Sunday, July 24, 2005

Just When You Thought it was Safe to go back into the Pool

I had a flurry of regret during my trip to LA that I did not have the option of living there.. I saw several friends I love and admire, some of them twice, three actresses I Ditto--love and admire--, whose bright sensibilities match their talents, Jamie, Gena Rowlands and Tyne Daly, had a chance to discuss smart politics with my friends the Boyarskys(he was City Editor for the LA Times), and dabbled in a dazzle of Bull... the word the New York Times won't print, even when it's the title of a bestseller. There was a party in the very building where I was staying, to which I was invited, in honor of Ivana Trump, who is the International Incarnation of that unprintable word. Ivana is opening a resort in Australia, the land that will brook no bs, so it is my prediction that the place will, with all speed, imitate the action of the sinkhole that appeared in Laurel Canyon during my stay.
I introduced myself to Ivana, prefacting my hello with "I've been waiting to say this to someone all my life: I met you in St. Moritz." She responded with the blankest stare I have ever received, and walked through me to get to someone who mattered, like the cameraman from 'Entertainment Tonight!' who was shooting the party. Also in the cast were Ryan O'Neal, who's lost the weight and gotten back his looks, two former Miss Universes, one Miss Thailand, and one Miss Greece, the latter married to Freddie Fields, former partner of the suicided David Begelman, David's widow, Anabel, former wife of his best friend Jay Weston(that was David's M.O.), on whom he had cheated the afternoon of the day he shot himself at the Century Plaza, I think it was. Sitting on the couch with his once wife Alana, who'd married(and divorced) Rod Stewart in the interim, was George Hamilton, looking exactly as he had forty years ago, except with a deeper tan. I asked him what his beauty secrets were, and he said he thought about happy things and didn't pay much attention to food, although a woman with whom I left in the elevator said he forgot to mention many secret trips to Switzerland.
Got the world's best haircut from Dusty Fleming, and color by Nada whose daughter married Christopher Bale, star of 'Batman' before he was-- such things happen in the land of dreams-- and also saw at the party Victoria White, widow of Sir or maybe it was Lord Gordon, recently ex-wife of an arms manufacturer from Texas ot maybe it's Idaho, who is now on the arm of Bob Evans, due to elope with him to Mexico on the 1st of August. She is very beautiful and empty, so is as good as a movie star, and he seems very happy. He has recovered from two strokes and what he described to me as having 'flatlined,' and has written a book called 'The Fat Lady Sang,' which I suggested he call, more recognizably, 'The Fat Lady Sings,' and he said he would put it up for discussion to several focus groups. Ah, L.A, L.A. I also counseled him against opening at a New York theatre reading aloud from the book, and advised he leave it at publishing and Books on Tape, reminding him what the critics had just done to Suzanne Somers, which evisceration was a subject of much Schaadenfreudial merriment at the fest.
In tha apartment of friends, all glass-encased, so on a clear day, etc. I looked at the hills, and wished I had the 2.8 million they were asking(2 bedrooms, only 2, Zut, Alors!) But when I had Gena and her beau to dinner the sun set on the dining area part of the living room, and in spite of very efficient air-conditioning the place turned into a cooker, and we had to wait until the sun went down to eat and it IS daylight savings time. That, and a nasty woman in the pool were enough to make me glad I didn't live there, and I returned to New York with a rested heart, waking up today to the joy of The New York Times.
I have to say that in spite of how much I love the Boyarskys, and understand that Bill is no longer at the Times in LA, I was reminded every morning of the Fred Allen story where he came to California and asked for a newspaper, "but the man must have misunderstood me, and gave me the Los Angeles Times." As you know from the Arnold headlines, they have their priorities, and even on the days there was real news(London, Egypt) the world coming apart didn't seem so, because of the lay-out of the front page, where chicks and ducks and geese better scurry but nothing appears that dire.
The wonder of the Times here, though, making it worth living small and without a pool, is that at your doorstep of a morning is not only all the news that's fit to print-- more than we need really, as they cut down 80,000 trees every Sunday to put out that paper, a secret a staffer(not Mark Felt) told me and said I wasn't to tell anyone, but you know me-- but the growing conviction that the truth will out, and some(not all) will maybe get strangled by their own deception. I was moved to write an Op-Ed letter that in all likelihood might not be printed. So here, just in case, for you:

To the Editor, New York Times

In your very evenhanded piece today on the White House's 'Political Warfare' on Joseph Wilson, you have a typo referring to the presidential plane leaving for Senegal as "Air Force Once." As I began mulling it over, it seemed to me perhaps not so much a typo as a fair appraisal. What dignity and integrity this country had once. What leaders there were once. Even Harrison Ford in the Tom Clancy thriller that took place within that great plane's confines had a nobility and heroism more commensurate with the office than what we have there now. The unraveling pattern of deceit that this administration is based on has made us despised all over the world, and now it begins to show clearly its shameless face at home.

end of the mailed-in outrage.

