OLD FRIENDS, OLD DEMONS, OLD VICTORIES

On my first night in New Orleans I rendezvous with Paul Zahl (on the left, of the The Zahl File) and Bill Bowman (on the right, of The Saturni) at Bill’s house in The Garden District.  I first met these guys 50 (count ’em, 50) years ago — we hadn’t been together in the same location in over 30 years.  All those years blew away like mist — our gray hair and middle-age paunches just seemed like parts of some hilarious disguises we had adopted to weird each other out.

We initially bonded in 7th grade over horror films and the magazine Famous Monsters Of Filmland.  Within months of meeting each other we were planning our own homemade 8mm monster movies.  During rollicking conversations on this visit, it suddenly occurred to us that there might have a been a connection between a) the fact that we all had angry alcoholic fathers and b) this passion for monster movies — for a magic realm into which we could escape, battle demons vicariously and emerge unscathed.

Actually, there was no “might” about it — it’s one of those truths so obvious that it can lie unnoticed for half a century, then suddenly reveal itself and elicit a resounding “duh!”  The insight also explains why we have never lost our passion for monster movies, because those childhood demons still haunt us, even though all of our fathers have now passed away.

What can I say except that, like our ancient friendship itself, “It’s alive!  It’s alive!” — and that 50 years can, viewed in a certain way, pass as fast as the blink of an eye.

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