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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Author: Vince Waldron and The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book

Vince Waldron and I go way back to our Chicago days, when we traveled the United States (well, some of them) as members of The Second City National Touring Company. 
Vince's The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book is so official its introduction is by Dick Van Dyke himself. The book even has a foreword by Dan Castellaneta. You know who Dan is, don't you? That's right. He was a member of The Second City Touring Company with me and Vince.
(and despite what Vince says, I say Eagle Rock counts!)

It was exactly four years ago this week that I chanced upon the most incongruous Christmas encounter I’ve ever experienced. Since it happened right here in Pasadena, I wanted to share the story with you, in the hope you might forgive me for guest blogging on San Gabriel Valley author Wednesday, even though I actually live across the Colorado Street Bridge in Eagle Rock.

I do live close enough to Pasadena to know my way around the hills that overlook the Rose Bowl from the west, where I often ride my bike on leafy wooded lanes with names like Patrician Way and Glen Oaks Boulevard, which at that altitude is so sparsely populated that you can sometimes spy entire families of deer walking across the untrafficked roads. In fact, this is the perfect time of year for spotting deer, as I discovered one fateful night not so long ago.  

It was already dark on that early winter evening, and I relied on the beam of my bike light to guide me up that hilly stretch of Glen Oaks near the old Annandale power station, if you know where that is. There are no street lights up there, so the road was pitch black. Which is why I was surprised to come upon a man -- he must have been in his mid-60s -- standing in the middle of a large, wooded yard, presumably his own, where he was busy putting finishing touches on an elaborate collection of brightly lit Christmas yard decorations, the centerpiece of which was a life-size reindeer statue.

A string of white Christmas lights ran up the fake deer’s front leg and continued on up over its head, which rocked eerily back and forth in a smooth, mechanical motion that was a mockery of any real deer in nature, who are, if anything, known for their ability to hold their heads, and the rest of them, quite still for long periods of time.

As it happens, I nearly had the opportunity to make a head-to-head comparison when an actual live deer suddenly leapt out of a thicket across the road and started walking directly to the glowing effigy that vaguely resembled him.

Although I was looking forward to gawking at what promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime clash of man and nature, the owner of the artificial ruminant was having none of it. As soon as he saw the live deer, the man raised his arms and, in what looked to be a well-practiced gesture, shooed the buck right back into the bushes from which he emerged. I never did find out what Bambi made of his brightly-lit doppelganger that night, and it wasn’t until I’d ridden halfway back down the hill to Eagle Rock that the absurdity of what I’d just witnessed finally struck me.

I’ve seen three Christmases since then, and more mechanical reindeer statues than I’d care to count. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget that chilly night in Pasadena when I watched a man chase a real deer from his yard so a reindeer of plastic and wire could nod its head untroubled through the long holiday season.

Thanks for inviting me into your laptop, iPad or other device to share my holiday epiphany. Merry Christmas and the happiest holiday season to one and all!


18 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

I hope that poor deer hadn't been hoping the faux-deer was its soul mate! What a dear tale. It's lovely to 'meet' you, Vince, and all the best for your book signing. {With Petrea for company, it's guaranteed to be a wonderful night.}

Chrissy Brand said...

What a wonderful story, I am sure there is a moral in there too somewhere!

Chrissy at Manchester: a photo a day at Mancunian Wave

Margaret said...

Best of luck with the book. What a classic show; it never gets old.

Bellis said...

Hope that Rudolph heard about this from the deer and told Santa not to call at that house any more.

Great story, Vince. The Vromans evening should be fun!

Petrea Burchard said...

I keep thinking about the deer story and what a chance that man missed, not to mention the allegory I take from it: real Christmas vs. fake Christmas.

Steven said...

Best of luck with the book Vince. That show plays every minute of every day some place on the planet and probably will until the end of time.

Vince Waldron said...

@Shell Sheree: Could the faux deer have been the live deer's soulmate? Or, to paraphrase Philip K. Dick, "Do robotic deer dream of electric sheep?"

Vince Waldron said...

@Chrissy Brand: If you find one, let me know.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Vince,

What brought you to write a history of The Dick Van Dyke Show?

Your deer story pretty much encapsulates our insulated secret dred of nature actually touching our lives with all its chaos and unpredictability.

And total YAY for Second City, the pride of Chi town.~Haha

Petrea Burchard said...

Good question, Patrizzi, I wish I'd thought of it.

Vince Waldron said...

@Patrizzi: How did I come to write a book about The Dick Van Dyke Show? Hmm...

The short answer is, I was always taken with the series when I watched it as child. I found the world that Carl Reiner and his cast created quite compelling, and even -- or perhaps especially -- as a child, I felt privileged to be exposed to a world where grown-ups were routinely friendly, attractive and well-spoken, which was not always the case in my personal experience.

When circumstances later aligned to afford me an opportunity to explore that world, and all the bright, talented and interesting people who created it, I naturally jumped at the chance.

Susan Campisi said...

Vince, I love your deer tale. That buck got a quick lesson in how ridiculous the human species is. Glad you got a glimpse of the real thing.

Good luck with the book. Looks really fun.

Katie said...

Vince that deer story is classic! I'm trying to imagine a Gary Larson cartoon recounting the story from the deer's perspective. Silly humans. Your book looks really interesting. I was too young to watch the show when it was originally on, but recently I saw part of an episode (where Rob has jury duty and one of the witnesses was a ditzy blond that he was obviously attracted to) and thought it was funny so I've added some episodes to my netflix queue. I'm sure the Vroman's event will be lots of fun!

Patricia said...

I always loved that show, and I have nice memories of watching it with my family as a kid. Best of luck with the book.

Ms M said...

I enjoyed your story and hope the real deer found its "dear".
Best of luck with your book!

Petrea Burchard said...

I have to go out to (of all things) my book group tonight. You all can handle this without me for a couple of hours, I trust. The Dick Van Dyke Show theme song has been stuck in my head all day and knowing me, I'll have it for a couple of weeks until something like the Archies theme song comes along.

Petrea Burchard said...

I took the picture of these Christmas reindeer just down the street from my house last night. Tonight the wind is so severe I'm sure my neighbor will find them in his back yard in the morning, or on the roof if he's lucky. We battened down our hatches and now we're hunkered down with our laptops, hoping those reindeer don't come flying through our windows.

Vince, thank you for participating today. It's been a pleasure. If it's this windy tomorrow, please drive your car from Eagle Rock to Vroman's instead of riding your bike.

Petrea Burchard said...

Is anyone going to Vroman's tonight? Because my street is blocked at both ends by fallen trees and I'm going to need a ride.