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Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson

Dayton, Ohio

Ongoing survivor of the onslaught of HIV Dementia, I write a memoir to myself. Humor is the balm that covers the horrors of early 1990s and beyond. Pop Culture Based.

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About the author

The experience of surviving the HIV Plague from 1992 onward is key to the memoir. For anyone interested in the wellbeing of family members or patients, it is a stunning document. As I mentioned, humor is used to lubricate the horror of those days and make the act of living even more poignant.

The reflection of life through the lens of pop culture 1960s and 1970s up to 2011 and coming of age moments aids in the connection with the reader. The eventual focus on 1968 adds to the general pressure of history and events on In Medias Res.

The author's eventual merging with Lovecraftian analysis aids in the pop culture connection as well as the irreverent humor of the overall psychic impact of the work.
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In Medias Res

Or, the Reign of Nyarlathothep. Book Two of the In Medias Res Trilogy.

Memoir to myself, written in second person, opens with diagnosis of HIV+ in 1992, and continues in a non-linear fashion through various time periods 1960-2011, of difficulty and triumph; touching on everything from undescended testicles, kissing boys, kissing girls, arguing with Yahweh and his ilk, surviving high school, college, love, abandonment and friendships gone awry, and termination of professional career.

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LGBT Non-Fiction
92,000 words
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As a memoir to myself, being written in second person, In Medias Res, opens with my diagnosis of my being HIV+ in 1992, and continues in a non-linear fashion through various time periods of difficulty and triumph circa 1960-2011; touching on everything from being born with an undescended testicle, kissing boys, kissing girls, arguing with Yahweh and his ilk, surviving High School, experiencing the epiphany of a college education, fantastic travel-adventures with friends, looking for love, being crushed by love, abandonment, panic attacks, and dealing with life-long friendships gone awry. All of this is dealt with a casual sense of sarcastic humor that saves the horrors of cancer, death and anger from rising as overall the tone of the memoir.

For the reader, it becomes clear that humor and the march of time are the balm that heals all the wounds found in In Medias Res. I found it inherently necessary to write the work with a full set of footnotes that appear on the very page they refer to, as a way of encompassing the greater aspects of the narrative, without destroying it out right. I find that a full Table of Contents and Index add greatly to the overall approachability of the work.

Having survived the plague since 1992, growing up with it and succeeding in business provides a planform of hope and security for the reader. The emotional turmoil and success or failure in love is a determination the reader will have to make. The blunt nature of the detail regarding HIV life will be helpful to the layman and professional. I have taken every drug used to fight HIV and have a grounded insight on the subject. Facing life with an irreverent sense of humor and humanistic approach got me through it and may provide a guide to others.

Sales arguments

  • Blunt and forceful look at the HIV Plague of the 1990s through present.
  • Humorous and irreverent memoir of life through the lens of HIV.
  • Humorous and irreverent memoir of life in general through the turbulent 1960s and 70s up to 2011.
  • Willing to work with any and all public appearances and presentations.
  • The book makes a great bridge through the HIV world, the Hetero world, the pop-culture world and the irreverent fictional lens with a Lovecraftian bent.t.

Similar titles

  • Foucault's Pendulum, 1988, Umberto Eco. In Medias Res follows the memory trail of the author in an attempt to capture his own life before it is lost to him through HIV dementia. The trail is non-linear and involves a great deal of heart ache as well as humor. The end result is a fixation on the year 1968 as the quincunx of his life.
  • Four Fingers of Death, 2010, Rick Moody. In Medias Res deals with the memory of the author in the most irreverent fashion, based on real events. The humor and satire reflect the style and columniation of Four Fingers.
  • Crying of Lot 49, 1966, Thomas Pynchon. The Idea of surreal search through time and local to eventually discover a riddle and counterpoint in history and culture reflect In Medias Res. The narration of In Medias Res floats above the maelstrom of events like a balm on a wound. The eventual resolution is a punchline of culture itself.


Anyone connected to the LBGTQ community. Parents, Doctors, Friends and relatives of any LBGTQ person. Pop Culture historians. Lovecraft fans. Sci-Fi Fans.

Advance praise

"Oh my! Oh my!"
-Wanda Holst, Goodrich Quality Theaters Film Buyer, Grand Rapids, MI.
"I skipped the bad words."
-Donna Johnson, retired school teacher, Saginaw, MI.
"Just finished In Medias Res and cried. I am typing with tears still in my eyes and on my face. No Words..."
-Pam Gilmore, 5/3 Bank, Muskegon, MI.
"I laughed my ass off."
-Greg Manning, Hackly Hospital, ER, Muskegon, MI.
"Awesome! I wanted to tell you that I thought that your book was heart breaking, eye opening and entertaining. I enjoyed reading it and hope you don't think that I am saying that in a patronizing way. I did or do not enjoy the terrible things that you went or are going through"
-Janell Johnson, Law Secretary, St. Charles, MI.

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Chapter I: Sentenced

“Fuck,” you think.
It has happened. You knew it. You stupid fuck! Considering yourself a professional, one who dealt with large crowds of patrons weekly, a hormonally charged teenage staff of fifty and a polarized, amalgam of a Home Office made up of the good, the bad and the ugly, you were certain that you could deal with the probable diagnosis dispassionately and figure out the next step toward the future, short as it may be.
You were pretty sure of the answer anyway. You always had been.
The young, nervous dork of a male-nurse before you had fumbled with the papers, looked down and said, “Your test came back positive.”
“Ok, what now?” you asked.
“Oh, well you took that very well,” the male-nurse exclaimed surprisingly.
“Yes, why shouldn’t I,” you asked.
“Well, it is marked here on your profile that you would not take the news well,” he said.
“How odd.”
“Well I deal with a lot of pressure at work and with the public, so I figured I could handle this, aside from my education and general disposition,” you explained with a questioning leer.
“Ok, someone must have marked it wrong during your interview,” he surmises.
“So now you need to find a doctor and start Antiviral Therapy right away,” he concluded.
Your current partner is HIV+, and so are you. At least it takes the pressure off! Too bad you have been regretting the decision to move in together for the past few months. (Your first move-in!) Remember when you sat on the porch with your head in your hands after that last argument, being falsely accused of infidelity again, saying over and over, in a whisper to the Menes of the night, “Not again, not again, not again. Isn’t anyone out there sane?”
Diving into the homosexual underworld of the mid-nineties in a college town has its own set of false-starts and dangerously ambiguous possibilities for relationships with unknown parameters. Adding HIV to the mix just makes it all that more complex and polarized. You were lucky enough to have had a great start, meeting someone who you could instantly fall in love with and enjoy. Hell he even liked Star Trek. (Original Series and Next Generation.) But having been really (Homo) deflowered in 1987 (That female co-worker you tortured doesn’t count does it? Or that girlfriend you pantomimed your way through for a month? That was the equivalent of a sleepwalker masturbating in the night to a really bad song. No, they couldn’t count.), while the social and political climate for your kind was questionable to say the least, with Rock Hudson having just turned the tables and died, with “The Great Communicator” in office, with the plague just starting off with all the terror of the Red Death, well you didn’t have much of a chance did you? Regretting your decision to move away “for the job,” as will be your creed for years to come, you tore his heart out and moved two States away, never considering for a moment that there was a future for the two of you, innocently thinking in your crippled youthful vision that such occurrences were common and possible in the future. Too bad you were so wrong.
Too bad.
Invigorating you with its own sense of vitality, the college town atmosphere of Champaign, Illinois proved to be the perfect foil for your alternate persona; the “new gay guy” in town. You fucked around too much at first, imagining that you would find the perfect lover again. But oh how innocently ignorant you were. Can you be blamed, really? I mean you managed to get through high school with no girlfriend and only a couple of dates. (Because you were supposed to.) You cannot count that time you took the family friend’s Ecuadorian exchange student to the dance. That was just a very nice gesture. (Imagine; No fucking red flags there!) You did manage to be elected “Class Radical 1980.” So the kids noticed something, at least. But you had the handicap of never having gone through those hideous ubiquitous teenage-love-affair-years, where every boy (man) and girl (woman) learns the ropes with the least consequences, because, after all, “they’re just kids.” Right? So coming upon the biggest and best gay bar this side of Chicago, in 1990, (Chester Street) with the shining hope of the Clinton years to come, was a blessing. Right? You had the dance floor, the quiet bar, the make-out room and the fish-pond (the designated lesbian area) all in one building! And the guys actually came up to you! What a miracle! You were mentally sixteen again! Ok, you were mentally eighteen again, (after all, you had just crushed your first love).
Now was the time of learning. Learning that most people, or at least the people in the social circle you were going to inhabit, were fucking crazy. While you had endured “Quit petting me like a dog,” and “Just stick it in,” from the female symbionts, you would now encounter the true horror of, “Don’t touch me there, my Uncle (Teacher, Pastor, Father, Coach, Grandpa, Neighbor, Babysitter, Priest) touched me there when I was a kid.”
“ Did you cheat on me?”
And your favorite, “I love you, now change.”
“But I am not your Uncle (Teacher, Pastor, Father, Coach, Grandpa, Neighbor, Babysitter, Priest.)
I did not cheat on you.
And now I have to change?” you would quietly exclaim, to no avail.
You would suffer that breakup with the gorgeous eighteen-year-old Italian model from JC Penny, (You learned what “olive skin” meant.) who was perfect in every way, having passed both the Star Trek and Outer Limits (Original 1963/64 series.) tests, except that he would not take a shower! Now, I don’t mean the all-consuming fantasy of taking a shower with your lover before or after coitis (or anytime for that matter). I am referring to the notion of taking a shower because you are covered in spooge and lubricant, or because it had been three days. Maybe he was European, but some things you just can’t tolerate! After all, the bar was right there. There were more fish/(men) in the sea, as it were.
After a forgettable run of unknown psychotically hampered boys and personal idiosyncrasies you could not bear (don’t forget the skinny Twink who would not let you touch his bum, but yet had a drawer full of dildos you just happened to see! Or the rock-star haired guy who was considering “going straight” because he could not handle Gaydom.), you found that architectural student, a blonde Adonis of magnificent structure (Now you learned what “bronze skin” meant), with a brain, who actually studied in your house while you played around with your stuff! How perfect could that be? After a month you were hooked! You were in love again! You braved the waters. Sitting on his lap, facing him, even being clothed, you looked in his eyes after a kiss and dared to say, “I love you.” Instantly averting his eyes and lowering his head, he spoke something just above a whisper, and said it over and over again, “No,” “No,” “No.” “No.”
What did you do? You went through the motions of making love again, you even slept together that night. But that was it. It was over for you, because you were in love. In love until those terrible words escaped from those perfect lips, having come from that perfect mind in that perfect body. Fuck it. The next time you saw him he was somebody else; a drunken, foolish college kid at the bar. You left. You avoided him on a couple of calls and you were done for a short while. “A short while” ending on the night you stood there laughing your ass off to a music video with Divine, the brave and hilarious drag queen of the mid 1980’s, singing his heart out to “Walk Like A Man.”
“Isn’t that funny,” the short ephebic blonde beauty before you says.
“Yes, I love his work on Lust in the Dust! Have you seen it?”
Well he was about to.
This one was a keeper. Incredibly cute, funny and intelligent, with two of the most perfectly formed balls you would ever see. Your crowning achievement would be to get both of those beauties in your mouth at the same time and go for it.
He was a professional.
So were you.
He worked like an animal six days a week on the white collar level of the professional office world. So did you. (Was it the 1990’s, or was it just that you were young and stupid? Stupid, and/or comfortably {gratefully} employed.)
But why would he never, and I mean never, stay and play the next day? Nothing could make it happen. You stayed at his place a few times, and would summarily have to leave in the morning. You yearned for more time with this angelic professional and lover. But all you got was a tryst. Once again you braved the emotional waters and proclaimed your desire to become boyfriends, not just one-nighters. “I don’t think we want the same things. I cannot fulfill what you are looking for. I am sorry,” he answered. Good for you! You are getting used to having your guts ripped out! This “breakup” allowed you to experience the dreaded “Drive Home,” in which you played the same song over and over again, from The Escape Club album, and you actually got lost on the thirty-minute drive home because of nepenthe.
How stupid are you?
Well, pretty stupid.
After the gaping wounds healed, you once again explored the landscape of the bizarre world you longed for so badly. This time you really struck gold with another ephebic man who would approach you with the sure-fire hook of “personal information gleaned from someone else.” He had done research!
“Hello! How is the theater business?” he asked over the din of the dance floor.
“Well you’ve done some checking? The business is fine,” you answered.
After that you really hit it off. This one seemed like a nice normal guy, a bit on the fem side, but nothing too terrible. You had really good sex. Even took showers together on the spur of the moment! And before you knew it, you were living together, renting a house with two of his dogs. But oh, his psyche bore scars of the past and soon the dark shadow of his questioning jealousy cloaked all.
You see, he did not trust anyone.
He could not.
He had been cheated upon in the past, or at least he believed he had been cheated upon. He also had a disturbingly close relationship with his former lover, who supposedly was the source of his recent psychic disruption, having “cheated” on him.
“Monsters John! Monsters from the Id!”
Ever so slowly, the jealous Id of your new housemate (for the first time mind you) and lover, started to question your every move away from the house, and especially your vacation with your best (straight) friend, that had been planned months before you meeting. On top of that, you discovered that he tried to kill himself in the past because of his previous lover’s indiscretion (real or not), and that he suspiciously appeared to read at a fifth grade level, and that he could not grasp the intensity of your professional work environment because his was infested with the machinations of a terrible manager who cheated and lied to his Home Office on every occasion because he was literally losing control- both professionally and personally.
You found out last week he was HIV+. Undoubtedly you would be too, you had not checked in years.
He had been incredibly tired and was losing weight. Now you are both in the same boat. You might think that the situation would spur a stronger relationship, giving each of you a common ground on which to build that life you were always searching for. But it was not to be, unless you were to give up your ideals and your vision of what a good relationship should be.
Remember last week, when you had that party at the house? You were standing outside by the fence talking to that beautiful young man who was a guest. You had never seen him before. You were simply conversing and learning about each other. You thought that is what you should do with previously unknown party guests. Before you knew it, your jealous lover came quickly up to the two of you and dumped a beer over your young guest. At that moment you knew that it was over. It appears that this Antinous was accused, rightly or wrongly, of inciting infidelity in other couples, and was ripe for the ever vigilant gaze of my tormented lover’s eyes.
Luckily, the young man simply heaved a great sigh. You did too. He walked away. You would never see him again. You turned to the shaking red-faced ephebe before you and said with all sincerity, “Give me a chance!”
Actually, I am sure you said, “Give me a fucking chance will ya?”
The end result was a counseling session monitored by his former lover. It mattered not.
He would try again to kill himself under your tutelage (with drugs), an act of desperation and evidence of a true psychic disruption. Was it in some way your fault? You didn’t think so. The jealous heart, spurred on by madness and delusion will create its own reality. Even so, the act did foster a closeness that, while enjoyable, would not last long under the continued stress of your true incompatibility.
You knew that when the lease was up, so were you.

