Star Wars: One reason why getting old is cool

SW Cast rev

Despite 37 years since the initial film’s release, I still get a kick out of hearing new stuff about the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. And the announcement of the cast does nothing but push that giddily along.


If asked right this very moment what’s so great about getting old(er) my answer would be this:

I’ve lived through a lot of the cool stuff. The stuff other people only talk about, stuff they wish they could have been right in the middle of at the time it was happening.

For the purposes of this post, I’m not talking about world shaking stuff. Politics or political figures. Conflicts. Science or social movements. Nothing like that.

I’m going to touch on the important stuff of youth, when I was a kid and a teen back in the 1970s, that far away land of yore synonymous with disco. (Because isn’t that what really comes to mind when you mention the 70s? Disco?)

You know … the really important stuff: Popular Culture.

I’m going to touch on the important stuff … the really important stuff: Popular Culture.

Like muscle cars. Muscle cars were cool back then. It was their heyday. I still miss (and even dream about) my very first car purchase, a sea green, two-door Mercury Montego with a hemi engine, monster mag wheels and a front hood that went on forever. That car oozed coolness. Best car I’ve even owned.

Pong. Pong was ultra-cool. Primitive by today’s standards, it was one of the first electronic games I remember owning with the ability to be played right in the middle of my living room on our over-sized console television set. Sony Walkmans were a staple of the times, too. And, of course, skateboards. You weren’t anybody in Southern California unless you were out and about on a weekday afternoon after school riding your skateboard.

Literature? I read Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King voraciously. My television viewing preferences included the much loved Match Game, Starsky & Hutch, Wonder Woman, Battlestar Galactica and The Partridge Family. (Yeah … Susan Dey/Laurie Partridge was an early “girlfriend” of mine.)

I was formally introduced to popular music in the 70s and, as far as I’m concerned, at many of the “right moments” with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Kraftwerk. Yes, the aforementioned disco made an impression as well. (Disco was a blast. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.) Plus Queen, The Sugarhill Gang (where rap really started), Alice Cooper, The Cars and those devolved freaks Devo.

Movie going was a riot: Westworld and its cheesecake sequel Futureworld, Humanoids From The Deep, Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Movie going was a riot: Westworld and its cheesecake sequel Futureworld, Humanoids From The Deep, Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film I didn’t see when it first came out but got around to during midnight showings while I was in high school. The “spawn of the devil” films were making their rounds at the time, too: The Exorcist and The Omen and their ilk. And of course there were the blockbusters: The Godfather, Superman, Rocky, Alien and Jaws to name a few.

And then? There was that little science fiction fantasy swashbuckler of a film known as Star Wars.

Yep. I was there opening day, May 25th, 1977, smack dab in the middle of a long line at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I had read the book the year prior to the film’s debut: Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker. I knew all about it before parking my carcass in the theater. I still have my original paperback with Ralph McQuarrie art of the ominous Darth Vader looming on the cover with Luke, Threepio, R2 and Chewy in the forefront:


I remember being thrilled with the book. And then, to find out a film was coming on its heels? Out. Of. Sight. I was ecstatic for it. I remember waiting in line with my older cousin, champing at the bit to get in the theater. And it was nothing like I had imagined reading the book — it was better.

I was there opening day in May of 1977, smack dab in the middle of a long line at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Once the film came out, Star Wars was all the rage. The film’s toys made their debuts much to my delight, my first venture into real collecting other than business cards and matchbooks. Featured wares ran the gamut from pajamas to lunch boxes to window curtains to freakin’ everything. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind 1977 was The Year Of Star Wars, the highest grossing film (at the time) of all time. My world was pumped up with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and The Force. I didn’t know who Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford were initially, but I did after the film came out. Unknowns to me no more.

The following year, one of the very first conventions I remember attending was the 36th World Science Fiction Convention (commonly referred to as IguanaCon) held in 1978 in a sweltering Phoenix, Arizona. I fondly recall an extremely verbose and foul-mouthed Harlan Ellison as the guest of honor. His panel discussion is crystal clear in my mind. He raised the roof ragging that Star Wars would be the death of every intelligent science fiction film to come out from that point forward. He prophesied Lucas’ creation would be the model for the genre for the next 20 years and more and that it would be bad, bad, BAD for the industry. (It wasn’t. Ridley Scott’s Alien effectively killed that prediction the very next year.)

(Harlan Ellison) raised the roof ragging Star Wars would be the death knell for every science fiction film slated to come out … for the next 20 years …

When The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980? I was giddy all over again and waited in a huge line with tons of other rabid fans. (Those fans included my paralyzed grandmother in her wheelchair. In her late, late 60s at the time, she was a kick-ass Star Wars fan.) And again there I was in ’83 at the debut of Return Of The Jedi.

So I ask you: How cool was that … ?!? Jealous? Wouldn’t you have liked to have been in my shoes at the time? The memories still bring a smile to my face. I consider myself fortunate.

Fast forward to 1999 and, yep, there I was in line once again for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. And with my son that time. Later, at its two follow-ups. Each time, I was happier than a kid who just entered Disneyland for the first time.

So … when the announcement came out the official cast of Star Wars: Episode VII was released? I was electrified all over again. Along with original cast members Hamill, Fisher and Ford,  in tow are Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew. They are joined by a bevy of others, some pretty well known (Adam Driver, Andy Serekis), others not so much. And … hello! Max Von Sydow, too … ?!?? I like that!

… when the announcement came out the official cast of Star Wars: Episode VII was released? I was electified all over again.

Yes, there will be skeptics out there pointing their fingers in warning of what came after the original trilogy: midi-chlorians and Jar Jar Binks. But you know what? I don’t give a rat’s ass. They wouldn’t have anything to complain about if not for the prequels. So bring the new film on, in all its glory and with all our the hope of the original trilogy. I’m pumped about it.

Yes … pumped. 37 long years since that first film debuted and I’m excited all over again to hear the mere mention of a new chapter in the franchise.

No matter what anyone says, that’s why it’s good to be old. Because I was there from the beginning.

And it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Photo Credit:

3 Comments on “Star Wars: One reason why getting old is cool

  1. If I remember correctly, you were sitting next to me 10 months ago in Hall H when Harrison Ford appeared in the Ender’s Game panel.

    He was decidedly uncool.

    • True.

      It certainly appeared as if he would have preferred to be anywhere else in the world beside that panel …

  2. Good post – I am jealous of people who lived through some of the cool stuff from before my time!

Powered By OneLink