Letters 

Week of November 3, 2004

Cover Our Ass
We Heart Julia: I found the cover of the RFT's October 20 issue repugnant and dirty. Have you no sense of morals or values? My four-year-old daughter could have nightmares of nerds dressed as Vulcans! The portly and unsightly man/alien pictured is simply revolting. I have told everyone I have ever known to stop reading the RFT because of this filthy and sordid cover picture.
Julia Nelson
St. Louis

The Geeks' Revenge
We Heart Holly: I was an attendee of Archon ["Geeks Gone Wild", October 20] this year (my third Archon). I was also the Wonder Woman featured in the bottom corner picture on the cover. I was surprised and thrilled to see myself there.

I was also very happy with the article, which spoke honestly and truthfully about the convention and didn't paint it any weirder than it really is. It's not easy to make this four-day festival of dorkiness into something that just anyone could comprehend, but somehow Mike Seely made it seem okay.
Holly Hamel
St. Charles

We Heart Anne Rice: I read with interest Mike Seely's rather unflattering article about Archon. For nearly twenty years, I was a St. Louis-based attorney and fortunately, some good friends turned me on to Archon in the early 1980s. I have been a faithful Archon attendee ever since. Even after moving to Massachusetts, where I now reside, to pursue a writing career, I still journey back to St. Louis to attend this event. It is populated by brilliant, creative, imaginative, tolerant, fun people with obvious senses of humor.

True, many of us do not fit the mainstream notions of beauty or cultural poise. However, we are writers, authors, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, singers, sculptors and journalists. We should all remember that before her gastric operation, Anne Rice was a fat woman. Mr. Seely would call her a fat schleb, no doubt, choosing to overlook her accomplishments.

Many of us who attend Archon have been shunned in the mainstream world for one reason or another, whether it be because we are fat, smart, nerdy, imaginative or because we know how to read. I was relieved when I first found Archon: Having been a Trekkie most of my life, a fan of the Conan novels, and a Star Wars fan, I thought that I was all alone. When I came to Archon, I found my subculture and my family. The friends made at Archon and in the larger subculture of fandom have been with me for over 25 years: through fat times, lean times, through sickness, through tragedy and through personal triumph.

Mr. Seely shows numerous personal biases in his coverage of Archon, but I am particularly concerned that he accuses parents who bring their children to this event as being guilty of not giving their children a chance at being mundane first. In Mr. Seely's world, it must be perfectly acceptable to propagandize children into making mainstream choices. Had he asked a few more questions, he would have discovered that there are plenty of children of con parents who have chosen to be Mundanes. It is certainly obvious that Mr. Seely has chosen to be a Mundane, as well.

Next year, please send Mr. Seely somewhere else to cover a more boring event. It will be exactly what he can handle.
Dana D. Eilers
Chathamport, Massachusetts

We Heart Harlan Ellison: Mike Seely's story on Archcon states that WorldCon in 1969 was awash in pot and acid and thousands of people were camping out in Forest Park. Sorry, the total attendance of St. LouisCon was only 1,800, of which number I was one. Drug use was not conspicuous, although I did see one joint smoked while Harlan Ellison was giving a speech. No one wore hall costumes in those days.

That convention did have horrible problems, from hostile elevator operators to angry registration clerks, mostly because they were in the midst of a labor dispute. Ill treatment by the hotel plus typically awful St. Louis weather made the veterans of St. LouisCon ever after feel they'd already "served their time in Hell." Nevertheless, I kept going to WorldCons for another twenty years and became a professional writer from the contacts made there.
Sandra Miesel
Indianapolis, Indiana

We Heart FOX News: If Mike Seely was trying to impress the minions at FOX News with that effort, he succeeded brilliantly.

The tripe you wrote was not only unfair, unbalanced and inaccurate (regarding some of the historical facts surrounding the 1969 World SF Convention), it offended me as a writer and as a proud member of fandom for 28 years.

