On “Secret Fame”

IN ANY HUMAN AFFINITY GROUP, of whatever size, there are always one or two people whom “everybody knows” — be it for their work, skills or sheer ubiquity.

This is the concept of Secret Fame: celebrities of the specialty worlds lying hidden all around us.

Secret Fame isn’t something you can claim for yourself. Like the terms “rebbe” or “saint,” it can only be bestowed. For example, if you were into Star Trek fandom in the late 1960s through 1970s, you’ve likely come across the name of fan extraordinaire Bjo Trimble.

Why I Love: Cooking (Rewind)

IT’S THE PROCESS OF SCRAWLING ingredients on a shopping list, buying them, unpacking them, staging them, using them. It’s the quiet alchemy of watching those ingredients transform into something delicious and nourishing. It’s the adrenaline rush of following a new recipe. (It’s also the guided meditation of following a familiar recipe.) It’s the self-esteem that comes from self-reliance. It’s the slow accumulation of skills with knife, skillet, slow cooker and baking dish. It’s flashing back on Michael Pollan’s Cooked and making meal-preparation a political act. It’s the delicious and home-filling smells, and the quiet but ear-filling sounds. It’s the saving (and using) of leftovers.

ORL Interview: Ivan Stang

INTERVIEWING ONE’S CULTURAL HEROES IS one of the greatest thrills of a career in journalism — even of amateur journalism. Such was the position in which I found myself while working for Obscure Research Labs in the early-to-mid-1990s. It gave me an insider’s excuse to pester thinker and novelist Robert Anton Wilson, and granted equal access to Church of the SubGenius co-founder Ivan Stang. Herewith this interview, conducted through the mail and slightly edited for clarity and length, which first appeared in Far Corner v1n7, c. 1993. Kick back, slack off and enjoy this longest-by-far of The Metaphorager’s 800+ posts.

How I Missed the Moonwalk

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER is Neil Armstrong opening the LEM’s front hatch to begin his televised and epic descent.

When I was seven years old, and crazy for space, I had memorized the names of all the astronauts from Apollo 7 through 11 and built models of the lunar module in Revell’s plastic and Gulf Oil’s cardboard kits.

Grudge Match

THE GOLDEN RULE OF INTERFAITH colloquy: Don’t Confuse The Levels.

A few years ago, a “JewBu” (Jewish Buddhist) friend of mine told me a story that he felt illustrated the superiority of Buddhism over Judaism, or at least the limitations of Judaism compared to Buddhism. It goes something like this:

A rabbi once met a Buddhist monk, who invited the rabbi into his temple. The rabbi refused, saying, “I cannot enter a house of idolatry.” The monk said, “If I can prove to you that you are an idolater, will you study under me for a year?”

On Homo relator (w/ Special Guest Star John Wheeler)

IT TOOK A WEIRD BOUT of synchronistic weather to illustrate how our species loves to tell stories.

First, you need to know about Mugwort Manor. It was a Victorian apartment near the corner of San Francisco’s Fulton and McAllister streets where all the best 1980s’ “major ragers” took place, roughly according to the neo-Pagan calendar, for a specific group of Renaissance Pleasure and Dickens Christmas Fair(e) habitues, occasional bike messengers, poets, musicians, theater folk, and other outliers: social circles mostly (though not exclusively) centering on secretly famous Mugwort resident John Wheeler a”h [1].

Backyard astronomers are a special breed. They savor their moments under the stars. They have an infatuation — a love affair — with the cosmos that grows and nurtures itself just as meaningful human relationships do. Of course, it is a less definable one-way relationship, but I have come to regard that feeling as the closest I can ever come to being at one with nature. After a night under the stars, I have a sense of mellowness, an amalgam of humility, wonder and discovery. The universe is beautiful, in both the visual and spiritual sense.”

–Terence Dickinson, Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe