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Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 1:22 pm
Name: Jim Hess
And of course my timing sucks: Now that the board is about to circle the cyber-drain, I bring the following news:
April 21-27 is Turn Off The TV Week.
I would suggest turning off the glass teat and coming here, to learn from Harlan, but, well, shoot.
Like I said: My timing apparently sucks.
Until next time. . .
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 1:59 pm
I don't post often. When I do, I like to use the Pavillion. The big board is too noisy and the colors hurt my eyes. I like that I can go away for a day or two and find only a handful of posts to catch up on. I enjoy that. I check today to find way more than the usual amount of people in here talking about some nonsense going on that caused the big board to be shut down. After a very little bit of searching I got enough of an idea as to what had happened. I understand HE's desire for the big board to go away (for a while or forever is in Rick's hands), but it makes me sad for the Pavillion. I like the pace over here as opposed to over there. It's not as cluttered (and I don't mean that in any hurtful way to big board posters because all are welcome in either place and many post here as well) and I'll say it again...I like that. If this becomes like the big board, I'll have to leave. This place is just more my style.
Ellison, his work and topics of a related nature are the menu and one post a day is the size of your tray.
Dear HE: my sincerest apologies on mispelling Jeffty. It'd been a while since I read it and if I'd had it in front of me I wouldn't have made the mistake. I didn't mean to be sloppy.
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 3:58 pm
Name: Todd Cassel
Chris L, looking for a good Ellison recommendation. Years ago, Harlan's infamous (and absolutely terrific) interview was published in The Comics Journal. I can't remember exactly when it was....late 70's maybe? Anyway, within this interview Harlan recommended a novel called The Public Burning by Robert Coover.
I think I was in my late teens, so this had to be the late 70's. I bought the paperback, the family flew to Florida on our annual jaunt to visit the grandparents, and I kept my nose inside the pages of that book from airport to flight to drive to Miami Beach to the next two days when I finally came up for air and put on a bathing suit to get onto the business of impressing the ladies at the beach with my svelte teenage bod (ah, to be able to cut off the 60 pounds that I collected since then).
Anyway, Harlan recommended The Public Burning. He was right to do so. Damn, I gotta re-read that again someday.....
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 7:41 pm
Name: Barney Dannelke
*** Folks *** Does ANYBODY know where I might purchase the lmtd. McSweeney's #10 for something less than $86.00 ? That's just too steep for me. I have the Vintage which I purchased through Amazon and am quite content with it, but if I could pick up the limited for a reasonable price like perhaps in the $30-$40 range I am in the market. Please let me know.
*** Jay Smith *** Very nice post. I think the national mood is very much in the tank and that's got to play out in all kinds of stange ways. Perhaps this is just another manifestation.
*** Brian Siano *** Thanks for that note you passed through the wall a couple of days ago. I have memorized it and eaten the paper it was written on. When they slat up the window I replay it in my head. Oooh look, a centipede...dinner. Thanks man.
*** Rick *** Should the other board go the way of Robert Ruark novels, please give a day or two warning so that I can copy the archives. Is there any chance we can import Goldblum to the Pavillion?
*** Harlan *** My interpretation of Pavillion rules was taken from Rick's request to keep it light. I am well aware of your ability to withstand criticism even when it comes up like a gale force wind. I fully expect that if reincarnation were part of nature's plan for you that you would return as the worlds first carniverous willow tree. I mean that with respect to both you and nature.
Incidentally, I do hope you don't really see me as some sort of muckraking Eeyore or gloomy Gus. I'm sure Bill Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke have their sunny moments, but nobody much wants to read them. Of course on somedays I'm not worth reading no matter what I try. Nevertheless, the "ballpeen hammer" style seems to be what bubbles to the surface these days. I'll try to reign that in a wee bit.
