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David Bruce Bozarth

I miss Guy Lumbardo on TV at New Years, new ERB paperbacks on newstands before I got a driver's license, movies that thrilled without disgust, sex imagined rather than blatant, parents who were hands on, peace in the streets, national security, the Cold War (think about it), and dad's blueberry pancakes. Every decade that passes makes ERB an anachronism as easy to ignore as Melville or Verne. These three authors, after all, are considered trite in this era because publishing and film have "already" extracted the heart of these authors and turned the extractions into media events decorated with violence and sex and political correctness and sex and odd visions which reduce family and society, and sex.

I watched Tarzan films during the late 1950s and early 1960s and read the comic books during that same period. As a very early teenager in 1962 I was infected with collecting and reading the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs which began to appear in handfuls, then dozens, of inexpensive paperback reprints that were affordable! Summer afternoons. Cold winter days. Spring under budding trees. Kicking fall leaves. And Guy Lombardo every New Year's Eve.

These days what I miss most of all is the fever and heat of imagination and excitement discovered in first reads of "new" reprints of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Thrills! The imagination working overtime! Exotic locales, new cultures, exploration of human themes. These days I read ERB with nostalgia, a bittersweet memory of then and now. In the years following that first reading I have observed the fever and heat of marketing and sex, or more properly stated: sex used as a marketing tool, with a bit of extreme violence thrown in. The world is coming to what the world is coming to. We can't change that. The world has changed to the point we can't even vote at the box office or the bookstore because corporations are dictating what we read and see or listen to on the radio. The values of ERB are sometimes present, but nearly always cloaked in attributes unsavory.

The current wave of sex and violence in film and literature is at one swing of Toynbee's Pendulem. Some of us will live long enough to see the opposite swing, and at that time voice our unhappiness at the eventual straight-laced, artifical, and irregular presentation of life.

Even Tangor is not immune from Toynbee's Pendulem. He writes sex and violence in adventure romance stories, but has the odd distinction of being halfway on the arc: sex and violence expressed but never explict or excessive. My "voice" is a decade off from ERB. Burroughs went through two and a half arcs of that pendulem, always having the good sense to never glory in either extreme. And that heart, that understanding of human society and interaction is why ERB, Melville and Verne continue to speak across the generations.

What I miss most of all is the wonder of reading ERB for the first time. That can never be repeated. To put that thought in current sex and violence terms: making love a second time is not the same as the first time, regardless of how many "first" partners there might be--there is only one first.

I miss reading ERB for the first time.

And Guy Lombardo.