Far, Far Away – My First Star Wars

I recall that my older brothers Louis and Robert asked my parents if they could take me to see Star Wars. They likely said, yeah, it’s good, no violence, no sex. My parents trusted their judgement. They said sure. So on one random, wonderful day, 12 year-old gar got to hang with his brothers. The Aries pack.

They were working on an album with their R&B/funk group Free Life. So they owned a piece of the Hollywood streets in those days. We first stopped by a recording studio, just so I could check it out. My eyes popped at the console. All those knobs and levers. Geeks love knobs and levels. Some string section was laying down tracks for someone’s recording. I can still hear the melody. And I still wonder what recording it ended up on. Will I ever hear that riff again?

Walking further up the street, we ran into Philip Bailey. He certainly owned a piece of Hollywood at that time. The Earth Wind and Fire maestro was producing my brother’s Free Life album. What does a 12 year-old say to a living musical legend? I can’t recall what I said, but I remember him being warm and friendly, down to earth.

I expect this was my first trip to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the last of the great Hollywood cinemas of old. Just one screen in those days. I loved the gaudy exterior and the footsteps of the past embedded at its entryway. By the time we went, “Star Wars,” in its now legendary logo, stood stories high, painted on the side of the building. It played there for a full year. I wonder if it was the last first-run film to have so long a run at the Chinese or any theater.

A know-it-all friend from elementary school had seen it before me. We still talked on the phone occasionally, even though we had matriculated out of Normandie Avenue Elementary and didn’t see each other much. He liked to brag, put on airs, show off. He once bought some Star Trek something or other because I didn’t have the money at the time to do so. Mom came just a bit too late. She was mad that he one-upped me like that. So he called to one-up me again, going on and on about Star Wars and how cool it was. Either I tuned him out or had a bad memory, because little of what he said I retained. No spoilers ruined my viewing experience, sweetie.

When the movie started, at first I was confused. Are they playing the reels out of order? It seemed like we were starting in the middle of something. I was taking a writing class that summer. The instructor taught that one should always formally introduce characters. Later I would find her advise led to pedantic writing and storytelling. I didn’t know it at the time, but Star Wars taught me that lesson. It threw me into the action. After getting over the “who are they, what’s going on” feelings, I became spellbound.

I saw Star Wars three times that summer of 1977. One of the trips may have been by myself, likely my first solo trip to Hollywood on the bus. One was with the whole family. As a family of sci-fi nerds, from Lost in Space to Doctor Who, we were in nirvana. How my parents loved it. I can still hear my mother’s remarks on every scene to this day.

But that first time was special. Just me hanging with two of my older bros, tasting their world, trying to match their swagger. It was a good day.

© 2017, gar. All rights reserved.

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