Chapter II:
Tabula Rasa

“A child is born into a world of phenomena, all equal in their power to enslave. It sniffs, it sucks, it strokes its eyes over the whole, uncountable range. Suddenly, one strikes.
-Then another.
-Then another.
Moments snap together, like magnets forging a chain of shackles.
I can trace them.
I can, with time, pull them apart again.
But why, at the start, they were ever magnetized at all...
Why those particular moments of experience and no others...
I do not know, and nor does anybody else!”
--Dr. Dysart soliloquy, Equus, by Anthony Shaffer, Play/Film.

lack void.
The infinite darkness.
Your first nightmare: infinite space. Infinite space and the other- thing; a white undulating, shimmering, shining mass, clear off in the distance, emitting a steady barely audible, medium pitched hum. You floated amidst the vast nothingness. You irrevocably headed toward the pulsing thing. You paralleled it and eventually approached it obliquely. You were not on a collision course, you would orbit it.
It was even possible that you both were heading for something. Still, the horror of co-existence with it pervaded your dream-body and mind. It was the dread of being in the same space with it, knowing that its tendrils and pseudopods could reach out and engulf you at any time. It seemed like it wanted to tell you something it held, something you did not want to know. Now that you are older, you reflect that its structure and action was much like that of a Shuggoth, albeit a white shining one. (Everyone knows that Shuggoths are jet black, H. P. Lovecraft, the celebrated horror and weird story writer of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and creator of the Cthulhu: Mythos said so. Shuggoths are large amorphous creatures, up to dozens of feet wide, which have the ability to project and create various organs needed for delicate or rough work. Created by The Elder Things 150 million years ago to assist in the building of their city on the dreaded plain of Leng in the Antarctic, before the creation of man, {as an experiment or a joke}, they eventually gained sentience and attacked their creators. Shuggoths are still purported to exist in a few out of the way places on Earth and in the depths of the sea.)
In any case, you dreaded entering that dream-space occupied by that thing floating off in the distance, never too close, never too far. It may have held answers, but you were afraid of receiving them, as always. You still dream of it once in a great while. Now you mostly dream about your family, your actual working past, or working in a bizarre alternate dream-reality which could be current or future. Lovecraft was astounded at the waking world’s inability to “understand the often titanic nature of dreams…” He was referring directly to those particular dreams that place you in another reality, often with its own set of “Dream-Laws” which only apply there, and make perfect sense there. One may walk into a room and find a forest, or see a Shuggoth floating on the ceiling. It would make sense and cause no disillusion. The astounding aspect of such dreams, to you and Lovecraft, is the enclosed oneiric history. These alternate dream-worlds in which you work, smoke, love, fear and live in the present, a world in which you are fully aware of the past and present circumstances. Everything makes sense. The anger of being at work again makes sense. The fear of failing makes sense. The desire not to be alone makes sense. Often, upon waking exhausted, it takes minutes to shake off this millstone.
You were there.
When Lovecraft awoke, he would begin writing down his experiences immediately, often transcribing a complete story from his dream worlds. There is an entire sect out there who believe that Lovecraft was accessing information not available to most of us; that his stories were a veiled attempt to warn humankind of the lurking fear just beyond the wall of sleep.
You ate the short brown fur off of your favorite Teddy Bear as a baby. You wore one of those dreaded Easter Bunny PJ suits and ate the red fur off of that too. (You have no idea why.) The doctors told your parents that it was ok as long as the red and brown fur kept coming out the other end. (You guess it did.) You had that Teddy Bear in your bedroom, scarred, with bare patches throughout his torso and buttocks (!), for a long time.
You pooped for the first time in a little white plastic hat that sat in the toilet, not for the last time you are assured! (You guess it was an adapter for little kid’s butts.) You were proud of yourself when you received praise for learning that that is where your poop was supposed to go from now on. No more diapers.
However, a few years later, maybe when you were nine or ten, you thought you were man enough to hold back nature’s call until you got home from shopping one day. Bravely sitting in the back seat of the VW, staring at that strange ceiling made up of an infinite spread of tiny dots on a white surface (If you crossed your eyes right, you could make the layers separate into a faux 3D experience.) you found that that stellar display could not keep your butthole shut any more against the rising tide. To your surprise, something popped out, or pooped out, depending on how you looked at it. You were able to snap off the head of the offending protruder before you were really in trouble, but for the next twelve to fifteen minutes, you had a little guest in your butt-cheeks. Your main preoccupation for that time was: A) to hold back any more offending matter, and B) to wonder if you were going to emit an odor that would give you way. (Apparently you did not.)
Upon arrival at home, you managed to casually make your way to the bathroom. Good! Now you could check the damage and clean up, with no one any the wiser! So, as you took off your pants and removed the offending visitor and proceeded to clean yourself up, Mother opened the door looking for something. (This behavior not being uncommon in our household, as children’s bathroom time had an open-door policy. We had two boys and Dad. So, unless Mom was in there, you had a free pass to get some scissors, floss or that old magazine you had not finished.) So, the only odd thing apparent was that you had your pants off, standing in front of the sink. (Being a pre-pubescent child, masturbation was not an explanation.) Surveying the situation with some preternatural maternal instinct, your mother looked at you and asked if you had “messed your pants?” The odd thing was the way it came out, either due to the casualness of the situation, or a minor stroke, she actually said, “mess’m pants?”
You answered positively.
Luckily the entire situation was diffused with a knowing smirk and the offer to help. Score one for Mummie!
Drinking far too much one night in your mid-thirties with your best friend and boss, M----, you looked at the clock through blurred eyes and both decided through incoherent chatter that you could stay up the few more hours needed to reach dawn; as you had an early plane to catch to visit family the next day in Saginaw, Michigan. Why not? It would be a fun achievement.
The next thing you knew, you found yourself lying prone and face up on the couch, hands across your chest in full death-mode and felt your best friend tapping you on the leg, starring at you with puffy eyes.
“NO…,” you muttered.
“Yes,” he replied.
As you quickly realized that you both had failed in the attempt to stay up all night, you looked at the clock. It was 9am. Your plane would land in Saginaw at 10am, your family waiting to start a vacation and go up north. As you started to dial the phone with desert-dry mouth and a cracked voice, your anxiety at facing the day before you caused you to proceed to pee your pants for the first time in memory, even though you had your penis pinched between your thumb and fore-finger, while M---- broke into uncontrollable laughter. You clamped your penis with wet fingers as you tried to explain to your father that you would be on the next flight to Saginaw, all due to a binge-drinking attempt to stay up all night. All you really had to say was, “M---- was here and….
Ignoring the sagely advice of one William Stout, the venerable philosopher-artist who produced the famous bootleg Who Zoo LP cover and Wizards movie poster, regarding things not to do when you are over fifty , later in life you were surprised to have shat yourself at work when you intended to only fart. (Not being over fifty, but being fully entrenched in the world of HIV and its corresponding gut-wrenching drugs, you easily qualified for the Stout rules.) Luckily, you had brought your spring jacket into your office that morning instead of leaving it up front. Good! You had a perfect cover to aid in your attempt to get to your car, drive home and rectify the situation. It was near noon, so you could leave on the pretext of going to lunch with little trouble.
Casually wrapping your coat around your waist and tying the arms over your belt, you made your way toward the front door, your mind fully occupied. Upon reaching the parking lot, you inadvertently grabbed the handle of the first red sedan you saw, believing in your current frame of mind that it was indeed your car. You were mistaken. It was the car of the co-worker who happened to sit in the office facing the parking lot. Realizing that the door would not open, and seeing that the contents of the front passenger seat did not match that of your car, you quickly made your way to your car, a few spaces over. Getting in and starting to drive off with some modicum of security, you suddenly received a call on your cell phone from home office. It was the co-worker in the front window. “Did you shit your pants or what?” he asked.
“Why would you ask that?” you countered, believing yourself to have made good your escape.
“Well you walked out with your coat tied around your waist and then you grabbed the handle of my car. So I imagine you are in a hurry.”
“Well, the sun was in my eyes and I got confused. You know I get confused sometimes. I am on the way to lunch,” you shamefully lied. The great cosmic manipulator, the “Evil Genius,” had struck again, throwing unexpected and deliberate obstacles in your way as you navigated your path through life, it would seem.
You stayed at a friend of the family’s house in your formative years before you entered school. She was an amazingly wonderful woman who genuinely loved you. Being her only ward, you were spoiled beyond belief. Her joys were made up of such familial activities as board-games, watching The Lucy Show and Dark Shadows (which you watched with both hands covering your face), sewing and cooking and baking. You would happily spend the day watching TV, playing games and baking cakes. So what happened after some immersion in this pre-school environment? You, being the manly reflection of your father’s genes, asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas! (That oven being a cubical cardboard assembly with a 100 Watt light bulb inside it.) Somehow, if you mixed water with the powder provided in a little tray, the damn thing would produce a little brownie cake! (Of course this had nothing to do with your completely unknown sexuality, you baked all day, so why not bake at night with Mom and Dad?) To your utter astonishment now, your parents actually bucked stereotype and bravely bought you one! (Score one for Mom and Dad!)

