Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Winter Odyssey by Greg Dziawer

Ed Wood lived through 54 winters, most of them in California.

The Black Diamond railroad bridge
I was born and raised and still reside after 48 years in northeastern Pennsylvania, currently living in the town of Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre, like the smaller towns all throughout this area, was once a booming coal town. Remnants of that era survive, including the Black Diamond, still a railroad bridge, visible from my office window as I type this, on the second floor of my house right along the Susquehanna River. In the 19th century, Wilkes-Barre was also a center of the textile industry. These days, just like Ed Wood's hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York, the industries have faded and economic blight is sadly prevalent. And just like Poughkeepsie, by mid-February, it's cold and wintry.

As I've gotten older, I've noted that by the latter part of winter, folks collectively seem beaten down. Getting short with each other. Aloof and preoccupied. It's a genuine affliction called Seasonal Affective Disorder, fittingly SAD for short. The Mayo Clinic describes it as "a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody."

By this time of year, I find myself itching for spring and sunlight, knowing that the stubborn cold will not fully release its grip for another month or so and that more snow is on the way. In fact, my recollections of the biggest nor'easter snowstorms experienced in my lifetime date them to the month of March. A few last kicks while we are down. But the sun came out this afternoon, brighter than I'd seen it in months, a welcome sign of things to come.
Worthwhile research.
While I personally don't feel so much affected by the weather this time of year, I do find the interpersonal dynamics of the day-to-day a bummer. A work day in mid-February surrounded by my miserable friends and associates is a veritable Circle of Hell. And it certainly takes its toll. I may not exactly be wracked with self-doubt and torpor, but tonight I do find myself wondering if I am adding anything worthwhile to the realm of Woodology and realizing that my focus is fuzzy and research scattered. 

It's emotion that spurs on these thoughts. Rationally, I know that I've made a dent into understanding the Wood Loop Orbit through the Winter, a vast and uncharted terrain that lies promisingly just ahead. As I read more articles from the Swedish Erotica film review mags of the latter half of the 1970s, I am increasingly confident in recognizing uncredited work by Ed's hand, as well as the distinct signatures of his style in the winter of his years. I could go on and on. I know that my personal odyssey continues to amaze, fascinate and obsess me in surprising ways. 

Ed left Poughkeepsie in 1942, nearly for good, when he and his buddy George Keseg dropped out of the 11th grade at Poughkeepsie High School and enlisted at age 17 in the Marines. Ed's family moved a few times and he lived in at least three residences in Poughkeepsie growing up, all close to the Mid-Hudson bridge, on the river's east side. Although he returned home for a brief stint after the war, he soon left the winter doldrums behind once and for all, ultimately landing in Hollywood.

We'll continue to follow him in his travels and travails, soaking up that southern California sunlight whenever we can, right here in future Ed Wood Wednesdays.