One of my hobbies of late is tracking down books, music, or films from my distant past that I barely remember but can’t quite forget. For example, in third grade a guy came and spoke to our class about the joys and benefits of reading. One kid asked, “So what are YOU reading?” and he produced a hefty volume called Russka. I supposed it stuck with me because my little mind knew there was a country called Russia and the author must have spelled it wrong. Earlier this year I went looking for Russka (by Edward Rutherfurd), which to my frustration was not widely available in most bookstores. I eventually found it at a Barnes & Noble in Miami.

My latest cerebral archaeology began a few weeks ago while watching Star Trek.

I’ve been a Trekkie since 1994, and I owe my affinity for Star Trek to my friend Jake. I sat across from Jake in sixth grade English. If we finished an assignment early, we could sit there quietly. (Remember constantly being commanded to be quiet?) So we had time to read in those days. For a week or so, Jake read this Star Trek book with the Tholian Web on the cover. Even as sixth grader Jake was a tall guy, and books looked small in his hands as he clutched them. Every day I’d sit opposite Jake and read my Star Trek book and look over at the cover of his Star Trek book and have no idea that we were dorks. Then one day he came in talking about how the night before he got so in depth with the reading that he finished it. And I never saw the cover again.

A few weeks ago while watching Kirk and the Enterprise crew attempt to outwit Trelane, I scoured the web looking for Jake’s Star Trek book.

Search: “Star Trek books”

Results: A lot of Star Trek books.

Search: “Star Trek Tholian Web”

Results: Stuff about the original series episode, “The Tholian Web”

Search: “Star Trek book with Tholian Web on cover”

Results: A Next Generation comic where the Enterprise-D encounters the Tholian Web.

Search: “Star Trek books 1994”

Images of familiar covers appeared (I read my share of these in middle school) and I had to scroll down a bit, but there it was.

This is the book my buddy Jake was reading in the sixth grade: Recovery by J.M. Dillard, the final book in the Lost Years series. There was no mistaking the Tholian Web and bearded McCoy. I bought it on eBay.

The poetry in looking for a “Lost Years” something from 22 years ago and finding something called “Recovery” does not escape me.

Kirk out.

As maybe three people in this world know, I’m working on a screenplay. Ryan Bailey is encouraging me to write it as a novel first, but as I’m a man of few words, that’s proving to be a task. This is beside the point. I’m writing a story set in 1988. And as I’ve been a mixer of mixtapes since the post-tape days of ripping and burning CDs, the film’s soundtrack was finished a long time ago.

One of the first tracks is Belinda Carlise’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”, a fond memory from the radio when I was five. One of the final tracks to be added was Jane Wiedlin’s “Rush Hour”, a recent discovery I wrote about in my previous post. Five seconds on Wikipedia revealed that these ladies are two founding members of The Go-Go’s. Having grown up post-New Wave, I was ignorant of this.

I recently caught on TV Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which features Jane Wiedlin as Joan of Arc. That sent me to her blog, which announced The Go-Go’s would soon be embarking on their farewell tour. Knowing this might be my only chance to see two of my soundtrack contributors on one stage, I bought two tickets.

So Maggie and I went to Dayton to see The Go-Go’s.

“You two look too young to be here!” said the sweet lady who helped us take a picture. Indeed we were. But how could I explain my compulsion to share the same space as rock legends who appear on the soundtrack to a movie that’s still being written and may never see a green light?

We sat through an enjoyable opener Kaya Stewart and then Best Coast, who were not the best. Kaya’s band (fluent in the nuances of good old rock ‘n’ roll) seemed to be having a blast up there. Best Coast seemed to be having a beer after this. It was a good opportunity to visit the men’s room before the ladies took the stage.

Gina Schock, Charlotte Caffey, Belinda, Jane and tour bassist Abby Travis took the stage and blew us away for 90 minutes. And it was Belinda’s birthday, so there was cake, and they played “Mad About You”.

It’s always good and important to go see legends while you can. We’re running out of legends. My generation cannot produce them. I can’t imagine what my kids will be listening to, but it won’t be what other kids are listening to, and still those kids aren’t listening to what the next kids are going to be listening to. Interests are specialized, information filtered, content tailored. Maybe Taylor Swift. I don’t know. But I do know my generation and the next generation will never all gather ’round the television at once to see The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

That’s why my screenplay is set in 1988. We still shared music back then. There were big hits that everyone knew by heart. We sang along with Belinda and Jane and The Beach Boys and George Michael and INXS and Huey Lewis & the News and yes I see the contradiction in talking woefully about the next generation and wistfully about music from before my time.

Nevermind. (Nirvana, 1991)

Yesterday at Kroger, a song on the radio brought me to a halt. I stood by the ice cream frozen, thinking, waiting, straining to confirm the recollection. I knew I was finally on the verge of solving a 28-year-old mystery: the artist and title of a song I used to hear on the radio in our Chevrolet Astro Van as a five-year-old kid in 1988.

I noted the lyrics, did a search, and found it…

My hat’s off to Jane for making a melody that stuck with me nearly three decades, just long enough to grow up and find it again. A lovely reunion of words and music.

Mystery solved.