Archive | October, 2018

The Parsippany Persona Non Grata Picture Show: The Lament of Passing Ships on Lake Parsippany

31 Oct

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Welcome back to yet another yearly sojourn to all my past, present, and future – the roots of the area that molded my great majestic liberal thinking cap and its’ imminent escape: the horrific mental anguish of growing up in Parsippany, NJ.

I promise myself every year as long as I have a generous income pouring in that I would be checking in once a year on my mother who still thinks it’s a real hoot to be still living there, even though she complains on a daily basis of how much the town is going to shit with the all political corruption, the property taxes going through the roof and the shitload of immigrants coming in via Mumbai to sweep up all the mom and pop businesses located all along Route 46.

Looks as if time has completely stood still since the last time I dropped in. Last year I focused on the little area I used to hang out to the northwest of my mom’s house called Lake Hiawatha. In this annual sojourn, I focus on the area south of me, Lake Parsippany sprinkled with yet even remarkable origin stories from my youth.

And a lot of these stories at this go around have a lot with Batman.

The mission this time around was to somehow get Danika Yarosh’s latest movie, The Miracle Season into the hands of her estranged Freeman clan. The ones that her mom, who I used to date on and off through high school, has mysteriously cut her off from communicating with. Her grandmother was a little under the weather, so I had to get the dvd copy of Danika into the hands of her aunt Lisa in the hope that somehow that she could set up a dvd player at her mom’s house, so that she could at least watch some piece of her granddaughter’s work before shifting off this mortal coil (and why not bedsprings too? Why does it always have to be coils?)

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Personally, the movie was a chore to sit through. Something better off left in the basement level of the forgotten tv movies hidden in the deep dark syrupy vaults of The Hallmark or Lifetime Channel, never to be shown on cable. To be honest, Danika’s and her co-star Erin Moriarty’s performances as the tragic high school girl volleyball superstar Caroline Line (Yarosh) Found and her best friend (Moriarty) Kelley Fliehler are the BEST and only thing worthy of saving this piece of junk from total oblivion. I have never beheld such wooden performances from such seasoned thespians William Hurt as Caroline’s father and Helen Hunt as disheveled coach Kathy Bresnahan that I was wishing that I would’ve rather watched snot dry underneath my desk at work to find any worthy redeeming entertainment value of this snoozefest. Screenwriter David Cohen of Friday Night Lights fame can’t really seem to find a way to capture lightning twice in terms of finding that follow-up sports film to rival his biggest hit. I tried to get this movie booked at work and I can see why I wasn’t successful in convincing the committee to get it to screen it to our fellow union members. And it’s budget truly shows. A lot of the Vancouver area sets made up to look like an Iowa farm look as if they were borrowing  dumpster dived dusted up props from the CW decade old Superman teen angst series, Smallville.

Upon arrival at JFK, I had to grab a airtrain to The A subway line to Port Authority. Wandering the terminal I came across a miniature 2nd Floor Candyland.

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I didn’t bother to ask what the gimmick was all about. I passed by an entire bevy of them as I fought through the commuter rush bursting out of the arrival gates (it got too hectic that I had to conceal myself from the stampede approaching me in a nearly Dunkin’ Donuts and wait until the herd thinned itself out. Then I proceeded to the ticket purchase window selling Lakeland Bus tickets to make my final jaunt to Parsippany, NJ.

$11.50 for a one way ticket. It costs me $3.50 EVERY DAY for me to commute back and forth between West Los Angeles where I work to my home in Sherman Oaks. 2 buses and a subway train. That’s three and half trips I could make on what you have to pony up in metropolitan transportation costs.

So far, despite the ok airfare ($350 roundtrip to and from Burbank), I took a Airtrain ($7), to subway $2.75) and a bus for ($11.50). That’s $20.00 give a penny or two. How in the fuck is someone supposed to make a living out there? And people jump on my ass for saying that Los Angeles is too expensive to live.

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Got back into the regular idyllic Parsippany suburban life routine. My mom’s dog, Bebe is still hanging in there, and of course, with my mom at the age of 75 STILL working two jobs (yeah, thanks a lot TRUMP taxcut), it had befallen unto me to take her out twice a day for a walk.

