Monday, August 29, 2005


It is interesting why we get to the places we do. For someone self-involved, as I am, and most writers, I think, have to be, observations coming from feelings and feelings being our own, so we focus on them, I obviously imagine I am doing something to please/soothe/heal myself. But once in a while, whether or not you intend to, you are in a place for someone else. Maybe several someones.
As noted in the last Report, I started this journey to celebrate Jack Kornfield, a very high spirit temporarily on the planet, lucky for me, and many who have read his works or sat on his retreats and have benefited from his teachings, and his very calm presence. My trip direction then unexpectedly changed,politics not just making strange bedfellows, but often moving us out of bed and into other rooms or even other spheres, planets, countries: there might be no place far enough away in some instances. So it was that I found myself travelling South, to visit moist surroundings, having been disinvited from the desert because of these ramblings, which my would have been host found offensive. Today's BAD Reporter, my new comic discovery in the Bay Area, has a quote from Pat Robertsoin saying he was misinterpreted, that he just wanted Chavez to be 'More Holy' and then goes on to discuss what the Bad Reporter has christened 'Gangsta Evangelism.' "On the rise?" it asks. "With white gangsta Christianity growing, worried parents focus on its glamorization of violence, while ignoring its good points: Misogynist, Homophobic, Violent... But Moral."
At the River Inn, a very simple motel by a complex river, I met a single mom from LA who said she wants to own her own time, a luxury I never considered I had, but do now and have for some time, and so have resolved to stop letting myself be pulled and buffeted about by the winds of ambition. She was with her son, Jaron, who's six, and told me she doesn't date for herself but for him, so I returned the favor she had done me by suggesting she should date for herself and the right man will be fine for Jaron, too. Little children played with the pebbles in the shallow edge of the river, and Mimi lifted their spirits even higher than little children's spirits are to begin with. An 18 month old Australian girl named Ivy clapped with every victory as she learned words I taught her: toe, nose, and eyes.
But the main thing I was doing here besides comforting myself with the forgiving side of Nature-- deserts to me have always seemed unforgiving-- was visiting my friend Sofanya. Sofanya and I met by mystically bizarre circumstance which some would call coincidence, but it seemed far beyond that. I bought a pair of earrings, very free-spirited and colorful, turquoise with purple stones, when I was visiting my daughter in Arizona very early in her college time there. I never wore them, but put them in a treasure chest I kept in my bedroom in San Francisco, on a mirrored tray, so they reflected all that interesting light. Then one day about two years later I put them on, and walked down Union Street, where there are slews of charming little shops, the whole area having been designed by a prize-winning architect, whose prize one time was letting her design Union Street. From one of those boutiques came a gorgeous fragrance, not too heavy, but alluring, so as in a cartoon I was pulled into the shop by the scent. "Oh," said the proprietor. "You're wearing Carol White earrings." That night I went to an art opening in the Mission district, pretending to look at the paintings which were not very good, but actually looking for love which never came again, its least likely breeding ground, for a single heterosexual woman at least, San Francisco. It was a foggy night, and as I left, walking down the ramp, I passed under the one street lamp that illumined the darkness. From the other direction up the ramp came a youngish woman, who passed under the light at the same moment I did, and she said, "Oh, you're wearing my earrings. I'm Carol White." I had never heard the name before that day, never having worn the earrings before. I told her the whole story, with all its improbabilities; we decided we were meant to be friends. And so we are. Some time after that she met the mad San Francisco chara cter Gypsy Boots, and he renamed her Sofanya, which she has been ever since. She paints and sculpts and does all manner of artful things, with a little shop/studio here at Big Sur. But mainly what she does is have a big heart. Her two sons are grown, and her most recent love, Wes, a massage-therapist at Esalen(standard career here and setting) died suddenly just before I called to tell her I was coming to visit. She is grieving of course-- he drank a lot of beers one night and then had some methadone, and so ended at 31. I've done my best to help, since I have some experience with grief. But meanwhile a big hunky guy showed up and she thought Wes sent him, so she rented him the trailer behind her house, a funky dome-shaped thing in the middle of the Redwoods, surrounded by smaller places she rents to healers and psychics and all breeds of benign weirdos who populate this area. But having come from being with Jack, I am heavily into listening, and this man, 41, divorced, could not resist how hard I was listening, and so told me, and Sofanya, some details of his story that he'd left out in the beginning. Family therapist, counselor, not sure what he wanted to do with his future, maybe go back to school and get his PhD in psychology. And then and then... he said he wasn't able to be certified right now as a family counselor on account of a girl who'd accused him of assault. She is 16 now but at the time she said he assaulted her she was 11 and he was dating her mother. Huh? So are we talking sexual molestation, I asked as gently as i could, and he admitted, well, yeah. The charges have supposedly been dropped but it's still on his record. The neighbors are having a group meeting with him this weekend, all those who live around Sofanya's house, as some of them have little girls. Sofanya is sure he is innocent, but the other neighbors said, even without knowing this, that there was something about him that creeped them out. It would have been nice to pass through here just sprinkling Fairy Dust, but maybe this was more important to do. It feelst like Law and Order SVU.
Such a strange but good trip. The celebration at Spirit Rock beginning it-- a really nice woman, fiftyish, got me a chair, and introduced me to her wife. The wife was the one in the tuxedo. Where is Lewis Carroll when we really need him?
Tonight I am going to be re-birthed by Anita, a local psychic who works at Nepenthe, the place Henry Miller hung out when I was here in my 20s, sitting next to him at a stool in the bar while a young woman sucked his toes. I didn't intend to be re-birthed, but I bought a gift for Jamie from Anita and I heard she was a healer. "What is it you want?" Anita asked me. "To grow up," I said. "Why would you want to?" she asked.
Because I am growing older. You can't be young forever. In fact, you can't be young except when you are young. It is the first time I have faced that directly, and started to come to terms with the realization. They have everything here of a Fix-it nature-- the area is rife with massage therapists and spa treatments of every conceivable design, from cheap to those at Ventana and the Post Ranch Inn where the rooms are $1250 a night. But the one thing you can't get here is a manicure. For that, you need to go back to Carmel.
A pome:


