Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Marty Cantor

It's just reached my notice that Marty Cantor died a few days ago. He was someone I knew in the wayback of my active days as a science fiction fan, as he was the Official Editor - responsible for the collation and the mailing and keeping track of the membership - of the LA-based amateur press association (submit 50 copies of your personal publication, get back a stapled copy of 50 different ones) Lasfapa which I joined in 1978. Someone had accused Marty of taking a high-handed attitude to the apa rules and behaving like a little tin god, so he changed his official title to Little Tin God or LTG for short. And when Corflu came to the Bay Area years later in 2005 and we had a chemical elements theme with everybody having a different element on their badge, I made damn sure that Marty Cantor got tin.

Marty was older than most of the early Lasfapa gang, being then in his 40s when most of us were in our 20s. He dressed conservatively, with a heavy blue sports coat and a tie accompanying his ever-present (but usually unlit) pipe, underneath a neatly-cut beard and a sort of soup-bowl cut of dark hair, much later white. It was surprising in 1982 when I visited and found Marty, up to then always unattached, sitting in his usual position with pipe in hand and legs extended, except that there was this woman draped over his neck from behind. This was Robbie Bourget: they'd met at the Worldcon and fallen in love, and made a mighty fannish couple until their eventual divorce.

After a few years, Marty gave up the OEship of Lasfapa and became a general fanzine publisher. He had several zines but the principal one, its title taking off from his Little Tin God persona, was Holier Than Thou, sometimes deliberately misspelled: Holier Then Thou, Holier Thun Thou. I think I wrote for it a couple times. For several years HTT was a finalist for the Best Fanzine Hugo, but Marty's reputation was never good in high-elitist fanzine fan circles. He edited for a general fannish reader and didn't play obscure reference games, the writing quality wasn't outstanding, and I think some people just assumed that nothing good ever came out of LASFS, the LA club of which Marty was a prominent member.

Nevertheless Marty had some distinctive characteristics beyond his appearance. Mostly a political liberal, he was a tobacconist by trade and was determinedly doubtful of all claims of a link between tobacco and cancer. He also claimed that non-smoking sections were discriminatory. Marty had a liking for German grammatical constructions and would use them in English, as with the time a Lasfapa member submitted a zine with a title in Cyrillic characters and Marty listed it in the table of contents as "My Typer Cannot This Zine Title Pronounce."

It was just a couple months ago that the snow in the mountains of LA reminded me of the best-ever Marty Cantor story and I told it in these precincts. Here it is again:

As Charles Curley told the story - I'll be quoting his account from memory now - he was driving along the freeway one day and noticed that "not only were the Hertz Rent-a-Mountains* back, but they were covered with snow. Snow. In Los Angeles. Marty Cantor lives here. Marty Cantor hates snow. Marty Cantor moved to Los Angeles to get away from the snow. Yet here the snow was, right on Marty Cantor's doorstep. Marty Cantor's doorstep? Wait a minute. A mad, insane plan was born."

So Charles recruited some friends and drove up into the mountains with a pickup truck and shovels. They loaded snow onto the tarp in the truck bed and took it back down, and then, in the quiet of the night, unloaded a big pile of it by the (outdoors) entrance to Marty Cantor's apartment. When a neighbor came by and asked what they were doing, they said, "He misses the snow."

Marty was really touched that they cared enough about him to pull the stunt, but he added, "Don't ever do that again."

*Sometimes called that because smog renders them often invisible

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