Mission Accomplished But The Beat Goes On!
“There are places I’ll remember all my life, though some have changed.
Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments with lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living. In my life I’ve loved them all.”
In My Life – John Lennon (1966) from The Beatles album Rubber Soul.
As a child of the pre-information age who grew up without computers or the Internet, I can tell you from first hand, hard learned experience that finding details about anything pop culture related back then was not an easy task. There was precious little reference material on the subject to begin with and growing up in a small town like I did, most of what did exist was nowhere to be found near me (with the sole exception of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine which I literally read the covers off of). Because of this, the vast majority of knowledge that was available came from word of mouth and most of that was unreliable or just plain wrong. It didn’t stop us as kids though. We swapped plots of movies we had seen as well as tales of comic books, television programs, toys, and anything else that interested us from day to day. These exchanges were cheap, easy, and entertaining, all they lacked was accuracy.
Around the time I entered elementary school I also became a collector but I didn’t even realize it at the time. I loved comic books and was constantly thinking up different ways to organize and store my collections. I traded comics with friends and haunted flea markets and garage sales after I discovered that such things existed. Gradually, I began to narrow my circle of friends and seek out new ones who possessed the information I hungered for. I also began to talk to adults or at least older teenagers when I found comics for sale whether they were the sellers or fellow buyers. It was a long slow process to increase my knowledge base but I treasured each new piece of information I acquired.
As time moved forward, I discovered I had an aptitude for research and organization that served me well throughout my school years. My love for sharing information drove me to hone my writing skills so that I could reach out to others. I became an avid fan of 60’s pop music and my collecting focus began to expand. Soon I was writing newsletters and even giving talks on certain topics in school. I started attending collectibles shows and frequenting stores in larger cities. By the time the first glimmer of the Internet shined on me in the early 90’s, I was only too ready to embrace a new form of information exchange and it wasn’t long before I was busy traversing cyberspace in my never ending quest for pop culture knowledge.
“I reckon the reason why I always drag you out here is probably I’m just as sentimental as the next fella when it comes to old times.”
Ben Johnson in his Academy Award Winning role of Sam the Lion from The Last Picture Show (1971)
I first discovered the wonderful world of Crazedfanboy and Nolan’s Pop Culture Review way back in late 2001 when I was doing a web search on one of my favorite subjects, legendary 44 Creature Feature host Dr. Paul Bearer, and came across the fantastic La Floridiana column Will Moriaty had written on Tampa television in August of that year. I was extremely impressed with the combination of facts and personal recollections that brought back many of my own memories. From there I was quickly hooked by the entire site and eagerly looked forward to a new installment each week. Some of the subjects did not interest me as much as others but I always found the air of Fanboy camaraderie to be fun and entertaining. It wasn’t long before I was corresponding with Editor Nolan Canova and the following year I contributed my first actual pieces to the site in the form of The Lost Interview of Dr. Paul Bearer and Monster Memories. These were both expanded versions of articles recently published in Scary Monsters Magazine. From that point forward it seemed like I always had something in the works for the PCR whether it was an interview, expose, article, or even one of the letters to the editor that used to be popular back then.
The next thing you know, I was meeting up with various members of the staff whenever I was in Tampa and I suddenly found myself with a whole new batch of lifelong friends I just hadn’t managed to meet before. During these “summit meetings”, as we termed them, we shared many wonderful conversations about fandom and our experiences and even found out we had crossed paths in the past without even realizing it. It was a truly amazing thing to share such a collective consciousness with a group of people I had only just met. I am also proud to say that for one of these meetings I got Nolan, as well as Mr. Moriaty, to come all the way to Jacksonville for one of the annual 4th of July parties hosted by my friend Byron Rocher and myself. I still hope this won’t represent the last major excursion for him even if the next one doesn’t bring him my way.
After all these contributions and interaction, I suppose it seems only logical that the next step would be me writing a regular column only that was never how I had envisioned Retrorama.
My original idea was to add a separate category to the site along the lines of the recently launched Schlockarama (hence the similar title). This section would be a file of sorts in which I could deposit short pieces on various vintage items like toys or electronics. Unfortunately, the concept I had in mind was a little too elaborate to be practical at the time so I agreed to the one thing I had tried to avoid – writing a regular column. This was the summer of 2007 and the primary source of vintage pop culture on the site was the champion of all things 80’s, Andy Lalino, and his Oddservations column. As much as I enjoyed Andy’s articles, I clearly saw a void left from older material not being covered and felt that I could easily fill it. I had been writing special features and the occasional smaller contribution for about five years but it seemed to me the site needed something more consistent now.
Retrorama became a column in late July of 2007, just one week after the debut of Lisa Scherer’s Fangrrl column and it has run pretty much every week since then. I had a lot to talk about in those days – shows, movies, collectibles, music, comic books, television series and just about anything cool I could come up with, much of it mined from my own fertile childhood. It was great to share those memories and then address feedback from others. Many of the articles published here were inspired by questions I would get asked by friends, co-workers, and even people I would just strike up casual conversations with somewhere. Others, especially the larger special features pieces from the early years, came about because of my own desire to know more about something. Sometimes I would get so busy researching a subject that the article would almost write itself. In the end, I got to learn more about something that interested me and then share what I learned with fellow fans. What greater reward could a true Fanboy ask for?
I had an awful lot of help in creating these articles and I would be remiss not to mention a few people here. Byron Rocher was my stalwart companion on convention trips for many years, even before I started writing about them. We had a lot of great times, mainly in Orlando, and often with college pal John Thrailkill, who always gave us a place to stay, in tow. Byron even suggested once that I start a regular feature called “The Adventures of ED and Byron”. I never did that formally but I think it would be very easy for anyone familiar with my writing to pick out the articles that would have qualified. Also along for many of my excursions was another college friend and roommate – Dan Tuchmann, a not quite native of Tampa who tagged along whenever he could and Donovan “The Poster Man” Johnson who shared my love of movie posters and collecting. My oldest and dearest friend, John Hickey, lived many of these exploits with me especially in the early, formative years and I would not have arrived on the Fanboy scene with the credentials I did without his help. Honorary mention goes to an entire peanut gallery of friends who popped in and out on whims but always made any given situation more fun. My Fanboy thanks to the likes of David Polk, Pat Butler, Danny Warren, Memphis Phil Patterson, Brandon Merkley, Ken Fees, Richard Blair, and Magic Alex Ojeda. Of course there is no way I could pay tribute to my cohorts in fandom without a very special thanks to my wonderful wife Cindy. Without her love and support, I would be nowhere near the caliber of Fanboy that I am today and I would not have had nearly as much fun getting there.
Along the way I also cultivated some friendships with many of the personalities I idolized and went on to write about. Most of these people, who will always be stars in my eyes, turned out to be friendly down to Earth sorts who were often just as big a fan of something as I was. It was an honor and a privilege to tell their stories for them in a form they could be proud of. These relationships have also made me only too aware of the true curse of the Fanboy, the people we idolized in our youths are destined to leave us as we become older. While this is an unavoidable consequence we must all live with as fans, I advise you to follow my philosophy and treasure every moment and opportunity you have with your idols while you can. No amount of study or contemplation can compare to even a few fleeting minutes of face to face interaction.
This also holds true for the individuals you appreciate fandom with as well. This site would have never attracted my attention if it had not been for writers like Will Moriaty, Mike Smith, Brandon Jones and the Grand Poobah himself, Mr. Nolan Canova. A little later on the scene, Andy Lalino, Lisa Scherer, Terence Nuzum, Jason Fetters and Chris Woods jumped on the bandwagon and always had something to keep me entertained with week after week. I am sure I have, probably on multiple occasions, told them how much I have appreciated what they have had to say over the years but it certainly bears repeating. Many was the time I was in need of a pop culture break from some mundane task or insufferable burden of life and they were there to pick me up and remind me what makes it all worth doing in the first place. Thanks guys!
“The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of other things.
Like a fallen star who works in a bar where yesterday is king.
The fans will stay for an hour or so, they still remember his fame.
But the time has come, the Walrus said, to call your fans by name.”
Harry Nilsson (1971) – Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song.
