Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

I had the great luck in my life of meeting one of the greatest Librarians that has ever lived.
 One day I hope to write a story about her. She worked in PS. 189 at the top of Washington Heights. For some uncanny reason she took a liking to a nutty 8 year old kid who could not stand still, and kept drawing during the library period. and could barely read English. I guess she had two choices, hit me over the head with War and Peace, or feed me science fiction.

To my luck, War and Piece was over our age range and most likely not in the school library. So she gave me a copy of Sparks the Robot dog, it took a while to get the hang of it, but I loved that book. Soon afterwards came a copy of R is for Rocket, and Red Planet by Robert Heinlein. I devoured those books at such a rate that it surprised even me. For an extra treat the books had those amazing black and white illustrations by Clifford Geary that set my mind going. To this day I think he is one of the greatest kids book illustrator of them all.
When I had devoured all of Heinlein's books, I guess she had figured that my English was good enough to move on to the good stuff.

I was like some rabid junkie, going to her every week for a science fiction fix. It got to the point, I was reading so much, she talked to my teacher and I got to spend my lunch time at the library. It was heaven. Away from the kids that wanted to punch the living daylights out of me. I escaped into space. 

One day I came in and, resting on her table was a copy of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles..

It was much tougher than the R is for Rocket books, but Bradbury took me out of the Washington Heights fire escapes and onto the soils of the Red Planet. It took me a while to understand some of the themes he was playing with, lucky for me, I had the best Librarian in the world, who would sit with me and chat over tuna fish sandwiches, the beauty of the Chronicles of the Martians, and Fahrenheit 451.

Today I did without my lunch break and instead did a quick oil sketch for Ray Bradbury.
 He took me away and brought me back, he expanded the mind, which is what writing is best at. The man loved art, music and words, and may he rest in peace.
Thank you.
Maybe there is a tuna fish sandwich I can whip up. Just for old times sake.
PS. the painting was done on cardboard that was going to be thrown out, two coats of gesso and it was great to paint on, I actually like that big crease. 

Best to all.


  1. What a great story, and tribute. I am certain that Bradbury, and Heinlein, and all the other authors would be so sincerely touched to know of the positive influence their writings had on you. And, lo! Look how you are passing on the experience with your own creations. It is no small feat to be able to share one's visions with the world, and thus help to shape it. Well done, my one-time brother.
    ~ JKMoore

  2. Frank,

    What a great piece of art. It just shows what special talent you have! I was so lucky to have been surrounded by so much talent! I miss those days! I hope you are doing well!

    Kat Roberts