The Killing Fields:
You were introduced to the art of killing not by your father or your older brother but by your older brother’s best friend. You were up north at the blue cottage in Oscoda, Michigan. It must have been about 1973. Like all kids your age, you had a Daisy Bee-Bee gun of modest power, sold at all the local K-Mart stores. Your brother and his friend had the deadly pellet guns. For some reason, you were out hunting the vicious chipmunks that inhabited the nearby woods with only your brother’s best friend. You soon spotted one of the deadly foe in the woods in the crotch of a tree a short distance away. With the help of your new mentor, you took aim and fired. The ferocious creature was hit and took a dive to the forest floor.
Realizing what you had just done in a flash of karmic insight, not knowing of the Wheel of Samsara to come (This being the Karmic theory of revolving reincarnations of the soul that is supposed to lead to purer and better lives as you progress, ending in enlightenment and bliss. The fact that you never remember your past life does not seem to bother its followers…), you ran up to the dying creature and fired about twenty bee-bee rounds into its body in an attempt to insure its quick demise with the least amount of pain. Your mentor grabbed your shoulder and hurled you around to look into your gigantic eyes and asked, as you would hear so many times in the future, “What is wrong with you?”
You explained that you wanted to be sure it died quickly. Then you were shown the right of passage of cutting off the chipmunk’s tail and told to display it to all your friends (and enemies alike) to show your courage in battle.

