30 Years in the Zone

July 2nd, 2013

lcc tzI used to spend a lot of time in New York, crashing at the Hotel Chelsea where my brother had an apartment. It was the same place where Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sid Vicious lived and died. That was some 30 years ago, and there was a bit of edgy romance about being there, exploring the city where magic could and did happen. I write about this stuff in Voices, if you’re interested.

rod_serlings_twilight_zone_198206_LCCWhen my stories started selling in the early 80s, I found that having a New York base came in handy for visiting editors who sometimes offered to buy lunch when I was in town. One of those editors was  Ted Klein at Twilight Zone, who played a big role in helping me find my writing voice. I’ve written about this stuff too, particularly in This Way to Egress, but this post isn’t really about things that happened 30 years ago. Instead, it’s about what happened last week, 30 years after my brother left New York and Ted Klein left Twilight Zone for other pursuits.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAOn June 18, almost 30 years to the day after my last visit to the Twilight Zone offices on Second Avenue, I returned to the city to read some stories at the Fantastic Fiction Series at the KGB.

This time I stayed in a Midtown hotel, a short walk from the Ted’s current office in the Condé Nast Building, where he’s now with GQ.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERANew York has always held a certain mystique for me. My brother tells me it’s because I never actually had to live and survive there. He’s probably right. But whatever the reason, walking north along Fashion Avenue toward 42nd Street, I felt the old sense of wonder returning. The look of the place might have changed a little, with the Freedom Tower dominating the skyline to the south and the thousand-yard stares of passing pedestrians replaced by the twelve-inch stares of people fixed on their Smartphone screens. Nevertheless, the feel was the same.

You know how it is when you see old friends, when the memories rise and the intervening years disappear? This return to New York was like that. Indeed, upon leaving the Condé Nast Building after my meeting with Ted, I expected to find my brother waiting for me on his Yamaha, ready to take us back to the Hotel Chealsea or maybe farther south to the Village or South Street Seaport. But of course that wasn’t going to happen. My brother has long since relocated out west, and our busy schedules keep up out of touch for most the year. He didn’t even know I was in New York, prowling his old stomping grounds. But then, just as I walked out the door and into the blare of traffic and glaring sun, my phone rang. “Hey, bro. What’s happening?” No kidding. He called out of the blue, and suddenly we were together again in the city where anything can happen.

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