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Eric's House Of Ego
July 11th, 2010
07:47 pm


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My final conclusions
I wrote this the other day, and it sizes up all of the conversations I have had with a lot of people this week. I'm terrified that there are some who will take this as a betrayal of the Filk Community. It is not. It is trying to make some sense, and find the truth in all of what happened at Duckon. Many of the folks involved have seen this, some of them have commented. The one thing I ask is that you keep this thread to trying to find ways to set things right. If you want to say "he/she did this" please go back to the previous threads.


I started out angry, like most people I know. I posted some angry things. I started getting comments in return. Some agreeing with me, some aghast at what happened, some from folks on the other side. And those comments were reasonable. So I started listening. I kept a hard line, but I listened. I dug into what was being said. I want information. I want to know what is going on. It is a mania of mine. I hate not knowing everything. Anytime I go on one of these crusades, and I do more often than is good for me, I know that I will come out the other side with a very different point of view than I started with.

I have talked to an awful lot of people the last week. I've heard a lot of points of view from both sides. These are my conclusions and do not reflect the opinions of anyone else. I'm trying to look at it from all angles. This has proved to be tricky.

First of all the issue of Jan and her termination. This will not be a popular opinion, but I feel that it has to be said. Jan acted horribly to Megan, on mike, on film, so there is no doubt about that, and I am afraid that, as I say that, a lot of the filk community will see that as a betrayal. She got fired and I can't, as someone who has been some sort of a performer for 35+ years now, disagree with the decision. You just don't do that.

The thing is I am also going to go into the con's mistakes. The fact that next years con chair posted his opinions on the front page of the website (it is now on an inner page) is what drove this thing through the roof, and got me going to start with. But the more I look at it, the "sinister plot to dethrone Jan" looks more and more like typically badly run con BS. Things happened, things went wrong. There is no doubt that Jan steps over a lot of boundaries, she is not a particularly politic person and has tunnel vision, which is what makes her an excellent department head, that is what makes the department she runs such a party and I will always go to her party if I possibly can. She is so passionate about what she does. Combine that with just a lot of bad luck and things going to hell, Jan blew up and ended up getting fired.

Jan has apologized, perhaps too late, but has and has owned up to her bad behavior. I have talked to next years con chair have said that the con needs to do the same. I posted some things a week or so ago, I addressed a lot of the problems in my FB page and David did come and answer most of my questions. He understands that he has handled this badly. I'm not saying reinstate Jan, but everyone needs to own up to what went wrong. She saw her department falling apart around her and went after the nearest suspect. People panic. Was it the right behavior … no. Was it typical human behavior … yes.

David acted well within his powers, and for good reason. The manner in which he did it, and then commented on it later was, in my opinion, as bad as what Jan did. Just as you do not call out your tech crew onstage, you do not call out members of your concom on the front page of the website. He regrets that to a very large degree. It was not how he meant it to be but we are a culture that tends to lack filters.

I see a lot of comments about never going to Duckon again. That can only hurt all of us. Most of the rest of the world thinks we're a bunch of weirdos and dammit, we are! But we're a small community. There are really not that many of us worldwide. I see so many people say "I hate >>put fannish category here<<. Fine, but it still belongs in fandom, because we are a small community. I didn't really get it till I heard Tom Smith call an audience "MY TRIBE". We're family here and families tend to squabble. We can't afford to splinter. The factions need to come together, not walk away from each other.

Some personal notes.

Megan took what I said as a direct attack on her. Looking back she had good reason to do so. This hurt her very much. I get so focused on things sometimes that I act in wildly insensitive ways. This was one of those times. I am so sorry. I acted like an idiot, I should not have said the things I said in public without talking to her first. I hope that you can forgive me, even if it is more than I deserve. You are just like one of my kids and I love you and I am always proud of you. You did the best you could in an impossible situation. I am shamed by my behavior. It goes back to that lack of filters thing.

Ann, I owe you so many apologies I don't know where to begin. I deserved everything you said to me Wednesday. Every word of it. I also said some terrible things about you in my FB page. Some in anger, some in a pathological need to be too fucking clever. Several years ago you saved my life. I have repaid you terribly. I hope that someday we can repair our friendship. If we can't it's because I don't deserve it.

David/Slayer … I asked you a question that no one should ever ask a married man. We have already talked about it, and chuckled our way through it. Consider it a dumb ass moment.

Back to the subject.

We all need to step up and own up to our screw ups. Things went wrong, badly wrong. There were bad things said, bad decisions made, and a lot of hate being thrown around. We are geeks together, we are artists together, we need to come together, not keep sniping at each other. We all need to be grownups and try to fix what happened.

I will be at Duckon next year. I hope that a lot of you will too. I hope that Jan will. We need to stick together, not fall apart.


(13 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
Thank you, Eric. Because of your work on this as well as the letter from Slayer that you posted I've had to reassess and change my opinion on things as well. I was angry, I said angry things, I jumped to some conclusions that turned out false. My plan is to be back at Duck next year, and I'm glad of that. The reason I attend conventions is the music, so knowing that filk will be an important part of Duck next year helps me a lot.

If I offended or hurt anyone with anything I said, I am sorry.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC)
My take on the whole situation has been to wait until cooler heads prevailed, as very few good decisions are made in the heat of emotion (anything from "Get out of my sight!" in the heat of anger to "Marry me!" in the heat of... something else). This is one of the first posts I've seen that didn't have some immediacy of emotion in it, which is a good thing.

