Dude, I looked forward to 1994 in a way few other people did. It was an exciting year. So, let me begin in 1993, when I was a senior at Antelope Valley High School.
I had two classes, Business Math and Intro to Business, both taught by the greatest teacher on Earth — Bradford J. Baumann. When I say he was the greatest, I truly mean it. Here’s my first impression of him:
I was reading John Grisham’s “A Time To Kill” and I heard this booming voice say, “When I was in Hawaii in the Summer, everyone was reading Grisham on the beach.”
I looked up. And up. And up. He’s like 6’5”, so that’s tall when you’re sitting at a high school desk. He was sporting a beard and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, his chest hair sticking out of the top. This is Baumann.
He would become instrumental in turning my TREK ambitions to good use.
Me and Brad became pretty good friends. He wasn’t just a teacher, he was a dude who got to know me. Maybe it was because I paid attention in his classes when the other, younger, students goofed off and didn’t care.
Brad knew that I was into STAR TREK. If he didn’t know this fact, I would have wondered why. I carried the paperback TREK books with me everywhere. Especially at school, where I had all kinds of time to read. So, everyone knew I was the resident Trekker.
Brad would eventually tell me of a friend of his, Rick Burke, who taught at Park View Middle School. Rick was starting a Science Fiction Club at the middle school, and Brad told him about me. And my love of TREK. And Rick thought it might be good if I was involved.
So, I met Rick and we hit it off.
There was going to be a newsletter, dubbed The Star Trek Report, run by a kid from the middle school named Arthur Guo. I would work for Arthur, providing articles for a column I named Subspace Chatter. Not long after, one of Arthur’s reporters, Daniel Ruiz, called to interview me. We talked for three hours, really hitting it off. He generated a column from the interview. Like, a single column. It’s funny to read now, there are many errors in it. He misheard the name of the Peter David novel I was reading as said it was “A Rock and a Heart Place.” Hard, not Heart.
So, I was not part of a writing staff.
By the time I graduated from High School, I was the editor of The Star Trek Report.
Daniel and I became very fast friends and he introduced me to one of his best friends, Matthew R. Hubbard.
We quickly put our heads together and started to make changes to The Star Trek Report. I was the editor and main writer, as I had the most time to write articles. Daniel was responsible for a column called BORG TACTICAL. He had a bent towards loving “The Best of Both Worlds”, called himself Locutus in the club and was all about the Borg. His column was trivia, you know, to test people’s Trek-Qs.
Matt wrote an on-going fictional saga in UFP Update. This crossed over TREK characters with people we really knew.
The biggest change to the newsletter came when we stopped making The Star Trek Report.
Brad asked me to lead a science fiction club at AV, so I went there. But, I took the idea of the newsletter with me. I’d print it for the high school and then give copies to Daniel and Matt for Park View. Genius! One newsletter, two schools.
We called the new newsletter THE Q-CONTINUUM.
If you’re cool, you just call it THE Q.
Now, needing topical TREK stories, I turned my attention to GENERATIONS. I started to do my research, in the days before I was on the internet, going through all the magazines and TV Guide’s I could get my hands on.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am watching GENERATIONS as I write this. And all the memories that come to mind make me giddy to watch it. It’s like I’m right back in that time. Ah, the time machine that is the mind.
So, I wrote full speed ahead about the meeting of the Captains.
When the movie trailer hit the theatres, in front of “True Lies”, I made it clear to my parents I needed to see the movie. Matt came with me. We nerded out to the trailer. The movie was pretty good, too.
And then E! had a show called “Coming Attractions”, and I managed to tape the trailer. And then we broke it down, scene by scene and tried to make sense of the story. We actually made a script for the trailer so we had all the dialogue. And boy, how we used that dialogue. Matt and I became Kirk (me) and Picard (Matt). We kept running one particular scene…
ME: Captain of the Enterprise, huh?
MATT: That’s right.
ME: I take it the odds are against us and the situation is grim.
MATT: You could say that.
ME: Sounds like fun.
This became a regular things for months before we saw the movie. Oh, how we couldn’t wait to see it. Oh, what nerds we are. I mean were. (Nervous laughter.)
And then we were invited to the Paramount sets!
Rick Burke and his wife, Christy, knew a security guard at Paramount who gave them access to the GENERATIONS set. They told me that the 1701-D bridge was destroyed. And a set called Stellar Cartography was all bluescreens. But, they did manage to pick to pick up a few pages of the script for the scene between Data and Picard in Cartography. We all read it, trying to figure out how important this seven page scene was to the movie. As it turned out, it was the scene that revealed just what bad guy Soran was doing and why. I sort of missed that one.
So, one day in July, me, Daniel, Matt and the Burke’s went down to Melrose and found Rick’s connection had the day off. We did get to go to the Studio Company store, where I bought a lovely GENERATIONS hat.
Funny story, but that hat is what I was wearing in my college bowling class when I grabbed the attention of one Russell S. Hamilton. He was three years older than me, but we bonded and became best friends over TREK. As a side note, I wasn’t just wearing the hat in bowling, I had pants and shoes as well. I realized how awkward that revelation was.
So, the crew who would become my best friends came together in a matter of months, all because of STAR TREK. How long would these relationships last? Keep following me to find out (wink, wink).
GENERATIONS was released on November 18, 1994. I saw it the night before.
I was joined by Russell (my ride), Daniel and a mutual friend named Richard Barrere. Richard was… different. While we talked about STAR TREK, he was on about the video game “Wing Commander” and into the “ElfQuest” graphic novels. If I recall correctly, he was part Eskimo. He probably still is.
I can remember every moment of that preview night.
I had picked up an over-priced GENERATIONS t-shirt at Suncoast video. Russ was a bit jealous of it.
We saw the movie in a theater full of die-hard TREKKERS. I mean, we were all crazy for what we were about to see. There was a lot of chatter about Captain Kirk’s death. It had been highly publicized.
The crowd was in good spirits. We laughed at the beginning when the reporters made such a big deal out of the “living legends” on the Enterprise-B. It was amusing to see Worf fall in the water and for Data to push Doctor Crusher.
The biggest laugh came from the crash scene. As Data realizes they are going down, the emotion chip kicks in and he says, “Ohhhh shit!” Biggest laugh ever for a TREK movie.
Then the 1701-D crashed. And Kirk died.
It ended on an optimistic note, but it felt like we had just witnessed the end of an era. It really hit home for the first time that year that TNG on TV was over. The only future for that crew was how well they did on the Big Screen. What if GENERATIONS bombed? Would Paramount make another TREK movie? I felt a smidge of anxiety over the thought that this could be it for TNG.
Maybe it wasn’t just TNG transitioning from TV to movies. Just as “All Good Things…” was airing, I was graduating from high school. In the Fall, I started college. I had gone from loner to having several friends. I was writing all the time for The Q and adjusting to high education while making time to hang out with Russ, who was three years older than me, and Daniel and Matt, who were six years younger than me.
And through it all, there was STAR TREK, STAR TREK and STAR TREK.
After the movie, Russ drove me back to my parents’ house. We talked about the movie endlessly. Going so far as to continue talking for some time while in the house’s driveway.
When I got in, I went straight into my office, sat at my word processor and pounded out all my thoughts. I stayed up a long while into the early hours of the morning with this article. It was published in THE Q not long after.
Now, most of the TREK movies have one thing in common – I see them once or twice in theatres and then buy the VHS/DVD/CHOOSE YOUR OWN FORMAT.
Not the case with GENERATIONS.
To be continued…
NEXT TIME: All hands, brace for impact!