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Duckon - Eric's House Of Ego
July 3rd, 2010
07:45 pm

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Duckon
I suppose I have to put forward my thoughts on Duckon.

I got there late, so some of this is what I heard, not what I saw. My final conclusions are my opinions, not of anyone else.

First of all the Dandelion Wine CD release party. From what I heard, this was cleared with the concom. The concom came and shut it down.

The wife of next years con chair came out of the main room and told Megan that she had the right to tell Jan to go fuck herself and was going to tell other concom members that they had her permission to do so. This in a public space.

None of the folks who Jan had arranged to have badges had badges. When I got there on Saturday this was still not straightened out. I know Jan, she gets her info in early.

For the record, I also made Megan cry, this when one of her staff was doing the worst job of running sound I have ever seen at a con, this the day after all of the sound issues were solved. I had watched poor Scott Snyder struggle through a set, little did he know that the sound guy was doing is best to make sure that he sounded even worse than he did (he had throat problems). The idgit was mixing the sound by sitting 10 feet in front of one of the PA speakers. It sounded fine where he was, it sounded like crap everywhere else in the room. When it was obvious that this was going to be the case for Talis (the big name filker from the UK) I spoke up ... fervently (you all know how I can be), and the guy finally did a half way decent job. Halfway. I am by no means a professional sound guy, but I could have solved any of the problems they were having at that moment in a verse and a chorus. This guy simply didn't want to. He also talked on his cel phone, and at one point in Talis's concert carried on a full voice conversation 15 feet from her. At that point I snapped and got Megan's attention and mouthed at her to tell him to SHUT THE FUCK UP. She told him (a little more politely I would guess) and he came over to me all pumped up and said, in a nice macho aggressive way "IS THERE A PROBLEM". "Yeah, you are talking during someone's show, it's rude". Since it was obvious that I was not afraid of him, he walked away.

After that show Megan took me and Gundo aside and told us that the powers that be had told her that Toyboat was to have no sound support, this for an electric band. She told us that she was going to do it anyway.

I'd like to say for the record that I think Megan did the best she could, but that she was thrown into the deep end with no way of getting out. I feel terrible for her. She's a long standing member of the WSPA and one of "my kids". I think the way she was treated was shameful. But not the way she was treated by Jan, that was just Jan's natural frustration at the behaviour of the concom. Unfortunately Megan got the brunt of it.

Now for my opinions on this ...

Now the concom is doing it's best to make Jan look bad, to save their asses. Filk was a target that weekend. Jan had a lot of power, and that had been upsetting some of the folks on the concom. They took a bad moment and used it to get rid of her, but if you look at what happened that weekend, it is Jan who is owed an apology.

As for the future of Duckon filk. It's dead kids, you killed it. I feel bad for Gary, FINALLY a GOH next year (bout time that a major con did this, he's brilliant), but who is going to be there to see him. There is no major filker who will touch Duckon now and there is no one who could bring anyone in who will take the job. The word is already going through the community that one of the most beloved figures in the community was treated abysmally. And she was.

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From:salexa
Date:July 4th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
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Thank you for presenting what you saw. I had not heard of some of this, though I had gotten rumor of Jan being let go. It sounds like an ugly situation all around.

If anyone is interested, the con chair of Duckon 20 has a message about this at http://www.duckon.org/.
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From:ladypoetess
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
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I find the most interesting part of that message the request at the end to email him if you find people "being nasty" about this whole debacle. Right. *eyeroll*
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From:born_to_me
Date:July 4th, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
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Thank you for this Eric. I wanted to comment with something I said in my own locked journal.

Sadly it is in the best interest of a lot of people to paint Jan in as black a light as possible. They seem to hope that they can get people who would ordinarily support her to instead turn against her. I don't see that happening.

All this is ugly and has been brewing for some time. A lot of it stems from things pointing (by word and deed of the Powers That Be) to filk as it has existed being targeted for extermination. I can't say that I blame Jan for being cranky. I've never once said Jan might not have been cranky - I didn't see it, but it's very possible. If there wasn't an agenda against her and her filk track, it would have all been overlooked. God knows I've known people who make their life's work being nasty and objectionable who stay in power at cons for years - and Jan is a wonderful person who typically is sunny and fun to be with. Her frustrations were hardly enough to get noticed in most circles - unless, as I said, there's an agenda.

Firing Jan in the ugly (and questionable) manner that they did is what has caused the problem, that and smearing the conversation all over the front page of the Duck homepage, and other folks lashing out at her other places. If it had all been handled differently this could have been avoided and I think Duckon Filk could have been salvaged. They didn't, and I don't think it can be now. Honestly, I don't think they want it to be.

