Timecon Follies

Following is a message originally posted in August 1991.  The contents
have not been edited since it was posted, and should be read for
amusement value only.  (Every so often, some nitwit gets into a lather
because they think it refers to a current event, so I've added this
disclaimer.)

Contents copyright 1991 aahz@netcom.com

(Note: current e-mail address is aahz@pobox.com)

#####################################################################

{Yes, I know that I cross-posted this to four newsgroups.  Notice that
the Follow-up line is set to alt.fandom.cons.  Please respect this.}

Well, the last Timecon is over; as usual, it was a disaster as a
convention.  The concom can't be accused of doing much *wrong*, exactly,
but it was certainly one of the most boring sets of panels I've ever
seen.  However, there were major problems with the hotel.

Understand this, first of all: the Red Lion Inn next to San Jose
Airport has been far better than average as a venue for SF conventions.
The staff has been around a long time, and they're used to us; the
facilities are a bit spread out for my taste but otherwise excellent;
parking is easy; generally, just a pleasant place to be.

The background for what follows was this year's Baycon.  I personally
did not see any of this, nor hear about it until I went to Timecon;
nevertheless, this is what I was told (my best compilation from several
sources [this is not a complete list]):

{Late update [8/6/91]: *None* of my friends appear to have seen or
heard anything about item 1 before Timecon}

1)  There were three incidents of couples literally fucking in the halls.
This means fornication in public, not just a bit of making out.

2)  There was a beer keg party, explicitly against hotel rules, which got
rather out of hand.  (It's a lot easier to forgive a violation of rules
if it doesn't harm anyone)

3)  Someone was wearing a shirt (shorts?) that said "Fuck you" in large
letters; this would not have been a problem had the con completely taken
over the hotel, but it hadn't.

4)  The CEO of "a large company" was staying there; his sensibilities
offended, he left early and wrote a strong letter of complaint (I haven't
seen it, but no doubt someone who has can describe what it said).

The result of this was that the following rules were published in public
places, and handed out to many of the people who stayed in rooms there
(this is an exact copy, including typos):

                              #######

                          Red Lion Hotel
                             San Jose
   2050 Gateway Place, San Jose, California  95110    (408) 453-4000


Additional con rules that go into effect starting July 24, 1991
for the Time-Con Convention:

1.     All room parties are to be ended and vacated by all non-
registered guest by 2:00AM.  Violation of this rule will be subject
to automatic eviction from guest room and the remaining guest in
the room will be escorted off property for the rest of the
convention.

2.     On the first complaint of a party room, the room will be
evicted and all the occupants will be escorted off property.

3.     At anytime that any guest rooms (Other than suites) have more
than four occupants, the room will be evicted to prevent fire and
safety violations.  Maximum occupancy in a guest room is four.

4.     After 2AM, any room found having more occupants in the room
than it is actually registered to have will be forced to pay for
the additional guest or be evicted from the hotel.

5.     Any persons found sleeping anywhere in the hotel other then a
guest room will be escorted off preperty and not be allowed back 
for the rest of the Con.

6.     No physical contact other then holding hands, a quick hug or
kiss will be tolerated.  Any further actions will result in the 
subjects being asked to leave the property for the remaining time
of the Con.

7.     All non registered guest in the hotel will be asked to leave
the property between the hours of 2AM-5AM.

8.     A full dress code will go into effect requiring shoes and
shirts in all public areas except the pool.  All violators will be
escorted off property for the remaining time of the con.  Costumes
will be permitted.

9.     No pranfanity gestures will be allowed on any part of the
clothing.  Violators will be escorted off property for the
remainder of the Con.

10.    There is to be absolutely nothing sold out of any guest room.
Violators will escorted off property for the remainder of the
Con.

{page break}

11.    The pool, jacuzzi and weight room are for registered hotel
guest only.  Violators found using our guest facilities will be
escorted off property for the rest of the Con.

12.    No beer kegs or home stereo systems will be allowed in any
guest rooms.  This is to assure that a party will not take place
in the room that might disturb other guest.

