From the Archive… I always wanted to hug Chewbacca by Spike Jonze, 1993.

This is a personal essay that I love, penned by the 23 year old hand of Spike Jonze in 1993. He wrote it for the unpublished 8th issue of “Dirt Magazine,” which is the only edition of Dirt that I can find scans of online, so I just read it over and over like it’s the bible or that Steve Martin memoir that fits conveniently just right in my pocket. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to publish it here by the actual law but I’m doing it for love and no monetary gain and I think a jury would see that pure unadulterated admiration and rule in my favor in a court room. I’d ask spike if it’s okay but I don’t have his number so I can’t. If any of you have his number please send it to me so I can ask him but also so we can chat cause I’d like to chat with him so much. 

– Nita Kourkouliotis

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

There was a Mother who always dragged her 7-year-old boy off to see her grown-up movies. If it wasn’t a divorce movie, Kramer vs. Kramer, it was what she promised was an action film, All the President’s Men. After all these, she forced him to see a movie that started with the line that sits above this paragraph.

I was so pissed at my Mom when those words started to scroll up the screen. I thought it was going to be another one of those films that you have to read the words at the bottom of the screen the whole time. But 124 minutes later, I was a galaxy away from mad. I had just seen the most amazing story. The characters, the lines, the special effects… everything about it blew me away. I left that theater charged. I doubt I even knew what the word inspired was, but everything I did from then on had Star Wars in it. Playing with friends, pretending we were Han, Luke and Chewy; drawing scenes from the movie; writing my own stories about R2-D2 for homework. My imagination was sparked.

George Lucas was 31 when he created this universe that sparked mine. Out of his head came things like the Force, Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, Chewbacca (I bet George has even hugged him), tractor beams, the Rebel Alliance… the list is endless. Everyone my age can relate to these concepts.

I don’t remember how long I believed I would be able to learn the Force with enough practice. “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” I was a Jedi warrior. And my bedroom was my galaxy where I could occupy hours and days concocting elaborate stories in my head, zoning out the realities of suburban existence.

“A Jedi can feel the force flowing through him. Let go your conscious self and act on instinct… Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them. Stretch out with your feelings… There is no such thing as luck.” These ideas seeped into my head and remained there long after I realized I couldn’t take the trash out using ancient Jedi powers or get out of having to turn in assignments by telling my teachers, “This isn’t the homework you’re looking for.”

Fifteen years later there is still a hint of Jedi in me. I can still watch Star Wars and feel the power of its inspiration. That inspiration came out of one man’s head onto the screen and into my bedroom. Sitting alone for hours in there, staring at my action figures murmuring to myself, I now know what I was learning: Whatever you can dream up, you can make.

By Spike Jonze