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March 7, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Star Trek Convention NYC 1973 - Interviews with the fans, some of the makers of the show and Isaac Asimov (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (49 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did... did they say Michelle Malkin?! OK, obviously not that Michelle Malkin but it threw me a bit.

Great find.
posted by kmz at 12:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did... did they say Michelle Malkin?!

I haven't watched the video yet, but perhaps you misheard the name of Nichelle Nichols?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:49 PM on March 7, 2011


Heh, I'm not a Trekkie but I know who Nichelle Nichols is. And this was somebody talking about a cosplayer named Michelle Malkin (possible spelling variations). It's right at the beginning, about 0:07.
posted by kmz at 12:53 PM on March 7, 2011


That seemed far more interesting and thought provoking than the pandering memorabilia festival that happens now.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:00 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


perhaps you misheard the name of Nichelle Nichols?

The person definitely says "Michelle Malkin". Made me do a spit-take.

the pandering memorabilia festival that happens now

My era of going to Trek conventions was the late 1980s-early 1990s, by which time they had definitely already turned into being all about the dealer tables, but just before the onslaught of tons of licensed Trek merch, so that you could still find people hawking third-generation dubs of TOS episodes on VHS tapes, homemade uniforms, and dog-eared copies of "Spock Must Die".
posted by briank at 1:11 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really, Asimov? You're going to complain about the split infinitive? This is the future, where they don't abide by your outdated linguistic rules!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Heh, I'm not a Trekkie but I know who Nichelle Nichols is. And this was somebody talking about a cosplayer named Michelle Malkin (possible spelling variations). It's right at the beginning, about 0:07.

Ah. Fair enough.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:16 PM on March 7, 2011


Really, the only logical conclusion is that it's the same Malkin, and that she's some sort of extraterrestrial that hasn't grasped what humanity is yet.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:18 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is terrific! Thanks for posting the link, and thanks to whomever shot, saved, digitized, and uploaded this. I love how all the fans (save for that weepy fangirl at the end) were so articulate about why the show was so enjoyable and important. And as much as I like the Good Doctor and appreciated his Noo Yawk flavored comments, I was really glad to see writer DC Fontana get some love in this feature too -- she is an inspiration to female TV writers of all genres, not just science fiction, and deserves to be better known.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:19 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love the weeping young woman at the end. I really dig Spock when I was a kid. Years later I saw Leonard Nimoy with his grandchildren at a video store I worked at.

"If you're going to argue, I'm going to take you home," he told them sternly, sounding like everybody's annoyed grandfather.

I also sort of felt like crying.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:22 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Asimov turning up reminded me of a story I heard recently that apparently he was a notorious groper of women at cons...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:27 PM on March 7, 2011


Aw I want to hug each and every one of them.
posted by The Whelk at 1:31 PM on March 7, 2011


Ooooh. Love this. Thanks for posting it!!

My parents took me to the '75 convention when I was a toddler. Bought me a couple of tribbles, too. :)
posted by zarq at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2011


fearfulsymmetry: "Asimov turning up reminded me of a story I heard recently that apparently he was a notorious groper of women at cons..."

My mother asked him to autograph a few books once. He wrote some really neat notes to me in three "How Did We Find Out About" books (which I still have somewhere, probably in storage,) and an incredibly filthy limerick in her copy of The Foundation series. :D
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2011


"Remember these are your parents", as some kid (I assume) says on YouTube. Somehow, I like that statement.

I would've loved to have been there. 1973, the Motion Picture is still 6 years in the future, the original run has just ended 4 years ago....

But I count myself lucky to be alive in the beginning of the internet age. Because now, I, a 26-year old Dutch Star Trek fan, *can* see what it was like in 1973. And even better, a lot of these people are still active. I'm chatting on a regular basis with the folks that made all those cool fan blueprints, and I can read about and react to Doug Drexler, Andy Probert, John Eaves, and befriend Bjo Trimble (organizer of the "Save Star Trek" campaign that led to Season 3) on Facebook.

Even if Star Trek's future is unclear, it's past has never been so accessible.
posted by Harry at 1:41 PM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]



"If you're going to argue, I'm going to take you home,"

Love it. Sounds like something Spock would say to his kids, too.
posted by freakazoid at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2011


My era of going to Trek conventions was the late 1980s-early 1990s, by which time they had definitely already turned into being all about the dealer tables, but just before the onslaught of tons of licensed Trek merch, so that you could still find people hawking third-generation dubs of TOS episodes on VHS tapes, homemade uniforms, and dog-eared copies of "Spock Must Die".

