Monday, November 19, 2012

"I travel alone."

Hello fellow travelers.  Groucho Marx has been quoted and misquoted saying, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."  I think I sympathise with the contradiction.  How does the individual accept group activities?
As a young fanboy, I joined a number of clubs, hanging out with sci-fi writers and horror movie makers.  The Count Dracula Society and The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society were the two earliest.  LASFS has an online membership list and I see my name with the date March 5, 1964 as the time I joined and paid my fee.  As they love to say, some members are dead, but Death Does Not Release You from being a LASFS member.  Oh, dear!

Being a part of some arcane organization has an appeal when young.  It sets you apart, yet you are in a collective.  Equality, yet competitiveness, under the cloak of conformity.  This is more obvious in the less arcane groups of membership, like the Scouts, the Military and Century 21 Realtors.  I joined the Burroughs Bibliophiles, considered the Baker Street Irregulars, was a part of the American Peter Cushing Fan Club and finally joined the Goon Show Society.
I was never in Skull and Bones, but I did partake in college thespian groups.  At least in those clubs, new members were not burned or urinated on.  Not on purpose, anyway.  Only the occasional accident at tipsy cast parties.

My Father, bless him, was not the most comfortable man around darker complexion individuals but dropped out of the Elks Club in the Fifties because he thought they were a bunch of racist plantation owners.  Orange County.  That was a country club in itself.

Which leads me to my feelings on unions: in theory, yes; in practice (at least in my own experience), no.  I've been in three unions during my career journey and the events were not pleasant.  The worst was AFTRA, whose bookkeeping department in the Eighties was the worst I'd ever encountered.  Dues would be sent, yet letters would arrive saying payment overdue.  I've kept to this day the cancelled check for the final amount I was told had never arrived.  Never resolved.  Like something out of the film Brazil.  A major part of turning my back on "the Industry."  I dropped out.  Bureaucrats.  A foster home for ineptitude.

Now this intense cynicism doesn't mean that I've abandoned my Utopian goals.   No To Sirree!  With Love!  On the contrary.  It just reinforces my wariness of group activities.  Individual Ideals Expressed in the Collective Model.

"I'm sorry, Senator.  What was your question again?"

Oh, beside the groups I first mentioned?  Democrat.  PETA member for 2 years.  I still have my U.N.C.L.E. card(s).  That's about it.

So if you want to be in an Activist Organization, but are afraid of Counter-Productive Subversive Infiltration, it's probably best if YOU and just YOU, are the ONLY MEMBER!

(And you don't have to remember the Secret Handshake either. You can do it by yourself :) )