I think about geeks getting together pretty much all the time. I have to. It’s my job; I run events for geeks – and while, in actuality, “geeks getting it on” is shorthand for “geeks being able to make powerful social connections which lead to longterm connections” – it genuinely occupies much of my brain.
I keep considering the question of scarcity. If I were viewing this a younger geek, thirty years ago, it would deprecation, with a culture whose members were universally told that they were not wanted, and would never be wanted. For me, the journey might be summed up like this:
1995: “You geeks love computers because they’re the only things which will ever love you.”
2017: Holy DAMN, were they ever wrong!
Not every geek has an incredible intimate life, not even in 2017. But now we know that every geek can. They told us we’d be locked out of intimacy for life, barely able to find enough kindred souls to form a few friendships – certainly not love, not sex, not abundance. But they were wrong: in fact, un-fucking-believable nerdex is the legacy of this generation of geeks.
I won’t try to define “geek” or say exactly what a “geek” or “nerd” is; there was a time when those definitions seemed totally critical to my life, but now it’s just Tribe: If you’ll declare yourself a Geek, and be open-minded and good to other Geeks, I’ll call you a Geek. Simple as that.
Whether it’s romantic fiction or not, I like the historic view that geekery as we know it started with science fiction. That’s quite disputable, but it’s still one good place to begin. There we were, inventing a weird genre with no literary credibility. There we were with no support but that which we made for ourselves, when we started tiny magazines and began forming tenuous communities. We had nothing except our minds, and the concept that you could–and should!–use ideas to challenge conceptions of the world around us.
Then came my generation, and, again, my vision of it is more of a romantic memory than a real historical breakdown. But give this a nice 80s rock backbone and splash it into a montage:
The embrace of home computer technology! Our entrance into pop culture (as deranged, invariably male engineers with terrible social skills, true – but at least they knew that geeks existed) – and the rise of what was starting to become modern fandom! We helped establish the culture of geekery – in art, film, literature, clothing, gaming, social lives. We were the ones given the tools and materials to build the fledgling Geek Nation.
Now comes the geekery of joy! Now comes the geekery of celebration! Now comes nerdsex beyond belief!
This is the generation of those who know geek love is strong. After all, this is the generation whose members might very probably have attended their first conventions with their parents. This is the generation which, as others have noted, can wake up any morning and be immersed in geek culture. This is the generation which knows that geeks are not alone.
This generation of geeks has the entire architecture of imagination as their rightful heritage. Our bequest is that of dreamers-of-dreams. Because we are the third generation to push the boundaries of what is possible. Because our creativity has decades of spanning galaxies and millenia in search of new ideas. Because we have spent half a century building rich lives of the mind– and being told that those were the only lives we would get. And we are shattering that idea so hard that the next generation won’t even believe it really existed.
Geek sexuality has always, always been powerful; it’s simply that we were few enough, and our confidence little enough, that you seldom saw it. Now we’re visible, and we are creating the birthright of those who’ll come after. Because if geekery has always embraced the mind, and geekery can now embrace the body, then the geekery we build is limitless.
We are getting together for our future. And it is a glorious damn future indeed.
Jeff Mach Events / The Steampunk World’s Fair
I have long maintained that there’s a key spirit of Steampunk music which doesn’t need to fall within the Victorian era, or be about goggles or gears; I love those things, but the true heart of Steampunk culture is that Do It Yourself, fiery passion, a refusal to be satisfied by the “ordinary” Universe, and an outpouring of creative possibility; as Men Without Hats put it, “We can act like we come from out of this world, leave the real world far behind.”
With that in mind, here are three defiantly anthemic songs which have real Steampunk souls.
Felix Hagan and the Family, “Kiss The Misfits”. I’m biased, because I absolutely love Felix Hagan. But there’s a reason behind it; they create music about the grandiose, glorious struggle to make truly original things and bring them to an audience. There are few subjects more near and dear to my own heart. This is the title song of their recent EP, and it will make you want to do exactly what the chorus says: “Kiss the misfits, dance with the punks!”
Adam Ant, “Stand And Deliver”. You might know Adam Ant; he’s been making mockingly, glimmeringly charismatic punk-glam-pop music for decades now. He’s seen it all, the punk movement, the scifi of the 80s, the peculiar evolution of the 90s–and then he’s just kept making music straight up to the present day. Here’s a very young Adam Ant, in a music video whose era clearly predates the Victorian era by no more than, say, twenty or thirty years; there’s just a tad too much Revolutionary War for this to be the 19th century, but I don’t care about that; I want the dandy highwayman to leap through windows and frighten all the staid and stolid gentry!
Jethro Tull, “Too Old To Rock & Roll”. Steampunk purists would assuredly tell me that this band is too well-known to be Steampunk; that the video covers too many eras, only some of which appear to be 19th-century; that a mad flute player isn’t their idea of an airship pirate. To them I say: Nuts to you! Jethro Tull is in their fiftieth–yes, fiftieth!–year of making music. Sure, some of their work, including this song, can be heard on classic rock stations, but they’ve got literally a dozen albums (including several rock operas and concept albums, which are not easy things to make) – spanning all manner of subjects mythic, dystopian, unusual, and often previously-unexplored. And there are few songs more subversive than this tune–written while the band was still young, and already anticipating the thing we’d later experience in the 1990s, that phenomena where rock-as-revolution had turned into rock-as-supermarket-background-music. Tull has refused to stop or back down; they just create. I’ll raise a glass to that!