I went to one as a tyke in 1976 and I recall lots of the -- ahem -- Lincoln Enterprises memorabilia up for grabs. But, yes, I miss the charming ramshackle nature of cons in the old days. I recall being at a comics convention circa 1979 where people were gathered in muted awe around a 17" Trinitron watching a bootlegged copy of Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings. Now to drum up that kind of excitement you would need a thousand-seat hall and Peter Jackson and the cast of The Hobbit taking questions afterwards.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2011


Did... did they say Michelle Malkin?!

I'd say it's "Malcolm" but it is hard not to hear it the other way.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:46 PM on March 7, 2011


Malcolm Malkin? That's a hell of a name.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 PM on March 7, 2011


MY PEOPLE! I just want to pop in here and brag that I helped the STAR TREK LIVES! movement in 1975 by writing Paramount a nice letter when I was 14. I still have the one sentence postcard reply thanking me for my input. (Oooh and I used to sell Tribbles but I never tell anyone that.)

Great post, thanks!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love tribbles. Got any left? Just one will suffice.
posted by dabitch at 2:16 PM on March 7, 2011


The cons I've been to still retain the old-skool ramshackled nature... though the're Brit sf literary and small-press comics, I've stayed well clear of the media ones. And of course you spend at least half the time sat in the bar main-lining real ale; friend of mine told me of a US convention that had free beer in its fan room... if they tried that in the UK ten minutes after the doors opening it would like Attila the Hun's hoard had been through.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:16 PM on March 7, 2011


Ah, those were the days -- when you could go to a convention with a lobster torso glued to your head and no one batted an eye.
posted by crunchland at 2:30 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


"If you're going to argue, I'm going to take you home,"

Love it. Sounds like something Spock would say to his kids, too.


Would have been really funny if he'd said that to Kirk.
posted by salishsea at 2:31 PM on March 7, 2011


BBS: The Documentary: The Prequel
posted by wcfields at 2:49 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was very proud to emerge from a Star Trek convention when I was 8 with an absolutely massive technical chart of the Enterprise-D.

Nichelle Nichols was there (Buffalo NY 1991).

You must listen to her song of the original Star Trek theme, if only for the last 20 seconds which are completely unhinged.

Unfortunately, that video seems to be marred by some sort of game, but you'll get the gist...
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2011


My family adored Star Trek in 1973. The nights it was on were special -- we all trooped into our living room (versus the den) to watch, and to ooh and ah at the special effects. Which look unbelievably dated now. I had a huge crush on William Shatner as well as Leonard Nimoy, and it makes me blush just to type that. We talked about the shows and the plot ideas they raised for days. I could never decide if I was happier that a show was written by a sci fi writer I liked, or whether I was happier to learn about a new sci fi writer via the show and my mother's encyclopedic knowledge.

When the first Star Trek movie came out, my brother and I camped on a sidewalk in NYC for hours awaiting entry. It was like a little sci fi/Trekkie convention, as all of us out there were insane about the show. Gene Roddenberry addressed the audience when we finally got inside, and that was a bit like having God speak to us, but the part that made everyone gasp was seeing The Enterprise on the big screen. I may never forget watching the camera lovingly pan over every detail.

My own moment of Leonard Nimoy disillusionment came many years later, in San Francisco, mid 80s, when I was eating dinner in a chichi restaurant with a friend, and to my amazement realized he was the familiar looking man seated at a table near the window. After I got over the usual astonishment at seeing a screen icon in real life, I realized how disappointed I felt that he wasn't really Spock or even a half Vulcan.

Still sorry I never went to one of these conventions. There is nothing like meeting everyone else who felt inhabited by this show.
posted by bearwife at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Space Shuttle Discovery left the International Space Station this morning for the last time. To commemorate the ship's accomplishments over 27 years of service, the crew was greeted to a morning wake-up message from Capt. Kirk. "Space, the final frontier," Shatner said in a prerecorded message. "These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: to seek out new science, to build new outposts, to bring nations together on the final frontier, to boldly go and do what no spacecraft has done before."
posted by Joe Beese at 3:17 PM on March 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Kicks intercom. Goes back to sleep.
posted by Trochanter at 3:32 PM on March 7, 2011


I love tribbles. Got any left? Just one will suffice.
posted by dabitch at 2:16 PM on March 7


