Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, December 15, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Sixty-First Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1479, December 16, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|Al Lewis for Director!||Fred Hollander for Jr. Committeeman!||Salamander Press #141.|
Things are in a state of confused transition around here at the moment. For this week, I'm living at 1825 Greenfield all by myself; Al moved out last weekend, and Tom isn't moving in until this coming weekend. The house is looking bare; most of the furniture was Al's, and he's taking it with him -- most went last weekend, and he's stopping by after school every day this week to pick up another couple of chairs or lamps or boxes of books. This coming weekend, he'll move the rest of his belongings out, and in will come various living-room and kitchen furnishings that I'm replacing them with, plus Tom's belongings. One thing that is staying is the large living-room bookcase -- Al sold it to me, since it was custom-built to fit this particular wall; he's custom-building a new one for his new apartment -- which I've already begun filling with my books, as Al moves his out a few boxes a day. This bookcase will hold another part of my collection, the paperbacks; they'll probably fill about half the bookcase when they're all unpacked -- I've got one third of the case filled already, with several more large boxes of paperbacks waiting, not to mention a couple filled with my Ace Double-Books that I seem to've misplaced somewhere. I'd originally intended setting up the LASFS Library again, after three years in storage, when Al's books were cleared out; but now it looks as though I may need all the room for myself after all. Well, with various comings and goings and moving in new furniture and rearranging it to see where it looks best, it'll probably be another month or so before 1825 is settled down into its new routine.
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ANY STICK THAT'S HANDY Dept.:
George Scithers, in FANTASY ROTATOR #172,
December 6, 1965
"I see by the recent RATATOSK that the LASFS got shot at recently -- literally, at a party, shortly after ejecting a couple crashers who had already drawn blood with Hannifen's dagger; three shots went winging through the house. I suppose we can look forward (so to speak) to the usual Boardman Version of the episode -- something along the line that exclusion is wicked and sinful and calling police worse, so the LASFS Brought It On Themselves. He may even draw parallels with the Boardman Version of the international situation, suggest that Owen lost lots less blood than any leftist fanatic should give to anything calling itself a National Liberation Front, and demand that someone in the LASFS should douse himself with gasoline and set himself afire in Pershing square as an act of appeasement to the Noble Heroes that did the shooting at LASFS.
Disgusting thought isn't it -- how little Boardman cares"... (etc.)
Hey, George, are you sure that Boardman didn't arrange the whole shooting in the first place?
I suppose that Boardman does know about the incident by now...?
--BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
June Konigsberg -- One of the oft-used plots in the DC chain of comic books -- probably used at least once for each of their costumed heroes -- involves a local town crank demanding that the superhero not be exempted from any of the local laws against speeding, working without a Union card, jaywalking, and what have you. The hero is naturally forced to agree to the propriety of this demand, since he is sworn to the upholding of law and order, and he can hardly do other than practice what he preaches. The rest of the story details around four and five examples in which the hero is prevented from doing some good deed in his usual manner because it would entail his breaking of some law (usually presented as a picayune and officious one), and the novel and roundabout method the hero finally hits upon to solve the problem. The story invariably ends with the hero getting legal permission to operate in his old manner once more, usually by being declared a quasi-official member of the local police force, with the policeman's right to supercede certain laws in the interests of justice (i.e., exceeding the speed laws in pursuit of a fleeing criminal, etc.). This plot has been run into the ground by now, though that shouldn't stop it from popping up again any day. At any rate, this is fairly much what I had in mind. The costumed hero has to have some leeway in using his special powers for the public good, otherwise there's no point in having him dashing around in costume; he might as well be an ordinary citizen or policeman. The usual manner in which this is done is to give him a quasi-official status, either by making it specific in the story series that he has been sworn in by some legal authority as a "special agent", or by consistently showing him doing assignments for the President, and other imposing members of the political and legal establishment. I don't have any objection to this. What I do object to is the presentation of the hero as a character who, because he fights in the name of the law, is himself entirely above the law. The SUPERMAN story I cited is what I consider a good example of this. Superman uses what he himself admits to be fraudulent methods to get the post of disc jockey, justifying his actions on the grounds that it'll be a handy cover under which he can go around doing good deeds. There's nothing in the story to show that this job would make a better cover than any other, that he's particularly qualified for the post (in fact he admits he's not by taking the trouble to cheat to get the job), or that it would be to the best interests of anybody for him to get the job . he's presented as taking the job away from others who also want it and have as much if not more right to it as he has, simply because he wants it, with a half-hearted rationalization that he might use it to accomplish good someday. This isn't at all the same as a justifiable violation of the law in the "line of duty", it's an obvious misuse of his superpowers for his personal benefit. Yet it's presented in such a manner as to say that, since Superman has expressed good intentions, he should be allowed to do whatever he wants. I do have a strenuous objection to this point of view; it's the same one, to cite one misuse, that's practiced by the John Birch Society: since they have a noble goal -- that of keeping America free of Communist dictatorship -- they should be allowed to employ any means, no matter how immoral, that "might" help out in its "ultimate achievement". To get back to the specific FLASH story that Dan Alderson was citing, one of the supervillains uses hypnotic means to force the Flash's hometown city council to pass a law making it illegal to use super-speed within the city limits. Even though he knows how this law came to be passed, and how the villain is using it to loot the city at his expense, the Flash is shown as having such a great respect for the law and order that he is literally physically unable to violate it to capture the criminal. Dan felt that this was putting too great an emphasis on obedience to the letter of the law, and I agree with him here. ## I, too, prefer some Thompson to some Baum, but I don't feel that Neill was noticeably worse than either of them. Snow, yes, and I haven't read the Cosgrove book; the McGraws' is pleasant, if not outstanding -- certainly no worse than Baum's or Thompson's worst. Incidentally, I wonder how things are going to fare with the latest "lost" Oz book -- the one Thompson wrote a couple of years ago, that Reilly & Lee rejected? (I gather that she's hopping mad about that!)