Now, I thought that we had an understanding between Bebe and I: a two shit minimum. I bring out three plastic bags. Two for pick up, one for storage. But this old hag (she’s 12 now) tried to bend the rules a bit when we would do the rounds to Lake Hiawatha School (where I attended 1st grade along with classmate James Vigilante who became involved heavily with local politics and had passed away some four years back) and upon heading back and had filled her minimum requirement and welch on our deal. But that was tough doggy teat treats, if a neighbor woke up to a fresh steaming pile of Bebe’s rectal delights, it wasn’t my problem. Even though, I’m an environmentally concerned citizen of California, picking up someone else’s dogshit is not my usual area of expertise – simply put because: I DON’T HAVE OR WANT THE RESPONSIBILTY OF OWNING A PET.

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My mom’s Hungarian roommate Anna is still around, although she’s technically not living with my mom anymore but she still comes around to hang out. So to help my mom out with mortgage payments she convinced a friend from back home in Budapest named Antonia (seated above) to take her place in paying my mom rent. Anna speaks much better English now than when I saw her last year. She can understand mostly of what I saw with less interpretation and translation. Now she’s passing the baton on to her friend, along with tips on keeping that really tight fine looking ass of hers in good shape.

Friday’s mini-mission was to visit the East Coast branch office of my employer which is located in this building somewhere in the Soho District in a building that built right ABOVE the Holland Tunnel. I had to walk around the Holland Tunnel to get to the front entrance. When I approached a cop directing traffic into the tunnel, he had his entire hand at the gun holster at his hip and came walking toward me. Some bicyclist doing some tire repair warns me not to approach the office, because he could mistake your laptop bag as a bomb.

And you know how New York City feels about bombs these days. So I wisely heeded his warning and the cop directed me to the crosswalks set up to walk around the traffic.

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I’m not going to go into graphic detail as to where I was visiting my East Coast branch, but I will tell you that the journey to get there was arduous. I actually walked from 42nd Street Port Authority Terminal to The Soho District, because I’m not very  NOR EVER HAVE I BEEN fond of the NYC Subway. I haven’t attempted this length of a walk since my early twenties when a stroll up the New York University and Greenwich Village area would be a cakewalk. It was a good thing I was wearing new comfortable sneakers, otherwise, I’d probably be shaking my fist to the sky and cursing the gods of Dr. Scholl’s. But look at all these cool sights I encountered along the way:

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The Flat Iron Building built-in 1902 was designed by an architect from of all places….CHICAGO. As if back then you didn’t have enough to deal with gangsters and runny deep dish pizza – but the building was most famous for is where the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company got its’ start and its’ triangular design served as the gateway to the Flatiron District, The Madison Square District, and The Ladies Mile District. Other than being declared one of the most photographed building in New York City, it also serves as an important landmark in comic book lore. The Flatiron doubles as The Daily Bugle Newspaper seen in all the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and Damage Control seen in a handful of Agent of SHIELD episodes both share some office space in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while, April O’Neil, reporter for Channel Six News in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies has her news station there and I understand the new upcoming The Boys series on Amazon based on Garth Ennis’ Dynamite Entertainment series will have its management offices based here.

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A Statue of William H. Seward was once a governor of New York during the Civil War and was against slavery  He used to pal around with Abraham Lincoln back in the day, so they gave him a statue for it. It’s located in Madison Square Park The statue looks like it hasn’t been polished since the days of the Civil War. Imagine what a little varnish could do?

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Greenwich Village Arch. Haven’t been back here since 1984, which was 34 years ago. It used to be the hotspot for me to take in synthesizer seminars at NYU (I once hung out here with Eddie Jobson, keyboardist and violinist for Roxy Music, Jethro Tull, U.K, and Yes ),  perusing the local record store for Marillion bootleg concerts, pitchers of Sangria with the Zullo brothers on McDougall Street, and the best pizza slices any fucking where on the planet.

My kind of vendor. Bravo to this guy for coming up with some clever zingers manufactured on buttons poking fun at the most disgusting person to ever walk the planet. A fucking big poseur who absolutely has no experience in being politician doesn’t deserve to be a politician.

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BUT on the one hand, other than the item that I did purchase that made me a walking billboard in anti- swearing in a rapey Supreme Court judge, the button also served a dual purpose: It’s the day I’ve been forever waiting for is finally here! October 30th is the blu ray release of my all time favorite animated series, Batman: The Animated Series remastered  in Blu Ray form! Fuck yeah!!

It’s all I ever wanted, all 109 episodes of the original and The New Adventures of Batman & Robin, an extra disc of interviews, AND two bonus discs featuring motion picture release of The Mask of The Phantasm and the first direct video release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero in one complete package!!

