Each of us have defining moments in our lives. It would be strange for us to be in such a heightened sense of self-awareness to be aware of the significance of events at the time they actually occur. More often than not, we probably don’t realize the impact until much later in life. In my case, and I would imagine I am far from unique, my “moment” happened when I was seven years old.
My family and I were vacationing with some friends in Nanaimo, a city on Vancouver Island in Canada. I don’t recall a great deal about the trip other than there was a lot of exploring of tide pools and that whatever was done to the sea anemones would today result in a group of Greenpeace commandos linking hands and singing protest songs. Don’t worry, those strange purple creatures and their more crafty crab friends weren’t in any real danger. The crabs alone more than likely gave more abuse than they took. Sometime between careening around the rocks, exploring jetties and the eventual end of the vacation we stopped at a small convenience store and I picked up a Mad magazine. And, thus began what would later become a bit of an obsession.
I was not a very politically knowledgable kid prior to reading Mad magazine. Vietnam was an American conflict and being Canadian and all of seven years old I didn’t give it much thought. But my awareness of American culture, politics and the world at large definitely changed once I started reading the magazine. I didn’t truly know what satire meant but I knew that I was hooked. By the time I was twelve and my family had moved here to Portland, I had a fairly extensive collection of Mad magazine some of which dated back to the early Fifties.
I am firmly convinced that half of my knowledge and most of my sarcasm can be tied to my early experiences with Mad magazine. Even today I still find myself influenced by “the usual gang of idiots” when it comes to opinions, politics and world events. The magazines themselves are all boxed up in our basement and I haven’t read them for years. But one of these days I am sure I will drag them out once again.
What me worry?