ERBapa No. 75 ~ Fall 2002
ERBapa v02 n08
Aka JoN: Jeddak of the North
41 Kensington Crescent,
Brandon, MB R7A 6M4 Canada
204.728.4673 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
Hillman Memories of ECOF 2002
An illustrated version of this journal is found online in ERBzin-e starting at:
They were all there:
Tardos Mors, Lord Passmore, Tasor, Ghak, A.Q. Porter, Jane (two of them), Tin Tin & Edie, Woola, BBH - The ERB Traveller, Dejah Thoris, Jeddak of the North, The Tarzan FANatic, Quaestor, Joog, Billy Byrne, Number 13, Shoz Dijiji, Mors Kajak, Abner Perry, Usha, Tarzan...
...and many more.
Sue-On and I have been looking for a chance to return to Tarzana since 1999 when we attended our first Dum-Dum. Since that time we had been involved in many long-distance projects with Danton Burroughs and our fellow Burroughs fans and scholars. Our projects with Danton have been particularly rewarding as he has generously provided a wealth of rare documents, letters, photographs, interviews, anecdotes, and scans to share with our ERBzin-e and ERBapa readers. We had planned to use the visit to Tarzana ECOF 2002 as an opportunity to develop new ERB projects.
Plans to spend quality research time before and after the California event, however, were thwarted by recent events up here in Canada. I spent much of last year working as a fly-in Travelling Professor in Canada's North for Brandon University (www.BrandonU.CA). Even though I flew home for R & R every ten days it was certainly a strange experience as Sue-On had always worked together on projects and had never been apart for more than a few days in over 35 years of marriage. This isolation also affected my Burroughs addiction somewhat as the only way I could keep to a weekly publishing schedule for ERBzin-e was through satellite communication.
Over the summer, however, I was promoted to the position of Assistant Professor and was offered the job of taking over the BU on-campus computer department in the Faculty of Education. Setting up new programmes, adapting them to online presentation, and preparing two labs with their 50 computers for the fall term involved a tremendous amount of time and work... it also meant that we would have to fly home immediately after ECOF to start classes. (Hillman Brandon University Profile) To further complicate things, Sue-On had also been hired by the university to teach English for Academic Purposes to International students. We also had a full slate of music activities as we had been booked to perform at a fall Blues Festival and were doing a series of rock 'n' roll revival shows and casino showhalls with our old friend Bobby Curtola -- Canada's Rock 'n' Roll Legend (www.curtola.com). As every ERB Fanatic knows, sometimes the real world steps into the path of our ERB safaris.
Even though I was flying on "frequent flier/air miles" credits and Sue-On was booking a regular flight, we managed to get seats on the same NorthWest aircraft and arrived at LAX on Thursday night. Our Prime Time Shuttle driver whisked us to the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn in good time despite traffic tie-ups on the freeway caused heavy long weekend traffic and "Amber" alert slowdowns. Along the way we had mentioned to the driver that we were attending a Burroughs/Tarzan convention in Tarzana. The driver was obviously well versed in Tarzana lore as he proceeded to explain to us, in an excited, heavily-accented voice, that Tarzana had been named in honour of a famous Tarzan movie actor who used to live there. My attempts to learn more surprising tidbits of history from this fount of knowledge were thwarted by the sudden appearance of a Holiday Inn marquee displaying the message: WELCOME ECOF - TARZAN LIVES.
We expected that there would be die-hard ERB fans holding down the lobby, and we weren't disappointed. There to greet us were Tracy "Lord Passmore" Griffin, Bruce "Abner Perry" Wood, Huck "A.Q. Porter" Huckenpohler and Bill "On Safari" Morse. After going through a hurried check-in ritual with the assistance of an already somewhat harried desk man (he let it slip that his school years up in Waterloo, Ontario hadn't really prepared him for an invasion of Tarzan wannabees). After claiming our lair for the night we rushed back to the lobby to renew old friendships and to catch up on all the latest ERB chatter. Eventually the labours of our day-long journey started to take their toll and we shuffled off to hit the Tarzana sleeping furs and silks.
