|The classic shot of The Huell at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve greets visitors to Chapman University's new Huell Howser Exhibit, now open to the public.|
On Saturday, Chapman University, the sole recipient of The Huell's archives (Well, at least the non-Videolog/Visiting... material, which remains KCET property) opened their new Huell Howser exhibit at their Leatherby Library building called, "That's Amazing! Thirty Years of Huell Howser and California's Gold" with a daylong event of the same name. The event attracted several thousand Huell devotees of all ages (the majority being over 50 though...) which also featured people who have been featured on some of his shows. The Triple-A was a major spinor of the event and gave away Cali maps with locations of California's Gold episodes.
|The line for the Huell Howser exhibit was pretty damn long.|
The main attraction was the exhibit, which has a long-ass line that queued around the building with a wait of almost an hour. Sure, anyone can go to this exhibit Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with hardly any line, but dammit, The Militant don't go to Orange County that much, so he might as well stay in line!
It felt much like going to a Disneyland ride, which was just a few miles away (Guess this is what the O.C. is all about...). Once in the door, he heard the familiar Tennessee drawl of The Huell fill the room, almost as if he was there (or maybe an animatronic Huell greeting visitors before reciting The Gettysburg Address, no, wait...). But it was just a video screen showing a montage of The Huell (Even Huell had a montage).
|The master video tapes. |
Worth their weight in...wait for it...
|Huell Howser's editing desk. The rack of manila folders contained potential show topics at the time of his retirement in late 2012...shows that were never made!|
|A display case featuring various Huell Howser mementos.|
|The archives room (note his shirt in the back).|
You can see the exhibit any time now, but if you missed the documentary screening, don't worry, Chapman plans to screen it again later this year and perhaps make a DVD out of it, with a possible airing on KCET sometime in the future.
Whether you're watching Huell's shows via Chapman's online video archive, at the university exhibit itself, or on good ol' KCET, it's easy to feel as if Huell Howser is immortal. And in a way, he is now, living on for all eternity through his numerous shows. But there were shows he never got to shoot, places he'd yet to discover, and even in the 15 months since he left us, new people, places and things worth discovering. Huell can never be replaced (though The Militant once confessed to one day being his successor), but it's the mission of The Militant, and many others out there, to fill in the void, however little we can.
And what would The Huell say to us today? Well, assuming The Militant were in fictional San Dimas and traveled in time via a funky phone booth outside of the Circle-K, going back in time to pluck Huell Howser from the not-so-distant past, he would probably say, "Be amazing to each other."
|This dude's shirt says it all.|