My mom used to take me to auctions and if we saw a fur coat or one with a fur collar come up, we would bid on it so I could make REAL FUR Tribbles! I made pregnant Tribbles stuffed with several smaller Tribbles and I used to find friction-motor-powered mice or cars and install them inside some of the Tribbles so they could scoot across the floor when you revved them. Fun times. Now look at me. I'm all mature and stuff.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I first saw Nimoy at a convention in like 1980-ish and I was in my blue Start Trek shirt being the best fifteen year old nerd I could be. I may have actually gushed or squealed .. but in a manly way of course. I met him again many years later at an art show (he lives, at least part of the time, at Lake Tahoe, near me) of his own black and white photography (mostly nudes, and mostly obviously young women) and I thought.... damn I want to be Leonard Nimoy just as much as I did when I was a kid! He was very polite and kind when I spoke to him, and much shorter than the ten foot tall hero I met as a kid.
posted by elendil71 at 3:48 PM on March 7, 2011


I was at the famous (notorious) 1976 convention in NYC. This matches my dim memories.


I had a walking tribble. Still do, somewhere.

And heck, I'll admit I still have a Shatner crush. I mean, check out what he did just this morning.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:07 PM on March 7, 2011


Man, my 10 yo self, who was starring in and directing a Trouble with Tribbles skit for my 5th grade talent show, so wanted to go to that convention...thanks for the find.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:22 PM on March 7, 2011


Asimov's description of Star Trek: "men go where no men have gone before.. they penetrate.. form brotherhoods.. face their problems.."
posted by stbalbach at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2011


I prefer the media cons myself. The literary cons are OK, except that I don't read as much as I want to, and the major literary con in my area always chooses Easter, and threw out all the media people in an effort to become smaller and more manageable. They also became something else, though whether or not it's a good thing is a matter of opinion.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:38 PM on March 7, 2011


interesting to read this today, as the other day whilst nursing a cold, i flipped randomly through YouTube and discovered this ST gem: three original cast members (DeForest Kelley, James Doohan and Walter Koenig) on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show circa 1976 discussing, probably one of the first times on national network television, the ST phenomenon and conventions, and what not. would make good companion viewing to the OP's SLYT.
posted by kuppajava at 5:51 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I really, really wish I hadn't watched that. I don't want to know that Isaac Asimov complained about split infinitives.
posted by Flunkie at 6:04 PM on March 7, 2011


I can completely identify with the woman at the end losing her shit because she got to meet a member of what was, for many of us, a genuine pantheon. Star Trek was emotionally important to me during much of my childhood--particularly around the time that this film was shot--to a degree that I find difficult to articulate; the closest that I can really come would be to say that the vision of a future in which people had a sense of order in their lives and roles to fulfill that worked off their personal strengths, and in which their weaknesses were largely forgiven, stood out in stark contrast to the utter shittiness of my childhood at the time. Some days, the only thing that got me through the day was the fantasy that I might be beamed up.

As for the rest of the film, it was quite nice to see that, yes, the fans were mostly quite articulate. And, really, Asimov was very appreciative of the series, minor quibble about the grammar notwithstanding; I'd read something he wrote for TV Guide about the problems of accurate science in TV science fiction generally in which he'd noted that it was more likely that an Earth woman would conceive a child with a carrot than she would with an alien. (It wasn't until years later that I formed a mental picture to go with that comparison.) And, speaking of Asimov, I've heard the "groping" accusation before, but no one's ever mentioned a specific incident; anyone have anything more specific, a la Harlan Ellison/Connie Willis?

Something else that's striking about the film: the number of women that are interviewed (it's the first time I've seen film of D.C. Fontana, for instance). Gene Roddenberry used to complain that TV and print coverage of cons inevitably included (and sometimes ended with) the guy dressed as an Andorian and the guy with the vest covered with buttons. Yeah, plenty of cosplayers here (well before the term existed), but also a lot of smart, thoughtful people sharing their opinions, not that that's mutually exclusive, we understand.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:24 PM on March 7, 2011


It still kind of grabs me that people were really into it for the "SCIENCE!"

I remember watching the random TOS episodes when I was a kid in the late '80s and kept equating Star Trek with other Western (like, spaghetti Western, Western) TV shows like Bonanza or whatnot. TOS to me was essentially a Western, set in space. So I guess there's some SCIENCE! there but... It's kinda like saying Doctor Who is science fiction when it fits the fantasy genre much better. In both shows, the more things change (the future, technology, extraterrestrial intelligence) the more things stay the same (Kirk gets the alien babe, the Doctor saves the average British-looking band of "the last humans in the universe.")

