Monday, July 20, 2009
THE AGE OF AQUARIUS
"Armstrong and Aldrin were to do an EVA that night. EVA stood for Extra Vehicle Activity, and that was presumably a way to describe the most curious steps ever taken. It is one thing to murder the language of Shakespeare - another to be unaware how rich was the victim. Future murders stood in the shadow of the acronyms. It was as if on the largest stage ever created, before an audience of half the earth, a man of modest appearance would walk to the centre, smile tentatively at the footlights, and read a page from a data card. The audience would groan and Beckett and Warhol give their sweet smiles." from OF A FIRE ON THE MOON NORMAN MAILER
i was running through the hot sticky florida night. i had to make bayview park by 10pm & i was literally running late. from the open screen doors of the various houses i went bounding by, i could hear cronkite's voice narrating the lunar landing. this was the summer of love, 1969, but for me it was the summer of lust w/alicia. we'd spent it having sex all over her neighborhood & mine. we'd been caught by her mother up under the bayou texar bridge in the middle of a hot & heavy make-out session(luckily, no clothes had come off). she'd grounded our relationship. that was why i was out in the summer night heat racing for bayview park. alicia planned to slip out of her house & was to meet me there.
as i sped across lakeview ave, i heard the televisions announced that "the eagle had landed." i wasn't aware of cronkite's momentary lapse since i wasn't watching, just ambiently listening. i'd been hearing cronkite narrate the great american story of that summer over the past few months. there had been teddy & chappaquiddick in july. the sharon tate murders were coming in early aug & woodstock in the middle of that month. the achievement of apollo 11 was rounding out quite a summer & we still had the breakup of the beatles & altamont heading our way.
i'd actually followed the space program from the beginning. i was all torn up when gus grissom nearly drowned as a mercury astronaut & devastated when he & his crew burned up on the launching pad in the early stages of the apollo mission. i got up every launch morning to watch cronkite call them & tried to be there when they came back down to earth. as a kid, it was absolutely the stuff of legend & heroes & magic. reading tom wolfe's the right stuff corrected some of my romantic notions but never quite enough to make me lose my interest completely. i'm pretty sure i didn't follow it as closely after apollo 13(that one got everyone's attention). my lack of attention to the remaining apollo flights was probably simply boredom: we'd been there, done that. let's move on.
i made it to our trysting place that night but alicia didn't. her mother had caught her climbing out her bedroom window. she'd gone to alicia's room(something she oddly never did)to get her to come see the moon landing. astronaut magic had foiled my plans for summer fun. i walked back home glumly while all that magic was being conjured way up in the sky above me. i could hear the tv's of the neighborhood through all those screen doors broadcasting armstrong's great message to the world. it sounded far off & lonely that night.