As anyone paying even a sliver of attention surely knows, the 2010 Fell’s Point Privateer Day weekend was kicked off with a Friday night induction ceremony of the first annual Devil’s Dozen winners – initiates into the fledgling fraternal pirate organization of The Order of Leviathan. The Order is the brainchild of legendary pirate Talderoy, who wished to create a society of accomplished pirates. The Order’s ranks will be added to each year via the Devil’s Dozen election, a process by which peers from within the pirate community may choose pirates of note from amongst their own. Actually, the process is a little more complex than that, but it’s close enough for the purpose of enjoying the induction festivities.
The ceremony was held at Slainte Irish Pub in Fell’s Point, a reasonably sized venue, but still only just-this-side of big enough to accommodate the hordes of pirates in attendance. Pirates from around the country swarmed the bar, most dressed in the best of pirate finery. Surely the Devil’s Dozen Ceremony was the primary draw, but that the whole event was sponsored by Pusser’s Rum certainly didn’t hurt either (and a big hand for Pusser’s – very few pirate events are sponsored by a *true* rum!) The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was José Menendez, who did a fine job keeping the affair entertaining. First introducing Talderoy to present the concept of the Order of Leviathan to the attendees, he then introduced the twelve inductees themselves. The night’s honorees indeed lived up to the concept of “accomplished” pirates, including Cascabel (legendary black powder guru), Stynky (proprietor of The Pyracy Pub), Jeff MacKay (look up – there’s an even chance you’re wearing one of his fine hats right now), Michael MacLeod (of No Quarter Given) and many others of equal note and/or notoriety. Each in turn was invited up, presented with their own custom Order of Leviathan Ring (courtesy of Skinny Dog Designs and Talderoy), as well as a “warning shot” ceramic rum cup, complete with their name emblazoned on the side (courtesy of Quicksilver’s Pirate Pots). Prior to taking their seats again, each new member of the Order was asked to speak the name of their own nominee for the night’s wildcard event – the selection of a 13th member of the Devil’s Dozen, who could be chosen by the inductees from any pirate present.
Once all twelve members had been duly recognized, it was time to narrow down the 13th nominees. While longtime pirate reenactor/performer (and member of the original 24 nominees) Braze held a clear majority of the nominations, the process set in place also required a tossing of the dice, so as to level the playing field. It was a well-intended concept, but soon led to a surprise upset as a lucky roll saw underdog Jewels (of the Lucky 13) win the 13th spot. This left the clear favorite of the initial dozen with little choice but to step aside and hope for better luck next year. Or so it would have been, save that the Dozen then voted unanimously, on the spot, to induct Braze as their peer anyway, thus making the founding year’s Devil’s Dozen chime in at an even 14.
While I fully understand the Devil’s Dozen wishing to see their desire for Braze’s induction honored, this last minute shift in procedure did strike some of us in the audience as rather arbitrary. After all, is the Order of Leviathan to be an organization whose membership is selected by the pirate community at large by set rules, or will the process shift with the whims of the Order? I think it a valid question, but in all fairness not one of the voting members had been in the Order for more than ten minutes at this point. Combine this with the fact that the Order itself is too new to have any established precedents or bylaws, and it’s easy enough to view this as simply a well intended if somewhat awkward effort to fine-tune the induction process midstream. Hopefully the process will be more refined by the time the 2011 Ceremony is upon us.
Braze, as the final inductee for the night, was presented with a ring (quietly contributed by another Order of Leviathan member) and a “warning shot” from Quicksilver (who had rather fortuitously made mugs for all 24 original nominees.) Inductions completed, the next order of business was for each of the “Dozen” to take turns at dice to determine who would win one of two highly enviable custom-made cutlasses, one contributed by Sword&Stone, and the other from Baltimore Knife and Sword. While surely engaging for the participants, it was here that the audience began to turn a bit less towards the ceremony, and a bit more towards the party at the bar. I don’t think it was that the audience wasn’t interested, but rather that – short of a jumbo-tron – watching folks roll dice from afar is a tad difficult to follow. But chock it up to the resiliency of a great party, the easy-going nature of pirates, or the magic of abundant supplies of Pusser’s Rum, no one seemed to mind making their own fun while the Dozen duked it out.
Once the two swords had been won by their *very* happy new owners, the final event of the night was the presentation of the Pirates Magazine 2010 Pirate of the Year Award. The honor of presenting the award fell (rather suddenly and unexpectedly) to me. Sadly, by this point of the evening things were running behind and this final presentation was little more than an aside before the cake cutting. As such, Pirate of the Year Tony Swatton didn’t receive the stage time or the recognition he deserved. The audience was left with no real grasp of the criteria associated with being selected as Pirate of the Year, or of the many fine works Swatton has done that make him such a worthy recipient (but I imagine this will be duly remedied in an upcoming issue of Pirates Magazine.)
The event was capped off by the cake cutting – a rather impromptu affair as by this point the many pirates in attendance had begun to exercise their restless nature. The cake itself was a splendid thing – a treasure chest overflowing with weapons and doubloons, all made from some sort of candy material that proved surprisingly resistant to cutting (even against the sword of Talderoy, who lent me his blade for just this purpose.)
All told, this first Devil’s Dozen Ceremony was a distinct success. There were a few hiccups in the presentation itself that may have made it difficult for the audience to engage in the ceremony as fully as they otherwise might have, but this was counterbalanced by the overall fun of the event, which is really the key feature at most any pirate gathering. It’s my understanding that, even as I write this, names are already being considered for the 24 nominations for the 2011 Devil’s Dozen, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this second year develops, as well as how the Order of Leviathan grows into itself over this coming year!