Among the fallout from my trip to Austin last October was an invitation to join Pat Mueller and Edd Vick on their drive to Cincinnati to plug Dallas for Corflu, with crash space in the bargain. No fool me, I accepted.
As fortune would have it, a local radio station was doing a live remote from the local comedy club the same morning as I was leaving, with breakfast in the bargain. Ah, I decided, what a send-off. As I walked in I heard the deejay saying, "With us this morning is Lisa, one of the dancers from the Naked Harem," and I suspected I had made a wise decision. A couple of champagne-and-orange-juice mimosas later, I was pretty sure of it.
On my way to the Airport I stopped off at a Pic 'n' Save store and discovered the ideal companion for my travels: a 15-cent pocket-sized notebook with a cover that closes before striking. Throughout the weekend, I kept whipping out these little jobbies and scribbling down notes, no doubt causing some to wonder if their tongues had been wagging just a tad too freely. To date, I have yet to misplace a single one of these notepads, unlike my infamous notes on LoneStarCon...
I settled in for a doze on the 10 a.m. flight, and roused myself on arrival at D-F/W, my all-time favorite way station. Pat was waiting at the gate, with tales of how Edd had fried the F.A.C.T. e-stenciller, aggravating the rush to get another issue of the Inquirer before Aggiecon. "Gee," I said, "I can't remember the last time anyone was crazy enough to put out two issues in the same mouth..."
We spent the better part of an hour driving across Dallas, with me gawking at all the greenery, and wound up at the home of Edd Vick in bustling downtown Richardson. Edd admitted us into an apartment piled high with shelves and closets full of books, comics, and hi-tech electronics; not too bad, Edd felt, considering held moved in a month ago and was relocating to Seattle in another month or so. Ah, a man of divided loyalties.
And they're off! Pat and I sat in the front of her trusty little diesel, which would burn up all of $20 worth of fuel between Dallas and Cincy; Edd sat in back with the cooler and a perilously tottering pile of travel necessities, chucking tapes into his ghetto blaster and working on the script for a comic. We were wracking our brains for a good word to describe the creation of a galactic order; when I suggested "promulgated," Edd leaped on it like a duck on a June bug.
Pat, consuming Diet Cokes in inverse proportion to her car's mileage, was trying to remember exactly what route we followed. "I think 30 turns into 40, which turns into 75."
"I'd rather not hear about 30 turning into 40 turning into 75, thank you. Not this month." We whiled away the time picking apart billboards ("Do you really want your country defended by someone whose motto in 'Aim High?"' Pat wonders), and coming up with moneymaking schemes like plastic Jesus car air fresheners, and hashing out fan politics. Pat was hoping Mike Glyer's idea of abbreviating the Inquirer as "Texfink" really wouldn't catch on...
Tennessee welcomed us with one of our obligatory rest stops, where Edd was delighted to find a tourist publication "promulgated" by the state. As we drove further into the night, signs started getting stranger: like "Big Bone Lick State Park." As we passed the sign for Horse Cave, I wondered aloud if that was home to Eyorehippus--"you know, like in the Clan of the Pooh Bear..."
Somewhere in the night we encountered sleet, which turned into snow, which turned into a formal protest to be lodged with Mr. Bowers. Seems last year Bill and Pat found themselves at the Falls Church airport in a blizzard with no reliable airport shuttle available. A reliable shuttle was one of Bill's priorities this year. Another waa moving Corflu back from February to April, and you can see how well that worked out.
I flirted with sleep all night--actually, it was no less satisfying than a lot of flirtations I enjoyed--and morning found me watching icy rivulets cut their way into the sheer rock faces of the Kentucky cliffs.
The snow was on hiatus as we made our way past the marvelous another-time architecture of Cincinnati. We made our way over the Ohio and up the perilously steep driveway to Bowers' apartment complex--thank God the snow had stopped--and parked in front of the address of the man himself. Bill welcomed three road-beaten fans into an apartment even more crammed with stuff than Edd's, if such a thing is possible. One shelf is piled high with his electronic toys (behind the shelf it's Patch Cord City), and while we rested he amused us running tapes of such stuff as Max Headroom and Larry Tucker's "FAANS" and old Bill Bowers speeches. We also took in dinner at a genial diner in the neighborhood, where Bill wondered why I was much a nice guy in Austin and was acting like this in another environment, whatever that meant. He also picked up on the fact that Pat kept assuming the take-charge role in our little group, something about which I'd ribbed her mercilessly all weekend. "Well, *huff* if no one else is going to make the decisions..."
After dark, Pat and Bill were in the kitchen, sloshing a tube of blue toner back and forth, trying to get the perfect cover for OUTWORLDS 49 to run off of Bill's new Canon copier. Yours truly opted to chase Little Nemo.
Friday morning found me up with the dawn as usual. Leaving the bathroom after my shower, I stumbled into a groggy Mr. Bowers. "May I offer you some vitamin C this morning, Bill?"
"No thanks. I'll be functional in two or three minutes."
He nodded. "Monday sounds good."
Pat, Edd and I trotted off for breakfast supplies, finding a market across the street from a car dealership named Sieve Pontiac. When we got back, Bill apologized for the fire alarm going off in the night. Pat stared at him in puzzlement. "What fire alarm?"
"We were waiting for the Second Coming alarm, Bill," I told him.
During preparations for breakfast, Edd asked Bill if we'd be collating OUTWORLDS at the convention. "Well, Pat said I could..."
Even though she said she doesn't indulge in breakfast herself, Pat was in the kitchen whipping out huge piles of bacon and omelets. My suggestion that she was obviously "Just here catering to every whim of the menfolk" got me a dish sponge across the face for my trouble.
While I was commencing hostilities on my second four-egg omelet, a knock came at the door. "I hope it's someone with an appetite," I said as I went to answer the door. Nope; it was Naomi Cowan, with her offspring, Laura and William. The kids went gaga over Bill's enormous collection of toys and Japanese models. They also revealed an intuitive graap of fandom. (Laura: "Where s the party?" Chanting in unison. "Par-tee! Par-tee!")
Bill gave us first crack at an envelope of Rotsler illos he'd be giving out at Corflu (and no, none of them are in this issue). He also attempted what Pat says longtime faneds are always doing: harrassing her by digging up her old cartoons and illos, the cad. (See anonymous inset, below.)
But to serious business: We loaded our vehicles to the hilt with paper, ink, machinery, supplies, food and drink, and party favors. Bill saw us off at the door: "Well, have fun running the con, guess I'll see you Monday," but we were having none of that. Off we went to the Quality Inn across the river in Covington, Kentucky, land of cheap liquor. Bill checked in at the desk, mingled with early arrivals, and discovered that despite instructions to block-book the Corflu guests, some were getting rooms 13 floors away from the action. The rest of us wandered around the first level, real nonchalant about the fact that Jerry Kaufman and Suzle were checking in, and discovered another significant tourist pamphlet: for nearby "Roscoe Village."
Jerry and Suzle eventually wander over. "Hi, Jerry," I said.
"Hi, Dennis," he replied.
I explained to Jerry that I'm filling in for Dennis this weekend. Pat told me later I was lucky that (a) she was conversing with someone else at the moment, and (b) she left that dish sponge back at Bill's apartment.
Way upstairs in our room, virtually next door to the two Con Suites (smoking and no-smoking), also virtually next door to good neighbors Jerry and Suzle. Just upstairs from that was the Mimeo Room, a large function space given over to a mimeo and electrostenciler (rented), tables and chairs for idle chitchat, and an ample fanzine sales/freebie table. Bill, checking with the hotel again, discovered one of the rooms in our block has had someone living in it for three months, and he may be reluctant to leave.
I wandered back and forth checking out the early action in the Con Suite(s). When I got back to the Mimeo Room, Pat was presiding over registration. "Your name, sir?"
"Richard Bergeron," I replied.
