Years and years ago. Add a few more years because we are going way back when I was living in Los Angeles, fresh out of college. I walked into a large kiosk bookstore in Hollywood one night. I picked out a collection of short stories written by Harlan Ellison and took it to the checkout counter. The man started to laugh and said, “You just missed him. He pulled up in a limo full of girls. He comes here all the time.”
Timing in life is everything and I have never had good timing. Drat. I missed Harlan Ellison.
For those of you whose cultural landmarks go back only 10 months, Ellison is a prolific writer of stories, novels, scripts, reviews and everything else. If you saw Don Johnson in a movie called “A Boy and His Dog” that is Harlan Ellison. Of course that movie is also long time passed, but one to find.
At 80 years of age Ellison is still a social and cultural gadfly, still pugnacious and opinionated, though Ellison would insist on “informed opinion,” never shy about expressing himself even at the expense of alienating those around him.
He once said, “The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen. . .and stupidity.”
In talking about his writing he said, ” I talk about the things people have always talked about in stories: pain, hate, truth, courage, destiny, friendship, responsibility, growing old, growing up, falling in love, all of these things. What I try to write about are the darkest things in the soul, the mortal dreads. I try to go into those places in me that contain the cauldrous. I want to dip up the fire, and I want to put it on paper. The closer I get to the burning core of my being, the things which are most painful to me, the better is my work.”
As to a writer getting his due, as in payment, I offer this three and half minute clip I found on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE