Craig Shaw Gardner: Dangerously Creative Writer of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction


Broadcasts from the underside, and somewhere over slightly to the left

You can always find a parking space in Harvard Square

Friday, January 27, 2006Times, and places, change.

When I moved to Boston, back in the fabulous sixties, it was a happening place, far more interesting than sleepy Rochester, NY, my home-town. And nothing was more interesting than fabulous Harvard Square, Cambridge. At the time, they had a book store that was open 24 hours a day -- one of the early Paperback Booksmiths. The place even sold underground comics! The square had the best place to buy records (the Harvard Coop), the best movie theater (the legendary Brattle) and plenty of places that sold good cheap food. And there were bookstores up the wazoo! It was a student's dream (well, this student's, anyway.)

The seventies came, and brought with it a combo science fiction/comic book store (The Million Year Picnic), and an even better record store (Newberry Comics)! The Orson Welles Movie Theater opened just down the street. For a media maven like me, Harvard Square was my home.

I ended up living in Cambridge (a block from the Welles), and managing The Million Year Picnic (along with its offshoot, the Science Fantasy Bookstore) until I was able to take on writing full-time. When I finally moved away, I was sure to find a place that was a reasonable commute back to Harvard Square, and would often take the bus, since parking was impossible to find.

New stores came and went over the years (Tower Records, HMV, Wordsworth) along with various smaller stores of interest (Pic's Poster Cellar, anyone?)
I started driving into Cambridge more often, showing up at odd times and learning about those spaces on the side streets that not everyone knew about. It might take a half hour, but I could usually find someplace to park. I prided myself for being in-the-know.

And then, about two years ago, I realized I was finding a place to park within a minute or two of my arrival in the square. Major stores were shutting down, first HMV records, then Wordsworth. I talked to retailers of my acquaintance, and found that their sales were all down. I would go see a movie at the Brattle and be only one of a dozen people in the audience. The Square was dying.

Why? Probably a bunch of reasons. Landlord greed killed a lot of the small, funky shops -- replaced by chains you could find at any mall. Many of these newcomers only lasted a year or two. Why go to Abacrombie and Fitch in Harvard Square when the malls had free parking? And Amazon and the internet seemed to cut way down on student shopping. The stores that came to replace the earlier shops (and there are still many empty storefronts) tended to be high-end fashion stores -- boutiques -- Harvard Square's new niche.

Harvard Square has changed. Harvard Square is dying. The days of wandering from store to store just to browse are going away. On weekends, the square was once a mass of crowds, watching street musicians and other performers for hours. I understand from others that these performers are going away, too.

I understand from others -- why would I want to go the square?

Oh, I still go, but nowhere near as often. I catch a movie at the Brattle, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, or buy a CD at a store where the landlords have actually lowered the rent so that store will not leave. The local science fiction store, Pandemonium Books, is going to move away in another month to Central Square, just down the street, to cheaper but bigger digs.

So I'll be going to Harvard Square even less. But hey, whenever I do go, it's easy to find parking.

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 2:41 PM | 1 comments  

Back to the real world

Monday, January 23, 2006So I haven't been around here lately.

My chimney blew down.

We had this enormous windstorm this last week, typical for this winter of extremely weird weather we've been having. Gusts of 80 miles per hour, they said. The worst of them happening in the early afternoon. Exactly when my chimney snapped in half, depositing bricks mostly in my driveway.

My -- thank goodness -- empty driveway. Otherwise my new car would have been my ex-car. The hundreds of pounds of bricks (it was a big chimney) actually did surprisingly little damage -- a couple tree limbs, some paint scraped off the shingles on my next-door neighbors house, a few shingles torn from the roof.

But it has been distracting. Time to talk to insurance people and contractors and who knows who else (all of whom assure me that a lot of other chimneys blew down too!) You know, this real life stuff.

I'll be back here soon, once this all tidied up, with thoughts about the important things in life, like movies and my new Battlestar Galactica tie-in.

Until then, keep watching the skies (or maybe just my roof)!

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 2:39 PM | 1 comments  

First Contact

Saturday, January 14, 2006And thus does Craig dip his toes into the luke warm water of the blogosphere.

But wait! What was that noise? A delicate tearing at first, then a full scale rending sound heard throughout computerland!

As usual, Craig had gone too far. His Blog-A-Rama was one blog too many.

It had to happen, sooner or later. Ten zillion blogs, pushing and straining against each other. The Internet couldn't hold them anymore. The blogosphere erupted, spewing forth opinions and cute pet pictures upon the unsuspecting computerized masses. Some were drowned in right wing rhetoric. Some perished in left-leaning psychobabble. And all too many were buried under endless family outings!

Surprisingly, there were some benefits. The spammers were struck first, buried with their enlarged members, super-cheap software and money that they just had to get out of Kenya. But then the info-flood continued to spread.

Some had said that blogs were everywhere. Now their words were truer still.

But maybe, if we head for the high ground, we'll be spared! Everyone's safe when they take the high ground, aren't they? It has worked for politicians, supreme court judges, movie stars -- surely it will help the single working folk like you and I!

What's that I feel around my ankles? Isn't it getting a little close in here?


Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 12:15 PM | 6 comments  

Test Entry

Friday, January 13, 2006This is a test. This is only a test.

Were this to be an actual blog entry, you would be directed to ... well, you know the drill.

Posted by Craig Shaw Gardner at 11:00 PM | 1 comments