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This is my grandmother, Mabel Smith. She wed a blacksmith. The automobiled wiped him out. She cleaned other people’s houses to feed him and her kids. I am mighty proud of her.

“Got time for a beer?” a friend asked. “No,” I said and then thought what kind of person are you if you have not time for a beer with a friend? As we sat and drank on my front porch a Native man walked by. I said, “You look like you are dying of thirst. He said, ” I am.” I said, “Go to the kitchen. Get yourself some water.” He did. We talked. I learned he was from the far north. He lived here for three months. These are two pieces of his art.

Bobby Naismiith astounded Toronto in KRAPP’S LAST TAPE. We met first in Rochdale. Bobby was a titan. A few years back we walked and talked on the street. I learned he was living there. Moved him in. He got drunk and taught many while here.

A friend who is a world renowned Textiles expert was in Communist China. The Chinese tried to get him drunk thinking him a normal academic. He drank them under the table. They had underestimated him.

When people think of God, if they think of God, they think of a stern old man with a sterner face and a sterner hand who will beat the tar out of us if we do something wrong.

People think that because that is the picture religion sells.

We grow up constantly told we will burn in Hell if we drink, smoke tobacco, hang out with loose women, take drugs, the list goes on and on and on.

The thing is we can’t really respect our self unless we are willing to take the chance.

Those who have never been tempted are those I don’t want to meet. Those who have never fallen are people I don’t want to know.

My cousin Darwin was a good boy. His brother Jimmy grew up to be a priest. When their father died I called. I got Jimmy. We talked. Jimmy said, “Keep busy. Idle hands invite the Devil.”

I said, “Oh, I always welcome the Devil.”

Jimmy sputtered.

Their mom was a stern Roman Catholic woman. She would not let them go to the movies. Right away you get the picture. It is an all too common one.

Darwin became a school teacher.

He is everything I walked away from. Told by mu high school principal I have the wrong attitude and would starve in two weeks unless I learned to obey I walked away. Had I not I would have starved.

My mother, on the other hand, was Church of England. Her father was a blacksmith which was a helluva good trade until the car came along. Her mother had lots of kids. To feed her family she cleaned other peoples’ houses. They were dirt poor. They were also fun to visit. If I went on Friday my mom’s mom always gave me a meat sandwich. At that time Roman Catholics (which I had been brought up as) were supposed to eat fish on Friday. The history of that is worth looking into.

One morning I woke up with a line in my head that was wicked. It was, “The Devil spoke most highly of you to me,” said Jesus.”

Intrigued I got up, typed it out and got the rest: “He said when he came by you invited him in. You said, ‘Would you care for a cup of tea or a glass of gin?'”

In short, I made him welcome.

One night in the 1980s my phone rang. It was a fellow I knew from my film shows. He asked if he could visit.

“I have been married for eight years,” he said, adding, “There has been something missing from my marriage. One day when I went to the bathroom I looked down and realized what it was. When I told my wife she went crazy. Now she’s bringing home strange men. She’s making love to them on the couch downstairs.”

As he said this I had two thoughts. The first was that this man had not the sense to realize he had just given his poor wife the biggest shock of her life. The second was what to do with him.

I called a friend. My friend said, “Take him to Woody’s on Church Street.”

Church Street is home to Toronto’s gay ghetto.

“There is not a single person here I want to meet,” I said to myself as we walked in.

No sooner had I had the thought then way across the room I saw a native American dude who caught my eye. He staggered through the crowd, stumbled, fell at my feet, got up, looked me in the eye and said, “You are Reg Hartt. I can talk to you.”

“What’s your name? What would you like to talk about?”

He said, “Patrick. Louise Brooks.”

I said, “I have a copy of her film PANDORA’S BOX.”

I brought him home.

After seeing the film Patrick told me the only important person in his life was his grandmother.

That got me thinking about my surviving grandmother, my mother’s mother.

I decided to call her.

I got my mom’s sister Betty.

This was a woman who had a hard life. She lived with her husband, Jack, in a three room house with more kids than I can remember. They had a kitchen, a TV room and one bedroom they all shared.

Betty told me my grandmother was dying.

“Not her time,” I said.

We talked.

Then I called my mother. The line was busy. I called Bell and asked if they could cut in. They said, “Normally, no, but in a time like this, yes.”

My mom called. She said, “I did not know they could do that.”

“Normally, they can’t but in a life or death moment they can. It’s not your mother’s time to die.”

