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Pre-dawn Easter morn 32 years ago in the all-night music party at Minicon 17, Reed Waller pulled out a Michael Smith song I knew and loved from Josh White, Jr's performances of it back in East Lansing...and I knew I'd found home. Here's Michael performing it live halfway between then and now:

I came late to the Grateful Dead, so that same night when I joined the room of fans singing along with the chorus as fredcritter sang "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo," the words seemed nonsensical and I struggled to remember whether "Half-Step" came before "Mississippi" or "Toodeloo" Sure did like the tune, and the sense of community and belonging Fred and the assembled created as he played it. And it tweaked my curiosity. There was clearly much to learn as well as beloved music I could anchor to.

Nate Bucklin broke a string, left the room to replace it, and came back with the announcement that he'd written a song while he was gone. He then played it.

An hour or so later, the same thing happened again. The crowd roared with laughter when Nate said he's written another song. I was new to the group and figured this was a long-established schtick. It took a few years for me to realize just how utterly credible and true it was that Nate wrote two songs that night while changing strings. Songs he didn't stumble over when then playing them for the audience minutes after creating them.

Steve Sullivan and I only stayed at the Downtown Raddish (with its marvelous consuite) for one night, Friday, at our first Minicon. He found the music party Friday night and came back to our room with the news that it was happening again Saturday night. We both went, and drove home as the sun was rising and church-goers were rushing to their own religious ceremonies that Easter morn.

We looked at each other and smiled, recognizing we were coming home from ours. Heck, we even said it.

That night was one of a handful of key events that brought me to fandom, that led to my becoming a fan at Chicon IV. There was a vitally important music party there, too. (L&K, dr_whuh & kaffyr.)

And now? These 32 years later? The morning's still "heavy, with one more beginning, here in Spoon River."

Love to Minicon, love to fandom. Then, now, and forevermore.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2013 09:50 am (UTC)
Great and touching essay. I well remember when eackerman and I first found the filking at a DeepSouthCon with Gordy Dickson, Bob Asprin, Murray Porath, and others (before filk became more of a business). I always regretted not being able to attend a Minicon due to timing because I knew how special it was for so many of you.
Mar. 31st, 2013 10:49 am (UTC)
Minneapolis fan (and past captain of the Minn-stf Milk Carton Boat) kaeljo told me stories of Gordy Dickson and Bob Asprin...at Windycon, IIRC. I heard Gordy on guitar just a few times. Karen kept two autographed cans of bheer refrigerated for a couple of decades. One was signed by Gordy and went for a fan fund years ago. Tucker signed the other, and she gave it to me to donate to a good fannish auction just a year or two ago. I'm thinking the next time I get down to ConQuesT would be good.

I didn't know about travel-approved days in the middle of Passover back around Minicon 34 or 35, and was flabbergasted when marsgov suddenly appeared in the downtown Hilton around 11pm Saturday night. It was one of those things I'd (mistakenly) known was impossible, yet there he was. I love all our stories, the threads that intertwine, creating the fabric of fandom. And, yes, I still fantasize about showing you the K4P options at Byerly's some year....

As for today, I'm delighted to send you a great, big Happy Birthday!
Mar. 31st, 2013 11:03 am (UTC)
Mar. 31st, 2013 10:00 am (UTC)
Aw. Just a few minutes I posted to Facebook: "At least 53 folks still up and playing games, talking, drinking, and/or playing music at Minicon 48 at the time we (agents Krahn & Gahlon) did the pulse check at 4am. (Yay, all night fandom!) I've just come from the music party which may have ended, tho it's possible a couple of people have kept it going. First I thought maybe it was over when Graham led the group in "Barrett's Privateers" but then Chas did "Early" and after a hysterical interlude that I simply cannot describe (and which likely wouldn't seem as hilarious if you weren't there), Chas led us in "Ripple" and that's when I called it at night (as you do)."
Mar. 31st, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, "(as you do)."

In November, 1989, I sang "Ripple" quietly in the car as Walter Willis drove Madeleine and me through the dark of night from James & Peggy White's home in Portstewart back to Strathclyde in Donaghadee. Madeleine was sleeping in the back seat and Walter's hearing was such that I was pretty sure he couldn't hear me. It was one of those perfect, magical fannish moments that's stayed with me ever since.

Do you and Dean have the data to produce decades-long 4am pulse check graphs for Minicon 50? Both the raw numbers and the proportional data showing how many people were up at 4am as a percentage of each year's total attending membership would be fun to analyze. At 4am, of course!
Mar. 31st, 2013 03:45 pm (UTC)
Alas, the Krahn-Gahlon 4am Pulse Check didn't become A Thing until a few years ago. Several years ago? Probably only a decade or decade and change? (Wow, time flies!) I'd have to look at BBTs. Of course it became A Thing when people noticed Dean & I were so often up at that hour wandering around (often accompanied by other Usual Suspects), but I don't think we ever were truly counting then so much as just seeing what there was to see.