Seems after the previous year's Corflu, Bill approached Bergeron about doing this year's name badges, and he agreed. So each member got to wear a beautiful multicolored Bergeron silkscreen against a blue blackground. "In the fine tradition of having Bergeron's name on all Corflu nametags," as I observed. Pat's gold calligraphy pen was getting a brisk workout meeting requests to label members' badges, when in walked the criminally young Colin Hinz (who also beat me to Ken Josenhans' fanzine collection, the bounder).
"Aha," Pat all but leers,"we've been talking about you..."
Colin, taken unawares, reeled back. "What?"
This took some explaining. "Well, I knew I hadn't sent you any copies of my fanzine. But when you sent me a trade copy of NOVOID, your cover letter said something about 'dead presidents.' I wasn't sure where you would have picked up the reference. Then, I saw that the Texas SF Inquirer mentioned 'dead presidents' when they reprinted my Armadillocon report, so I figured you saw it there. But I just overheard you saying you haven't seen an Inquirer yet, so I was wondering..."
"0h," said Colin, "I saw you reviewed in NEOLOGY.
I glared at him. "In NEOLOGY?"
"Yeah. Oh, you should have gotten it. They obviously got yours..."
I gnashed my teeth. "This in happening to me all the time! I was explaining to Pat and Edd on the way up here, two different people have written me and told me they saw a review I got in an Australian fanzine..."
"0h," said Colin, "that would be THE SPACE WASTREL."
For once, I was speechless.
Through the day and into the evening, I mingled with folks I'd corresponded with over the years, and met some folks for the first time in any medium. Linda Bushyager and Leslie Smith were ferreting out contribs for DUPRASS; I finally met Ken Josenhans, who informed me I authored the first loc he received on his first fanzine. "Ah, Ken, let us be Old Farts together," but he demurred. Moshe Feder was autographing Bowers' SFBC book bag; Bill wasn't too keen on the "Love, Moshe" part. Arthur Hlavaty was nattering with anyone who'd ever been in an apa, anywhere. Dick and Leah Smith resurfaced, with horror tales of new house ownership to explain their absence from publishing. "There'll be an UNCLE DICK'S as soon as I have news," Dick promised. In fact, he had a one-sheet cranked out that weekend, even before Dick Lynch let him know how things in the Cult had heated up to lawsuit-fever pitch. "Tell me more!" Mr. Smith enthused.
In between her repeated tellings of "the saga of F.A.C.T. as a Punch-and-Judy show," Pat was helping Bill get the rented Gestetner up to working order. The Gestetner rep explained how everything worked, then stood by and watched as a stencil for OUTWORLDS 49 flew off the drum. While Pat was smoothing out the wrinkles, the Gestetner rep said, "If you can rescue that stencil, you've got a job."
A few minutes later, Pat was asking him if he knew of any openings in Dallas.
I met the amiable Geri Sullivan, the uncannily jovial rich brown, and the positively ebullient Vicki Rosenzweig, who said, "Anyone asks me who I am, I just go--Here!" and thrusts her fanzine at us.
"Why should you have to display your fannish credentials?" someone asked her. "Patrick isn't here." Velma Bowen choked on her drink, obviously getting more out of the reference than I did.
I decided to drop in on the Smoking suite and see how the other half lives. Inside, Lynn Hickman was holding forth with Art Widner on a variety of topics: How Philip Jose Farmer had just resigned from First Fandom; how Phil made a pilgrimage to the Arizona mountains just so he could stand on his head someplace where his Siamese cat wouldn't scratch his balls; and on hiding Jim Harmon from the police one Midwestcon until they could raise some bucks to pay for the door..."I tried sneaking him down the fire escape, and I thought we might make it until that searchlight came up from below ... " Lynn and I had a long chat on pulpish matters, and at some point Art was relieved by Roger "love-those-shoes" Sims, star of "FAANS." Lynn first met Roger at Nolacon, of course. "I enjoyed helping you clean up the puke."
Roger was already contemplating what to do for his GoH speech at Nolacon II next year. "I think I'll tell the story with a little embellishment..."
