Lunar Village Chapter 1
Will T. Rogers [wrogers12321.gmail.com] © TXu-1-699-798
Samantha Rolland’s favorite spot is Union Square Park at East Fourteenth Street in Manhattan. The twenty-three year old girl with sandy brown hair and hazel eyes likes the park because of its history. It’s been a home for new, crazy, reactionary, or even revolutionary ideas. There were the war critics and radicals who congregated here in the 1860s, 1930s and later in the 1960s. Corrupt Manhattan politicians once had their Tammany Hall offices at the northeast corner of the square. And there was Book Row just below the square on Fourth Avenue between Ninth and Fourteenth Streets. Stores here sold used, controversial, and exotic books on any topic imaginable for as little as 5¢.
Samantha wears little makeup and keeps her hair short. The only concession she makes to sex appeal is a tight pair of jeans. She’s five foot six and weighs one hundred twenty pounds and is on a mission. Samantha would like to visit the Moon before she dies. That is, she’d like to visit a hotel with recreational facilities on the Moon. But, that’s the problem. America’s space agency NASA talks a good game about Moon development, but moves at a snail’s pace.
Her friend is two-years younger Tyler Nardivant who knows lots of things about economics and science. Tyler believes America has lost commitment to take risks for space exploration. Well, money is not being spent in large enough amounts and we’ve lost the will to let glory-hunting astronauts risk their lives on space trips to the Moon and Mars. It’s been half a century since the last adventurers walked on the Moon. By now, there should at least be an international building of some type on the lunar surface.
Thus, Samantha wants to promote a contest for artists. The contestants will be invited to submit drawings, models, or paintings of what the first small recreational village on the Moon should look like. She believes the pictures if given enough national publicity might help galvanize the imaginations of people about vacation trips to the Moon. Can today’s people be motivated for such a project?
For one thing, seeing the Earth from the Moon would be quite an experience, especially since you’d know you were no longer on Earth. The gravity on the Moon is much weaker and there is no atmosphere, so there’s no wind. This should provide some very interesting possibilities for exotic-looking buildings. For example a hotel could be built in the shape of a rotating Ferris Wheel with rooms that slowly change the window views they offer guests. Also consider how far you could hit a golf ball on the Moon. Indoor pools on the Moon could let you swim with the power of a dolphin navigating exciting waves. There’s also the thrill of lifting off in a rocket ship heading for space.
The first lunar buildings might include spaceship service stations, several hotels, a college dedicated to lunar studies, a space-travel research hospital, Moon-exploration facilities, and a launch site for trips to Mars. Several space stations between the Moon and Earth might also help. These are some of the ideas that Samantha thinks about, especially when hanging out at Union Square Park, as is the case today.
It’s a warm Monday afternoon in September and Samantha and Tyler are standing at the corner of Union Square East and 15th Street. Tyler is drinking from a can of orange soda through a straw. Samantha is leaning against a railing attached to what once was Union Square Savings Bank, a narrow ancient-Rome like building with four immense pillars.
She’s saying to Tyler, “These people passing by don’t care a hoot about the possibilities the Moon offers.”
Tyler, born in Manhattan has short dark brown hair and blue eyes. He’s five feet ten and is today wearing a trendy pair of eyeglasses. He bears a slight resemblance to the Harry Potter character.
After looking several of the passing shoppers up and down he asks, “So, what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know. But when I was in college one of my professor’s predicted that people our age would eventually have the chance to buy tickets for vacation trips to the Moon. At the time, I believed him. But now I don’t think it will happen before I die.”
Tyler walks over to a trash basket and tosses his now empty can of orange soda. Just then, Coco a small fluffy white Maltese puppy on a leash starts barking excitedly at Tyler. Well maybe it’s that silly 5¢ soda deposit so few people worry about redeeming anymore.
Tyler has an idea. “Sam, you need an effective publicity campaign for your contest.”
“How do I do that,” she asks.
“You need to do something or say something that will capture people’s imagination. Then maybe the media will pay attention.”
“You mean invent a slogan like, ‘Rocket to the Moon and back, the ultimate amusement event!’”
“You’ll have to work on that one.”
“Maybe I could get sponsors for projects that forward-looking organizations would like to create on the Moon. You know something like the Moonbeam Hilton, Belleview Hospital Lunar Extension, PGA Training Station, Columbia University College of Natural Satellite Studies, Green Cheese Institute, Man in the Moon Club, and Moonshine Liquors.”
“That’s not what I meant. But maybe you’re onto something even if by dumb luck.”
Just then, some younger people arrive at the building that used to be a bank, but is now a theatre. They are after tickets for some production that no one admits to understanding but everyone is willing to pay the price of a Broadway theatre ticket to see. It’s a visual extravaganza. Its only message may be, ‘If something looks good, sounds good, feels good and smells good, it must be good, especially if your parents don’t seem interested in it.’
“That’s the problem,” Samantha observes, “No one needs reality to get excited about anymore. Escapist entertainment will do just fine”
Tyler looks over the new arrivals and whispers to Samantha, “Tourists! I bet they think the first person to walk on the Moon was Buzz Lightyear.”
“Who on Earth is Buzz Lightyear?”
“A cartoon character. But according to a survey, there are people in the world who think the cartoon character made the Apollo 11 trip to the Moon and back. Of course there are the conspiracy groups who think the whole Moon-landing thing was a hoax.”
Samantha looks over the crowd passing by and asks, “Why would people think that?” Then she answers her own question. “Of course, believing it a hoax makes them feel vindicated and superior.”
Tyler plays devil’s advocate. “But, you feel good believing that they actually went to the Moon in 1969.”
“Yes, but for it to be a hoax, thousands of people would have had to tell the identical lies over and over for nearly fifty years. Then there is the videotape. You couldn’t Photoshop images back then. And there was more than one expedition.”
“Well,” Tyler concedes, “You couldn’t make up some of the things that happened. For example, there was a funny conversation when Apollo 11 was about to land on the Moon. The guy speaking from Houston asked the astronauts to watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit.”
“Apparently an ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living on the Moon for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill for immortality from her husband. The astronauts were also asked to look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is only standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree.”
“A cinnamon tree on the Moon?”
Tyler nods and then adds, “I’m taking a class on media communication. If what you’re saying is true about the people who believe in the Moon landing hoax, then they may been fed a lot of propaganda.”
“Maybe that’s what I need to get people interested in development of the Moon, Tyler, propaganda. But, how do you make propaganda?”
Tyler nods his head. “There are three basic kinds. The most intense is where you make up horrible lies about people or situations. In the middle, you stack the deck favoring one side over the other side on some issue. The lightest is where you speak about something in very favorable ways, using exaggeration.”
“Which would I use?” asks Samantha.
“Forget the intense stuff, that would make you out like a lunatic. Pun intended, you know lunar meaning the Moon and the word lunatic. You would be better stacking the deck or using the light approach.”
“You mean by the light approach I would make pro Moon-development advertisements.”
“But, how would I use the stack the deck approach.”
“Well, one way would be to compare how bad it is leaving the exploration and development solely to NASA and the government. Then you contrast that with how much better well-financed space exploration organizations would be at developing the Moon.”
“So, Tyler, you think the Hilton Hotels would be better at getting a hotel built on the Moon than NASA.”
“Exactly. And another deck-stacking tactic would be to contrast getting your thrills from reality versus getting them from escapist entertainment.”
“Does your class use a textbook?”
“Can I borrow it for a couple of days?”
“Sure borrow it for as long as you like, I’ll be able to ace this class without reading the textbook.”
“I’ll give it back in time for you to sell it back to the bookstore.”
Tyler continues. “Right now, Samantha, you’ve got to use communication to get the drawing contest for the Moon-facilities going. You’ll need money and a way to promote interest in the contest.”
“Yes, I’ll need something spectacular.”
The afternoon is ebbing as the two begin walking in opposite directions away from Union Square to get to their respective homes.
Union Square got its name as the junction of several Manhattan thoroughfares, including Broadway, The Bowery, and Park Avenue South. Today you find people on the square selling trinkets, trying to give away stray dogs, exhibiting art, and selling vegetables and bread. On warm days, people sit eating at picnic tables or sun themselves on blankets. Small birds, pigeons and squirrels panhandle for food scraps. There’s even a small doggie-run and a children’s play area with things to climb on.
Ten minutes later both have gotten home. Tyler lives in a large apartment complex on the Eastside with his parents. Samantha lives with her thirty-one year-old aunt on Greenwich Street, just below Little West. 12th Street in the West Village. Her attractive aunt works as a bartender at Le Chat Orange.