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Neil Gaiman & An Evening of Stardust: Part 1


Neil GaimanYou see it on television clips from the past, not so much anymore. Hordes of fans writhing to a frenzy, just to catch a glimpse of the band or performer that sets their soul ablaze. Teenage girls swooning at the sight of Elvis, screaming ’till hoarse as The Beatles exit a plane. Today’s fans don’t give that same impression. Many seem to be there just to get their faces on television, to extol to the masses that they were there, rather than being there. Many are desensitized to the experience, because they can access their personal lives at the click of a button. Knowing where they are, who they’re with, and what they have to say on the topic of everything they care to share. Instances of overkill have become more and more frequent with the advent of technology. I myself have become immune to most events due to the nature of viewing them. Celebrity means less than the fiber content of a cereal being shilled. I haven’t felt the excitement of actually being in the same room and getting to meet someone in 15 years. Having done interviews with celebrities, working with them, even eating with them has less (if any) effect on me than the time I got to meet, talk with, and shake hands with John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. I still remember exactly how it happened and how that memory has stayed with me over all these years. Again, I haven’t felt that twinge in the back of my neck or chill of awe and inspiration in over 15 years. Until November 14, 2012. Like the great Peter Sellers movie taught us, the most important part of life? Being There.

Like many great journeys, much preparation went into the planning and execution of the task at hand. What makes a journey into more of an adventure is conflict, and with a speck of luck and chance, overcoming the obstacles and odds. Coming out unscathed and the better for it. This is one of those type of adventures.

Preparation was all I was concerned about when I heard the news that Neil Gaiman would be coming to Pittsburgh of all places to speak. Unclear as to why Pittsburgh and Hartford and not some other major metropolitans held no interest to me. What did pique my curiosity was when I found that these events would be sandwiched between France and Tasmania. Must be something about the people or the cuisine. Probably the people, meaning me. The first step of preparation was securing admission. Have discussed the opportunity, both for myself and the location where the event was held, we came to a mutual agreement, and I was given a ticket to cover the event. Not the best seat, not the worst, but most of all, free. As the weeks became days which turned to mere hours, the anticipation began to roil to near boiling. I dressed and then began my grand egress, the feeling of eagerness began to shroud me like a warm blanket. How soon it would be that it would be torn away and I’d be chilled to the bone.

Pittsburgh public transportation, for all its foibles and cost, is rather reliable, which is lucky for me since it’s my primary source of transportation. Sure, I’d have to make a transfer, but I couldn’t care less about such a slight inconvenience. I was on my way to see one of the greatest authors of our time speak. Transfers be damned. I caught the earlier ride downtown and made my transfer in record time. In mere minutes, I’d be in the hall where the author of American Gods  and Sandman among many others, Mr. Neil Gaiman, would be speaking. At least I thought I would be. Fight or flight response is more real than I ever expected. Having only minutes left ’till I would reach my stop and make a quick walk to the hall, I gave myself the once over. Wallet, phone, keys, recorder, ticket . . . ticket . . . ticket! After all of the promotion we at Fanboy Comics did for this event, in my haste I forgot the key to the kingdom. Flight set in first. Pulling the cord to request the next stop, I fled the bus with all abandon, not bothering to check my current location or the inhabitants there of. Seconds after exiting the bus, someone approached me asking for money to catch a bus, even though I could clearly see a transfer in his hand. Doing something a bit out of my nature, I told him that’s what I was doing at that exact moment myself and asked him for some money. Touché. He wandered off to locations unknown as I stood there, ringing my sister, trying to figure out any possible way to get the ticket in time to reach the event. Try as we might, coming to a conclusion was beyond us at the moment. I’ve waited and worked too damned hard to be absent from this engagement. Thus, my fight response kicked in. Flagging down the next bus that was going to the area in which I needed to be, I concluded that between fate, ingenuity, and guile I was going to make this happen. Arriving at the correct stop this time, I bypassed the suggested routes, i.e. streets, and trekked through campus lawns and halls to reach my destination with about 15 minutes to spare. Minutes that I assumed I would greatly need once I saw the line of people looking to pick up or purchase tickets at the one and only box office window, as it serpentined back a bit farther than I anticipated. Not sure what I was even looking at, I asked if this was the line for pick up or purchase and, much to my chagrin, found it to be both. That’s when I felt a tap upon my shoulder. A young couple asked if I needed tickets. Having never seen what I thought were scalpers of this nature, I was a bit taken back. With a confused yes, I was prepared to pay a fair penny to bypass the commotion and get into the hall. They merely asked how many I needed to which I replied, “One.” They then asked if I knew anyone else that was coming because they had another. No, just myself I answered and was then handed a ticket. A ticket given gratis as their situation prohibited them from attending but didn’t stop them from committing a random act of kindness rather than tossing them to the wind. A random act of kindness that ended up being an upgrade to a better section than the one I was previously given. An act of kindness that they couldn’t completely fulfill, thus concluded with me having an aisle seat and an empty one next to me, giving space for my jacket and other effects. An act of kindness that would give me clear view to a friend I’ve not seen in years and an even clearer view to a friend I’ve only known through his written word. An act of kindness allowing me into the world of Neil Gaiman.

Thus ends Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2. You can thank me later.




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