FRIDAY I: RESEARCH AT THE ERB, INC. OFFICES
Friday morning's breakfast put us in touch with more friends and fans: Steve "Ghak" Wadding, Pete ERBANIA Ogden, Bob "BB Prez" Hyde, Brian "MMA" Bohnett, Laurence "Bloody British Hooligan" Dunn and John "Quaestor" Tyner. The arrival of Dick "Joog" and Ginnie Spargur caused a flurry of excitement as Sue-On had been in plotting, via e-mail, with Ginnie and Edie James to set up an "ECOF Ladies Auxiliary" shopping expedition for Saturday afternoon.
Immediately following breakfast we contacted Danton who had been expecting us days earlier. He invited us to come over as soon as possible to the ERB Inc. offices which were actually closed for the day as this was Labor Day weekend. We had asked earlier at the desk about reserving the hotel shuttle, but were told that it was tied up for the morning. Thinking that the office couldn't be too far away I was about to venture onto Ventura on foot when the hotel shuttle happened to show up. This was a great bit of luck as the hike would have been much longer than I had estimated. The shuttle driver, confused by the well-camouflaged and tree-hidden ERB, Inc. office front, delivered us to the office parking lot across the street. This was a good learning experience for him as he would be making many such trips throughout the rest of the day.
Danton was in the process of unearthing treasures from the warehouse to put on display for the office tour he was to host in a few hours. Over the last year he had given his office secretary Cathy Wilbanks some incredible archive material to scan and to send to us on CD-ROMs. Much of this material we have published in ERBzin-e, our weekly online fanzine, and have collated into tribute Websites for his dad and mom: John Coleman Burroughs www.erbzine.com/jcb and Jane Ralston Burroughs www.erbzine.com/jrb . But this being a long weekend meant that Cathy was not in the office and we would have to look forward to meeting her on some later visit. It was a great thrill to see and hold the actual documents and photos that Danton kept piling in front of us and before long Sue-On and I were frantically snapping photos and running the office photocopier, scanner and computer in an attempt to archive as much material as possible. Three memorable treasures that were unearthed for us, and that were later displayed for the ECOF tour, were a set of ERB scrapbooks, a Martian sword with scabbard, and a moveable-parts model thoat.
The scrapbooks were a compilation of mainly Tarzan-related newspaper clippings. Sue-On did a game job of photocopying these yellowed, crumbling pages that ERB had so meticulously collated, but we just had too little time. Hopefully we can arrange another time to complete the job. The large wooden John Carter sword and scabbard, as well as the multi-limbed Barsoomian thoat had been hand-carved by John Coleman Burroughs to serve as artist's models for the series of John Carter comics, Sunday pages and novel illustrations he had worked on in the '30s and '40s (see the JCB Tribute Website). His wife -- Danton's mother -- Jane Ralston Burroughs had worked closely with him on these projects, doing backgrounds and lettering, and even posing for his artistic renderings of Dejah Thoris (see the JRB Tribute Website).
One of the items in my collection that I am particularly fond of is a water colour portrait of a young boy by JCB. Danton had seen this painting on our Website and had identified the young boy as his brother Johnny. It seems that not only had his dad enlisted Jane Ralston as a Dejah model, but he had often used his kids, John, Danton and Dian as subjects for his artwork. Knowing the significance of the painting I pulled it out of the frame in which it had been mounted for 60 years and made three prints, one of which I presented to Danton and the others to Mary Burroughs and Nanette Mark when I saw them later in the day.
The Burroughs offices contain an eclectic mix of new merchandise, projects and art juxtaposed with rarities which are the envy of every ERB fan and collector. Seeing Ed's ornately carved desk in the inner office brought back memories of when I first saw it -- a flashback to the time I startled Hully and Sue-On... and myself, by opening my camera case and dumping a pile of sand and gravel all over the desktop. (See ERBzines 192 & 193: http://www.erbzine.com/mag1/0192.html ). Scattered about on this historic piece of furniture, and the other desks throughout the building, are ever-changing piles of manuscripts, art, and proposals for projects from companies all over the world who are interested in the ERB creations -- most of which are almost 100 years old. All of this serves as precursor to the real treasures that line the walls of the inner office: rows of mint Burroughs first editions in dust jackets.
