*This was intended to see post Tuesday. However, a conversation with a friend Monday night made me think on the subject and about my initial reactions and words. Ultimately, I’ve decided to post what I wrote Monday, but with corrected references to the day with regards to tense and an additional piece at the end explaining the take my friend had. While my gut doesn’t fully subscribe to her take on the matter, it does have merit and it unfortunately comes from a perspective that I was not looking at the matter from. Most of you reading this likely know my feelings about the outcome from reading some of my shorter comments here and there in the last few days. If you want to skip the long version and go straight to the newer bit, scroll down and start reading when the font color changes.
So, Monday morning had a bit of a surprise to it; more than one actually.
I logged into Facebook and one of the first things I saw in my news feed was the news out of Georgia that Ed Kramer had pled guilty to the charges of molestation. I have to admit, I honestly didn’t believe it at first. For one thing, I didn’t think that they were even going to get him into court for his December 2nd court date at all. Kramer has spent the last 13 years proving that he could manipulate the Gwinnett courts with ease and often came off looking as though he was easily able to outsmart their entire system. This was something done in large part because of what appeared to be a totally inept system that made one wonder at times how they managed to get anyone tried and convicted. I was sure that the day’s news would be about yet another delay in the long series of delays and a new court date for some time in 2014.
My surprise grew even greater when I clicked the link and read that Kramer had pled guilty before the jury had even been assembled. Now, you, if you’ve not followed this case, have to understand that this just comes across as totally unKramer-like. In the last 13 years, Kramer has gummed up, twisted up, and dragged out the system with every trick he could pull out of his hat. And his ability and desire to engage in annoying shenanigans to infuriate the system hadn’t come across as diminished in any way in the last year as report after report came out of the jails about his filing hundreds upon hundreds of complaints and grievances with the jails, complaints and grievances that they were required to spend time, money, and man hours responding to, and lining up yet more “medical problems” to stall the December trial. I fully expected the man to continue gumming up the works and to continue avoiding justice until the day he stood face to face with the devil himself. And even then I fully expected him to have Old Scratch ripping his hair out for a while. To see a news report that indicated that he pled guilty essentially before the trial had even started, they were docketed for jury selection after all, just seemed unreal. Then I saw two things that made me want to throw my laptop out the window.
1) Kramer’s attorney had worked out a plea deal. And, the most galling aspect of that, Kramer pled guilty without even admitting to wrongdoing. As a matter of fact, he denied any wrongdoing to the very end. See, he entered something known as an Alford plea. For those of you who don’t know the term, I give you the Cornell University Law School definition of an Alford plea.
“Also known as a “best-interests plea,” an Alford plea registers a formal claim neither of guilt nor innocence toward charges brought against a defendant in criminal court. Like anolo contendere plea, an Alford plea arrests the full process of criminal trial because the defendant — typically, only with the court’s permission — accepts all the ramifications of a guilty verdict (i.e. punishment) without first attesting to having committed the crime. The name, Alford plea, is taken from North Carolina v. Alford 400 U.S. 25.”
The most common usage of this plea is claiming innocence while stating that the prosecution has enough evidence to “wrongly” convict. In Kramer’s case, his attorney said that due to breathing problems, a broken neck, and the lingering effects of having undergone numerous surgeries, Kramer “just wasn’t physically able to stand trial.”
The idea with this kind of thing is sometimes to offer to save the court time and money and to then bargain for reduced or dropped charges and sentences in return. In most cases that I know of, the plea also means that you surrender your right to appeal. Both sides hammer out the deal and everything is essentially done. The Fat Lady sings her song and everyone goes home. But at least the punishment, after all of these years of manipulation, games, breaking the terms of his house arrest multiple times, embarrassing the D.A.’s office, and leaving the state to prey on others ON TOP OF the original offenses should be pretty damned stiff, right? Nope. That’s number two.
2) From what I’ve read, Kramer is getting a slap on the wrists. Some charges were either dropped or reduced. What Kramer was finally hit with was this. He will be registered as a sex offender. He was sentenced to five years for each of the three charges, one for each victim, which will be served concurrently with his last two-plus years in jail awaiting trial counted in against the sentence. Basically, he’s set to serve 34 months of time. And it gets better.
Some time back I quoted Danny Porter, the D.A., stating that the elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about was that, even if they ever convicted Kramer, they would never be able to keep him in jail. His complaints and his “medical issues” would make him too expensive to keep and almost impossible to deal with. Apparently, he still felt that way this week. Ed Kramer is getting 34 months on monitored house arrest.
You read that right. After molesting three children, breaking the terms of his bonds over and over again, roaming the country unmonitored while the Gwinnett authorities thought they knew where he was, and seemingly attempting to prey on yet another child, the man gets to spend the next 34 months in his home with a monitor bracelet on.
He also has to pay each of the three victims $100,000 and will, after house arrest be on a “strictly monitored” probation for another 15 years. During this time, he cannot leave the county. One only hopes that the “strictly monitored” probation is handled better and more attentively than his prior times out and about when he went where he pleased and where the embarrassed D.A.’s office actually admitted to not even realizing that Kramer was in some of the places that he was in fact in.
And he never admitted to the crimes. He never admitted wrongdoing. He never even stood trial.
I can’t help but to read the news stories and think that, ultimately, Kramer won. He has played the system like a game for thirteen years, making the rules, pulling their strings, and making them dance to his tune, and he just wore the system down. Three lives permanently damaged, embarrassing the system on a repeated basis, and essentially thumbing his nose at the courts, the jails, and the D.A. for all of this time, and the punishment is less than I’ve seen people get for over getting busted with pot.
I’ve been following this with some level of interest mixed with professional curiosity since late 2005. By that point there was already a huge amount of news stories available in the five year ordeal and reading through it became an exercise in infuriation. While many of the earliest news stories and blog threads didn’t have enough concrete information, just rumor and speculation, to feel strongly enough about guilt or innocence one way or another, there was plenty there to make you want to smack your head with your hand at how poorly the case was being handled. Stories closer to 2005 gave a much greater indication of a guilty man working the system and creating delay after delay, but it also painted that much more of a picture of an ineptly handled legal case by that local system. Reading about someone twisting the legal system in knots like that was, professionally, annoying as hell.
I don’t think there was another major development in the situation until around mid-2008 when they lifted his house arrest. Even that seemed strange when I heard about it in the latter half of the year. If you were at all familiar with the case by that time, you knew how badly he played the system and how many times he had violated the terms of his bond. Hearing the news that they had decided to basically just let the man start roaming free in the area just seemed asinine to me. In 2009 they were back to talking about a court date in the first half of the year. By the time 2010 was upon us, there had been yet another delay. After that, the only real Kramer related news items for a while were the lawsuits he was launching against others.
Then 2011 happened. Kramer was nailed in a Connecticut hotel room with a young boy. He was in violation of the terms of his bond, serious violations as well, and he had publicly embarrassed the D.A.’s office who had to admit that they had no idea that, despite being responsible for keeping up with his whereabouts and activities, Kramer had been traveling so much or even that he was in Connecticut. And there was anger at this point. There was anger not only by the embarrassed D.A.’s office, but by the people in two states who were now reading about this ineptly handled, eleven year old case that had somehow never made it to trial. I actually thought we were going to see something happen at last. Turns out, at least then, I was wrong. 2011 turned into 2012 and that turned into 2013, and still we saw no trial. We saw lots of talk about fast tracking the case to trial and having everything ready to go at last, but we didn’t see a trial. And, of course, we saw Kramer playing games again.
Then the boycott happened. As I outlined in my first post on the matter, my major problem with the boycott was (outside of the inaccuracies, exaggerations, lies, attacks on people’s family members for disagreeing with them, attempts to attack people’s employment for disagreeing with them, declarations of wishing people would die painful deaths for disagreeing with them, gleefully calling women who disagreed with them cunts, etc.) that I felt that the target, the convention that Kramer had had nothing to do with for more than a decade, was the wrong focus of for the energy. Here was a group of people claiming that they wanted justice, yet their target was an organization with zero ability to control, contain, or imprison Kramer or to in any way get the man to trial. The focus, as I stated back then, should have been on the legal system and in letting them know that they were being watched and scrutinized. It should have been about using the army of people that could have been raised to raise awareness rather than spitefully alienating an army to raise a troop.
