Ray Bradbury

One of the most amazing people I got to know over the years was Ray Bradbury. We had a chance meeting in a science fiction bookstore one day and thereafter got together from time to time to talk about the strange world we live in, and the amazing ones he imagined. His gripping science fiction books Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, were only the tip of the iceberg in Ray’s wide-ranging universe.

Sometimes I would drop by his house at 10265 Cheviot Drive in the Cheviot Hills area of Los Angeles for friendly conversations about whatever was happening at the time. Ray was often working on possible movie projects related to his books but — just like his stories — those projects always seemed to stay in the future.

So it was startling when media reports said he was recuperating from a serious medical problem at his Palm Springs home. There had been no warning signs of a serious medical condition. And he had not mentioned having a second home. In the weeks that followed I waited a bit nervously for an obituary notice. But it never came. So I decided to go see if he had returned to his Cheviot Hills house and was recovering from the ordeal.

After ringing the doorbell I waited a couple of minutes, then was surprised when the door popped open and there was Ray, standing in his bathrobe. He looked a little worse for wear, but otherwise was his usual jocular self. When I asked about his time in Palm Springs, he laughed outright. That was a subterfuge created by his public relations agent to give Ray some peace and quiet. He had been in Cheviot Hills the whole time. I guess when you’re a successful writer, having too much fan adulation can be an issue. We should all have that problem.

Years later, Ray finally did pass away at the age of 91.

Cruising his old neighborhood one day, I was shocked to see that his grand old home had been summarily decimated by a new owner. It was torn down completely, right to the bare earth. I don’t know whether the new construction there will turn out to be good or bad. But I can’t bear to drive down that street any more. That wonderful old place should have been a monument to the man, occupied by someone who appreciated his genius.

10265 Cheviot Drive

Even so, I like to think that Ray still lives on in this world of ours. If not in his old home, then certainly in the memories of friends and the imagination of millions of people who read his compelling books.

Sanford Holst

A walk along the road less traveled

Strange encounters in Alexandria, Egypt

It was just a walk in Alexandria past the heavily-guarded Naval Academy, along the off-limits parts of the harbor, and then into an out-of-control taxi ride down a rabbit-warren of back streets during Muslim prayer time. What could possibly go wrong?

With Reuven Hazak of Israel’s Shin Bet

All the years we worked together Reuven never mentioned the time he stood up for Arabic people who were taken off Bus 300 in Israel and shot. Even when a movie was made of his brave stand, not a word was said. Then one day in Tel Aviv airport I discovered what that really meant.

With Christos Doumas amid new Santorini frescoes

How can one get to spend time with a person such as Christos Doumas who is sought after by art-and-history lovers all over the world? If something is meant to be, it just happens. And what a marvelous revelation he shared with someone he felt would really appreciate it.

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A book-reading, conversations on relevant topics, and signing for any of the author’s books.

21 Feb.

189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036, United States