And you know what, it was!
I had fun coming up with fake Olive Facts, I loved the ones that Leigh Ann came up with. I loved the sense of fun that it had. Above all, bids should be fun, no? Well, maybe that's not true, they should be informative, interesting, and fun. For a good example, look at the London 2014 bid. Great parties at lots of cons, lots of great info, fun videos, it's got it all. The bid for this year's Westercon was a pretty good one. It got the name out there and by the way Glenn managed things, he made sure that there was a sense of fun to everything. I don't do anything I don't think is fun unless not doing it'll land me in prison or without an apartment to call home.
Andy and Kevin took it in another direction.
They made it both a Voter Education thing, which is a good and important thing (to paraphrase John Hertz) and they released the Olive Manifesto, which was exactly the kind of thing that one should do when a Hoax gets Real. I kinda feel bad because my participation was less-than-serious, but what can I say? I'm a terrible hedonistic human being.
There were several things that troubled me. In the meeting, the gentleman who basically said "Shame on you for stealing a Westercon from a real bid!" OK, you can look at what happen and come away with that feeling and it's understandable. On the other hand, what Kevin and Andy did was bring folks in, many of whom would never have voted in a Westercon site selection, and they made them care. They held a harsh light up to the problems with the Portland bid and they refused to give up and let it just be a "Hoax Bid". They didn't have to go to the Business Meeting and enter a bid. They did, and they were awarded the convention.
Some called it dirty pool. I can see their point, but I don't quite see it like that. Not Dirty Pool, but maybe Dirty Tennis. In the early 1900s, tennis was a thing played with a specific set of rules and expectations, things like rushing the net were never to be done. Someone saw this and began to play differently, putting spin on the ball, making serves difficult to return. The players at the time had to adapt or they had to go off and retire. The ones who retired thought of the style of play those newer players as 'Dirty Players'.
The ones that retired didn't effect the future of the game. Tennis grew out of those folks who saw that a change was needed. That change came from the ones who made the game interesting.
There were folks who approached me right after the business meeting who were certainly angry, one of which saying that A Joke Bid beat a serious bid because they were popular. "Why should anyone bid if the Popular Kids can just come along and steal it away from you?" she said. I asked "If the Popular Kids had filed and won, would that have been OK?" She got flustered and left. Utah, on their bid Yahoo Group, mentioned that "It could happen to us" and you know what, that's the best message to take away. If you aren't as solid a bid as you could be, you're vulnerable. Unopposed does not mean Seated. Unopposed does not mean free and easy.
Glenn, by the way, did it right. The Westercon 64 bid was solid, smart and didn't just accept that it was going to win. It bid like it was running against someone, and in a way all bids are running against None of the Above. Christian & Co. did it right for Westercon 63's bid, as did the bids for Vegas, and the one for San Jose (which turned out to be San Mateo). These were good bids, they were ones that ran, that did not merely accept that they were going to be seated. They put a ton of effort into it and though they had very different outcomes as far as the actual conventions go, they did their bids right.
At least from where I was sitting.
Why should anyone bid if these things can happen? These things couldn't happen to a bid that had its act together. I get it, there was Life that intervened, and honestly it sucks, but show me a bid or a con that hasn't had that sort of thing happen. Part of showing that you can handle a convention is a bidding process where you can work through those sorts of things.
Why bid? Because you have a vision for a convention that you want to see come true. That's why you bid. If you love Westercons, and I do, then you bid because you want to see your fingerprints on one. I really think that the single best reason to bid, to chair, to work a con. Why do I do Fanzine Lounges? So that there'll be some little mark that I left on the experience of a convention, and I hope it'll be a positive one. You bid because you want to make that mark, but first you have to convince people that your mark is the one that should be made for that con. Kevin and Andy did that, they did it beautifully. Portland really didn't.
All this adds up to several things. Portland took the mound, had a bad outing. It wasn't busted down to Triple-A, but now it knows what it has to work on, it can tweak its mechanics. I really think Portland can put on a good Westercon, though I am much more interested in seeing what fingerprints Kevin and Andy and the rest of the committee put on their Westercon.
And I hope they'll let me run a Lounge.