But despite that, there was a positive aspect of the boycott with regards to the legal system. There was increased media coverage and media coverage in places that hadn’t followed the matter in years if at all. But then the boycott went away and the media spotlight dimmed just a bit. And that’s when, with regards to this matter specifically, I actually worried a little bit that we were going to start seeing a repeat of the prior 13 years of the case starting up all over again. And, truth be told, it was starting to look that way.
And now this happens. After 13 years of running them in circles and wearing the system down, Kramer bargains his way out of even ever standing trial and into what feels like an insignificant slap on the wrists.
It’s an insult to anyone who wanted to see justice done and it should be an embarrassment to the system down there that a man who did so much wrong for so long is getting off with less punishment than the millions of other people in prisons who have done far, far less.
Oh… One word of advice to the other people out there who are as angry about this as I am and have been trying to rationalize this into something positive-
I understand the need to do so. It’s probably better for you in the long run and less expensive than putting your fist through your monitor. But, please, think before you type. I’ve already seen some people trying to find a positive in this with a scenario that looks like you’re hoping for something really bad. Some of you have said that the good thing is that the deal allows him no appeal and no recourse should he violate the terms by reverting to form in the upcoming years. It’s been described by some of you as basically a trap. He’ll revert to form, do it again, and then go to jail for the rest of his life.
Uhm… No. I sympathize with wanting to make silk out of this sows ear, but think about what you’re writing and how that looks. Yes, we would love to see him face justice and go away for a very, very long time, but we do not want that at the expense of another life destroyed. I know what you mean and I know what you’re really saying, but, please, think it through a bit more before your type it.
And with that, I am once and for all truly and finally done writing about Ed Kramer.
Okay, welcome to part two and a few days later. It’s been an interesting few days of thinking not only because of a perspective that I didn’t have before, but because of learning something I didn’t know about someone I know.
I have a friend who is a few years older than I am and a fellow raving geek. She’s become familiar with this case over the last roughly three years and found my link page to be rather useful reading to catch up on the back story with. As such, she’s gotten a fairly good handle on things at this point. I figured that she, also in a job that has her at least affiliated with law enforcement and legal matters, would be kind of pissed about the slap on the wrists. Instead, she said something that hadn’t crossed my mind or even gotten into my thick head by Monday night.
“But is that what the victims wanted?”
I’ll freely admit that I think I looked at her for a moment as if she was speaking a foreign language and I was an idiot trying to decipher it. I asked her to explain. She did, and, oh boy, was it a doozy of an explanation.
Years ago, long before moving here, she was the victim of a nasty assault. A man came at her from out of a dark, bush covered area, grabbed her, threw her down into the bushes and beat her to within an inch of her life. He then prepared to rape her. Fortunately, despite the cliché, someone heard what sounded like a struggle and someone in need of help and actually called the police rather than turning away. The responding units must have been pretty close, because they arrived before he was able to actually rape her.
And then her experience with the courts began. Her case went on for a little over a year. She said one of the worst things was wanting justice, but feeling this giant ball of fear and anxiety in her stomach growing every time a court date was approaching. And what was even worse than even that was when a last minute delay would happen and that anxiety would just explode and she would have it start all over again when the next date was coming up. It was a year she doesn’t like to remember or think about and she was more thankful than she thought she would be when it was over.
And then she said that she has absolutely no idea how hellish it must have been for his three victims. For one thing, they were children when it happened to them. For another, it was a deeper violation than what she experienced. And, lastly, their experience with seeking a trial and closure has lasted over a decade.
When it first started, the set dates turning into delays were fairly close together. Then they spaced out onto months. Then they spaced out into years. I think the longest stretch between discussed dates in court was roughly seven years. As she put it, they were never being given closure, but they were likely being given time to start healing. And then, years later, he would come along and rip the wounds open again. In thirteen years, there has been no closure for these young men and no ability to put it behind them and start trying to heal the scars without fear of him coming back into their lives and ripping it all apart again. Her point of view is that these young men very much wanted justice, but that, at this point, they likely needed closure just as much if not more.
