Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ray Bradbury Stars for 58 Consecutive Years

If the record keeping of the Southwest Manuscripters is right (and why shouldn't it be?), May 22nd, 2009 marked the 58th consecutive year that the ubiquitous author spoke before this writing group.

Ubiquitous. I just love that word.

Here's a write-up about a previous address in 2007. The Southwest Manuscripters began in 1949 in Hermosa Beach, meeting once a month to hear inspirational and practical speakers talk about the writing live. Bradbury says they were the first group to ask him to speak, since he was a relatively unknown young man back then. He took the big red streetcar for his first meeting with the group in 1949. In 1950, the Martian Chronicles came out and put an end to the "unknown" part of his career.

This link to will guide you to lists of his works, appearances, etc. Interestingly, his awards page has only three items: the National Medal of Arts, presented by the president in 2004, a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation, and his star on Hollywood Blvd. Those are BIG, no argument. To see a more expansive list--though I doubt it's complete--your best bet is probably his Wikipedia entry. There you'll see that he even has an asteroid named after him.

"Do what you love and love what you do," was the theme. Bradbury's anecdotes (about Hugh Hefner, Fellini, John Huston, etc.) are absolutely wonderful, but I will not repeat them. Come to hear him NEXT MAY (check with the SW MSS for the date) and hear them fresh for yourself!

He did announce, though, that a new production of The Martian Chronicles will be out late summer, at the Fremont Centre Theater in South Pasadena. Chances are (IMHO)Mr. Bradbury will be at most performances.

Oddly enough, his own website says he doesn't make many personal appearances. What? Lessee, in the last year he's been signing books and shaking hands at the LA Times Festival of Books, Williams BookStore Centennial, the Fremont Centre Theater, the Warner Theater in San Pedro (which had a special weekend devoted to his movies), the Egyptian Theater (for Dandelion Wine), a dozen or so public library events launching his new book We'll Always have Paris... Honestly, if you are a fan and haven't seem him in person yet--well, you just aren't trying very hard.

The Southwest Manuscripters usually meet on a Monday at the Palos Verdes Library, but when Ray Bradbury comes, they move to a larger venue in Torrance and throw open the doors to everyone. Bradbury had a packed house, but did not begin his talk until someone could bring him a platform. "I want to be seen," he announced.

And when they brought the podium and he stood up (it was a meeting room, not a real theater), he announced, "Here I am, goddammit!"

The crowd roared. We laughed, we cried ... oh no, I'm in danger of running out of cliches.

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