Wednesday, December 10, 2014

HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGETY JIG

   So I am very much moved into my new apartment, in the best locale in Beverly Hills, minus the bullshit—the wrong side of the tracks (Wilshire), in a block that looks like a real street in America, hard as it is to believe.  I have a front porch, and around the corner a man who fixes glasses, the kind you see through not the kind you drink champagne from.  There’s a French pastry coffee shop I frequent, and a Starbuck’s I don’t, and a few steps in the other direction as good an Italian restaurant as I have eaten in, even in Italy.  As Fate, or Bershert, the Yiddish or maybe it’s Hebrew will have it, I have been re-united by phone at least with my dearest friend from when I was twenty-something low, whose father was the film editor on Ben-Hur, about which no one thought to hear anything ever again, now that Christian Bale has replaced Charlton Heston in the public consciousness of Moses.  Christian, by the way, as I think I may call him, since I knew his beautiful father when he was married to Gloria Steinem, who should be everyone’s heroine and was/is certainly mine, and they were on their honeymoon and I interviewed them for the Wall Street Journal Europe, which then refused to run the article because it was too favorable.  He died not long afterwards, a genuine tragedy, as she had waited all her remarkable life for the right man, interspersing that longing with a lot of memorable mistakes, including the comedy writer Herb Sargent, brother of Alvin the writing maven, most touching man I ever met, and then he, the elder, dazzling Bale, died soon and painfully, which gave me the conviction God is not a Feminist.  Surprising, really, unless the truth of Creation is the part He/She loves best is the Struggle.  Christian, not by the way, is married to Sibi, the daughter of my hairdresser in Beverly Hills, Nada, so even if it isn’t all connected, it is All Connected. 
      My wonderful friend Jamie Lee Curtis, to drop my favorite name since Cary Grant, who really was as charming as they say, and whose own mother didn’t love him if you can believe it, and wanted him to dye his hair as his going gray made her “look older,” which really makes me believe that God wants to make it hard for us so we have to put in greater effort to get it right, came by yesterday and dropped off a straw shopping bag, a mat for my terrace, and a colorful pillow for my dining room which I will now have to use as a sitting room as it has this colorful pillow.  Today the handyman from Pioneer came to fix my bed which collapsed last night and I wasn’t even doing anything interesting. 
     That makes me believe we are just given challenges that can be good/bad jokes if we give them time enough which in this case was only until the next morning.  Now I am off to the phone company to order internet service which I wasn’t going to do as I had figured out the way to outfox them was to breakfast at the French coffee shop next to Starbuck’s which picks up their signal, as I still have strangely dark feelings about Billy Rose, who gave me my most successful novel with The Pretenders, and some really funny times with Sue Mengers who was sort of the Heroine and my best friend until I wasn’t successful enough for her anymore.  The play about her was a great success briefly on Broadway, but then people stopped caring, as people will, even about Cary Grant. 
       But Jamie said I have to connect here just for safety, so I must listen to her as she is smarter than anyone even though her father was Tony Curtis.  He was a sort of great friend of mine for a little while in my extreme youth when I came to him through Stanley Kubrick who was a truly great friend of mine, along with his wife Kristiane, until I got put in the closet by Stanley and when people use you they stop loving you even if you don’t stop loving them, as they are embarrassed if they have any decency, which Stanley had a bit of, though not too much. 
      I was in the closet for him on Lolita, when I was at Stanford getting a Master’s together with Ken Kesey who was also in the graduate Engish department, which is hilarious, and I will tell you about another time.  I really must write a memoir as I have known almost everyone who mattered at a certain time which is now very much Over, and I can’t believe the people who are alleged celebrities.  I can’t even write the big(in size, not import) name which catches attention now, as it makes me sad. That people would even give it any weight in spite of the hugeness of the ass attached.  Cary Grant, himself, said to me when I attached his name to a handsome photo in my book of meditations, HOW TO SURVIVE IN SUBURBIA WHEN YOUR HEART’S IN THE HIMALAYAS, “What hath Cary Granted?, “Why are you putting my name in this book when it could last for a hundred years and people will forget about me in fifteen?” and I said “People will never forget about you,” but he was right.  People will forget about everyone but Walt Whitman and Longfellow because they’re made to learn that in school, and Edison because otherwise they can’t turn on the light.
     I am sitting now in a restaurant looking out on Beverly Drive—I couldn’t have afforded to look out on Rodeo as they have a luggage store from Japan where an overnight case is several thousand dollars and when you ask what it’s made of, they give a fancy name where, when you say “What is that?” they have to say “plastic,” as, apparently even on Rodeo they are sometimes forced to tell the truth.  Apparently it is only in politics where they can lie all the time, regardless of country.  All so sad.  I am now no longer reading the papers even when I pick them up free as I did in a coffee shop on Little Santa Monica, where there was an article about Bernie Madoff collaborators going to jail for forever.  My mother was the only person, ever, to get her money back from Bernie Madoff, because my cousin Rodney Fink, a darling man who overcame his name, went to Madoff and quietly demanded her money back. Madoff told him what a fortune she would be making, and Rodney said quietly, “I’m sorry, Mr. Madoff.  But I am from Pittsburgh.”  So he got it back and saved her and what little was left of the money she had prolifegated.

