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When Cons Collude!

Consume/Relaxacon

Feasting Fen Fighting Fast-Food Famine

History of the 3M and CONSUME/RELAXACON

The 3M started with the ICC. This needs translation.

Once upon a time (the 1970‘s) in a fannish clubland far, far away, a local club (WSFA-the Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association) ran a con in the nation‘s capital called “Disclave”. It has since changed names and moved to the suburbs. (Untold unrelated story not told here.)

As I remember it, one year Disclave‘s budget was tight and Doll Gilliland asked club members to bake some cookies and bring them to the consuite. It was a raging success. (Maybe the budget wasn‘t tight and it was just a good idea. Maybe it wasn‘t Doll‘s idea. But, this is my memory and that‘s what I recall.)

The cookies were so popular that they did it again the next year and thereafter regardless of financial health.

This cooperative effort became know as The International Cookie Conspiracy or the ICC. An abbreviation that for some reason seemed to resonate in the DC area.

When I moved to Minneapolis and started working on Minicon I brought this idea to the committee. It needed to be renamed and, I thought, reworked some. Cookies were good and popular but I thought then, and still do, that especially late at night when fen were partying hard they needed some real food-not just junk food munchies.

I decided to call our version The Minnesota Munchie Movement” because we could abbreviate it as “3M” which for some reason seemed to resonate in Minnesota.

The original idea was to encourage faans to bring “real food” they made at home to the consuite to share with other congoers. This was the cookie model of the ICC.

This is what we did at first. (There is a moderately long [and possibly amusing] story to the first year of the 3M. If people really want to read it I‘ll write it up.)

Over the next few years contributions dropped off and demand remained high. So I started supplementing what was being contributed with food prepared at the con--while still trying to get more contributions prepared at home. I gathered a group of friends who were willing to help and we partied while we prepped and cooked. Darn good parties too!

There was a hiatus in the late 80‘s and early 90‘s.

I started cooking again in the middle 90‘s.

I‘m still trying to encourage contributions made at home. (Hence our $5 rebate for food brought to the consuite to be shared at Consume/Relaxacon.) (Gentle unassuming barely whispered HINT!!!)

I‘m still trying to put together a new group of folks to help prep and cook at cons. Volunteers are very welcome! We can teach if you want to learn.

Cooking for myself and others, in hotel rooms when I was on the road going to many cons being a dealer, I learned how to cook for fans in hotels. I took this experience to the consuite.

Minn-stf (the Minnesota Science Fiction Society, albeit, the “stf” stands for “scientifiction”, Hugo Gernsback‘s original name for what we call “science fiction”) started a small convention in the fall. About half way around the calendar (usually in Sept.) from Minicon-the, by then, big convention on Easter weekend that the club ran...and still does! Except now it is about 1/7th the size it was at it‘s biggest about 5 years ago.

They started it as a convention to relax at, since it required a lot less work to put on than Minicon, and as a training ground for people working on Minicon.

Every few years it changed its name as it changed location and/or leadership. In those days the rule was that nobody ran it for more than 2 years in a row. This reflected its mission as a training convention. That held true until at least the late ‘80‘s. (I don‘t remember exactly when that changed.) Because the name changed so frequently, and because it was always in the fall, this small relaxacon became known generically as fallcon. It is not capitalized because its name is NOT “Fallcon”.

When I ran it in ‘83 and ‘84 it was called “Maxicon”. I figured if the big convention was called “Minicon”, then the small convention should be called “Maxicon”. Okay, okay, seems like a weak joke now. I was 20 years younger then so give me a break.

Some of the names were “Reinconation”, “Anokon”, “Not Anokon” (location change).

In 1998 it looked like it had finally run out of steam. It was uncertain that the people who ran the not quite a fallcon the year before were going to do something that year.

At a dim sum, at the fannish dim sum favorite, Peking Garden, I was talking with Sharon Kahn and Dave Romm. I asked if the fallcon was going to happen. They weren‘t sure. I suggested that if no one else was going to put it on we three should just to keep the tradition alive.

Sharon though we should wait and see if anyone got it together. Dave agreed.

Some months went by. At another dim sum I raised the question again. Still nothing had been planned. So I lobbied Sharon and Dave to join with me and submit a bid to run the fallcon. (Alright, it was more like I verbally twisted their metaphorical arms...but who‘s counting?)

They finally agreed and told me to find a hotel. I did. The same one we‘re in this year. I got some possible dates, some rates, and we went to the Minn-stf Board of Directors with a bid proposal to put on that year‘s fallcon (1998) under the name of “Flashback!”. Sharon thought that all the congoers should flashback to the Minicons and fallcons that they had a good time at--and to the things that made it good for them.

The board took a long time deciding that we should run it. By the time they made up their minds the three weekends we preferred had been closed out. The only weekend we could get at that hotel--and we wanted that hotel was Halloween weekend. So we held it at the end of Oct. instead of the more usual Sept. It was a good fun con.

When I asked Sharon if she wanted to do it again the next year she said no. She said that Karen Cooper wanted to run it and combine it with a small fanzine con, “Ditto”. So Karen ran it in 1999 under the name “the Millennium Fallcon”. As she said, she waited 23 years to use that pun.

Karen was not interested in running it in 2000.

At Minicon in 2000, I was in a hotel room talking with Rhona Landsman and Dave Brack, and a few others on and off.

The subject of fallcon came up and we lamented that nobody planned to do it.

Rhona suggested that we should do it with me fronting the committee for the reason that I was better known to other fans and would have an easier time of recruiting others to the committee than she or Dave would have.

Since it was already April we thought that we‘d have trouble getting an open weekend that fall that hotels didn‘t already have booked by other groups. We wanted to use the hotel we‘d used in 1998. So we agreed that I‘d talk to the hotel at some point and we‘d aim to hold the con in 2001. That would give us plenty of lead-time.

In June I went to the hotel and let them know we wanted a weekend in Oct. 2001. We decided we like holding the con around Halloween and using that as a theme.

The hotel sales manager asked why we weren‘t interested in that year, 2000. I told him we figured that hotel would be booked. (It was in 1999 when Karen tried to hold it there, but Oct. was already booked.) I was told that they had some open dated that Oct. if I were interested. I said I check. I got Rhona, Dave Brack, Dave Romm, Bill and Caroline Couture, and a few others together in late June to talk about it. It was now FOUR months before we‘d have to have the con if we did it that year.

So I asked if they thought we could pull it together that quickly or should we stick with our original plan of 2001? The general consensus was: yah sure! We can do it!

So I asked what were we going to call it? The committee decided they wanted to call it “Relaxacon 2000”.

We decided it would be food oriented with good food in the consuite, sort of a Minnesota Munchie Movement kind of convention.

I went to the hotel, put up my own money for a deposit, signed a contract, recruited a few more people for the committee, and started putting out the word we were throwing a fallcon that year.

Not bright, but, fannish.

Then we scrambled...especially me.

I went to Minn-stf and asked if they wanted to sponsor the con. After the experience in 1998 of losing preferred dates because they took their time making a decision I felt that I had no choice, given the limited time, but to act first and ask permission later.

That year the board never did reach a decision as to whether they wanted to sponsor us or not.

We put on the convention anyway unsponsored by any club. We advertised it as being a “Minnesota Munchie Movement Production”.

Given the late start and limit budget it was small. We had a total registration of 60. In the last 2 years we‘ve added about 10-12 people a year.

Minn-stf has been our official sponsor since 2001, albeit, there has been very little involvement on the part of the club.

We, and the folks coming to the con, seem happy with the direction we‘re going. It‘s our intention to recreate the sense of silliness and happy good times that Minicon had in its early days. We‘re older and more tired so it doesn‘t have the manic energy that it did 30+ years ago. Young silly manic fannish types apply here.

