Going Boldly Where ‘Star Trek’ Fans Go To See Captain Kirk’s Birthplace
I have boldly gone where some man may go, some day.
Grandma, grab the smelling salts — I have been to the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.
Well, it may be the future birthplace. It may not. Not even Gene Roddenberry, who created “Star Trek,” exacted the place of Kirk’s conception, other than to say it was a small Iowa town.
The citizens of Riverside, Iowa, population 826, say that it will be in their tiny bosom that Kirk’s parents indeed will do the deed. Hold the birthday cards, though. Kirk’s supposed conception will take place on or about June 22, 2227, according to “Star Trek” lore.
The validity of the selection of Riverside as Kirk’s future birthplace is debatable. Roddenberry never said anything, and a quick scan of a Riverside phone book doesn’t show any Kirks. But what is known is that the marketing people of the city of Riverside were pretty savvy to come up with a goofy plot like this to draw people to their town.
And they did draw at least a couple of people to their town last weekend, in search of Kirk, in search of a story and considering the scalding heat, in search of a refreshing beverage and an air-conditioned cafe.
Following a 90-minute drive, we pulled through what passes for Riverside’s main drag, where we were told a gala parade and festivities were set to take place.
From the looks of things, people were already celebrating. The street was flanked by weary-looking lawn chairs propping up oldsters as kids whisked about, waiting for the parade to begin and candy to be thrown in their direction. It was almost 10 a.m. — happy hour was only nine hours away — so of course the taverns were stocked with baseball-capped guys ready to raise a pint in future memory of a to be dead ensign, let alone the mighty Kirk.
In the midst of this we found a tiny, white-brick building heralding itself as the Trek Fest headquarters. We would’ve gone inside, but the door was locked, posted only with a schedule of the day’s events and a sign pointing to a backyard purported to be the “Future birthplace of Captain Kirk!”
According to the psychic scribes of Riverside, the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk is a dimly lit backyard. It’s adoringly flanked by a graffiti-scarred hulk of a building and a grimy porch supporting a Hibachi grill and an overstuffed plastic trash can.
The only thing to mark such a holy shrine is a beaten chunk of concrete wearing a sign that would be right at home outside a cheesy craft shop.
“This is it?” my companion asked with chagrin.
“I guess so,” I replied. Only the citizens of Riverside future could be sure.
The rest of the day went off as planned — the parade, the baton-twirling Girl Scouts, the costume contest, the auction of memorabilia, the tractor pull which, I’m told, will be a big favorite of Scotty’s and everything else Trekkish and not associated with the fiesta.
But despite such merrymaking, I felt empty. It was about the location of Kirk’s future birthplace. It just seemed so pedestrian, especially for a guy who would grow up to save the universe, not to mention score with several miniskirt-clad alien women.
But who knows — out of such humble beginnings, greatness has been known to sprout before. And I’m sure it will in the future.
Coincidentally, the place of Mr. Spock’s future birth just happens to be my living room. Anyone interested in souvenir photos just $25 each can contact me here, at Sean@QuadCities.com.