Finding future in a comeback

The King was back
There is a saying (among many) about Elvis Presley: America had many presidents, but only one King.
Back in 1968 I was no more than a boy at the age of ten, when Elvis made his famous comeback after 9 years of absence from the stage.
People went wild… and I still recall myself asking around “what happened?” I was told that the first thing I ever danced, as soon as I was on my feet, was Elvis and here it was once more, everybody (and I mean everybody) was shaking and twisting again… and along with them, me too.
This comeback of the King was so powerful and had such an effect on people, it goes beyond description. You could hear the loud voices and laughter coming from almost every other house. Overjoyed frantic dancing parties were all around, while radios and pick-up players where literally on fire… for a brief moment this comeback felt like that the earth had stood still and smiled…

Of course I was still far too young in order to participate or grasp the importance of this, but much later on when I did realize, I was glad to have lived to be part of it…

The right Hotel
Do you have a favorite song? You know… the one that comes first into your mind when you’re being asked this question?
Hotel California by the Eagles was/is mine…
Few people have been as lucky as I am on that part. Because I was privileged to hear my favorite song played three times by the same band, in versions, I’m still not able to make up my mind of which one is best… So much the better!
For the history they are:
In 1976 the original studio version.
In 1980 the live “electric” version (from the live double album)
And in 1994, the acoustic version, that was accompanied with the comeback of the Eagles.
This comeback showed the world that some folks can still rock… It also showed (especially at the time) that making music is still about turning poems into songs, instead of street talk into a non stop senseless jabber. And the use of fingers in music is primarily for playing instruments, instead of making needless, retarded, spastic gestures with them…

Against all odds, and with musical video-clips being an absolute must, The Eagles stayed truthful to their claim and made none. All we saw was their modest appearance of playing live, to a limited audience in California. But that was more than enough in order to propel their album to the top, world wide. Needless to say it is a classic today.

The day the album “Hell Freezes Over” would hit the market, I left all my daily obligations aside as if they didn’t exist, only to be at the center of the city before the shops would open. So, I found myself standing in front of the “top” music shop of the city and to my amazement I could actually see through the glass door the delivery box, with the fresh untouched CDs. Though it made no real difference I had to have the… first one. I actually have it right here in front of me now as I write this, just to make sure that I remember the dates correctly…

What was it again that Glenn Frey said? “For the record we never broke up, we only took a fourteen years’ vacation”

This comeback never came…
Nobody can deny the fact that in this era, Aikido owes its biggest part of fame thanks to Steven Seagal. Even if some people have/had a hard time admitting it, we all know it by now, that he was so skillful and elegant he made many Masters look like students. For those having “doubts”, if not for his films, his black ‘n’ white videos of practicing in Japan stand proof of that.
All his true fans (from both on screen and on tatami) have been waiting for him to make a comeback, any comeback, like just even a tiny one. But with time this possibility has faded away and will finally never come… and I would be many times happier than you to be wrong on this.
Some time ago I made a deal with myself, to hold on to what I felt being best from this man, and leave it at that… Deserved respect should never die.

Just the other day, not far from this one, I accidentally “fell” on a Steven Seagal video. And I say accidentally, since I did hit the play button before I realized what I’m going to see, because I was actually looking for something else. So, when this video started to run I lost the ground under my feet since it took me a (wonderful) few seconds in order to realize that this was not Steven Seagal back from the past, but Steven Seagal back in the past
This footage was obviously only recently recovered… and is a 7minutes’ video that was (also) titled “Steven Seagal-awesome lost video”
It is material from a TV show, from a time even before his famous movie “Nico-Above the Law”. And for 7 minutes I was speechless, once more. It totally reminded me that we were not crazy after all, in going bananas about him.
On this video Steven Seagal is absolutely everything he promised when he started out: sleek, fast, mean, sharp, skinny, intelligent, performing an amazing Aikido…
And for a brief moment I fell for it… Like a thirsty sucker in a desert who sees illusions that are someplace else, sometime else. I fell for it and I liked it.
That’s why one more (last?) time… thanks Steve…
Missing Apollo missions
At the early 70s, having conquered the moon everything seemed possible. At that time we were looking ahead and would ask ourselves: “What will it be like, in a few decades ahead? Will we have colonies on Mars? Will we be traveling towards the edge of our solar system? Will scientists be working around the clock to come close to light-speed?”

What happened to us people?! Why did we go so wrong? We abandoned the Apollo missions… can you realize that? We should have been half way across the galaxy by now.

I honestly and truly think that at that time nobody would have thought it possible to “achieve” within a few decades a total stand still in space exploration (that would include humans and not only probes and satellites). We praise ourselves about the internet and the cell phones… Can’t you dig it? These inventions, important as they may be, are only toys for children in comparison of getting out of here… Carl Sagan said in one of his last books, that we are on a trail that is leading us into a new dark age. Are we so willing to prove him right after all?

Did I ever tell you? I never liked the… bus (meaning the space shuttle). Not from the very first moment I laid eyes on it, not ever, and not any of them. I only can feel sympathy for those poor astronauts, which have no choice of their own, and must do the up and down tour to the earth’s orbit and back. And while they are busy up there, they do so with their backs turned towards space. The future (if we have one) will never forgive us for this “dead” time in space exploration and neither do I forgive myself for just standing and watching this… I want to go out and push.

