Last night I received the call I'd been waiting for since this time last year. My Mom, Anne, had finally lost her valiant fight and died at the age of 87. The last 14 months – since an accidental fall in her apartment in November 2011 – had left her bed-ridden and slowly slipping away.
But rather than dwell on her recent physical struggles and poor health, I'm trying to concentrate on the good times we had and how she unknowingly started me on the path to zinedom.
My Mom was a movie lover. My Dad, a sports nut. Somehow I ended up inheriting both passions and can seamlessly shift between a discussion about the Eagles' search for a head coach or the Flyers' offensive woes to talk of the latest DTV action spectacle or mid-70s slice of Eurotrash drama. Dad never really pushed me to be a sports guy, I think he just figured it would happen by osmosis. And we spent many hours together watching football or driving to the Vet to catch the Phils.
But Mom actively encouraged my movie loving, going so far as to sit down with the TV section of the newspaper each week and circle movies she thought I might like. Though my tastes eventually tilted towards the horror and chop-sockey flicks that aired on our local UHF channels, she'd push for me to watch some of the classics, too, even going so far as to let me stay up on back-to-back nights to watch the Late Movie showing of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA around the age of 9.
I rewarded her leniency by falling asleep at my grandmother's kitchen table during a Sunday visit.
I don't think Mom ever quite grasped why I wanted to do a zine (or even what it actually was), but she never discouraged it either. She'd even appear at my bedroom door delivering cookies or pizza or some other snack she'd whipped up so my friends and I wouldn't go hungry during all-night sleaze and slasher marathons.
But my growing "celebrity" wasn't always welcome. When the local newspaper wrote a piece on co-founder Lou Goncey and me after the publication of ER #1 her mortification at a description of PINK FLAMINGOES turned to panic-filled horror when she realized I'd given out our home address for correspondence and inquiries.
I was ordered to obtain a PO Box the next day.
An innocent meeting of new parishoners at our church resulted in some woman telling Mom, "Oh I know you're son... he's the horror boy".
Not surprisingly, the nickname has stuck for nearly 30 years.
A good sport and a closet ham, she even agreed to appear as "Befuddled Neighbor" in my senior year video project on the Philly punk band The Serial Killers. While my father hid behind his paper in the living room she ad-libbed her way through a couple takes and was the hit of every screening.
Thanks Mom. Thanks for the good times, the spirited battles, the raised eyebrows, and the calls to the radio station to make sure I was alive. Thanks for being a harsh critic (when needed) and for letting me know I could make anything out of myself that I wanted.