I've been thinking about doing a diary about Star Trek fandom for quite awhile, but I'm thwarted by the enormity of the phenomenon. Even my own interaction with the show and other fans would be more than just one diary, since it was the core of my social life for over 20 years.
So today, I'm going to talk about how Star Trek brought me to be interested in a little known congressional race in Michigan-08, between Mike Rogers-R and the challenger, Lance Enderle-D.
It started back in 1983, shortly after Star Trek III: The Search for Spock when I rediscovered my love for Star Trek. I watched the show in syndication faithfully every evening on channel 5, on a 15 year old black and white tv with shaky reception. I hung on every moment of the show. I discovered there were Star Trek books at the library, paperback books published by Bantam with new adventures for Kirk and Spock. I discovered that there was a such a thing as a Star Trek convention where other fans like me got together and talked about Star Trek. I knew I had to find these other fans, and with a little research I did find them.
Fortunately for me, Baltimore was (and still is) a hotbed of Star Trek fandom. There were two fan run conventions, Shore Leave which is held during the summer, and Clippercon, which was held in February. Since that time, Shore Leave has prevailed and is held each July or August at the Hunt Valley Inn in Cockysville, Md. The group that put on Clippercon evolved and became Oktobertrek and was held in October for a number of years, then became Farpoint and moved back to February.
I went to one of the conventions and met some of the people that put on Shore Leave. Through that group I met a group of women who called themselves The Contact Group, named after a fanzine that two of them published. The Contact Group was a group of women who were drawn together by their love for Kirk and Spock (and sometimes McCoy) and their general love of Star Trek. The group got together every Saturday night at the house of one of the women who lived in east Baltimore. I was invited to join them and despite the fact that I was not very experienced as a driver and had never driven through the Harbor Tunnel before, I got together with the group for pretty much every Saturday night for the next eight years.
What did we talk about? For the first few months, I mostly listened. These people had been involved in Star Trek fandom for about ten years before I had. They had attended the really big conventions in New York and heard all of the cast members in person, even William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at the same convention. They’d had room parties, they’d written stories, they’d met and partied with actors and people who had worked on the show, and with the writers who’d written the Star Trek books. Some of them had even participated in the great letter writing campaigns that kept Star Trek on the air when the network was ready to cancel the show!
They spoke of that time, the 1970s, as being the Golden Age of Fandom, but I was just as excited to be a part of the 1980s, the Silver Age of fandom where we were putting on conventions and writing and publishing stories and artwork, and eagerly anticipating the next Trek movie – Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home. It was the happiest time of my life.
We didn’t talk about Star Trek every minute we were together. We talked about ordinary things, but since we had the common bond, Star Trek wove through our discussions and interests. Sometimes the humor was just plain silly. I remember a night when someone brought up the subject of shoes in Star Trek where we went through the titles of each episode and substituted the word “shoes.” E.g., "Where No Man Has Gone Before" became “Where no shoe has gone before” and “City on the Edge of Forever” became “Shoe on the Edge of Forever.” “The Gamesters of Triskelion” became “The Shoes of Triskelion.” It was hilarious, but only if you were a Star Trek fan.
The drawback to this time was that while my love for Star Trek was bright and shiny and new – theirs was an older love. They would always have fond feelings for Star Trek, but for most of them, the passion had worn off years ago and many of them had turned their attention to new shows. One of them was heavily involved in Starsky and Hutch fandom, another one was writing Simon and Simon stories.
Marion helped to run Shore Leave and had started the Clippercon convention. She no longer came every Saturday night; even though she still worked on the conventions, her interests had drifted from Star Trek and when I met her she was currently interested in fairly recent British scifi show called Blakes 7, sort of like Star Trek set in a dark, evil universe, and I had no interest in it. Marion was fun, she had an easy laugh and seemed to like and be liked by pretty much everybody, including a lot of the guest stars. After a few years she felt the need for a change and moved to Los Angeles, where she hung out with LA fans and some of the actors she’d met at the conventions.
I spent about eight years getting together with my fan friends on Saturday nights, talking about Star Trek, working together on local conventions and going on road trips to see Star Trek actors in other cities. I had the thrill of seeing William Shatner in Wilks-Barre, PA, and Leonard Nimoy at a New York Creation convention. Life was good.
