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OrangeCrush 2.0 Report

chicago dyke's picture

After this week, I'm fairly sure that my reputation in the blogosphere will be enhanced with terms including "vain," "self important," "shallow," and "bitchy." And that would be correct. In that spirit, I'll tell you about my experiences as Princess at the Margins during the great OrangeCrush 2.0. Update: even though I showered in his hotel room, we're not sleeping together. I do, however, agree with all of his post on the weekend.

I didn't really go to much of the official conference. I did that last year, it was fun that first time but I'm not sure what actually comes out of the various workshops and panels. Feels good to do so every once in a while, so I respect why people do it, and I'll grant that some education takes place. Yet I still recall how one executive sitting next to me at the feminism session last year was fidgety. She was in her 60s and a VP of a large organization and didn't have patience for feel good group hug moments, she was about getting things done. Anyway, I stuck my head in a few official things but generally kept to the pm/lunchbreak/party scene. Which was more than enough for my purposes.

Word of advice to the next group of planners: McCormick is way too big for this sort of thing. I wished someone had asked me, I would've told them to just use the hotel facilities and skip the convention center nightmare. And McC is a nightmare- cavernous, stark, multi-leveled and easy to get lost in...everyone was bitching about that. "I'm so tired, I must have walked a mile today" and that sort of complaint. Even with AC, that kind of hoofing isn't what people want to do in August, yo?

What was great about last year is that the Riveria sucked- too small, it stunk, it was cheap and ugly. And that was terrific! We were all so close together, it was such proof that were were there for each other, and not for the cameras, it felt intimate and family and all that other DFH shit. This year, it was more like a thousand little tugs passing each other upon Great Neptunes Ocean. "Toot Toot! Ahoy! Is that you, fellow liberal?" Image, people, image. You always want a line outside the door to the (packed, bodies on bodies) club, not an empty seeming space where no one is dancing.

Biggest Mistake: Don't ever, ever leave the media without full time handling, and keep them close. Putting them over across the street: stupid. Really. That will come back to bite them on the ass, just watch.

Anyhoo- I talked to all the folks I hoped to see, so I'm happy for that opportunity. I hate name dropping, but many of our Friends on Corrente's blogroll were there, some for the first time and some for the second. People are so interesting and diverse in our world, intellectually speaking. So there was lots of that, ranging from radical to moderate to Republican, at least for me. The general thought is that there needs to be some evolution of this whole "coming together in person" thing. In what direction was understood differently by different people, but everyone agreed that it's time to decide 'what's next for blogosphere meetups?'

I crashed the TIME/Swampland "rsvp only" party. After a little while, the party planner for that great publication (or at least this function) was asking me how to have made the party more interesting and hip. She herself was a hipster, but so lost in the Midwest it was painful to perceive. Hint: people take sports seriously here. Work with that next time, honey (but don't get Vick for the mixer). Klein is a coward as well as a wanker, it seems. Several Prominent Queer Bloggers and I all shared the same attack plan, but the little bitch didn't show while we were there. Oh, and guys- that "ironic" board was one of the lamer party 'jokes' I've seen in a while. Wit is certainly dead in our press corps.

I took a bunch of blogging friends out to Real Chicago, but most conference folks seemed happy to hang out in the hotel lounge and congregate with alcohol. One friend and I discussed how class is understood in the most crass and commercial terms these days; individual humans in America are little more than walking real estate for consumerist/status objects to hang upon. Body shape too- your shape really does reveal your class in this country. Some Black Folks and I spent some time rightly complaing that it was pretty goddam white again this year, too. The Herd came out in force in the after hours venues; it's amusing to see how the "fans" treat the "stars" in the blogosphere. O My Hyacinthe, how I longed for and missed your sharp tongue...

If I picked up anything important, there are two points. 1. People are tired. Of losing, of capitulating, of being manipulated, of being told to wait, of fighting. New blood is coming in, but old talent is rapidly flowing out. Not all of it is leaving altogether, but you can see how, as in other internet community iterations, the mass is changing. 2. People are split into what Shy would call "progressives" and "establishment/party operatives." Not a little talk was for those who have used the blogsphere to advance their own careers with lots of free labor from other people, careers in consulting, lobbying or the paying wing of the media. This is a point in time when "the movement" will become several, sometimes even opposed to each other, "movements." How many and in what direction remains to be seen.

Next year will likely be the last chance this conference will have to remain what I'd call "vitally significant." This year was a holding year, it's very significant to me that Reid and Pelosi canceled. And held that FISA vote in the dead of night when 75% of the more popular blogosphere was getting shitfaced. That seems like a pretty clear message to me, and the Kossacks are going to have to fight to remain a serious political force in the coming years. I believe that can be done, I don't know if it will be. I hope that doesn't make any of the hard working volunteers, to whom I give great credit and thank deeply, angry. The volunteers are not in any way "a problem." These are issues that the blogosphere as a whole is facing, the Kossack community is just experiencing it in its own way.

I'm very glad I went. Shout out to everyone with whom I spent such quality time, and my apologies that I had to keep it so short. I hope everyone had fun, and I'm glad you all were there when my once adopted city was in full bloom like that. Still, it really stretched my Major Skillz to have to find a parking spot during Lollapollooza, a Cubs game, and high summer in Boystown like that (hint: dinner on the West side). Next time, I hope planners can find a city that could use the economic stimulation and doesn't stretch so many thinner wallets. I'm used to it, but I'm sure it was hard on many, indeed, I heard complaints about spendiness quite a bit.

