allow jealousy to interfere with your love life, unless it does. Once every five years, fall in love with someone who lives 2,500 miles away. Spend months wooing and cosseting them, but make them move to you, never the other way around.
Be disappointed by the fact that you're white. Grasp at whatever ethnic straw you can, even if it leads you back eight generations and across species. Make a tenuous personal connection, even if only to the extent of tuning your car radio to the station that plays Balkan goatherd music during the morning eastbound commute across 520. See option one.
Undertake a transformative and omnipresent exercise regimen. Discuss this ad infinitum without any direct provocation. Explain in detail the route you took from Green Lake to Licton Springs to Cowen Park to Chehalis, ending, of course, at Beth's cafe. Finish your description by citing mileage and time, comparing this to the ground covered by an adult caribou. Wonder if your pedometer is accurate, and check it against the car. Celebrate weight loss by hauling out ugly clothes that never fit before, and trying them on, hurrah. Contemplate killing yourself.
When it comes to science fiction, remain rock solid in your rejection of Orson Scott Card. Delany-worship, of course, remains essential. Profess utter ignorance of the Nebula winners, unless they happen to be at your dinner table. Then, tell them you read the graphic novel version. Avoid any involvement with the effort to bring Worldcon to Seattle, but fantasize about what restaurants you'd go to. Develop an elaborate block-voting plan for the Hugos, then forget to mail in your ballot.
Still, you remain intrigued. Check to see which downtown hotels allow cats. Allow as how you might be interested in joining the big con committee, if you can run cat-programming, despite your allergies. Remind the guy with the ceramics that cats have allergies too.
Contemplate leaving fandom for many years, but find the compulsion hard to break. Repeatedly threaten to move to Borneo, but cancel your flight when you learn they have no Birkenstock outlet (or Ikea). Only by immersing yourself in something even more baroquely all-consuming, like the Fremont Arts Council or neurolinguistic programming, are you likely to escape. Or, see option one.
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