Wave That Flag: Nostalgia is Everything

My script, Wave That Flag, details my Deadhead days back in the ’80s. Quite simply, it’s just another coming-of-age, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that, Don’t-do-what-I-do-or-maybe-do-I-don’t-care, Those-were-the-days movie. It’s all about me, a plea for attention. Me. Aren’t you amazed by the things I did? Wasn’t I crazy? No one does it like me. That’s right. Look at me.

But that’s why it works. The big theme is chasing down the music. At its essence, it is about a sound, a path as it were, and I was on it, and I went in a direction that could be so clearly understood, that everyone can understand, and it was an incredible place to be. I was astonished that I was on it, just there in the middle of magical fantastical place, through the woods and fire, where nothing but amazing things happened.

It was a communal thing of splendor and everything was ahead. It could never end. That was the certainty. This eternity, the whole thing laid wide open, it would go on forever.

And then it didn’t. And so, it’s really about losing that, never having it, or remembering what it was like when I didn’t know what I know now, if I know anything. So, yes, nostalgia.

Marvel Letter: Archeology of the Quest

I was 14 when I saved a copy of Marvel Two-in-One #34 with my scathing “I hate this comic” letter in my desk drawer and looked at it every once in a while.

I lost of track of it some time later, through high school, college and work, vaguely sure that it was somewhere in my mess of drafts, articles and rejection letters.

The memory of it came to me years later, but the search was always detoured by distraction and ultimately, the lack of the required energy of such a futile quest. After all it was just an eight-word letter that didn’t even approximate my original message.

It is a funny tale and works for this site and so I blogged on it five years back, working solely from memory and thus erroneously cited the comic in question as Marvel Team #31 (featuring Spiderman and Iron Fist).

It was only recently, in these pandemic days, that I decided to find the damn thing. I knew that it was from one of three comic series (Team-Up, Two-in-One or Iron Fist) and scoured through various blogs and archives for it.

I knew the issue focused on saving kids from a burning orphanage and so keyed on images of orphans and fires. I thought I had found it in an issue of Marvel Team-Up which had a collapsing building and an orphan-looking kid.

I ordered the issue on-line and several others following to ensure that I got the one with my letter too. I knew it was wrong before I even opened the issue. It looked wrong and was. I returned to my on-line search and finally noticed the burning hospital (not orphanage) in the background of Marvel Two-in-One #34 that I knew that I had found it. It was then that I realized my letter was in Issue #40 by looking at the cover.

The memory of walking through the pinewood hallway to my bedroom at the cottage came to me at that moment – the cool, dark air, a distant screen door closing, the feeling of emptiness of seeing my letter in print, edited to nothing – and then the feeling of comics not being what they once had been – a place of wonder – it all came into me like that.

It’s funny how that feeling returned again now, when I had finally found the issue again, at the end of this farcical quest. I had found it last and so what indeed? What’s next?

Young Chronicles VI: Prince Edward Island to Montreal

June 1974

We drove right to the border of Nova Scotia and Dad said, “Let’s go to Nova Scotia.” So we did. It was cool.

We came to Hartland which has the longest covered bridge in the world. So we went into the covered bridge. It was neat-o.

We had to go across the Saint Lawrence River. Montreal is on an island. Well, instead, of going on a bridge over the river, we went under it via highway.

After we watched the election – which Stanfield lost and Trudeau won (Boo! Boo! Boo!) – we changed the channel and watched The Lucy Show and Dick Van Dyke.

This morning I woke up and somebody was knocking at the door. So mom got out of bed and opened the door. It was dad with the dog in his hands. Then he said, “She was sleeping on my stomach.” So we took her and mom went to the other room with dad.

Young Chronicles V: To Prince Edward Island

Three years after going up into Northern Ontario with my school, I went on a family car trip to Prince Edward Island. It was 1974. I kept another chronicle, this one with post cards glued in. I threw that out long ago but still have a few notes.

Mom said, “One of you kids will have to come in the front seat.” So we were quiet the rest of the way.

Deadline: We are halfway to Montreal from Kingston and I just saw an old train station! End of Deadline.

Martha came out to where we were and picked up an Ajax bottle and a stick and started whamming the Ajax bottle with the stick. Soon me and Bobby went back and caught smelt. Of course we threw them back. Martha thought we ate them.

We were arriving in Charlottetown and we never got there because we never got the right course. Well, we were turning around and dad backed the car right into a ditch and there was a house right there. The man came out and told us about more accidents that have happened there. Soon the tow truck pulled us out of the ditch. It was probably easy.

It rained so-so-so-so hard that you could barely see through the windshield. It was raining so hard, some cars had to stop. But my dad kept going.

The next day, I woke up with the dog on my bed and the door was open! Well, I had breakfast.

Young Chronicles IV: Moosonee to New Liskeard

June 8

8:45 am Waiting for the train from Toronto. We were one hour and five minutes late.

1:15 pm We have been on the train for four hours and 45 minutes. I have seen two moose and seven rabbit. And the trip isn’t that exciting.

3:30 pm We came to Moosonee on the train. We took a boat to Moose Factory, and it was raining hard. I got a headband at our hotel.

Young Chronicles IV: Moosonee to New Liskeard

June 9

We had breakfast. Then we walked to the train station. It was raining really hard. We left Moosonee and are going to Cochrane.

