Columbus, OH – PulpFest 2010 Trip Report

Frederick Faust, aka Max Brand
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We had a couple of very long flights before we finally got into Columbus around midnight. We checked into the hotel (thank-you for the hospitality, Ramada Inn) and then tried to figure out what we could do for food at that hour. After consulting the in room city guide and Yelp, we decided to head for the Arena area and check out Bar Louie.

Cleveland may rock, but Columbus thumps – even in the wee hours of what was now Friday. It was a great start to my birthday. I got carded by the bouncer. So did Jason. They didn’t bother with Bill.

The weather was perfect – 77 degrees, mild and pleasant. We sat on the patio. They had a fire pit, loud music, and drunken college students. Jason and Bill speculated on how many of the guys were going to score and how often the girls had to pay for their own drinks. We had a bite to eat and a couple of glasses of wine. The place was pretty wild right up until last call.

We ordered dessert, and the waitress informed us that they were out of vanilla ice cream. They were substituting birthday cake ice cream. Oh darn.

After a good night’s rest, we checked in with the registration of PulpFest. All of the members and staff were wonderful hosts. Bill was treated like a king as Guest of Honor.

We set up at our table and then decided to go grab some lunch. We found a little wine bar and French bistro in the Worthington area. Even though we’re both sick of zombies, we love Dawn of the Dead. We contemplated driving across the border to Pennsylvania to check out the Monroeville mall. I looked it up and found out that it was 3 hours away, and the mall had been remodeled in 2004. Probably not worth it.

Instead we took a tour of downtown Columbus. The city is well laid out and very clean. There is a great mix of historical buildings and new architecture. It seems to be a very vibrant place.

Afterward, we returned to the convention, and hung out in the hotel lounge until it was time for Bill and Jason to go on stage in the evening program. After the opening business, Bill and Jason were called up to the stage. Jason interviewed Bill about his career as a writer and screenwriter, and about his knowledge of the pulps, particularly Max Brand. They were hilarious (as always) and Bill’s insight on Max Brand (a pen name of Frederick Faust) actually made me interested in reading some of his westerns. I didn’t think I would be that into them, but the way Bill described how Brand used classical themes and mythology in the stories sounded fascinating.

Next Bill was on a panel discussion about the western pulps. About half-way through, Jason and I snuck out. Jason had a very special thing planned for my birthday. We drove a few miles away to a park and walked out into the darkness of a field along a creek-side trail. The sound of cicadas and crickets was so amazing. I love insects and had never experienced the magically summer evenings of this side of the country. Then we saw the little blinking ones. I had never seen fireflies (lightning bugs, my grandparents called them when they told me about them – they had grown up in Arkansas). First just a few, then we saw dozens at a time. I caught one and then let it fly out of my hand like a little spark escaping into the air. I was so amazed. I cried a little. It was truly awesome – my best birthday present ever.

We got back to the hotel, and Bill was wandering around the lobby looking for us. We got in the car and drove around until we found an open restaurant – Bucca’s Italian, which was very cool. We got there just in time to be seated before they closed. Just by chance, they had a big sign that said Happy Birthday as we were walking in. Perfect.

The food was very good. The one thing I can say that Columbus has is damn good tomatoes. I am not a big fan of tomatoes – outside of Italy, the only ones I really like are the local heirlooms we get in Vancouver, WA and some of the Romas that come up from Cali and Mexico. But every place that we ate in Columbus had really, really terrific red tomatoes. The Caprese salad at Bucca’s was delicious. At the end of the meal, they brought out a birthday brownie and candelabra. We shared the brownie and I blew out my candles, wish in mind.

Saturday at PulpFest has been a blast. As soon as we came into the exhibit room, there was a line of people waiting for autographs. We sold every copy of Bleeding Edge that we took. We met lots of interesting people. We had a lively lunch in the hotel lounge with quite a few characters.

Tonight, Bill is on a panel about Black Masks. We’ll update the report and post pictures soon…

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