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The Society for the Preservation of Mike

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[Oct. 28th, 2006|04:42 pm]
The Society for the Preservation of Mike

nemesis_draco

[pnh]
Mike and the Minneapolis memorial gathering are covered on the front page of this morning's St. Paul Pioneer Press.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2006-10-28 05:28 pm (UTC)
It's very kind and good-natured, but oy.

Gosh darn it, do you suppose that if we had only called ourselves the Scribblers, he would have joined us? I'd have called us any damn thing for that.

P.
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2006-10-29 02:33 pm (UTC)
I agree that it's a very kind and good-natured piece, the errors are annoying, but those things happen. They drove kaustin nuts and this led to a discussion here about how pretty much every article about something you know well ends up with errors like this; it certainly does make one take newspaper articles with a good hunk o' salt.

Still. Nice piece and very cool that it made the front page (we went and tracked down a paper to see). It amused me somehow that the book cover they pictured was the one for How Much For Just The Planet.

It should make some folks seek out Mike's work who may not have heard of him before.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:03 am (UTC)
I agree that it's a very kind and good-natured piece,

It certainly is. I thought he did a very good job.

the errors are annoying, but those things happen.

This former journalist thanks you, and agrees utterly. It's entirely possible that I misspelled "Scribblies" as "Scribblers" in some of our conversations where I was writing frantically to keep up. And the other one's an understandable error too, and not huge, though it did cause Juan to exclaim, "Oh! Poor Bruce Bethke!" when he saw it.

I thought it was a very fine story, and it's pretty darned impressive to have gotten it on the front page.
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[User Picture]From: jonquil
2006-10-28 06:07 pm (UTC)
That frustrates me -- it makes him sound like a tragic failure overall. (The brilliance is repeatedly acknowledged; it's the overall tone that gets me, and I may be overreacting.)
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:07 am (UTC)
I think you probably are. One of the basic facts of Mike's life is that he was rich in fans but poor in money, because his sales were never huge. Other people helped out, fed him, clothed him -- and were pleased and honored to be able to do so, because he was our brilliant Mike, darn it! -- but he never achieved commercial success. And yeah, that can feel very unfair, but do remember the part about "rich in fans." And Mike has great fans. Really does.
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[User Picture]From: jonquil
2006-10-30 02:15 am (UTC)
You have a much better sense of proportion than I do -- which is, under the circumstances, more than ironic. Better yet, irenic.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 02:25 am (UTC)
Irenic?

*scuttles to dictionary*

Ooh! New word. Thank you.

And yeah, well, I am only sort of intermittently irenic. Believe me, there's a substantial vein (tailings pile?) of the sharp hurty stuff in here too.
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[User Picture]From: abostick59
2006-10-28 07:31 pm (UTC)
Remember the scene in The Crying of Lot 49 when Oedipa Maas's radio-newsman husband deliberately distorted her name when he reported about her, supposedly so that the distortion inherent in the media would undistort it?
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[User Picture]From: casacorona
2006-10-28 07:59 pm (UTC)
Sigh. It is well-meaning, but sigh.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: pnh
2006-10-29 01:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

> And where did they get the information about his
> childhood years? His Aunt?

Much of it was stuff people knew already. A couple of details came from information provided by his aunt. There are errors. Neither the Scribblies nor the "Scribblers" rented Mike an apartment. Mike didn't coin the term "cyberpunk." ("Poor Bruce Bethke," Juan Ladwig observed when he read that.) But the error ratio isn't notably worse than the average newspaper article. The reason it's a cliche to say that "newspapers are the first draft of history" is that it's true.

> Curious, and not what I knew.

If you have better biographical information, this would be a great place to post it. Mike was reticent about some periods of his life with even his closest friends.

> Who IS this Tad guy?

He's a reporter for the Pioneer Press who got wind of the story and thought it might be interesting enough to follow up on. He also went to bat with his editors to get it onto the front page.

> Who told the press?

What is this, the third degree? Mike was a public figure. The Pioneer Press reporter contacted Elise, who recruited other friends to talk to him as well. (A particularly good thing since Elise currently has laryngitis and literally can't talk.) Is that okay with you?
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[User Picture]From: mjlayman
2006-10-29 07:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

What the heck is up with you?
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 11:55 pm (UTC)

What is up.

What's up with him probably has more than a little to do with a vast amount of help he and Teresa have been providing to a grieving widow with acute laryngitis (who is not always easy to deal with even when not voiceless at her beloved's memorial and wake), and with his own substantial grief at losing a friend. He's been doing a lot of things to help: making countless phone calls on my behalf, especially regarding the memorial and wake, but also to various parties dealing with the kinds of things that have to get attended to after someone dies.