Space Race:
Then there was the untold impact of the mighty Space Race. In a time when nothing is mentioned of the International Space Station in the current news, (barring an emergency) and the US dropped its only access to space, relying on privateers and the sixty-year-old Russian R-7 launcher, you can hardly imagine the ubiquitous nature of the Space Program and all things space in the 1960’s and 1970’s. America and the Western World were awash in it. Everything from pens, to breakfast bars, to advertising, to clothes and small electronics were imbued with space themes and space technology. And what is more, dread SCIENCE was king. Kids actually clamored to learn math and all things scientific so that one day, they too could be an Astronaut. Little did they know that, at least for the West, it would all stop dead by 1975. (With the last known Apollo flight, Apollo 18, aka “Apollo Soyuz.” That is discounting mounting evidence of Department of Defense Apollo 19 {fatal} & 20 {successful alien body return.})
In the meantime, man landed on the moon. Apollo 11, 12 and 13 took place. You were too young to appreciate what was happening until Apollo 14 was plastered all over the News, making amends for NASA’s triumphant hiccup of the disastrous and nearly fatal Apollo 13. Alan Shepard, America’s first man into space, was in command and eager to walk on the moon. Watching the new-fangled color TV set with sharp eyes, you kept an eye out for his red armband and were amazed with the rest of the country when he demonstrated his love of golf on the moon. You found it harder and harder to keep track of the Apollo program, the lunar rover and splashdowns as the networks (all three mind you!) dropped more and more coverage in lieu of soaps and I Dream of Jeannie re-runs. You memorized every detail of the Skylab missions and the Apollo-Soyuz mission, which literally used up every last scrap of (known) Apollo hardware, never to be flown again. (How could that be?)
Even though the 1950’s was the first generation to have their collective consciousness be augmented by the power of the television set in their living room, that power was reinforced and projected as never before in the 1960’s, the germ loci of your consciousness. Your mom was rocking you in front of the television when JFK had his head blown open in Dallas. You saw RFK’s assassination on TV. You saw Wallace’s shooting on TV. But your five-year-old mind did not quite understand what was happening yet. Your emergence into the time-space continuum of consciousness seems to revolve around 1968 (!). TV brought you the Quisp and Quake cereal wars. (Yes they really did exist!). TV brought you the ghostly, foggy, static-filled image of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. TV brought you all the glory of NASA in the midst of the space race, interrupting the broadcasts of the three networks, over and over again. TV brought you Laugh-In and the Charlie Brown Specials, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer every winter.
As the dread amalgam of the socially confused, guilty and drifting ethos of the 1970’s approached, you were left to your own devises as your brother was off getting laid and your parents were off socializing (I do not blame them for this, it is just a fact). Being old enough to not have a baby-sitter, you absorbed the grand humor of The Carol Burnett Show and The Bob Newhart Show. You caught a few terrifying glimpses of Rod Serling’s The Night Gallery, before it was routed, re-edited (losing much of its punch in the process) and sent packing into the syndicated wasteland a few years later. You were awed by the inherent brilliance of the appearance of The Night Stalker, with its two TV movies and then the short lived series. You were mystified by the NBC Mystery Movies, which ran weekly, but rotated through McCloud, Columbo, McMillan & Wife, Banacek, Cool Million and Madigan. You eagerly awaited the ABC Movie of the Week, television movies that introduced the world to a startling array of new, young creative talent that got a chance to make movies for television before graduating to the movie business, like a young Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking Duel in 1971. Then, throughout high school, you memorized every thirty-minute episode of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, as it was aired at 11PM every weeknight on local TV station.
It must be hard for the current generation to imagine being a slave to the television. You understand how this generation is a slave to the television in the sense that they can watch anything they want, when they want, and they do. But your generation was a slave to the television’s time. Great movies like Airport, The Wizard of OZ, Fantastic Voyage and Planet of the Apes were advertised for weeks in advance. You planned to stay home that night to watch them when they were finally on. If you missed them, they were gone into the aether, lost until random chance brought them back into your sphere of viewing. Then in the early 1980’s the boon of the VCR emerged. Expensive at first, but gradually open to every home, you could now watch TV shows and movies by taping them and/or buying them, where possible.
Spaced Out!
In between the dark light-years of the cancellation of Star Trek on television (1969) and the arrival of Star Wars in theaters (1977), Gerry and Silvia Anderson, the producers of the wildly popular Thunderbirds TV series (1965-67) an ITC British import, were eager to continue their live-action success they had with the UFO TV series (1970). Having overseen the previous ITC successes, such as Fireball XL-5, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Stingray and Captain Scarlet, Sir Lew Grade, head of ITC, who was more than happy with the Anderson’s production ability, bankrolled the first year of the proposed new live-action series, Space:1999, without conferring with the world-wide television networks who had supported all of his efforts in the past.
Once the first year of Space:1999 was completed, with its international cast headed by the married 1960’s TV stars from Mission: Impossible, Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, not to mention The Fugitive’s Barry Morse , and a stupendously budgeted Special-Effects team, headed by Brian Johnson, who would shortly win an Oscar for ALIEN in 1979, Lew Grade was surprised to find a lukewarm welcome from the big three US Networks. Having been produced in a virtual developmental cocoon of innovative talent, they found the series a bit too Euro-centric, intellectual, metaphysical and international for the tastes of the mid 1970’s American pallet. (Not only did they say “schedule” like “ssshedule,” but there was also an euthanasia incident in the first episode.) Non-plussed, ITC took the hitherto unknown step of offering the series to individual television stations directly, thereby creating the first prime-time syndicated television series in history. Unfortunately, this meant that when Space:1999 debuted in the Fall of 1975, it would be shown across the country at different times, on different days, on different stations.
