i had lunch with ray bradbury. yes i did. he was in miami for the miami bookfair, and a friend, kermit christman, a theatrical and schlock movie director asked me if i wanted to go. why did i get to go? i was at that time, the theater critic for the palm beach post, and i knew that there was a certain amount of suck up involved, but hey. this is ray bradbury. i can stand it for an afternoon. also there besides kermit was my best friend (an actor that opened a bohemian coffee house) in palm beach and his wife. ray was just like you wanted him to be, you know? harlan ellson suggests you shouldn't meet the author of a book you love, you compare him to the books. ray was talkative, he would listen, and a delicious lunch that i must have actually eaten, but i don't recall a bite. i was afraid of having food in my mouth when he asked me a question and choking to death. he was delighted to be himself, and the conversation became something george s. kaufman could only dream of. i asked him what he was working on, and he said "plays, great gouts of plays. and i felt like he wanted to cast us in the next production. i could feel the static electricity in my hair. i could have lit cleveland for months. "you're the writer, right?" well, yeah. actually, ray, you have read me before. i reviewed the stories of ray bradbury for the st. petersburg times, and...well...i sent it to ray. and i told him so, and he said.
did i invite you out to lunch in the letter?" "well, yes you did. he smiled and opened his arms ecstatically. "and here you are!" the letter hangs on my wall. i know i told you then, but you were the first writer to play with the language i ever read, and that's how come i am still a writer. let's play
When was this? I would be the same way--not remembering eating. I am totally jealous of you!! I met Ray once at a book signing when he was in Chicago promoting the Wonderful Ice Cream Suit movie, but of course at a book signing the book store employees keep shoving you along, so I got to talk to him for only about three minutes, but even then it was one of the highlights of my life. I also went to the movie premiere the next evening where both Ray and the director had a question/answer session. It was a great evening. So tell us, what kinds of things did you talk about over lunch?
when i was 7 years old, my brother michael gave me a copy of october country. "try this," he said. i did. i sat in the grapefruit tree in our backyard from 9 that morning till 4 that afternoon, and ate 2 pounds of fig newton while i read. i haven't touched a fig newton since, but every word bradbury writes is balm for my feverish head.
I love that story!! He has that effect on us, doesn't he? And I might add that I'm very impressed by the fact that you were only 7 when you read that book. Not many 7 year olds are reading that kind of material.
he was hipped on these short movies he was going to write "classic ghost stories, h'm? he told us one of the stories, and i am sorry to say i can't remember a word of it. but i remember how i felt after he was done. the dimly lit restaurant was suddenly cold and dank. i of course had some books to sign, one for my brother michael, and the anniversary martian chronicles, and a proof of the toynbee collector, the book i review that put me on this road. i went to shake his hand. threw his arms open a gathered me in for a hug and kissed my cheek. my father died when i was five. my mother liked that i was quiet, "all the time reading since he was 2 1/2." and the books told me what to do. it was like holding my father one last time, i couldn't let go.
carl barks showed me that the only difference between an adventure and a catastrophe is who's alive in the end, walt kelly gave me a wonderful gentle world to live in, john stanley's little lulu was written by someone who knew what being a kid was like. and harvey kurtzman reminded me "what -- me worry?"
but ray gave me a place to stand, something to shoot for. and i love him.
and bradbury put you among crystal towers
I think peteria is making some of this stuff up. ( Or the Hyberbole Button is stuck.) Maybe its challenge time...on this one...
Imshipper: Also, what year was that for Ice Cream Suit in Chicago? 1975 approx?
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 01-11-2003).]
i think i will not defend myself. instead i shall retire from the field of play. those of you who do not call people "liars," good luck keeping manners afloat here. i won't be back.
Hey, just for the record, peter1a is no relation to me. I'm sorry his feelings were hurt but I guess I wasn't following his posts close enough to say one way or the other if he was telling the truth. Left awful quick, I think.
I am referring to the movie, not the play, so it was only about three years ago. (I don't remember the exact year, but I guess I could run downstairs to look at the video box to get it. However, laziness overtakes me.)
If you are talking about the movie...
Ice Cream Suit...
that was 1998. The original showing was at the old "Fine Arts Theater" on Michigan Ave. This could probably be the only theatrical showing, since it was produced for Video and not theater....(Were you there??)
If you were, then you remember that Ray was there with producer, Stuart Gordon. It was snowing that night....and Ray walked in covered with light snow....
On the other hand, the play was in Chicago around 1975-76, at the Organic Theater....(same producer, Stuart Gordon.) Afterwards, I'd stop at a bar nearby where some of the actors would hang out. One evening, 3 of the actors from the play were sitting at the bar, and...as I walked in...if ever I would loved to have had a tape-recorder, this was one of those times....one of them turned to me and said, "Hey, Nard...we're all going to Los Angeles to do acting". (I swear to this day I believe they said,... we're going to LA to become 'famous actors'...but, who can say?)...
The fellow that said that to me was Dennis Franz.... next to him nodding with agreement was Joe Mantegna, and next to Joe, also in agreement, was...Meschach Taylor, who went onto 'Design Women' fame...
Irv Kupcinet came to the play one afternoon, with Harry Belefonte. A quarter thru the play, there was Irv Kupcinet, snoring away... Never figured out what that was all about... He was either bored, tired, indifferent, or being a rascally critic.
Yes, I was at the Fine Arts Theater. The day before, I had seen Ray at Stars Our Destination, when it was still on Belmont. (I looked up your profile, and found you are in Chicago, which I moved out of last March. I am thinking about moving back because without the requisite minivan, I find I just don't fit in Naperville!!) Anyway, I loved your story about those actors. I have enjoyed the work of all of them. The movie was great, as was the question/answer session. I found myself hanging on every word that came from Ray's mouth. Although I don't teach The Martian Chronicles at the present, I still teach a sci fi/fantasy unit with several of his stories. Every year I take about two periods to discuss Ray with my students, and each year I usually pick up 3-5 new fans for him. I love it!! By the way, one year I had a School Board member question my inclusion of The Veldt in the unit. He felt it was inappropriate because of the "cold-blooded, premeditated murder of parents." I also had a mother remove her daughter from studying The Martian Chronicles back when I taught it. She hadn't read it, but felt "the cover was inappropriate." How ironic. I think Ray would get a chuckle out of those incidents!!
I never have experiences like these. I obviously need to get out more!
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