Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Back from Philly

About two o'clock, somewhere over the Carolinas: I'm in flight back from Anthrocon. Overall it was a good con--a large dealers' room, a large art show (with a handful of genuinely good artists), some interesting panelists. At a previous convention, the con chair, Sam "Kagemushi" Conway, said that if the charity auction broke $10,000 he'd get his hair shaved into a mohawk. (It's important to note that professionally, that's Dr. Sam Conway; he's a respectable-looking research scientist with a chemical manufacturing company.) The charity auction broke $12,000, and Dr. Sam did indeed get shaved onstage at the closing ceremonies.

The total con attendance broke 1600, making it perhaps twice the size of the biggest "mainstream" science fiction conventions in Florida. Artist John Nunnemacher made the comment a few days back that he and I are "old school" furry fans, when the fandom was pretty much a hybrid of sf and comics fandoms. Since then there's been "new schools" of costumers and the fans brought in through the online communities, many of whom have little exposure to the comics and fanzines from a decade ago. (This is distinct from those of us who came to the online communities as a roleplaying outgrowth of the fandom we were already involved in. The costumers now call themselves "fursuiters," which somehow sounds kind of unsavory to me--if there's a distinction between fursuiting and costuming, just what is it, hmm? Could it be... Satan?--but hey, I'm old school.) Anthrocon has a lot of costumers--close to 10% of the attendees were in costume at one point, and that's not counting the random people with clip-on tails or ears.

I noticed that I have the same reaction at every con I go to, particularly the furry-focused cons out of state, when I get to the hotel and find a lobby of boisterous people wandering around in geeky T-shirts and leather collars and tight outfits they don't look remotely good in. That reaction is: I spent how much money to be surrounded by this? By the end of the first day that feeling pretty much fades, though. It's not that the freak show ends, and it's not that I feel like I'm part of it (even after a dozen years)--it's that it simply becomes background noise. Ultimately it's not any stranger than Ybor City on a Friday night, and it's generally less dangerous. (Granted, there's a much higher percentage of clubbers who can make the tight outfits and leather look good, although it's still not a majority of those making the attempt.)

And it's still pretty easy to find people I'm interested in talking to--both old friends and new. I think I at least ran into all of the people I expected to, from Kitana to Kincaid (queenofstripes), Shaterri to Sebkha (who'll be heading down to Florida soon, as he makes one of his once-every-several-years road trips through North America). I visited with a lot of the players behind online friends from FurryMUCK's Giants' Club--Puc, Bennie, Sylvan, "2," Teaselbone, Geemo, Jakebe, Zirien and several others), the Caer Carnivore group in New Jersey ("Wolf" and Anastasia Kidd, Ken Sample and Lisa Jennings--or Lisa Sample, now that she and Ken are married). I talked a bit with Jeff Eddy of Sofawolf Press and Floki and Vicki (the designers behind the World Tree RPG). And I met a couple cool folks I hadn't before, like artist Mark "Gideon" Parsons.

Ultimately that's the main reason I go to cons--to meet people. I've never understood why people tell me they get bored at cons after a day because "they don't know anyone." That's almost never true--you usually have a friend who knows people--and even when you don't know someone, con people are often very easy to strike up conversations with. (Sometimes the problem is getting them to stop talking to you.)

And, yes, I went to a good restaurant while I was there--the same one I went to last year, Coyote Crossing. When you think of good Mexican food, you probably wouldn't think of a suburb of Philadelphia as a good place to look, but this place is one of the best Mexican restaurants I've been to. I had one of the house specialties, "Chile de Abuelita" (yes, from the owner's grandmother), a poblano stuffed with a mix of shredded pork, pecans, almonds, and raisins, with cinnamon and some other spices. If Anthrocon keeps being an annual trip for me, this restaurant might be, too.

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