Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ride The Wild Spinner Rack - Part 3

Editor's Update 10/17/2014: The Ride The Wild Spinner Rack series appears in multiple posts, including, so far, Part 1Part 2, and Part 3. Enjoy.


Part 3: Kid Stuff

I was possessed.  My comic book obsession was such that right after the last bell rang on my junior high school Wednesday afternoon, I would literally RUN a couple of blocks down 54th Street to H Street, where I would turn left and sprint the last half mile to Womble’s Drug Store (now a bagel shop).

That’s right, if you were to drive that part of H Street around 3:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, you’d see a nerdy 13 year old racing up the street as if being pursued.

When I got to the store, I’d stop and stare at the latest arrivals: Avengers 17 (“Four Against the Minotaur!”), Strange Tales 133 (Dr. Strange SHARING the cover with The Human Torch and The Thing in two different stories), X- Men #12 (“The Origin of Prof X!”), and all the others.  The only thing that came anywhere close to my love of comics was my love of music.

“They’re disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
Noisy, crazy, dirty, lazy, loafers!
While we're on the subject: Kids!
You can talk and talk till your face is blue! Kids!
But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can't they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?”
“Kids” Bye Bye Birdie

That Spring I decided to “go public” with my love of musicals, so I auditioned for the Music Circus.  (For the uninitiated, the Music Circus is a Sacramento institution that every summer produces half a dozen musicals on a stage “in the round.”)

Bye Bye Birdie was one of the productions that year, so there were parts for my age group.  It was quite a day when I was told I’d made it, not only as one of that musical’s teenagers, but also in a couple of other bit roles in Showboat a month later.  I was ecstatic!  My big break! 

That summer was my initiation into the world of professional theatre.  It was also my initiation into the world of the chorus line’s dressing room, where talk of politics, sports and religion was forbidden, leaving plenty of room for other topics, mainly gossip and sex.  It was quite an education. 

In addition to expanding my knowledge of biology, away from the Music Circus I was expanding my musical tastes beyond Broadway show tunes.      

“I don't mind other guys dancing with my girl
That's fine, I know them all pretty well
But I know sometimes I must get out in the light
Better leave her behind with the kids, they're alright
The kids are alright”
The Who

Something was happening to my taste in music and I started noticing that something was happening in comics too: the first American underground comic Foolbert Sturgeon’s The Adventures of Jesus had made its appearance; Pilote Comics Magazine featuring Moebius’ Blueberry (“…as much a staple in French comics as The Avengers or Flash in the USA”) and Goscinny/Uderzo’s Asterix, was alive and well in France; manga was exploding in popularity in Japan.  Jim Steranko was about to revolutionize mainstream comics by deconstructing the format with Nick Fury, and the first issue of R. Crumb’s Zap was right around the corner.  Comics and my life weren’t kids stuff anymore.

“A baby is born
Crying out for attention
Memories fade
Like looking through a fogged mirror
Decisions too
Decisions are made and not bought
But I thought this wouldn't hurt a lot
I guess not”
“Kids”, MGMT



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