Alas, my passion for Star Trek faded. Like my friends who had been in fandom before me, my interest turned elsewhere. At one convention, I picked up a fanzine with characters that had been a part of my past – Napoleon and Illya, and the fascination I’d felt for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the 1960s was once again sparked. I found other fans who lent me videotapes (grainy tapes from CBN).
Sometimes I called Marion in California and talked about my new interest, and I guess my love for MFU fandom was contagious, because she became a fan too. When she moved back to Maryland, we became closer than ever. We talked on the phone all the time and roomed together at Shore Leave.
I was married with two young children and didn’t like to be away from my family for long. The farthest I had been for a convention was a day trip to New York City to hear Leonard Nimoy speak. But Marion was adventurous, even before her move to California, and she traveled to conventions all over the country. And one convention she would never miss was held each Memorial Day weekend -- in Lansing, Michigan.
As I’ve mentioned before, Baltimore was a hotbed of Star Trek fandom. Shore Leave drew Star Trek fans from all over the U.S., some from Europe, even New Zealand. Over the years Shore Leave had incorporated guest stars from other scifi shows, but it was still basically a Star Trek convention.
As Baltimore was the Mecca for Star Trek fandom, Lansing, Michigan was the Mecca for general media fandom because of The MediaWest Convention. For my friend who adored Starsky and Hutch, it was a meeting place for that group. And it would be the place I would get to meet Man from U.N.C.L.E. fans who lived in other parts of the United States and Canada.
My early years at Shore Leave had been the most fun I’d had up to that point; Media West rivaled those times, with the added bonus of having a best friend who was as enthused about my show as I was. The convention lasted five days, with about 900 fans of a variety of shows: Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Who, Star Wars, Stargate, Starsky and Hutch... even Walker, Texas Ranger. And of course Star Trek fandom which never died.
Regular programming included discussion panels, continuous videos, art shows and an art auction. The dealers' room offered books, memorabilia, and fanzines -- amateur publications written by fans.
The convention hotel, Holiday Inn South, was taken over by fans during the entire weekend. The convention lasted five days. It was a continuous party, being so much fun that I resented that I had to spend some of the time sleeping. There is nothing that is more fun than watching an episode of your favorite show with 30 fan friends giving commentary that revealed insights you never thought of before about your favorite characters.
Marion died a few weeks after the convention in June of 2000. That was the last year I went to the convention. It just wouldn’t be the same without my partner in fandom.
While I continued my friendships and other fan activities with friends I’d met through Star Trek and Man from U.N.C.L.E., fandom became less and less the focal point of my life. When I began work at a high school I redirected my energies toward the students and the school community.
There are some words and terms bring forth a Pavlovian response – free, Star Trek, trek, Kirk, Spock, Man from U.N.C.L.E., Napoleon, Illya, uncle, Hunt Valley, and … Lansing.
I read all of Brainwrap's diaries about Lance Enderle and liked what I read about him. I followed the campaign and even sent a small donation. I was happy to see Lance was going to run again in 2012, having a more realistic chance since he got into the campaign right from the beginning.
There has been very little about the campaign on Daily Kos this year. Lance published diaries but they haven’t gotten a lot of attention. I wrote one which gives most of the background you need about the state of the campaign.
While Lance isn’t getting a lot of notice here, he has covered some major ground in the campaign, including a debate with incumbent, Mike Rogers.
I friended Lance on facebook a few months ago, and was delighted that he friended me back. We chat occasionally. I asked him once how many houses they had covered and he told me that they had canvassed 80,000 households. In his recent posts, he indicates they are on target to cover at least 100,000 households. This is serious campaigning.
Recently, yahoo posted a Candidate Profile for Lance.
Nobody really knows how much of a chance Lance has in his campaign against Mike Rogers because there haven't been any polls. But with a ground operation that has covered 100,000 households, in a district that was won by President Obama in 2008, I think this Democratic candidate might have a chance to win.
It seems appropriate to end this diary with a Star Trek quote:
Picard: Come back! Make a difference!
Kirk: I take it the odds are against us and the situation’s grim.
Picard: You could say that.
Kirk: If Spock were here, he’d say that I was an irrational, illlogical human being for going on a mission like this... Sounds like fun!
-Star Trek: Generations