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Star Fleet officer by Jeffree Benet
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I always wanted to be an extra on Star Trek...

Ever since I was a small child, the universe about me has been inhabited by remnants of the Federation of Planets. Starships and Warbirds hung strategically from strings on my silver speckled stucco ceiling in eternal combat.

The Romulans and Klingons played the perfect nemeses in a real world filled with nuke totting Ruskies. Corny Capt. Kirk as he ambled about in his Col. Flagg role, bravely outwitting his opponents, and if that didn't work, he just beat them up. Never mind that a lot of the planets they visited looked like the back lot of MGM and not the alien homelands we're accustomed to today.

I never meant to be like this, but somehow, I just got it. My jock and stoner friends loved to watch, mostly to check out the bodacious green babes with antennae and sparkling skin, but they didn't get it. My geek friends watched it religiously, committing to memory the tiniest minutiae and every line of script ever spoken, but somehow they didn't get it either.

Me, to me, Star Trek was just pure anomaly. I never sought out this far-reaching influence in my life, cleverly disguised as a mass-merchandising scheme, disguised as a harmless old man's fiction.

Every day, after Tom & Jerry, but just before Speed Racer, Kirk and crew would set out, to boldly go where no man has gone before (with women in short skirts could go as long as they didn't interfere or touch anything).

I even remember the Saturday morning cartoon version, part of the Shazam/Isis super power hour. Just who was that mysterious orange alien, who also appeared on the Read & Listen Record set, which was probably recorded in a communist slave labor camp?

As an American kid growing up in the 70s, you often got a lot of gifts you enjoyed, but would probably be a better person without it. Polyester photo print shirts come to mind. Like the Spock science lab shirt I got in '75. And B-B Guns, ones you can't set on kill, but definitely can stun if you whack your little brother in the forehead with a well place shot (Sorry Jimmy). And Enterprise models and the requisite model glue, dangerous when mixed with polyester and projectile weapons.

I got them all.

Don't ask me why, coz I never requested them. I didn't need to see scenes of Capt. Kirk in action on the mattress (bed sheets, clean up your mind!). I didn't mean to find that Star Fleet manual at the thrift shop, and I surely didn't mean to bankrupt my family by ordering the Franklin Mint's Star Trek Collectors Chess Set.

But I just got it!

That striving for utopia, a better world brought forth out of a desire to do better, not for a profit, but simply because we can, and should!

Because we have to.

Which brings us forward in time and space. Like when the last episode of Star Trek Generations closed another chapter in the Rodenberry universe. Like the title of the final episode, which I watched on a wide-screen a couple years back with 3 dozen of my closest raver friends, anguishingly implied "...all good things..." it was the end, at least for me.

This complex and suspenseful tale showed me the most powerful vision of metaphysical enlightenment ever witnessed on the boob tube wasteland we call television.

Multi-faceted, intricately woven story lines and character interplay successfully wraps up the past, present and future, in a climatic flash of brilliance as intense as life itself. This could be why Gene Rodenberry's vision shall outlive us all. So many of the dramas have parallels in each of our lives, that we relate, we comprehend the infinity that is existence.

The moral is always clear, and the moral is that there are many morals, that every action taken has an infinite number of reactions, and that by using logic, wisdom and peaceful striving, we too can live long and prosper (which by the way is one of the last lines in Rip Van Winkle), in the multitudinous wonder of sentient life, whatever it's form.

As for me, I'll hold my hopes to go to StarFleet Academy, hang up my uniform and just hope that someday, the rest of humanity gets the message too. But don't you dare touch my autographed black & White photo of Spock, or I might just have to set my phaser on kill!

- Photo by Jeffree Benet
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