Your article was also sloppily written, sexist and showed a thinly veiled contempt for its subjects. Yeah, people like to dress in costumes, drink and cavort at conventions; most like-minded people who gather together do. But one thing Archon was not was a 72-hour romp through Sodom and Gomorrah. Check some of the programming items that were offered: Self-Promotion and Publicity for Artists, The Well-Read Fan, Prejudices We Haven't Thought of...Yet and America's Best Comics.

By reporting only the most outrageous behavior and quotes, inferring that we are all overweight, unattractive oversexed "geeks," pandered to the very worst stereotypes the general public has of SF and fantasy readers and fans.

Good luck at FOX News; they obviously need your kind of journalistic "help." Yeah, right.
Chris M. Barkley
Middletown, Ohio

We Heart all kinds: While admittedly so there is a lot of partying at Archon, there are a lot of things that are taken very seriously. Most everyone has a hobby of some sort. Be it cars, fishing, model building -- the list could go on and on.

For quite a few of us, though, in the costuming aspect of things, Archon can be the culmination of a year or more work on a costume. Archon's masquerade is one of the most professional and top-ranked in the costuming world, and while there are some acts that go at it as fun, others have painstakingly researched the character or costume that they present in their one minute of fame on the masquerade stage. Some have spent a sizable amount of money and hours constructing their entry. For a lot of us, the Archon masquerade is the World Series of convention masquerades. We do take it very seriously.

It does take all kinds to make up sci-fi fandom, just as it takes all kinds to make up any group. You have some of your more reserved members and some of your more outgoing and raucous members as well. No group of many should be judged by a few.

For myself, sci-fi is an escape from my 9-to-5 job of doing data entry. I sit and stare at a screen in what could be considered a very mundane and boring life. The weekend of Archon is one of the few times I can actually go have fun and get out of the binds of normalcy of a desk job. How many will go fishing, go to an auto race, or any other event over a weekend and not relax and let go? Isn't that the point of doing something different on a weekend?

While there is a large amount of partying that goes on at Archon, there are a lot of other things that go on that aren't. Archon has always been a fun and relaxing weekend with friends. Isn't that something we all need in our lives?
Christopher "Tyger" Roth
St. Louis

We said we Heart FOX News: It's a shame that with all of the access Mike Seely had to Archon 28, the best article he could write about the convention was the snarky, condescending hatchet job that appeared as your cover story. The overemphasis on the partying obscures the more worthwhile aspects of fandom at Archon.

Archon is much more than drunken, hedonistic geeks, and with a little effort Mr. Seely could have uncovered these facts: Archon sponsors a charity art auction each year; the Archon Masquerade has been the starting point for several local fans who are now working in LA as F/X artists; programming has included topics on cryptography, Egyptology, feasible alternatives to fossil fuel and other worthwhile non-frivolous topics; Archon has hosted writers' workshops that have helped jumpstart local writers; Archon has showcased writers that were superstars (Stephen King) or just starting out who later became well known in the field (Joe Haldeman, George R.R. Martin, C.J. Cherryh).

Oh well, when Mr. Seely decides to move on from the Riverfront Times, perhaps he can find a job as a spinmeister at one of the national political parties or as a reporter for FOX News.
Jim and Donna Bakke, chairs
Archon 5, 6 , 7 and 8
University City

Beenie There
The big Beenie picture, Take 1: Thank you for shedding light on an issue that is misunderstood by people who have only a superficial view of it [Erik K. Arnold, "Chi-Chi Man Eye for the Straight Guy," October 20]. I don't condone persecution of anyone for their beliefs, and as a result those who oppose homosexuality shouldn't be condemned for doing so.

As for the advocacy of violence, I am strongly against that and will say that dancehall can and should do more to cleanse itself of this plague. However, dancehall is a subculture of a larger culture, and the factors that shape and influence that breeding culture cannot be ignored. It's those shaping factors that some people overlook.
John Dean
Oakville

The big Beenie picture, Take 2: I am a Jamaican woman who has been following this issue of gays vs. deejays, and I must commend your paper for showing a different side of the argument. Thanks much.
Yolande Gyles
Kingston, Jamaica

Erratum
In last week's installment of Radar Station, we gave an incorrect Web address for Gateway to a Cure. The correct address is www.gatewaytoacure.org.

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