BayCon’s Founding Fathers, Brothers and Sisters

Victory has a hundred fathers, defeat is an orphan, goes the familiar saying. No doubt that explains how some conventions seem to have no parents, while others could use a Solomon to settle claims about their history.

For example, in Living in Atlantis #2, a lavishly illustrated fanzine filled with autobiographical insights about Seventies fanhistory, John McLaughlin’s editorial reveals a controversy over who founded BayCon, the San Jose convention which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

Just 26 concom and staff, and about a dozen gophers, ran BayCon ’82. One of them was Hotel Liaison Michael Siladi, identified as one of the convention’s founders in last year’s program “BayCon Trivia: 25 Years Young.” McLaughlin believes he and Randall Cooper alone are BayCon’s co-founders: “Should, then, those 40 people all be considered ‘founders’ of BayCon? No. Because, before anyone can join a con staff, the convention first has to exist, either as a concept, organizational structure, or business entity.”

There is justice on both sides of the argument. Founder tends to be a pretty elastic term. It may attach to a single individual who conceives an institution, or it may extend to everyone who shares the risk to get a project off the ground. Americans liberally define as Founding Fathers all the signers of the 1787 Constitution – even signer John Dickinson, who before the Revolution opposed John Adams in debate about the Declaration of Independence. (Kevin Standlee will now rise and sing Dickinson’s lyrics from 1776).

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8 thoughts on “BayCon’s Founding Fathers, Brothers and Sisters

  1. John was the one person around whom the first Baycon revolved. I think he’s the most qualified to say. I’m sure that the staff of the first Baycon, almost to a man, would agree. From my perspective as one of the staff of the first Baycon, John was pretty much the one person whom everyone on the staff was recruited by and took instruction from.

  2. I hear/see “Baycon” and I still assume we’re talking about the famous Baycon, the 1968 Worldcon that has so many stories told about it.

    If Kevin does a fannish 1776, the lines about Representative from New York remain relevant.

    Donald Wollheim: [as is about to swat a fly] Mr. Secretary, New York abstains, courteously.
    [Dave Kyle raises his fly swatter at Wollheim, then draws back]
    Dave Kyle: Mr. Wollheim,
    [pause, then shouts]
    Donald Wollheim: I’m sorry Mr. President, but the simple fact is that our fan clubs have never sent us explicit instructions on anything!
    Dave Kyle: NEVER?
    [slams fly swatter onto his desk]
    Dave Kyle: That’s impossible!
    Donald Wollheim: Mr. President, have you ever been present at a meeting of the New York City fan clubs?
    [Kyle shakes his head “No”]
    Donald Wollheim: They speak very fast and very loud, and nobody listens to anybody else, with the result that nothing ever gets done.
    [turns to the Congress as he returns to his seat]
    Donald Wollheim: I beg the Congress’s pardon.
    Dave Kyle: [grimly] My sympathies, Mr. Wollheim.

  3. Or pick your own choice to be the equivalent of John Hancock. I thought of Sam Moskowitz, but it would make less sense to have one NYC fan yelling at another. Although technically SaM was from New Jersey, so I suppose it might work, anyway. Forry, though there, wasn’t really the parliamentarian type, and wouldn’t seem a good choice; I’m not sure who else that wasn’t also from NYC would be. Nominations?

  4. I like it, Gary. Although they’re talking about the annual regional named BayCon, the direction you’re going is more fun…

  5. Since the topic of “convention founder” is of the moment, less fun is the fact that my role in the founding of Archon was tossed down the Memory Hole years ago. In the course of writing his appreciation of the late John Brooks, John Novak’s mention in issue #155 of the founding of Archon was written as if I had never existed, even though Mike McFadden writing in the Archon 1 Program Book — unbeknownst to me until they were distributed — gave a me a credit by name for being the person “without whom there never would have been an Archon.” I had been agitating to have a new convention in St. Louis long before MidAmeriCon or then-Barb Fitzsimmons’ trip to Iowa City for ICon, which got her enthused about the idea in a big way.

    I don’t mean to be sour, nor in any way to take away from John Brooks, who was a good guy with two younger brothers who he brought into fandom with him, and for whom John Novak cared very deeply — it was a lovely appreciation. I just wish I could be remembered once in a while for the good things I’ve done, too, not just my screw-ups.

  6. “I just wish I could be remembered once in a while for the good things I’ve done, too, not just my screw-ups.”

    David, one of the primary reasons for my overall cynicism about fandom is that, overall, it doesn’t do well at that. It does much better at preserving and spreading malicious rumors, and not letting go of characterizations of people for what they did decades ago, and not taking into account that people might change over two, five, ten, or more or less years.

    Or that it isn’t worth holding grudges over small things for years.

    Too many fans also tend to take arguments over things fannish, or arguments in general, far too seriously, as if all points of disagreement were the equivalent of being a Nazi, or a child molestor.

    I could keep going, but obviously fandom also has many fine points, so I’ll stop there.

  7. I should clarify that, rather than generalize about “fandom” as if it were a unitary thing, I should more narrowly say that fandom has a significant number of people who engage in that sort of behavior, and who are unwisely listened to with little question, but some others, rather than imply that all fans are like that, since, of course, I’m speaking more of a minority than of most fans. But some fans with grudges have louder megaphones than others.

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