my history with the “allied media conference”, part two

this is part two of a multi-part history. part one is here.

jason & i started meeting once a week to hash out plans for what we decided to call the bowling green zine conference. we definitely tried to come up with a more clever name, but could never settle on anything. i publicized the event to my girl zine contacts, & he publicized to his punk zine friends. if we had a website for it, i have no recollection. back in 1999, the internet existed, of course, but it wasn’t the obvious publicity tool that it is now. i remember we made postcards for the event & sent them to everyone we could think of. if people requested more info, we mailed them a packet with out mission statement & registration form. we solicited workshops from people–stuff like “racism in the zine community,” “advertising your zine,” “how to start a zine distro,” etc.

we had naturally decided to have the event on the BGSU campus. i remember feeling weird when we made an appointment to talk to jim, the guy in charge of people requesting university buildings for events. jason asked to be in charge of making the appointment, & i guess he told jim that it would just be him at the meeting. when i asked for details of where & when the meeting was going to be, jason said he didn’t think it was a good idea for me to be there. i asked why & he explained, “well, you’re a woman. & you’re 19. i’m just worried that jim won’t take you seriously. i’m older & i have male privilege, so maybe it’s better for me to handle this on my own.” i thought that was weird because it’s not like i was intimidated by men in positions of authority. i wanted to meet with jim & be a part of all the conference-planning. in fact, it was condition of my independent study credits that i be part of it. we worked out a compromise is which jason would go to the meeting alone, & i would wait outside to hear how it went. with twelve years’ hindsight, i recognize that this was a pretty shitty compromise, but i was still really hung up on the idea that jason was older than me & knew what he was doing better than i did. this probably had a lot to do with him being my mom’s best friend. it was like i saw him as more a real grown-up than i did myself, you know?

the meeting did not go well. jim was a real asshole & steamrolled right over jason. it is also worth noting that my mom is an incredibly forceful, over-the-top personality who prefers to be friends with people she can boss around pretty easily. if jason & i had a contest over who can hold their own better against asshole authority figures on power trips, it’s a contest i would easily win. jason came out of the meeting & told me he wasn’t sure jim would let us have any university space for the conference. he suggested that we give up & have it at this weird super-liberal church space across the street. but i insisted on calling another meeting & being present for it.

at the next meeting, i guess jim tried to do the same shit he’d done in the previous meeting, lording his power over us, condescending to us, etc. jason was really quiet & kind of meek & wouldn’t make eye contact with jim. i stood up for the conference & showed him all the paperwork we had filled out & asked him to explain exactly what was wrong with our request. he backed down & when the meeting was over, i’d gotten us free all-access to the campus english building for an entire weekend, plus a bunch of forms to send to people who needed weekend housing in the dorms. i’d even talked jim into coming down on the dorm costs. i can’t exactly remember the details but he wanted to charge people something like $20 a night & i talked him down to $5. jason didn’t say anything during this meeting. he did high five me after & congratulate me on not being scared of jim. i remember being flattered at the time, but now that statement strikes me as ridiculously condescending & paternalistic.

during the organizing process, jason was becoming closer & closer with jen, the woman with whom he would go on to launch “clamor” magazine. jen didn’t live in bowling green at that time & wasn’t present for any of our conference-organizing meetings, with each other, with university officials related to spaces, or with our american studies adviser. i don’t doubt that jason & jen probably had private conversations about the conference & how it should be organized, but if jason presented any of jen’s ideas at meetings, he acted like they were his own.

he also learned from jen that another zine conference-ish thing was happening in kansas city, a few weeks before the bowling green zine conference was scheduled to happen. it was called the midwest underground media symposium. jen had been invited as some kind of special presenter or something & was being flown out free of charge. she invited jason to go as well. jason invited me & then backed out of driving at the last second in order to fly with jen. i drove to the conference with my friend nicole wolfersberger instead.

it is also worth noting that i decided during the organizing process that the spring semester of 1999 would be my last semester in college. i made plans to leave school (which included turning down a writing scholarship) & move to portland, oregon a month after our conference was over.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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