Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rumblings in 1983

In August, new President Larry Jones, claiming to have the backing of other Club members, sends a six-page letter to Mark Alfred, who now finds himself in the middle of a controversy. It is not overly dramatic to say that the resolution of this conflict changed and reshaped STAR OKC from now until the present day. Here’s a synopsis of that letter, with actual quotations as appropriate.

The Club needs revival and rededication. Among causes for “the low morale of the Club” are: 1) Leadership failures; 2) “Overly wide variation in age, tastes, and family ties”; 3) “Deterioration of the highly moral foundation we have always enjoyed”; 4) “Too little emphasis on STAR TREK”; 5) “Incompatibility of the members on an individual basis”; 6) “Too great an emphasis on the needs of the individual over the needs of the group. ... We, then, need to re-commit ourselves to the needs of only our primary group, and do our recruitment from the same. We see this group as being single persons between 16-23.”

But the greatest problem STAR OKC has, President Jones writes, is a person — the recipient of the letter, Mark Alfred. “Most members have openly expressed a desire for the officers to ask you to leave. ... Each of us has suffered insults and discourtesies at your hands, and you have attack the worth and character of us all. Your complaints and disagreements are incessant. Your humor is indecent and offen¬sive. ...” Another irritant is that Mark doesn’t hide his accumulation of SF videos, including some he has traded for — not bought or sold — that are of bootlegged (unreleased-to-video) movies. “Your boasting about your unlawful and unChristian videotape collection has shamed us.” Still, President Jones says he won’t kick Mark out just yet. “You must change, Mark, immediately. ... I must bend to the members’ wishes unless the problem is solved.” So closes the letter.

While acknowledging a propensity for hasty speech and a bent for a sardonic sense of humor, Mark is stunned and hurt. He certainly doesn’t remember insulting the worth or charac-ter of anyone. And if they don’t like his bootlegged Empire Strikes Back, then they don’t have to watch it if he plays it. Feeling the pangs of rejection, Mark doesn’t attend the September or October meetings. He goes to the November meeting, attended by only three others: Mike Hodge, Tamara Baker (later Hodge), and De¬nise Reedy. Basically, they tell Mark that they heard about “the letter” and think it’s an under¬handed thing to do, and emphasize that Mark is welcome in the Club. It transpires that members of the “anti-Mark” wing of the Club take his being re-welcomed into STAR as an affront to them, and to “their” Club. How dare these lowly members go against their betters’ wishes to boot an unwieldy soul from the Club!?

November also brings the new and improved Galactic Gazette, a 16-page mimeoed zine by edited by Paul Marek. “Instead of a one-page update on fan news,” writes Paul, referring to the now-defunct STAR OKC News, “this format is like an actual fanzine only in a fourteen-to-sixteen page format.” In his closing remarks, Paul also weighs in on the side of inclusiveness in the Club and takes a slam at the mindset of trying to run STAR OKC as one’s own private domain: “A club should not be a clique, but a collection of fans, each striving for a common goal through their diverse methods. ... One person should not be put down.” This is the only issue of this version of the GG.

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