RAY BRADBURY GETS A HOLLYWOOD STAR
So there I was, knee-deep in Hollywood Stars...
To the left of me was a Socialite who'd stopped her Bently because of the growing crowd, wondering perhaps if there was a run on Tiffany Toilet Paper Holders.
"Who is that?" she asked.
"Ray Bradbury," I spoke reverentially.
"Is he famous?" she asked, fingering a platinum and diamond necklace that could pay the mortgage on a small Mid-Western town.
"Then he probably lives near me. Is he into tee vee?" she asked, drawing out the words like they were foreign.
"He's done some. Movies too, but he's best known for his books--"
Her look of sheer terror at the mention of the word book, made me stop. Had she heard of them? Did her maid own one? Did she realize that's what the letters were for? Thankfully, Charlton Heston stepped from a Limo right beside us and I was able to avert her attention. "Look, there's Moses."
Her head snapped around like a whip and I edged away.
Moments later, Moses cum Ben Hur cum Charlton Heston shook my hand and stared me in the eye. I felt as if I'd been judged, and passed some unspoken test.
Did he know of my attempted conversion of the Philistine Socialite? Did I earn some special place in Heaven?
I'll never know, because moments later, a drunken Hollywood bimbo arrived screaming "Charston Henson." at the top of her lungs.
All the way through the ceremony she screamed, "Charston Henson! Charston Henson!" over and over, interrupting the Mayor and a bevy of famous people, until Moses finally looked her way and smiled. She squealed "Charston Henson!" one last time, then staggered off. I laughed, for what her rhuemy eyes missed was that along with his smile was a sharpshooter squint that reminded me that in addition to being God's appointed spokesperson, he was the head of the NRA as well. If I were a betting man, I'd imagine a sniper would be arriving soon, zooming in from his position in the second 'O' on the Hollywood sign, painting cross hairs on the back of the women who was in love with Charston Henson.
I think it was wonderful Ray Bradbury got a star. I'd stepped over and around too many stars from actors and actresses, directors and producers who'd been lost to history. Very few things are as permanent as books. Even fewer books are as seminal as Ray Bradbury's.
My favorite has always been Dandelion Wine. An Apollo 11 astronaut gave the author a tremendous compliment by naming a crater on the moon after the book, calling it the Dandelion Crater. As the announcer mentioned during the ceremony, Ray Bradbury has a Crater on the Moon and a Star here on Earth. Nice.
The Mayor unveiled his new reading program where the city is supposed to get together and read the same book each month. I'm hoping for Scary Rednecks to get on that list. Can you imagine the sales? The first book chosen is Fahrenheit 451 - which is not only a book, but also the temperature at which paper burns. I thought it was a master stroke to begin a campaign for reading on a book promising a future of censorship and book burnings.
Ray had just recovered from a stroke and was in a wheelchair. He was active and cogent. He looked happy and we were happy for him. There were many other luminaries there, but I am terrible with names. William F. Nolan I recognized because of his former partner's reading at Dark Delicacies (George Clayton Johnson).
The final moment of drama came when Rod Steiger pointed to Ray Bradbury and proclaimed, "I call you out as a witch. Publically, you are a witch, witch, witch... for what you do is magic."
Ray acted appropriately stricken. I think most people there missed his private giggle. I didn't. I giggled along with him.