The saving grace of this effort was ITC’s publicity department, which oversaw a huge international marketing campaign designed to thwart the problems of syndication. Space:1999 toys, games, bubble gum, stickers, squirt guns, LPs and models would proliferate across the globe. All was well across the US, as ITC had succeeded in securing enough local stations and big-guns like WOR (New York) and WGN (Chicago). The world-wide distribution was a success as well. However, ITC’s own UK networks failed to pick up the series and Space:1999 was also syndicated throughout England.
Nevertheless, rabid Sci-Fi fans of the mid 1970’s, anemic from nothing of value except old Star Trek reruns, were grateful for the influx of unbelievable cutting-edge Special-Effects and haughty European stories set on Earth’s wandering moon after it was blasted out of orbit on Tuesday, September 13, 1999 (Velikovsky and Hogan would be proud!). You were at that particular stage of development that was susceptible to the lure of the outré quality of the imported series, and at that stage of your just-begun teens when your parents were out on Thursday nights at 8pm, when your Space:1999 was on! So you sat there in your jammies, pop in hand, absorbing every nuance of the definitely non-American space-opera. The most amazing thing of all was the music. Barry Gray, the man who scored all of the Anderson’s previous efforts, had produced an attention getting main theme as usual for the series, but what he accomplished for the basic soundtrack was nothing less than sublime. Wearing them out, you would purchase several copies of the Space:1999 LP. Of course, you had to deal with the odd placement of “other” non-series (modern rock) music tracks on the LP, from the lead guitarist who supplied the main theme riff, cutting down the available space on the 20 minute-a-side record for the actual score. You would bid up to $300 on EBay in the early 2000’s for the then illegal bootleg CD of the first season score, losing out by a mere $11. Luckily, Fanderson, the UK based Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Fan Club, would issue a legal CD a couple of years later.
Lesson being learned, Lew Grade opted to bring in an American producer to help “Americanize” the show for season two in an effort to win back the Networks and gain even more world markets. Enter one Producer Freddie Freiberger, notorious for having produced the third and final year of Star Trek, ushering in Spock’s Brain and Space Hippies. At the time, it was widely rumored that Freiberger’s predilection for using the word “bullshit” against the delicate sensibilities of the British crew was responsible for his ability to ram-rod his way through ITC toward a more straightforward, action-packed Space:1999 series with more sex-appeal and monsters than the original British vision would allow.
However, documentation appearing in the early 2000’s would show that he was really operating under the direction of Lew Grade, by-passing Gerry Anderson, and basically doing “his job;” much as he had to do at the end of Star Trek’s tenure when Gene Roddenberry would leave after the second season to go take a stab at Hollywood. You have since taken down your Freddie Freiberger dartboard (Purchased at the 1978 Space:1999 Convention).
Having lodged itself in your developing brain, Space:1999 would become something of an obsession with you. The first signs of being stricken occurred in 1978 when you learned of the impending (Save) Space:1999 Convention being held in nearby Columbus, Ohio. Your little heart was set aflutter and you begged your Mom and Dad to take you there. And so it was that your parents had forgone their vacation time to take you and a friend to wonderland of your first Sci-Fi Convention, one held in honor of your favorite new series. Guests would include Gerry Anderson, Martin Landau, Nick Tate, Clifton Jones, David Prowse and Barry Gray. Your parents were good enough to pay for your $40 attendance at the Saturday night dinner in which all of the guests would rotate about the tables and mingle with their fans.
Of special interest was Mr. David Prowse, the man who played Darth Vader, who happened to be part of the Space:1999 universe before Star Wars hit. Now the general public did not know David Prowse from Superman, but you and your ilk sure did. When he arrived at the hotel on Friday night, he was not noticed by the crowd in the lobby, aside from the fact that he was a LARGE man. You and your friend managed to hook up with him quickly, introduce him to your parents, and offer any help you could. He did ask you and your friend to help him get some US stamps. Your Mom and Dad had dinner with him and sat by the pool the next day with him until the convention proper began.
You were in fifteen-year-old Dork Heaven at that convention. When you sat next to Barry Gray at the special guest dinner, you managed to ask him why there was so much “other stuff” on the Space:1999 LP Soundtrack, aside from his marvelous score. He said he had no idea why the powers that be decided to take that route, but that he had nothing to do with it. You were satisfied.
You would realize the futility of dating women and famously drop one of your ever-so-short girlfriends on a night when M---- managed to tune in Space:1999 from WOR in New York on his father’s ten foot satellite dish! With the option of staying with her through yet another berating and emotionless dry-hump, you fled the premises and headed for M---- house. As you retired and found yourself with a spare 200 feet of basement space when you remodeled, you went ahead and build a mock-up of the Space:1999 Eagle Transporter cockpit as a fucking awesome man-cave!
Star Trekked:
Even as the country slid into the economic hell of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, you were maintained by the fading light of the Space Program and repeats of the syndicated Star Trek series. That ground breaking vision of a possible future made up for the fomenting lackluster education spreading throughout America. When they did not teach you Philosophy in high school, Gene Roddenberry did his best to substitute it with his show. While George Lucas would slip into fantasy elements with the cultural explosion that would be Star Wars, Gene would hold fast and produce Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the grandfather of all Trek that was to follow: ten movies, four TV series and a reboot in 2009. Now that’s impact. (If you cater to that sort of thing.)
For years to come, when you wanted to figure out how to deal with a potential problem, all you had to do was ask; “What would Kirk do?” (Later, others would ask, “What would Picard do?” but they would not be as forthright and manly as Kirk with the answer.)