Since 2000 we‘ve tried to be a relaxacon with a minor melody of other things happening at the con.

We have a little programming. When congoers want to attend it happens. When they don‘t, it doesn‘t. In 2001, for instance, nobody was interested in opening ceremonies (or “sillimonies” as I call it at this con---which it is with Dave Romm running it) when Dave let folks know it was starting. So we didn‘t have it that year.

We did have it again last year.

Over the last 3 years we‘ve been getting a video program more organized. It started out as something to keep Joella Bonser entertained while holding down the registration desk.

Last year having a regular posted schedule of eclectic entertaining items proved so popular that this year we‘ve moved it out of a consuite room and rented a separate room for it so there will be enough room for everybody who wants to watch during the most popular offerings.

This year Joella is starting an audio program to keep herself entertained while running registration.

Karl Berkner, having joined the concom this year, decided to run an anime program out of his room. So this year we expect to have video, audio, and anime programs... and a little programming.

Ben Lessinger started doing Karaoke and found some adherents. So we‘ve been doing that. Last year people were more interested in Sherri‘s “Dance dance revolution” so that happened.

Richard Tatge usually finds a group to do some filk singing...when he takes a break from the gaming he runs.

This year Howard Harrison, of “Howie and the Howlers” said he wanted to perform as a programming item. We said Sure. So this year we should have live music too.

Sharon Kahn a few years ago suggested we have “A fannish flea market” where attendees could buy/trade/give away what they wanted to. So we tried it last year. I brought some books, etc. to kick it off. This year we hope to have a couple more people bring stuff. It‘s not a hucksters‘ room. It‘s much more informal.

Then there‘s the food.

I wanted to serve good “real” food in the consuite. So I did. Kind of munchies with real muscle ([tissue] as well as veggies, rice, etc.)

Apparently what I thought of as “snacks” others thought of as “meals”.

Back in 2000 when we started under half the current name, Ctein said to me, “Rick, I didn‘t know you were servings meals.”

I replied, “I didn‘t know I was either.”

What I thought of as late night snacks others thought

of as dinner and wanted to know why I was serving it so late.

So in 2001 I put together a menu and we served meals to meet our members expectations and desires.

We‘re still doing that. Check out the menu section for updates as this year‘s menu gets organized.

Remember that “half a name” throwaway a few paragraphs ago?

Here‘s the history of our name.

In 2000 the committee voted to name the convention “Relaxacon” we put 2000 after it to identify the year rather than call it “Relaxacon 1”. Since we were building on what we did in 1998 we weren‘t sure that “1” rather than “2” was appropriate. But was “2” appropriate since in ‘98 it was called “Flashback!”? Using the year was easier.

In 2001, Ron Searby wanted to call the con “Consumption” because it was a food oriented con. He thought that said as much or more about the con than Relaxacon.

I pointed out to him that “Consumption” had an unfortunate connotation, as it was another name for TB.

So he changed his suggestion to “Consume”. So to make him happy I called it “Consume” as well.

In 2002 Ron let me know that he was unhappy that “Consume” wasn‘t getting equal billing with “Relaxacon 2002” on the flyers. I pointed out that ”Consume” had never been voted on by the committee as “Relaxacon” had been. But the concom was pretty mellow about having “Consume” as part of the name. They also thought it was a good fit.

This year when Ben and I were working on the first draft of the flyer we decide to change the style of the header that we had used up till now. With the new typeface (that‘s “font” to you younguns‘), it was easy and convenient to give both names equal billing. So we are now “Consume/Relaxacon 2003”.

I told the committee for brevity I‘m abbreviating it to “C/R3”.

That‘s our history to date. Okay so a lot of the details got left out. Still you should get some idea of how the munchie movement and our con came about.

Come to the con and help us extend our history. It‘s not every day that someone offers you the opportunity to become an historical personage.


CONsume/relaxaCON 
August 3-5, 2007 
Holiday Inn Select 
34th Ave. S. & American Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55425 

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