Oh, may it do some good. Oh, may terrorists be caught and blotted out, and the home-grown ones who work without bombs(at least so far) considering themselves above the law, as they rally to change it to their inflexible ideological benefit, be exposed, May Judith Miller get out of jail and Karl Rove go in. And may everyone live happily ever after. For a while, anyway.

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.

Friday, July 08, 2005

And Where She Stops, Nobody Knows

So it is a great object lesson in never putting off till tomorrow what you might be doing today, as it was my intention three or four times since my last bulletin to write, and I didn't, and since then the world has tilted. The first thing I intended to rail about was the journalist Judith Miller's being sent to jail-- where she has since had to spend her first night sleeping on the floor as there weren't enough beds-- for not revealing her sources when she didn't even write an article. Then I was going to tell anecdotes about Chirac, as I had a call from London just as they won the Olympics, from a PR person there who told me of Chirac's criticism of English food, and of Gordon Ramsay, the self-promoting BadBoy Chef having gone on the radio in London teeling that he had made a lunch for Chirac of lobster salad, and Chirac had pushed aside the wine and drunk a lager. Quel bad gout!
But all these things wax minor, or wane, more accurately, in view of the terror attack on wonderful London, and one wonders where it will all end, and if T.S.Eliot was right that it would be "not with a bang, but a whimper." Doesn't seem likely.
A Human Rights attorney of my recent acquaintance says "they should all be stamped out like cockroaches," which doesn't sound too Human-Rightsy, but then it would seem these people are not a breed of human we can categorize as such. The worst of it, I think, besides the actual violence, is that Blair didn't get a chance to really push through his G8 agenda, and show Bush up for the insensitive and arrogant non-participant in world agonies he is, as this will merely strengthen his It's all about Terrorism stand.
Still, life does go on when it can. So back on the home front there remains the puzzle of why that good woman is in the cooler and bopping around still is the repellent Bob Novak, who outed a CIA undercover agent, abetted by the unknown source in the White House giving him the info, obviously for revenge on her husband, who had dared to criticize Bush's war. If the GRand Jury knows the source, which apparently they do, as Matt Cooper of Time got a waiver from the source to tell, and NOvak must have made a deal, why is she still being persecuted? oh excuse me, I meant to say prosecuted. It feels like the start , or rather, the continuation of a brand new Witch Hunt, and of course burned at the stake will be our freedoms.
And if they know who the source is-- it feels like Karl Rove, though I hoped it would have been Cheney-- why isn't that source actually being charged with a crime? Because it IS a crime to endanger an undercover agent, even if she's not a Republican.
All this will probably be lost, though, in the fuss that will shortly surely surround the selection of the new Supreme Court justice. You don't have to pay any tax in Ireland if you're an artist, but my accountant explained to me you have to give up your American citizenship. I was of course reluctant to even consider such an option, but as time goes by and events unfold..........
Anyway enough of the heavy. I have finished my play, and I hope it is truly funny and good and that the stages will still be there so maybe it can get up on one of them. Jamie, whom you all know I love and respect above all women save perhaps Laura Bush, read it while awaiting jury duty in Beverly Hills along with Farrah Fawcett(there's a picture), sitting in the marbled corridor outside the courtroom, and said she screamed with laughter, that echoed through those hollowed(not a typo) halls. She has pronounced it wonderful, and I have always believed her about nearly everything, so hope it gets to the world and the world shares her opinion. Oh, if only your Fate was in the hands of those who loved you. Jack, moreover, whom most of you will remember as my Jewru, has been trying to teach me since 1975 not to be attached to outcomes, when I told him I was still really attached to outcomes, confessed that he was, too, and said he would pray for me. That was yet another surprise: I didn't know Buddhists prayed; I thought they just meditated.
There was an article in today's NYTimes about a prison in India where they practised Vipassana, the kind of meditation that Jack teaches, and how all the prisoners have calmed down. Simply put, as it was when I first found him in the midst of a Humanistic Psychology Conference in Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado, it's Insight meditation. As I remember from the flyer that first drew me to him, "Insight is seeing things the way they are, free from the mind's attachments and expectations." A really tough road to hoe, for those of us whom expectations, like hope, keep alive. But hope, as I learned when I went back to Bryn Mawr in the 80s and studied ancient Greek things with Mabel Lang, in her opinion, was not a good thing, either. When Pandora opened the box and all the ills of the world flew out of it, she slammed the lid and all that was left in the box was Hope, which Mabel said was a bad thing, because Hope kept people from doing what they needed to do to get by.
Oh who wants to just get by, anyway. Let's all hope hope hope and be attached to happy outcomes. Fuck 'em all.