Robot Dreams

Dear J-

Somewhat surprisingly one of my more popular things is a clip of Vision Quest that I uploaded to YouTube a few years ago; I particularly like it for showing shots of downtown Spokane and some of the bridges spanning the river gorge, along with the skywalk system that turns the area into a kind of mall during the winters. Other people stumble onto it because the opening credits have Journey’s Only the Young playing over the titles, and still others because they were high school wrestlers and were inspired by the movie (for the record, I read the novel first but that was because as a sweaty-palmed twelve year old, it was an unaccountably sexy book the library didn’t bat an eye over versus the rated-R movie).

As a free video hosting service YouTube attracts all kinds of comments (someone once called it the lowest form of discussion on the Internet) but one thing I didn’t know — and a commenter pointed out — was that the song was first performed live for a young Journey fan with cystic fibrosis; the band gave him a Walkman with the song recorded on it, and he passed away the next day, according to Wikipedia, still clutching the Walkman. Let that give you some perspective on what’s important. The room is dusty, I know.

What have you wished for in the past? I know that many of my birthday wishes have been for frivolous things, ephemera and flotsam that collectively increased the world’s landfills to no end; I remember being crazy about robots and treasuring my C3PO doll action figure which we’d basically extorted out of some other kid along with a whole basket of wind-up Tomy toys. I still have the wind-up robots, but they’ve long since been passed down to my kids; the springs are tired and the parts are falling off but I come across them in the nightly pick-up-the-stray-bits sweep we make and I remember the hours of endless fascination I had with the details inside, poking and prodding to see what worked best. Childhood isn’t always an idyllic time; if I’m ever in the position to grant a wish I won’t hesitate.



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