And she may well have been right. In talking about it with her, it jogged something along those lines in my memory. Back in 2006, Kramer had attempted to immigrate to Israel. The deal worked out with Porter was that he would leave the country and never return and that this would essentially pass as a sentence for the crime. I was kind of glad that this immigration attempt failed at the time. Setting a predator lose among new potential prey just because he was a pain to deal with seemed irresponsible. But it was Porter’s comments explaining it that became important in the here and now.
Porter stated that he spoke to the victims about the deal before agreeing to it and they were on-board with it. The reason they agreed to it? They just wanted to finally get it behind them.
And that was seven years ago. It had only been six years at that point. We’re up to year thirteen now.
I don’t think that anyone that ever reads this can know what was in the heads of the victims as this was being settled upon. No one can know what they all felt they wanted or, more importantly, needed at this point. And I mean no one can as there has never been a case involving crimes like this with the games, the delays, the incompetence, and the infuriating longevity of this one anywhere else that I know of. They’ve had thirteen years with no closure for them and no ability to start healing without the fear of it all crashing down around them again.
Maybe this isn’t the level of justice that some of us wanted to see done here and maybe the punishment seems to us to be insignificant when compared to the crimes, but then, maybe, as my friend pointed out, some justice with ultimate closure was what was needed now rather than the risk of another half decade to full decade of this continuing on as it has so far.
Yeah, you and I can point to how ineptly this was handled, point to what look like gross failures by the local legal system, and say that it should never have dragged out this long, but the fact of the matter is that is has dragged out this long and it could have kept on going even longer. And, yeah, in my gut and likely yours that still doesn’t sit well, but it is something to think about and maybe consider when commenting on the matter elsewhere right now.
And now, with that, I am actually once and for all truly and finally done writing about Ed Kramer.
Steve Niles could use some help right now.
According to a report in Bleeding Cool, Steve’s Austin, Texas home was flooded out whenstorms rampaged through the area over the weekend. The good news out of it is that reports so far indicate that everyone in the house, people and animals alike, managed to get to safety through the waste-deep waters. The bad news is that Steve has lost a good deal of what he had, including unique items that likely cannot be replaced, and the worse news is that he didn’t have flood insurance.
Personal issues with comments made about Dragon Con and Dragon Con attendees (and then, as a fallout from that, about me) earlier this year be damned right now. Niles has been a good friend to and supporter of people I know and been a supporter of some things and events that I also support. And more important than that right now, he’s a human being and as a human being Steve Niles could use some help right now.
According to a report in Bleeding Cool, Steve’s Austin, Texas home was flooded out when storms rampaged through the area over the weekend. The good news out of it is that reports so far indicate that everyone in the house, people and animals alike, managed to get to safety through the waste-deep waters. The bad news is that Steve has lost a good deal of what he had, including unique items that likely cannot be replaced, and the worse news is that he didn’t have flood insurance.
Steve Niles commented on the matter with this statement:
Woke up at 6am to water rushing into the house. Already ankle deep by the time we saw it. We got as much as we could off the ground and tried to block but there wasn’t much we could do. The worst was trying to get to Gil. It was waist deep almost and strong enough to throw around logs. I reached him and he was submerged and freaking out. Don’t remember much more then lifting him and carrying him all the way back to the house. Looking back I can see how scary it was.
We are securing the house as much as we can and going through the damage. A scrapbook full of original art I’ve kept for 30 years is gone. A lot more.
Our friends Belinda and Steve are setting up a fund to help. I feel terrible about this but once things settle I’ll have to face up that we need help. I just wish I could catch my breath for 5 minutes and I can make my own money. Austin has had other ideas I guess.
We’ll keep you posted. We’re sort of trapped here for right now. Going to pack and move as much as we can before the next storm hits.
Thank you guys so much.
The fund set up for Steve that he references in the above statement can be donated to through Paypal to: HelpSteveNiles@gmail.com
Bottom line: This is a horrendously bad turn of events for anyone to face without some help. Steve’s given a lot to the horror community over the years. A little bit given back right now might not be such a bad thing.
I’m a big fan of Peter David’s work. I’m certainly not the only one.
My first real introduction to Peter David’s writing was his amazing run on The Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics. To this day I rate his run as up there with the original Hulk stories as my favorite take on the Hulk and still find depictions of the dumber “Hulk Smash” Hulk to be less enjoyable as a result.