And while I'm thinking about it I might as well say this in front of Webderland and the God I don't believe in. If you think for a moment that I'm waiting for you to die so that I can trash talk you, well you are mistaken. Here's a for instance - With the exception of his re-editing Twain's manuscripts of THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER to his liking I've always thought Paine did much more right than wrong in his treatment of Twain. Because he was Twain's friend Twain scholars have been kicking his ass around the block something fierce for going on 65 years now. But as kind as he was, and as much as he smoothed over rough edges and looked the other way with regard to some of Twain's, umm, testiness, Paine is still in print and that's where they [the Twain scholars] all have to start. That lesson is not lost on me. He's far from my only role model but that should still tell you something.
And in closing, to keep it light, here is a PREMEDITATED stupid question - to differentiate from the spontaneous ones.
There is NO reason to expect there to be a connection between Harlan and folks like Robert Blake, Richard Dreyfuss, Barbara Streisand, Frank Zappa, Carl Sagan, Jorge Luis Borges, Louis Lamour, H.P. Lovecraft, etc. and yet those connections are there. Given that - are there any direct connections between you and;
Ralph Ellison? - I ask this because after 28 years I'm so sick of the mental double take that I want there to be a connection, however tenuous. C'mon, amaze me.
Kevin Bacon? - because I am perverse and because of all the drinking games I could win if only there was.
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 8:55 pm
Name: Chuck Messer
First, a bit off-topic:
I'm going to be thinking of suggestions for how the yellow board, or big board or whatever might be kept from imploding from the way it has. I know, Rick, you'll be sleeping better at night knowing I'm on the job.
But maybe if I could make one suggestion based on previous times when it got all dark in there and it was hot and hurt and stuff, I'll just post it here for now. This is not aimed at anybody in particular, and I'm going to take this advice myself. I've distilled it down to three words: let it go.
Yeah, the other person is dead wrong. Yeah, they were a total jerk to you. Certainly you want a humble apology for something that five hundred years ago would have guaranteed a duel to the death.
So what? Let it go. If you don't it'll get drawn out, it'll get ugly, and worst of all, BORING. Let it go. They can't hurt you. You can't hurt them. If this particular someone is either so wrong or such a jerk they shouldn't fucking live...well, what are you going to do? Hunt them down and kill them? Do what Unca Harlan does. Banish them from your personal universe. I call it making them a non-person.
Just let it go.
Nothing at all profound, and I'm sure it's occured to most or all of you. A bit like "Buy low, sell high".
Now, on a Harlan Ellison-type topic. I first discovered this writer as just a name. Spoken or written of with great respect and admiration. It would be years before I would hear or read any nasty rumors. No, it was just this guy who wrote the best Star Trek episode (Yeah, I was young once) and who also wrote stories with some intriguing titles - I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, etc. I belonged to the Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club, and in one brochure was an anthology titled, Alone Against Tomorrow. Harlan Ellison. I bought that one and when it arrived, I read it and read it again. This was stuff that grabbed me by the belt buckle and exposed me to a visceral, fervent kind of writing I didn't know existed. I'd read some great fiction, some not so great, some just okay, but nothing quite like this. I've been hooked ever since.
Which brings up a question for you, Harlan, if you've a moment or two from your supercharged life: Who, among the writers you read as a callow youth, started you on the path that led to your career? I figure it was probably several writers, and I know of several you have admired for years, but what about when you were a kid? Was there anyone in particular or was it just the whole of what you read?
Were you ever a callow youth?
I must also apologize for mentioning Eminem
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2003 10:06 pm
Just on general principle. It IS a holiday weekend...
Poppy Z Brite comes to mind for someone with a more contemporary style as far as short stories go, not so much in the action unfolding, but for the characters involved. I don't recall being that bombastic and jaded in my 20's, but then again, I had no money...
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:23 am
I still HAVE that COMICS JOURNAL interview. The one with Gary Groth, right? I plugged that one into plastic because it was such a significant cascade of topics, insights, praises, passions, quips, gripes, and quarrelings which dragged Harlan into the wee hours o' the mornin'. You were close, but no, that was a little later: in the early 80's.
