Star Wars: The Force is Moving to the Dark Side

Photo credit: Graphic Stock. NOT a still photo from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not a Star Wars fan. I saw the first one back in 1977, and thought it was just a trifle, a pumped-up, adrenaline-fueled exercise in explosions and war games designed for 13-year-old boys. I went with my son, Mark, who was then 13. He loved it.

Star Wars is not science fiction, although it is presented as such: “A galaxy far, far away,” and so on. I am a long-time sci-fi fan and the author of two published sci-fi novels. I never saw any of the many sequels nor prequels to the original Star Wars. The whole enterprise just seemed silly and redundant. Continue reading “Star Wars: The Force is Moving to the Dark Side”

Mizzou Memories

News alert: The recent student protests at the University of Missouri forced two powerful white guys to resign from the state university system and in the process changed the world. Or at least changed the perception of student power and scared the hell out of colleges across America.

I am proud to reveal that I was a student at Mizzou in the mid-fifties. It was my sophomore year; my intention was to get into the university’s school of journalism, one of the best in the US at the time, for my junior and senior years. Then, upon graduation, go directly to work for the New York Times or Time Magazine. Modest goals, at the time.

Unfortunately … you can probably guess the rest. Columbia, Missouri, was a hot little college town in the mid-fifties – girls greatly outnumbered boys. There were the sorority and dorm girls at MU, plus the hot-to-trot coeds at Stevens College, a private school for the privileged daughters of the wealthy and influential American titans of industry.

And let’s not forget the townie girls, a little less glamorous but a more flirtatious lot. Oh, and the not-so-pious girls of tiny Christian College, which was all-coed for a century, then ran out of money and started admitting men, and finally became Columbia College in 1970.

No wonder I didn’t make grades my sophomore year; I didn’t exactly flunk out but never saw that school of journalism. Daddy pulled the plug when he saw my D average. It was my first time away from home. I was still a virgin at 18-19, and the lures of the party life were too much to resist.

Two things I learned during my stint at Mizzou: how to drink beer (underage patrons were never questioned at The Shack); and how to take bennies and dexies in order to pull all-nighters cramming for exams. This was the Eisenhower Fifties: Nobody in my fraternity seemed to be getting laid. I did, however, learn the fine points of dry-humping.

The point of all this is that during my time at Mizzou I never saw a person of color: black, brown, or whatever, neither student nor faculty. It was a lily-white campus. Nobody was protesting anything, except the extremely cold winter.

Flash forward to November 2015. Black members of the MU football team, protesting the institutional racism both on and off campus, went on strike and fomented a revolution. Columbia, that quiet little college town I fondly remember, is now a bigger little city – population over 100,000 – and, BTW, is only two hours from Ferguson, MO. You remember Ferguson. A white cop gunned down an unarmed teenager and got away with murder.

The repercussions from this tragedy are still vibrating and expanding all across the US of A. The demonstrations in Columbia are an extension of the movement that began in Ferguson.

The student movement that began at Mizzou – an exercise in, and awareness of, student power – is the seed of a new movement whose time has come. That it is rooted in college football, a scandalous enterprise that is worth billions of dollars to its benefactors and nearly zero to the young men who sacrifice their bodies for some kind of glory, is just and ironic.

College football players today might get, at best, scholarships and food passes for their efforts. Who knows: They might soon demand that they be placed on the college’s payroll as part-time employees. And college administrators, shrinking in fear, will accede to those demands.

Missouri was a slave state until 1865. Those days are long gone. Still, vestiges remain – as black students at Mizzou know all too well. They are mad as hell and certainly not taking it anymore.

University of Missouri campus, Columbia, MO
University of Missouri campus, Columbia, MO

My Home Town

I grew up in a small town in Nebraska, a drab little burg that had a set of railroad tracks running through it, but no one lived on the other side of the tracks. A suburb of Omaha, Ralston was occupied by mostly working-class folks, all of them white; no one of any color lived on either side of the tracks.

Ralston had a surprising number of small industries and factories and even a grain elevator. My father owned the only grocery store in town, the Ralston Market, which evolved into the Ralston SuperMarket, whose daily specials were scrawled on butcher paper plastered on the store’s huge plate glass windows.

