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Ray Bradbury: Thoughts at Life’s End (Video and Transcript)
Posted on Jun 7, 2012
Steve Wasserman: Of the objects that fill this room which I assume are 1000 memories for you are there any that leap out as you cast your eye around that you could tell me something about?
Ray Bradbury: They are gifts from people who love me. This dinosaur is a Tyrannosaurs Rex, which came from Japan from a sculptor there who carved it out of wood and sent it to me because dinosaurs have been the center of my life. I saw them when I was 6 years old in movies. I wrote about them when I was 30. I gave a copy of my dinosaur story to John Houston and he read it and said my God that’s Herman Melville. He gave me the job of writing “Moby Dick” because I loved dinosaurs. So you have one right here. It’s a good example. I’ve got an Emmy Award over here where I won for “The Halloween Tree”. It’s a result of my love. Everything in life should be love. I felt love at Halloween when I was 3 years old. When I grew up I began to paint pictures about the Halloween tree that was in my mind. I knew Chuck Jones the animator; I had lunch with him 40 years ago because I loved the cartoons he made for Warner Brothers. My love was intense for Chuck Jones. Halloween occurred the night before and Chuck Jones said did you see that show on TV last night “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”? I said yes, I hated it. He said the pumpkin never showed up did it? He said, would you like to write a Halloween show for me? I said do you want to make a cartoon? He said yes! So I went home, brought him my painting of the Halloween tree that I’d done with the children down in the basement 30 years ago. He looked at that painting and he said isn’t that the history of Halloween. Why don’t we do a film about that painting? I wrote a screenplay and it was made into a film and turned it into a novel. I got the Emmy because it represents my love. My love surrounds me here. Everything is love. If you look up here, there is all the best films made in the last 30 years. I have formed 3 film societies in Hollywood myself, during the last 20-30 years. The film society for the writers, a film society for the actors, a film society for the directors. Now I’m teaching people how to love films. Three different film societies I formed. One person did this because I was angry at the quality that was going on and I changed the education by forming the film societies and teaching people what to love. There you have it.
Steve Wasserman: Now I want you at your advanced and young age to form 3 societies for the advancement of books and book reviewing. One a society for the critics to teach them how to criticize responsibly; one a society for the readers so they can learn how to read responsibly; and a society for the writers so they can get us better stories.
Ray Bradbury: Absolutely. A book review could do this. A really great book review in the LA Times with a great cover teaching love and promoting a new book that teaches you the love of life. Some of the other books can be inside. There can a complete schedule again of all the major lectures given around LA every week and then you go and meet the authors. A book review can do this. But it’s not doing it right now.
Steve Wasserman: The day that the UCLA library put a plaque for you in its basement for a nickel or a dime feeding the typewriters that you were too poor yourself to afford, and you wrote in 3 weeks?
Ray Bradbury: Nine days.
Steve Wasserman: Nine days. Fahrenheit 451?
Ray Bradbury: Yeah. We are going to do that next month I hear. They are going to give me a plaque at long last.
Steve Wasserman: Finally! Congratulations 50 odd years after writing!
Ray Bradbury: I want to make points about love here. I love John Houston that’s why I worked for him. I didn’t meet him for years. I was afraid of meeting him because I loved him. I published 3 books. I said to my agent, I want to have for John Houston now. I took my 3 books to dinner, I put them out on the table and I said, Mr. Houston here is “Dark Carnival”, “The Martian Chronicles”, and “The Illustrated Man”. If you love these books half as much as I love you hire me someday. Two years later he hired me the new “Moby Dick”. I loved him. You see you’ve got to do this you’ve got to do it more often. I say to Schwarzenegger he’s the governor of this state not because of me because I protested my love. I was on the Academy of Motion Pictures documentary committee 30 years ago. We ran films and turned them off if we didn’t like them. One night we were running a film called “Pumping Iron” and they turned it off. I was in the front road and I turned and said you sons of bitches! Turn that film back on. I said you don’t like weightlifters you don’t like body builders you don’t like surfers. I slept with one for 27 years. They said, what? I said, my brother. I grew up at Muscle Beach. I know all these people and this film is about Muscle Beach and the people that I knew and loved when I was a child. But you don’t like your prejudice against weightlifters. I’ve see 10 minutes of the film now. It’s worth seeing and made them turn it back on. They changed their mind and Schwarzenegger got his start there. I saved his skin that day. You see what passion does? Love is everything. I saved Schwarzenegger’s skin and now he’s governor because of me.
Steve Wasserman: Has he thanked you?
Ray Bradbury: He was in the woods with me a couple of years ago and he heard the story. He ran on stage and grabbed me, pulled me up by his arm and pulled it out of its socket, with his love. There you go. Everything is love. Everything is love.
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