At what point in your youth did you discover ERIC HOFFER? Who turned him on to you? Did you walk the earth with personal views considerably different before absorbing his writings? Or did it reinforce your own growing observations about human nature? WHY, at the time, did he have such impact on you?
I only read one collection by him - THE TRUE BELIEVER - and I was in my teens. I recall to my amusement at one point reacting to some of his lines with restlessness. Case in point, "Never have the young taken themselves so seriously, and the calamity is that they are listened to and deferred to by so many adults". Considering the calamity previous generations of "adults" had brought to the world, I reasoned, that seemed like pretty sketchy reasoning; however self-deluded youth can be it required youth in great part to uproot the dogmas coursing through the American system for so long. Yet, the bulk of his rationalistic aphorisms absolutely drew me in and it is possible he elucidated on this subject further - that I'd missed or forgotten.
Among his arguments that stuck with me most was the premise that the members of mass movements (the nature of Faith was another), who ostensibly seek to better the lot of all mankind, are motivated not by altruism but by selfishness. This was the underlying thrust of my own arguments here in the past when I ranted about 19th century Manifest Destiny. Hoffer used Communism to illustrate, pointing out that it was not quite as beneficial to the workers of the world as it was supposed to be. "But surely we can all agree that their motivations were noble, that they were thinking only of the downtrodden, right?", he inferred. "Wrong", he exploded. He went on to argue that the Communist movement was driven by feelings of personal inadequacy and the desire to tear others down. But the important thing here is he went on to apply this problem to ALL mass movements, including Christianity, the Reformation, the Puritan, the American and French Revolutions, and many nationalistic uprisings. It's actually a strong undercurrent in general human behavior.
Hoffer's efforts to uproot the myths were profound. And, incredibly, he was self-educated. Finally going blind. It is my understanding he even remained a longshoreman, in spite of getting published. The docks: what a great backdrop to study human motivation and struggle!
So...I was wondering if you could share with us when and how he inspired you. WHICH of his collections in particular? You were jumping around the country a lot in your early days, taking in many dark realities about human nature. Was it in that course you'd assimilated Hoffer's rationalism?
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 10:04 am
Name: Tony Rabig
Probably the most comprehensive collection of Hoffer would be BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DRAGON. It's out of print now, and I don't think it turns up often in the used book shops. But your library may have a copy on hand, and if it doesn't, well, this is why God made interlibrary loan services.
Rick, et. al.:
Too bad about the other board, but it was fun while it lasted. Will plan on confining my own comments to Harlan- or book- or movie- or writing-related topics.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 10:21 am
But just to make my intent clear, I'm not pursuing that TYPE of information - though I may make use of it - so much as Hoffer's significance in HARLAN'S life, and the collection(s) that meant so much to HIM.
I believe he is the only one capable of replying to THAT.
(Sorry, Rick; I'm keeping it to One-A-Day. Just felt this clarification might be necessary).
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 2:04 pm
Name: Jim Davis
You have to admit, the lighting is MUCH better over here. It's clean, too, with satiny breezes that carry the singing of birds and the sound of dolceolas. Sure, the other place was nifty, but it was dark, and there was always the rustling of . . . things to contend with. (What kind of . . . things? Creepy, crawling, subterranean . . . things.)
CHUCK: Let WHAT go? ::wink::
HARLAN: Yeah, I meant the blue helical thingamabob. I checked out the Flaxart website (thanks, Brian), but it's not listed there. They may have it in the print catalogue, however.
As for the other thing . . .
Trust me, Harlan, we're more than cool. Yeah, I did wonder, a couple times, if you were pissed at me about something, but I just attributed it to stress, the crappy weather, and (somewhat) good-natured hazing. And if I'm honest about things, I probably DID get up your well-mashed proboscis a few times, myself. For that, I kinda sorta apologize, too. Blame it on lack of sleep due to a nasty bout of insomnia, which the attendant craziness of air travel didn't help. I was so afraid of becoming a sullen, uncommunicative lump--and bringing everyone down as a result--that I went in the opposite direction, and let Madcap Jim out of his cage. Plus, and this is going to make me look decidedly Uncool, I was just plain nervous and excited to meet you. Combine all that with my usual high-verbalness, and voila! you get a nice dose of, as you put it, hyperactivity and lan. (Hmmm . . . I was too manic for Harlan Ellison. I'll have to let that concept sink in.)
