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January 17th, 2018

I Could Stop Living In The Past If The Past Could Stop Living In Me…

The past is never completely put to rest within us. It taps us on the shoulder from time to time, often when we least expect or want it to. I was participating in a diversity workshop last week at the 2018 American Astronomical Society conference, bringing to it my experiences growing up gay in 1970s America, sharing what I’d learned since then about the culture that shaped me. I have my moments of nostalgia for certain things…favorite TV shows…the music of my times…even some of the technology: after all, we did go to the moon back then. But don’t ask me if I ever want to go back to those days when forty-six out of fifty states still had their sodomy laws on the books, and the pop culture screamed it’s disgust at your very existence at you from every direction. No…that is not hyperbole.

Favorite TV shows. In November 1972, some months after I graduated from high school, still grieving deeply over the sudden disappearance of my first crush and his family for parts unknown (I wouldn’t set eyes on him again for 33 years…), CBS network aired the second episode in a two part Hawaii Five-O story, V for Vashon. I’ve no idea what I was doing that night but it wasn’t watching Hawaii Five-O or I’d have remembered this one. Even then the show was in the category of Good, but not Must Watch. I liked the combination of action and detective work, as opposed to the plodding cadence of the Dragnet episodes. I picked up a copy of the Five-O soundtrack LP at one point, as I did with many TV shows and movies I watched back then. It’s interesting how the passing of years somehow distills away everything you hated about the times reflected in the TV shows you used to watch, and leaves only a pleasant sense of enjoyment.

I can pick up MeTV on the household antenna and tonight, since the weather is still too damn cold for a nightly walk, I lounged on the sofa and watched Hawaii Five-O again, and for the first time viewed V for Vashon – The Patriarch. Even though I was walking in on the middle of the story it caught my interest. In it, a crime family boss works a clever plot to frame McGarrett for putting his son in jail and killing his grandson. They arrange a hit on McGarrett in a parking garage. But unbeknownst to the hit man his gun only has blanks and when McGarrett returns fire the hit man is killed, but no gun is found and McGarrett is prosecuted for murder 2. His only witness who could verify the hit man fired a gun is the most respected attorney in the state (so we are told), an absolutely unimpeachable witness. But on the witness stand he mysteriously recants. So McGarrett is convicted and stripped of his police powers while the case goes on appeal.

So the search is on, for the missing gun, but also to solve the mystery of why this eminently respected attorney would give false testimony in what had all the signs of a setup orchestrated by the crime family boss as revenge. Clearly the boss had some sort of blackmail to hold over the attorney. But what could it have been?

Oh…oh…I Know…I Know…! Or I should have known. But time passes, and sometimes you forget how it was. Mysterious phone calls made to the attorney’s office that were uncharacteristically not returned, tweak the attention of one of the Five-O team. They trace it to a young man convicted of buying pot and sentenced to a prison term. Are we getting warmer? It seemed he was trying to get the eminently respectable attorney to represent him at his trial. Now he’s in the same prison block as the son of the crime family boss. Perhaps he was passing messages from the crime boss’s son to the attorney. But why would they use him to get to the eminently respectable attorney? What could Possibly have been the connection between such an eminently respectable attorney, a crime family, and a young guy whose only conviction was a pot offence? Getting warmer? They go to his last known place of residence to look for clues. It turns out to be a Very Upscale apartment…something this young guy could not possibly afford on his own. Warmer? It was being rented by the attorney. Getting hot are we?

Yes, yes…the big reveal at the end was that the eminently respectable attorney was having a homosexual affair, which of course led to his being blackmailed by the crime boss, because homosexuality and blackmail go together like apple and pie! 

The producers trotted out this Very Good Looking (to my eyes anyway) longhaired blond guy…

 

…who I swear they must have voice coached for hours to get that faggoty voice down Just Right: not too campy, but just enough for the audience to catch on to what is going on even before he calls the eminently respectable attorney an old queen. Because that’s how the homos talk to each other, just ask Joe Leland (aka Frank Sinatra) in The Detective. And of course everyone knew back then that those longhaired hippy freaks were all homos too because what Real Man would wear his hair like a girl. Do you know, says beautiful young gay guy, what happens to people Like Me inside? You need friends, protection…I had to do it. What, audition for the part? Cue the actor playing the district attorney to say “Get Him Out Of Here” with just the right amount of masculine disgust on his face and in his voice. And of course the words Gay, let alone Homosexual, were never actually uttered. This is family friendly TV. Emmys For Everyone!

Well thank You for taking me back to the happier simpler days of my youth MeTV. Or at least reminding me to be more careful what I watch on the temporally displaced airwaves. Not everything on MeTV is memorable.

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Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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