It’s going to be pricey, but it’s definitely going to be worth it. Unfortunately, I just literally found out today that it’s only available for sale online and major retail outlets such as Best Buy and Target have reported their pre-stock being completely SOLD OUT!! LUCKILY for me, a co-worker allowed me to use her Amazon account to order it, so I SHOULD be receiving it in a couple of days.

Speaking of Batman: a major bat event happened while I was away in New Jersey, and I didn’t know what the ruckus was concerning this book until I was back in Los Angeles.

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I already bought my copy at Funny Books, located in Lake Hiawatha. Retailer Steve Conti had plenty on hand, but however, a leisurely stroll to a Greenwich Village mom and pop bookstore that late Friday afternoon revealed a more frantic retailer in crisis.

I couldn’t help overhear the owner harping about how one guy came into his store and bought out his complete stock of this new format book called Batman: The Damned that DC Comics is introducing on its’ new DC Black Label. It’s a fully beautifully painted adventure into the dark HBOification realm of Batman by Lee Bermejo under a so-so story by Brian Azzarello that deals with the Batman searching the supernatural and enlists the aid of his fellow Justice League Dark colleagues of John Constantine and Deadman to help him solve the mystery of how he killed The Joker.

I couldn’t wrap my head around the Bat brouhaha of why this book was selling like hotcakes until I got back to Los Angeles when I posted my disdain on facebook. It was Las Vegas area retailer Ralph Mathieu of Alternative Reality Comics (the go to area in Vegas when I’m visiting my sister Becky or one of the scattered Zullo brothers) that responded with one simple word in a thread that I had posted.

Penis.

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Can’t see it? I sure didn’t see it at first after my first initial reading.

Look closer. Go ahead, and sniff that dark inked bat cock if you can. (What, you never sniffed a fresh printed comic book before? I do it all the time with my nose buried under the conveyor belt as new minted copies of Deposit Man fly off the press!!)

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You can’t really see it unless you take your finger and enlarge the photo on your phone or tablet (careful with my Batman, ladies).

In Issue #2 scheduled to ship next month, I wonder of we’ll get a silhouetted cameo of Catwoman’s vag? It’s only fair, right? – since Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are now married.

Anyway, let’s flip through the rest of this New York stuff.

It’s still here after these years. The classic McDougall Street Treat

New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay, I just adore a penthouse view but Dah-ling motherfucker,  I love you, but goddamn give me Park Avenue.

By the way, they moved Supergirl to Sundays at 8:00PM – which is the slot they should’ve had CBS have it aired it in the first place.

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Uh oh. Trump’s stormtrooper Gestapos are everywhere. Must find my local Lakeland bus depot to escape back to Parsippany.

Now what’s wrong with these pictures?? Both of them are out-of-place in Parsippany. In an area of rednecks rallying against illegal immigrants, they should be sending their ICE thugs to round-up all the white kids who can’t even pronounce the words quesadilla and chalupa and send them out to in the fields to pick strawberries just for shit and giggles and. It would be something out of a revival of Scared Straight: The #metooIcan’tspeakSpanishforshitGeneration.

No one knows what the hell authentic Mexican food is in Parsippany, so seeing this is a massive insult to my scarred cultural repressed upbringing.

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This must be the work of a vast conspiracy. This is the fucking thing that bugs me: I moved to California for a change of culture, unique special food to experience that I couldn’t find anywhere else: Jamba Juice smoothies, Sonic Drive Ins, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and for fuck’s sakes: LA FITNESS???

Why??

Why not name it NJ Fitness?? The atmosphere is all wrong. People who work out in a LA Fitness, SHOULD BE IN LOS ANGELES!! It’s called LA Fitness for a reason; for beautiful people in California to work out in. Not plump Italian girls with peach fuzz mustaches to run on treadmills or to pump iron. What the fuck is wrong with this state that it can’t invent an original idea for a food franchise other than Jersey Mike’s Subs?

Leave my fucking fresh fruit smoothies and breakfast burritos alone, YOU HEAR ME?? I’m so sick and tired of New Jersey and New York trying to copy on my West Coast trending leisurely rituals and culinary delights.

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Thank goodness for some neutral sanity. At least they’re from Seattle.