Will filk continue? Sure. Where there is a con there are always filkers. However, I don't think that the serious filk musicians will touch Duck with a ten foot pole for a long, long time. If the concom wants a bunch of random people sitting in a big circle singing songs out of Rise Up Singing, that's certainly what they're getting. If they didn't want that, they had a chance to do different.
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From:spiritdance
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:52 am (UTC)
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Is there more under tighter lock than what I've seen? (mid-day yesterday)
From:hms42
Date:July 4th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the warning about Duckon. I was thinking about attending it next year, when I finally had the time available to pull a quick trip off (2 weeks before Contata), now I won't. I'll use the weekend to prep for Contata instead.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:July 4th, 2010 05:23 am (UTC)
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As it stands right now, Toyboat will be at Contata.
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From:dave_ifversen
Date:July 4th, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
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As for the future of Duckon filk. It's dead kids, you killed it.

Killed it - hell, they took off and nuked it from orbit, just to be sure.
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From:born_to_me
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
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You caused cats to flee the room when I started shrieking with laughter at that one, Dave. ;-)
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From:ladypoetess
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
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This makes me really sad. I didn't get to go to Duckon this year, but it has been one of my favorite cons for over a decade. It was my first ever convention when I was 17, and it's what drew me into the convention circuit. Over the last 2-3 years, I've found a 'home' within the con world in the filk area, and the fact that what was my favorite con has had such an awful thing with the filkers makes me quite sad.

I am, however, very glad to know about this. Thank you, Eric.
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From:born_to_me
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
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(totally OT, but *icon love*)
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From:lisagems
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC)
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Ah, so, by giving Duckon a pass this year I missed further politics and power struggles. Gee. Dont *I* feel sad.

The power struggles with Jan and the "rest of concom" have been going on for several years. Nobody could come up with a reasonable way to express their objections, they would only complain in general terms and point fingers. Had Jan gotten a little, 'I'm BNF' and I can do what I want'? Honestly, sometimes, yes. Did anybody,at all, deal with it in a reasonable manner, ever? Nope.

It a shame that such things boil up to this point, but it is how Duckon has handled most of it's perceived problems. Furries, art show, critter crunch, now filk.

Wonder who's next on this list.


Edited at 2010-07-04 03:08 am (UTC)
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From:rose1thorn
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
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"Wonder who's next on this list."


Well, since they got rid of (e.g. forced out, fired, or parties resigned of their own accord) pretty much everyone who isn't "their" people over the past year and a half or so, I don't think I don't think anyone else is really on the list.
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From:spiritdance
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
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I've been composing email to a rather large portion of the concom mailing list (having gotten the impression that if I send it to one address, it's likely to disappear in the electrons). Hell, I'm debating about posting to LJ at this point, with links to it from my other online accounts.

I've gotten thru Friday, so far. Over 2 pages in Word, single spaced, on the first pass. I'm working on making it more concise.

I think I should break it down a bit more succinctly for them.

Memberships x4 $240 (two were full childcare memberships)
Hotel approx $200
Meals at hotel $90
Money spent in the dealers room: $400, give or take.
Total spent at/on the con: Close to $1000, not counting travel, time off work, meals outside the hotel, etc


How much will I spend at/on Duckon next year? $0

Do I honestly think the conchair or his staff give a damn? Nope.

Good luck, they've managed to kill it off.
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From:born_to_me
Date:July 4th, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
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There are a lot more people that will take their dollars elsewhere, but I agree, I don't think the concom gives a damn. I think they're aiming for a "younger, hipper crowd" and perhaps us old music-loving fogies with kids are cramping their style. Ah well... we can find other places to play, eh?
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From:kyril
Date:July 4th, 2010 05:58 am (UTC)
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I'd been going to say that having the Dead Duck party in function space instead of the rather cramped-for-so-many-people suite upstairs was a great improvement.

Now I don't know where to send that comment. I am glad to hear of MuseCon next year, that may be a place to go instead?
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From:kyril
Date:July 4th, 2010 07:37 am (UTC)
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Oh, one other thing...during Tom Smith's concert, a cell phone rang audibly. Guess who it was? Yup, the sound guy. Tom called him on it, and Megan promptly defended him.

I think I'm going to wait until March and see how things are after the drama settles down.
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From:wyld_dandelyon
Date:July 4th, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
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Duckon has been my ideal convention for years--a really good writing track and really good filk.

This is so sad.

Edited at 2010-07-04 09:50 am (UTC)
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From:stevieannie
Date:July 4th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much for posting this - I'd read so many polite references to things that had happened that I'd wondered what the truth was.

I'm completely shocked at Toyboat being threatened with no PA - what the ...?