My mom said, “It is.”

We talked.

After I hung up my mother’s brother Carl called. He said, “It’s her time.”

I said, “No, it isn’t.”

I was drunk. Patrick liked to drink. He was great to drink with. How many people do we meet who know who Louise Brooks is?

I said to Carl, “What does she like to eat?”

Carl said, “We send her meals on wheels.”

I said, “Have you ever eaten one? What does she like?”

Carl said, “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

I then got the phone number for the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet which was fifty miles away,

I called. I told the man I got that my first job was cutting chickens for KFC with a band-saw in Saulte Ste. Marie, Ontario for J. J. Hilsinger.  J. J. was brilliant. After doing that I became a KFC cook. I learned a lot from J.J.

I told him my grandmother was dying, that she loved KFC and that Kentucky Fried Chicken would save her life.

He said, “How do you intend to pay for it?”

I said, “Here’s the problem. I haven’t got a credit card.”

We talked some more. He said, “If you cover the cab I will cover the chicken.”

I said, “How can I cover the cab if I can’t cover the chicken?”

On my promise (which I am certain he thought I would not keep) that I would send him the money by mail the next day he covered the cost of the cab and the chicken. I ordered a barrel (the biggest size) plus extra large fries, gravy and salads (all the salads).

I then called my Aunt Betty. I said, “There is a barrel of Kentucky Fried Chicken coming from Fredericton.”

My grandmother pulled through.

Louise Brooks in PANDORA’S BOX. She helped save my grandmother’s life.

The next day I put double the money in an envelope which I sent by registered special delivery. With it I included a note which said, “Thank you. Don’t ever do this for anyone ever again.”

This is The Fool from The Tarot in his unbowdlerized state. Later versions put trousers on him.  The Fool has a surface value o zero. His hidden value is 22. He’s the highest valued card in the deck.

One day when my Dad’s mom was still with us I visited her in Minto, New Brunswick. I looked like someone from EASY RIDER. My grandmother walked into a kitchen filled with stern faces. Then she turned and walked out.

Darwin’s mom said, “Reggie, if you loved your grandmother you would have gotten a shave and a haircut before you came here.”

She looked triumphant.

Then my grandmother returned. In her hand was a high school photo of myself.

She said, “I used to have a good looking grandson. He’s still good looking but he’s not as good looking as he used to be. It’s his life. He has a right to live it anyway he wants. It appears to me he’s doping a pretty good job. Why don’t the resty of you leave him alone.”

She was, in that instant, the first human being I fell head over heels in love with.

I come from good stock.

Getting drunk has played a huge part in my life.

People who call that a sin forget that when Jesus turned water into wine he produced around 20 to 30 gallons of wine in each of six jars totaling 120 to 180 gallons. Jesus made nearly 1,000 bottles of wine.

In short God is not the pain in the ass folks think He is.

He’s certainly welcome in my house.

As are you.

“I used to have a good looking grandson,” said my dad’s mother with this picture in her hand.

–Reg Hartt

Author Jane Jacobs responds to a question during an interview in Toronto, May 12, 2004. When promoting Dark Age Ahead, urban expert Jane Jacobs made not discussing her earlier work a condition of the interview. She says people tend to review her first book over and over again. Over more than a few beers in her home she said, “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.” (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)

Don’t we, though.

Owen and Else (born Smith) Hartt at the time of their marriage. They were, thank God, the black sheep of their families.

Jane Jacobs is most famous for her book THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES. Her last book, DARK AGE AHEAD, is must reading. She was my friend from her arrival in Toronto in 1968. Her children say to me when we meet, “Our mother loved you.” I love her.

John Tutt has gorgeous theaters in Waterloo and Hamilton. I regularly packed his Princess Theater in Waterloo (easily the most beautiful theater in Canada. We regularly got pissed together.

I came early from Montreal, met Peter Sumadh. We got drunk. Peter moved in. He inspired me to write GILGAMESH.

Ron Fortugno came to see a movie. We got drunk. He became one of the most important people in my life. Today he is a traveling troubadour named Petunia: , .

George, one of the great loves of my life. I was drunk when I adopted him. Sober I would have left him and his brother Spike behind.

Mike Jitlov, animation artist extraordinaire and famous Forrest J Ackerman, the legendary editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. One day, drunk, I invited them to Toronto at the same time. That was fun.

My dad. He is a hard act to follow.

The legendary Forrest J Ackerman at The Cineforum.

The legendary blacklisted journalist Al Aronowitz who got me as high as he got Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Miles Davis.

Photos of Al Aronowitz taken by my friend Bernard Hashmall. Bernie and I drank lots of beer. Love him.

Reg Hartt when he arrived in Toronto in the winter of 1965. He had no place to stay because the friend he thought he had wasn’t. That morning Hartt’s high school principal had told him, “You have the wrong attitude. Leave this school today and you will starve in two weeks.” Had Hartt not left he would have starved.

The great Cree artist and Dancer Rene Highway with whom I lived and lived to get drunk with. Rene was and remains a legend.

CANADA – NOVEMBER 27: Worlds collide: Choreographer Rene Highway crosses science-fiction with Indian lore in new dance. (Photo by Patti Gower/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Michael Coren experienced a biochemical flush he mistook for Jesus. Then he converted to Roman Catholicism. He wrote a book titled THE CATHOLICS ARE RIGHT. I know my New Testament. I reviewed it under the headline THE CATHOLICS ARE WRONG.

Michael Coren decided after writing THE CATHOLICS ARE RIGHT that they are wrong. Now he’s an ordained Anglican Minister. That makes neither he nor Anglicans right. They aren’t. No church created by a king because he could not get a divorce (and then proceeded to have the state murder his wives) can claim a foundation from Jesus or God.

Not many got a fan letter from Jane Jacobs. I got several.

I brought Grim Natwick to Toronto in 1980. Grim celebrated his 90th birthday here. In 1990 I was doing my shows out of Toronto’s famed DIAMOND CLUB. They gave me 24 free beer each of the five nights a week I was there. I came home drunker than drunk, found an ad for a special issue of ANIMATION magazine and bought the inside back cover. Sober I would not have done it. As a result Hollywood threw the damnedest party for Grim. I was there. I stayed under the “H” in the Hollywood sign at the home of Bob and Sody Clampett.

In 1987 I visited with Grim Natwick in Hollywood when he was honored by The Motion Picture Academy of Arts And Sciences. After the Academy Grin, then 97, pulled out his bottles of hard liquor. I learned more in one night than years at any school could have gotten me. The nest day we toured Disney Studios.

This is Marc Sleep. I met him by chance. He hailed from Australia. He was drunk. I gave him a room. He cooked the WONDERFUL SALVADOR DALI DINNER.

These are some of the many strangers I have welcomed into my life. The man and woman at the back had come the night before. I invited them to THE WONDERFUL SALVADOR DALI DINNER. They took these pictures.

This is “Dirty Dan” from Rochdale College. He left us too loved his beer and his marijuana.

Here I am looking slightly dazed. Next to me is Judith Merril, the mother of modern Speculative/Science Fiction. Of Judy J. G. Ballard (author of Crash and Empire of the Sun) in 1992:
“Science fiction, I suspect, is now dead, and probably died about the time that Judy closed her anthology and left to found her memorial library to the genre in Toronto. I remember my last sight of her, surrounded by her friends and all the books she loved, shouting me down whenever I tried to argue with her, the strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men.”

This is the awesome Jodie Drake a stranger I welcomed into my life. Jody knew the great Billie Holiday. She was the grandmother of Toronto’s jazz and blues scene.

These two ladies were from the Argentine and the Spanish Embassy.

The man with his face obscured by the camera is Douglas Eliuk. Doug was one of the head honchos at The National Film Board of Canada. He also served as Canada’s Cultural Attache to America. He acted as sous chef to Marc Sleep. For days they brewed up authentic broths from a sheep’s head and a cow’s head for THE WONDERFUL SALVADOR DALI DINNER. Doug was but one of the thousands of strangers I have welcomed into my life as long lost friends.

Judith Merril. An inspirational person.



Mark, my dad and my wonderful dog, Spike whom I loved more than any person I have met.


The Salvador Dali Cookbook





One night after my presentation on GILGAMESH a man said, “This place is like a university. People can learn here.” “Some do. Most do not. What do you do?” I asked. He said, “I teach archaeology, Egyptology,and Sumerology. You are a Crazy-Wisdom-Yogin.” I said, “I hear crazy often enough. What does the rest of that mean? Would you care for a beer?” He did. Good thing I had a lot of them. We talked until dawn about stuff most never dream about. I learned he was a high ranking Tibetan Lama who had accompanied The Dalai Lama across Canada.

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