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My mom’s next door neighbor from Germany who goes by the name of Hans has a coy pond.  Hans and I got into an interesting conversation about how this New Jersey councilwoman or mayor of Tom’s River enlisted the consulting services of some Netherlands area mogul to help build a floodgate that is about the size of two Effel Towers that would make the entire eastern seaboard of New Jersey impervious to hurricanes, such as Katrina. We talked about a remarkable segment on 60 Minutes that talked about this subject. You can read more about it here through this old New York Times article . 

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Contrary to popular belief: THIS IS NOT the movie poster to the sequel of the Incredible Mr. Limpet.

Incidentally, actress Danika Yarosh’s uncle Robert who resides in Florida builds carp and  coy farms for a living.

On my final day, while my mom was at work I decided to do a hike up to Lake Parsippany. First I passed my old high school, then I decided to take in lunch at my other favorite haunt while growing up.

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The more pleasant alternative to Parsippany High School Cafeteria Pizza, that is, if you weren’t snatched up by a truant officer, as many students were prone to do sneaking off of campus. I like to think that today, my local 7/11 likes to pay homage to Parsippany High School Pizza when they try to jam you for a dollar their day old pizza slices – it still has that same old school cafeteria cardboard texture, plus you couldn’t really tell the difference between such fabulous 7/11 cuisine or if you baked it at home and called it Digiorno (because that’s what it actually is!).

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Isn’t that a beauty? My then local pizza parlor had the best Silician slices in town. Pizza King off of Route 46 in Mountain Lakes had the second best.

According to historical records, this giant spire behemoth of worship, called the Parsippany Presbyterian Church has been standing on this spot in Route 46 since the late the year 1755. That’s a very fucking long time. Ask anyone who might have been alive back then. But you can’t – BECAUSE THEY’RE NO LONGER ALIVE!! They might still be across the street at the VAIL Memorial CEMETARY, where rumors of ghosts from the Revolutionary War era still haunt its’ grounds. Any one of them could be the lead in the live action FUNKY PHANTOM movie – IF it ever gets past the pre-production stage. This church sticks in the craw of my memory, because it was where I used to attend Boy Scout meetings in the cellar and I once broke in here to hide and spend the night hiding from the clutches of my step-father after we got into a heated physical battle. When my local grade school, Northvail Garden had an overflow of sixth graders, this church would serve as an annex

The mouth that leads to my old apartment complex Vail Gardens, Veteran Memorial Park where a trailer park used to be (is James Vigilante’s name listed on the plague? It was roped off, so I couldn’t go over to read), Good ol’ Jersey City Reservoir (why was it in Parsippany in the first place? And how much rent do we charge?) Legends tell us that the Old Town Boonton ruins are really down at the bottom. My apartment complex had to be fenced in at the pool area from wandering deer, geese, black bears, fawns, and ferrets.

Walking on Livingston Road, here lie the leftover Martian ships from the 1938 Invasion- which was 80 years ago to this very day. Orson Welles certainly saved humanity from imminent destruction that day.

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My mom told me that she doesn’t want to be cremated here.

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Back in my high school days, I once rode my bicycle up here and I stumbled upon my first copies of Genesis album, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot. They were cut out copies that went for only a $ 1.00 each and they didn’t come with the bells and whistles of fold out sleeves that displayed Peter Gabriel’s lyrics.

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I remember the first time I listened to these albums was I first bought my Pioneer hi-fi system, blasting them in my headphones while I had to insert advertisement circulars in all my Sunday morning papers that I had to deliver on my route (and I had around 250 customers, so I needed at least 2 hours to prep early in the morning)  But it was from that moment on that begin my rapid devotion to collection all the early era albums of Genesis.

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Mac & Cheese is a big deal in Parsippany these day. You can even serve them up as slop in breakfast bowls. Finally some culinary idea not lifted from California.

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While I was making arrangements to get the Miracle Season dvd into friendly Freeman family hands I talked to Linda Freeman’s sister, Lisa (whom I also took out on dates. We saw Genesis and Asia together) and I told I was taking this hike up to Lake Parsippany she relayed me this amusing anecdote about the time when they used to work here and due to a mishap of accidentally shutting off the refrigerator lights (or perhaps getting too stoned to forget), both Lisa and Linda managed to at least melt hundreds of dollars worth of Ice Cream. Hilarious Mr. Softy hijinks later ensued.  I used to buy a huge bevy of Warren Creepy black and white mags here, along with Heavy Metal, Savage Sword of Conan, and reprints of The Spirit (also a Warren mag), but I’m pretty by the time when I made this place my instant go to for black & white comic magazines, the Freeman sisters were probably already let go. IMG_3813