Yes, there were problems between filk and sound. Much of that was due to problems within sound - it was not the most organized crew in the world (myself included) and having a major sound system delivered to the crew without having been set up didn't help. But the greater problem was the displays of emotion in the process of dealing with the situation. Do I expect people to always behave dispassionately? No, but being aware of one's mental state and adjusting accordingly helps.

I plan on attending Duckon 20, as I have never missed one. And I think that once people cool down, there will be a number that will ultimately choose to attend. And, unfortunately, some that won't. I agree that, because we are a small community, we cannot afford to splinter.

[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
Thank you for doing the, I am sure frustrating and fraught job of following this through for everyone in the community.

Having missed most of the drama in person I have been trying to figure out what actually happened. Your posts both here and on facebook (and the subsequent comments) have been very useful in parsing the situation.

[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
Thank you for that, Eric... I can't imagine that that was an easy post to write.

I wasn't there this year. I had planned to be, but my truck had other ideas and blew an alternator nine hours before I was due to leave for Chicago. (Thankfully, it has impeccable timing... it could have stranded me halfway there in the 95-degree heat. Instead, I had a chance to drive it to my friendly neighborhood mechanic.) Since I wasn't there, I can't comment on what happened at the con. I do think some things (the public excoriation of Jan on the Duckon website, etc.) were badly handled afterwards.

One of the first things I learned as a manager was this... "Praise in public... reprimand in private." Not always easy, but so very important.

Will I be back at Duck next year? Who knows. It's been my "every other year or so" Chicago con for awhile, for a variety of reasons. Given Slayer's comment that they're looking for a new hotel... possibly. I wasn't fond of the old hotel after they quit allowing pets. We'll see if the new hotel is pet-friendly. I do hope that filk has a solid presence next year, though, if for no other reason than that mofilker deserves better. He's a great guy, and he'll be a great filk GOH for Duckon.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Travel to out of state cons is kind of a big investment for me. This year, I did GAFilk, Conflikt, Consonance, FKO, Westerconchord, and I'm booked for the NASFiC, Worldcon and OVFF. There are no good filk cons anywhere near where I actually live. Next year, everything is up in the air depending on how much I'm able to supplement my retirement income with side stuff. If I'm picking out a new con for filk, I want it to be a sure thing. There are a small handful of gencons with a good rep for filk, and Duckon was always one of them. I hope it stays that way, but I'm thinking if by some chance I do have it in my budget to try a new con next year, it just might be Fencon.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)

I will be there

actually i always intended to go. they can take away a lot of concerts, they can give us bad sound systems, they can be unorganized. i have yet seen a con who can eliminate an open filk. whether or not i am involved with duck, i will still be doing The Filk Fund, and i might even bring snacks to open filk.

when all is said and done DucKons open filks rock!

I so appreciate everyone who has attended DucKon and have helped what my team has built.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
Thank you, Eric. This and your post relaying Slayer's message are cause for optimism - besides what Jan wisely says here in her comment.

Next year's filk guests at Duck deserve every support, and the filk track will at heart be what it always was - the combined talents and goodwill of those who attend it, whether as veterans or as I-popped-by-on-the-way-somewhere-and-stayed.

I hold both Jan and Slayer in considerable respect and affection. Both were under enormous pressures and both were at times at the mercy of events. I was half of at least one conversation that could have resulted in a stand-up blazing row had my conversational partner been less gracious and measured.

I believe that next year's convention will give everyone the opportunity to implement improvements having learned from some of this year's problems.

For my part, I still had an absolute ball, although the weeks since have been coloured with sadness at the shade of some of the debate. I truly hope that is now shifting, and if we can get past this, then we will have reason indeed to be proud of our tribe.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
You deserve a lot of credit yourself for being calm and professional in front of the audience and still giving us a good show.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you, that's very kind.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 12:48 pm (UTC)
Well said, sir.
[User Picture]
Date:July 12th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Bravely posted, and well said. It is hard to get the balance of these situations without a lot of digging and weighing. I think you've done a very good thing here.
[User Picture]
Date:July 13th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:July 15th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
As someone who most emphatically does not have a dog in this fight, but knows a lot of people who do, I was very concerned about the initial posts I read about this situation from you and others. The stuff I was seeing, on all sides, was not adding up to match anything I know about the people involved or the way things typically happen at cons.

I'm glad there is at least one person (Eric) who has gone to the trouble of putting all the pieces together and posting this thoughtful analysis of it. And although I am not optimistic -- this is fandom, after all -- I hope it never happens again (just like I hoped the last umpteen times).

On the bright side, I think the lack of filters does help us in one way. I think people with better filters than we have are more likely to just let something slide, or avoid speaking up when something is wrong in order to avoid a confrontation. Those are the "happy couples" who end up in messy divorces or homicide cases, and the "seemed so normal" people who end up in jail for beating up their kids or axe-murdering half a dozen teenagers. I'd rather we hurled a hundred tons of invective at each other in Facebook than sat in frustrated silence until we completely cracked.

All feelings are valid. It's the choices we make and the actions we take that determine how (and whether) we achieve peace.
Eric Coleman, Curmudgeon Powered by LiveJournal.com