That introduction led me to his other comic work, his opinion column in Comic Buyer’s Guide, and his novel work. The vast majority of his novel writing at that time was licensed work. He was a well known for his Star Trek novels, somewhat well known for having written books in the Photon series, and he wrote a series called Psi-Man under the pen name of David Peters. In and around that he also put out original works like Howling Mad and Knight Life, movie adaptations and doing the co-writing on James Doohan’s autobiography. He also wrote the odd TV script and screenplay as well as co-creating Space Cases with Lost in Space and Babylon 5 star Bill Mumy.
One of the hallmarks of his work was the humor in them. However, sometimes the reputation of “humor” in his works overshadowed what else was there. Some of his Trek novels were serious and dark as hell, but a few lighter scenes written here and there and fans talked about them as another Peter David knee slapper.
But slowly, as time wore on, the reputation for the other aspects of his writing grew. He could do dark and serious very well. He was extremely good with characterization and he had an amazing ability for great dialogue. He also had a great gift for being able to plant seeds for long term storytelling and unfolding those stories in an absolutely beautiful manner.
Of course, he also started to hit frustrating roadblocks. At appearance after appearance at stores and conventions he would be met with fans asking him when they would see some original creation novels from him. The problem he faced was that his publishers would constantly tell him that there was simply no demand whatsoever for original works from Peter David. All fans wanted to see, he was told, was more things like his licensed Trek work.
That changed a bit over time, but not all that much. Slowly he was able to get more original properties written as both comic book works and novels, but the various problems with publisher remained. He had stories to tell, but publishers would explain that there was no demand for “X” for whatever, occasionally insane, reasons.
Readers started to resign themselves to the fact that Peter and many other writers who didn’t have the same string pulling power of a Stephen King or J. K. Rowling level player would be at the mercy of the dictates of the machine. If the machine said that no one had any interest in vampire stories unless they were romance based stories written by female authors then that’s what the publishing reality was even if the real reality said differently. And readers resigned themselves to the fact that good writers had great stories to tell that they might never see.
And then a few years ago things started to change on the publishing landscape. New technologies started introducing new formats such as the e-book. Through devices like the Kindle, books could now be treated like music or movies on an iPod or like-device. You could store an entire library of 1,000 or more books on a device not much larger than a billfold wallet.
Major publishers started making electronic versions of their print product. Along the way, things like Amazon opened the ability to create e-books to everyone. You could be a high school kid working on a story and get it published electronically via Amazon or other platforms. The upside was that anyone now had the ability to write whatever stories their muses told them to write. The two downsides were that this meant an electronic glut of new fiction coming out from unknown and untested authors and that in turn meant that e-books were seen by many as the new vanity presses. But slowly a few authors started to look at e-publishing themselves to sidestep the issues of dealing with publishing houses that insisted on restricting an author’s output based on the publisher’s occasionally twisted view of what readers wanted.
Enter 2011 and enter Crazy 8 Press. Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Bob Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, and Howard Weinstein, having found selling their original works to mainstream publishers increasingly difficult, launched their own imprint to distribute works on the electronic platform with print on demand options for some works. Peter’s own original work, The Camelot Papers, was used as the initial launch’s centerpiece in much of the promotion for Crazy 8 Press.
The initial buzz from fans in the know was rejoicing. Now we would get to see the stories that the authors we most enjoyed most wanted to tell unfiltered and without roadblocks keeping them tied up in publishing hell for months or even years. Now we would get stories as soon as these authors could put them out.
Since their launch a number of titles have been released. You can find them all here.
Crazy 8 is up and running and putting out some great stuff. I personally love several of their stories, especially Pulling Up Stakes, Peter David’s take on the vampire and the vampire hunter, and have either recommended the extremely affordable e-pub versions to many I know or actually bought the print on demand version of Stakes as gifts. But the problem now is that their works aren’t being seen by many readers at large. As a matter of fact, Peter, one of the founders, is having his next original novel released through Amazon Books.
I don’t believe that the issue is pricing as mentioned by one poster in that piece. The average Crazy 8 Press book is priced way more than affordably; especially when compared to the average major publisher’s e-pubs. I think the issue is promotion.