13.    Objects thrown from balconies:    Intentionally dropping,
throwing or projecting objects from room balconies is automatic
room eviction and escort off-property with No Refund.

14.    Safety violations:  Jumping or hopping from room balconies or
any other serious safety violation will result in removal from
hotel property and possible room eviction with NO REFUND.

15.    Alcohol:   Any minors consuming alcohol will be escorted off-
property.  If minors are observed consuming alcohol in the guest
rooms, the guest will be evicted from the room and escorted off-
property with NO REFUND.

16.    Vandalism:   Any guest who vandalizes the hotel property or
other guest property will be held responsible for the damages.
Outside police may be involved depending on the severity of
damages.  In all circumstance, the violator will be escorted off
property.


I have read the above San Jose Red Lion In House Rules that will
go into effect on July 25, 1991.  I hereby agree to all the above
rules and realize that I or members of the convention may be
evicted from the hotel and escorted off property for the remaining
time of the Con if they violate any of the above rules.

{blank space deleted}

Signature: ____________________________________  Date: ____________

                             #######

As you can see, the majority of these rules fall under the simple
category of "safe and sane common sense".  However, items 1, 2, 3,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12 could be construed in ways that limit "normal"
con activity.  Moreover, the tone of the letter is rather offensive
and insulting, made worse by the numerous syntactical and semantic
errors in it.

When I saw this, my initial reaction, based primarily on rule 6, was
that it had to be a joke.  However, it *was* on Red Lion letterhead,
and I decided that it had to be checked out.

I went to see the General Manager, who told me (in no particular order):

A) that the hotel had indeed posted the previous letter.

B) the background I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

C) that he had been on vacation until just before Timecon, and had simply
passed it on when it appeared in the huge pile on his desk.

D) that the Red Lion Inn had had a continuous relationship with SF
conventions during his five years as manager that he was proud of.

E) that he was sorry that this whole situation was handled so poorly
(he apologized profusely), and that there was going to be a letter in
the afternoon update.

F) that he had had to evict already two rooms containing minors for
consuming alcohol and drugs, jumping across balconies.

I suggested that, in addition, he also post the apology in various public
places.  This suggestion was not acted upon, but here is the letter that
appeared in Timecon Update 4 (Saturday evening, approximately 8 hours
after my conversation, *long* after complaints started registering):

                            #######

Received from Red Lion Executive Offices

Dear Timecon Fans,

During the past two days I have had an opportunity to visit with several
of you who have taken exception to the welcome letter and convention
policy that was presented at check-in.

Many of you have been insulted and confused by this and questioned
Red Lions welcome.  On behalf of our entire team, please accept our
apology for this misinterpretation.  It was our intent to simply focus
on the safety and comfort of all of our guests including Timecon.
Unfortunately, over the years a select few individuals have conducted
themselves in a fashion that has not been endorsed by the Con attendees,
other hotel quests, and of course, the hotel.

We have had the plesure to host a number of Cons in the past and are
proud of the relationship we have maintained with the attendees and the
committee members.  It is our goal to continue this relationship in the
future and provide all of you with a excellent experience and stay.

Please accept my best wishes for a great Con and do not hesitate to
contact myself, Chris Ferrante, or our night manager Fred Trejo if we
can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Norval Nelson

                              #######

By the time this came out, though, the damage had been done.  Rule 6, in 
particular, was a prime target.  This Timecon was one of the most
physically affectionate cons I've ever been to.    Many people
wore buttons that said "SIX OFFENDER", I wore a pair that said 
"I BREAK RULE 6" and "PROMISCUOUS HUGGER", and one person wore one that
said "666 -- Menage a trois".

I heard that the posted rules were supposedly the standard house rules.
I find this difficult to believe, except in a very general sense; no
one can afford to look as silly as this letter made them look.

I'll just say that I personally believe that it was "just" a fuck-up
in internal communication that caused this to be posted.  I don't
think the person who actually wrote this was a long-term employee of
Red Lion San Jose -- no one who knew anything about cons could have
written that.

