It was a chilly night in San Francisco, as usual. We had intended to take the cable car back to our hotel, but there had been some kind of breakdown in the system and the cars weren't running. After about ten minutes walking down the hill it was time for a rest stop, so we ducked into one of the large hotels on Powell Street, and were surprised to find ourselves in the midst of a convention.

But this wasn't just any kind of convention. We'd arrived, apparently, right in the middle of the convention's Big Event. As we entered the hotel, we heard music cascading out from one of the ballrooms, and then thunderous applause as the music ended. That event was closed to outsiders like us, but there was another room open, their equivalent of a dealers' room. We poked our heads in there, and it took only a few seconds to realize what kind of gathering we had inadvertently crashed -- it was the worldcon equivalent for belly dancers.

# # # #

San Francisco was just the first stop in a two-week California vacation that would eventually take us to Anaheim for this year's science fiction worldcon. It's almost impossible to visit California and not want to spend a few days in San Francisco; the last time we enough time away from the convention to enjoy the city. There were places we wanted to visit that we never got to; there were things we wanted to do that we never got around to. So when we arrived home, after a very enjoyable worldcon, we were still disappointed that we hadn't planned the trip as well as we should have.

This time it was different. There was no convention as a distraction and we spent two days exploring the city, from the human kaleidoscope of Grant Street's Chinatown to the unhurried congeniality of Union Street's cafes and shops. We went to places that were almost deserted, like the old Victorian house where the only other people were two tourists from Germany, and other places like the 'Stick where we shared a Giants baseball game and fireworks with thousands. When the time came for the drive south, we felt it was probably too soon to leave. We promised ourselves we'd be back again in a few years, but in the meantime further adventures on this trip were still awaiting us.

The road to L.A.Con did, eventually, take us to the Anaheim Convention Center, and yes, there were some adventures to describe. Before we even got to the Los Angeles area, we spent a very pleasant evening in Ventura with Lester and Esther Cole, whose essays about 1950s fandom you've read in some of our previous issues. Ventura is a lovely town, situated between the mountains and the ocean, with a main street lined with used book stores, antique shops, and cafes. The next day, it was time to head down the coast again, then inland for Three Days in the Valley.

The San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles, seems to be one big bedroom community, with its share of freeways, golf courses, and shopping malls. It's also the home of much of Los Angeles fandom, including Bruce Pelz. When we were planning this trip, we'd asked Bruce for some help in finding a reasonably inexpensive motel while we were looking around the city for a few days. He didn't have to look very far, as it turned out there was such a place only about five blocks from where he lived. But since he obviously never had to stay there, he was blissfully unaware of the awful truth about the Granada Motel -- it was the Hotel From Hell.

To be fair, it wasn't the worst place either of us had ever stayed at. There are much worse places in Eastern Europe, for instance. And the price wasn't bad -- the nightly rate for a double was only forty dollars, pretty reasonable for Southern California. But that's where the good news ended. Our room air conditioner seemed to be The Little Engine That Couldn't, which made for two somewhat sweltering nights. The room was clean, but the carpet had holes, the beds were in a state of deconstruction, light bulbs were missing from about half of the lamps, and the towels were very threadbare (actually, it was more than just that -- all the hotel linen had 'Granada Motel' printed in large letters on them, as if they were afraid that someone would actually want to steal any of it). The next day, when two guys driving motorcycles pulled into the parking lot, they suspiciously eyed the place, then asked us how the place was. We replied, "About what you'd expect for forty dollars a night." (A bit later, after they had checked out the rooms, we overheard one of them telling the hotel person, "You don't get much repeat business, do you?")

But you can stand anything for two nights, and we did. We used those three days before the L.A.Con to visit some places we'd always intended to go see someday, but never had until now. One of these was the statue of Bullwinkle Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel, on Sunset Avenue. (We're both Jay Ward fans, and Mr. Peabody's 'Way-Back Machine' is kind of a symbol of the fan historical nature of Mimosa.) Another was the Griffith Park Observatory, with its splendid location overlooking the city and nice view of the Hollywood sign in the surrounding hills.

The Hollywood Hills are actually home to a more famous site yet, at least to science fiction fans. Halfway up the twisty narrow road rather generously named Glendower 'Avenue' lies the Ackermansion. We visited Forry's house the same day we went to Griffith Park, and like the observatory, it lived up to our expectations. Every room was chock-full of books, paintings, posters, and memorabilia, even including the outdoor storage rooms (one of them is a huge library in itself, entirely of extra copies of books he has in his main library) and the roomy crawl space area under the house (which was set up as a vampire cave). There was much emphasis on the movies, as you'd expect, but it was easy to see that Forry has not lost track of his fan roots; he has many mementos and artifacts from decades past and has probably the second- or third-largest collection of fanzines, including many from the 1930s when sf fanzines were first being published. To restate what Walt Willis wrote about Forry many years earlier, Forry Ackerman really is a true fan in a way that most of us don't come within a mile of being; he really believes in fandom. We are sold on Ackerman.

Finally, it was time for Worldcon. We drove to Anaheim on Wednesday afternoon, spending part of the time playing our annual Worldcon First Fan Guessing Game (trying to guess who the first person we recognize there will be). When we rolled into the Anaheim Marriott, we didn't have long to wait to find out; almost immediately, a familiar face appeared at the car's side window, and asked, "Could you take us to pick up some party supplies?" It was that well-known party animal, Moshe Feder.

From then on, our memories of the convention are mostly a string of vignettes, like the interlude on Thursday when Andy Hooper, on the way to a fanzine panel, made the comment that *already* the convention seemed like something out of a David Lynch movie. And then, as he turned a corner, right in front of him was Michael Anderson, better known as the Dwarf from Twin Peaks.

It was that kind of convention, where the real often merged with the surreal. Even the dinner expeditions were unusual. One of them turned into a continuation of a fan artists panel, with five pens furiously scribbling and piles of cartoons mounting ever higher as the waiter looked on in bewilderment. The night of the Hugos, we made reservations with our friends Neil and Cris Kaden for dinner at a more upscale restaurant, The White House; we were pleased to find out that the restaurant supplied its own transportation, but we were surprised when it turned out to be a stretch limo. On the way back, we shared a ride in it with fellow nominees Scott Edelman and Allen Steele, wondering which of us, if any, would be fortunate enough to get one of the Awards this year.

It turned out that Allen Steele was the one. The fanzine category was actually one of the closest votes, but we (and Mimosa) finished second to Dave Langford, the scoundrel, by only eight votes. Just wait 'til next year!

One thing about worldcons: they are maybe the best place to find people, especially other fans you've corresponded with but have never actually met before. This year was no different, and we were able to add many new faces to names, including... Roxanne Smith-Graham, who was holed up like a mad scientist for much of the convention behind a bank of computer equipment, furiously digitizing fan photos for an archival project... Noreen Shaw, co-chair of the 1955 Worldcon, who was able to spend only one afternoon at the convention; she looked so much like Richard's mom that he felt like a second generation fan while he walked around with her... Perry Middlemiss, the Down Under Fan Fund delegate, who spent two nights with us in Maryland a bit later in his North American trip... And Michael Burstein, who had lost a Hugo vote almost as close as ours had been. The convention was very much a positive experience for him, and he promised us a fanzine article (which appears in this issue) to describe it all.

But there's not enough room here for us to describe it all! So we'll take the opportunity to stop here, with hopes you'll enjoy this new issue of Mimosa. We think it's filled with entertaining things to read; we hope you think so, too.

Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead

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