Despite the fact that all of these guys are established, name authors, they’re pretty much depending on word of mouth here. They’re not multi-millionaires. They’re working for a living with their writings and paying bills and supporting family with those earnings. They’re not exactly in a position to drop the kind of advertising budget on each book that a major publisher can. And, being e-pubs, there are no paperbacks to land on the shelves and be found while browsing or to be placed in the window or on the center isle display as the local bookstore’s new releases. You have to know about the books and you can only know about them by looking for them.
The result is that their works are not being seen by the eyeballs that should be seeing them. The result is that what so many fans of so many authors, not just these guys, have declared that they want for so long now, new stories of the type they want to read and the type the authors want to write, are going by unseen and unknown to the very fans who would love them.
Michael Jan Friedman
Ever read anything by any of them that you really loved? Then support this venture. Subscribe to their sites. Buy some of their e-books. Buy some of the print on demand books if you don’t have an e-reader device. You can find out how to get them all here.
Share the news about Crazy 8 Press. Spread the word. Put word of mouth to good use. It’s not just to help them either. If they succeed the way is paved for others to do the same. There are so many authors out there who don’t have the stroke that a King or Rowling has that want to tell the stories that their fans would love yet cannot do it. By helping them, you help anyone else who goes this route. By helping anyone who goes this route, the fans ultimately help themselves by getting the stories that they want and will enjoy.
It’s really that simple. Share this post. Hell, just take the links I provided and share them with your own spin. I don’t care how you do it, but please go out and share it.
And don’t do it just the one time. When you read a Crazy 8 book that you like, go ahead and mention it on social media the same way so many of us mention that episode of of the TV show of the moment, the hot new movie, that great restaurant, or anything else. You don’t have to write a review, just tell people about it if you liked it.
And if you haven’t read any of the books from Crazy 8, buy one. Start out small. I’d suggest Pulling Up Stakes. $0.99 gets you the first part of the story, 105 pages, on your Kindle, Nook, e-reader device or PC and if you liked it as much as I did you only have to invest another $2.99 in getting the second part of the story. But if vampires and vampire hunters, even a different take on them, isn’t your thing? Look around the site. They have other stories for under $4.00 that you can test the waters with. Give them a try and if you like what you see just let other people know. The “work” of doing so is barely any effort and the rewards are that creators continue to get to create in a way that allows them the unrestricted freedom to create the stories that you love.
Voltaire has enlisted an impressive group of musicians to help with this album. I heard him play the title track live at Dragon Con 2013. Really looking forward to when this CD drops.
The 27th Dragon Con is now in the books and we’ve spent the better part of the last week recovering from all the fun. Well, by “we” I mean the wife and I. Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been in nonstop hyper-spaz mode since we got home and Thing 1 only managed to go about half of a day before asking when we would be going back to Dragon Con again.
This year was big with a lot of changes. Some of the Fan Tracks have been tweaked and altered, there’s a whole new layout with the addition of the old AmericasMart Atlanta building added in and the dealer space now moved into its first and second floors, there’s new ownership that’s actually the old ownership trimmed down a bit that’s also brought a new spelling along with it, and the general view of the fans that Thursday is the new Friday is fast becoming semi-official for most. It was also big in attendance this year. I don’t know the official figures yet as they’ve not been released, but I’m guessing that 65,000 was somewhere in the ballpark if not a little low.
And, like with every Dragon*Con that I’ve attended before this year’s Dragon Con, there was plenty to see and do. The guest list was stacked with half of Starfleet in attendance, two Doctors and a few companions on hand, a Highlander, a MacGyver, an SG army, some visiting dwarves, a host of vampires, denizens of the Enchanted Forest, at least a couple of prominent time travelers represented, and an industry’s worth of artists, writers, and creators of all stripes crossing multiple generations of fandom. And that’s just for starters. Activities ran the gamut from both paid and free courses in how-to to fan panel discussions ranging from the joyfully silly to the absolutely serious, hands on (and occasionally fairly physical) fan participation events, nonstop gaming for gamers of every kind, and joyfully geek-centric concerts (Two horns up for Voltaire’s show this year!) playing well into the late night. And, of course, the LifeSouth blood drive. We cannot leave out the LifeSouth blood drive. (Mention required by order of She Who Must Be Obeyed.) And then there was the cosplay. One cannot discuss Dragon Con without including at least some mention of all of the wonderful cosplay.