Dave Fox -- Thanks for a valiantly fought rear-guard action for the old nostalgia. With the infinity of planets in this universe, there must be a Barsoom out there somewhere.
Ted White -- Thanks for the info on Space Opera and ZapGun!. I'd heard the story about a year ago, but when Space Opera came & went with no sign of ZapGun!, I figured that Bensen had only been able to pull his ploy so far. I'm glad to know that the Dick novel will be appearing after all. Speaking of appearances and nonappearances, somebody in the N3F just recently brought up the question of the Jim Blish serial in AMAZING or FANTASTIC back in the 1960 that was supposed to appear in an expanded form later that year as a Signet paperback called Crab Nebula, but which never showed up. Wha hoppen?, the Neffer wants to know; and so do I.
Don Fitch -- I know what you mean about clan history; I know about my mother's side of the family fairly well back to the early 1800's, mostly because of my grandmother who'll spend hours talking about her New Orleans ancestors (don't tell John Boardman, but they Kept Slaves!). But I know virtually nothing about my father's side of the family, because nobody in it is interested in family history; the Patten family appears to have sprung up full-grown in Pasadena in the 1880's, and that's all anybody cares about it. After a fair amount of question-asking, my grandmother (the other one, my father's mother) did manage to find my great-grandfather's obituary, which said he came from Ohio via an Iowa regiment in the Union Army during the War, before settling out here. But that's all I know, and it's apparently more than anybody else in the family cares about. It's good that we don't have any ancestor worship to speak of in this country, but this does tend to swing to the other extreme. ## So keep your seeds to yourself.
Felice Rolfe -- I never used a thermos bottle; I always bought cartoned milk daily. I've never, nor do I now, like looking after things that're liable to break easily with any amount of handling.
Fred Whitledge -- Thanks for the praise of my reviews; I like reading books, and I like telling people what I think of them. Unfortunately, I don't always have the time to say anything worthwhile about it one way or the other. I read in a very hit-&-miss manner; the last two books I've read, both since Monday, are The Maker of Universes, by Philip José Farmer (anyone who liked Silverlock or likes Farmer generally will enjoy this very much), and Sink or Swim; or, Harry Raymond's Resolve, by Horatio Alger, Jr. I'm afraid I haven't gotten to The Iron Heel yet; in fact, it's buried under a large stack of fanzines at the moment. However, I'll get around to it eventually. Incidentally, now that the end of the year's upon us, It's about time to start hashing over the various "Hugo" contenders for Best This&that of 1965. For Best Novel, I'll mention Dune, by Frank Herbert; The Squares of the City, by John Brunner, and Year of the Unicorn, by Andre Norton; let's have your choices, and an open debate will hopefully follow over the next few months.
Barry Gold -- This American Nazi stuff is a good example of really sick humor; I just hope that none of the out-of-towners' Dist'ns get opened by Postal Inspectors who don't realize that it's All In Fun. Ed Meskys recently mentioned being visited by an FBI inspector who wanted to know about a statement by Jim Wright in an N3F fanzine to the effect that "I am a member of the Communist Party USA and I am going to get you all in trouble by sending Communist literature to you, and if you don't like it, TS." (Besides the FBI, the N3F thought this was unfunny enough to talk about expelling him from membership. Wright is currently making unbelievable statements such as "As has been proved, the only really efficient agrarian society is a Marxist Communist society". (Don't tell me otherwise; I never said that. And you can't tell Wright; it's been tried.)) Anyhow, I hope this Nazi stuff and the Purity Test don't scare anybody off; it's not exactly the sort of thing to hand a guest in a Dist'n to encourage him to come back. Part B is original, at least.