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Conclave 2009 Report
The Good, The Bad, and the Overzealous Security

The Good
Generally speaking, ConClave continued to be the same sort of fun that it has been since I began attending; it’s a great chance to hang out with friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough, but every time I question the hefty price tag with minimal return. It’s not as if there’s NO return. I mean, without ’Clave, I wouldn’t see a group of Chicagoans that I really enjoy seeing. It was awesome to see Gooch, Dawn, Greg, Leanne, and a bunch of other people from the windy city that I’m probably forgetting right this minute (although it was a bummer not to see Terrance, Peter, et al). Additionally, it was great to finally meet Eric Coleman and members of Toyboat face to face, even if I did manage to miss their show. I realize that I simply wouldn’t get to see them otherwise, so for that, I really do thank the con.

Likewise, there was some really interesting programming on the list. Friday, Dawn, Greg and I busted some boards with our hands...

Greg’s Forearm Smash Dawn Breaking a Board
Jer Breaking a Board Greg Breaking a Board
Saturday we caught part of the “Bill and Barry Reunited” panel (which I now wish I’d caught more of, very entertaining) and the Space Time Improv panel (where I was inspired to point out the improv “actor” that dropped the improv-comedy-verboten “No” four times in one sketch). Also, hung out with new friend Josh, and I hope to keep in contact because he is fucking hilarious. Finished the night clibming a wall of cocks, then went home for sleep. Sunday Ger and I participated in an open call (auditions and interviews) for a music video shoot in which both of us danced (she, wonderfully—I, less so). In general, while I didn’t make much time to go to the programming, what programming there was I found interesting and enjoyable.

The Bad
I have the same complaints that I’ve had since I found this event; where does the money go? The consuite was utterly abysmal. There was NO food there at any time. At one point, Greg ran upstairs to grab some chips, then came down and had to (try to) buy some from the gift shop, because there were none. Nada. Nil. I stopped in several times and found a similar problem. My understanding is that if I were to time everything perfectly I could arrive in the suite in time to catch one of a few "meals" that existed for scant moments all weekend. This is not a way to run a consuite. I have an expectation that for a $50 price of admission, there will at least be a small handful of snacks kicking around. Of course, this is nothing new; I’ve had the same complaints every year. ’Clave just doesn’t care to spend money on the ConSuite.

The Ugly
Despite the longer list of ’good’ than ’bad’, I’ll not be returning to ’Clave next year. Not as long as the Dorsai Irregulars are still running "security" for the convention. Why? Imagine, if you will, if a organization with all of the characteristics of the Department of Homeland security maintaining order at an event like a convention. My first experience with them was moments after I registered. I walked through their checkpoint with badge prominently displayed on my chest and closed can of Monster in my left hand. As I walked past I was “halted” by a hand held in front of me in the classic stop configuration. The hand was owned by an elderly fellow who then finished his sentence (just a few seconds lost here) then turned his eyes to me, looked at my badge, then allowed me by. In all, it was less of an inconvenience and more a matter of attitude at this point. Three steps later, I glance into the Dealer’s Room as I walked past and heard a shout from behind me.

DI Douche: Hey, if you aren’t a dealer or wearing this (pointing at his beret) you can’t bring that drink in there.
Me: I’m not, I’m merely looking in the dealer’s room, so fuck off.
My second exposure to them was later that evening when I (again, badge prominently pinned on chest …a yellow card in the midst of an expansive black hoodie sans sleeves) walked through the rather congested choke point (congested, mind you, by the 8 or 9 DI folks clustered in the hall joking around with one another) and was halted by a hand placed in the center of my chest. Not a fan of unsolicited physical contact, I peeled the hand off of my by the little finger and regarded the owner of the hand with a look designed to indicate my displeasure and the phrase, “That is not a very good idea if you like your hand.” My badge was reviewed and I walked past without further incident.

I later stood in the hall and watched the DI accost a female friend in an entirely unnecessary, unprovoked, and probably illegal physical manner. I also heard tell of the same happening to several others. So overboard was the security that even the open event that happened late in the mid day on Sunday had to have someone escort unbadged participants past an overzealous gaggle of berets.

This is not new to this year, but each year it becomes more and more an issue. It should be noted that Penguicon, ConFusion, and (to the best of my knowledge) ConVocation manage to run remarkably larger events with more attendees, more participants, and more function space without security at all, let alone the self-appointed mercenaries of fandom. Next year, ’Clave will not be getting my money, but I will be emailing the registration and chair email addresses when I *would* have purchased a membership to explain why I am not going to be providing them my money so long as the DI is running security. I like the con, and I would LOVE to help them out in any way that I can...but I simply cannot bring myself to continue to support a convention that has such disdain for its community that it treats its patrons so poorly—no con should require paying attendees go through a TSA checkpoint to see the show.