"NOBODY ever wrote a story positing the social dynamic of bad manners, road rage, viciousness, death of simple courtesy swamp in which we now, universally, find ourselves mired. Nowhere in even the most inventive, future-savvy ratiocinations of the best futurists extrapolating everyday society--and that would be Pohl & Kornbluth--did ANYONE write a book or story that addressed what we're bemoaning here, Shadow and Chuck."
The warnings of science fiction writers quite possibly have spared us any number of dystopian outcomes. Then again, you never hear the bullet that gets you.
I've thought that "Along the Scenic Route" pretty much predicted road rage ...
REPLY TO CLIFFORD METH
And anyone else who doesn't know...
The entire YOUTUBE "Harlan Ellison" Channel is the work of two of my friends--but one more than the other--who Punk'd me into it, kicking&screaming.
JOSH OLSON is the chief malefactor. World-famous scenarist and Oscar Finalist for the brilliant film directed by David Cronenberg, "A History of Violence," and co-author with me of the MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION episode "The Discarded." And the writer, monologist, raconteur, stand-up comedian and actor, PATTON OSWALT. These are close "friends" of mine, whose need to display their affection for me sloshes over into a pathological need to "make me universally known and beloved" to total strangers in Darfur and the Maldives.
They thought, with our mutual friend, the rockstar/performance artist/singer Otep, that wouldn't it be a great lark to have a Harlan Ellison YouTube Channel. Yeah, right. Then YouTube decided i didn't exist.
I am at once horrified, dreadstruck and guilty-grateful beyond expression to Josh and Patton. I cannot, even at length, express the mixed emotions that assail me daily by the mere existence of this creation. Yet I cannot kill them. It would be ungracious.
But lay the dead chicken at the proper doorstep.
Responsible for the YouTube Ellison Phenomenon are Olson and Oswalt. Burke and Hare. Alphonse and Gaston. Mutt and Jeff.
Shyly, Yr. Pal, Harlan
FIST-BUMP TO THE SHADOW & CHUCK MESSER
Your recent posts/interchanges anent the meanspiritedness and trollery gone universal and virulent via the devil-handmaidens tv, internet, google, facebook, faux-anonymity are as one with the gardyloos and panegyrics I've been clarioning here and everywhere else for at least 20 years. I'm not trying to muscle into your chat, or make myself out to be a latter-day Charles Fort-cum-Nostradamus, but I drop in here merely to point out that NOWHERE in the long backstory of science fiction, the thousands and thousands of stories and books that predicted VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING (with one exception that Arthur C. Clarke brought to the sf community's amazed awareness in a PLAYBOY article, if I remember correctly), predicted EVERY goddam thing you can think of, no matter how ESP or Loch Ness Monster improbable, EVERYTHING...
NOBODY ever wrote a story positing the social dynamic of bad manners, road rage, viciousness, death of simple courtesy swamp in which we now, universally, find ourselves mired. Nowhere in even the most inventive, future-savvy ratiocinations of the best futurists extrapolating everyday society--and that would be Pohl & Kornbluth--did ANYONE write a book or story that addressed what we're bemoaning here, Shadow and Chuck.
SF was too busy gazing at the stars and into the atom to consider the horrendous universe of the Infobahn and what it would do to something as basic as "Thank you very much" and "You're welcome."
Now I leave your marvelous, accurate, justified discussion.
Also weary, Yr. Pal, Harlan
DELICIOUS LOVING REPLY TO CAROL COOPER
That's a good day for a visit from one of my favorite friends, be-CAUSE, at 12:30 that day, my good friend Naren Shankar (recently resigned as one of the Executive Producers of the new ABC-tv show "Almost Human"--a 3rd generation "reboot" of the 1960s "Future Cop" series with Ernest Borgnine--via ROBOCOP and BLADE RUNNER--o gawd, they have stolen so much they don't even understand the theft any more--and "Future Cop" was a ripoff of the script I had written for ABC and Paramount based on my, and Ben Bova's, novelette "Brillo" as published in ANALOG and then reprinted in my PARTNERS IN WONDER--which prompted my first lawsuit, back in 60something, which resulted in my first big win after a four week jury trial in Federal District Court, affording me the largest judge&jury verdict $$$$ in the history of Hollywood to that time, for naked theft and plagiarism, which we proved with smoking guns a-plenty--and down through the decades we come, iteration after iteration from BRILLO to "Future Cop" to "Almost Human" which is a very good incarnation of my and Ben's original story about the first human cop paired with a robot--"Brillo" is, in street idiom, "metal fuzz"--on a street beat in Upper Manhattan--and though the new show bears such names as JJ Abrams and a guy named Wyman as the "creator," well...no, I ain't gonna sue: the Electronic Age has made everything I and Victor Hugo and Dumas and John O'Hara and Joyce Carol Oates ever wrote so easy to see, parse, recollect, remember-and-forget, and then summon up as "new," that suing "Almost Human" is a Magnificent Foolish Enterprise...)
Finishing a long ( ): On that day...
My friend Naren Shankar, with his beautiful wife Shireen, will be having lunch here on 7 December, was the writer who adapted my and A.E. van Vogt's story (also in PARTNERS IN WONDER) "The Human Operators" when he was in Canada writing for the rebooted OUTER LIMITS series. And he (thus I) won the Canadian Writers Guild Award for best teleplay. Naren browbeat the Canadian Writers Guild into making me a separate one of the handsome award icons, which I have here at Ellison Wonderland, and we became fast friends. He now lives in Beverly Hills with Shireen and their daughter, and has worked MANY tv shows as writer, producer, line producer, et al. He is a great success story, a fine man, a good writer, and my friend.
Yes, Carol, m'love, by all means come to the Lost Aztec temple of Mars on 7 December and lunch with your old chum and Stars.
As always, great bests, Yr. Pal, Harlan
You continue to be an inspiration to many writers. I was very interested in your newest collection,Honorable Whoredom. It was of particular interest when, in the video on you tube, you pointed out how you would hammer away at new stories late into the evening ( no doubt, every evening) at a penny a word just to stay afloat month after month. Those must have been some amazing times.
So I bought a copy and should be reading it here by mid- December. Hopefully I helped contribute a bit toward the electric bill this month. Stay well.
Frank Zubek from Cleveland
...Most all the Independent book stores here have closed I almost fainted when I saw a full color tabloid insert Sunday for Wild Iris
book store I know they had closed the old store on University Ave &
moved to smaller digs...
In late breaking news Barnes & Nobles lost lease at Butler Plaza & is offering most of it's stock @ 40% off & deeper discounts I
expect closer to Dec. 31st.I hope to pick up a copy of the Ring books in the boxed set I lost years ago....
Susan if you would be so kind to find a copy of the Dangerous Visions & Again Dangerous Visions set & let me know if I can buy them before they sell out :) I'll send a M/o & lots extra s/h :)
It's ironic that Mr. Ellison suddenly believes in God just because he rematerialized.
Harlan Ellison's Watching
I am so thoroughly enjoying this series of videos on YouTube. Who do I thank for this effort? I'd offer you my first born but he's all fucked up and you wouldn't want him.
Make that: Eric Hoffer.
Now I'm off to exile on main street!
Note to Chuck, and an addendum to the Internet discussion
First, that should have been nobody's -- must've been wearing my gloves when I typed.
Second, Chuck: all of that -- the experiments on human nature, etc. -- was previously known to me, and would've been included in the "Sure" summation, but I didn't want to go on at great length, as I've done now.
Despite your minor protestations -- I note minor, because I think even you and those who try to break through the "barrier" have trouble believing otherwise -- the plain fact remains that evidence of ongoing, meanness and cruel remarks and base behavior so on, not only continues at a steady pace, sometimes it goes into overdrive, depending on the headlines and such.
Anonymity is a part of it, but the graffiti nature of it -- posting words that will be read for a long while afterward -- is also part of it, I believe. Also some sort of strange, twisted new idea of instant fame -- or attention -- has something to do with it. And power. After all, those that stir the pot on the internet can sometimes affect dozens maybe even hundreds of lives with their cruel games and words. And often go off and live their daily lives, guilt free; perhaps even convincing themselves that what too place wasn't all that real so it doesn't really matter.
I know there was a similar case that took place on Webderland with one disturbed person pretending to be a married couple, one of whom was supposedly dying of terminal cancer. I believe one of the names used was "Scotty". But that was just one drop of water in an ocean of the same.
People have been "playing" these sorts of "games" for a long time, in person on the phone, etc. Even if it's just on the dank and dark part of human nature that wants to say something bad about someone who is enjoying success when we ourselves are not,
it is my belief that the internet has opened the floodgates to the worst parts of the human psyche and now they are display, twenty four hours a day, 7 days a week, at a PC screen near you.
Remember that Eric Hoeffer quote?
" What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds".
The thing is, the internet allows people to unleash their "monsters" all day long, with little or no fear of retribution.
"...statue of limitations..." cracked me up
Because it was funny,
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving folksderlanders
Several social experiments showed that given a certain anonymity, say with a mask or a two-way mirror, that an individual can feel free to commit acts they otherwise would not dare to do, such as shock the living hell out of a human subject.
That's what the interwebz gives us -- anonymity, if we so wish. I'm not talking about having a nom de keyboard, but even those of us that use their real names are still anonymous, faceless. Some of us try to break that barrier, some use it to let their asshole flag fly.
Dear Harlan and Susan:
A semi-idle question. Might the two of you be home and of a mind to be (as people said in the Gilded Age of calling cards and silver trays) "receiving" during daytime hours on the date above? Fate may have me briefly passing through your town.
The Theory of Ezra
Your theory has one large hole in it: TV doesn't explain trolls and the many -- MANY! -- hateful, cruel, damaging and oft-times just generally mean-spirited comments that can be found on nearly every spot on the internet that sports a comments section or a forum of some sort. Whether it be then endlessly snarky, nearly always cruel remarks/comments almost always made by men toward women and their bodies or faces (with said men almost always being nobodies idea of fine physical specimen), to the brainless criticism of writers, musicians and other creative types, or the Monday morning "quarterbacking" of those who weigh in on political situations and figures.
Sure, people have always spread mean gossip and innuendo across the backyard fence, sure nattering nabobs have always sat around the boob tube and let loose the vitriol, but the internet...well, the internet is a whole new piece of dark magic which has managed to unleash the most envious, feckless, dishonorable, disconnected (in the most important ways), constantly disapproving, disgusting bits of humanity that ever swirled around the bottom of a tidy bowl.
Yeech, I say.
Oswald/Movie etiquette/extinct frogs
I am convinced Oswald acted alone because there's never been any evidence otherwise.
The real culprit behind the lack of manners and etiquette among moviegoers is not the internet, it's television. People sit in front of the tube and talk while watching and this behavior is carried over to the theater.
Not devastating or world shaking but just sad. One of the species of frogs that Darwin discovered on his explorations has been declared extinct. Had we the brains there's a lesson there I think. A warning?
Bugliosi is slightly inebriated; he thinks Lennon wrote the song Helter Skelter and continues with that canard to this day. Hasn't anyone EVER told him it was McCartney. Of course not, because McCartney only writes silly love songs, right.
Harlan in Variety Frank on the Grassy Knoll
Since your review of "Twelve Years a Slave" wasn't in the newsstand edition of VARIETY, could you possibly post it for us here?
Frank Church, first you proclaimed it's "pretty obvious by now that Oswald acted alone." Why, because Vince Bugliosi says so? I've actually read all 1506 pages of his tome; well-done, but it's a prosecutor's (not very) brief by a former prosecutor, not an even-handed examination of the case. Then you said you didn't care who killed Kennedy, because it's been fifty years. What's the statue of limitations on caring about when one of our elected leaders who, as you aptly put it, "serve us," gets their brains blown out on a public street? Forty years? Twenty? Ten? When the ink dries on the Warren Report? Now it's Vietnam. JFK hagiography aside, there's plenty of evidence he was planning to pull out after the '64 elections, and certainly wouldn't have gone full tilt LBJ. It's certainly an open question that historians will debate forever. Just come clean and admit you hate Kennedy because got laid a lot more than you and had better hair.
Conspiracy Monger Mark
In my experience, there is no worse feeling than coming face to face with a bear on a hiking trail and at that very moment realizing that your backpack contains a partially consumed packet of smoked salmon.
On Ceasing to Exist
I enjoyed the new video upload "On Ceasing to Exist" by Harlan Ellison on his YouTube channel. I think I wrote here of a dream I had of him where he continued to exist when everything else disappeared. He was standing in his kitchen in his bathrobe, making coffee. He had just put on a recording of Bill Evans's "You Must Believe in Spring." He had his back to me the whole time, but I could tell it was him. As the music swirled through out the kitchen, he was stirring his coffee on the counter. Slowly everything in the kitchen began to slowly fade and disappear...everything but him...Soon everything disappeared into a white limbo background; only he remained, still stirring his coffee with his invisible spoon....
I have a few days off and relaxing at home. Today I listened to a lot of music. I came across an incredibly beautiful performance by the classical guitarist Frederic Hand, who has aged very gracefully. He played on the soundtrack of KRAMER VS KRAMER, and even plays a cameo in the film as a street musician. I have always admired his musicianship--he is "a musician's musician."
Anyway, the gorgeous piece he performs here is his own composition called "Prayer"(an homage to J.S. Bach). Listening to it made me shed tears of joy....
You're welcome. Always happy to help.
The More You Know...
If you get too close to a rattlesnake, it rattles (duh). If you get to close to a water moccasin, it coils up and show you its white mouth, basically doing a serpentine Samuel L. Jackson impression, just DARING you to say "what" one more time. But most of the time, they beat feet (so to speak) before you get near them.
For over ten years, I've walked around the walking path at work--a nice .75 mile circuit that I do two laps on in the afternoon, weather permitting. I've seen a number of snakes over the years, never venomous, always swiftly slithering away.
Of course, what I didn't know until recently is that copperheads are a little different. They're small, their venom isn't strong, so they don't want you to notice them at all, even if you get close. So if you get close to them, they just freeze.
And so it was that I was zooming around a curve, and the train of thought went something like this:
Oh, hey, that's an odd looking sti--MOTHERFUCKER!!!
And I slam on the brakes two feet away from the damn thing. Given the year it's been, I wouldn't have been surprised if I had rolled my ankle and fallen on the damn thing.
So I just pull up short, having almost stepped on the damn thing. And it *still* hasn't so much as twitched, stretched out straight across the path, a little under two feet long, nicely concealed in the dead leaves.
So now I do laps around the parking lot. Walking on a treadmill just drives me nuts.
I see many references to the show DOCTOR WHO, Frank, but nothing about a "space movie" is grabbing my attention. If anyone is particularly bothered by the bad science of DOCTOR WHO then he (or she) is missing the point. The show (which began as a childen's series) has never been about scientific accuracy, but about the monsters and the characters.
Let me interrupt the flow of political excrescence (interrupted by some Harlan stuff) with a recommendation that all you forthwith make your way to Harlan Ellison's You Tube Channel and partake of his verbal essay on his flirtation with non-existence. It is a Pearl of Great Price. Truly.
"Angelina Jolie's lips threaten me."
COURTESY REPLY TO EDWARD COPPAGE
REASONABLE QUERY. My slight trepidation in re answering with florid specifics is merely another manifestation of my determination to stay comfortably flat-footededly au courant in the 20th century, with a reluctant but necessary toe (such as this post, out of courtesy) in the electronic omnipotent 21st century. (Adam-Troy Castro's exquisite panegyric anent the babbling of an audience at a film needing no Voiceover is a footnote to my stance.) Giving away too much specific geographical description makes the Google targeting too easy for those wads who think running up a triptych map of my home as a lark, to be inevitably used by some Lex Luthor/Dr. No/Enemy of Ellison nutwad with a heat-seeking missile. I need no rebuke from anyone pursuant to my paranoia: if you recall, only last week YouTube decided I didn't exist at all; AND Dr. Richard Kimble was paranoid, thought he was being stalked and..y'know what...HE WAS!
I live on a mountaintop in the middle of Los Angeles. I can see, from the balcony of my office here at The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars, clear across the San Fernsndo Valley to the cloud-topped San Bernardino Mountains (what we call "The San Berdoos") at least thirty-five miles away. Behind me is Fossil Ridge (where Edgar Rice Burroughs took his family from Tarzana on muleback picnics in the early 1900s). I, Carl Sagan, and Arnie Newman, the writer and naturalist, who is my neighbor down around the curve, saved the 300-acre Ridge from a Dutch builder-developer cartel in the '60s/'70s, and it is now owned in perpetuity by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. It can never be touched, the view out my livingroom and kitchen and Tower windows.
On the nether side of ERB Hillside, as I call it, was a swale--a lowering to a small valley--and then another ridge to the east of me, which I could not see. The Cartel managed to snag that. (The story of how Carl and Arnie and Leonard Nimoy and I beat them back from HERE is one of my very best Zorrolike stories...but long and intricate.) Moving on. The Dutch Cartel lopped off that next ridge east of me, bulldozed it into the valley between me and the rest of the world, and proceeded to build a multi-billion-dollar tract where such as Charlie Sheen and Brittany Spears wile away their noisome lives. We are never free of the jangleclash of copters circling overhead, night and day. Ah! The wonderful 21st Century and its junkie need to chronicle the every vapid moment of the Not-Great and Never-Will-Be. But I digress, as my friend Peter david is wont to say.
Behind my house is the 300 acres of watershed land. Reparian vegetation. Gully. Trees sloping down through iceplant, English ivy, poison ivy, shrubs, bushes, and well as I said, reparian vegetation; to the shallow, narrow, dry waterway gully that slopes up to the ERB Ridge, Fossil Ridge, millions-of-years-old natural and biological artifacts. Stuff.
At the top of the Ridge. Too steep for motorbikes, random sparks, decimating fire that hasn't happened behind me in the nearly-50 years I've lived here in Ellison Wonderland. Because Sagan, Newman, Nimoy and Ellison saved the land in 1967 or so.
Down the backside of ERB Ridge, is the dwellingmansion Tract of the Damned.
The wildlife here is plentiful because it's now one of the few through-passages of green land between the Valley and the Low Mountains. No bears, at least none I've seen since I got to this area in 1962. But: mountain lion, catamount, bobcat, skunk, gopher, racketycoons, coyotes, rattlesnakes, deer, possum, rabbits of several varieties, quail, hawks, jays and other rara avis.
I sit on a road that curves and slopes down through to the Valley, and thus--save from my office upstairs or through a random window--I see no other houses or buildings or commercial uglinesses. No stucco-mountain mansions of the Poppit People, no barbed wire (save that razor-ribbon I installed to protect my beloved gargoyles from idle theft), no industrial plazas, no pod-malls, no fallingdown tarpaper shacks with a rusting auto chassis in the frontyard weeds. I live in an Eden of my own, and Nature's making.
No, Mr. Coppage, though I have stood within seven feet of a VERY LARGE reared-up on his hind legs bear (variety of which I was too petrified with fear to designate now, years later) on trek with the novelist William Kotzwinkle in New Brunswick, below the Arctic Circle, I have never otherwise been hands-on near enough to a bear to consider having been "attacked" by same.
I have told you too much already. I hope you are content.
Yr. Pal, Harlan
Post a New Message or see previous ones in the Comments ArchiveReturn to the Harlan Ellison Home Page