Jeff Mach Events
Steampunks hanging out at The Steampunk World’s Fair 2013 – photo by Babs Who Takes Pictures
It’s cold outside, but in a part of my heart is always in May. I realized that the welcome that I used for the last Steampunk World’s Fair would actually work well for pretty much any Steampunk event. So I thought I’d release it into the public domain. Please feel free to take this and modify it for your own Steampunk festival, event, or show!
And behold! We come to the biggest and best Steampunk World’s Fair in all recorded history to date. Welcome! Steampunk and Steam-curious, Goth and Faerie, Geek and Rennie, Scholar and Artist, and Person Who Just Likes To Hang Out In Places Where There Are Lots of Goggles, it’s our pleasure to have you with us.
To our returning attendees, let me quote Oscar Wilde: “There are many pleasures in life, but few can match that of seeing a friend again.” To our new guests, let me quote Kermit the Frog: “Oh, I wish I were you people, seeing this movie for the first time!”
Do remember to wander everywhere you can in our Fair! It’s meant as an adventure, and we have everything from big stages to quiet nooks. Encounter them all!
Do patronize our fine vendors; they are the lifeblood of any event. When they do well, we all do well.
Do be kind to hotel and event staff. If anyone, in turn, treats you with less than kindness, please let me know.
Our venue wants your good reviews! So if you have troubles during the weekend, and they aren’t fully resolved, please let us know!
And thank you for being here!
Jeff Mach Events
I think I speak for all grumpy old men of Steampunk when I say: “BAH! HUMBUG!”
I suspect that the next entry here will contain some kind of holiday cheer. For everyone who’s up for that sort of poppycock, you should probably check tomorrow’s entry. But for now, let me give you some of the benefits of using Steampunk to avoid the holiday season.
7 Some people are dreaming of a snowy white Christmas. I dread that, my thought, which is precisely why I have my Steam-Powered Weather Alteration Device set to “Volcano.
6. Want to avoid awkward conversations at dinner? Just show up in your full Steampunk garb, complete with an assortment of weaponry. Everything becomes much more polite.
5. Don’t want to give presents? Just do what I do… give everyone tickets to events that have already happened. If they’re too lazy to own time machines, that’s on them.
4. Food coma from too much turkey and other festive food? Just slip your goggles off your top hat and over your eyes, and nobody will know you’re asleep!
3. Did Santa leave you a lump of coal? That’s fine; you can just use it to stoke the boiler in your airship. Then you can chase after his sleigh and get the GOOD presents.
2. Television wasn’t even invented in the Steampunk era, which is an excellent excuse not to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the millionth time.
1. Remember, if anyone asks…you’re not a mean, nasty cuss; you’re just reproducing a beloved figure of the Victorian era – the one and only Ebenezer Scrooge!
(As told to Jeff Mach of Jeff Mach Events.)
“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”
“I happen to LIKE oysters, thank you.”
Absinthe Secret Guacamole Rustico
It was pointed out to us that there are few things more Steampunk than guacamole. Think of it: You take a rich, ripe thing which is a paradox in and of itself (for it’s technically a fruit, but we treat it as a vegetable – how can one thing be both? And yet it is!) – and you pull off its outer shell, revealing something luscious inside. You then take that lusciousness and transform it by simultaneously smashing it with heavy implements and adding spice. Finally, you douse it in absinthe, set it on fire, and serve it. PLEASE DON’T DO THAT LAST THING, WE’RE JUST KIDDING ABOUT THAT.
What you CAN do is this other amazing trick:
- Take about a half a shot glass of Tequila – we recommend something of a higher quality, with a purer flavor.
- Take a little bit of your preferred green food coloring.
- Mix the two. You’ll get something that LOOK rather like absinthe, as long as no-one sniffs it. If you’re dining with serious absinthe experts, let them in on the secret in advance.
- Right before you finish mashing up the guacamole, preferably in front of an audience, add the tequila. If you make the guacamole BEFORE serving it, try this trick: Fill the WHOLE shot glass with your pre-greened tequila, then, just before you invite people to consume your treat, carefully splash half into the dish, mix it up a bunch, and theatrically finish off the remainder of the shot.
- This isn’t just for show! The tequila will REALLY bring out the lime and the salt and the contrasting flavors. And people will think you’re some kind of genius who managed to make absinthe go with guacamole. It’s up to you whether or not you let them in on the secret.
Yield: 2 cups
Skill Level: 1
- 4 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and diced
- 1 cup finely diced red onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 jalapenos, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
- 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Coarse salt to taste
- Tequila! (Masquerading as Absinthe)
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the red onion, garlic, tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro. Stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, mash one portion of avocado. Add it to the medium-sized bowl and stir gently to combine.
- Repeat with the rest of the avocado, and then add the lemon juice and salt.
- Throw in the tequila!
- Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired.
From The Steampunk Cookbook, by Jeff Mach