The loss of our prehistory

A few long time ago (a little over 12 years to be whatever) several geek websites posted a link to a site where photos of a sci-fi convention called Westercon from the 1980 event were posted. The people in the photos were so 80s and earnest and lo-fi that you couldn’t help but be jealous of them and the time they were living in. The geek sites posted additional links to other relevant parties who had valuable/interesting additions to the conversation or who had actually lived through those halcyon days, and each site had their own discussion threads where yet more links were posted and memories from those who had actually been at that convention were retold. It was one of those moments that, meta-wise, made you wish you were a sociologist 200 years from now because there was just so much those photos and discussions revealed about a certain group at a certain time in history along with how they themselves remembered that history.

There’s a bot account on Mastodon called that periodically posts screencaps of the 1980s anime Dirty Pair complete with the subtitles for that particular scene. It’s one of those interstitial accounts you follow in order to nonsense-ify your feed and avoid the fate of all-politics-all-the-time.

The discovery and discussion of the Westercon artifacts included a photo of two girls dressed as Kei and Yuri from Dirty Pair [ed. I will try to find those pics]. I had never heard of the show, but people gushed so much with nostalgia about it that I had the fixed idea to learn all that I could. I’m a completist at heart and so I scrubbed the internet for what information it had at the time (really good information it turned out, we really have it easy) and purchased all of the different series, movies, and the reboot. They are all very 80s and only of interest if you like that 80s anime silliness… but really, don’t watch the reboot it’s fucking awful.

Old-school cosplayers were fucking rad. They’d spend hours constructing costumes, sometimes with zero guarantee that anybody would know who the hell they were. In this day and age, everyone’s got the internet hooked up to their earmuffs. Imagine trying to explain who the Dirty Pair were when a hearty portion of the population still communicated via two tin cans and twine.

Scenes from a Los Angeles scifi convention, 32 years ago at io9

Finding the Dirty Pair bot and following it made me look back to my original post with the intent of re-looking-at the source photos and discussions that started it all. Sadly, the link to those photos is dead. Even all/most of the reference links in the Westercon Wikipedia page are dead! As we all know, there are varying degrees of dead on the internet: 404, changed content, changed host owner with new content, new owner camped to sell the domain, and dead-dead. is dead-dead. The owners, The Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, have moved to but the content has not. Don’t worry though, they didn’t forget to pack their exceedingly 1980s web design fashion sense.

Luckily, the Net treats content as free and copies around it. With a little obsessive searching around the periphery, I found a website that shamelessly/thankfully stole every image from the original now-dead page and gifted it to us: 37 Amazing Photographs Capture Cosplayers at a Los Angeles Sci-Fi Convention From the 1980s.

A Ripley cosplayer. That wallpaper!

As I was bemoaning the loss of an old distraction I wanted to be distracted by again and how that contributes to the fall of modern civilization, this article started floating around Mastodon: When Online Content Disappears from Pew Research Center. My original blog post was from 2012.

Image from the Pew Research Center article

With being a completist in mind, here are the best still-extant links I could gather from the manymany dead ones: