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Nostalgia entices with echoes of the past. Human nature has me always trying to recreate a lost feeling, mostly subconsciously. Traveling to a place, Santa Cruz, I have been before to find it changed by progress, going to a concert of a once epic band, Depeche Mode, to hear a cracked voice of an aging star, or seeing a new movie, Halloween, that hits a few familiar tropes and has a great score but is not actually scary like the original are all examples of what feeds nostalgia.

When I was a teenager I used to get excited with the release of new horror films to the extent of waiting with my finger on the VCR to record commercials of upcoming releases and getting the newspaper, no matter what, on Friday morning. I would flip to the back section and discover ads for films like Deadtime Stories or The Kindred along with bigger releases like Aliens and The Lost Boys. The coolest were the one week only ads with rare stuff like Creepozoids and Street Trash, seeming playing at a local theater out of the blue. I would cut out the ads and save them with my Fangoria magazines. (On a side note, Daniel, my fictional character from Escape from Dolphin Street, collected clippings of the street punks. This idea was based on the real clippings I collected from Billings, Montana when I worked at Yellowstone National Park). Recently, I tried to collect new ones. Film ads are really hard to find. The New York Times only has ads for arthouse films and not many of those qualify as horror with the exception of the Suspira remake. The experience is not the same, not the coolness of so long ago. The b-movie arena has moved to streaming and the quality has suffered the same way it did in the direct to video days. Now there is no need for prints or classic advertising in papers. I gave up on the meager scraps I found and tossed the idea aside, into the trash. The world changes and I have to go along with it. The truth is that I cannot recreate the past in the present.

The irony is I am in the middle of writing my final Rebel's Edge book. Johnny, the protagonist, is real in my mind, but the past is distant and so am I to that version of myself. Sure I can write about it truthfully, but I would not live it again. Paused at the halfway point, I have taken a break to get into the proper mind frame for the last act. It is a pivot point for Johnny and for me. The journey has been insightful and different than nostalgia, it is more of a chronicle of a lost time. The project has been hard in recollecting things from over three decades ago, but I feel I have the heart of it. Once I finish Over the Edge, I will be done with the past of my youth.

Life goes on always making new memories. Nostalgia should be an occasionally warm feeling enjoyed briefly, not something to live again. Nostalgia to me is like seeing a static filled television screen and remembering, just for a moment, Carol Anne from Poltergeist saying, "They're here," all those years ago. Hopefully, something I see or do today can have that kind of impact on me far in the future.


Alcatraz Prison 1998

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