Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trek 2 Will: Thoughts from Barrow

Seventy-five years ago today, my hero died. And today, on that anniversary, I’m making a life-long mission come true: visiting far north Barrow, Alaska.

For it was here on the Arctic Ocean coast, this northernmost point of all America, where Will Rogers—and aviation pioneer Wiley Post—died in a freak plane accident on Aug. 15, 1935.

What does that have to do with Trekland?

Well, it’s only been the last couple years that I have figured out that very question for myself. And it’s a much firmer connection than Star Trek IV, where the Earth “landing” of the Bird-of-Prey “HMS Bounty” was actually on Will’s polo field at his Pacific Palisades ranch, now a California state park where I am a docent.
Yep, I’ve about decided part of the appeal for me personally is that Will Rogers was Star Trek before Star Trek was cool —much less invented.

How so? Well…pick your favorite angle from Gene's universe:
—You want exploration? Will pushed the wild blue yonder, nagging locales to build airports and nailing the Feds for an independent Air Force. And his globe-trotting amounted to three orbits of the world over his 55 years, beginning in his early 20s : the Far East, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and twice across Soviet Russia.
—You want IDIC—“Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”? Will, a quarter-blood Cherokee who grew up with the kids of former slaves, says: “We will never have true civilization until we learn to respect the rights of others.”
You want the Prime Directive? Will says: “When you get into trouble 5,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it.”
You want gadgets? Will could “duct tape-‘n’-baling wire” anything together, but he’s the one with the surround-spray nozzles in his 1930 shower, or the hand-crank “hurdy-gurdy" piano music box in his home.
—You want a thirst for knowledge? Will had a pull-down classroom map set mounted over his desk, besides his book library; he would have been the first guy on his block with a modem, if he’d lived to the 1980s.
 
Throw in the fact that Doctor McCoy is about as sage and keen a country wit as Will is—and that he and De share the same big, friendly, lined smile—and the link is complete. Suddenly, all is clear. I need no longer keep my two loves separate from each other any longer.

Not only that, but I knew Will invented both the “nightly monologue” on timely topics, and the concept of a “goodwill ambassador.” But now it hits me: Will started his little “Daily Telegram” of 1-3 paragraphs in 1926 in over 600 newspapers. He was the original blogger!
And here in Barrow, site of the world-stopping death of Aug. 15 that was every bit the shock of Pearl Harbor or JFK or 9/11 in its day, we ask the old question once more:

Oh, Will, where are you when we need you today?
And with that, the follow-up thought is not far behind: Surely, there has to be a new name out there someplace to fill that all-in-one, irreplaceable gap… and boldy go where only Will has gone before.

7 comments:

璇陳陳陳竹 said...
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士文婷文婷松 said...
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王雅俊 said...
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A New Digital Age said...

Dear Larry,
I would agree with you wholly on those points well made. Will Rogers was a humanist long before it was considered to be in fashion. He was also a man's man back in the day as we would call it. Hanging out with not only celebrities of the day but the common every day hard working guy and gal.
Barnstormers and great pilots like Wiley Post and my step-Grandfather Charly McLean,(Wings,Hell's Angels,pilot,race car driver, businessman,etc),(they were friends) brings to our imagination the great challenges that sense of adventure that only some get to live. These guys literally flew by the seat of their pants.
Gene Roddenberry new that of these men and women, thats the connection you sense when you watch Star Trek, immense joy in hoping that someday science fiction will become science fact.
Old or New the idea is the same, "One can do anything as long as your heart is in it".
Thanks for sharing Larry. God Bless and LL&P RK McLean

TimG said...

Great connections, the first blogger! It would have been great had Star Trek worked Will into the story somehow, like they did with London, Twain, Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes.

Larry Nemecek said...

Great thoughts--thanks you both for sharing.

I don't know why it never occurred to me to truly "connect the dots" on these concepts.

More texture, then more insight, eh?

Anonymous said...

Dear Larry,
I just came your blog tonight from your comment at trekmovie and this is the post that got me to comment. I'm 47 and a 40-year lover of the original series who's also a fan of Will Rogers (noone comes close today, not even Jon Stewart.) I sense in relating Rogers to Star Trek, part of your love of and appreciation for Trek mirrors mine -- that Trek captures a progressive/liberal view of our future. To me it is rather apparent, but many fans would rather not bring that up. Come on, fans know Gene Roddenberry was liberal and a humanist who said his share of controversial things about religion. When I insist that Starfleet is not military, it is exploratory, it just follows a military structure for convenience; the science officer is the first officer, it's partly from that progressive way of viewing the show. Like no money, only "credits."
Your friend in Trek,
John Marston
a.k.a. "DesiluTrek" around the web