Saturday, May 18, 2013


Everyone I’ve ever spoken to about the movie Wizard of Oz feels like they own it to some degree, like it is an artifact from only their own childhood.  For my own part, when I was a kid, the Wizard of Oz used to air on network TV once a year and it used to happen near my birthday, so it was a birthday tradition for me, my mom and her two best friends named Bill (Young Bill and Old Bill) to watch it together on TV as part of my birthday celebration.  This is a particularly poignant memory for me because I loved both Bills, and one I haven’t seen in years and am unable to track down on the internet, and the other one died of cancer in my mom’s house a few years ago, and also, of course my mom and I can't regain the closeness we used to have when I was young enough to get excited over the big deal a network station (I forget which one) made about showing Wizard of Oz.  So this memory of watching Wizard of Oz with them every year is one of those painful poignant stabbing memories.  Now that Gregory Maguire has written the series “The Wicked Years,” where the faaaaamous novel Wicked comes from, I feel like it’s in the collective unconscious to play with themes from the Wizard of Oz, with the collective acknowledgement that the movie is special to so many of us but that our youthful perception of the story is often very different from what occurs to us watching it as grown ups.  For instance not many adults could watch the film without feeling sorry for the wicked witch that nobody feels sorry for her for the brutal way she lost her sister; also, most adults feel that Glinda the Good Witch of the North is sort of a dick for saying stuff like “Only bad witches are ugly” (is she saying that ugly people are bad?  I sort of think so…) or letting Dorothy get in so much trouble before telling her she could’ve just clicked her heels to get home the whole time.  Why did we like this movie so much?  It was just beautiful and special and magical and captured the boredom, terror and wonder of youth really well.

Anyway, before Gregory Maguire’s Oz-for-Adults (erotic fantasy) Wicked Series came out, there were two other books I read, one in high school and one in college, that also used Wizard of Oz as the motif for a sad grown up story.  One was Was by Geoff Ryman, about an Oz-obsessed man dying of AIDS, and the other was called Judy Garland, Ginger Love by Nicole Cooley, about a woman who has an Oz-themed emotional breakdown after the painful experience of birthing a stillborn infant.  I really love both these novels and the way they use the Wizard of Oz.  When the film came out in theatres again in 1999, I was a college sophomore, and I went to see it with one of my best friends.  It was an emotional and spooky night.  I cried so much while watching the movie, it just painted such a perfectly articulated portrait of how beautiful and unfair the world can be.  Then when we left the theatre we realized it was fucking FREEZING, like ice storm cold, and we’d dressed up sort of dopey and cute for the movie, like our version of witches or something (I wish I had pictures), so we were freaked out waiting for the bus in the cold and dark in a part of town too far to walk home from, but we were also buzzed from the movie and nostalgia, just … what a night.  What a terrifying, goofy, young, fun night.  Inspired by seeing the movie again and by the books Was and Judy Garland, Ginger Love, I wrote this little zine here, “Twister.”  It’s not dated, but yeah, I think it was done in the winter of 1999, the day after seeing the movie in the theatre.  Enjoy! 

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