One day there will be the time for a comeback… the greatest comeback of them all… and the Apollo mission will rise again. Will we still be around?! 

If this is not the comeback to die for, what else is…?

Star Trek… as it was always meant to be
I prefer reality over fantasy, and an actual plan instead of a dream… My involvement in the Martial Arts carved this axiom deeper into me. If you have a plan it might fail or it might work… and in both cases you can go for the next one. If you have a dream you will… feel good and accomplish nothing. We must wake up from dreams…

But there is one dream that is too far to make it a plan, and I need to have it, so I will stick with it… The nicest of dreams humans ever had was the concept of Star Trek actually coming true. This is not about the ridiculous running around in a Star Trek uniform and saluting “live long and prosper”
…though I must admit that the intention in doing so, is an absolute positive one.

But what was/is Star Trek all about?
The literature and analysis on this question has no end… adding something more to it, is only more noise and confusion. My best advice (for those interested) is to find the book under the title “The making of Star Trek” by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. The fact alone that it was written by the Star Trek’s creator back in 1968, makes a looot of difference, and will save you the psychoanalysis approach…    

One of the best comments on the original Star Trek series lies somewhere here in my library. I’ve been digging in my books like a mouse for two days, but I just can’t find it. It’s a line or two and I promise you if I will get my hands on it (as always happens, it will come up to me when I’ll be searching for something else…) I will put it up as a P.S. right under this text. For the time being, and if memory serves, it was something like this:
The magic of Star Trek was not the series itself, neither was it its protagonists, the crew, the ship, the phasers, the exotic places or space… The magic of Star Trek was its people, its audience.     

There are two points that one should consider in understanding why the original Star Trek series was loved as much and became that famous…

A.   It was aired at the end of the 60s (almost hand to hand with the Apollo missions) and at that time everything seemed (and was?) possible…
B.    With the entire space as canvas, Star Trek is a no-end story. The key phrase is one: Where do we go next? Think about it. From all stories that have been told or will be ever told, from even the richest of imaginations, Star Trek could be the greatest story of all. Do you know any bigger playground scenario than space?

The following is my personal voyage on how Star Trek affected me… Though, through my travels and encounter with other people, I saw that my opinion was never a lonely one…

The original Star Trek series was cut short early on…
Back in those years we had reruns… and reruns again. And we never complained, because from one rerun to another we went from black ‘n’ white TV to full-color… and it was all worth it.
And the years pressed on…

The movies that followed later on, including the original cast, were good. Some of them were excellent, and nobody can deny that they got better with each new one… but they were somehow lacking the exploring/adventure spirit of the original Star Trek. In this regard, these Treks were one step up… and two steps back.
And the years pressed on…

With time a strange thing happened. More and more “Star Treks” (there are no extra large quotations on my typing board!) would appear. And sadly, they would gradually drift further and further, away from the original one.
Once, my significant other said to me: Have you ever noticed that in all those “Star Treks” the common thing is that these people are eating all the time? Is this a space series or a restaurant documentary? 
And the years pressed on…

That which had started with an original idea, had become a gigantic industry, but why so many of “us” where even more nostalgic? At some point, I thought to myself: “Great! Now even if they want to make a comeback of Star Trek, there is so much debris of story telling, there is simply no room left, and people are going to be exhausted in hearing about another one yet”
And the years pressed on… even more.

For a long time now I was no longer expecting anything. Here on my shelf lied the 78+1 original episodes… and I was grateful for them, end of story. And suddenly, like out of the blue, they got a new one that was… the old one. In the beginning I “ignored” the incoming info, I simply stood numb to it. “This cannot be” I thought. But more and more I realized that this was the Star Trek I’ve been expecting for so long. Star Trek by J.J. Abrams was true to the original idea.

And here I stand, a half century of a man… watching the comeback of “the greatest adventure of all” simply parading in front of my eyes. After all these years, after all these decades… the original Star Trek, the Star Trek as it was meant to be… 
From now on they can do what they want. But for once they delivered it right! And that alone works for me…  

For me, this new beginning is the best of ends. As an old Trek fan I would like to… abstract something. There is a motto, on one of the TV spots, which is aired for promoting the movie… It says: “This is not your father’s Star Trek”
This is an impressive and catchy thing to say, to a… youngster, but my response is the following: This is your father’s Star Trek. And yes, this is your father speaking! Because, you know, I have been waiting all my damn life for this Star Trek to return, and now some kid is gonna tell me it’s not mine? Choose your gun mister, you’re going down…

There are many punch line phrases from Star Trek that people use worldwide for decades, as a standard. Among them, mine was “Beam me up…”
I never believed it possible, for a new punch line to make a chill go up my spine. But it did, when I heard Captain Pike propose:
“Enlist in Starfleet”

We can revise this… all of us who are in active service and wear… the uniform. A sense of duty towards others, should be part of our training anyway… We can revise this… it is the least we can do, when we meet a person that carries the spark of promise in his eyes. And then like Captain Pike, in our turn, we can propose:
“Enlist in Aikido”

May 7, 2009 (Just after Star Trek’s premier… losing sleep and watching the stars)