Update PS: The political blogosphere is just as infected with Teh Gai as the Beltway. Heh. Atrios is the straightest man in the blogosphere, if you grok my meaning.

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Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

is that it costs so insanely fucking much to fly into and out of such venues. Any little bit you save on the meeting space by going to, say, Opryland convention center in Nashville is wiped out three times over by the difference in airfare.

And if you go to an even smaller city which would be thrilled to get an assemblage of--how many were there officially for YK07, I never saw a number? I'm gonna make something up and say "3000"--then you're talking about a place like Jackson TN.

They could handle a crowd that size, sleep 'n' slop everybody including hangers-on, gatecrashers such as yourself, and media, and they even have a Cubs farm team for evening amusement as well as bars 'n' shit. But you have to fly into Memphis and rent a car and drive another 100 miles to get there OR pay quadruple (instead of triple as it would be to Memphis) to fly into the Jackson "airport."

I know people were pissed about it being Vegas last year, and as you note the same complaints about Chicago this year. But dammit, they call it flyover country for a reason--it costs too much to fucking land anyplace.

IMHO the solution is more meetings of fewer people, regionally based. Everybody goes to the one that fits their schedule, their budget, whatever other factors (particular friends going to be at one or the other, etc) are involved.

This would have the added advantage of getting more done and attracting less media. Those people just make a mess and misreport, kinda like they do with everything else now that I think about it. YK this year was simultaneously reported as us "arriving as a force" and "mutating into just another interest group," neither of which is either useful or accurate as best I can tell.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I have "flown" into the Jackson airport. The runway was so short we had to do a corkscrew landing in our propjet puddle-jumper like they do now in Baghdad. This was back in the Eighties so for all I know they might have had a bond issue to upgrade and compete with Memphis.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Overall there seems to have been a desire to "professionalize" the conference in the sense of making it look corporate and big. That effort mainly succeeded in making it look smaller than it was (by drowning people in too large a venue), in reducing the energy both by spreading people out too much and by bringing in too many non community members on the panels, and made it expensive for the netroots folks, the people not expensing it, who are the heart of the conference.

But Hillary wouldn't take them seriously then.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

is that while it was a great show, it wasn't magic.
And Magic is what we need, now.

Reid and Pelosi kissing off the Kossacks is perfect, btw.
Symbol of their regard for the country.

it sounded, in spirit, not unlike a meeting of the 'meat-market' aspects of MLA/AERA/ASA/etc. Instead of tenure-track university jobs, here a LOT of aspirants were hoping to line up jobs/contracts from the 'new' administration they hope to be influential in installing.

how many bloggers were angling for spots among the "serious People" of the Village punditocracy?

as for auld lang syne, i remember a pretty common refrain from my surfing days: "Man, it sucks, today...Fuck, but you shoulda been here YESTERday! Man, it was glassy and shoulder high..."

of the many reasons i cite for not going this year (many personal, many petty, some pretend, all valid in my paranoid mind) one of the more pratical was that i have already spent 3 days at a convention at mccormick hall in august.

granted it was 20 years ago, and i'm sure lots has changed, but i still remember taking forever to get somewhere, and sweating while i did it. the only place worse for humidity than chicago in august was n'awlins in august (another convention, another time). but at least the big easy has beignets!

and, i don't know what the neighborhood is like now, but when i was there at mccormick, there was literally nowhere to walk to for eating, or site seeing, or just strolling around.

i heard/read on another blog that next year kos will be calling it "netroots nation" or some such bs, getting his name out of it. but i'm sure it will still be economically tied to his pocket book somehow. but maybe by then i will have forgotten about being dumped off his blog roll after 5 years of support for his efforts. bitter much? thanks for noticing.

if there's one regret i have for not showing up this year, it's missing out on meeting and having fun w/the great friends i've made over the years of blogging, like you chidyke, and so many others.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

I read Ian Welsh's and Teddy SF's reports too.

The main thing that bums me out: I wish more bloggers knew that there are folks working behind the scenes to build infrastructure to support long-tail lefty bloggers, not just the a-list. Folks like Dave Johnson and Sean-Paul Kelley, just to name a few.

Think of it this way: building a large-scale, long-term popular political movement without being co-opted (or destroyed) by the power elites is a big ass challenge. Has it ever been done before?

Not that Kos and the convention organizers should not be criticised. They should, loudly, so they can make it better and make it work. [/Project Runway]

As HST (RIP) said, "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro". The question is how to turn pro without compromising what made you weird in the first place. HST was able to do it, but he was one in many millions.

One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that the blogosphere is not a competition or a capitalist enterprise, it's a collective. The collective is the blogosphere's strength and it's inherent value.

Submitted by lambert on

... to come out of this looking better than he did going in. Of course, he's talking my issue: Restoring Constitutional governance. (And if that's not your issue... Why?)


No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

Jet's picture
Submitted by Jet on

You'd never know it by the panels offered. It just blows my mind that there were no vet's panels, no anti-war panels, nothing.

It's not like I didn't try to get our amazing military writer to be a panelist either. We both know Liberal Jarhead would have rocked the panel. I was told they had it covered. This apparently is new speak for we ain't going there. Yet, there was panel after panel of domestic issues that need the cash being poured into that trillion tax dollar middle east profiteering scam. If we don't deal with it, we can't deal with anything else. It's blindingly basic.

It was GREAT to see you CD, and I'm glad we got to chat for a bit. I just want to know, when did the war get marginalized for YK2, and who's behind it?

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - MLK