Besides, you're forgetting how warm and complimentary you were to me and all the other Webdies. (First words out of his mouth to me, folks: "Jim Davis! You're a smart cookie!") I know everyone agrees when I say, THANK YOU for spending some quiet time with us, both at the banquet and the diner. You must have had hundreds of people clamoring for your attention, so to sit down and chaw the gristle for awhile (and oh, boy, was there gristle at that banquet) was really a considerate gesture. It made a nice capper to a terrific weekend.
So don't fret. That other stuff is, as the kids say, SO September 10th.
Your occasional straight man (and I got off a few zingers, too, don't forget),
P.S. Since we're mending fences . . .
Can I please, please, PLEASE have my right kidney back? (You didn't even sterilize that spork before you rammed it in, DID you?)
P.P.S. And how the hell do you know what Paula Berman's labia looks like, ANYWAY? (Don't kill me, Paula. HE said it, not me.)
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 4:23 pm
Name: HARLAN ELLISON
No rapid-reply answers today, gang. This malaise I (and Susan, three days behind me) picked up is none other than the SuperFlu we've ben hearing about. (No, not SARS, I'm happy to say.) It is a killer. my various doctor pals tel me it takes about a month for this one to pass along. I'm 22 days into it at the moment. Don't ask. Cannot know whether we got it on the plane into New York, at the I-con with its rain and cold, in Manhatan with its rain and cold, or on the flight back to LA, with its enormous fat man a few aisles over, hacking and sneezing and coughing and never once covering that capacious maw. But we got back three weeks ago last Wednesday, early evening. I was good to go, and cleaned up most of the firestorms, a week of mail, all the phone calls that needed to be returned, and helped Susan clean the house. That was Thursday. Day and a half of catch-up, tired but at least courant. We were to leave for Cleveland two Saturdays ago as I write this. On that Thursday night IT hit me like a Peterbilt skiddin' on a funhouse mirror; and down I went. Since I only had one day before we'd be going out to do the extensive Cleveland gig, I stayed in bed all day, two Fridays ago. Full of hope and TheraFlu. No good. All we had time to do, really, was dump the dirty clothes from the NY leg of our journey out of the bags, put in clean ones for the Ohio end of it, and just soldier on. Came Saturday morning I was in cur-miserable shape. But I absolutely HAD to do the Ohio engagement. We were simply flat-broke and this was a ten-G payday. Plus we'd sell our books. So, came Saturday, dosed up on anything and everything in the medicine cabinet, with the important exception of Ex-Lax, Susan and I schlepped to LAX and -- taking incredible efforts NOT to cough, lest they bounce us off the plane -- we took flight to Cleveland. By the time we got in Saturday evening, my ears were painfully blocked, I was woozy as hell, it was raining and flurried with snow, and when I let myself start to cough, it was a tectonic thruster. But we did the dinner that night with the liaison for the committee, some longtime pals from that area, Tony Isabella, Bob Ingersoll, and Roger Price and his wife. Also, my niece Lisa and her terrific husband, Mike, my nephew Loren, and Loren's nephew from his marriage. Then we went back to the hotel and collapsed. Susan was still fit at this point, though exhausted. I was a walking baggie of phlegm containing bits of bone that ached every time I moved. On Sunday we went out with Lisa and her husband, to the Glenville Cemetery, to see my mom and dad's graves for the first time in eighteen years. Raining, snowing, gunmetal gray, and lonely. Couldn't find the markers, wandered in the rain for the better part of an hour, Mike finally located them. Graveyard worn out, "perpetual care" a joke, weeds everywhere, headstones fallen, beer bottles and fast-food wrappers blowing against the spike-iron fences in the cutting wind. Neighborhood ethnically altered from middle-class Jewish families post-1915 to about the '60s, to all Afro-American thereafter; and I suppose the descendants of those immigrant Jews, now comfortable orthodontists and corporate attorneys, in their