More than that I cannot say right now, but I assure you, things are being done that need to be done, and they aren't easy to do, so please cut us all some slack.
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[User Picture]From: gypsy1969
2006-10-29 10:31 pm (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

Sorry, it wasn't meant as the third degree, I'm just a curious person that's all. I'm ADD and ask whatever is on my mind. I am much better than I used to be really, but I was tired and hadn't had my nap when I made that comment that you found so disconcerting.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-31 12:05 am (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

Gypsy, when you say that about the press, do you remember that I was a journalist for a bunch of years? You're saying it about me, too.

And you have been very helpful with photos and other things, and I am grateful for your good wishes -- and oh God am I sorry that you lost your father the same night Mike died, and I wish I could mail you a million hugs and whatever would be most comforting -- but please do not bite the people who are helping. Patrick is helping. So was that reporter. I am grateful to them.

Please do not make them sorry for having helped me honor Mike. Please don't make them have reason to wince next time somebody else needs similar things and asks them.
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[User Picture]From: gypsy1969
2006-10-31 04:08 am (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

As I have said I did not mean to bite anyone.

This reminds me of the time when I said "good enough for Govt. work" in regards to a task my friend and I had completed. She said, "then it must be perfect". She had heard that quote too many times. She worked for the government and it angered her every time she heard it.

I've written for the papers and gotten things skewed myself, as apparently they have been here. Newspapers are secondary sources not primary ones, but I guess it doesn't matter since we cannot always tell what the writer intended. I sent this article to friends and you would not believe some of the comments that I received. They bothered me more than all of this (which is concerning me a lot)... more examples of think before you write and speak...

I have no idea of Mike's true income, but I do know he probably had many times the medical bills that I do, and let me tell you that's a lot of money, no matter how much you make.

I was hoping the paper would cover the event, but I didn't know how to ask if anyone had called them. I couldn't decide to myself whether it was a good idea or a bad idea. (For many reasons.)

And in a fit of self-pity or stupidity, I deleted the comment that started this entire ruckus.
I’m tired and I apologize, and many hugs to all of you especially pnh, for to upset a Boy Scout almost upset me as much as upsetting Elisem.

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[User Picture]From: beadslut
2006-10-29 04:29 pm (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

The reporter was at the service and at the reception. He was very polite, and did, in fact, speak to Mike's aunt. It's good that the mainstream press took note of the event, more people should know about Mike and his work.
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[User Picture]From: ksp24
2006-10-29 06:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

Hear hear!
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:17 am (UTC)

Re: Since when did the press ever get things right?

Yo!

I TOLD THE PRESS. Or, rather, had Greg Ketter tell them for me, because I couldn't talk. It was pointed out to me by some longtime fans of Mike that there had not yet been an obituary run in the local papers, and that this should be rectified. A guy should get a notice, at the very least, you know?

And I'm very pleased that the reporter who was assigned the story took the time to do some serious interviewing and background reading.

How many of you could walk into an entirely unfamiliar subculture, do between four and six phone interviews plus several hours in a bar taking notes while a table of five fannish folks trip over each other saying how good the deceased's work was, AND GET IT ALMOST ENTIRELY CORRECT? I swear, this conversation is starting to look to me like those non-writers who say that any day now they're going to write a book because it must be easy.

I was very glad to meet his aunt and uncle. They are very nice and courteous people, and his aunt gave a really moving tribute to him. They have my utmost respect.

Tad (sorry, I forget his last name right now) is a reporter for that paper. And before he talked to us, he knew nothing about Mike, or about the field, to say nothing of fandom. As someone making first contact, as it were, he did much better than I think most of us would, had the situations been reversed. (But it's profitless to tell people this who do not know it from experience. And yet, here I am, trying.)

And you know what? In some ways, it WAS tragic.
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[User Picture]From: mjlayman
2006-10-28 08:58 pm (UTC)
Only authors, editors, and industry gurus? No fans? Yeah, right.
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[User Picture]From: djande
2006-10-29 05:49 am (UTC)
I noticed that, too . . .
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[User Picture]From: pnh
2006-10-29 01:12 pm (UTC)
The article quotes at least two longtime fans by my count.

You know something, after all the efforts of the last few days and weeks, and the trouble Teresa and I are still going to on Mike's behalf, about the last thing I'm prepared to deal with is another round of being defined out of fandom by our day job. The hell with you both.
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[User Picture]From: djande
2006-10-29 01:35 pm (UTC)
eek! I absolutely in NO WAY meant any offense to anyone! After reading the article I just felt like it painted Mike as SOLELY a "writers writer" and not a writer who had a large fan following, which I know is not the case. I NEVER meant to imply anything other than the fact that Mike had fans BEYOND people whose day jobs define them. Apologies all around if my comment was misinterpreted. I truly appreciate EVERYTHING you've done on Mike's behalf, and NEVER meant any sort of slight.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:24 am (UTC)
The journalist did not specifically mention fans because he was primarily intrigued by how many writers and editors in the field had traveled from afar for the memorial -- and this was very likely the measure of importance that let him sell his editor on doing the story on the front page -- or at all. (They didn't have to report on Mike at all, you know.)

Also, he probably did not specifically mention fans because he is ignorant of the genre and of fandom, and did not realize how we are almost guaranteed to dogpile onto someone about two mistakes while taking for granted everything they have done correctly.
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[User Picture]From: djande
2006-10-30 12:49 am (UTC)
You are absolutely right, of course. My hope is that somewhere out there, someone who read the article thinks, "I've got to look for some of this guys work!" That's how it starts. Next thing you know, they're poring through stacks of old magazines looking for the short stories and poems that haven't been reprinted! They're hooked!
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-31 12:06 am (UTC)
I've already heard of several instances of such things happening, so I think your hope is already being fulfilled, and will continue to be, and more so. Which is really, really good.
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[User Picture]From: djande
2006-10-31 12:16 am (UTC)
It really was a nice article. I'm glad to hear that you've already heard of such things occurring -- that's really exciting. Hopefully there will be a real renaissance of interest in Mike's work.

Along similar lines, one of my high school students saw me reading FUGUE STATE and asked about him. He wanted to know if we would be studying him next quarter. Not a bad idea, actually! :)
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[User Picture]From: mjlayman
2006-10-29 07:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not the one who said that, the columnist did. I noticed the two long-time fans, but I figured he cast them as industry gurus.
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[User Picture]From: beadslut
2006-10-29 04:31 pm (UTC)
Sort of goes without saying that nearly everyone there was a fan.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:25 am (UTC)
Exactly. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: papersky
2006-10-29 05:59 pm (UTC)
Ain't I a fan?
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[User Picture]From: ksp24
2006-10-29 06:14 pm (UTC)
Aren't we all here?
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[User Picture]From: mjlayman
2006-10-29 07:54 pm (UTC)
Not according to the columnist. He says there were only authors, editors, and industry gurus at the memorial service. Julia wrote him a letter and put it in the Against Entropy thread on ML and then posted his answer.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:38 am (UTC)
And it's a beautiful answer. (And as she pointed out, he answered work e-mail on a weekend. People, get a clue here!)

People should go over to that thread on Making Light and read his letter, which is quoted in comment #44. I will say that he is much better at responding tactfully than I would have been.

[I now know that for a fact, because the sentence I just excised contained the phrases "perpetual fannish whinyness" and "I am disgusted but not surprised."]
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[User Picture]From: aitchellsee
2006-10-30 04:22 pm (UTC)
While people are over there reading Juli's letter and Tad Vezner's response, they might also seek out Abi's words in #51. You've all been working so hard on holding it together until the Memorial, and making it happen, and now it's happened, and Mike has been launched across the River with (as Beth Meachum put it over on ML) the solid gold coin for his passage, made up of "all the wealth of love and laughter his friends could give him".

And we're still left here on the shores of Middle-earth, and our humanity with all its feet of clay is all the more earthy for the contrast.

Wishing Peace! to all Mike's friends and family (of the heart and by blood)...
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-30 12:52 am (UTC)
He says there were only authors, editors, and industry gurus at the memorial service.

No, he didn't. He said "On Friday, more than 100 genre writers, editors and industry gurus from across the country converged on a Twin Cities church to pay homage."

Read for content, please.
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[User Picture]From: mjlayman
2006-10-30 10:46 pm (UTC)
Right. He never mentions fans, even though he talks to some later. I figure he's counting them as industry gurus.
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[User Picture]From: 433
2006-10-31 03:17 am (UTC)
Not mentioning something or someone is not the same thing as saying that -one or -thing [doesn't exist/wasn't there].
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[User Picture]From: 433
2006-10-30 06:10 am (UTC)
Oh, good lord.

Take a deep breath. Everything's going to be okay.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2006-10-31 02:11 am (UTC)
*wry smile*
Promise?

Couldn't resist. It was something Mike and I made jokes about, that phrase.


Seriously, though, you are absolutely right that a deep breath is Very Useful in Circumstances Like This. Thank you. I am going to go breathe deeply, and plan to repeat as necessary.

And actually, you know, I do agree with you about the last bit too: I believe everything really IS going to be OK.
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[User Picture]From: 433
2006-10-31 03:15 am (UTC)
I wasn't aiming that at you, dear. It was the "No fans?!? Tar and feather that purveyor of the yellowist of yellow journalism!" thing that was going on. As someone who has been quoted numerous times in both papers, plus had letters to the Editor that were edited Ginsu style, I think that the reporter did a damn fine job.
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