There was some additional additional anonymous commentary circulated
through the con.  This one is the "third page" of the rules:

                              #######

(Additional rules)
 
17.  All pool animals must be leashed/muzzled or in carriers.
 
18.  No throwing sex objects off balcony.
 
19.  No obscene behavior with inflatable animals.
 
20.  No levitation.
 
21.  No more than 6 astral bodies in any room (except main lobby).
 
22.  No new clothes allowed.  All clothes must be _worn._  If shirt & shoes
     are thoroughly worn, pants are optional.
 
23.  Any clothing (excluding optional pants) caught making pranfane gestures
     will be removed from its wearer and evicted.  (Anyone able to define 
     "pranfane" gets a cigar.)
 
24.  Physical contact of any duration between humans and extraterrestrials
     is (of course) permitted, providing all parties are above the age of
     consent and are not in direct violation of the Prime Directive.
 
25.  On second complaint regarding parties, perpetrators will be thrown to
     the Red Lions.  (Assuming parties were able to continue party elsewhere
     after their room was evicted.)
 
26.  Anyone attempting to sell the beds, television, or other furnishings
     from the guest rooms will be keelhauled.  (Unless a suitable profit
     was made and funds shared with appropriate authorities!)
 
27.  Jumping or hopping _onto_ balconies from lower levels is strictly
     prohibited without jumping or hopping license.  (Jumping or hopping
     to conclusions is, of course, permitted.)
 
28.  If outside police are needed to assist with (indoor) vandalism, our
     resident vandals will be sent to remedial vandalism classes at Hun &
     Visigoth Voc Ed Center.
 
29.  Any persons whose minds are wandering in galaxies far, far away
     (except while sleeping in guest rooms) will have their fantasies
     rudely shattered by the Fannish Inquisition.
 
30.  Didn't expect the Fannish Inquisition, did you??


                              #######

And this is another sheet (handwritten):

                              #######

             Time Con '91'

We interrupt this convention with a special bulletin.  Timecon is now
under marshall law.  All constitutional rights have been suspended.
_Stay_in_your_room_.  Do not attempt to contact loved ones, insurance
agents or attournies.  _SHUT_UP_!!  Do not attempt to think or depression
may occur _STAY_IN_YOUR_ROOMS_!  Curfew is in effect at 2:00 AM sharp!
Anyone caught outside of their subdivision sector after curfew _WILL_
_BE_SHOT_!  _DO_NOT_PANIC_!  _REMAIN_CALM_!  Your security guard will be
by to collect urine samples in the morning.  Anyone caught interfering
with the collection of urine samples _WILL_BE_SHOT_!  _STAY_IN_YOUR_
_ROOMS_!  _REMAIN_CALM_!  The number one enemies of puritanism are
questions.  Red Lion Inn security is more important than individual will.
All video broadcasts will proceed as planned.  No more than four people
may gather together for conversation or otherwise without special 
permission from Red Lion Inn security.  Follow only the rules prescribed
by security personnell or Flare.

                             _SHUT_UP_!

_BE_HAPPY_!  Obey all orders without question.  The comfort you've
demanded is now mandatory.  Be happy, at last everything is done for you.

                              #######

Looking back, I see a couple of important points:

1)  The concom for any particular con needs to find out (and possibly
negotiate) the hotel rules and communicate them to the attendees.  We fen
need to expend some effort at self-policing -- don't just let Flare
handle things.

2)  If you see something you don't like, react to it, but don't
*over*react.  Most of the people at Timecon made a point of overtly
breaking as many of the rules as they could, while still staying within
the boundaries of good taste and common sense.

For those of you who attended Timecon and still feel somewhat outraged,
I suggest you write a letter to the Red Lion management, and send a
copy to Conventions of Time (whatever their address is).

I've deliberately avoided turning this into an emotional report, 
restricting myself mostly to the facts.  I think it's more important
to look to the future, and see what can be done to prevent similar
incidents from occurring.