That said, I was a closet rabid TNG fan in my early teens during the original run. As I got older, the technobabble started annoying me, but I concede that there were a lot of episodes that I enjoyed and a good number of Really Good Stuff episodes. Even a bunch that did actually explore the consequences of a new technology, for example, Data being classified or not as sentient and autonomous. Or where an ancient probe zaps Picard and lets him experience life in a now-extinct society. Or first contact with an alien species where the universal translator doesn't work. Or where an alien probe infects Data and uses his subsystems and the ship's replicators to tell the story of the culture that made the probe. But Star Trek is pretty weak science fiction (put scare quotes around those last two words). Ok, Star Trek TNG is pretty uneven science fiction, as a series, but has some decent high points.

/killjoy
posted by porpoise at 6:25 PM on March 7, 2011


My dad took me to the convention in '76 I think it was. Definitely pre Star Wars. It blew my 4th grade mind - especially the bloopers reel. Afterwards we went to the Federation Outpost store, and I got a Star Trek Technical Manual. Great memories - thanks, Dad.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:54 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hello, I'm William Shatner. And as captain of the Enterprise, I was part of this overwhelming universal fascination for space travel. We had a lot of good times, a lot of fond memories. I'd like to share them with you.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:57 PM on March 7, 2011


Azimov has two books of jokes -- Isaac Azimov's Treasury of Humor, and Azimov Laughs Again. In the second book he proudly tells an anecdote about how he reduced some woman to tears by telling her she had a big moustache and little boobs, or something. It made me think that if I'd been there I would have grabbed him by his mutton chops and shoved his head through the drywall. Until then I had really admired him. He had been a hero. His The Human Body and The Human Brain are both excellent introductions to human biology and human biochemistry, and very readable.

Hmm... I guess I still admire him, but I don't think I like him anymore.
posted by Trochanter at 7:06 PM on March 7, 2011


In that three shot, George, Leonard, and Jimmy all look so freaking young. Somehow, when you see images from the show, they are so iconic that it doesn't register...

♪Sunrise, Sunset!♫
posted by Trochanter at 7:28 PM on March 7, 2011


I have new respect for the prime directive.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 8:06 PM on March 7, 2011


oh, sigh. I wrote a very labored 8 year old's letter to save Star Trek. I went to conventions as a young teenager that were about more than just buying stuff. I miss those conventions, the cons in recent years don't have any of the same community. Thank you for this.
posted by pywacket at 8:59 PM on March 7, 2011


I don't want to know that Isaac Asimov complained about split infinitives.

Why not? He was an author. It figures that he would notice a grammatical issue repeated in every opening of a show he liked a lot. I wish myself Star Trek had said "go boldly" instead because I absorbed that show into my bones and have had to be very conscious of my own tendency to split infinitives.

As for Asimov's sexual attitudes . . . he was a self identified "dirty old man." It was a really different era -- as the original Star Trek episodes make clear - - in terms of acceptable sexism.
posted by bearwife at 1:01 PM on March 8, 2011


From the Internet:
IS A SPLIT INFINITIVE A MISTAKE ?

To quickly answer: no. In his book The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson points out that virtually all recognized authorities on English (from Theodore Bernstein and Henry W. Fowler to Eric Partridge and Ernest Gowers) agree there is no reason to put the needs of the infinitive above the needs of the adverb. Still some people cling to the idea. The problem, of course, is the troublesome tradition of imposing rules of Latin on English. While it's true an infinitive is never split in Latin, there's a simple reason: it's one word. For example, amare (to love) and crescere (to grow).
Sometimes slipping an adverb in the middle of the infinitive can soften a thought, emphasize an idea, or improve a sentence's rhythm. Roddenberry's Star Trek opening includes two untouched infinitives, to explore and to seek, that set up the split one nicely. Such constructions may be carefully planned or purely accidental, the result of last-minute composition to meet a deadline.

posted by Trochanter at 2:05 PM on March 8, 2011


Neat to see. Very striking how the fans are presented as calm and rational and articulate (different choices than today's video editors might make), and how the fans act in a dignified way (different choice than someone at a con might make today, where there's more of an expectation of hamming it up for the camera).
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:05 PM on March 8, 2011


I don't want to know that Isaac Asimov complained about split infinitives.
Why not? He was an author. It figures that he would notice a grammatical issue repeated in every opening of a show he liked a lot
Because the idea that splitting infinitives is, or ever has been, somehow "wrong" is a myth.
posted by Flunkie at 5:39 PM on March 9, 2011


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