November 4, 2016
Introduction to Northeast Trek Con
By: Jerry M. Silber – Organizer and promoter
Hello. On behalf of the many folks involved in Northeast Trek Con, I would like to welcome you. Whether you’re from out of the New York State Capital Region or not, this convention is for you and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. This convention is bringing together many elements of the Capital Region and beyond to have a Star Trek convention. We can do it. The themes of this convention is about promoting the connections between science and Star Trek, honoring the memory of Leonard Nimoy, etc.
Northeast Trek con is a result of fandom. For me it started when I have a kid and loving Star Trek and the NASA space program. I watched the original Star Trek series with my dad. Then we jump to the early 1970s. I was in my early teens reading the Star Trek novels. We had more than just the James Blish novelizations finally. The other amazing event to me was in 1975. It was the opening of the Star Trek store in Manhattan called “The Federation Trading Post”. It was located at 210E 53rd St in Manhattan. It was an amazing place. It was so glitzy. There were props, books, blue prints, etc. One of the folks involved with the store at the time was a young man named Douglas Drexler. I didn’t know that at the time. The store had locations in New York City and Los Angeles. It was open for only a few years. Considering I was only 13 at the time (my Bar Mitzvah year), my dad and I went to it as often as we could.
I was aware of fandom at the time, but was too young to appreciate it. I knew there were conventions going on, but I didn’t push my parents hard enough to let me go. I know the first one was in 1972 in New York City. I finally went to the first one in December 1979. That was the year Star Trek – The Motion Picture was released. As much as the move had mixed reviews by fans and public at large, the movie meant a lot to me. My family had medical issues to deal with. It was a very stressful time. Seeing Star Trek –TMP gave me hope. My first Star Trek convention was in December 1979. It was hosted by Creations Entertainment at the Penta Hotel in New York City. At that time their conventions were a lit more “interesting” than they are today. There was Isaac Asimov, NASA scientist Jesco Von Puttkamer, Star Trek celebs, etc.
The 1980s was the time spent in college as an undergraduate. I was a member of Starfleet International fan club, but wasn’t very active in it or fandom due to time constraints in college. By the time I graduated college in 1987 , started a job, and was married to my wife Ellen, I was finally able to be more active in fandom. The period of the late 1980s o the early to mid - 1990s was an exciting time. I was a part of SFI group USS Albany for a short time, helped to found the Star Trek independent group IKV Silent Death, help with working in the local fan run conventions – Kling Con ’91 – Thruway House Albany, Tricon ’92 – Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Tricon 93 – a hotel in Schenectady – don’t recall which one. After that one, I left that effort and went my own way for personal reasons. Eventually, the Tricon conventions stopped by the mid -1990s.
Locally by then Star Trek fandom by then –(as far as I know) had died in the Capital Region. Out of the area, I had gone to fan run and non-fan run conventions such as Shoreleave, Farpoint, Toronto Trek, Creation Entertainment in Albany, NYC, Boston, Syracuse, Buffalo, etc. Creations Entertainment last time in Albany was in 1988. They never came back. Through the 1990s, Slanted Fedora would come through Albany like lightning with their conventions. They attracted a lot of people locally due to word of mouth and advertising on the local Fox station – WXXA. Those eventually came to an end.
By the early 2000s, there was nothing in the Capital Region for Star Trek fandom. I guess the successor to a store like the Federation Trading Post in New York City those many years ago were the comic book stores. With the success of many Scifi and fantasy television shows, fans were congregating at those stores. Fandom was growing up. My wife and I over those years were going to conventions out of the Capital Region like Shoreleave.
I was starting to miss local Star Trek and Scifi fandom. By the early 2000s, I tried to get a local fna club going. I became friendly with a wonderful gentleman by the name of Joh Lawrence. My wife and I had many good times with him. We still do today. We tried over the next few years to work on the fan club. The big break came in the mid – 2000s when I found out about Meetup.com. Meetup was founded after the terrible incidents of 9-11-2001 in New York City, etc. You can find out more about them on their website. To me the premise has been to help get people out to socialize in person more. We use technology to help to get away from technology to socialize. Meetup was – and is – a wonderful. I started the Northeast Fans Association Star Trek Meetup group – www.scifi.meetup.com/292in 2006. We have been active since then with having many different activities.
By 2015, the meetup group had accomplished a lot. I had been talking for many years about “wouldn’t it be cool to have a convention like Shoreleave up in Albany?” I finally was in a position to do just that. By going to Shoreleave and Farpoint, etc, I felt maybe this was the time to do my convention dream. Why did I want to do this? Why do I still? It has to do with the wonderful experiences, learning, socializing etc. I wanted to do this for my area. Also we have had the 50th anniversary of Star Trek in 2016. What more of a wonderful time to do this.
For conventions: I want to thank Sharon Miller Van Blarcom of Farpoint, Dr. Inge Heyer and Wes Scriminger from Shoreleave, Hannah Hoyt and Garrett Wang from Dragon Con Trek Tracks, John Belski of Albany Comic Con. I want to also mention Genericon at RPI, Roc Con in Rochester, NY, Star Trek – Mission NY and others.
I want to thank the following people who have helped me in various ways with the meetup group, convention, etc – Ellen Silber, John Lawrence, Patrick Lindlsey, Dan Gray, Jesse Weinstock, Bob Rullifson, Alison Platt, Christine Bunt, James Cawley, Alexa McDonald,Chris Byrne, Ed Pollock, Henry Jackson, Jeff Burns, John and Dave Downes, Dawn Marie, Ben Santos and Gerry Shannon of Cosplay Convention Center, Mike Spring, Valerie Zeese, Dr. Valerie Rapson, Dr. Matthew Sydagis, Dr. Kevin Knuth. If there are others I forget, I humbly apologize.
I want to dedicate this convention to my parents who are now passed in 2013 – Salo and Lola Silber – WW2 survivors, Leonard Nimoy, Gene Roddenberry, James Doohan, Deforest Kelley, the men and women who have served - and serve in the armed forces of the United States, NASA, the hardworking scientists all over this world, this country, and the Capital Region –SUNY Albany, RPI, MiSci, Dudley.
I wish everyone a memorable and meaningful Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hannukah 2016 and beyond.
Live Long and Prosper,