Still, trends could be interesting. I haven't been to CONvergence in a couple of years now, but it amused me when I did go that more often than not it seemed the numbers we had at Minicon were larger than one would for a pulse check at CONvergence (and many of the people I'd count would be in the Minicon/Minn-StF party). Maybe that's changed by now as that con continues to grow.

Apr. 1st, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)
A decade and change at least, I'd say. It seems like you were doing it lots of years before I left Minnesota. Doesn't it date back to the big Minicons? Those were already 15 and more years ago....

They don't have to go back all 50 years to be a neat thing to have data on at Minicon 50. :-)
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
I remember Dean taking pulse checks in the 80's.
(My pulse being one of many at the time)
: )
Mar. 31st, 2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
"Yay, all night fandom!"

Now I'm feeling homesick! The first time Potlatch asked me to run a Mpls-style consuite, I said, "Okay, so it'll be open 24 hours." At 2 a.m., I am the only one still up. Sigh. I puttered around until 4, too wired to go to bed myself. I used the energy to tidy the room so it was in great shape for the morning shift, at least.

So glad some Minicon traditions remain. I still have some vermin.
Mar. 31st, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
I always find it peculiar when consuites close or cons go dead late at night, but then Minicon is my primary con and most of the other cons I go to are also attended by other Mpls night owls, who tend to flock together in the wee hours when other stuff shuts down.

My husband kaustin is missing the Happy Ninja Easter Vermin, which haven't been seen at Minicon in several years now if I recall correctly. Perhaps something shall be done about this for next year or certainly for Minicon 50.
Apr. 1st, 2013 03:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, I do that puttering around cleaning up a consuite or party room in the wee hours, too. I've been doing so since at least the L.A. con III fan lounge in 1996, and am pretty sure I was doing it before then, too.

Ninja Easter Vermin! Ninja Easter Vermin!

I still have it on tape, somewhere. When I find it, I'll digitize and inflict it on the world. :-)

That may well have been the first year I ran the Minneapolis in '73 suite at Minicon. It was in the South Tower, and was just a year or so after David Emerson ran a fan lounge there. I wish I had a photo of the Vermin Lord, or that we could track him down. He had a friend videotaping his entire first visit to the Minneapolis in '73 suite. I was trying to fall asleep when he returned late Saturday night and donated his remaining vermin supplies in thanks for our welcome. My room, however, was across the hall from the suite, and the Ninja Easter Vermin chant, accompanied by much hysterical laughter, soon pulled me from bed and back out into the fray. I couldn't see well enough to focus, but somehow all of the pictures I took for DD-B's Minicon photo project came out perfectly. Alas, those have been among the missing pretty much ever since. Perhaps the vermin had some special protection against graven images or something.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:40 pm (UTC)
Once upon a time
All Night was 6 a.m.
Watching the sun come up from Mr. C's, for instance.
Mar. 31st, 2013 02:50 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the clip. I’ve always loved—you know how those “heavy guitar dudes” wince and hunch and make faces while wanging their repetitive four-note masterbations?—Jerry always just stood there looking thoughtful and slightly distracted while tossing off those long, lovely, liquid, tuneful, and inventive solos.

Oh! And thanks for the memories too.

 “I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
 That we could sit simply in that room again
 Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
 I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that…”
          —Bob Dylan's Dream

Edited at 2013-03-31 03:08 pm (UTC)
Apr. 1st, 2013 03:57 am (UTC)
Good observation about how Jerry just stood there looking thoughtful and slightly distracted -- thanks.

Thanks, too, for helping make the memories.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
Remind me to tell you about a really burned out Steve Stills at this one Jefferson Starship concert. Stood in a back corner of the stage barely breathing -- except for a couple of zingers.
Mar. 31st, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC)
Ah, good times, good times. T'anks for the memories!
Apr. 1st, 2013 03:59 am (UTC)
Good times -- lots & lots & lots & lots of 'em.

As I just said to fredcritter, t'anks for helping make the memories. I hope we get to make more together soon.
Apr. 1st, 2013 04:44 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed reading that. I'm always intrigued by how we can live in a society and yet take years to really find our people. It reminds me to finish the edits on something I wrote bout fandom as a refuge.

Oh and *hugs* to you, dear Geri.

Edited at 2013-04-01 04:44 pm (UTC)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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