I had two younger brothers. My father’s dream, of course, was that his three sons would follow in his footsteps, running a downwardly mobile grocery store in a hardscrabble, bigoted little town in the middle of nowhere. But all three of his boys were bookish intellectuals who had no intention of living a life of back-breaking physical labor.

I grew up wanting to be a writer. My first professional writing job was with the local weekly newspaper, the Ralston Recorder. The experience was invaluable, the salary was negligible, but I learned how to turn the job into a goldmine.

When I was 17 I went to work for the big town daily newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, as a copy boy and later as a police and sports reporter and photographer. Even as a reporter I still drew the copy boy’s salary, so I’m not counting that gig as my first professional writing job.

That would come a couple of years later at my hometown weekly.  Somehow I managed to carve a niche there as the paper’s only paid reporter. I covered news and sports and wrote the obituaries and created a popular gossip column about hormone-crazed local teens.

It didn’t take me long to find a goldmine buried in the local hayseed environment. I started writing in-depth feature stories on all of the local industries, including small businesses like the TV repairman, Mr. Radiosmith. When the Recorder ran a special advertising supplement about once a month, I would sell huge ads to the various industries I had previously written about. My salary jumped from about $35 a week to more than $100 a week – big money in those days.

I finally escaped from Ralston at age 20 and landed in Southern California. There the ace small-town reporter couldn’t find a newspaper job except as a humble clerk in the ad department of the now-defunct L.A. Examiner and later as a typist. After years spent in advertising, PR and book editing, I finally got back to newspapering in my present home town of Sedona.

When I visited my hometown during a high school reunion (Omaha Central High) a few years ago, I had expected it to be nearly abandoned and taken over by weeds and small carnivorous animals. Instead, I found a leafy, thriving little town that had grown enormously and even had a health food store and a yoga studio. The Ralston SuperMarket had long ago been replaced by a Chevron gas station.

My father and I never liked each other much. He died young, at age 53, of what the docs said was a massive heart attack. I think he died of a broken heart.

[Excerpted from a post originally published in my family blog,]


Free at last! Free at last!

Something amazing has just happened. I, Marv Viramo Lincoln, veteran of multiple blogs and websites, professional writer for several decades, writing teacher and ghostwriter and novelist and editor, have given myself permission to write whatever the hell I want to write! Freedom has come at last, after an eternity of writing to please others.

About the title and subtitle of this blog: Red Rock, because I have lived for twenty years in the magical mystical Red Rock Country of Sedona, Arizona; Ramble, which has two meanings — (1) “to walk for pleasure, typically without a definite route;” and (2) “to talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way;” in other words, to ramble on, to blather, to say whatever the f— I want to say without concerning myself about consequences.

FYI, as a hiking fanatic, I have rambled all over the hundreds of trails in Red Rock Country, one of the premiere hiking venues on the planet, often without a definite route and often getting lost (which I love to do!). Now, thanks to the influx of amateur hikers and clueless mountain bikers all over our trails, plus a nagging case of arthritis in my hip and knee joints, I no longer ramble like I used to. Still, I walk. And still gawk at the otherwordly scenery that surrounds this beautiful little town.

Freedom! Now I can write without regret about myself and my life, which has been undercover for decades. I can write about my incredibly dysfunctional family, a collection of characters out of a…Stephen King? H.P. Lovecraft? Edgar Allan Poe? – pick your favorite Gothic novelist. I can write with impunity about the crazy twists and turns of my adventurous life,  the highs and the lows, the incredible good fortune of finding a spiritual master.

And the subtitle? “Transmissions” from Sedona? This beautiful little tourist-infested burg is a New Age mecca.  As my wife likes to say, there is a psychic on every corner, a healer bagging your groceries, a shaman giving you a pedicure. So “transmissions,” as opposed to, say, “dispatches,” or some more mundane word, seems appropriate for Sedona, where channeling entities and invoking spirits of all kinds are acceptable occupations.

This, my friends, is rambling. I am writing primarily for myself. Join me if you wish. It might just be fun!

Just below is a photo by Sedona photographer Margaret Jackson of Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing, our little city’s most famous icon. Enjoy!

RR Crossing, bright - by MJ