It wasn't like this. It was gritty. Dirty. There was a smell, sometimes. There was people selling vegetables in boxes on sidewalks or in half stall stores. There were winos and bums and people who had no place to go. People stood around talking all day long. They didn't need talk radio to keep a conversation going.
There were people going to work or to school. The streets were filled with busy people.
It was filled with motion.
There were no tables or chairs outside. No place for them. The sidewalks were narrow then.
There were belching cars and trolleys trying to get some place. Everybody was trying to get some place other than where they were.
No, it didn't look like this. I tramped up and down those streets and what I knew is gone. I only have the memory of it.
I remember the good pretzel place where you had to wait for a hot one because they sold out quick. You could have plain with mustard or extra salty. Small, or freaky big. A couple of stores down from the pretzel place was my home away from home bookstore.
The bookstore, I think it was called Robin's, is where they sold alternative comic books. Where I could get a copy of High Times for a quarter. I was more interested in the hydroponics than the weed.
I was a strange person.
I must have been the only person to buy High Times for the articles and to check out Vaughn Bode's comic called Cheech Wizard. Bode was the only cartoonist I knew that celebrated big behind women.
There were days when I'd have just a dollar and have to choose between a photo magazine and three other candidates. If you didn't buy it when you laid eyes on it it could be gone.
One day I found this book called I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Paperback. It was right next to the Ice Berg Slim books . My arms where loaded up but I flipped to a few pages and thought this dude Ellison was on to something.
I fell in love with his writing. I fell in love with how he would talk to you in the fourth wall breaking pages before the start of a story. I didn't care for his gangster books. Gangsters were getting shot up all over town and making the tabloid covers every other day. Fiction couldn't trump that Goombah reality.
I kept my radar out for anything else he wrote. One day when I was able I paid full price cash money for a paperback that had the original script of the City on the Edge of Forever. Then I bought his other books with covers intact.
So when I heard that Harlan Ellison was going to be in Hollywood I thought I could go see him in person. I needed to make amends for buying those first stripped books when I was a teenager.
But meeting inspirations can be tricky.
So this is the past that you need to known to put context to the future that was.