My Neighbor Harlan Ellison
Plus, the Ellison book that changed my life...
Nearly fifteen years ago, my wife and I moved to our current undisclosed location somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, much-maligned by most Angelenos, but deeply tolerated by those of us more in the know.
An obsessive-compulsive flâneur, I’ve tried to walk every street in and around my sprawling neighborhood, but it was almost a decade before my dog and I finally ended up on a windy hillside road that deposited us in front of this spectacular architectural oddity, with its ornate sci-fi carvings and Art Deco gargoyles:
Wait, did that sign say “ELLISON WONDERLAND”?!
Yes, the only reason I’m showing you creeper shots of another person’s home (please don’t come take pictures of my boring house) is because this world-famous future landmark belonged to the late Harlan Ellison.
I never had the honor of meeting him, but I was a huge fan of both Ellison the fearless and provocative writer of speculative fiction AND Ellison the “personality,” a cantankerous kid from Cleveland who moved to Hollywood at a young age and had a… complicated relationship with show business.
Mr. Ellison was apparently as prolific a collector as he was a writer, and as we speak, some pieces from his impressive collection are going up for auction (not linking because this isn’t an ad; you nerds with disposable incomes already know where to find it!).
Anyway, there’s a great introduction in this catalog from Harlan’s dear friend (and now Executive Director of The Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation) J. Michael Straczynski, who hopes funds raised today might, among other worthy causes, eventually help turn Ellison Wonderland into a memorial library.
So best of luck to any of you well-heeled bidders out there. Those beautiful Watchmen pages are too rich for my blood, but I’m already lucky enough to own a modest piece of Ellison memorabilia, which I’ll shamelessly show off to you generous paid subscribers after the jump.
I’ll also be giving one of you faithful Tower members a copy of the Ellison book that helped change my life.
Which book, you might be asking?
To quote Harlan from the documentary film Dreams with Sharp Teeth:
They always want the writer to work for nothing. And the problem is that there’s too goddamned many writers who have no idea that they’re supposed to be paid every time they do something. They do it for nothing! I sell my soul, but at the highest rates. I don’t take a piss without getting paid for it. I get so angry about this because you’re undercut by all the amateurs. It’s the amateurs who make it tough for the professionals. Because when you act professional, these people are so used to getting it for nothing, to mooching, and to being able to pass off this bullshit. And they don’t even send you a copy of the DVD!
To be continued, “after you cross my palm with silver!”1
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