In which the Rev waxes nostalgic about "The Star Track," and we get some valuable insights into the youthful origins of everyone's favorite Pigdog columnist.
Call me dense, but it was only the other day when I realized
that this summer marks the 25th anniversary of "Star Warsí"
release. Maybe itís because I donít tune in to network television
that I missed the Fox media barrage that has the first four
installments running all next week. (I only caught the tail end of
the re-touched "Empire Strikes Back" last night.) I kind of
expected that the mass media rags I sometimes leaf through during
extended stays on the toilet would have featured some kind of
remembrance by now, but Time (which features Yoda on the cover this
week) had a modest footnote of Vaderís cover shot back in í80, and no
mention at all of the anniversary despite an 8-page gushing ode to the
new "Episode II".
I was seven when the whole thing happened. Still a gangly
soon-to-be-third-grader in the steel mill-ensconced town of Niles, OH,
I happened to be at the community swimming pool when my two best
friendsí parents started telling my folks all about the dazzling space
epic. My dad asked me if Iíd heard of the film yet, and when I
answered "no," he encouraged me to drill my friends about what
theyíd seen. Three days later, I stepped out of the theater forever
Never mind the closet full of action figures, lightsabers,
blasters, assorted space ships and droid factories Iíd later accrue.
Nor the voluminous collection of "Starlog" and other fanboy mags
that strained the three lower levels of my bookshelf. Or even the
life-long idolization of Han Solo (and you all wondered just where my
Mauser Broomhandle fixation came from!). What remains the greatest
thing about the series is the fact that "Star Wars" and its
progeny made movies cooler than they had ever been before.
If you were as bored as a kid as I was in Ohio, you lived for
shit like the original "Flash Gordon" serial, old "Star
Trek" reruns, and the adventures of the hopelessly lost folks on
Moonbase Alpha ("Space 1999"). Cool as many of these things
were, their effects ranged from the preposterous to the sort-of
believable. (The latter was especially true of "Space 1999," on
which one of the key effects guys for "Star Wars" worked before
joining the Lucas kids in California.) But with the flash of a
blaster, things got exponentially better. After "Star Wars"
came an entire cavalcade of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi flicks on
which model-making, creature-animating, and set-painting uber-geeks
toiled just so that our suspension of disbelief was hardly stressed.
And Allah love them for that.
Back inside the "Star Wars" world, is there anyone out
there who doesnít think Boba Fettís armor is the coolest thing this
side of King Arthurís suit? Christ, a flame thrower, poison darts, a
jet pack, a compressed-air lanyard, an auto-sighting helmet, and those
nasty toe spikes on the boots? Fuck, man, give me six of them! Even
though he had Solo frozen and later attempted to off that swishy Luke,
you know you always had a grudging admiration for the stoic, focused,
fearsome dude who made Vader look as threatening as Sonny Bono.
Me, I would have nuked the Ewoks. Teddy bears in a "Star
Wars" movie? Ugh. You donít even have to look that closely to
read Harrison Fordís "Iím going to strangle my agent for getting me
into this," expressions. Why couldnít the whole thing have taken
place on the Wookie home world, where Chewie could have hooked up with
some of his old homies for a bash that would have been truly out of
this world? Maybe the whole seventies "Bigfoot" thing had run
out of steam by then.
After the lameness of "Episode I," I sort of
purposefully steered clear of the whole phenomenon, hoping that my
ignorance would allow for a kind of gleaming, jeweled surprise when
the next installment landed down the street at the Megaplex. However,
I stayed so far out of the loop that I now have another childhood
idol, Spider-Man, arriving at the same time. Holy double-header,
Batmanó-I might just have to take a few hits of Acid and spend an
entire Saturday bouncing from one screen to the other, basking in the
fantastic legacy of George Lucasí vision and revolutionary crafting.
Especially when Bobaís old man, Jango, has such a prime role and when
I also get to see Yoda shed that Shaolin wisdom bullshit and uncork a
tall-boy of lightsaber whupass, while on the other screen Willem DaFoe
tosses pumpkin bombs and sheds the town astride his goblin glider.
Happy Anniversary, indeed.