Thursday, January 06, 2005

letter i just got

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you in regards to, arguably, the world's greatest Star Wars fan, Jeff Tweiten. This name may not mean anything to you, but you may recall his exploits: Jeff was one of the guys who waited in line for over three and a half months outside Seattle's Cinerama for Star Wars Episode II.

Well now Jeff is at it again. As of January 1st, Jeff set his ass down on the concrete, and he's been there ever since. He will be there, in fact, for over five months until 'Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith' is released. I believe he allows himself ten-fifteen minutes a day to shower across the street at a Hotel (someone saves his space in "line"), but other than that, Jeff is Seattle's latest fixture: an odd mix of devotion, philosophy, and human spectacle. Most people, of course, think of this stunt as ridiculous, and the knee-jerk reaction is always to write him off as some type of lunatic fanatic.

I am writing to you because this is not the case, and someone with prominence in the science-fiction/fantasy community needs to take notice of him. Briefly: Jeff is not an attention-seeker or a local media hound, he will continue his wait with or without any recognition from the wider world; rather, Jeff is someone who, as odd as it may seem to conventional society, feels deeply motivated by the idea of "waiting" for things of value, and in a consumer driven, materialistic culture he sees as spiritually drained, this is where he's putting his time and energy down as a worthy investment. All Star Wars fans are moved by how these films capture mythic themes of heroism, discipline, and inner strength, but I would wager that very few of them have been as thoroughly transformed by these ideals as Jeff Tweiten.

I can tell you this: I have had the pleasure of meeting many astounding and impressive spiritual 'masters' in my time - I have my Masters of Divinity from Columbia's Union Theological Seminary, and I worked for many years with the Venerable Lama Pema Wangdak here in New York City and throughout India, but until the day I die, Jeff will be in my own personal top 5 list of the most creative and uniquely powerful individuals I have ever met. A successful artist from Bainbridge Island, Jeff's genius comes not only from his talent, but from that unique ability to truly transcend the opinions of contemporary society in his path to let imagination re-create him. I recognize that this still sounds like a raving fanboy at best, and a complete lunatic at worst, but here's the proof that Jeff's the real thing. Are you ready? JEFF WAITED OUTSIDE IN LINE FOR A MOVIE FOR OVER FOUR MONTHS! And now he's at it again!! I don't think any of us can really have an accurate idea of what this entails. The elements, the mental and physical demands alone would surely weed out anyone who was simply crazy or posturing. Jeff is neither, and maintains his vigil with grace, compassion, and humor.

Remember: while I'm writing this, Jeff is out on the street. He's out on the street while you're reading this, too, and while you go for lunch, forget about all of this for a few hours, and then revisit it again in your mind, Jeff is still out there, right now, on the street, waiting for Star Wars. You may very well forget about this for months, and > it won't be until April that you'll think about it again, but Jeff will still be there, constant, disciplined, a mad hatter bodhisattva manifesting as the one thing all the stuffed shirts out there will be sure to mock and look over: a sci-fi fanboy on crusade, a modern Don Quixote who is unimpressed by the siren appeals of modern culture, and instead has chosen to wait for something of true value and excitement. Whatever any of us - or him - feels about the Star Wars films, (I know his favorite is still 'Empire Strikes Back') is irrelevant, it is the ideals behind these images that moves him, and it is to these timeless and unpopular ideals that he has committed himself. Jeff is not without a sense of irony, and perhaps it is all the more appropriate that this seat of American monasticism finds its most dedicated and insulted hero waiting for a big-budget juggernaut blockbuster.

My point is this: people should sit up and take notice of this guy. Someone fantastic and funny is happening in our midst, and when we look back to tell the story ten years from now, do we want to be one of those ants who lacked vision and mocked him, or one of his fellow crickets who played the violin all winter with him, just out of the sheer joy of myth and fantasy? What are you waiting for? What are any of us waiting for? People should get the word out, write up a story or two, and show Jeff some support. You can reach him at

Thank you for your time,

Michael Ellick, M.Div.