    It is a sad and sorrowful time in the world, as it almost always is, alas, but right now more than most because we have made such a huge mistake with Barack, and nobody still likes him but Joanna Semel Rose, who was the smartest woman who ever went to Bryn Mawr, but still…? It is a tragedy for this country that we actually elected him a second time, but true tragedy is when everybody dies, so if we live through this terrible second term maybe it will be all right.  We’ll see.  Or not.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

IF ONLY I COULD DO THINGS IN MODERATION

So as anyone can see, if they are in LA., I have ended the drought.  There is a sadness that comes along after the elation, because soon hills will be sliding, and people will be losing their homes as well as their patience.  
   This has never been a place where things happen half-way.  If I had gotten a dog Saturday as I thought I would, she would not be able to go out walking, and I would probably be sorry.  As it was, I had to audition and am being considered by the very kind woman in charge of it all, who rescues dogs and afterwards finds out that the females are pregnant and advises you against the puppies that came out for fear they will ruin the floors, which my new landlady would certainly not enjoy.
    I apologize for seeming so small-minded and focussed on the trivial, but with great power comes great responsibility as everybody seems to understand but the people with great power.
I am no longer reading the newspapers, as nothing seems to be getting any better and in spite of my great capacity to change things, apparently I am not able to change them for the better except when I am in Amsterdam, and that is a high price to pay, except for knowing Daniel, his beautiful children, and the boys with whom I dined those lovely evenings when Peter cooked.  Amsterdam is a truly wonderful city except for the wet and the bleak and the fact that they don't know they aren't in charge of the world anymore and that nothing has changed since whatever century it was that they ran things.  The great thing about LA is in spite of its being so spread out you can still walk everywhere as long as you don't want to go to too many places.  
     Also there is still the telephone on which I am able to speak to my beloved Taffy of the once great Starland Vocal Band of Afternoon Delight which unfortunately did not give their follow- up song to the Ages which would have made them immortal as their manager was Jerry Weintraub who was a shit, and cared only about John Denver.  His wife Jane Morgan didn't do that well either.  But it is well I am learning to live in sort-of silence, as Mrs. Lande, my Nazi housemother from Cherry Lawn School in Darien, Connecticut, the capital of anti-Semitism in the US where most of the students were Jews so the townspeople would close their shutters when we walked into town along Brookside Road would have said I couldn't do.  As a matter of fact, what she said was "If you were in a room by yourself you would go crazy," and Ha Ha, I haven't.  Yet.
     The day we all walked into town because it was so exciting was the day they were shooting the railway station scene from Gentleman's Agreement, the great book-into-movie about anti-Semitism in the U.S. and we all wanted to see Gregory Peck in the lean, handsome flesh getting off the train.  But when everybody got there, they learned the scene had already been shot, so they all went back to school.  I, though, sat on a bench in the station and wept, as I loved movies so, and had imagined Gregory Peck would be Gregory Peck.
     But then, God being a movie fan, it turned out the train had pulled in too far, so Mr. Peck had to go back to Stamford and take the train again.  And there I was, at twelve, able to tremblingly get off the bench and ask for his autograph.  Having nothing to lean against, he asked for my shoulder.  I never washed the jacket again.  
     Many years later, at a Hollywood party, during the time I was a hit with The Pretenders so was asked everywhere, people in Hollywood being-- don't be shocked-- un poquito bullshitty, I met him at a party at Allan Carr's house, and we became friends.  "This is where I stood with Ingrid," he actually said to me, Greg, that is, as he told me to call him.  We met again and in a major way when I was living in Paris, writing for the Wall Street Journal Europe-- is there no end of miracles?-- and I was actually his date for a reception.  He had a cane and I had broken my arm so as we limped towards the ambassador, he said "Don't we make a beautiful pair?"  A darling man, who later recorded the poem I wrote when my dog Happy died.  You can hear it online. I have to choke at people who actually idealize Matthew McConnawhatever, imagining that is a hero.
    Well, as we know, nothing in Hollywood, U.S.A. being moderate, the gutters are now filled to more than capacity, and my battery is low, so I must close.  Fortunately I am wearing my serious raincoat, so I will likely make it home if I don't fall into the sewer which I believe they have.  The record being played on the amplifier is "Baby, It's Cold Outside," the huge hit by Frank Loesser, the greatest songwriter of his generation, whom everybody has forgotten, and who listened to me audition me at MCA when I was 20, seduced me, and sat naked at my piano playing Warm All Over, the love song from his soon to be hit The Most Happy Fella, which everyone has forgotten as well.  He was a true shit but then everybody can't be Gregory Peck, or the world could hold its head high. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