The large safe in the front office holds much significance for older fans. This was the safe where so many of Ed's unfinished manuscripts were found and were eventually published for the first time during the "60s boom." The walls are festooned with collections of St. John and Frazetta originals, a large framed aerial photo of Tarzana ranch in its glory days of the '20s, N.C. Wyeth's dust jacket painting for The Return of Tarzan, a wall of Burian Tarzan art, a portrait of the Master of Fantasy Adventure, statuettes of Dejah and the ape man, alongside numerous posters of the new Disney animated Tarzan and assorted memorabilia..
Panic time had set in for me, however, just around the time that D.J. Howell and Bill Morse arrived for a late-morning meeting with Danton. I had forgotten my carton of extra computer diskettes for my Sony Mavica camera... all this ERB history was laid out before me but, in my rush to catch the shuttle, I had stupidly forgotten to bring enough "ammo." "Usha" very graciously gave me a ride back to the hotel to pick up my disks, while Bill and Danton conferred and Sue-On carried on with her photocopying. Soon after our return, however, Danton had to close shop and we had a chance to get to know fellow ERBapa members, DJ and Bill, a little better over a Denny's lunch.
Following lunch we returned to the hotel to prepare for the rest of the day's activities. We had just returned to our room when we received a message that Nanette Mark and her son Cory were waiting to meet us in the lobby. A few years ago, through the wonders of the Internet and e-mail, we had struck up a friendship with Nanette. She had helped JCB with many projects in his last years when he had been so disabled with Parkinson's Disease. One of her duties was to help Jack collate the artwork and accompanying descriptions for Russ Cochran's ERB Library of Illustration. Over the years she has been a very staunch JCB supporter and has led an ongoing campaign to achieve more recognition for his art and contributions. She had mentioned a few weeks back that Danton had invited her to attend ECOF and participate in the tours of ERB, Inc. and Tarzana Ranch, so we were anticipating her arrival. After hugs and chats in the lobby we had the pleasure of introducing Nanette to organizer Bob Zeuschner and other fans who were preparing to leave for the ERB, Inc. office tour.
FRIDAY II: DANTON'S TOUR OF THE ERB, INC. OFFICES
The ERB, Inc. open house was a packed event. The three office rooms were packed with fans and many strangers who seemed to appear out of nowhere. While roaming with my cameras I also helped a bit with security as many of the displayed items were worth a small fortune and they were all open to hands-on examination. Another first-time meeting I was looking forward to was with Patrice Bonnyrat of Griffen films who was working on a major PBS bio documentary, Burroughs: Master of Fantasy. Danton had given Patrice our address and we had been corresponding by e-mail and phone for some time. Patrice was accompanied by actors Lydie Denier and Bruce Boxleitner who had been commissioned to narrate the show. Fittingly my meeting with Patrice and Lydie was under the famous black walnut tree which marked the burial spot of Ed's ashes in the front garden of the Burroughs office lot.
I had just returned to the office melee and was trying to take shots of the Burian art wall when old friend Billy York and his wife Barbara arrived. Billy had been the perfect host and a real pal during our last trip to California. He is a fellow-educator, and the cross-country team he coaches has won a bushel of awards and trophies, but he finds time to attend the occasional ERB event. He introduced us to his lovely wife Barbara but then, in typical Billy fashion, he mysteriously disappeared. When we eventually tracked him down we found him in the inner office -- buried up to his elbows in a stack of giant sheets of Princess of Mars pre-production art.
An excited group of shutterbugs huddled around a box near the entrance to the second office room. A.Q. Porter, Abner, the Bloody British Hooligan, Henry Franke and many more had discovered a rarity that, up to now, fans had seen only in photos. The most famous photo, the one featured in the Porges biography, shows John Coleman Burroughs with a wooden model thoat that he had just carved. He had constructed this many-legged Barsoomian "horse" with jointed legs and neck so that he could pose it in all manner of positions to give him inspiration for the many John Carter of Mars illustrations he was creating. Son Danton had only recently rediscovered this unusual item.
Clusters of curious fans paraded Sue-On who was still furiously photocopying ERB's scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. To help speed things up a bit, Usha had volunteered to remove pages from the scrapbook rings and pass them over to Sue-On. The clippings had apparently come from a clipping service that had monitored newspapers for Tarzan and Burroughs references and had supplied Ed with thousands of news items throughout the '20s, '30s and '40s.
