Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth


Harlan and I had been corresponding for some time—this was back in the late 1970s—when my travels on the way to a convention took me through Los Angeles. I arrived at LAX only to find that my connecting flight had been cancelled, and I had seven or eight hours to kill in one of the world’s most boring places. I decided to call Harlan, just to talk for a while. “Hop in a cab! I’ll pay for it! Come see me!” (Harlan always speaks in italics, usually with an exclamation point.) I had to explain that I was dirt poor, didn’t have enough cash on me for a cab. “Rent a car!” he said. “I’ll pay for it! Come see me!” I had to tell him that I didn’t have a credit card. “No problem, here’s my Hertz number, go to the desk and they’ll give you a car!” I did, and they wouldn’t. No way, no how. They had to have the card in hand. No exceptions, never, never, never. I called Harlan back. By now he was seeing this as a challenge, almost an insult, and you do not insult Harlan Ellison. “Go wait by the Hertz desk,” he said. About half an hour later a slightly dazed looking supervisor beckoned me over. (Harlan has that effect on people.) I’ll never know what charms, threats, bluster, or magical spells he used on the poor woman; I don’t want to know. And this was on the phone, mind you, where he could only use a fraction of the sheer force of will available to him. Here, take the car! Just take it! So I signed the papers, took the car, drove to Harlan’s fantastic house in the hills of Sherman Oaks, and spent a pleasant several hours being shown around, dining on ribs from a joint down in the Valley. Then back to the airport and on to Phoenix on the late flight.

That’s my favorite Harlan Ellison story. I have others. There are many more Harlan stories in this excellent little movie, filmed over the course of almost 30 years. Absolutely a must see movie! Buy it! If you can’t afford to, rent it!