RAIN!!!!

Apparently I did not know my own power.   After a drought of I don't know how long, I had only to move into my new apartment, put out some furniture on the porch, and VOILA!!! It's raining. In addition I have written a new song that is almost sure to become an instant classic, except my beautiful Taffy from the Starland Vocal Band warns me that I must give it to Adam Sandler in spite of not liking him all that much and loving the beautiful young couple who helped me arrange my apt., one of whom is a greatly gifted performer who hasn't gotten his break yet.  Taffy says if they had given the follow-up song to Afternoon Delight to Cass Elliott to whom I introduced her, they might have lived forever, and Cass herself might not have choked on a ham sandwich.  I really loved her so it pains me to make a joke about how she died, but it really is sort of funny except probably not to Cass.  I went to her funeral in the old, great cemetery in Hollywood where NO ONE goes anymore, or as I once said when I was still glib, they wouldn't be seen dead.  Cass was SO smart, and SO funny, and we had the same doctor who was part of the surgery on Larry Tucker, the incredibly fat partner of Paul Mazursky who was neither as kind nor as funny.  My doctor, who was the one who failed to save my husband, while claiming to be his close friend, though never even x-raying him and not being the least helpful while Don was dying, was in the operating room when the surgeon actually climbed up on the table to open Larry, and reduce his appestat or whatever it is that helps you be less hungry by making your capacity for food smaller.  
     But those were the days, I gotta tell you, when we sat around and were witty almost effortlessly, though sometimes with the help, when we grew a little older, at Jack Haley, Jr.'s house, of grass.  Nothing more serious, though, although he did have a houseman named Clarence who probably would have helped us get something worse.  Their biggest hit, Larry and Paul's, was probably Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. I always loved Natalie Wood though I never met her as she told people she loved The Pretenders, so I knew she actually read.
    I tried reading Silk Lady which was my allegedly big follow-up book that didn't happen.  It is very well-written, probably too.  I would enjoy writing another big bestseller but don't think I'm capable of not having my heart in something at this point, and I can't imagine how I ever had the attention span to be less than sincere for that long.  
    There's a man at the next table with a Mac who looks like Jesus, about whom I have just written a song.   Hope he doesn't mind, and wonder if I have to capitalize it.  Well, we shall see if the song cometh forth a hit.  I mean to tell you, he(He) really does look like Jesus.  Was that a Jewish name?