And I did a lot of all of the above either (occasionally) on my own or most often with Jenn and the kids.
I could easily do a blog entry following the “what we did” and “who we did it with” template covering the above, but I don’t think I’ll do that this year. I think I’d rather write about what Dragon Con is. There’s a vibe at Dragon Con that you either get or you don’t get when you walk through those hotel doors and into the convention itself for the first time. Most people, the vast majority of them, get it. It’s why so many people love Dragon Con so much and come back every year. You see, Dragon Con is a bit special. That vibe given off by the Dragon Con community, from the owners and volunteers to the attendees and on up to some of the guests, is that this is basically time spent with a giant four day family in an amazing four day home away from home.
This year that vibe was even more noticeable or at least it seemed that way to some. Maybe it was simply the fact that we were finally there in 2013 and able to enjoy the convention after the stupidity and ugliness attempted by some in the first half of this year. Maybe it was the increase in the number of people attending this year. Maybe it was a combination of the above or maybe it was something else entirely. But, whatever the reason, that vibe was not only there this year but tangibly stronger than it has been in most years.
Yes, you are definitely going to Dragon Con to enjoy the convention activities. You are definitely going there to see the panels and the celebs. You are very likely going there to scour the dealer area for nifty things. But first and foremost, if you’re a regular, you’re going there to share Dragon Con with everyone else who is there. That was the vibe I felt the first time I walked through the doors when I first attended Dragon*Con in 2006, like having welcoming arms wrap themselves around you, and that’s the vibe I and others have gotten from it on every subsequent visit. You go to Dragon Con to see friends, family, and friends who have become family that you may only be able to see there. You go to see a group of people that you may only be able to see all in one place at one time together there. And you go there, as we did this year, to meet new family and friends.
And, again, everyone else who’s there is there to be there with and share with everyone else who’s there. That’s really the point of it above and beyond anything else. Sure, you’re going to run into a few bad eggs here and there with both attendees and guests. The law of averages says that you have to with an attending population in the high tens of thousands. But the vast majority of the Dragon Con attendees and guests are there to share and enjoy (Note: Not the “Go Stick Your Head in a Pig” version.) the Dragon Con experience with everyone else there. They go there to go to their four day home away from home and spend time with their friends and their other “family” members.
And that’s what we did with our Labor Day weekend this year. I could have easily hit the generic, fill-in-the-blank laundry list of panels seen, activities enjoyed, and unique items grabbed in the dealer area, but the truth is that we did so much more at Dragon Con than the laundry list typically covers and have done so at every Dragon*Con before now. What we did was went to our once a year, four day home away from home, we caught up with old friends and family, touched base with newer friends and family, and added a few people along the way that will be on next year’s list of people we have to see and spend time with over 2014’s Labor Day weekend.
And that’s what Dragon Con is. You can go to their official website to see everything that is there to see and do at the con, but the only way to know what Dragon Con really and truly is for those that “get it” when they walk through those doors and to truly understand the love and loyalty it inspires in those who attend is by going and attending and allowing yourself to be a part of that family and getting it yourself.
And to all of my family’s Dragon Con friends and family out there… We’ll see you all again in, as of right now, 354 days, 18 hours, 5 minutes. And to all of the new Dragon Con family and friends yet to come… Can’t wait to meet you down the road.
Edit – Nice post-convention article on Dragon Con written for the Collider news site.
5 Things You Might Not Know about Dragon Con
by Allison Keene
From the makers of the PBS documentary Four Days at Dragon*Con comes a look at the world of Cosplay. Looks fun. Can’t wait to see it.
And here’s their Facebook page to keep up with news and developments.
It’s been an interesting day insofar as events changing plans. I originally had a different post in mind for today. See, I’ve had an interesting two weeks and I was about to get out the hammer and nails and nail someone’s butt to the wall.
Two weeks ago someone who will now, thanks to today’s events, go nameless apparently decided to see just how much they could piss me off if they really tried to do so. The person in question is someone connected to the boycott movement. And they’re not just a drone in the works, but a fairly major name in the thing.
