This past May, I joined my old friend David Kipen, former Literary Director of the National Endowment for the Arts, for a discussion on Ray Bradbury and urbanism. This event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Office of Cultural Affairs and the NEA's "Big Read" initiative. Over the years, I have given many hundreds of presentations around the world, but this one was quite singular. The event was held at Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. As a teenager, Ray Bradbury attended meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League at Clifton's alongside other fledgling creatives such as Ray Harryhausen, Leigh Brackett, Edward Hamilton and Robert Heinlein and his wife Leslyn. The group would meet each week in "The Little Brown Room" to read each other's stories, commune, and talk about the future. It was an absolute thrill to speak with David about Ray Bradbury's visions for Los Angeles, mass transit, and urban planning. We were joined by several guests, including his dear friend Sid Stebel, who first met Ray in the late 1940s.
The event was marvelous. There was a great crowd with a ton of old friends. David Kipen is the consummate Master of Ceremonies. It was truly an honor to gather and pay our respects to Ray in the very spot he used to go to as a young man, the place where he dreamed of his future as a writer and then went to make that future a reality.