Monday, July 20, 2009


One morning, I woke up, turned on the black&white television, and there were no cartoons. On every channel was this same image that I couldn’t understand. In a panic, I ran to my parents room:

"The only thing on T.V. is a thing like a chili in the sky!"
(You never know when your ethnicity will come out.)

Bleary-eyed, my father explained to me that it was John Glenn – a real spaceman – going out into space.

It was one of the pivotal moments in my life. Deep down in my grade-schooler’s mind, I knew that Commando Cody, the Sky Marshall of the Universe, and Buzz Corey of Space Patrol were just make-believe. But now, here was my father, explaining that, "Yes, mijo, there is a real spaceman."

My mind blown, I put on a plastic space helmet, sat down in my underwear, and watched the guys who usually sent me running out of the room as they looked serious and talked about things beyond my comprehension. I learned an important lesson that morning: that science fiction can become science fact, fantasy can become reality.

From then on I was a fan of the Space Program, watching the live coverage, reading newspaper and magazine articles that were beyond my level of comprehension, which was okay, because how do you learn to do the impossible if you don’t struggle to understand difficult things?

The climax was Apollo 11, and the first moon landing. It was the Greatest Show on Earth, The Week the Earth Stood Still. For this time, everything – newspaper, magazine, television – was about space. Even the commercials were sci-fi! I was in pre-adolescent heaven.

The strange thing is, it consisted mostly of sitting around watching nothing happening on a flickering screen. It was all anticipation. Without that, it would have just been like an Andy Warhol movie of nothing happening.

For a few precious moments, the human race gaped in wonder at its own possibilites.

Then reality crept back. The Vietnam war came to its devastating conclusion. The Watergate scandal broke. The economy crashed. By the Mid-Seventies people thought you were crazy if you believed there was going be a future.

We seem to have fallen back into that kind of time.

But I remember when the idea of going to the Moon was considered crazy, impossible. I saw the impossible become possible, science fiction become science fact. It isn’t easy, people will think you’re crazy, or uncool, but it can be done.

Some people say my life has been crazy and impossible. It could be crazy, but it has to be possible – it happened, didn’t it? I guess all those hours of the original great reality show warped me, left me with a permanent bad attitude.

The artist Rob Cobb once said, "Science fiction has always been a verb to me." Let us go forth and commit outrageous acts of science fiction!

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