Feelin' a 'CHILL' at the Con
It has become a trite phrase of late, but somehow I still smile and shake my head when someone says Why cant we all get along?
Yeah, why cant we, Ill often wonder.
Perhaps its the knowledge that there are many people out there motivated by being the one or the right one or perhaps even the chosen one at the expense of the huddled masses.
Thats why this job grows somewhat tiring at times as Im forced to listen to the wailing and gnashing of teeth of people who simply want their way done and their view expounded upon the hell with anyone else.
Getting along isnt part of the equation. The D or R next to your name defines you. Or, perhaps its the religion you call your own, the economic level you live in, the house you own, the car you drive, the wife or husband you love, the achievement of your children, the color of your skin, the level of your education or just the way your hair, shirt and pants look. Theres always something to attach a label to, isnt there?
Peace, tranquility and acceptance seem so far away. Well, perhaps not.
This weekend, I discovered a world that is all-inclusive and accepting. Its a place that celebrates the you that you often have to hide or make excuses for. It doesnt care if youre fat or thin, bald or hairy, smart or dumb, tall or short, blonde or brunette, white, black, brown, yellow or simply undecided. Yeah, folks, there is a place where unconditional acceptance isnt the rule, its the norm.
And local guy Ron Brister and his family and army of volunteers have created it.
A little more than a month ago I did a feature on Brister and his creation of the Rose City Comic Con and the approach of his second year at the Oregon Convention Center. It was a nice piece about a guy seeing a need and doing his best, with limited resources, to fill that need.
On Saturday, I basked in the result.
Comic Con isnt so much an event as a state of mind. Strolling through the doors and into the world of Gandalf, Batman, Wonderwoman, Bain and hundreds of other characters offers a portal into a place where whether in jeans and T-shirt, shorts and hoodie or a costume intricately created, you and I belong.
Im not a guy who will wear a costume, but I certainly enjoy looking at the many who do. From children to men and women older than I, the geek and nerd community revels in a time and place where there is no negativity, simply a wondrous delight in creativity. Its come-as-you-are cool and accepting as hell. I found it refreshing on so many levels its embarrassing.
Kristina McRae was manning the Game Star booth, which actually has a store in the Fred Meyer plaza of Canby. As the con began, she summed it up this way, Were here because we love this stuff, and were an enthusiastic part of the nerd community.
And maybe, just maybe, thats what Brister and his cohorts in nerd-glory have wrought a place where everyone gets it, no one is trying to spin it and the folks who walk through the doors simply love it for loves sake.
When I was young, my sistser and I collected comic books and I also have a substantial sports card collection stored away. As we reached our teens and then into middle age, those golden days of losing oneself in a comic seemed so far away. Now, closer to the end than the beginning, the inner nerd and geek in both of us has resurfaced. And with it, the discovery of an underground culture that makes way for everyone and anyone. Incredible.
Heres a special thanks to Brister and his con-loving brothers and sisters who put the work in to make Rose City Comic Con something special. From the panels (Avery Brooks is still a badass for all you Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Spenser for Hire fans), the vendors, volunteers and the cosplay people who dressed up as so many different characters, bravo.
Coming away from the center, I felt a peace and calmness I hadnt felt in months. My sister Ruth and I had laughed and smiled almost constantly, talked with artists and writers galore and bought our share of Conan comic books. And through it all, we found a fertile ground for friendship and acceptance.
This isnt a typical column and the subject matter will cause some eye rolls, but with elections, libraries and other issues sure to fill my time in the near future, it was nice to traipse through a land that held no agendas, no threats and universal acceptance of why we were there.
Doesnt that sound fantastic? Perhaps the geeks and nerds know something we dont. They appear to have gotten there first.