Telstar, Tim Lucas & Me
I’ve asked my friend and mentor, Tim Lucas, to address on this site his personal impressions of Joe Meek’s song, TELSTAR.
For those unfamiliar with Tim’s “credentials”, let me try to boil it down to a brief, contained nutshell: with several of his teen years spent writing for “Cinfantastique” magazine in the 1970′s, then writing for “Video Times” magazine and 4 of the publication’s paperback movie genre capsule review guides in the ’80′s, self publishing his own digest, “Video Watchdog” throughout the last 20+ years and in his 14 lb tome on the Italian genre film director, Mario Bava, Tim has proven himself one of the most respected and influential models of film journalism and biography. Insightful and persuasive in his language — passionate for the complexities of film form and the intricacies — the poetics — of genre, Tim has never failed to provide an illuminating approach to a film that perhaps had lost or never had much public luster — in four or five sentences, he could reveal what made them shine.
Growing up, Tim’s writings weren’t just a mere formative influence on me, they were a gateway to a new, deeply personal, method of stimulation. Films not only could entertain, but they could make different levels of sense. With “Video Watchdog”, devoted to documenting the worldwide variant versions of individual films on video, Tim (and company) has obsessively compared, contrasted, analyzed and reviewed the cinema fantastique in all its mutations and permutations. Again, Tim was responsible to opening my consciousness to yet another aspect of film – its pliability, its durability, its ambidextrousness. (Of course, I’m leaving out that Tim has also written several award-winning novels, blogs, optioned screenplays, dabbled in directing and also contributing essential audio commentary to many films on DVD and Blu-Ray as well as contributing a regular column to “Sight & Sound” magazine. So the bottom line: Tim Lucas was an all-around inspiration to me for 3/4ths my life so far.)
The self-publication of Tim’s Bava book, “Mario Bava: All The Colors Of The Dark”, was the jewel in the crown. This book was in-progress for over 30 years (my documentary, only 9 years to date!). I began to appreciate Tim’s tenacity and veracity in getting that project finished — and finished the way that befitted both the subject and the author. Tim, in addition to helping shape my approach to cinema and writing about cinema, had now introduced “self-determination” into the mix. And it couldn’t have come at more crucial time.
Here about 2008, still dealing with my mother’s battle with cancer, still shaping the Joe Meek doc, I get a message from Tim explaining that Joe Meek’s production of TELSTAR was his favorite song and an early inspiration to him (I may have known this prior) and that, since he was making a rare trip to Los Angeles, might I be willing to privately screen the rough cut of A LIFE IN THE DEATH OF JOE MEEK for him. Suddenly our relationship made new sense to me — a sense of fate or destiny — both projects (his book, my doc) long-term labors of love about independents who didn’t have to strive hard for greatness, only respect. This was my first meeting with Tim and it felt as if I had known him all my life. Of course, I had to remind myself, I had.
As much as Meek’s music was a profound childhood influence on Tim, so was Tim’s writings on me. There is a certain spiritual significance to the absorption of the creative by a child’s mind, a certain unconsidered guidance that pulls you through life’s toughest obstacles and gives focus, comfort and strength. In this memoir, Tim, with the expected articulateness and delicacy of import, relates his own “coming of age” to Telstar — but what I feel he exposes is that he isn’t alone on this planet — that, through each person’s particular acts of expression, someone else has a chance to feel understood, or better, enlightened. This was, I’ve always felt, what Joe was striving for with all his work, and with Telstar, in particular.
- Howard S. Berger
Click here to read “Tim Lucas: Telstar & Me”