Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Napoleon Complex

Regular readers know that I'm a real sucker for a trip down Memory Lane. I don't consider myself the type to live in the past, but I really embrace every chapter of my life and find great comfort (and joy) in having friendships that have lasted for decades. The Internet has only fueled my obsession with nostalgia, with everything from access to photos of old toys, old commercials, old cereal boxes and most importantly, old friends.

No sooner had I gotten through last night's hunt for old friends did my friend Mark (you know, whom I met in sixth grade camp) told me about a great new site for stalking searching for people called Pipl. (This thing searches EVERYTHING -- including all the social networking sites.) Putting the questionable spelling aside, I immediately looked for my old TA Donna Rutkowski but alas came up empty handed. With J-school on the brain, however, I then typed in the name of one of my favorite classmates from back in the day -- Landon J. Napoleon (do you love it?) -- and voila, I got a match! Although I'm guessing he would remember me too, he probably doesn't know how important his friendship was to me for that semester (Spring 1988) we had Reporting (JRN 301) together. I had just come out to a few people and was adjusting to my crazy new part-time homo life, which included lots of new gay friends and partying till all hours of the night. Landon was a few years older and had this very calming, outdoorsy Colorado free spirit way about him. He was a lot of fun but knew when to take things seriously, and that's just what I needed at that point in my life. I remember hitting it off with him immediately (he must have laughed at my jokes) and eventually when we were assigned to write an article as a team, Landon and I, along with the older married re-entry student (Janice Klinefelter) went to work. Although I had a little bit of a crush on Landon, it was really the way a smart, handsome straight guy accepted me for who I was that made me like being around him so much. Sure, my new gay friends welcomed me, but somehow Landon's acceptance meant more. Landon, Janice and I worked really well as a team and our piece about local sperm banks earned us the only A in the class (Dr. Sharon Bramlett-Solomon didn't believe in A's, but even she had to admit it was pretty good). Since I was on staff at ASU's school paper, the State Press, I submitted it to my editor and they ended up running it complete with fun illustration.

My fondest memory of that period was when a bunch of us went out to the Warehouse Deli on University Drive for a "victory" celebration when the whole thing was over and done, and we ended up spending the entire afternoon playing chandeliers. We all got pretty hammered (I can still remember hugging the toilet at one point and Landon coming in to make sure I was all right) and I'm pretty sure Landon and Janice started making out at some point and I was pretty crushed (why wasn't it me -- and where was her husband, "the attorney," anyway?). But all in all JRN 301 was probably the funnest class I ever had during my four years of college.

So needless to say -- jumping ahead 20 years -- I was thrilled when Landon's personal site came up last night -- and I was even more thrilled to discover that he's become every bit the success I imagined he would. His first novel, "ZigZag," based on his experiences as a Big Brother to an abused, mentally handicapped child, came out in 1999 and sounds fantastic. His second book, "The Spirit Warrior's Handbook: A Practical Guide to Finding True Freedom" -- which sounds exactly like the kind of book I'd imagine him writing -- followed in 2005. And a third one ("The Rules of Action") is in the works.

Even more glamorous, "ZigZag" was made into a film in 2002 starring John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes, Oliver Platt, Natasha Lyonne (love her!!!) and Luke Goss. (It's available on DVD here.) Landon's photos from the set are pretty great, and I have to say all of this success couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty much a lurker on your blog, but I just had to e-mail you and tell you how much I loved your story about your friend Landon Napoleon. It's personal stories like that that keep this straight guy coming back to your blog day after day. Personal stories are the missing on so many blogs that I read, so I always enjoy yours. Keep up the good work!!