So I went to visit our friends at LI WHO a couple weekends ago. They were nice enough to give us a panel to promote my Doctor Who con, (Re)Generation Who in MD this March. Of course, I had to dress for the occasion:
Arnold Blumberg, James Harknell, and Oni Hartstein. Photo by John Horne
I grew up in Pittsburgh, which was Mr. Rogers’ home town. Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet him but I regard him as one of the most hardcore people who ever lived. He is one of my biggest inspirations. I know many people who did meet him or work with him and they all have great things to say about him.
Not everyone understands why geek culture and conventions have always been a big part of my life and on some occasions people have made fun of what I do. I tend to handle them pretty well.
You see, this all started out as simply something I enjoyed and wanted to participate in. As I continued as an artist and cartoonist I had the opportunity to meet many people. Some of these people found great strength in my work, which surprised me. I never thought I was anything special. I was just doing my thing. My thing just happened to be something that made people laugh or smile. I always took the time to sit with and talk with anyone who came to my table. I never was too wrapped up in my art – I always saw it in so far as how people interacted with it. In many ways I see my visual art as performance art. If it touches someone or makes their day better than I have won. The people were always infinitely more important to me than any of my art pieces.
I eventually started staffing cons because I saw some things I didn’t agree with and I am a big proponent of getting involved instead of complaining.
The feedback from people that my work – art AND staffing cons helped them. Deeply. People left abusive relationships, pursued education, felt that they finally fit in, and found better lives because of my work.
Then I started Intervention to further that directly. Intervention is specially a makerspace to help people move forward in life via their creativity.
Then I started (Re)Generation Who: The Doctor Who Convention for Every Generation. It had one of the strongest starts in indie convention history – all because of what my organization had been doing for many years.
The people have always been important to me than any other noun in this equation. Including “money”.
Regardless of how blunt my Daily Real Talk may sound, it’s always about the people before I even look after myself. That’s why when I talk to people who don’t understand the convention world I sometimes change how I talk about it. Instead of saying I run geek conventions I may phrase it in a way that they understand. I like to feel that most people understand how important and powerful it is to be there for everyone and to put out events that truly serve the community, regardless of if they understand geek or any particular fandom. I am a master at getting a geek hater to eat their words.
The people who have told me directly that the work that we do saved their life or helped them out of seriously bad times are many. I don’t think I’d bother with doing anything that I do if it weren’t for the people who we can help and the great friends that we have made. At one event that I did in the past I lost about $10,000 – personally. My friend Frank approached me and pointed out to me that there were attendees who had broken down in tears of joy for what we had done that weekend. He knew that even one attendee feeling like that was worth the loss to me. I’ll gladly work extra freelance hours to make that back up.
That’s how I measure success.
If anyone doesn’t get it, I can explain all of this and show them this video below. I’m a master at confronting sour people with humanity and compassion and placing what we do into terms they can understand to the point that continuing to hold onto their hatred makes them feel terrible. If you are pressed for time and have to skip, make sure you pop back in at the end of the video.
Mr. Rogers understood how important it was to be there for people before I was even born. He says it correctly here – we are servants. That is our responsibility in media. I’ve had many moments like this in my life already – all because of conventions, geeks, and My People.
He is one of my inspirations, my staff and attendees are the other inspirations in my life. Even the biggest geek hater can understand that – and if they can’t, that’s fine. They can continue sitting at their table for one. I’ll be partying with My People.
I’ve been aware of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab for many years since I used to be very active in the NYC goth club scene. When they first started out – or at least when I first learned of them – they were this sort of underground fragrance company that made scents with a dark twist. Since then the company seems to have grown quite a bit and now they have partnered with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Jim Henson Studios, and, most recently, Guillermo Del Toro / Legendary Pictures on their Crimson Peak film. They now make fragrances that are officially licensed and tell the stories they are connected to through smell.
BPAL graciously sent me a gift box of fragrances to try so that I could write about them.
I was glad to check this out since I have always liked BPAL and the creativity they have consistently shown in fragrance design. I am an art and music type of person so the idea that you could tell a story with fragrance is like sorcery to me – and that’s pretty much what BPAL is. Sorcery.
I am actually not a big corporate fragrance person. I sort of find most of the luxury fragrances you can buy in department stores to all smell of the same alcohol and cat piss based undertone. BPAL’s fragrances are more related to the types of fragrances you’d find in a hippie store than corporate, so that undertone that I dislike is markedly absent from all of their offerings. The range is pretty wide so if you are thinking everything is going to be patchouli you’d be mistaken. The descriptions on BPAL’s site are exactly what you’ll get. Again I say this is sorcery because I couldn’t have come up with these descriptions, but when I tested them, yes those descriptions are spot on.
They also included samples of some of their other lines. Some of the ones that they sent which stood out were:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind: pearlescent vanilla musk with white sandalwood, grey amber, white patchouli, ambrette seed, and oudh.
The Organ Grinder
Almond milk, sarsaparilla, tobacco smoke, High John the Conqueror root, coconut hull, black patchouli and white pine bark.
Fraggle Rock – Red
Sporty and energetic: sweet red currant, tangy cranberry, pink musk, and spicy pink pepper.
Three white cakes, vanilla, and red and black currants.
I feel like anyone who is a fan of weird dark nerdy stuff (probably most people who follow my blog, TBH) and likes scents for themselves or their home would really like this which is why I agreed to write about it. The fragrances are all high quality and really stay, so I’d recommend moderation when you apply. I spilled some on my hand and it’s still there after a few hand washings, so this is some seriously concentrated, high quality fragrance. I’ve spent serious coin on fragrances/products known for their fragrance in the past *cough* Mooroccanoil Body Souffle *couch* and they didn’t last long at all once applied. You won’t have that problem with BPAL.
BOOM! I am delighted to be hosting a Twitter Party for Spooky Empire in Orlando, Florida. Even if you don’t live there, you can win some cool stuff including autographed photos of Jamie Kennedy, Lana Parrilla, and Clive Barker. We’ll also be giving away two 3-day passes to Spooky Empire, Oct 30 – Nov 1, 2015! RSVP here at this link!
CONTEST DATE: MONDAY, OCTOBER 19
7:00 – 8:00 PM EST
Spooky Empire is a 3 day convention for the entire family with horror movie and TV stars, vendors and artists. I’ll be dropping some news about this event on 10/19 from 7-8PM at http://www.twitter.com/onezumi
We’ll be talking about cosplay, horror/Halloween movies, giving away prizes, and more mayhem! We are giving away:
– 3 autographed photos of Jamie Kennedy, Lana Parrilla, and Clive Barker
– Two 3-day passes to Spooky Empire, Oct 30 – Nov 1, 2015.