After Lenny Kaye and I played a few songs we invited Paul's longtime very dear friend, and one of rock journalisms first female voices to come up and offer her respects. Ellen Sander read a beautiful piece of poetry she prepared for the day.
I slept on Ellens Venice Beach couch a good number of times that first year I met Paul, 1992. He introduced us and we'd hang out with her after a day of running around and visiting cool LA music people, (mostly friends of Brian Wilson's). Then we'd report back in with Ellen's and tell her of our adventures and I'd play her some of my new songs, like I Wonder Why and other songs that became the Garage Orchestra album. Ellen I've always appreciated your belief in my music.
My pal, political documentarian/film-maker, Matt Kohn really surprised me, he showed up with celebrated, and sometimes controversial, scifi author Norman Spinrad. Wow, Matt.
Michael Lydon was an early influence on Paul's writing and they became friends in the early days of Crawdaddy Magazine. Michael is a writer of books on music and as indicated above a songwriter. He had us singing along on a very uplifting tune that day.
Wayne Robins spoke to us of Paul Williams influence on rock journalism and read and excerpt from Outlaw Blues. He wrote a beautiful tribute to Paul after the event...scroll down to the March 30th post to read it:
If it was overwhelming to me, the event was surely overwhelming to our son Alexander. There was a lot to take in. Many people speaking of his father with so much respect and love. Some of the time he listened and some of the time he sat in the big brown chair and read a book, a kind of comforting escape I believe.
The many facets of Paul Williams; Crawdaddy creator and writer, Dylan scholar, Philip K Dick literary executor and friend, Theodore Sturgeon Collected Works editor, Common Sense philosopher, hippy journalist (Time Between), music fan
I met Steve Greenberg back in 1993 when I was being trotted around to different New York record labels. He was a young record company a+r guy and we hit it off. Whenever I'd come to town we'd have lunch and catch up on our lives. Steve was the producer behind some pretty popular groups like Hanson, Baha Men (Who Let the Dogs Out), and Jonas Brothers and currently heads S-Curve Records.
Andy Shernoff, founding member of The Dictators, in the house.
Ira Robbins of Trowser Press. I was introduced to Ira by my record company Rhino when my first album came out. He said some good stuff about so the label had us meet up in New York. I seem to remember us meeting at a soul food kitchen in Harlem and having peanut butter pie or something.
At the end of the day, a very tired me, Lenny Kaye and Boo-Hooray owner/curator Johan Kugelberg.
It was an absolutely wonderful event and I still feel deeply thankful to everyone involved and all that came to show their respects. It was a moving and pretty overwhelming day, all the good vibes and stuff for Paul and his family.
These are a few choice items found amongst the many cartons of Paul's books and papers we processed this past week. The first photo is a very young Paul in a play-room full of toys. Probably the same age he was when he wrote this note to his mother saying;
"Dear Mother, I have gone over to Harold's, but don't be surprised if I'm here because Harold may be out."
His mother, Janet Williams, saw a keen sense of irony and wisdom in the note and sent it to the New Yorker column Talk of the Town. As you can see the New Yorker decided to publish it, making this, at the young age of 5, Paul's first published piece of writing.
Around age 10. In grade school Paul started his first zine, The Sunlight Harold, which only lasted for a few issues.
David Hartwell, my late husbands longtime best friend, came out this week to help me process Paul's papers and books in storage (see above, w box top on head). This was not an easy job. We did a little bit of this work back in September, this week we got down to the nitty gritty - looking through boxes, and boxes, of papers.
Alexander brought his homework to storage, a little cold down there in the labyrinths and halls and lockers of other peoples stuff.
In the evenings we visited some of the finest science fiction authors Southern California has to offer. I decided to take my guitar over to Cheryl and David Brins and in lieu of a house-gift I would sing them a song. It went so well that David Brin brought out his harmonica and chimed in on a Dylanesque ramble of chords.
David Brin in the key of C
The next night we drove up to Elizabeth and Gregory Benfords house in Orange county, where I played a few songs and we got a tour of his Chesley Bonestell prints. Cool! I adore Bonestell's astronomical art. There was some other great astro art as well, like a super cool rendering of one of my favorite weird star systems; Beta Lyrae with its swirling gases (similar to Bonestell's)..
Here you can see a Martian-like desert-scape above Greg's desk. He's an astro-physicist at UC Irvine and a much loved, hard sci-fi writer in the tradition of Arthur C Clarke. Clarke's stories, Expedition To Earth and etc, was one of the big reasons I started writing as a kid. So cool that Greg was a friend of his.
A few years back Alexander and I were watching a documentary on Stephen Hawking and Greg was in it, I said, "Alexander, there's your dads friend talking about your favorite subject (physics)".
We left the Benford's relatively early, I had a race to run with Alexander the next morning. The Thanksgiving Day 5K in Oceanside. We were amongst 10,000 people at 8am, crazy. Alexander beat me by 20 seconds, but we both came in around 33 minutes. Not so bad considering I'm just coming back from a year of appendectomies and sprained ankles, and well, other stuff.
Thank you David Hartwell for a thoroughly enjoyable holiday week. Lots of hard work (not to mention emotional) on Paul's archive and really fun visits with inspiring writer friends.
We got David to the airport and drove back home to find ourselves suddenly immersed in a spontaneous visit from Paul's oldest son and family, down from the Bay Area for the day. Their kids (Paul's grandkids) and Alexander, romped and rooted around in the sand for several hours while the sun set over our local beach.
(all photos by David Hartwell, except for those by clb)