Star-Trek, Gown-Steins and Other Space-Time-Mashes

I couldn’t find a person for the third ticket.

It was karmic. I had been skeptical of Star Trek, partly because I’d found Wars superior in my nerdy past (though I’d certainly indulged in both), but mostly because of my dislike of J.J. Abrams. Just like Trek and Wars, I had been on the side of Heroes–which featured funny sword-wielding Japanese people–over Lost, which just seemed to feature a cast of philosophical douchebags ands some numbers that nobody cared about. 

Unfortunately, in both choices, the past had come to catch up with me.

By the third season (some would argue the second), Heroes had wasted its promise devolving into a series of increasingly nonsensical plots at a distressing relief from reality, while Lost–still baggy–at least offered some pretense of intelligence. 

And now with the lamentable new trilogy of Star Wars packed away (although they’re still plugging away at those Clone Wars), history or at least the present generation will now remember Star Trek and Abrams more fondly.

And why not? It was good entertainment. You’ve got some petulant Shatner-clone, Eric Bana masquerading as Mike Tyson, and even some Vulcan making out with a black chick (how’s that for interracial dating?).

Still, when the time came, even though I had shrugged off my friend’s demands, questioning whether I would see “it”, I found myself set on finding out that there was a screening available tomorrow at 4 and buying 3 tickets as my friend Kent Hu said he’d meet me there. It seemed smart to get three at the time, after all, even though I had avoided it like the plague a day or two before, this was Star Trek! This was the event of the summer! This was IMAX (I’d settle for nothing less)! This was, well, awesome.

“Paper due.”

“Too late.”

“Script due.”

“Too much work.”

“I’m seeing it tomorrow.”

“I saw it yesterday.”

These were not the excuses I heard from my friends, but some sort of cookie-cutter template for the type of things they’d tell me in “txtng” language (“2 mch werk!” “Cing it 2mora, frowny-face.”).

Anyway, I ended up in line behind various trekkies and trekettes, people piled up an hour before the show waiting. Kent arrived soon after to join me and was gracious about picking up the drinks once I’d gotten the popcorn.

And like I said the movie was good. 

But it only took me twenty minutes to realize: these were not the crazy people.


“I’m seeing it in IMAX!” I told my friend Beardo. “Why would you see it at the f-ing Union Square?”

The night before the screening I went to, we were seated in the all-you-can-eat cafeteria, Downstein, seated round the tables in rented blue-robes and ill-fitting hats for a semi-impromptu graduation event known as “Cap and Gownstein”.

I had put on my gown unzipped, my cap forsaken, as I tried not to dip my graduation uniform in ketchup. Ro-Beardo was managing well with his seconds-or-thirds, fully clad.

“Yeah, but I don’t pick movies based on IMAX. Especially not when they’re shot that way.” Rob ate swiftly from his mountain of french fries. “I pick based on the audience.”

I met this comment only with a semi-grimace, annoyed that I hadn’t goaded Rob into accompanying me for what would clearly be some camp-movie-fun.

Disgruntled, I settled into my seat staring down at my Downstein chicken sandwich.

Having reached the limit of sandwich-staring, I looked up and saw the rest of Cap and Gownstein, youths I knew and didn’t know, wouldn’t know–after all, this was the last hurrah.

Seeing them gown-clad, back in the place I’d eaten warily as a lonesome freshman, I contemplated: I didn’t even know most of these people well enough to ask them to come with me to see Trek.

And then like a brain-freeze from a Downstein sunday: If I couldn’t fill that ticket now, in college, surrounded by my peers, would I ever be able to fill that third ticket again?

I skipped the all-you-can-eat Downstein dessert-and-waffle-bar and took my Cap-and-Gownstein home.


Rob was right.

I should have chosen based on audience.

Even though I saw the film on IMAX, the crowd only whistled at “Live Long and Prosper”, clapped an idle clap at Vulcan Nerve Pinches and gave a half-hearted cheer for “Boldy Go Where No One Has Gone Before”.

It was Friday, the day after the movie had opened. I realized with disappointment that the people in the theater around me were, unfortunately, the sane Trekkies–the real crazies most likely having camped out for the film the night previous.

And without those crazy bastards, no-matter-how-good the film, feels only half-complete,without the soundtrack-and-sights of face-masked Klingons and would-be Starfleet cadets.


I was in Trenton today with my father, driving down looking for a wine store, where it turned out the fifteen-dollar-bottle advertised was close-but-no-cigar as my dad ruminated the way-back on the degree to which he’d been bilked.

As we passed through New Jersey,we stopped at some other wine stores, a Stewarts, a GameStop and a huge, hulking mega-strip strip-mall that contained a Lowe’s, a Kohl’s, a Barnes and Noble and a Wal-Mart.

“What’s the difference between Lowe’s and Kohl’s?” I asked my father, lolling from the shot gun seat.

“I don’t know.” He told me. “I’ve worked my whole life so I wouldn’t have to figure that out.”

My dad was up for getting out of there, but I wanted to take a look.

“It’s just big-box stores.” My dad told me.

“But this is the only kind of thing we don’t have in New York.” I replied and he relented.

We drove around the massive complex, the size of several towns. In it were a cornucopia of stores unadvertised, stores I’d only seen rarely or heard of: Red Robin, Chick-Fil-A, Dress Barn and Ruby Tuesday’s.

I almost ended up going to Chili’s out of sheer curiosity but we ended up grabbing Indian food at a place in North Brunswick instead.

As we drove back toward the tunnel and the city, the topic turned to me and my life; a byproduct of the jazz-station my dad listens to conducting an obnoxious fundraiser.

As my dad asked me about my “plans for the future”, I told him I’d sent out my resume and that I was waiting to hear back. I read him my mantras handed to me by Sharon Badal. I told him about my festival dreams, which were if and if and if.

“I guess I’m just waiting to see how the real world treats me.”I told him.

“It’ll treat you the way it treats the rest of us.” My father replied. “Like shit.”

I considered grabbing my PSP from my pocket.

“But don’t worry.” My father amended.”You know, I read Gandhi’s biography. The chapter where he leaves college; it’s called My Life Begins.”

“Didn’t he go to law school?” I asked.

“Yeah. He went to Oxford.”

“I don’t think that Oxford has a law school.” I told my dad.

“I couldn’t name a British law school.” My dad told me.

As Jersey passed on by.


One Response to Star-Trek, Gown-Steins and Other Space-Time-Mashes

  1. Morgenthaler says:

    Dude I would have taken that third ticket.

    If this had been “the Wars” you would have had more crazies. Do you think this Star Trek will inspire ppl to dress up and camp out when the inevitable sequel comes out? My guess is no.

    Long live the Wars.

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