Sunday, July 17, 2005


So I knew I was back in LA when I opened my hotel room door and outside was the LA Times, its headline, with all that is going on, 'GOVERNOR TO GET 8 MILLION FROM FITNESS MAGAZINE.' Yesterday I went into a baby store to pick up something for the Robinson twins and there was a baby massage class going on. Today I walked the early-morning pavement in the sand in Santa Monica and on Muscle Beach there was an aerobics class for two year-olds. All golden-haired as they marched chubby-legged up and down to the music, except for one dark-mopped toddler in a tutu. Oh, it is hard to believe I ever lived here taking all this for granted.
The hotel was Casa Del Mar, formerly the Pritikin Institute, before that, Synanon. Don and I used to go there in the early days of our California struggle, and play 'The Game', a kind of attack-therapy invented by Chuck Diedrich I think it was spelled, who founded Synanon. We went every Wednesday night, having bonded with a terrific couple named Bill and Jeannie Cohen, ex-heroin addicts who were so sharp and funny and straight-talking it gave new dimension to the term "No bullshit." We stayed close until Diedrich sent down a dictum that there was to be no more smoking, since he had given up cigarettes. So Bill and Jeannie split from Synanon, having been able to give up heroin but not smoking, and soon thereafter they split, period. I guess there was a kind of addiction to Synanon, as AA people are addicted to AA, a healthy addiction, obviously, but a habit nonetheless. And since they had bonded in Synanon's tough love environs, their own love wasn't tough enough to make it outside that edgy comfort zone. I lost track of them not long after, as I seem to have lost track of so many people who really mattered to me. I wonder why that happens in life. The last time I went through my address book, ticking off those (still alive, I must add, since so many are gone to their permanent address) with whom I was still in touch, and it amazed me the friends-- and they really were-- who have fallen out of my life. It also amazed/appalled me how many people I'd put in my book who were not friends at all, a trait I seem to have conquered the more intensely the farther away I got from Hollywood.
Not physically, but in my spirit. On its beautiful face this is still a most attractive place to live. Right now I have moved to a friend's apartment looking down and up at the Hollywood hills. The houses are nearly all beautiful, many of them on stilts-- I can't remember what those are called real estate wise, but when Don and I were first househunting we actually looked at some of those and maybe even considered living in them, earthquakes notwithstanding. Madness.
In between and around and above the houses there are patchworks of bright blue, the swimming pool culture that this place is, though most people rarely swim. I got up at six this morning, and did my fifty-minutes crawl and backstroke at Shutters, where I was staying for a couple of days with Mimi smuggled in a black bag, as dogs are not allowed. She lacks Happy's criminal mentality, so I had trouble making her into a stowaway, but eventually she got to the point where she did put her head down before I zipped it closed, although yesterday she snarled and actually snapped at me, making her displeasure known. Sometime during the night I heard her fall off the bed, and after my swim, when I finished packing, I looked under the bed, where I 'd assumed she was sleeping. She was nowhere to be seen. I looked in the closets, and the john, and called her several times before it turned into a cry, as I realized she was actually gone. The doors to the terrace were open, there were spaces in the slats that she could have gotten through, and it was a four story drop to the sidewalk outside. In a cool panic, I called downstairs to the operator and confessed I had smuggled a little white dog into the hotel, and now she was gone. She sent up Security, a young man who cased the room and looked everywhere as I had done, and then went down to check the bushes, looking for what would have been her mangled remains. Nowhere. I went through many mental scenarios: she'd fallen and someone had found her and taken her to the vet and if she recovered would keep her, I would never get another dog, how could I train a new puppy, what would my life be without her, especially in New York, a city that had become almost enjoyable for me because of her proud little assumption, head high, that Central Park was her front yard. Devastated-- there was obviously nothing more to be done, and I would be late for Quaker Meeting, a well for the soul I always dip into when I am in LA, I started to pile up my luggage. And inside the bag that had pissed her off so as I lugged her back and forth from her walks on the beach, was Mimi. Various friends have their theories: she had come to think of that as home; she was only pretending to be miffed with me for imprisoning her in its confines and was actually quite happy there. But the clarity came from my friend Joie, who said she was probably quite simply nervous I would leave without her, as she always knows when I am about to change locale, and so hid in the bag to make sure I took her along. Needless to say we will not be going back to stay at Shutters since I thoroughly blew my cover.
But Meeting was kind and restorative, as it always is, with a member recommending a book called 'After Terror,' and a woman wearing a pin reading 'WAGE PEACE.' Oh, and by the way, Arnold withdrew from the magazine paying him 8 million dollars, cancelling the rest of his contract but keeping the million he got this past year. Conflict of interest, don't you know, since he'd pushed through a bill that was good for vitamins, and vitamin manufacturers advertise in the magazine. Yes, Virginia, there are worse things than actors, even the bad ones: there are those who become politicians.

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