I also just went to read the "message" from the next ConChair, and was frankly appalled by his lack of professionalism - naming and blaming people who have no way of defending themselves? Disgusting behaviour. And as for the comment about seeing the con as more than a vehicle for filk - well surely that's the whole *point* of being a stream head? You are responsible for doing the best job for your stream as possible!

I can only imagine that they've hurt themselves in this way - anyone with even a passing acquaintance with Jan knows her to be unfailingly honest, pleasant and straightforward in her dealings, and thankfully people listening to shitty sound generally know that it's shitty sound, not shitty performance.

Bring Toyboat to England! We have equipment and friendly sound engineers! We'll be nice to you...
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From:ericcoleman
Date:July 4th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
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We're thinking about it ... it's awfully pricey to do though.
(Deleted comment)
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From:janeg
Date:July 4th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
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We had two wonderful Duckons and then this - wonderful still because of Talis, Scott, friends and music but marred by con politics and incompetence. I would have loved to finally meet Nate but if it's good-bye Jan then it's good-bye Duckon. There were 8 Canadians there this year (not counting Graham). I don't think any of the six from Ontario will be back; don't know about the other two.

Yes, the function space for the Dead Duck was a good move. It was a wonderful Dead Duck. They probably don't need space for next year.

I feel sorry for Nate and Louie as well as Gary.
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From:dave_ifversen
Date:July 4th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
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There is probably some question now as to the fate of the guest status of the Filk Fund guests - the DucKon Filk Fund was promoted and run pretty much exclusively by Jan. I heard that the fund was pretty much depleted this year by expenses incurred. Without Jan to tirelessly promote and replenish the fund, it will probably languish and disappear. That would mean the con would have to cough up the money to cover the Filk Fund guests - something I suspect they won't be willing to do...
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From:daddy_guido
Date:July 4th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)

Interesting

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I'm not a filker - I did not attend Duck this year (have not, in fact, for several years) and I have no idea what actually happened this year.

However, in the true spirit of internet discussion, I'm not willing to let my ignorance prevent me from making a comment :)

I have run several departments at cons. I have chaired a large regional. I have served on the board of the same large regional. Often. During the year I chaired, one of my inexperienced department heads "fired" someone that I had installed to help them. I read that person the riot act about how you don't "fire" a volunteer, and certainly not during an event. I had several folks working for me that could have performed more efficiently, or followed my instructions more closely, etc. but at the end of the day, I got more than my money's worth out of every one of them, and our issues were dealt with "offstage" after the event.

One of my concom is unlikely to ever serve as a department head again, based on their performance that year. No one will ever hear from me in a public forum who that person is.

As for the "filk is dead" comment - that seems unlikely. I have seen con-drama over the years for a variety of departments at a number of cons, and they somehow always recover, eventually. This situation seems particularly volitile, so it might take a number of years.
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From:born_to_me
Date:July 4th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

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I wish this had been handled as professionally as you've handled such things. Alas.

I don't think anyone would ever say filk in the general sense is dead at Duck. As I've said elsewhere, wherever there are fen there will be filk. I believe (not putting words in Eric's mouth) the prevailing sentiment is that with this ugly firing and smearing the phenomenal and filk-world renowned track built and nurtured by Jan is dead - and it's unlikely to revive again to that extent... and if it does, it will certainly be years from now.
(Deleted comment)
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From:pocketnaomi
Date:July 4th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry to hear that there was trouble. All I'd heard were happy conreps by Talis and a few others, and I'm a bit aghast to learn there was all this going on beneath the surface.

I've never been to DuckCon, and I've heard very good things about it, especially its filk. We were thinking about going next year. Despite being very fond of Gary and his music, we'll be much more cautious, and I thank you for the warning.

I am not entirely surprised to hear that there's been conflicts involving Jan. I've worked with her in an informal capacity when she was running filk for Chicon several years ago, and saw both the good and bad aspects... I can understand how she can do an excellent job in some ways and also how she can drive people crazy. But I do think there are proper and improper ways to handle stuff like that, and it doesn't sound as if it were handled well.
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From:wormquartet
Date:July 5th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
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Ugh. This all sounds aggravating. I've always liked Duckon.

-=ShoEboX=-
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From:msminlr
Date:July 5th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)

Well, this simplifies my life

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I've been trying to figure out how I might make it to DuckCon one of these Junes, against a lot of competition:

My daughter's birthday that has been being in the week following Duck
ApolloCon in Houston TX that is usually only about 2 weeks from Duck
National Emergency Services Academy Civil Air Patrol courses that usually lap over the weekend of Duck.

Now I've apparently only got three things to choose among next year.
Eric Coleman, Curmudgeon Powered by LiveJournal.com