traditional bigotry, felt it was too "dangerous" to visit ... and so the lost Glenville Cemetery fell into neglect and disuse. Not the best day I've had recently. Went back to Shaker Heights and had a spectacular fried chicken-and-waffles respite; then went back to the hotel to crap out. That was two weeks ago today. At that point, I was 5 days into the Martian Death Flu. Next day, Monday, I started doing my appearances at libraries; tv stations hooked up on educational circuits with dozens of high schools from the studio run by the Ohio library system; bookstores; writing groups and screenplay seminars; newspaper interviews; and radio call-in programs. Sixteen engagements of one sort or another, in 3 rainy days. At each and all of them pushing the North Coast Neighbors Share-A-Book event -- the book they'd chosen for everyone to read simultaneously was Ray's FAHRENHEIT 451 -- so I was Ray's emissary and the figurehead pushing the glory of libraries and reading. And dinners every night with the dozen or so committee members who wanted to see a real life "star in the flesh." However wracked, suppurating, and phlegm-bedecked he might be. (I had advised both Mike Snyder and Anne Prusha of my condition, but we'd kept it back from all the rest of them.) Suddenly, at dinner, Susan softly said she had to go lie down at the hotel, and I knew IT, the Martian Death Flu, had caught up with her, four/five days behind me. Most of Tuesday she was so horribly ill, she stayed in the hotel room. By Tuesday night I was the Walking Dead. But no one knew, because I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, one word after the last. She was up late Tuesday, and we did a long, tough gig in Geauga -- three presentations and a narrator reading for a play the kids had written on the theme of censorship. Came a busy Wednesday, culminating in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2-hour platform presentation, followed by two hours of signing, and we were both ready for the Old Folks' Home. Bleary Thursday, hideous Delta flight home, and we both went to bed. So sick next day, we both stayed there. Friday: I'm now 9 days into it, Susan is in place position with 5 days. Grim Reaper in show position, but coming up fast on the outside.
Sick unto oblivion, coughing, aching, no appetite, queasy gut, the works. All that Friday. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I'm fifteen days into it, Susan coughing her guts out for eleven.
Then comes Thursday late evening, and the "new" twist emerges. I'd been coughing so much, so hard, so deeply, that even though it seemed to be breaking up, I had strained the ligatures and carotid in my left neck and shoulder to the extent that the pain
was (and is)excruciatiing. Think of your neck as a wet terry washcloth, and after your shower you start to wring it out. That's my neck and shoulder. Both are numb. We finished off the antibacterials my doctor got us, and I'm on a muscle relaxant, but it ain't helping much. I CANNOT get out of bed now. My neck screeches at having to support my head, and I dream nightmares (when I can sleep) of my friend Stevie Scott, beautiful young Stevie, who developed a horrendous illness that destroyed her body completely before killing her, an illness that resulted in her lying in a hospital bed for months, lucid and clever as always, but quite literally disappearing, because her vertabrae could not support her head; she lay there as the bones vanished; and they buried her in pieces. I dream of that.
Foolish, I know. This will pass off soon. But hearing from Bob Silverberg that my long-time friend, and French editor, Jacques Chambon had had a massive heart atack and dropped dead in his garden at Courreges, age around his late fifties ... and the death yesterday of another good friend, the creator and editor of The Bloomsbury Review, Tom Auer, as sweet and good and talented a man as ever you'd meet ... and the death two weeks ago of my lifelong idol and close friend, novelist Howard Fast ... has only made the last 25 days more unspeakable and frightening than I can picture for you.
So, as you can see, I am limited in what I can write. No answers to queries right now. Just these three or four lines to let you know how the loop has tightened.