Friday, November 28, 2014

THE FLOWER OF MY LATE YOUTH

So I am all moved in and almost stable in my new home except I don't know how to unthick this print.  I will not call for online help as I have come to mistrust all services, including and especially A T & T, as warned by my TV installer who told me I would be cheated, and indeed he was right.  So I am blogging now out of the Champagne French Bakery where I can pick up Starbuck's signal without having actually to become a part of that mentality although too old.  I saw my brilliant Doctor Agre this morning and apparently I am still alive although we both knew Mike Nichols.  He was not, says the doctor, the brightest one in their bunch, so I would delight in meeting the others who might still be alive.  But even he might have had trouble understanding why this typeset is suddenly thick.  
      Had the best Thanksgiving of my life culinary-wise yesterday, with my old neighbors from Robbins Drive in Beverly Hills, where I was evicted for singing.  No kidding. Whoever moved in after me has been renting out her place as a B&B and I would report her except I don't want to be like some of the other people here, so am also not reporting whoever is parking in my garage space.  But if you're coming, do let me know so I can make sure there's room for you.  I am stunned at how tight things are around here, but it's nice the sun is out and you can still walk places on a beautiful day, when the rest of the country is suffering and the world is in turmoil.
    But it's lucky I was thrown out as otherwise I would have been paying rent for all the time I wasn't here which is longer than I can remember.  Destiny has its way of taking care of you a lot of the time, except maybe Mike Nichols doesn't feel that way.
    Am going to make my way to Century City where a movie is playing I want to see and am going to ascertain whether I can live in LA without a car, taking the bus places like regular people or ex-New Yorkers who don't want to be overloaded with responsibilities, the excellent possibility of a crash, or having to wait in endless lines of cars therefore becoming a much less adorable person.    I will let you know how the movie was, and if Steve Carell is as extraordinary as they say and if I have spelled his name right.  Maybe it has two rrs.  
    Also I think I have to get a dog.  I still miss Mimi and, before her, Happy, both of whom deserved to be immortal.  In the case of Happy,  he would have lived forever, but Oprah didn't show the book.  I am ready to go toe to toe with anyone who thinks she is a great person.  
     I am seriously planning to adopt, as there are, apparently, too many around with loving, giving, needy natures, who will not have any future unless I take them in.  I wish someone had given me the same counsel with respect to children.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING

So I am sitting in the Champagne French bakery which picks up the signal from Starbuck's, where I am too old to look appropriate.  Women walk in with enormous lips, none of which can be come by honestly, and it makes me sad, though all else in the neighborhood makes me happy.  I lack nothing but a couple of throw rugs for the bathroom(s); that's right, I have two.  The only thing I am lacking is my own pool and a literary agent, as it is my understanding I am too old to be interesting to them, which still comes as a surprise, except when I do yoga.   As I have probably oft pointed out, I have always been the youngest one.  You get used to that and it stuns to realize that is completely changed, and you have grandchildren, a blessing, sure, but still a shock as you remember how it was to be being carried out to sea as a five year old, waving for help to shore and having people wave back as they thought you were just being friendly. What adventures those were, and how amazing that you survived all of them, and you better start writing them down while you still can remember/write/make it to the Champagne French Bakery.
     My apartment is perfect for the twentyish writer I no longer am, with a little terrace I share with the twenty-something couple who will get married a year from Christmas, almost conservative in comparison to how it was in Amsterdam, where the people mostly have two teenage children and will marry never.  The world is changed/changed/changing, and I suppose we are simply lucky that it is still here with the mistake we made with Barack, who every day gets us stepping deeper in dreck, to put it almost politely.  I am sad for the people who believed in him.  
     But enough about politics and the probable end of the world.  We have only the present to live in if we're smart, and the day here in Beverly Hills is hot and sunny and improbable.  I spent yesterday at Bed Bath and Beyond like the bride I was a hundred years ago, buying linens for my new apartment, black sheets for the set that go with the comforter that has Paris on it, as if I had had a really great time there, singing in the Mars Club, waiting to be discovered at twenty, just out of Bryn Mawr and fearless, apparently.  The music on the soft/loudpeaker is "Under Paris Skies" so it is as if my whole life is in tune, and orchestrated, and all I have to feel bad about is reality, and then only if I pay attention to it, as almost no one does in Beverly Hills.
     Santa Claus is in the sky driving his sleigh above Wilshire Boulevard as if there were actually winter, the whole of America on super-hype, the season of sale.  Outside, on Beverly Drive little children sit curbside sipping ice water, not knowing how lucky they are to be here, or probably even alive.  My TV installation man was a Hawaiian recently back from the military, imagining he was old, at 30.  He told me not to believe the man from A T & T that the extra charges for connecting me would "probably" be cancelled, and I chose to believe him, the reason why I am now headquartered by the signal from Starbuck's.  There is little you can take to heart and make a part of your life when your own president is a liar.  It was such a great time to be a little girl when there was a Roosevelt.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

