John Hertz on Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Party

By John Hertz: If you thought an 89th-birthday party for Ray Bradbury at a bookshop would be crowded, you’d be right. If you thought it would be an occasion to buy his books and get them signed, you’d be right. As June Moffatt said when I reported by phone, these were good things.

Bookfellows, 238 N. Brand Bl., Glendale, CA 91203 (also called “Mystery and Imagination”, the name of their Website), is a new- and used-book shop with a fine s-f stock. The party started at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 22nd, Bradbury’s actual birthday. The Cosmic Joker keeps making me type “Bardbury”. This too may be a good thing.

On a giant greeting-card shopowners Christine & Malcolm Bell had written “You’re a living book”, so below I wrote “because you’ve set us all afire”. A chocolate cake with orange icing was decorated with a Jack-o’-lantern wearing eyeglasses. We all sang “Happy Birthday”.

Outside, which was no less crowded, only different, George Clayton Johnson was talking about heroes. I said, “You yourself are one of the heroes.” He said, “You’re observant as ever.” I bowed. He did too.

Inside, Matthew Tepper and Charles Lee Jackson II told me they hadn’t known about the party, just came looking for books. Tepper said, “This is the second time I’ve gone to a bookshop and found Ray Bradbury there.” It was so crowded Tepper took out a handphone and called Christine Bell to ask whether she had a book he wanted.

I told Jan Bender I was sad she hadn’t exhibited in the Worldcon Art Show at MontrĂ©al. She said she’d been daunted by the prospect of Customs problems. I asked if she’d tried the special procedure the Art Show had worked out, better, I’d heard, than Torcon III in 2003. She said she’d heard nothing from the Worldcon at all, indeed wondering if her Attending Membership payment had gotten lost, so that upon arriving she dutifully paid for an Attending Membership only to be asked farther down the line “Why do you want two Attending Memberships?”

Bo Derek brought Bradbury a birthday present, which shows how little I know about celebrities. It was a good party.