Three/four lines. That ought to be okay.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 5:33 pm
Name: Alex Jay Berman
FIRSTMOST: I miss the other board greatly. To be perfectly honest, it felt very much like home. And yeah; sometimes your home gets messy, and it takes more effort than you'd expected to clean it up, but home it still is; it's still the place where you lay down your head in peace beside your lover, spouse, pet, whatever, and ease away into rest.
That having been said, it's obviously been a trial for Rick, and for Harlan as well. So I will abide by any final decision which is made without too much whining.
I just don't particularly see this side of Webderland as being any "safer" than Goldblum's Roost--it can easily be heir to all the same ills the Yellowblack suffered. We should police ourselves, of course, and will--but there is no protective firebreak between this Pavilion and the trollery of the outside world; this is no cloister or monastic retreat set high upon a mountaintop.
Ah, well. Make your decision by your OWN lights, Rick--this is the sandbox in which YOU have so graciously allowed us to play.
HARLAN: I don't suppose some good chicken soup would help?
In a more serious vein, do get well. I might get sick only rarely, but I well know the fun of throwing out muscles with coughing--one New Year's, I was all but paralyzed when a sneeze blew out the muscle running from shoulders to scalp, and couldn't move, laugh, swallow, cough, or anything without some serious discomfort.
As to the gravesides ... I don't generally visit the graves of my loved ones. One reason is that our relatives screwed up the negotiations or whatevers with the one graveyard, so I don't think my grandfather and grandmother on the one side have a fully-engraved stone over their graves--in fact, last I remember, it lay off to the side, with only my grandfather's info etched thereon.
But the greater reason is that I don't believe I HAVE to. No matter if that's where their bodies were buried, my grandparents and the others I've loved now gone are simply not THERE. They'll live on in my memories and in the love I still carry for them.
I don't need to go to a cemetary to talk to them; I talk to them even now, whenever I need. And no; they don't ever talk back a la Aunt Babe, but I don't need them to. I hear them all the time, in things they've said years ago or in what I know they WOULD say.
(And no; I don't believe in any life after death--if I do turn out to be wrong, I'll be very pleasantly, happily surprised to meet up with them again. But it's not something I'm counting on.)
(And DAMN it! I don't BELIEVE that I missed the news about Howard Fast's passing. Shit shit uber-shit. Time to reread some more books ...)
One last thing, Harlan: THANK YOU for your work on behalf of libraries. I'm a "Friend of" three of our public libraries here in Philly and have been writing representatives over the boneheaded scheme to cut their funding, this time PAST the bone. If ANYTHING deserves support in this day and age, libraries get my monetary vote alla time.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 6:18 pm
Name: Chuck Messer
Holy jumpin' Jehovah. Harlan and Susan, I hope your bout with this bug doesn't go on for too much longer. I can't suggest anything you don't already know, all I can do is say something useless like I hope you're both feeling better as soon as possible.
May your rest be free of nightmares, the both of you. Especially the one you just described. Yike.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 7:14 pm
To Ray's Dear Emissary,
I had no idea recent weeks were so rough. I'm sorry about all that. I'd have delayed my Hoffer query if I'd known.
When you have an opportunity I - as do many of us, I'm sure - look forward to your remembrance of Hoffer, how you discovered him, and what it meant to you at the time. I should think the topic would hold interesting memories for you. And your recounts will most likely be quite enlightening.
Until then, you and Susan kick back and get well.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 7:28 pm
Name: Alejandro Riera
Jesucristo! I am at awe. With all that you are going through health-wise you still had enough strength to post an update on the board! No, we are not worthy. I could channel my Cuban mother's soul and scream "OFF TO BED YOU GO, YOUNG MAN (with assorted Spanish curses sprinkled in) but all I'll say is: Sir, you are truly indomitable. No doubt about it. Get well, man. Susan needs you. (It's allergy season for me right now. No hacking my lungs out. Just a runny nose and watery eyes which makes reading and writing that much difficult.)