It was in your tenth grade literature class that you first heard the phrase “Phallic Imagery.” Presented by your female teacher in conjunction with the analysis of the notorious homosexual poet, Walt Whitman and his “Leaves of Grass,” she explained its meaning as “Erect male penis.” (Begging the question of whether there is another kind?). For weeks afterward, you and your friends would burst forth with “Oh Mannahatta, your towering girders, soaring into the heights…” at the most inopportune times. This female teacher was quite popular with the male kids as she had big boobs. She was unafraid to discuss sexual matters and claimed to do her house-cleaning in the nude. You once had a detailed discussion with her on the nature of the rape scene in A Clockwork Orange; you claiming that it was one of the funniest things on film, she disagreeing. (As you aged, you have grown to see the Socratic achievement of tragedy of the act mixed with the callous humor of its form.)
Later in mid-life on your trip to Pompeii, you would discover that the ancient Romans of 70CE were amazingly sophisticated, if not simply unphased, by the basic sexuality of the human condition and form. Not only did they embrace the notion of the appreciation of ephebic masculine beauty, and the natural attraction to such creatures, but they enshrined it in the myth of Ganymede in which Zeus is so captivated by the young Greek Ganymede that he changes into an eagle and swoops down to Earth, grabs him, and takes him to “heaven” (Mt. Olympus) where he is to be his personal water barer forever. (It is critical to note that the Christians would later embrace this image as further mythological reinforcement to the belief that humans could seek to be transmogrified as souls and arrive in heaven with Yahweh as their reward in the afterlife). The “Symbol of Homosexual Love,” as our guide repeated continuously, in the guise of Ganymede, was present all over Pompeii, on the water fountains, city walls and especially in the public baths.
Likewise, the ancient universal symbol of good luck, the “Erect Male Penis,” (Often displayed with wings) was displayed wherever “Good Luck” was needed; on charms, as household art objects, or paintings. Aside from bringing good luck, the “Erect Male Penis” was also a demonstrative sign of virility. If your marriage was blessed with the birth of children, the symbol was displayed over the door of your household, indicating that you were “lucky” in producing children. So
when walking down the streets of Pompeii, you saw many an “Erect Male Penis” emblazoned on the front of street-facing entry doors.
On Delos, you would face the ultimate in demonstrative fecundity, as the birthplace of the Gods was home to the definitive proof that men are supposed to have two balls. Even in their vandalized state, little needs to be said of the glory of masculine good luck and the true place of the generative organ in society.

The Glory of Futures Past, Delos, Greece.