Meanwhile, in the inner office, Danton had unleashed his dad's Martian sword from its ornately carved wooden scabbard and was holding the invading mobs at bay in true John Carter fashion. Finally, after the last man had retreated into the parking lot, the masses reorganized and followed the retreating swordsman on his trek up to the Burroughs Tarzana Ranch.
FRIDAY III: ERB FANS AT TARZANA RANCH
The Tarzana Ranch party hosted by Danton Burroughs was an exciting experience for ERB fans and scholars, as well as for many Tarzana neighbours who had spent their lifetimes peering up at the evolving/devolving Burroughs estate property and wondering from afar about what was going on up there at that Tarzan place. For devoted Burroughs fans it was a chance to explore what remains of the Tarzana mansion grounds, buildings and exotic trees. Sadly, the original main building is long gone and only photos and memories remain. What remains is what was once the garage/ballroom building that had also served as a classroom for ERB's three kids: Joan, Hully and Jack. Ed also had installed film projection equipment in the main room of this building and had entertained family and friends with regular showings of Tarzan films, the latest Hollywood epics, and home movies. Picking up on this, Danton used the more modern technology of video tape and large screen television to share highlights of the Burroughs home movies. I believe that most of those in the audience were struck by the uniqueness of this experience: Burroughs fans of all ages now gathered in the area that had once housed Ed's fleet of automobiles while his grandson reflected on the images preserved by the camera work of one of America's greatest authors. The backdrop to these images was a wall of windows overlooking the property of what had once been the main house, while behind that was the panorama of the sprawling San Fernando Valley -- much of which was quite unrecognizable when compared to the footage shot 80 years ago. What was evident in the films, however, was the grandeur of the original Tarzana mansion, the exuberance and excitement shown by Burroughs family as they frolicked across the estate grounds with its fascinating buildings, pool, menagerie, and the many other touches that showed that Burroughs' imagination and zest for life was not limited to the printed word.
Danton's sharing session was followed by a lengthy presentation by Ralph Herman who outlined the history of the Tarzana area and the Burroughs holdings (see our History of Tarzana site at: http://www.erbzine.com/mag0/0008.html ). A transcript of this talk is featured in ERBzine. He and Danton displayed related documents, as well as a metal plaque that had been found in the walls of one of the buildings. The lavish spread of food and drinks, combined with the Burroughs-related art that bedecked the walls, proved to be a great catalyst for social interaction. Visitors were allowed the complete run of the premises and pockets of minglers constantly shifted and morphed through a myriad of combinations. The arrival of ECOF convention organizers Rob Greer and Bob Zeuschner with the hot-off-the-press convention packets made all of this a little easier as the goodie bags contained name tags.
We were especially glad to have time, however short, to chat with old friends from the ERB world. E-mail messages and telephone chat can never take the place of real hug/clasp/smile/patter get-togethers. It was especially gratifying to see Mary Burroughs (John Coleman Burroughs' second wife) and daughter Stacy make contact with Danton after so many years. Also there to spend some time with Danton was Nanette Mark and her son Cory. Nanette had assisted JCB in his final years. Having been a long-time fan of JCB's work it was very gratifying to see these three boosters of his work finally reunited and sharing stories of the man's warmth and contributions.
On our last visit to Tarzana, Billy York had graciously driven us around and shown us all the sights. At the time we were impressed with his colourful Hawaiian style shirts. Upon asking where he had found them he replied that his wife Barbara had sewn them all. This year Billy convinced Barbara that ERB fans were really "normal beans" -- sorta -- and so, on this very special day, she bravely came along. Barbara proved that her sewing talents far exceeded just the manufacture of Billy's trademark shirts: she presented Sue-On and myself with two gigantic and beautiful "jungle" quilts. Our second-storey bedroom overlooking Brandon's Assiniboine River valley is very large and since this is the room in which we display most of our ERB collection, these additions were just what we needed to make it truly an ERB world.
A major contributor to the take-away package prepared for the ECOF visitors was renowned artist, Tom Yeates. We have a special fondness for Tom's work as he did a Barsoomian flavoured sketch of Sue-On and myself at Jim Thompson's Clarksville ECOF 2000. Tom designed this year's convention logos that appeared on the "Burroughs Fan" and "Tarzan Fan" T-shirts. Also included in the package of goodies was a limited edition book featuring Yeates art. It wasn't long then before fans had crowded around Tom's table to request that he autograph memorabilia.
Helen Baker and the reps from the Tarzana Community & Cultural Center were in attendance and were very eager to learn more about the Burroughs phenomenon. They are hoping to launch an ERB museum in downtown Tarzana.
Griffen Films were well represented at the ranch and through the convention weekend. Producer Patrice Bonnyrat, along with two of the show's hosts, Bruce Boxleitner and Lydie Denier were constantly surrounded by people interested in learning more about the forthcoming Burroughs documentary. These personable television and film personalities did much to add to the glamour and excitement of the event. The fact that Lydie is the owner of a Ford Probe almost identical to one of ours reinforced our admiration for this beautiful French actress known to all Tarzan fans as Jane in the Wolf Larsen series.
Ralph Herman, who had renovated the Tarzana Ranch building before selling it to ERB, Inc., led a tour of the building to the second floor with its incredible view of the valley and surrounding mountains. He then led us over to ballroom section with its upper story projection room overlooking the high ceilinged ballroom. Amazingly, this building has survived a succession of owners, the ravages of time, major earthquakes, developers, vandals, taxes, and decades of bureaucratic hassles to rise up again under the Burroughs name.
This remarkable day was topped off with an unforgettable dinner in an Italian restaurant on Ventura. Our warm and generous host was Mary Burroughs. She and Stacy had chosen this restaurant based upon reviews they had read on the Internet -- and it was an excellent choice. By chance this was the last night for the eatery under the current ownership and the mood of the staff and patrons seemed to swing from celebration to melancholy to noisy exuberance. Mary had invited Dick and Ginnie Sparger to join us and their company added to the richness of the gathering. We have corresponded with Mary for years but the last time we had visited in person was at the Clarksville ECOF in 2000. She had been the convention's guest of honour and in preparation for this we had collaborated on a booklet showcasing the life and work of her late husband, John Coleman Burroughs ~ http://www.erbzine.com/mag3/0334.html
After Mary had dropped us off at the hotel my nightly pre-turn-in stroll around Woodland Hills and Tarzana proved to be quite uneventful, so after a brief chat with the last of the night owls in the hotel lobby I decided to call it a day... and what a day it was.
SATURDAY: HUCKSTERS ~ PANELS ~ CELEBRITIES ~ BANQUET
Saturday morning started off with the opening of the huckster room and the arrival of more guests of honour. Excitement reigned. After a rush reconnaissance tour of the wares, Sue-On left with Edie James and Ginnie Spargur on their ECOF Ladies Auxiliary Shopping Tour while I visited with Nanette and Cory Mark who had brought numerous JCB items and anecdotes to share with us. The ERB pulp panel with Bob Zeuschner and Stan Galloway was winding down when I was able to make it to the panel room. I'm looking forward to viewing Wayne James' tapes of this panel as there are few people who know more about ERB pulps than these two scholars.
After a short visit with Lee Chase and Denny Miller, Bill Morse and I went for lunch with Danton at a Mexican restaurant where we were joined later by Helen Baker and Nanette Mark. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with the comic artists panel moderated by Tom Yeates. Featured on the panel were ERB artists Christopher Schenck (Dark Horse Tarzan artist), William Stout (popular dinosaur and ERB artist), Dave Schwartz (Disney's Legend of Tarzan TV artist) and Dave Burton (Barsoom artist). At the close of this panel session, auctioneers extraordinaire Bill Ross, Mike Shaw, Mike Conran and Rob Greer sprang into action and launched the LA SubERB's auction.
After Sue-On's return from the shopping safari we filled each other in on our day's experiences. To each other's shock we learned that neither of us had made any major purchases -- either in the huckster room or on the LA shop crawl. Each of us thought that the other had all the American money and we were both "running on empty"... it was only much later that we discovered our US greenbacks hidden away in a jacket pocket. We both missed out on some great bargains.
Mary and Stacy arrived at the hotel just after Eve Brent and her husband made their appearance. This prompted our second photo tour of the huckster room and resulted in some good shots of the guests of honour as well as of the various sellers' tables just as they were closing for the day.
The Saturday banquet was held at TGI Fridays in Woodland Hills. By the time we arrived the rowdy ERBites had pretty much taken over the establishment. Bob Hyde whisked Mary away to join him at his table and we joined Stacy, Ghak, Abner, Joog and Ginnie, Billy, Wayne and Edie, at a long table. Sue-On flagged down a balloon maker and suggested that he make a towering headpiece suitable for Joog the Giant. It was a perfect fit but the giant hat proved to be so popular that it made the rounds of all the tables. Following the meal, Mary drove us back to the hotel where we had time for a visit while Sue-On and Stacy went shopping for snacks and ice cream to bring back for a poolside snack.
The highlight of the day was yet to come. Danton had skipped supper to prepare more rarities to share with dedicated collectors. We gathered around a cassette player to listen to unreleased Tarzan radio shows from the '30s followed by an unusual proposed sequel to the famous mid-'70s rock musical, Rocky Horror Picture Show. This version is of interest to ERB fans because it featured Tarzan. Danton remembers being very excited about it but it had been firmly rejected by Uncle Hully and wife Marion when it had been brought to ERB, Inc. Following this, a small group of devoted ERB collectors were treated to a peek into Danton's brief case that contained never-before-seen photos, letters, documents and memorabilia from Ed's childhood, MMA days, Tarzana Ranch heyday, and the WWII years in Hawaii. Danton encouraged me to take photos, which I did, but unfortunately the lighting was too dim for them to turn out.
||AUTHORS, EDITORS & OTHER ERB PROJECTS|
|ERB AND THE PULP FICTION ERA
COMIC ARTISTS PANEL DISCUSSION
SCRIPT WRITERS INVOLVED IN ERB PROJECTS
|Dr. Robert Zeuschner (ERB Bibliography)
James Van Hise
Jerry Schneider (ERB and the Silver Screen)
Dr. J. G. Huckenpohler (Huck's Pocket Checklist)
Brian Bohnett (ERB and the History of Michigan Militar Academy)
Hugh Munro Neely (Turner Classic Movies, etc.)
Bruce Wood (ERB Atlas, Moon Maid, DJs)
Bill Hillman (Word Wide Web projects)
Pete Ogden (ERBANIA)
Bill Ross (ERB Collector)
Mike Conran (ERB News Dateline)
Bill Hillman (ERBzin-e)
James Van Hise
J. G. Huckenpohler
|Jim Van Hise
Bob and Lindy Zeuschner
GoH Table: Lydie Denier, Bruce Boxleitner, Eve Brent
The Capitol Panthans
Beth Baxter - B & B Audio, Inc.
Brian Bohnett - ERB and the History of Michigan Militar Academy
LORD PASSMORE'S SAFARI ALONG TARZANA'S RED HAWK TRAIL
Edgar Rice Burroughs drew upon experience in the telling of his remarkable stories. A few of the experiences across his 75 years included being: a cadet with MMA military training who later commanded militia groups, an exhibition horseman, a teacher of geography/geology, the driver of the first battery-powered car at Chicago exhibitions, a cowboy range rider and trail driver, the hunter of Apache renegades with the U.S. Cavalry, a buster of hobos as railroad policeman, a gold miner, a photography shop owner, a veteran of many cross-country adventures by auto caravan, a businessman who launched a multitude of business schemes, a Hollywood mogul, a ranch and estate owner, a devoted family man, a dabbler in art, photography, journalism, a WWII journalist... and a dreamer. The same elements that drew film makers to Hollywood at the beginning of the last century also provided inspiration for his writing after he moved to his sprawling ranch estate in California's San Fernando Valley: canyons and valleys, mountains and uplands, range and scrubland, ocean beaches, rugged isolated areas contrasting with nearby modern cities, a diverse cultural mix, sunshine, and the creative imagination factory of America's film and entertainment capital. Burroughs was an avid horseman who loved to explore the diverse landscapes on and around his ranch property and his descriptions of much of this scenic and rugged area found their way into novels as diverse as the The Girl From Hollywood, The Moon Maid (Red Hawk), and "Jimber Jaw," as well as into his numerous Western and Apache novels and even parts of the Mars series.
Much of this land is now known as Caballero Canyon and has been preserved in its natural state by the Santa Monica Mountains and Recreation and Conservation Authority. Hikers, cyclists, and nature lovers have long treasured the experience of exploring the area. One of the most avid of these devotees of the Tarzana wilds is writer/actor, and respected ERB scholar, Tracy Griffin. Tracy volunteered to lead a group of some of the hardier ECOF attendees and on Sunday morning, before the 100 degree heat of the day set in, "Lord Passmore" assembled his safari near the hotel entrance. After a brief orientation talk, about 20 Tarzan "wannabees" scrambled into cars and formed a caravan for the short drive to the rugged hills and gullies beyond urban Tarzana. Huck, Sue-On and myself hitched a ride with Bill "Mors Kajak" Herr -- a good man to be with on such a hike as he has had almost 30 years experience with the National Parks Service.
Within half an hour the hike was underway and Passmore set off on a pace worthy of his adopted persona. Also leading the pack were the bwana's two California cohorts, lieutenants Bruce Boxleitner and Tom Yeates. I took advantage of the still-tolerable temperatures at the beginning of the hike to race from front to rear and back to get some shots of this disparate -- and increasingly desperate -- assemblage of sweating and puffing hikers. Ninety minutes of this steady pace started to take their toll so our intrepid guide agreed to a rest stop when the summit -- Mulholland Drive -- was almost in view. This was close enough for some of the party who opted to rest in the shade where they could take in the panoramic view of the valley below.
"I came to the summit without overtaking [the advance guard], but I could tell from the trail that they were not far ahead of me. The canyon trail is very winding and there is a great deal of brush, so that oftentimes a [hiker] a score of yards ahead of you is out of sight and the noise of your own passage drowns that of the others. For this reason I did not know, as long as I was in the canyon, how close I might be to them; but when I approached the summit it was different. Then I could see farther in all directions.... Pushing rapidly ahead we encountered no insuperable obstacles and we came out upon a wide trail at the summit of the hills and saw spread below us a beautiful valley extending far to the east and to the west." (Julian 20th)
By this time the vigors of the hike, the relentless sun, the rising mercury and the racing about to get in position for shots of the group, were starting to take their toll on this photographer, as is evidenced by some of the photo images that were filtered through sweat on the camera lens. At this point many of the hikers expressed envy for the Burroughs family, who regularly made this trip with the aid of horsepower.
The Mulholland Drive that stretches along the crest of the uplands in this area is far different from the section that overlooks Hollywood at its other extremity. At this point the Drive is little more than a dirt road providing access to fire fighters. This is an important access as the scrub vegetation in the dry canyons below is very vulnerable to fires which, once started, are fanned by funneled sea breezes from the nearby Pacific. Also visible in this southerly direction is LAX and part of Los Angeles. Looking in the opposite direction one sees the sprawling San Fernando Valley.
The jubilant hikers now took pause to suck on water bottles, congratulate each other on their achievement, marvel at the view that Ed must have enjoyed from horseback so many years before, and to pose for victory photographs. Huck looked amazingly fit and refreshed, explaining that he does an equivalent hike almost daily through the jungles of Washington D.C.
Despite the ever-increasing heat of the day, the return trip seemed somewhat easier as it was all downhill. We now had time to take in the rugged beauty of our surroundings -- interrupted only by the occasional appearance of rattlesnakes, animal tracks and droppings... and the resounding victory cry of a bull ape. We learned later that the distant ape cry came from compadre Bruce Boxleitner, who was obviously totally caught up in the spirit of our morning adventure. This spirit carried over to most of the party. Sue-On even swore that she had found a fossilized giant thipdar egg. While venturing off trail in search of the Koonskin Kabin and recognizable landmarks from some of the movies that have been filmed here over the years, I was lured into a cactus trap by what was either a scurrying histah or small gimla. The ride back to the hotel in an air-conditioned car, followed by a cool shower and cool drinks in our room helped rescue us from the brink of heat stroke and total exhaustion.
PANEL ~ AUCTION ~ GRIFFEN FILMS INTERVIEW ~ JERRY'S DELI
Sunday's next scheduled event was the scriptwriters' panel with Tracy Griffin, Marv Wolfman, Ted Elliot and Chuck Pogue. Since I had to prepare for an upcoming interview I left the room partway through this fascinating discussion. So as not to miss any of the dialogue I left my video camera running while propped up on a chair in front of the panelists. This plan turned out to be somewhat short of successful, however. Over the years I've built up a reputation for leaving my cameras behind -- the most memorable locale was on the street outside of Forry Ackerman's Ackermansion in LA. Ever vigilant and well-meaning watchdogs kept bringing the still-running camera up to our room. Fortunately much better recordings of this, and all the other panels, were made by Wayne James, who later generously circulated his tapes to avid fans.
Patrice Bonnyrat of Griffen Films had slated Sunday afternoon for a series of interviews with selected ERB fans. The many-hatted Tracy Griffen conducted most of the interviews. Footage of the Huckster room and guests of honour had been shot earlier in the weekend and much more filming was planned in various locations around America for the coming months. Eventually Tracy would help with the script and Lydie Denier and Bruce Boxleitner would serve as hosts for what would be a three-hour PBS bio documentary. Patrice had contacted me months before and had sent a number of topics for me to prepare.The main emphasis in my participation would be my involvement in the creating thousands of ERB tribute Webpages and ERBzin-e weekly fanzines for our ERB Cosmos Website. Because these Webpages touch on every area of Burroughs' life and work, I attempted to outline how he was in the vanguard of every type of media involvement... and lifestyle throughout the 20th Century: journals, photos, sketches of personal adventures, pulps, newspaper and magazine articles and serializations, novels selling worldwide in dozens of languages, script treatments and film production, movie features and serials, publishing companies and self-incorporization, newspaper adventure strips and the first comic books, commercial sponsorship and endorsements, toys and premiums, radio shows, family involvement in most of his projects, spin-offs and imitations galore of his iconic creations, records, syndication, wartime reports and columns, television, film animation... and there appears to be no sign of any of this slowing down into the 21st Century. Give a Burroughs fan a chance to talk about his obsession and he will usually bite the bit and run with it... when the on-air time reached a half hour this ERB spieler was dragged off the set -- still babbling.
1. Describe your professional or artistic link to Edgar Rice Burroughs 2. How is his influence reflected in your work? 3. What do you feel was Burroughs' greatest contribution to society? 4. What do you think the future holds for the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs?"
After the final planned convention event, the Burroughs Bibliophile auction, we joined the Spargurs and Brian Bohnett for our second unforgettable eating experience with the mighty Ghak, Steve Wadding. Jerry's Deli was hopping when we arrived. Our waitress, Bubbles from New York, put up with our antics only because she took an immediate liking to Steve. Ghak's prowess with a knife and fork has been well documented in previous convention reports and he lived up to his reputation as Bubbles brought on dish after dish of culinary delights -- all served with a bubbly exuberance. Having heard of Jerry Spannraft's collection of coke and diner memorabilia, we knew we had to somehow smuggle out one of the deli's impressive, oversized menus to add to his collection. Bubbles proved to be a fine accomplice in this as she escorted us out to the parking lot and showed us how to avoid the security cameras. Our final image of the diner is one of Bubbles waving fetchingly from the curbside as Ghak's car pulled out of the lot onto Ventura Boulevard.
It was with some melancholy that my Princess and I finally tucked ourselves in under our new jungle quilt. We realized that tomorrow would bring only farewells and a tedious day-long journey by shuttle, air and car. Our only regrets were that we didn't have more time to visit with special ERB friends or to explore the wonders of Southern California. An early Monday flight forced us to decline Bob and Lindy's invitation to visit their home and a chance to revel in the amazing Zeuschner collection... and to swap guitar licks and tall tales.
We would like to send out thanks and congratulations to the organizers of ECOF 2002: Rob Greer, Bob Zeuschner, Tracy Griffin, Jim van Hise, and all the participating LA SubERBs and Capitol Panthans. A special thanks goes out to Danton Burroughs for opening so many doors throughout the event: ERB, Inc. offices, Tarzana Ranch, and his personal treasure trove of ERB rarities.
Winner of this year's "Find JoN's Camera" contest is Bruce Wood who found it cleverly hidden on the front desk in the Holiday Inn lobby. Bruce "Abner Perry" Wood is a longtime Burroughs collector and scholar, who has assembled a comprehensive online Atlas of maps illustrating the many ERB empires. He also has produced a series of replica dust jackets that are much in demand by ERB book collectors.
MEMORIES OF TARZANA ECOF 2002
Tarzana Safari Pt. 1
Tarzana Safari Pt. 2
Unearthing Rare Treasures
Certified Burroughs Fans
WEBJED: BILL HILLMAN
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