A Life and a Death

on March 2, 2015 in Misc

First off, I did absolutely nothing exciting or Layla-like this week. Unless you count one episode of white-knuckled-driving-several-miles-on-sheer-ice.  But the good news is the bitter cold and crud are supposed to start melting this week.  I sure hope so ‘cause I’m going stir crazy.

Second, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for my close friend. He was in worse shape than anyone thought, but as of today he’s out of the hospital and doing better.  He has nothing but praise for the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and other medical folk who literally saved his life.  And I’m grateful too.

Finally, I’ve got to say something about Leonard Nimoy passing away.

Mr. Spock

A part of me (usually hidden) has long been a Trekkie.  As a young kid I watched Star Trek when it was on TV way back in the 60’s.  Mr. Spock and Kirk and the other crew members really were a part of my childhood.  But then the show was cancelled (I was devastated!) only to return in reruns when I was in college, and then in movies, and then in other series, until it became part of our American culture.

If you think I’m exaggerating, check out Nimoy’s obituary in the New York Times (Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83). Speaking logically (Spock would like that), Leonard Nimoy was not a major movie star or celebrity whose passing deserved widespread reporting.  Yet his picture and obituary were front-page headlines on the electronic version of the newspaper and over a thousand readers posted comments.

My favorite is from a scientist who reported that when news of Nimoy’s passing spread through her university, her colleagues closed themselves in their offices to shed a private tear.  “The role of Mr. Spock meant so much to many of us.  Mr. Nimoy’s character made science cool, made being a scientist cool.  Countless colleagues are STEM professionals because of him.  If this alien character could do it and be respected for being a scientist, then maybe we could be doing science too – men, women, African-Americans – no matter what we looked like.”

Kirk and Spock use

What you have to realize too, for those of you too young to remember, is that Star Trek was so freaking POSITIVE.  In a decade of war, assassinations, mass starvation, drugs, struggles for civil rights, and threats of nuclear annihilation, here came this low-ratings TV show that presented an extraordinarily hopeful vision of humanity’s future.

Give us a couple centuries, Gene Roddenberry said in episode after episode, and we’ll stop being violent, ignorant, bigoted jackasses.  We’ll learn to get along.  We’ll have peace and prosperity.  Even today, when dystopian and apocalyptic tastes rule our sci-fi and paranormal creations, Star Trek remains an anomaly.  When I was a kid, I could go from being depressed and scared after watching the nightly news with my Dad, to feeling good after watching Star Trek.

So thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for embodying to perfection a fictional character who became necessary and real to many of us.

Beam him up, Scotty.

12 Responses to “A Life and a Death”

  1. Yes, beam him up, Scotty.
    I’ve always been a die-hard Trek fan and think it’s the greatest science fiction franchise ever. You’re right, it was very positive. And Spock was such an iconic character. My inner geek cried when I’d heard Nimoy had passed.

  2. Helena says:

    Alex – My inner geek cries with you.

  3. What a great tribute to a fantastic human being. I (along with many people) was sad on Friday, but I realize he did indeed live a wonderful life and it wasn’t short by any means. Turning to Star Trek, one of the most memorable episodes for me was an alien being hunted by a bounty hunter with half of his body painted white while the other was painted black. The bounty hunter wanted to bring the alien to justice because the paint was reversed to his. I was so stunned by the racism, and thought the episode was very powerful.

  4. Hart Johnson says:

    <3 I only saw the show in syndication–It was on when I was into frillier fare, but I came to appreciate it. I think Nimoy wa so iconic, and then on top of that, he just seemed like such a very nice man.

  5. Helena says:

    Mike – I remember that episode so well along with its bleak ending. Bear in mind that Star Trek began in 1966 and the famous Selma bridge demonstration happened only the year before, so the bigotry of the time really gets put in perspective along with the courage of Star Trek writers. Did you know the first interracial kiss happened on Star Trek? It really was a show ahead of its time.

  6. Helena says:

    Hart – I was too old to appreciate shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it came along; I wish I’d had a show like that to watch during some critical teen years.

  7. Leonard Nimoy was a sensitive, caring man who saw his fans as valued souls STAR TREK was truly ahead of its times. It was a shame when Paramount took the movie franchise away from his after the dismal results of the first movie. But Leonard Nimoy stayed the hero of all those outcasts and outsiders who watched him. The world seemed warmer just knowing he was in it.

  8. Helena says:

    Roland – I didn’t know that’s what Paramount did, and that really is a shame. But as you say, he was a hero to outcasts and outsiders, and that’s a pretty noble role to play in life.

  9. For years Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock were interchangeable in my head. Then a few years ago, here he came doing the car commercial, and I saw him in a whole new light. LLAP, sir.

  10. Helena says:

    Carol – And LLAP right back at ya.

  11. Holy cow yeah, Nimoy was the man. I’ve always been a big fan, and I’m sad to see him go. But he’ll never be forgotten, and that’s something. So glad your friend is doing better!

  12. Helena says:

    Milo – Thanks so much, on my friend’s behalf.