Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hear that? It's the cosmic rays. I -- I warned you about 'em.

Fascinations (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 8 part 1 - print media)

Fascination moves
Sweeping near me
Still I take you
Sho nuff
Takes a part of me

David Bowie - Fascination

Are other people's lives built on their fascinations to the extent that mine has been? Mmm, I think so.

Some would say 'obsessions' rather than fascinations. You've made your way past the music chapter so you have a glimpse into this aspect of my character.

As a baby boomer, I am a child of the media, of the analogue variety, but still media! I don't remember a pre television era. Radio was still important (Goon Show, Sunday morning requests) but TV, even though it was black and white, with one channel and only on for a limited number of hours, was the medium.

I love low art, pop culture, with some appreciation of high art thrown in for good measure. However, it is pop culture mores than I am most comfortable with. I would much rather visit something like McDonalds or IHOP than eat at a pretentious, trendy, over priced restaurant.

One of my earliest fascinations was for comics. My collection of comics grew to such an extent that my bed almost levitated off the sixties multi-coloured swirling carpet in my Korma Road bedroom thanks to all of the comics stashed underneath it.

Look and Learn had two sections that I collected with obsessive zeal. One was a western featuring yer typical Clint Eastwood style inscrutable cowboy; the second was a bizarre futuristic story about a group of Roman soldier types. In many ways it was the precursor to Star Wars and its 'long ago and far away' setting. Called The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, it was the product of inspired work by Mike Butterworth and Don Lawrence.

From there it was an easy progression to Marvel and DC comics. Three Royal Oak news agents stocked these and I became a slavish follower of Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Sgt Rock, Thor and Tarzan of the Apes in particular.

Something about Spiderman's nerdish Peter Parker, and the weird combination of powers in The Fantastic Four made them my clear favourites.

Obviously, all this was in the days way before any specialist comic shops (I love the one in the Cuba Mall in Wellington). If you missed a weekly delivery of comics you were sunk. So regular trips to those shops on my bike, was needed. 

My completist compulsion stems from this, I think. It would drive me crazy if my sequence of comics was interrupted. Still does if I miss a Mojo magazine for any reason.

Our next door neighbour who lived at 20 Korma Ave had a grandson who visited her on the weekend (same ritual we had with our grandparents obviously) and we'd play catch and swap comics, as you did in those innocent days.

Eventually the collection became too much and mum made me sell them all. That hurt man!

Last year I shelled out $1,000 for the complete set of Trigan Empire comics. I had to, I just did. I loved reconnecting with my past, and while the thrill I had reading these as a pre-teen was impossible to recapture, I loved having the COMPLETE set!

Alongside the comics, sat books!

If I didn't have my nose in a comic, it was in a book. 

Basically, the same regime I outlined for collecting music held true for books (once I found an author I liked, I'd backtrack and read all I could by them).

It started with things from local libraries like Swallows and Amazons, or books from my parents' collection (Desmond Bagley, Alistair MacLean), or else I'd buy them (Sven Hassel war books, Tolkien, Conan the Barbarian series by Robert E. Howard). I always had a book going.

Nothing much has changed, either. 

Sitting on my coffee table right now, in A.R.T., are a pile of books to read - a The Fantastic Four compendium from Marvel, a Hunter Davies book on Beatle lyrics, three other Beatle or Lennon related books and Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky.

And, I'm still a completist with authors I love - Haruki Murakami, William Goldman, Robert Fulghum, Nick Hornby, Robert M. Pirsig (best book I've ever read - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

The final piece of the written media fascination is poetry. I have always loved writing my own poetry and reading the words of Patti Smith, Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Hone Tuwhare, A.R.D. Fairburn, and especially William Wordsworth. They have always connected with my own sensibilities.

I'm very aware that this part of my autobiography has been almost exclusively male-centric. Although I've read and studied a lot of novels and poetry written by women, and enjoyed female writers like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Katherine Mansfield, they don't speak to me like the writers I'm mentioned during this chapter, who, it just so happens, are male. 

Sorry, but there it is.

Love and peace - Wozza

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