Linda Freeman and I used to go to this library and other hanging out with her here, it was my favorite library because it used to get the entertainment trades every week like Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Billboard, and I think it was the time when I started to get interested in reading the charts. I was also checking how British acts such as Marillion, Mike Oldfield, or The Human League were performing in their own country and all across Europe. Variety would publish all the Nielsen rankings and I supposed I should thank this library for getting me to where I am today. HOWEVER, it is no longer a library, it is now the center headquarters for the Morris County Board of Education. They moved the library to somewhere near Morris Plains where it absolutely no longer accessible by public transportation. Thank goodness I can just download my favorite trade publications online these days, otherwise I’d never survive a walk to a Parsippany library located all the fuckbutt way out to near Morristown. Especially if I were to be stuck in a 12 foot blizzard.

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NOT FAR from that abandoned library, one of my aunt told me that this was where I first moved to in Parsippany, NJ when I was three months old after my grandfather told my dad to get lost and he packed all his goodies and left for California.

Imagine in a Marvel What If parallel universe, IF it was my father who got custody of me and took me to California with him, HOW my life would’ve been dramatically different.

I didn’t stay here for too long, my grandfather packed us up and moved my mom, my two aunts, and me into a gorgeous home out in East Hanover that was a block away from a golf course that eventually was sold to the Nabisco Company and became a factory. A year later in 1965 or so, my grandfather allowed my Uncle Max to move in after he was released from prison after serving time for MANSALUGHTER!  During the early seventies when I would occasionally sleep over on weekends after moving back to Parsippany after my mom got remarried, we would be pelted in the morning with the aromas of Oreo, Nutter Butter, and Vienna Finger cookies being baked fresh from the factory.

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I suppose people are just as obsessed with Game of Thrones out here as we are in California.

So on my final day before heading back to JFK to catch my 5:30 PM flight, I took one last rainy stroll through the city where I was recommended to check out a used record store that specializes in blu ray television season sets. I was on the hunt for a science fiction based show called The Expanse. I haven’t seen the third season yet.

They didn’t have it, so I ended up dragging all my shit around Times Square for three hours and took in the ambiance. Until a thunderstorm and a torrential downpour of rain came down when the time came I had to get to Grand Central Station to catch a shuttlebus to JFK. I didn’t know the MTA system all that well, but a pretty female Puerto Rican bus driver saw me walking up 8th Avenue in distress of the possibility of missing my flight, that she let me ride the bus free so I wouldn’t get my ass soaked.

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Back to Times Square. you can see the clouds rolling in.

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In all its’ pristine glory.

Anyway, I was wandering lonely as a dark cloud, I was thinking about a little tiff I got into with my mom. My mom suddenly has a issue with people who ‘dwell too much in the past’ and harped on my desire to go revisit places of my past, such as the house I spent my toddler years in East Hanover. My mom argues that it does nothing for you. You should always move forward and stop looking back at past events. But I digress- because I consider to be a man of the past, present, and future rolled into one. Although I’ve pledged my loyalty to be a full blooded California as my real blood dad once was, I still admit to having roots in New Jersey as distasteful as I even care to admonish- THAT’S NOT SAYING there weren’t pockets of pleasant memories here and there, but telling the truth hurts my mom whenever she asks me for my opinion on whether I had a happy childhood or not. IT fucking wasn’t. I think my mom made a mistake of getting remarried while I was three years old, she didn’t really put my upbringing needs up first and got remarried and popped out another kid, much to the advice of other relatives not to. I mean, I had a great house to grow up in East Hanover and that was taken away from me in order to move back to a two bedroom apartment and ended up sharing a room for the remainder of my childhood with a baby sister – while my grandfather was raking in millions globetrotting around the world developing cake and pie recipes for big restaurant chains such as Marie Calendar’s, Coco’s and Denny’s and living in not one, but 2 big houses in the town of East Hanover.

I dwell in all areas of my past. I reminisce pleasant memories about the late seventies spent at Laguna Beach, Mid eighties times spent at early San Diego Comic Con when it was held at the Concourse, the beaches of Encinitas and Solana Beach burying my face in Jennifer Ellis’ bikini ass and us drinking beer together, the house in Sherman Oaks where I spent nearly a decade living with my half sister on my dad’s side with my rich Jewish stepmom and working at a comic book shop that her husband half owned.

