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My Dinner With Siny 1975

Tom Sinclair, better known to some of his compatriots as Siny, is my oldest friend. Not in age, of course, but in longevity. We had similar interests – Marvel comics, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Combat! (the TV series not the activity), and book collecting. With Alan Saly and Christian Doherty ­– whom we joined up with in 1968-69 – we were the creative quartet behind Guardian publishing and Apar Films.

Siny was acknowledged by Saly, Doherty, and myself, as the best writer of the three of us, and at 14 he wrote his entertaining stories of a talking but nameless Warthog, who was born in Africa but traveled (with his two human companions, Frank and Joe) to the moons of Mars and back in a series of Burroughs-like adventures that were eventually published as Tales of a Wandering Warthog.[[wysiwyg_imageupload:359:]]

In 1974, the quartet split up to go to college. It was a rough period for all of us. Siny and Doherty had been drifting apart from the group in 1973, as they began drinking more heavily and as Saly and I got more involved with women and school activities.

By the time college began, I hadn’t seen much of my old friend. But then, in January 1975, he resurfaced, asking if I had kept his old Warthog stories (which I had published in our homegrown publication, The Warthog Reader.) I had, and he took copies of them, wrote a few new stories, and got a publisher toput them out as an entertaining book.

At that time, I recorded an interview with Siny, to use with what turned out to be the last of the fanzines I published in 1975. I recently discovered the transcript among some old papers and re-reading it was like visiting another world. Could that be me making those (sometimes inane) statements? How cocky and (yet) confused the two of us were!

“I’ve been degenerating,” Siny admitted.  “Basically, I got into liquor and other things as a result of being a neurotic and crazy person. so I  haven't had much time for writing, although I have written poetry. The world out there is obviously a shit world and the only thing to do is to escape into art or humor or whatever you feel you can escape into that's viable.”

“I can see that in a way,” I replied. “I enjoy music and things like that. And I'm loaded with problems, too. I think everyone at this age is.

“It's a rough age to live in.”

“Well, I meant more age 18. It's even more - because this is the big change period, with college and all.

“That's true. The change I had to go through was trying to get off of wanting to die and back into wanting to live.”

“And music and things like that help you?”

“Well, yeah, y'know, but not always positively, and in some cases neither positively or negatively, just as, y'know, a muse.”

“I've gone through a lot of phases, too, and I'm in one right now.”



“Seems like a lot of people are,” Siny said. “That's the weird thing to try and adjust to: the fact that you're just one more person.”

“Right. Whether you live or die doesn't affect the world that greatly. I can see changes in you in the way you speak and act but that's good, I think. I think change is essential to survival, really. Because to a large extent living is a painful process until you find the right place for you. It's easy to fall into being something you're not. Actually, it's not that easy to make the physical changes and to say the right things at the right places, but the toll that that takes on your soul is really hard. I remember having a very bad experience meeting some people whom I didn't want to meet. Y'know, just being polite was a great strain' because it's a very emotional thing. I don't know if that's what you mean exactly. But I think you have to mean what you say.”

“Yeah, that's true. And then again, there are the type of people who you just can't open up to because they are not in tune with themselves. On the other side, you could say street people – hippies – people who are very into drugs whom I have had a bit of experience are into change. And the changes that I went through in order to get on their level weren't always that good. Tthere were a lot of people up at Wyndom [college] who were into getting stoned all time. I mean, in high school that's all I was in to. But, like, it's time for a change now.”

“You can' t go through that for the rest of your life.”

“You can, but ypu might end up destroying yourself, I think.”

June 24, 2011