THE SINS OF BILLY ROSE

As my three remaining fans know, my bestseller THE PRETENDERS, (after which the musical group named themselves though I didn't know that till many years later, when one of them told me,) was a fictionalized version of the life of Billy Rose, the great short man who secretaryed to Bernard Baruch, married a number of prominent, taller women, including Eleanor Holm and Fanny Brice, and dated Sue Mengers, my best friend in New York, until she handled people who were too famous, and became one of them herself. Had she known there would be a play about her starring Bette Midler, she probably would have lived longer, and negotiated a better deal with God.
    The sadness is with celebrity, people forget about you the moment they can stop dropping your name, unless of course it can get you money or a better seat in the theatre, which today no longer means that much, the seats are so uncomfortable in New York, it almost makes you give up the wish to be a hit on Broadway.  So it is that I am happily resettled in Southern Cal, where I have set up my office in the French bakery that picks up Starbuck's signal, as the AT&T man on the phone was a fiend in Manila who tried to cheat me out of a few hundred bucks saying he would manage to get the initiation fee cancelled, "probably," which the technician installing my TV told me meant I would get cheated later.  So now I am the oldest person in this venue, where I can have coffee(Decaf) while I write, and remember Billy Rose, who said to Sue Mengers "Put your hand on my cock" which even she found offensive.  I went out with him, too, and he looked in my closet,  saw the negligee my mother had bought for me wholesale, with feathers all up and down the front and said to me "Who are you saving that for, Robert Goulette?"
    He pronounced the final tees as though they were there which probably few if any of you will remember they weren't, as it was French, so he was Goul-ay.  Billy actually had a great naked statue by Rodin it was, in his front hallway on Fifth Avenue, and said to me as I gazed up at it: "I know what you're thinking: you'd like to screw him, right?"  A truly loathsome little man, except for his brilliance which also might have been a lie, as what he knew better even than how to do shorthand speedily was how to steal from people.  But he did give me my big bestseller so I can do nothing but thank him.  And I did manage to give the character in the novel enough depth so people were moved, if they weren't just looking for sexual arousal, as it was a landmark in that category, and you never would have known I went to Bryn Mawr.
    As it turns out, that is the thing in my life that I am proudest of having done, as it strengthened me as nothing else has.  A lovely Japanese woman who is writing a piece on Perry Lane, a little street in Palo Alto where hippies lived in the Sixties, before, I believe, they were actually called hippies, and were, on the whole, more interesting than when they became totally stoned,  and interviewed me on the phone was visibly, audibly impressed with how much color I gave her on Ken Kesey, a great friend of mine when I went to graduate school at Stamford whose writing program was incredibly overrated, Wallace Stegner being a pretentious, self- aggrandizing man.  Kesey said to me "If it weren't for the Honor System, I never would have made it through."  Cheating was outside the law for me, and so I never gave him my soul, which I was usually a little too quick to share, but I did give him my body, once only, and he was not very good.    He gave me my first inhale of grass, and even stoned it was not all that erotic, and in the middle or end which came very quickly, there was a knock on my front door on College Avenue, and when I said "Who is it?" the answer came "Police"" and Kesey was out of there and bolting over my back fence and several adjoining yards. Turned out the cops were there because they had found my driver's license that had been stolen, but Kesey didn't stay to find that out. A remarkable athlete, if not an impressive sexual one.
    But we stayed friends and went to the vigil outside San Quentin for Caryl Chessman. When it was all over we drove down the peninsula and followed a rude truck driver whose rear doors were coming open for several miles, Kesey falling behind because he knew the road was rough, so the road was soon peppered with cartons of ice cream, and that became the ice cream scene in Kingdom Come, my novel that everybody wanted to buy until they saw it was easier to steal, and it was, after all, Hollyeood.  
    But back to the vigil,  where Marlon Brando came to protest the coming execution of Caryl Chessman.  Brando's attorney said on the fading loudspeaker that if they failed to change the mind of the governor to stay the execution, Chessman had agreed to let Marlon make the movie of his life, which of course he never did.  I call him Marlon because I actually, truly knew him, my loved friend Janice Mars being one of his cast-off lays, introducing me to him one of my vacations from Bryn Mawr, saying "I want you to meet someone," not telling me who it was.  His apartment was on 57th Street, one of those buildings now being obscured by all the construction on West 57th street by all those horrible builders I would like to think are Iranians, but they are, sadly, Jews.
    So as we went up in the elevator, Janice and I, and got to the top floor, I heard someone calling out "Eyyyy, Janice!!" and my heart near stopped beating.  It was of course Himself, still trim and breathtakingly, animalisticly handsome.  She introduced me, and he said "Tell me about yourself, kid."  
   Barely able to breathe, much less speak, I managed as best I could, and when I ended with where I went to school, he warbled affectedly, a la Katharine Hepburn, "OOOOOOooo, Baryn Mahwarr."  One of the most memorable days of my life, naturally, and am glad I can still remember it in full detail.  He was much more adorable than he was outside San Quentin, where, as journalists trailed him walking along the sea-bank, he said, surly, "Do you mind, I want to take a leak."
    He was much more lovable in Summer Stock, where I had been invited along for his production of Shaw's "Arms and the Man," which he directed, badly, and starred in as Sergei.  He was not funny.  He never could do comedy.
     But of course I loved him along with all members of the company, old friends he was giving a break to, as most of them couldn't get work, including his stand-in, the wife of one of his best friends.  He was a generous spirit, as long as you weren't one of his wives.  I am sorry he got fat.
   Myself, I was fighting weight at the time, having the same legs I do now, and 182 pounds, so all that was really visible of my face were my eyes.  I ate breakfast with him in the countrified mess hall, and could barely swallow what little was in my bowl.  He said "Whatsa matter, kid?  Oh, I see.  You're on a diet."  Adding, "It's okay.  I just think most girls are prettier thin."
    One might have said the same about men.  
     He said to Janice the last time he spoke to her, not long before he died, that he had decided to live to a hundred and ten.  She asked him why.  "Curiosity," he said.
    Then they both signed off with their usual affectionate Farewell.
"Fuck you," she said.  "Fuck you," he replied, and hung up.
    If he had known he was going to die, I think he would have said "I love you."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

MIKE NICHOLS

Mike Nichols went to Cherry Lawn, the co-ed progressive boarding school in Darien, Connecticut, full of mad, inspired, troubled teenagers from broken homes or parents who didn’t want to be bothered, of whom I was one.  He wasn’t there when I was, but many years later after he was the great, sought-after success he was, a close friend of mine from Bryn Mawr who had dated him, set up a visit for me so he could hear my musical, Sylvia WHO? that I am working on till this day.
He was married at the time to the woman whose name I have difficulty remembering, along with all names that are starting to elude me.  But as I recall, sort of, it was Anabel, and I do remember clearly that she had had an affair with Morgan Mason when he was eighteen or nineteen, on the set of the movie Tony Perkins, with whom I had been innocently and ignorantly been infatuated, not knowing he was gay, or probably even clearly what “gay” was, wrote with Stephen Sondheim.
    Mike lived in Connecticut with his then wife. Ann Mudge, the beauteous, pale blonde heiress from Pittsburgh which you’d never know from how elegant she was, had dated Mike, after trying to commit suicide over Philip Roth, who had to be the cruelest man ever to be gifted with great talent.  She'd set up the audition for me, being as generous as she was upmarket Gentile.  I remember telling her I had relatives who had gone to Taylor Alderdice high school in Pittsburgh, and her saying “Taylor Alderdice was my grandfather.”  Imagine.  I’d thought he was a building.
   Anyway, we went to Connecticut where Mike and I walked by the lake in the woods of his home, and he’d told me about how agonizing it had been for him at Cherry Lawn, where he’d started, as a refugee, at ten.  I don’t think anybody had ever been at home or comfortable at Cherry Lawn, but he’d said to me “Imagine being there bald,” which he’d been in addition to being a German refugee, as a result of having had scarlet fever.  
    “He must have really liked you to tell you that about himself,” Ann said, as he was never without his very good wig.
    But whether or not he liked me, it was his wife who really helped with my musical, about a widow who has to crash parties to eat.  Anabel, if that was her name, oh yes, I believe it was, said “she needs an assistant,” which led to my creating the Countess.  A really great part for someone gifted and funny if it ever happens.
     Mike was of course a creative genius but he was less than kind, or maybe I just never learned how to deal with someone being less than happy to see me.  Although he may have really liked me or he wouldn’t have told me he’d been bald, once he understood I had a musical comedy I was eager to get on, he less than brightened at the sight of me, knowing I had an agenda.  Everybody in New York has an agenda, and I would guess everybody in theatre had one with Mike.
    But I did manage to say something once that visibly tickled him, so of course I can’t remember now what it was.  But he did take a proprietary stance with me in the forecourt of a theatre, where he introduced me to a producer as though I was a friend of his, which I imagine I might be in the next life if there is one. Meanwhile I am sad he will not be directing my musical if it ever happens.
    I saw him not all that long ago at a wonderful evening my friend Joanna Rose gave for Tony Walton and the Library of Congress, where she introduced me to Tony Walton, saying, all in one breath: “This is Gwen Davis, and she writes books and plays and movies and songs and she went to Bryn Mawr.”  Mike was standing just to the side, and she started to introduce me to him, but he said “Oh, I know Gwen.”  I tried not to seem that excited to see him, because eagerness has usually been greeted with less than rapture on the part of the celebrated.  But had I know his days were to be brief, I think I would have hugged him.