And I dwell on bad memories of places I no longer have a desire to see again, like Williamsburg, Virginia where I foolishly proposed to marry Tamar, at the exact same age that my parents age. That was a shitty ass life lesson that I have no regrets about – I probably would’ve died in that car crash with her. Living in Kansas City sucked during 1986 in attempt to get along with other scattered members of my dad’s family that I only lasted six months before I came crawling back to San Diego. No desire to ever see London again, until Islamist extremists stopping bombing the joint. And on and on it goes.

Let’s just enjoy the rest of the walk.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles getting swallowed up by the Lion King

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Rainy days and Tuesdays always get me down.

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Harry Potter sez, here’s looking down on you, kid. Can anyone tell it’s Harry Potter. I couldn’t really give a fuck. J.K. Rowling ripped off the entire concept of Harry Potter from Neil Gaiman when he created teen sorcerer Timothy Hunter as part of his Sandman universe. Timothy debuted in a 1990 mini-series DC Comics published called The Books of Magic and was co-created by painter artist John Bolton before he was awarded his own Vertigo comic book series that lasted for 75 issues (but incidentally, a new series just started this week) and predated Rowling’s knock off by 7 years when Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone was published. I don’t see Tim Hunter getting his own eight movie series (plus prequels!) and Broadway plays named in his honor anytime soon. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t believe me.

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So The Walking Dead isn’t doing too well. People have ‘walked away’ in droves in lieu of lead actor Andrew Lincoln’s departure, whose fate will be revealed this weekend – and I suppose after the airing of that episode, the crew should just pack up their creepy crawler fake blood and prosthetic goodies and call it a night, because NO ONE’S sticking around after Lincoln is gone. The ratings are like being brain eaten fast, and is unlikely to survive for much longer. People are instead beginning to pledge their loyalty to its’ spin off, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD where Lennie James’ Morgan character managed to jump ship.

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And so we end on that note.

 

 

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Prologue to Another Persona Non Grata Picture Show

10 Oct

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I had a very busy two days leading up to me taking a red flight to New York at the middle of last month. On Saturday, September 15th, I was fortunate to find out information about where a memorial service was being held for the late fantastical leviathan of a writer, Harlan Ellison, a person whom I admired and idolized very much since making Los Angeles my permanent home.

I technically crashed it, but there was really no one around to tell me to skidaddle at an undisclosed theater location in Beverly Hills.  I was fortunate enough to mask my intrusion by running into people involved with the comic book industry whom I haven’t talked to in decades, including my one time editor over at Comics’ Buyer’s Guide, Maggie Thompson.

Before I begin, let me state that is indeed a lovely sketch portrait of Harlan in the photo above rendered beautifully by Bill Sienkiewicz. You were invited to offer words of condolences to Susan before leaving (this was part of a pair) and I took a photo before I wrote some words of gratitude thanking him for the encouraging pep talk some twenty plus years back.

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I caught a faint whiff of nostalgia remembering that only a mere block away from where this service was being held, there was once a museum or art gallery called The Morpheus Gallery located in the basement of a huge high-rise where I used to report for an entertainment work related agency  that had exhibited paintings and sculptures from artists such as H.R. Giger and Jacek Yerka, There were a few paintings on display that were used for one of Harlan’s massive books called Mind Fields that had contained a whopping 34 short stories that Harlan had written around these subversive paintings of Yerka’s featured in the book. I don’t know if Harlan had any input on how the gallery was run or if a painting had been sold and he was entitled to a cut of it.

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Unlike many memorials, Harlan’s widow, Susan did not allow many to eulogize. Only four people were allowed to step up to the podium including ex- IDW Publishing Editor in Chief and once upon a time writer of ROM Spaceknight, Chris Ryall. I wanted to step up and tell the story of how I managed to wrangle Harlan in giving needy kids a pep talk in taking up writing or to pursue dream careers in the world of animation and comics at the Los Angeles Downtown Library, but I was probably better off since I haven’t done any public speaking in a real long time. Besides,  I already chronicled about various Harlan related events I attended over the years here and here,. Christina Valada, Harlan’s private attorney and sadly, another widow to Wolverine and Swamp Thing creator, Len Wein was the first to speak some consoling words and thoughts. Chris Ryall then tearfully told a fairly new tale of Harlan when he and his wife joined Harlan and Susan for dinner in Universal City and it winded up taking a drastic turn which found Harlan directing traffic in a heavy pouring rain storm which was bittersweet and humorous.

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Susan told us to go and mingle and to have a great time. More celebrities started to pile on in just as people were exiting the auditorium, including George Takei, which I captured having a conversation with Chris Ryall.

I talked to long time comic book writing veteran Tony Isabella, co-creator of Black Lightning for the very first time. We talked about the show airing on the CW, which of the time of this writing just premiered its 2nd season last night (sadly, it’s initial overnight rating were not impressive following The Flash, it lost at least half its’ audience), and it’s a show that somehow that the CW Network is trying to faintly mold with what Netflix is trying to do with The Marvel Knights (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist & The Punisher) interlocking series : being gritty and promiscuous in its’ approach to violence and social issues – but in BL’s case,  almost in a way that can appeal to the entire family that can perhaps provoke much-needed conversation around the dinner table. That is, if they can pull their eyeballs away from their portable devices streaming the show long enough to have that conversation.

I also ran into retired Cleveland (Harlan’s hometown!) area lawyer Bob Ingersoll, who like Tony (Tips), Isabella contributed mightily to the now defunct Comics Buyer’s Guide in a series of columns called The Law is An Ass, where Bob used to provide unique analysis into all our favorite comic book character’s legal predicaments. So it was great talking to those two and was even impressed they even still remembered from my name after such a long hiatus. It’s nice not to be forgotten.

I spotted Leonard Maltin strolling in with his wife. Then again, you can spot Leonard Maltin anywhere in this town if you look hard enough. You can run into Leonard Maltin at your local post office, you can run into Leonard Maltin stuffing his face into a giant Pastrami and Rye at your local Jewish deli such as Brent’s in Northridge or Cantor’s in the Fairfax District, or you can run into Leonard Maltin at a cartoon festival held every year at The Alex Theatre in Glendale. THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF NOT RUNNING into Leonard Maltin in this town. Can you tell I’m sick already of talking about Leonard Maltin?

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Walter Koenig was there. Walter used to come visit me at my old comic book store, Rookies & Allstars in North Hollywood and we used to talk about Harlan’s Dream Corridor, his love for everything John Carter and Tarzan, and other science fiction writers he used to read. Walter and his assistant never exited my store without buying a comic book hero button or a piece of candy. Harlan and Walter eventually became the best of friends – at least, that’s what Walter used to tell me. I believe it was Walter who put in a good word for Rookies & Allstars, because Harlan’s assistant started calling the store from time to time looking for something he may have missed in a Diamond Comics Distributor shipment or asking how much Dark Horse Comics product was arriving, but if we told him that we can order for it and call him when that particular item arrived, but the assistant would tell us he’d get back to us if it resorted to that.

The gentlemen in the makeshift dapper blue stripe on white (or would that be white stripe on blue?) collared shirt with t-shirt demonstrating to all how Harlan would’ve showed up to his own memorial with his camera aimed at watching me watching him is none other than Harlan’s biographer, Nat Segaloff, who earlier gave us a few minutes up at the podium.

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George R.R. Martin flew in from New Mexico and by the looks of it, Games of Thrones is STILL NOT FINISHED, and I bet, by the time he flies back – IT WILL STILL NOT BE FINISHED. I bet it’s the first time in science fiction/fantasy history where a fantasy author yields to allowing a premium cable channel to pick up where he’s too lazy to finish where he left off. HOWEVER, looking forward to checking out the Syfy series adaptation of his Nightflyers debuting towards the end of this year.

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Food was served by Loteria, a very popular Mexican taco stand headquartered at the historical Farmer’s Market located in the Fairfax district. The Potato Taquitos, Margaritas, Horchatas and Watermelon daiquiris were in full deliciously devouring force that night. You can find lots of fine authentic Mexican fare at these three separate locations throughout Los Angeles. It’s not Mexican food from Parsippany, New Jersey  folks, which will be a subject I’m going to be ragging about in my next Persona Non Grata Picture Show edition right in this exact spot in a few weeks time.

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Former Comics Buyer’s Guide editor (now a contributor to Comic Con International’s online blog ) Maggie Thompson is here conversing with legendary comic book writer Marv Wolfman – probably both are planning some big comic book related tribute to Harlan and don’t want the rest of us to overhear. Someone on facebook recently pointed out to me that the man with his back to us standing to the right is Paul Chadwick – who  collaborated with Harlan a few years back on a DC graphic novel entitled “7 Against Chaos”. Paul is also the creator of a beloved Dark Horse Comics original character called Concrete – which has not been adapted in Hollywood in any shape or form. That’s very disappointing.

