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Engaging Open Engagement

October 29, 2012 1 comment

Engaging Open Engagement 1

Soup lay at the end of the unwashed masses. Organizers cold only guarantee food for two hundred and fifty, a decent headcount of the social activists, liberal arts college professors, provocateurs and assorted art damaged scum standing between the stragglers and a free meal. We’d already sorted out where they kept the kegs.

Conversation hung overhead. It had all been over my head anyway, the presentations on theory choked with references to unknowns. Slide shows, tales of past glory, rotating panels swam circles around me and it was going to take a second beer to quiet them all down. For two afternoons I’d haunted lecture halls and classrooms with an eye on the audience to know when good points were being made. The audience was too busy checking their e-mail to pay attention, so I remained confused.

Registration to Open Engagement had been free and I didn’t have anything better to do over the course of a rainy weekend. Perfect conditions for an infestation of lowlifes and cell phone compulsives.

Soup and beer for the taking but the Yale Union seemed empty. Keynotes and panels had overflown with devotees of all stripes. Patrons wearing brooches sat on the floor next to androgynous radical knitters. Rooms had been so crowded were indie rock yuppies in scarves that the pack of women in wheelchairs would turn at the door to leave. The after party was stacks of needless chairs and half empty tables.

Pete dragged me from my beertime reverie to meet an arts professor from Gainesville, where foxes eat your chickens and the Christians hate everything except alligators in the canals. I said that it was impressive such a regressive backwater would shell out the cash to send her west where agitators contemplate the public perception of monuments. It wasn’t surprising to learn that she had snagged a ticket from a stewardess friend and was crashing on couches. This wasn’t a work trip, this was a place to network. Her contract was up in a year and Gainesville was not a good place to die, whatever statues might litter the town. Read more…

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