June 08, 2012
Ray often described himself as the world’s greatest lover because he loved so many things: writing and books, plays (he wrote a number) and audiences, movies, and television.
He was also humble about his own work. A few years ago while I was editing an anthology, I approached him about using a selection from Dandelion Wine. Ray asked for a nominal amount and later told me it was an honor having the piece appear next to some of the other writers”living and dead”in the collection.
As with so many Angelenos of his generation, he had come from elsewhere (in his case, Waukegan, Illinois), and that elsewhere remained in his memory, as it does for so many of us, a kind of childhood dreamland. Waukegan would surface in his writing as “Green Town,” a fitting appellation given that for those who come here from the East as children, our new home’s dry brownness makes a lasting impression. But for all that, Los Angeles was his home; non-driver that he was, he explored its nooks and crannies when he was younger, palling around with those other two LA icons, Ray Harryhausen and Forrest J. Ackerman. To my undying regret I missed seeing the three together at a Glendale bookstore a few years ago.
The last time I saw Ray was at one of his book signings. Handing him a copy of my latest book, I mentioned that it was partly his fault I was a writer. He smiled broadly at me, made a blessing motion with his right hand, and intoned the sign of the cross in Latin.
Et cum spiritu tuo, Ray.