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It seems that Susan cleared out some of the books from The Kilimanjaro Corporation ‘warehouse’. I was lucky to have snagged these two following items:

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One of Harlan’s books that I never got around to reading, but always meant to pick up. Jeez, I even remember seeing this at my once upon a time local Tower Records (old) in Sherman Oaks twenty some odd years ago. If I can recall running into Angie Dickinson and still thinking she still looked like a good piece of ass way back then you’ll have some clue as to ‘how old’ you think I am. What I’ve read so far that was slightly bemusing was the William Shatner story about him doing a favor for Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry in trying to talk some sense to Harlan in writing another sensible unpaid for endless draft of “City on the Edge of Forever” and wound up skidding his motorcycle on Harlan’s front lawn is a real hoot. That skid mark stayed until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake gave Harlan’s lawn new scars. Man,  I did not realize how much of a puppet and errand boy Bill was for the late Gene Roddenberry until Harlan pointed it out. Maybe that’s why Bill was a ‘no-show’ at the service, because parking in the building is only free after you’ve reached the fourth level. He’d probably skid off the parking garage and go spilling all over the pavement.

Most importantly, Harlan’s tortured memoir of his time working for Star Trek is a masterclass in itself and a very indepensible tool in teaching screenwriting going back  from conceptual treatments to early draft teleplays and revising of scripts. Harlan also gives a crash coarse in establishing the type of shots he sees in his head when describing  scenes and dialogue.

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It seems that ‘Night And the Enemy’ did the trick of clearing up my clogged up sinus memory passages. I might have said that my ‘real first exposure’ to Harlan’s prose was an introduction to a Doctor Who novelization collection of Tom Baker-era stories, but I think maybe glossing over serialized chapters of this appearing in Marvel’s Epic Magazine may have predated that. Marvel’s Epic Magazine was Marvel’s version of Heavy Metal Magazine which was published between 1980 – 1986 and lasted 34 issues. 3 short stories from Harlan’s and artist/collaborator Ken Steacy’s graphic novel collection (whom Chris Ryall informed me on facebook was also in attendance) were “Sleeping Dogs” in issue #4, “Life Hutch” in issue #6, & “Run For The Stars” #11. I think my earliest memory of seeing Harlan in person for the first time was either at the 1986 or 1987 San Diego Comic Con signing a giant pile of these books at a table. But I wasn’t really familiar of who Harlan was back then, and I do remember attending a lecture of his that took place one Saturday night at one of the auditoriums of the old San Diego Civic Center where he said some crass unbelievable things about comic book industry people that you wouldn’t want to repeat at family holiday dinner gathering. If San Diego Comic Con International ever gets its’ streaming service in operation, I bet that 2 hour plus personal one on one with a packed audience makes it to the top of the archive pile.

Above is an old opinion piece I wrote in Comic Buyer’s Guide that prompted Harlan to call me out of the blue while I was working at a Farmer’s Insurance office to shower me with praise. Damn. I can’t believe this was 23 years ago. Where the fuck does time fly?

Due to my Superman/Flash race with time in prepping up for my annual trip to New Jersey, I was only allotted to stay for the first hour and a half. I was out the door once I completed in personally offered my condolences to Susan Ellison, so I have no idea of who may have showed up afterward. Seeing as how I spotted a few Star Trek alumni (including story editor D.C. Fontana from the original show and the subsequent 1973 animated series) scattered around the theater here and there, I was kind of perturbed  not to bump into anyone who worked with Harlan on Babylon 5 other than writer Peter David, a show that Harlan had a much deeper involvement than anything I’ve known him to be associated with. The show lasted five years and Harlan served as creative consultant, even supplying a script or two. I half expected to at least have caught a glimpse of creator J. Michael Straczynski or actor Bill Mumy  as I was in a hurry to get out.

But hey, if there’s a magic Djinn out there (straight, no chaser) who can hook me up with a dvd or blu ray series collection of The Starlost, created by under that great fictional pseudonym, Victor Lawrence Talbot Frankenstein, then I would be eternally grateful.

Anyway, now that I’ve paid my final respects, I can go on through the remainder of my life slaphappy as a ‘soup sandwich’.

New Jersey – on the other hand, refuses to die. In two weeks, the annual pilgrimage to the Parsippany Persona Non Grata Picture Show begins once where we shall explore the wild habitats of Lake Parsippany and New York’s Greenwich Village once more.