"What," says Lynn, "you're going to make the puke greener?"
"As I was saying, a good story can always use a little embellishment. Especially the part about what the boys were going to do with Lee Hoffman once they got the lights out."
Mike "not-a-member-I-just-live-in-the-neighborhood" Resnick dropped by, telling how such trouble be had getting an illustration of a chess game into one of his books. "The publishers were frantic because I didn't have the original. I just told them to do a continuous line cut, and it would come out fine. They had never heard of such a thing--I think even every fanzine editor knows what a continuous line cut is..." Roger: "What's a continuous line cut?"
Mike: (pause) "Roger, you asshole."
On that note, I turned in.
Saturday morning: Snow. And how. Kip Williams has suggested they change the name of this event to "White-Out." I strolled over to the Con Suite for something to wash down my vitamins; when I got back, I went out to the balcony to watch the fine white veil falling over the city. Pat came out of the bathroom and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw we come off the balcony; for a minute she thought I'd climbed up the side of the building.
Edd wandered in with a stunned look on his face. "Well, it finally happened. I went into the postcard shop downstairs, and the lady asked me what this all was, and I explained it was, oh, science fiction fans. She said, 'Oh, that Buck Rogers stuff!'"
Jerry and Suzle dropped in, since "three people are cleaning our room," and we all hop over to the con suite. Bruce Pelz, wearing a cross-stitched shirt that made him a walking anthology of fan art, was holding forth on con matters. We discussed how Texas is the only state that could hold a Westercon, a DeepSouthCon, and a Worldcon in the Central rotation zone. Actually, I told him, we were considering a Carlsbad Caverns bid ... "Oh, you don't want to have it in Carlsbad," Bruce told me. "It's a real hole."
Bill cornered me and asked if he was supposed to introduce me to Larry Tucker. Uh, could be...I was a potential second-stringer for Larry's video crew for the Living Fanzine. Nothing came of this, which was probably all for the best, as I had talked myself into the position of taking part in Saturday morning's program. Gulp.
We're dying on the fringes of the Great Midwest;
Sabu must tour or forever rest
Bill warned me I was on early in the program, so I should sit near the front. I found myself chatting with Vicki, Alan Rosenthal and Catherine Crockett, and Alyson Abramowitz. Alan was trying to describe my fanzine--"Frequent? My God, is it frequent!"--Amazing what a little stunt like publishing twice in one month will do to absolve a thousand fannish sins.
As it turns out, Bill had me scheduled as the second contributor to his Fiftieth OUTWORLDS, the live edition, following hard upon the heels of Art Widner. I'm not sure what went through the editorial brain as he decided to lead off with a venerable Grand Master and a rank neo such as yours truly. My own little talk referred to the novelty of selecting a Fan GoH via a process in which none of us exerted any influence--"sort of like getting nominated for a Fan Hugo"--and took off from there. People laughed in most of the right places (whew), although as I left the stage, one Mr. Bowers was heard to remark, "I didn't realize you published a fanzine, Richard. I thought you just ate all the food in my apartment..."
For my money, Arthur and Bernadette stole a11 our thunder with their audience-participation routine inspired by "The Saying of the Law" in The Island of Dr. Moreau. Bernadette's solo presentation, a serious discoure in the manner of an academic paper, may have left some fidgeting, although fellow conference speaker Bob Webber was heard to say he thought she was just warming up. Also drawing mixed reactions was Mr. Bowers' reading of a neoish letter dredged from the pages of an old issue of Amazing. Heaven only knows how Bill came into possession of such an artifact, although I understand Leah hasn't decided yet whether she's ever going to speak to me again...
A treat for me was what Kip called the "Cliff Notes" of the first living fanzine, the "Live Spaninq," with Jerry and Suzle restaging the famous trans-atlantic telepathy experiment with Peter Roberts. And afterwards, having a chance to chat with Ted White, who bemoaned, "One gets so few interesting fanzines these days. All I see anymore are things like..." Well, as I told him, I'm not about to say anything...
I finally met Dave Locke, after loccing and trading with his fanzines for a decade or so. "You two know each other?" Bowers inquired, startled. "You know," he said to Dave, "this kid just turned thirty years old, and he's hanging out in the park with girls half his age?"
"Hmmm," said Dave, giving each of us an appraising glance. Made me glad I hadn't said anything about the dashiki.
Steve Leigh and Al Curry were hosting a filkfest in the Smokers' Lounge. Upstairs, Kip was trying his hand at illustrating a reminisence of mine; it looked as if he'd been there. In a corridor, someone was telling Pat Mueller, "I bet that's not what they say to you back at the ranch," to which I replied, "What's that, Rancho Roneo?" Pat stopped me, preventing me from passing by and minding my own business, so she could commandeer my notepad and write this down. Otherwise, I wouldn't mention it, believe me. Yours truly, having sold off 18 back issues of the Light, corralled Bruce and Jerry and Edd and spent at least twice that much on old fanzines and stuff. I decided I'd better turn in while I was still solvent.
I went back to Ohio
But my city was gone
At Sunday's banquet, I sat surrounded by folks with mimeo ink in their veins: Tony Parker, Judith Beamis, Nicki & Dick Lynch, Cathy Doyle, Kip Williams, Pat Mueller. Pat told how she bad acquired a mimeo that was literally a museum piece. Dick and Nicki talked about their two Gestetner 360's--if a vital part goes down there will be no replacements. Twiltone is being phased out, too. "It's kind of sad," Judith said.
Indeed. So was listening to cornered fans having to explain why certain other fans were absent this weekend...Or hearing of cases where two sets of fans were avoiding each other, so neither of them showed up. We all come to fandom and discover a rare, wonderful community of like-minded souls, in the midst of a greater culture that won't quite assimilate us. After you've been here a while, though, you realize that whatever it is you've latched onto, it isn't safe haven.
So, when our Toastmaster, Taral, suggested "we should channel our energies not into bickering, but into art, writing and friendship," I heard remarks dismissing this as old Taral being serious and ponderous again. What are ya gonna do.
For the record, Seattle won the first contested Corflu bid--although it may not be the last--and the discovery that one vote had been split led Pat to suspect a "half-vote turncoat" in our midst. Ted was apparently a little startled at the plethora of names put forth as contenders for the last previous Past President of the fwa, but handled the election capably, meaning rich brown won. Joel Zakem won the drawing to be GoH, and alluded to his relative obscurity by quoting a Chinese fortune cookie he'd also drawn: "You are apt to be shy and retiring in a dignified way." Joel took the opportunity to thank all those who have kept sending him fanzines in the face of a daunting lack of response. Which reminds me that one of the nice things about Corflu is getting feedback on your zines from folks who don't necessarily find the time to respond by mail.
As Leah Zeldes-Smith noted in her speech, "It goes to show you how ephemeral fandom is. Unlike letters published in ten-year-old prozines..."
And speaking of ephemera, before I left Dave Locke passed on this fatherly advice to me: "Did you know if you're reading a really faded dittozine, and you spill root beer on it, it suddenly becomes darker and easy to read?" Ah, Harry Andruschak has been preserved for the ages.
We would talk through the night about what we would do
if we just could get started
David and David
Back on the road to Dallas, Pat, Edd and I were kicking around ideas for fanarkles, and layout (Pat: "You should put three letters inside one of your black boxes!" "Why?" "So you can have a three-loc box!"), and the perks of married life ("I'm waiting for the paper anniversary. I expect reams!"), when Pat noted, "I think this explains the metamorphosis of a lot of genzines. I think a lot of these great ideas for fanarticles come up on road trips. And everybody flies anymore..."
This article was originally going to get real maudlin by the time I cut it short, but no sooner had I finished drafting it than I got a phone call from Edd Vick, passing through El Paso on his way to Seattle. Edd dropped over and told me about his new place, which shares a building with a German deli and a yoga studio, and is six blocks from a potential Corflu site.
And we all have our memberships in Corflu V.
Letters | Back Page | Front | Index | Home