The inception of your eclectic soundtrack appreciation and forthright obsession with them occurred in the tenth grade as well. (Dork) Not only had you just been exposed to the pinnacle of soundtrack achievement with the recent release of Star Wars, (Now considered the greatest soundtrack of all time by the AFI.) but Starlog Magazine had just produced their first LP, hoping to foster further love of the Sci-Fi soundtrack genre with their original recording of the classic score to Rocketship-XM. (Released in 1950, a classic Sci-Fi film, famous for its early use of the electronic instrument, the Theremin, in the score. It is also touted as one of the first realistic space films, coming out months before George Pal’s ultra-realistic Destination Moon.) The kicker here being that no one under forty-years of age at the time had seen this film, unless they caught it on TV. Kids were buying the R-XM soundtrack on faith, believing that Starlog Magazine would not lead them astray. It did not. Now the kids would have to watch for the release of the film on the burgeoning VHS market and await the restored R-XM on DVD twenty years later. The effect on your protean mind was an instant fascination with the Theremin, Dr. Samuel Hoffman, the adept performer, and the never seen (for you) Rocketship-XM. Your fellow students and friends were well aware of your new interest. One even wrote in your 1978 yearbook; “To the only fella who owns a copy of Rocketship-XM and the only fella who would want one…” You stood out like a sore thumb, or “Erect male penis,” I imagine.
You were ever so proud of your R-XM LP for years and transferred it to CD once you became computer literate, sending copies to a few fellow geeks who had never purchased the long out-of-print LP. It was not until 2011 that the officially restored legally produced CD was issued to an eagerly awaiting audience, small as it may be. As an affirmation of your peculiar interests and social idiom, it is worthy of note that the reissue of R-XM was produced in a limited run of 1000 copies. You were never sure if that was a slap in the face, or a tribute to your eclectic interests. (I mean only 1000 CDs for the whole planet? That is like ten per country! Or twenty per state! Now if you could only find the gay Twinks who purchased those CDs!)
Obsessing over the music of The Power, a 1968 George Pal film scored by the prestigious Miklos Rozsa, famously, the composer of the 1957 score for Ben-Hur, you would incessantly play the music you recorded on a microphone held up to the TV speaker, (The ultimate in dorkdom baptism In the days before RCA jacks, this was a common activity of the nascent soundtrack collectors of the day. As I aged, I was gratified to find that there were indeed others out there “like me,” at least in some ways. ) in the high school yearbook darkroom to accompany your photographic work. It was a prodigious moment when the Miklos Rozsa Society produced a limited run LP of the score to The Power in 1979. You were not only in a musical heaven, but you were reinforced in your love of film scores, as was proven by the release of such a rare score on LP (A legally produced CD would be issued in the early 2000’s).
Encountering the world of “Bootleg LPs,” you found that one could purchase an illegal LP of the coveted soundtrack to The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, by Jerry Goldsmith for a mere $100, in 1985 money mind you! (Gas was eighty-cents a gallon). The story goes, which may be apocryphal, that the FBI actually shut the run down on the day it started to press them. So this was a rare find indeed! (The illegality of soundtrack bootlegs has long been a bone of contention among fans, as a real illegal bootleg is usually an illegal recording of a concert issued later on LP. Soundtrack bootlegs, however, are an issuance of something that does not exist in any other form. It is issuing a recording that a small minority are dying to hear and the rest of the world could care less about.)
Obliterating all other obsessions, Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, would fuse with your psyche and actually give birth to an ever-increasingly positive world view as you played the score every day for about four years straight. (Much as the cimbalom was central to the ethereal nature of The Power, Goldsmith’s use of the newly invented avant-garde instrument known as the “Blaster Beam” was a master-stroke of innovation and skill as he merged the bizarre instrument with a full orchestra. The score to Star Trek: The Motion Picture is considered to be the product of an absolute master composer at the peak of his ability.)
With the miracle of cassette tape, you were able to enjoy the majestic soul-affirming score at home or in the car, wherever a player was available. After Jerry’s death in 2004, a 20th Anniversary edition of the full score was released on CD, expanding the length of the original LP by fifty per-cent, it was a godsend to his fans. Upon the 30th Anniversary, a complete 3-CD set was released including an entire CD of outtakes from the recording sessions. Finally, every note he wrote for the film was now available.
Your admiration for the man who provided a lens with which you were able to view the world would allow you to attend a concert in San Jose, California in 2001 and see him again closer to home in Detroit, Michigan in 2002. It is interesting to note that of all of your friends and family, you chose your Mother to accompany you on this momentous trip. You literally flew across the country just to see a Goldsmith concert. Mom was pivotal in suggesting ways to meet Jerry in person after the concert. A smoker, Jerry was at the loading dock, awaiting a line of fans out back. In 2004 he would die of the daemon cancer the same year of your father. R---- would accompany you to the Detroit concert, his father too, would die that same dread year.
After Jerry’s death, you would fly out to LA to see the “AFI Top 25 Soundtracks of All Time Concert,” featuring a live performance of Jerry’s groundbreaking Planet of the Apes score, accompanied by your friend J----. You took the lugubrious opportunity to visit Jerry’s gravesite and pay homage to the Master. The AFI concert at the Hollywood Bowl would also provide for the last appearance of the legendary composer Elmer Bernstein, who would shortly die, and also affirm John Williams’ Star Wars score as the greatest film score of all time.
Having long been fascinated with Peter Shaffer’s masterpiece of psychological horror and social-political dissection, Equus, you took full advantage of seeing the play at a small production house outside of LA when you and Uncle visited the city. Your original exposure to Equus was through the LP recording of the magnificent score by Richard Rodney Bennett, accompanied by the commanding voice of Richard Burton. You later caught the film version on cable. Paramount was your obsessive ingestion of Burton’s penetrating soliloquies and dialogues with the young Alan. You knew the author was speaking to you. The fact that Alan was naked through half of the movie was an additional perk, but not the driving force behind the admiration for the writer. Shaffer deftly turned the horror story of a boy blinding horses into a diatribe against the Bible, inhibited sexuality, modern society and its ills, analyzing the very nature of the human condition and our own empirical (hopefully) striving to understand the world.
All of your attempts to impress this upon Uncle were lost when the young actor playing Alan proceeded to take off his clothes, displaying his ample manhood amidst the thespian splendor of the fifty-seat theater holding the performance outside of LA, parading a mere three feet from your seats. You could hear Uncle’s strained breathing upon his damaged lungs as he attempted to absorb the setting and maintain a modicum of composure.
Later, whenever you brought up the subject of the play, attempting to discuss the philosophical meaning of the work, Uncle could only dangle his index finger, wiggling it, and say, “Yes, I will never forget, that was the one with the penis....”

(…Spirit of the Sky, Remember. Spirit of the Earth, Remember...)
“It's time to abandon the churches and start building space shuttles. It's time to stop praying for the stars and time to start going there. If the Gods have forgotten us, it's about time to show up on their doorstep and remind them.”
--The Gates of the Necronomicon, Simon, 2006

“Yahweh” was uttered to you for the first time in a college philosophy class, spurring intrigue and questions for years onward in your pliant brain as “He who has no name” was indeed named.
In the same vein of discovery, when you watched 1960’s Spartacus on TV as a child, and saw that 60,000 slaves were being put to death by crucifixion on the Apian Way, you understood, for the first time, that the Christ’s crucifixion was not a singular event, but that such an ignominious end was a common execution device used by the a Romans for criminals and enemies of the state for hundreds of years.
Introducing you to the depth of the notion, “if you love someone, set them free,” in college Søren Kierkegaard’s 1843 treatise Fear and Trembling induced pondering on the fact that a truly active God would require the utmost in rage and rejection from the human race, you dealt with the non-atheistic notion of the terrible responsibility Yahweh would have and how ineptly he had dealt with his creation. Ultimately, you concluded that if this universe were the best he could do, He ought not to have done it.

“The world was made first—in the Egyptian myth, via the masturbation of the first God—and humans came much later, only after the battle in which a dreaded Monster (Tiamat) is slain and carved up to make the planets, the stars, the sky, and our own Earth.”
--The Gates of the Necronomicon, Simon, 2006

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