Harlan Ellison's Watching...

Harlan Ellison

I'm sitting in my car, my car is a 1947 Packard. I got a, I got a current car. I drive that one, but I love the Packard. I love the Packard because it was built to run, built to last. You could hit this car with 200 small Japanese cars and they would be demolished into ashes. When I go past a grade school little kids have no idea what this car is. They have no idea it was made in 1947. They don't even know there was a year called 1947. But they see this car go by and they give me that (thumbs up & OK signs) and that means they recognize something that is forever, like the pyramids.

Now, I want to talk to you about a couple of things that I think are important for you to try to remember. Things that you could help preserve the past with. I do this so that you will not be ignorant, and you will not be stupid, and you will not be uneducated. Now the first thing is the idea of the great book stores. Almost all the independent book stores are being driven out of business by these huge megalithic bookstores: the Boarders and the Walden Books and the Barnes & Nobles. Five hundered 65 million square feet push out all of the mom and pop book stores. When they do that it means that they cut out all the potential to find the books you can't get at those big book stores. Yeah, you can find Danielle Steele, you can find Stephen King, you can find Tom Clancy. But you're not going to find Gerald Kersh, you're not going to find Zoe Oldenburg, you're not going to find Cecelia Holland. What you've gotta do is remember that yeah, you're going to be able to save a couple a bucks if you go to one of the big book stores, but you're driving the mom and pop stores out of business. The same for Blockbuster. Those hideous blue and yellow stores- are they? Blue and yellow stores that crop up like a giant, like a giant pimple on the landscape. When they drive out all the little neighborhood video stores out of business it means that you're not going to be able to get all of those underground films you should be seeing, all the small films - Hell, they don't even carry NC-17 films. So I'm talking to you about not necessarily patronizing the big stores.

Now, if you'll recall, a couple of commentaries ago I talked to you about "the Golden Age of Comics". This is a set of cards that Comic Images was going to be bringing out. Well, they brought them out, this is just a sample, and each one is the cover of an old comic book with wonderful commentary on the back by Ron Goulard, the great historian of comic books and this is a way to preserve the past. This is a way, in modern terms, to save that which is good from before.

Now I was talking to you about bookstores. Here's a book that will never be sold in a Barnes & Noble. This is one of the Charnel House books (516) 887-2565. You see this? This is denim, He did the books in denim. And who is he? He is Joe Stefko. Joe Stefko is, even to this day, the drummer for the Turtles, the rock group, the Turtles. But Joe, in his spare time, he's a publisher. He does Charnel House books. He only does maybe one a year, but he produces them with such incredible love and care. And these are wonderful, beautiful books that are built to last - just like this car. Joe has got two books left that you really ought to get. One of 'em is a Dean Koontz booked called Beast Child. Beast Child sells for $150 bucks. There's only 750 copies of 'em, there's only a few left. And it's got an introduction by Dean, and it's exquisitely printed on Mohawk Vellum ends sheets of Fabriano Englese, slip cased in Iris Cloth. It's $150 bucks, not all of you can afford it. He brought it out in 1992 and there's a few of them left.

And the other is the new Tim Powers book Where They are Hid, which is a wonderful little, original, never before printed story by Tim Powers. For the most pat, you gotta know that these things existed. You gotta know that they happened, because if you think that the world is nothing but fast food and the kind of stuff that you see on the newsstands now, you should be told there was a lot that went before. And as Santana said, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it".

From Sci-Fi Buzz, episode 151

Publishing Rights to 'Harlan Ellison's Watching' copyright 1996 the Killimanjaro Corporation.