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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Notebook Notions: WHAT IF? SO WHAT? The 1979 Fantasy And Science Fiction Journal, Part 1



As a college student at Brockport from 1977 to 1980, I was an English major focused on creative writing. During that time, I took two courses that required me to keep a journal, and I still have those journals. My freshman Creative Writing journal is too awkward and angst-filled to share here, but may provide inspiration for future installments of my autobiographical series Singers, Superheroes, & Songs On The Radio.  

On the other hand,I don't think I'll mind sharing entries from the journal I kept for the Fantasy And Science-Fiction class I took at the beginning of my senior year. The course was taught by the late Dr. Calvin Rich, a delightful gentleman with an enthusiastic sense of grace and wonder. Dr. Rich encouraged me to write, write, write. This series will preserve some of what I wrote for Dr. Rich's class.

Well, it will if I can read my own damned handwriting. Man, I wish I'd typed this stuff instead of scrawling it...!

If I recall correctly, Dr. Rich's requirements for the journal were pretty open-ended. It wasn't a creative writing class, but you can't gather a bunch of English majors in one room and not expect to have a few budding Melvilles, Hemingways, F. Scotts, and Bradburys. Probably not a lot of Mickey Spillanes. The journal would allow the budding writers among us the opportunity to pursue flights of fantasy; those not inclined to channel their inner Robert Heinlein (or, in my case, inner Kenneth Robeson) could write critiques of fantasy and science-fiction works. Open your mind. Teleport. Write.

And so, I did.

# 1: 9/12/79

What if the law of gravity was not absolute and unfailing, but frequently erratic and, perhaps, selective? If there were no gravity at all, all things on Earth would be thrown into space by the planet's rapid spinning--even the atmosphere would be dissipated into the vacuum. However, let's assume that gravity occasionally loses its grip on certain particular objects and creatures. The occurrence of such a "gravity-loss" would probably be viewed by religious fanatics as God's punishment of damned or tainted things, and the useless expedient of wearing heavy clothing would be denounced as the folly of opposing God's will. If technology were capable of accurately predicting these gravity-losses in regard to time and location, the event might become a spectacle similar to the throwing of Christians to the lions, as cultural undesirables are left in the projected area of the gravity-loss, and a crowd gathers to watch as the victim flies up into the sky, perhaps bursting into flames from the friction of his flight.

DR. RICH'S COMMENT:  What about happy consequences as well?

2017 POSTSCRIPT: Pure fantasy, of course, with no tether to science. Really more absurdist than even fantasy, I think; reading it now reminds me that, the following semester, my small theater class was supposed to have a private session with the Avant-garde playwright Eugene Ionesco, whose play Rhinoceros I had seen on HBO. Alas, illness forced Ionesco to cancel his visit to Brockport; that would have been something. My only other specific memory of that theater class was that it was only time I ever did a study session with another student, and I got the impression during our evening test prep that she was either afraid I was going to try to kiss her, or wishing that I would. Probably just my imagination, but I was largely oblivious to things that went on around me, so I dunno.

The 1960s Justice League Of America comic-book adventure "When Gravity Went Wild!" was likely an influence here. There's also possibly a bit of an unconscious influence from Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," at least in terms of the scapegoat punishment as popular entertainment. I had a pronounced post-Watergate distrust of authority and a loathing of religious hypocrisy. The next decade, with the rise of the religious right, wasn't going to be a good atmosphere for me.

WHEN WHAT IF? SO WHAT? RETURNS: Mork And Mindy, alternate worlds, and comic books.

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