How the hell is anyone supposed to blog in this weather?
Don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the woods, but here in LA the heat has been unprecedented — my God, Al Gore was right! One hundred degrees each day, which is bad enough, but the usual soothing ocean breezes that waft through apartments and car windows have failed, too, leaving even strong gusts dry and hot as hell. Unless you have AC — and many people in LA don’t, because you usually never need it — you are screwed. I can only imagine what the good people of Queens and St. Louis are going through.
Meanwhile, the July ish of The Cimmerian is still being put together with less than a week left in the month, and Howard fan Al Lane — who many of you met in Cross Plains at this year’s Howard Days — is in town and staying at Fortress Grin. For the last month Al has been on an ambitious vacation, driving solo from San Antonio westward and staying in campgrounds, each day visiting a plethora of museums, national parks, and events like ComiCon. Over the last few weeks he’s been to Nevada, Oregon, Northern California, and San Diego, and now he’s in the City of Angels, looking to have the kind of fun us pulp fans enjoy. Today was spent traipsing around Hollywood looking for various stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, ones specifically dear to a fan’s heart — Gene Roddenberry, Boris Karloff, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, etc. We also hit some of the best movie book and memorabilia stores in the world, where after many years of looking Al was able to score some stills from sundry episodes of The Twilight Zone he’s always wanted. Made a pit stop at the Kodak Theater, site of the Academy Awards, where Al was suitably impressed by the gargantuan Babylon decor, stone elephants atop massive pedestals decorated with glyphs. Those of course are from the classic D. W. Griffith film Intolerance (1916), but I like to think of them as “The Towers of the Elephant.” You understand.
After our Hollywood jaunt, we headed over to the home of Rah Hoffman and Donald Sidney-Fryer for hours of pulp talk and book signing. Those two — eighty-five and seventy-two years old respectively — are fountains of knowledge, and have thousands of stories to tell about the old days. Al was thrilled to hear Rah talk of Charles Hornig — editor of The Fantasy Fan and a correspondent of REH’s — coming over to Rah’s house in the ’40s, picking up one of his old copies of Weird Tales, and inhaling deeply of what he thought was the Sweetest Scent in the world — rotting pulps! Rah also told us of his friendship with Robert Barlow, and how he once bought Barlow’s copy of Ebony and Crystal by Clark Ashton Smith for $5. He showed us photographs of his visit to Smith in 1941, the first of several, where he rode from LA to San Francisco in the trunk of a car with none other than Emil Petaja, another corespondent of Howard’s. Emil was the guy who Howard sent his poem “Cimmeria” to, the copy with the now-famous inscription detailing its genesis. He also wrote a wonderful poem dedicated to Howard at his death that was reprinted decades later in Glenn Lord’s The Howard Collector. Rah even showed us the picture CAS took of Rah, perhaps the only known photo composed and shot by Smith himself. Al was most bowled over by Rah’s amazing Hannes Bok painting hanging over his fireplace, an original commissioned by Rah, with Rah giving Hannes the basic gist of the types of characters he wanted represented — a green naked demon lady, a strange bat-like creature — and Hannes taking it from there. All of this neglects the hundreds of other stories and artifacts which Al saw this night, plus he got all of his Smith books signed by DSF.
So even with the heat boiling our blood and frying our brains, the dog days of summer haven’t been a total bust. Tomorrow it’s another day of sightseeing with Al, checking out the La Brea tarpits, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Natural History Museum, and — as a special treat — I’m taking him to the grave of one of his movie idols, the late great Bela Lugosi. Wednesday Al heads back to Texas, while I knuckle down and get the July issue finished. And hopefully at long last this heat wave will break, once again making it possible to think about blogging.