I want to preface this whole thing by explaining something about attorneys in general: we like to think a little experience goes a long way. A lawyer with no experience in a particular area of law, but a willingness to learn it, will take a small case in that area. We’ll do all the research and learning to be barely competent, and going forward we’re confident that we now know that area of law. “Yes,” we’ll confidently tell people that ask us, “I’ve handled those cases before! I know what to expect!”
It was in this spirit that I went to FurtheMore back in April. Everyone had told me Anthrocon was essentially the fucking Super Bowl of furries, and it may be good for me to at least go to a couple exhibition games in advance. So, when FurtheMore made the offer to show a lawyer around their fandom, I accepted and had a great time! So I was confident. I had been to a furry convention. I knew what to expect. I was ready.
…I was not ready.
I was amazingly not-fucking-ready.
Oh my god was I not ready.
I was so not ready that, guys, no shit…I’m gonna have to talk about Anthrocon in two fucking posts this week, with Film Friday (an exploration of lawyers in the media) being my review of Brian Cuban’s new book on addiction and the legal profession.
Which essentially means I’ll be posting about two days of drinking with giant animal people, then spend a day talking about the crippling addiction issues faced by my colleagues.
This weekend I was in Pittsburgh. I was in Pittsburgh for the furries. I went to Pittsburgh ready to conquer the furries and all the things that the furries have been telling me to experience over the past few months as my life has spiralled softly and silently out of control.
The furries have kicked my ass.
I am okay with this development.
So, as is seeming to be my tradition everytime I find myself in a situation that could best be described as “What if Walt Disney took a shit ton of LSD and decided to throw a party,” it’s time for the deconstruction of the Boozy Barrister’s trip to “the weird side of the internet” made flesh (and, in this case, neon green fur).
What Is Anthrocon?
Anthrocon is, as of 2016, the largest furry convention in the world. In 2016, 7,310 people came from all over the globe to descend on Pittsburgh as a furry horde for, essentially, an entire goddamn week. In 2016, it raised over $32,000 for charity through a combination of events, panels, and shows, as well as charity auctions. It has pumped, over the years, over $40,000,000 of income into the city of Pittsburgh.
That’s a lot of fucking money.
The convention itself is held in a convention center designed to be large enough to house fucking airplane shows, and it uses damn near all of the space. The convention also spreads across 9 goddamn hotels. This isn’t a convention, guys. This is a small municipality that forms over the course of a week.
No shit. There are towns in Pennsylvania with populations smaller than the attendance of Anthrocon.
How Did You End Up There?
Seriously, I wrote a thing which got me engaging with the furries. I liked the little fuzzy shitheads who flooded my Twitter, and they seemed to like me, and then I started getting invited on podcasts and shit. You like the site? Thank the fucking furries, because they’ve been paying the costs associated with this goddamn site since May. That’s right. The furries have helped you.
Want to hear the Lawyers & Liquor Podcast (Premiering in August!)? Thank the fucking furries. They’ve exceeded the costs of the site so much that I have to use their money to start providing more goddamn content under the Lawyers & Liquor brand.
Anyhow, with all that shit going on a gentleman named “Uncle Kage” sent me a message saying I’d be more than welcome to visit Anthrocon to see what it was like. As we’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve discovered an old friend is a furry through this shit…so when Kage reached out I mentioned it to this friend.
“Oh shit, man,” he responded, “That’s…like…the furry god-parent of the fandom.”
This was apparently a big fucking deal. So, I accepted. Then, when mentioning it on a furry podcast that wanted to interview me, I got a message from Captain Eyebrows that read “I want to go to the furry people convention.” So there was that.
Some shit happened in between then (May) and now, but that’s the barebones of how I ended up going to Pittsburgh this weekend.
Heading to Anthrocon
Friday was a work day. That meant I worked. Right up until I wasn’t working, at which time I loaded a cardboard box into the car and took off for Pittsburgh. I spent a nice ride in listening to crooners and singing along. It was relaxing. It was fun. Captain Eyebrows, the frequent target of ridicule, had volunteered himself to come along with, but that asshole was flying into Pittsburgh, and therefore didn’t have to contend with several hours of driving to make it to the Wyndham Grand in downtown Pittsburgh, several blocks from the convention center where the furries were holding court.
The fact that the last convention I attended was in “a hotel” and this convention was held in a convention center should have been the first hint that I was in no way prepared. It did not deter me. I persisted.
The car flew into the Wyndham Grand at roughly 10:30 that evening, the keys were handed to the valet, and I waited for the Captain to arrive from the airport. He arrived, looked around, and mentioned that he didn’t think it was “going to be that bad” as he “hadn’t seen a single giant animal.”
He was unaware there was a badger costume sitting in the cardboard box in our room.
He became aware very quickly there was a motherfuckin’ badger costume in our room.
After allowing the Captain adequate time to groom his brows into a splendid display of masculinity intended to frighten away larger animals, we hailed a cab to the convention center. Less than a minute into the trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates game ended. There were fireworks. Without asking us if it was okay, or really saying anything, our taxi driver pulled over to watch the fireworks. Just…pulled right the fuck over.
Any passive aggressive statements like “WOW! That’s neat! I’m so glad we don’t have anywhere to be!” fell on deaf ears. The cabbie was going to watch the goddamn fireworks, and, therefore, by proxy, we were going to watch the goddamn fireworks.
They were non-consensual fireworks.
They were pretty, though.
After the fireworks ended, the cabbie immediately decided that, to make up lost time, that little Honda was gonna fuckin fly to the convention center. We caught air at least twice. At one point, Waylon Jennings’s voice filled the taxi.
“Looks like the law boys have gone and got themselves in a whole mess of trouble this time,” Waylon Jennings said as the taxi screeched to a halt at the Convention Center and two shaken and bewildered lawyers climbed out a car and immediately into a sea of giant animal people.
We met our contact, Ashe, who handed over all of our registration material, introduced us to my guide for the weekend, Fiend [Note: don’t these assholes have the coolest goddamn names? I mean, seriously: “Hi, my names Strawberry DestructoFox! I’m a chemical engineer!” is something you’ll only hear at a Furry convention and think it’s completely normal]. We were then whisked through the giant goddamn convention center to be given a tour of the place, taken out for tacos and margaritas, and led to an informal sit-down with the staff that wanted to meet us.
There was so much alcohol.
[Note: I could make a goddamn fortune opening a distillery that markets solely to furries.
I’m trademarking that idea.]
Court was held with members of the staff as booze flowed freely. At one point, a fucking towering man with a top hat entered the room, plopped a bottle of gin and a flask in front of me, proceeded to produce three more goddamn flasks from inside his jacket pockets, then sat next to Captain Eyebrows, who had endured everything in a stunned silence up until that point. Sensing the Captain’s dignified and reserved style, the top hatted booze-generating fairy proceeded to playfully flirt with the magnificently groomed champion of ocular coiffure.
We would later discover that son of a bitch was a stockbroker.
We’d also later find out that, amongst the people in the room with us that evening, was a person that literally controlled the goddamn internet for vast swaths of North America.
As my site is on the internet and I own stocks, I offered Captain Eyebrows up as a sacrifice.
In all seriousness, it was a fun and low-key way to meet the people that were running the place over the next several days. The staff made sure we knew what to expect, who we could go to for help, what to do when we needed something or saw something out of place, and let us know about any additional issues that had arisen during the time we were incommunicado. In all, it was a very effective, professional, and fun way to let two guests, who because they are goddamn experts at making bad decisions were somewhat anticipated by the furries, know what to expect and prepare them. Everything was in good fun (and understood to be in good fun), and when the Captain and I left for our hotel it was with handshakes, hugs, and a lot of “We’re looking forward to tomorrow” talk. As the clock crept towards 3 a.m., we hailed an Uber while the party at the Westin Hotel continued on towards dawn, and off we went into the night.
The Uber driver was fucking enthusiastic about the furries. There was not a bad thing said the whole trip. Nothing but talking, over and over again, about how nice and polite, and how fucking awesome the furries were. But…to be honest…by that point we were goddamn wiped. Both the Captain and myself had worked a full day at the office then jet-setted to Pittsburgh to associate with walking cartoons. We were exhausted, and so…it was off to fucking bed.
Because Saturday? Oh shit, man. Saturday we were actually going to interact with the Furry Fandom in what can best be described as a fully functioning city of Fur.
…and I’ll get into that shit on Wednesday.