The first thing they did was go after my five-year-old son. They took a photograph of him, screwed with it a bit and decided to use it as a pro-boycott photo piece. My wife dealt with that in very short order. So, of course, they then harassed my wife, who has not written on the boycott anywhere on the web, via Facebook PM. In the messages this person sent, they used foul language, declared that I was not really a cop, informed my wife that she should be concerned (pedophile implied warning) about protecting our son from me, made threats of legal action and, double fun given the deceleration that I wasn’t a cop, said something that strongly implied, if they were to be believed, that they were fishing through the police departments in my area to find out where I worked so that they could file a bogus complaint.
My wife handled the PMs by reporting them. In the meantime, I’ve spent bits and pieces of the last two weeks lining up all my ducks to be ready for any issues that this person would try to create. I sent notification up my chain of command and to the appropriate personnel that a bogus complaint might be coming in. I collected various needed materials, including the screen caps of the PM exchange, to show that the complaint was bogus, and I spent a few hours here and there discussing some things with a few lawyers.
Basically I made sure that if the complaint was made that I had enough to launch successful legal action of my own ready and prepared. Since the complaint could be shown to be a part of a pattern of personal harassment, I was told that not only was it doable but that I had more than a good chance of seeing some nice cash by the end of it.
So today, while working some overtime, I was mentally composing what I was going to write and had plans to use the screen caps and other materials to, as I said above, nail someone’s butt to the wall. But something interesting happened while I was working.
When I got home, my wife met me at the door and told me to check the net. I asked her what was going on and she just told me that Krista had sent her a message and that I needed to check some stuff on Facebook. So I sat down, logged on, signed in and in short order saw this.
DragonCon/Ace Inc. doesn’t exist anymore.
With Kramer’s legal action against Dragon*Con now out of the way, they were able to take DragonCon/Ace Inc. and merge it into a new company, Dragon Con, Inc., in a buyout/merger. Kramer was cashed out and cut out. He’s staying true to form though and doing what everyone said he would do in such a situation. He plans to sue.
The new company is now run by the five remaining co-founders. They’ve been laying the groundwork for this and ensuring that contracts with DragonCon/Ace Inc. and other commercial and business entities transferred over and are still in play. The convention gets to continue, grow and prosper without this around its neck anymore.
And I don’t care one wit about what happened two weeks ago anymore.
A very good friend of mine had already told me something that made me look at what had happened two weeks ago in a completely different light. He pointed out that if they were going after me, someone with no real fame, following or true influence, like that, then they must be in a position to see that their boycott was failing. If things were going as successfully as they had claimed, they wouldn’t care about me. Anything I wrote would be seen by them as nothing more than spitting into the wind.
At that point I decided that I was going to write one and only one more Dragon*Con Boycott post. That post would have been the one describing in greater detail what had been going on in the last two weeks and actually naming names. But other than that I pretty much decided I was done with it.
After all, I’d said everything that I thought I could say in just about every way it could be said. I’d even been reducing my presence on various forums and websites where the boycott was being discussed. In over a month, I had only written two posts about the boycott. One actually had nothing to do with the boycott and was more about being amused by Ron Marz’s Twitter actions and the second, while a wee bit sarcastically written, was a three paragraph warning to anybody that might decide that filing a bogus lawsuit against Dragon*Con that the results could be financially devastating. Hey, I’m a bit of a bastard but not enough of one to just sit back and smile as some fellow geek that I disagree with destroys their finances for a year or more.
But other than that? I have things to do that require my writing time elsewhere and all I wanted to think about with regards to Dragon*Con was getting ready to enjoy the vacation with my family. If I wrote anything else in the next two months, it would only have been if something huge came up or if something came out of the events that I had originally been planning to detail with the now aborted post on the subject.
And now I’m going to get about enjoying the next two months, working on some really cool things and looking forward to a great convention weekend. I’ve seen a few comments from some boycott diehards who are trying to drum up a new reason to keep going, but they don’t seem to be having any great success. The fork has been put in this and it’s done. Hopefully, despite Kramer’s threats of new legal action, it’s done for good.
And now I’m going to go to bed. And tomorrow I’m going to enjoy my day off with the family, work on those projects, and keep chugging along with getting ready for Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.
See you all at Dragon*Con.