So, with all the fun and heartfelt sentiment that Nolan’s Pop Culture Review has instilled in me over the years, why is Retrorama coming to end now? Anyone who has been a long time reader of the site, like myself or any of the contributors cited above, probably already knows the answer to that question, the short version of which is that the PCR just isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps the pitfall of loving nostalgia is an aversion to change but then aren’t those who fail history the ones who are supposedly doomed to repeat it? I had no way of knowing it at the time, but I must have climbed fully on board the PCR at its zenith and there seemed to be nowhere to go but down. Andy Lalino was only the first of the writers who had brought me to this site and made me proud to contribute to it to leave but many others followed. New faces jumped on from time to time but very few of them stayed long or had the same caliber of material to hold my interest. For the last year or so, the site has seemed more like a shadow of it’s former self and, to me at least, a painful reminder of what once was. I kept writing because the momentum was there and I still had tons to talk about so I clung to the faint hope that maybe something would come along to turn the tables back to the way it was in the old days but it didn’t.
In July, very close to the four year anniversary of Retrorama, I received the unofficial news from Nolan that he would be relinquishing his position as Editor of the site and transitioning out at the end of this year and it became official shortly thereafter. While this announcement was disheartening, I could certainly understand his reasoning and could not argue with a decision I knew was extremely difficult for him to come to. At the same time, I was also very grateful to him for the way he was handling his exit and the advanced warning he was giving the remaining writers. I knew though that when Nolan Canova was removed from Nolan’s Pop Culture Review, it would also sever the last tenacious thread that held me to a website I was once so excited to read every week. Without a moment’s hesitation, I responded that when he walked out that great electronic door, I would be right behind him.
Nolan’s advanced notice gave me the unusual opportunity to create a PCR bucket list of topics I had been meaning to cover over the years and just never got around to. This list could have easily been ten times the size of what I ultimately came up with but I had to be practical about the time remaining. In the last six months I have tried to allow myself a few indulgences while still maintaining the pop culture theme and some semblance of variety. I hope everyone has enjoyed my personal recollections of growing up at the movies and visiting long gone places like Stars Hall of Fame as much as I have enjoyed sharing those memories.
“It’s the end… but the moment has been prepared for.”
The final words of the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) prior to his regeneration in the 1981 Doctor Who serial Logopolis.
So, where do we go from here? I still have plenty to talk about and probably always will. As busy as I have been digging, I have still only just begun to scratch the surface of the vast pop culture mines. I entertained a lot of options for the future including several offers to move Retrorama to other sites and/or create a new column or columns. I considered each of these offers very seriously and was grateful for the opportunities I was extended. Ultimately, I kept circling back to the one scenario that, like writing a regular column, I had been consciously avoiding for years, creating my own website. With the volume of material I still have locked in my electronic vaults and the directions I have been considering heading in for some time now, as much as I hated to admit it, the website was just the obvious way to go and had finally become unavoidable. So while it is with great remorse that my tenure at Nolan’s Pop Culture Review now comes to an end, I am pleased to invite you to join me on an exciting new journey that begins at www.popretrorama.com.
As the site stands right now, Popretrorama is still under construction but it does contain much of my existing material that is currently being consolidated within its pages. Look for the dust to clear within the first quarter of 2012. Many of the regular elements of the Retrorama column will be continued like DVD and show reviews as well as articles on obscure movies and television series. The one major detraction I found with writing a weekly column was the inability to get into larger special features pieces at the same time. While the content of the new site may not be updated with the frequency of a weekly column, there will be more in-depth articles published. I have a surprising number of interviews completed with cult personalities, including a few with people who are no longer with us, that have been piling up on a shelf and are desperate to see the light of day.
So the column that was never intended to be a column now becomes the website I tried to avoid creating! Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to hold the reigns in on something it still manages to take off on its own and all you can do is hang on and enjoy the ride. Nolan’s Pop Culture Review has been my home in one way or another for close to ten years and it has been my honor to be a part of it. I wish the site the best of luck in all future endeavors and am grateful for all the people it introduced me to, first and foremost Mr. Canova himself. I thank everyone who has read this column over the years, especially those who have taken the time to provide feedback, and I hope you will follow along with me in this new adventure as Retrorama sails into some familiar seas and some uncharted territories on www.popretrorama.com. As Pinhead said in the original Hellraiser, I have such sights to show you!
ED Tucker over and out!