Hertz: Of Drinks and Doors

Selina Phanara's art on the APA-L room door. Photo by Karl Lembke.

By John Hertz: (Reprinted from Vanamonde 952) When I saw an empty Moxie bottle at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s first meeting in our new Clubhouse, I should have guessed someone had been to Galco’s, a shop so much more famous for carrying five hundred kinds of soft drink than for its Blockbuster sandwiches that it’s less known as Galco’s Old World Grocery than as the Soda Pop Stop.  Galco’s has as many beers, six dozen kinds of bottled water, a hundred candies including Clark Bars, Nik-L-Nips, and Sen-Sen, but soft drinks are its fame, almost any so long as bottled in glass.  After guessing someone had been there, I should have guessed it was Marc Schirmeister.  Both guesses would have been correct.  But neither of those afterthoughts was a double-take – unlike understanding the empty bottle.

Among the points upon which I concur with Marv Wolfman is the assessment of this drink.  Galco’s owner John Nese once told a visiting couple who’d driven sixty miles “Try a Moxie, then try a Coke.  The taste is so pronounced, it just pops out.”  That’s very true.  Lloyd Penney says Klingons used to arrive from Montréal with cases of it.  Moxie = courage may come from what’s needed to drink it; or may be like Old Infuriator, the Algerian wine which the British Navy supposedly served because it was so bad it would make men fight anyone, see e.g. I. Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service p. 145 (1963).

Someone must have actually consumed a bottle of Moxie.  Well, astounding things happen at the LASFS.

This Clubhouse is roomy.  It has space for our 20,000-book library.  No patio; we left our home-grown lemon tree behind.  Also the Star Wars wallpaper Marjii Ellers hung neatly in one of our bathrooms.  The new painted-concrete walls are “live”, i.e. in the acoustic sense.  Quiet is not a fannish virtue; we’re talkative; I’d not have it another way; maybe we’ll hang arras.  Given our new neighbor across the street, we can tell people “Come to the LASFS and be close to power.”

Among the attenders was Dr. Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections at the Library of the Riverside campus of the University of California; among her six, with the Tuskegee Airmen and fifteen printing presses, is the Eaton Collection, world’s largest publicly accessible collection of SF, including the Terry Carr and Bruce Pelz and Rick Sneary fanzines.  I introduced her to Karl Lembke, Chairman of the LASFS Board of Directors.  During the meeting I sat next to Selina Phanara, who thanked me.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because I did something about your door?”  In 1999 this talented artist painted the APA-L collating-room door (Amateur Press Ass’n – LASFS) with a space ship and suns.  When I learned the Club was relocating I asked Dr. Conway if Eaton wanted the door.  She said “Yes, please.”  Lembke with a little help from his friends dismounted it and put in a plain one; he now arranged to get the Phanara door to Riverside.

In the festivities I brought greetings from Paul Turner and Tim Kirk.  Kirk often drew APA-L covers in the years he won five Hugos as Best Fanartist.  Turner had asked me to be sure and credit Pelz, who fanned Turner’s building-fund spark into flame.  Jerry Pournelle said “Don’t forget to credit Chuck Crayne.”  We all cheered Pelz’ widow Elayne, the LASFS Treasurer, who’d done more than anyone else to negotiate, close, and consummate the transactions that disposed of our second Clubhouse and brought us into this our third.

Freehafer Hall in the old LASFS clubhouse on Burbank Blvd. Selina Phanara's door art is visible to the right of the pillar. Photo by Taral Wayne.

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8 thoughts on “Hertz: Of Drinks and Doors

  1. I drank an entire bottle of Moxie once. I think it was found during a car trip in New England. I was chauffering some book dealers around on a hunting expedition, and happened to be in an area where Moxie was distributed naturally. Buying it was a mistake. Drinking it was a challenge. There are worse beverages. Iodine, for example. Cyanide. It’s clear that the original justification for selling soft-drinks was not just words — Moxie tasted medicinal. The comparison with iodine isn’t a bad one, actually, if you could imagine molasses and sugar mixed into the concoction, and a piddling amount of carbonation to enhance what you might call “the flavour.”

  2. Oh, by the way… that’s Marty Cantor leaning over the desk up front. He may have just had a flashback about the taste of Moxie himself.

  3. I used to occasionally drink Moxie in upstate New York during my earliest double-digit years (like maybe 10-20), and to me it tasted fine. I was in my forties before I encountered it again, tried a few, and it still tasted fine, but after that I didn’t encounter it anywhere. It’s weird to see it being badmouthed because a couple of people didn’t like the taste of it. Would be like me going around saying how bad Coca-Cola is simply because I can barely stand to drink it. Or Coors beer. No, wait a minute, that is terrible…

  4. Perhaps my one exposure to Moxie was prejudiced by a bad batch… or there was a dead rat in the bottom of the bottle. Actually, while what I remember wasn’t anything I particularly liked, neither was it so bad that I threw it out. I recall eventually finished the bottle.

  5. Moxie is perfectly OK by me. (And it is legendary for its appearance as a name in Bored of the Rings.) The soft drink that is unacceptably medicinal is Dr. Pepper. Ycch.

  6. Moxie aside, wasn’t there something about a door in that news item? I bring it up because I wonder if it was taken down and brought with LASFS to the new clubhouse? How much could replacing it with a cheap plywood door have cost?

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