Harlan Ellison, who died today, was a long-time friend and collaborator to my late brother Joe. When we moved to LA long ago, we became the beneficiaries of that great friendship.
Harlan was irascible, brilliant and motivated. He was a great friend (and, as been documented, a ruthless enemy), and time spent with him was never wasted. Harlan once came to a party at our house and spent the entire evening sitting a at a typewriter in our living room, writing a story which he sold the next day.
A visit to his house, sometimes known as the Lost Aztec Temple, was what we used to call an E Coupon coupon ride; a work of art in itself, full of mystic treasures, from the exterior gargoyles made to look like members of the Nixon administration, to the low-ceilinged secret room below, which was made intentionally inaccessible to tall people. His work always sold, and he created it tirelessly. He had an enormous fanbase.
And he loved music. I remember when I once had temporarily convinced myself that MP3 recordings sounded pretty good, he played me a pristine LP of Aretha Franklin's first album, which was pure jazz, and it cleaned out my ears so thoroughly that I couldn't listen to an MP3 file for months afterward.
We hadn't seen him for months, not since he declared that he just wasn't up to visitors any more.
His wife, Susan, has been a valiant caregiver for the duration of his recent years of illness, and we send her our love and all the comfort we can offer.