Saturday, April 26, 2008

Convention Story

I was going through some boxes last night and I came upon a couple of paperpacks that each had a hole through the center. It reminded me of going with Mr. LaSalle to a science fiction convention in the mid-80's in California...maybe San Diego?

Anyway, Mr. LaSalle was always getting requests to come to conventions. He would usually be on a panel about "the state of science-fiction" or something else pretentious and appropriately pompus for a big room full of man-boobs and home-made Star Trek uniforms. At this particular convention they asked that he also spend an hour at a booth signing autographs...never his favorite thing to do. In all the years I had known Mr. LaSalle I think I had seen him sign four, maybe five autographs, period. It made his hand tired, and since that was also his drinking hand, he wanted to be sure that it could perform when called upon.

Well, after about fifteen minutes of signing books (and one slightly overweight young man's chest) and snarkily answering questions about details of some of his long-forgotten works ("Mr. LaSalle, in Harvest of the Timewhores was the psychic computer's death caused by the radioactive corn or was the Slutician's atomic shotgun really loaded the whole time?"), he was at what you might call "the breaking point." It was then that a kid laid down a copy of Never Again, Forever and said that it read a bit like a Harlan Ellison story. I like to think that the young lad meant that to be a compliment.

*Now I don't imagine that I need to go into any of the history between Emerson LaSalle and Harlan Ellison on this page. If you are a fan of Mr. LaSalle then you are well aware of his feelings about Mr. Ellison and a certain pop singer. I only know Mr. LaSalle's side of things, and he only told them to me when he was truly, truly, self-soilingly drunk. But if even half of it was true then it would be hard not to side with our beloved Mr. LaSalle. I mean, seriously, an entire barrel of snake urine? I hardly think that was necessary.

At the instant the boy mentioned Ellison, Mr. LaSalle bellowed about suffering fools no more and he stabbed his hook down on the kid's book. "There's your *explative* autograph, you *explative* sucking little *explative*!" I thought for a moment I might have to tackle Mr. LaSalle to save the kid from some horrible mutilation. The kid was able to get free of Mr. LaSalle's grasp and he ran crying from the room. From that point on, for the rest of the hour, he refused to speak to any the fans in attendance and would merely stab whatever was placed in front of him, including a couple TV show props, a sandwich, and one fat kid's hand.

That was the beginning of the LaStabbe (his preferred method of autograph for the last 20 or so years). And in case you are wondering, he stabbed every single book himself. No handing a hook to a staffer or a secretary to stab for him. Nope, he personally stabbed each and every book that was sent to him right up until he passed. He would ususally stab right through the center, but he occaisionally would stab it in a character's butt or a woman's breast as a joke. Oh, and he always stabbed copies of Peel My Death in Fire through Captain Thundersteele's left eye (an obvious pun).

Just thought you might like to know that.



Victor Gischler said...

Oh My God! I almost bought a used copy of DANCING THE ANDROID'S WALTZ at The Strand the last time I was in New York but didn't want a "damaged" copy since it had a hole straight through it. I think I passed up an autographed first edition.

I might cry.


Alex said...

Um, prosthetic hooks are not sharp. You must have read too many Peter Pan stories. Prosthetic hooks are more like the hooks you would find on a coat rack. If Emersan Lasale had a hook, it would not have been ablt to stab through books with it. You are perpetuating an ignorant and insulting stereotype.

gorjus said...

Alex, LaSalle's hook was known to be "fully custom" and sharp as a tack. It wasn't a tool to manipulate items in lieu of a hand; it was actually a hook, which he sharpened obsessively in the years after the bear attack.

Victor Gischler said...

I thought he was dead after the bear attack.


EmersonLasalle said...

VG - I hate to say it, but that is likely a rare gem you passed up. But good news is there are more copies out there, roll up your sleeves and get to hunting, lad. Now that you know what to look for you might surprise yourself! Also, when the book was written under a pen name, he would cut a line across the pen name and then stab it twice.

alex - Sorry if you are offended, but Mr. LaSalle's hook was quite evidenced by the numerous gashes and scratches around his desk and office. This was a modification that he saw to himself, with a large whetstone in his workshop. He would sharpen the hooks quite regularly, going through three or four a year. He would then toss the sharpened nub that was left, and begin again with a fresh one. I can't tell you the number of times he "accidentally" stabbed me or someone else with his hook. But, yes, the standard hook that the doctor originally gave to him was quite dull. I'll post photos of some if I run across any. There are bound to be two or three in the house or the downtown office.

EmersonLasalle said...

VG & Gorjus - You are both somewhat correct. A bear attack is what initially inspired him to sharpen his hook, but that was back in 1967 and he live quite a few years after that, though rarely trusting bears ever again. Sadly, last November he had his final run-in with a bear, which he very well could have won, as he had many times before, were he not so blisteringly drunk.

Prof Fury said...

OK, I've held my tongue long enough. I find it ludicrous that Jim and Marie have set themselves up as some sort of bullshit flame-keepers for Emerson LaSalle. I think we all remember their despicable behavior during the 1987 CCTST convention in Duluth, when Emerson was promoting Never Say Diamonds. I don't know if LaSalle even lowered himself to speak to them after that. So the question I put to you all is: Jim and Marie, jackals or vultures? Either way I reject the legitimacy of this website, and you all should too.

EmersonLasalle said...

Well, I am, quite frankly, offended that you would even bring that up. Mr. LaSalle and I did have a falling out for a short time due to his disapproval of the handling of certain "necessities." I can't take the blame for things at the convention not living up to his expectations. Now the fact that Mr. Bronson Pinchot is still upset about the role he was given at the Clear Mind's Touch of Death anniversary is hardly mine or Marie's fault. I did not create the character nor his genital-related powers, that is a discussion he should have had with Mr. LaSalle, thank you very much. The character had been around for 30 years by that point...I think everyone understood what would be required of him. Bronson initially told me that he thought it was avant garde. I guess when his "Perfect Strangers"/Hollywood friends heard about it, he had a change of heart. If that had anything to do with him being left out of Beverly Hills Cop 2 that year, the world may never know with any degree of certainty. I think this is all just a case of sour grapes, and I am not going to let it bother me. I'm sure that if you read any of the blogs by Mr. Pinchot's legions of fans, they will dispute that account, but they were not there. Regardless, Marie, Mr. LaSalle and I were all great friends again in a matter of only a few years. I do not think anyone attempted a stage production of that particular novel again.