food and sundries

The King is Dead; Long Live the King!

Filed under: Uncategorized — June 8, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

If you know me, you know that the particular ebb and flow that is Los Angeles forever etched the inside of my mind.

There’s rarely a week that goes by that I don’t recall something to miss from that glorious city.

There’s rarely a week that goes by that I don’t recall something I despised about that “wretched hive of scum and villainy” (to borrow a phrase that I’m sure was inspired by the movie-maker’s time in the City of Angels).

That’s why so many stay there, forever bonded to the city’s dusty streets by the sheer excitement of its mercurial nature.

Perhaps that’s why Ray Bradbury stayed. There’s so much there to feed the mind of a creative writer. And there’s so much there to feed the stomach.

Ray’s particular place for both types of feeding was Clifton’s Cafeteria, a Beaux-Arts era eatery on Broadway and 7th, once chic, more lately shabby. It once served as a meeting ground for members of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society.

And what a member of that Society Ray was–one of the few science-fiction/fantasy writers to be taken seriously for his talent in the genre. A King among many talents in the field. Like Los Angeles, his words etched themselves into my inner life and I have never been the same.

Alas, the King is dead at age 91, finally overtaken by time.

Clifton’s too, seemed doomed to the ravages of time. Apparently, Ray spent his 89th birthday there, remarking that he wanted to see the area revitalized.

Perhaps due in no small part to Mr. Bradbury’s interest, in late 2011, Clifton’s Cafeteria began a renovation. This past February, workers uncovered the 1904 building facade, and, after removing a partition, discovered a neon light that had been left on continuously since 1935. Ray would have been fourteen then–the very boy whose imagination fueled the man and his stories.

I can’t help but link the two. As Clifton’s reclaims its former glory, that light reminds me: There are forces bigger than our individual lives. Clifton’s survives. Los Angeles will thrum on. And Ray will live on in his words.

R.I.P. Mr. Bradbury.

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