Hello again, after an absence of a couple of weeks. Two pages are not going to make a full Con report, but I guess you want at least a brief summary of a) how the NyCon was, and b) how we lost the Pan-PacifiCon bid.
First off, as the WorldCon is usually like the WesterCon, only More So, so the NyCon was like this year's WesterCon, only More So. Except that it was in a bad hotel. The programming was informal, or gave the feeling of being informal, even though they did have quite a lot of it. Ted Johnstone will tell you how Ted White grabbed him and Len Bailes and asked them, on about an hour's notice, to spend 45 minutes talking about the Man from U.N.C.L.E. books, to fill in a 45-minute gap in the programming. Bĵo, somewhat to her annoyance, found that she was scheduled to be on a panel at the time that we were still putting up the Art Show. Some events didn't start until over a half hour late, others began early. But, like the WesterCon, nobody really minded the lack of a good, solid program; we were having fun taking it easy in "relaxicon" style.
Like the WesterCon again, this was to a large part a "Star Trek" theme Con. If the WesterCon was loaded with "Star Trek" fans, the NyCon was even more so; and, while most of the WesterCon fans were primarily s-f fans who also liked "Star Trek", most of the NyCon fans seemed to be teenage girls who only were interested in "Star Trek". I think there were close to ten "Mr. Spocks" at the Costume Ball. In addition, the premiere episode of the new season's shows was previewed at the Con; and we were selling a lot of U.S.S. Enterprise model kits, photo packets, etc., that Roddenberry had donated to TOFF; and there was the special TOFF auction that consisted almost entirely of "Star Trek" material -- scripts, film clips, costume material, set sketches, etc. -- that got $799 alone, and put TOFF well over the top. Yes, "Star Trek dominated this Con.
I mentioned that the hotel was bad. From what I hear, there are two Hilton hotels in New York City. The newest, and showpiece of the chain is the brand-new new York Hilton. The Statler is second-rate, knows it, and is deliberately trying to make the whole chain look bad out of petulant jealousy. This sounds incredible, but this hotel staff was certainly of the don't-give-a-damn variety. Fans checked into rooms from which the preceding tenants had not yet checked out, involving embarrassment, and annoying delays in straightening matters out. The elevator service was as abominable as it's ever been; some fans timed waits of over 15 minutes, and the operators were often rude. Complaints were made by many fans on many subjects, and, in comparing notes, from the number of different assistant managers that answered the complaints, we suspect the staff was playing the old game of "Who wants to be assistant manager this time?" whenever a complaint came in. Ruth Kyle said that the "assistant manager" she got on the phone was obviously drunk and quite rude. I won't fill up the rest of this page with horror stories about the hotel, but I will point out that all this was a heavy blow to our bid, since the Pan-PacifiCon was to've been held at the L.A. Statler-Hilton. It was useless to claim that our hotel was different; to point out that it had sent one of its top staff men (Bob Weber, Convention Sales Manager) all the way to New York to help us win our bid, as proof of how much they wanted us -- how many hotels have ever done this in the past?; to show that we not only had the usual claim that we'd be the only con in the hotel, but that we had it in writing that we had every single convention facility in the hotel, so there couldn't be another convention conflicting with ours. Ben Stark was just able to wave this off with "Yeah, we see how Statler Hilton keeps its promises," and he was finally able to say, "I think we've had enough of Statler-Hilton hotels," and get a round of applause.
This sort of brings us to subject b), or How To Lose A Sure Thing. Actually, I'm afraid that this year's campaign is going to leave more bitter feeling than any have in a long time, and may be responsible for the biggest change in the bidding system since the establishment of the Rotation System, which is said to have arisen out of fannish remorse at San Francisco's having the '53 WorldCon "stolen" from it in '52. In fact, at the regular Business Session, the day after Berkeley won next year's Con bid, a new Committee was formed to check into needed changes in the bidding system.
Basically, we were out-performed. The NyCon estimated its attendance at around 1,500, most of whom were teen-age walk-ins. While we aimed our pitch at the traditional fans, Berkeley counted on the fact that the voting at the bidding session would be controlled by non-fans, mostly teen-agers, who had no idea of what the rules and traditions of WorldCon bidding were. They were right; they won, but in a manner that was distasteful to many of the regular fans present. It might not be right to say that Berkeley cheated, because "anything goes" in a campaign, and there are few actual rules to be broken. However, many of the customary conventions were violated; things that shocked regular fans, but that the walk-ins neither knew or cared about. As one fan expressed it afterwards, "The next Con isn't going to be our Con, it's going to be the Con of the New York comics fans, who won't even be there!" And, as I said, at the regular Business Meeting the next day, a new Committee was set up to look into possible changes.
Our Waterloo was the Bidding Session, though we'd been hurt before that. The NyCon hotel was a millstone around our necks from the start. We were handicapped by the fact that we were not only running a bidding campaign, we were also running the Art Show and plugging for TOFF. There were losses from the Art Show, one of which was due to the fact that, after we'd locked up for the first night, one of the numerous assistant managers let himself in for a private showing, and left the room open when he left. When we complained about this, the hotel promptly locked up the room and refused to let anyone into or out of it. So, while we were fighting with the hotel, and Al and Bĵo were exhausting themselves, the Berkeley crew was free to concentrate on campaigning. One of the first things they did was to hand out their 1st Progress Report with the NyCon's Program Book. This was a break in tradition; no bidder has ever given an actual 1st Progress Report out before it's gotten the bid, when it had any serious opposition. And, it contained the BayCon's full program schedule, with times and everything, listing Big Names from Bradbury and Heinlein to Joan Baez and Bishop James Pike. It also listed our support -- on the grounds that we weren't going to boycott them if we lost, were we? We had our 1st Progress Report with us, but we weren't planning to distribute it until after we won, and since it contained restricted information, such as the name of our guest of honor, we felt we honestly couldn't use it any earlier. Finally, at the bidding session, we made a rather weak pitch along the lines of "hi there, you all know us and our plans" (which of course most of the attendees didn't), and then Berkeley got up and promised Fun! Fun! Fun! all the big names, and free champagne, and a better hotel, etc. Most of the regular fans saw the holes in a lot of these promises, and voted for us (or so they later said, anyway), but most of the crowd voted for the sparkling promises. We lost, by 200-something to 300-something.