Everything old is new again.
Or was it really all that sneaky?
I mean, I did train in journalism. There was a time when I had a true sense of what was cool for being hot and topical, and was shamefully old for being not. We do exist along a linear path, correct?—and, once passed, the past is past.
Well, a famous Vulcan once said, “Nobody dies in science fiction”—and the same may be true of our memories, too. I could have sworn that the Trek photos and quotes and freebies I glommed onto over the years and that eventually gathered dust as old hat were just as dusty for everybody, right?
Apparently not. And I guess we really just have J.J. Abrams to blame for passing out the featherdusters.
After all, he’s the one that fulfilled the Grand Script by flooding our Trekland with all these new fans, brought in by his re-imagined movie. Like that film or hate it, there’s no debate that Trek fandom has been infused with a huge dose of new blood. But the older newbies didn’t know to pay attention in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and the younger ones—well, they weren’t able to pay attention.
The point is, it was only a couple years ago when all the mounting so-called “news” headlines from the Trek landscape seemed pretty odd to me—until it all finally hit critical mass, and I finally Got It: “New” is in the eye of the beholder.
I mean, on which side of the perception screen do you fall?
If Gene Roddenberry’s interview of Bill Shatner or Mark “Sarek” Lenard on his 12-inch vinyl LP was outside of your memory frame, then a reissue of the 1978 landmark “Star Trek Lives!” a few years back would be big news.
If you only got to see the last year of two of Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas—if at all—and the whole rconcept seems like a lost mirage now beyond your mortal grasp … Well, then anything from what some liken to the “sixth Star Trek series” would be extra-cool; souvenirs from the gala opening would seem like a holy grail!
You get the idea. And so do I… finally. More and more “a-ha” moments like these have been popping up the past couple years—and it’s really been an eye-opener. It hits home again how our current Fallow Years mean that “Star Trek news” is driven not by the pics and info from a TV show being cranked out weekly, but by the even rarer rumors and leaks about a movie -- those that survive to see the light day, and more than a year or two away from its release.
Case in point: I had the chance to go on a real late-season con binge last month, with stops in various formats in the New York, L.A. and then Dallas areas. My current trademark “slide show” had to be left at home due to logistics, and I was a little jittery: without the crutch of my news, info and cheap-joke visuals, who’d want to waste an hour with me?
In the end there was nothing to fear. In fact, it was a privilege to be with hundreds of fans of all eras, all resumes, who just enjoyed sharing straight talk and swapping a few grins. Most of all, everything old was new again! Fans are hungry, absolutely ravished, for more info on almost any aspect. Who knows how it gets so stuck out in the political arena, but here in a Trekland panel room the minds are open -- and that allows any new what-ifs and did-you-knows to combine and frame one’s Trek perceptions in all-new ways.
That vibe likely explains the appeal of the new Star Trek 365 book from my buds Paula Block and Terry Erdmann, via Abrams Publishing. Have you seen it yet?
Conventional wisdom (no pun intended) holds that TOS is the most popular among the Trek franchises -- or at least it’s tied with the TNG cast -- and this book is a great entre into the whole ball o’wax. It’s also great when the jaded and cynical (like me) can still find a new little gem of knowledge previously unknown. And this book is full of them -- pics and snippets alike.
In the same way, that’s why yet another cable special on Star Trek -- this one, Captains of the Final Frontier on the BIO Channel -- seemed so right for so many when it aired last week. I had the chance to consult on the two-hour special and talk on-camera amid a cast of dozens, so it was hardly “my” show. But, unlike after other similar documentaries in recent years, fan after fan from just about everywhere has written me with good reviews or thumbs-up -- and nearly all want to mention what Star Trek nugget of wisdom that they actually learned new.
So -- nothing is passé, nothing is sacred, nothing is “too old” for today’s fan. I’m going to remember that next time.
I mean, new is new, and old is old, right?