Posted byat 12th January, 2009
Our most powerful inner resources are our childhood memories. We hold onto them all our lives, the way Linus held onto his security blanket. We can’t shake them loose. Nor should we: they shaped who we are, and are the source of our value systems and worldviews.
Many of us at michaeldavisworld.com share the comic book medium as our common ground. I still love the Bill Finger / Dick Sprang Batman stories of my youth: those buildings shaped as obscenely huge typewriters, the goofy menace of The Joker and The Penguin, the strange relationship between Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Alfred Pennyworth… great stuff. Here’s how bad I’ve got it: 47 years ago I bought the first of the original Batman Annuals off the stands, and since then I’ve read all of those reprinted stories in their original editions. But I’m looking forward to possessing DC’s forthcoming hardcover reprint – yes, a reprint of a reprint – of those early issues, just to have all those swell stories in one honored place in my overcrowded bookshelf. Fanboy? Yes, but the root of that lies in my childhood love for the material.
About 15 years ago, Mars Candies came out with a chocolate bar called Milky Way Dark (since changed to Milky Way Midnight, and again to Milky Way Midnight Dark, and maybe by now to Milky Way Ebony and Ivory). I happened across an ad in the paper and thought it closely resembled my favorite candy bar of my youth – Mars’ Forever Yours, a version of their classic Milky Way but with dark chocolate enveloping pure white nougat. I dashed out to the car and drove to the nearest candy counter, found the new confection, bought it, disrobed it, bit into it, and discovered it was exactly the same as the Forever Yours bar.
Childhood memories are powerful juju.
They need not be preemptive. My love for Bo Diddley and The Who has not been diminished by the continuous expansion of my taste in music, and I’ve got both artists on my iPhone along with the likes of Steve Goodman, Sidney Bechet, and Koko Taylor. But I first heard Bo Diddley (and Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis) as a child, and those memories stick.
My values were shaped by these childhood afflictions. My sense of right and wrong came from those comic books (and, I think, from Bowery Boy movies). My sense of independence was influenced, perhaps shaped, by Bo Diddley. My childhood love of barbecue has led me to a deep appreciation for the cultural smorgasbord that makes the United States of America unique.
A week from tomorrow, at long last our current crop of kids will be shaped by the reality of “anybody can become President.” Those seeking to serve our nation and the world in its most powerful role will finally be, as Martin Luther King said, “not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
For, you see, the most powerful of my childhood memories were those “For Whites Only” signs I saw in southern Indiana. I think of this not because my landsman Barack Obama will be inaugurated President a week from tomorrow, but because this Thursday marks the 80th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth.
To celebrate – if not King, then your role as an American – I strongly recommend you read the context of his “I Have A Dream” speech in its entirety. Very powerful stuff. Once of the greatest, and most important, speeches in history.
Now, you lucky li’l devil, you can actually listen to Mike Gold’s rants on The Point podcasts, right here at the mighty michaeldavisworld.com. Brought to you by Sal Hepatica, for the smile of success!