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Pip R. Lagenta
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Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Time Event
The Planet of Teenage Independence
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

I was among the first people on Earth to view all five "Apes" films in one sitting.  When the final film was released very near my fourteenth birthday in 1973, I blew off a day of Summer School and traveled alone, by public transportation, into San Francisco.  In San Francisco, a theater on Market Street was showing the first release of "Battle for the Planet of the Apes". As a publicity stunt, on the first day of release only, the theater was also showing a movie marathon of all the previous four "Apes" movies in addition to the new one.

They started off the movie marathon by showing the most recent film, "Battle for the Planet of the Apes".  Then they showed all five films in order.  So, I ended up watching "Battle for..." a second time, for a total of six movies.  It was early the next morning before I got out of the theater.  Alone, I made my way home on public transportation.

My mother let me miss a day of school to do this thing for several reasons: 1) It was Summer School that I was missing.  When I was growing up, Summer School was optional.  As a kid, I usually did take Summer School classes, but not always.  2) I had completed the Middle School program, and I was about to start High School.  This rendered the classes that I was taking at the Middle School’s summer program essentially moot, because I had graduated from Middle School already.  3) Starting High School is an "Adult Recognized" rite of passage denoting an increased level of maturity and independence.  4) It was very shortly after my fourteenth birthday.  Letting me go to this thing can be considered to be a birthday gift.  5) My mother was interested in having independent teenage children who can do things on their own without being mollycoddled.  She supported the development of independent interests.  My nascent interest in science fiction was certainly independent.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "driver’s education" for high school students is on the down-hill side.  Apparently, a driver’s license, as a means of independence, is becoming less prized and desired by today’s youth.  Lawmakers have been making prospective teenage drivers jump through more and more hoops for some decades, now.  It seems that some limit for bullshit has been reached, resulting in teenagers begging-off in significantly greater numbers.  Is this good news or bad news?

My teenage independence strongly supported my fannish activities.  I got my driver’s license immediately upon turning sixteen.  Within days, I was driving, alone, across the San Francisco Bay Bridge, into Oakland to attend the 1975 Westercon.  [This occurrence is discussed in my essay "The Stupid Fan", which is available on my web site.]

Active Science Fiction fandom, as I have known it, has required a certain minimum freedom and personal independence.  Blogs are all well and good, but getting out and doing stuff is important, too.  If the teenage fans of today are to replace fandom’s gray-beards, then teenage independence is to be encouraged.
---Pip R. Lagenta

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