2:20 pm We came to Cochrane and now we are going to New Liskeard. 8715 is the mileage now. I was drawing two pictures on the train.

Mileage 8855

Arrived in New Liskeard and we had a pajama party. And this is what we did. 1. Cooked marshmallows 2. Played horseshoes 3. Tried to skip rocks 4. We would launch a board in the water and then see how many times we could hit it 5. We had Kool Aid 6. We began to try to get the a grownup down 7. The grownups would try to get us down 8. We had super fights 9. We gave three cheers for Mr. Fleming because he thought of the trip 10. We played Hide and Go Seek, but in a different way. If you were caught by Mr. Fleming, you would have to go to bed. Soon I was caught and went to bed at 10:40. I went to sleep at 11:00

The Fear II: Maple Leaf Gardens

The second time that The Fear struck was on my birthday. I think my eleventh. My father gave me two tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs. A Leaf hockey game for me then was the ultimate experience. I took a friend as my father didn’t really like hockey and thought that I might be happier on my own. The seats were great – center-ice reds – and we were up on the visiting team early. And then it hit me again. It wasn’t as strong as the first time. I seemed almost to have control over it. I could rationalize it.

The Fear II: Maple Leaf Gardens

Why was I sitting here watching this nonsense? Who gave a damn who scored what and when? The whole thing was a farce designed to brainwash and control. Nobody cared about winning. It was the popcorn, furs and dinners, the money, being part of the scenery that people cared about. The blue leaf could just as well be a red wing. I especially hated the silence between play, the organ occasionally filling that with carnival tunes. Eventually, it passed, but the evening had been depressing. We had won, but I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted to go home and get into bed.

Young Chronicles III: Cochrane to Timmins

Mileage 8573

I phoned my mom last night and everybody is fine. And me and Nigel had a party last night. We had three cookies and we watched TV. Then everybody went to bed and a pillow fell on me. And we saw two mouse like in the picture.

Mileage 8638

We are arriving in Timmins and we are ahead of the two cars, Mr. Fleming and Mrs. Cohen. We went to an open pit mine. It is 4/3 of a mile long and 1/2 a mile wide and 500 feet deep. They told us they have been working for seven years and they are going to work for three more years!

Then we went on a tour of a Timmins. We got magazine called The Golden Porcupine. The weather changed and it began to rain. Then we saw a skating rink and Frank Mahovlich learned to skate there. And I got one rock for dad, one for mom, and two for my sister and two for my brother. And one for me.

The Fear I: The Wizard of Oz

The very first time The Fear hit me was when I was six or seven years old. We were having Sunday supper and were watching The Wizard of Oz. Everything seemed to be normal. Nothing of note, to the best of my memory, happened that day. This was probably the fourth or fifth time I had seen the film. And then, right when the witch appeared in a cloud of orange smoke in Munchkin Land I got this horrible feeling. I wasn’t afraid of the witch; it wasn’t anything like that. It was a much more general feeling. Everything just seemed wrong, bad, evil. I couldn’t sit still. I had to stand up and move.

I walked across the room – nobody, not my sister, brother, father or mother, seemed to take any particular notice – and sat in a chair in the corner. I figured that if I didn’t watch the movie the feeling would go away. But it didn’t. I walked out of the room, down the hall and around the quiet, empty house. I paced up and down the stairs, went room to room, floor to floor. It took some time, but it did eventually fade away. I never directly associated the feeling with anything, but the movie certainly did seem to have brought it on. I didn’t watch any more of the film that night, nor did I see it for another fifteen years.

For the next few years I had two consistent nightmares. One where a witch lived in the basement and another where I would be sucked in between the walls and into the pipes by some sort of foreboding evil. I saw The Wizard of Oz again sometime later. It was incredible; no horrible feelings. I laughed all the way through. It is one of the best films ever made.

Young Chronicles II: Cochrane to Iroquois Falls

Mileage 8506

Last night there was a bad fight in our hotel. So the cops had to come and the police sent the two men away because they were hurting a lady. When the two men left, the room was a mess. Bottles were on the floor and the bed was torn apart.

Soon Nigel and I went to sleep, but Nigel couldn’t sleep because there was music downstairs right under us. But I went to sleep because I liked the music. Nobody went to sleep except me. So we moved to a motel and it had a TV, a shower, a cot and two beds and other things. Then we had breakfast at a park. Now we are going to Iroquois Falls.

Mileage 8539

We arrived in Iroquois Falls. We saw a sort of tractor and it was called a skidder. It looked like this.

Then we went to have lunch. I had some peas and four peaches. They were good.

Young Chronicles I: Driving to Northern Ontario

June 3, 1973, Mileage 8240

We made a visit to the Marten River. There was about 20,000 black flies, and it was quite pretty. There was a little stream, and we saw the Marten River. Soon we had lunch. Then we went down to the pond and I saw a fish. It looked like this.

I past a lot of bees on dandelions. Me and Nigel had some fun playing soccer. We had to clean up a mess because the car stopped and all of a sudden a box fell full of food. That was our mess.

June 5, 1973 Mileage 8341

We are leaving New Liskeard and going to Cochran. We went to an agricultural farm. We saw the cows first, and one of the cows went to the bathroom on her baby. It looked like it had a hairdo. And then we saw sheep. They were cute except one because it was eating hay and he blew it at me.