OrangeCrush 2.0 Report
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.