Not a sad understanding, though, really. Another Pome:

So we're going to go back to those moments and fill them wih light. which is unconditional love. Hey, why not. Look where I am.

AFTERTHOUGHT, when safe at Home: Well, my re-birthing was full of shit, and, not incidentally, so is Big Sur. You remember that saying,"we have met the enemy and it is us?" Well, I have met my Inner Hippie, and she is Theirs. I have left her behind me with an enormous amount of grime and clothes I never want to wear again.
The woman who re-birthed me was kind and had sparkles on her face, but I forgot I know all about this masturbatory stuff having written a novel about it(TOUCHING) which almost landed me in the slammer. So the New Age is the Old Age and it is OVER OVER OVER, and if they can't let it go where they are, I can now where I am. I came back singing "I'll Take Manhattan."
P.S. On the way back I stopped in Pacific Grove and had a manicure. Cleanliness is not only next to Godliness, it feels SOoooooooo good.

Sean Penn in Iran and Gwen in Big Sur

Having been dis-invited by the Republicans in the desert, who found my Reports 'inflamatory', spelled with one 'm' but I did not correct them, I decided to go to moist country(Big Sur) to re-connect with my Inner Hippie. That part of the adventure was launched at the 60th birthday celebration for the writer/teacher/spiritual maven Jack Kornfield, whom some of you have encountered in these posting over the years as my 'Jewru,' Don's name for him, and quite accurate as well as witty, which Don usually was. There were three hundred people at Spirit Rock, the meditation retreat Jack helped to found, this time its redwooded simplicity bedecked with colorful banners to enliven the occasion, where Joan Baez in an orange turban sang (and danced quite well in her downtime) along with many happy young people who had all the moves and were friends of Jack's daughter Caroline, celebrating her 21st birthday. All personally signififcant to me because Caroline was newly born when Don was newly dying, and everything I was going through as Don was leaving, Jack was experiencing with Caroline's coming in,, so for some sadly uplifted moments then I saw where the two processes were close, and quite alike,so made me believe that life and death were, indeed, part of the the same. That faith of course has been shaken mightily from time to time but right then it helped keep me sane, at least as sane as I was.
Also present was Daniel Ellsberg, the hero who brought us the Pentagon Papers, at risk to his own safety and sanity which the NIxon crowd tried to dis-establish by breaking into his psychiatrist's office in hopes of finding something they could blackmail him with. We have some common ground there. First Amendment-wise,so there was much exchanging of information about our freedoms, and he gave me websites to check about what is going down now, and also some chilling if accurate information about reporters signing up as CIA confidential keepers which adds more shadows to the whole Judith Miller thing-- that woman as heroine having faded further and further into the shadows where lurks Robert Novak. Anyway it was both spiritual and political and would have been a whole lot less hazy if we could have been drunk but all that was served was flavored Crystal Geyser. Joan Baez was leaving the next day for Crawford, Texas,where we all hope Cindy Sheehan's stand is as valid as it seemed, in spite of disturbing quotes attributed to her saying her son had been murdered fighting for Israel. Some self-proclaimed Lefties at the party, probably from Berkeley, said they had friends who agreed with that, so I didn't listen to them since they had gray teeth.
Now I began my journey down route 1, towards Pacific Grove, and an old friend from college who doesn';t do contraversy, so it all stayed quite pleasant. Pacific Grove is on the Monterey Peninsula, my kind of tip, as on the corner stood three anti-war protestors, one of them in his hundreds most likely, with a hat that said 'Veterans for Peace,' holding a sign that read 'Same old shit-- different asshole.' I had a very pleasant dinner with an upperclassman(woman) who had been fragilely beautous in her youth, but had sounded quite aged when I spoke to her on the phone, and had a hard time directing me to her house so I was afraid she had Altzheimer's. Her thinking has, admittedly, grown slow as far as understanding what streets went where, but her spirit was still lovely as were her eyes, and as she told me how her husband, a painter, had stolen her from her first husband, another painter who was going blind, and how they (she and the next husband) had had a menage a quatre with a model and her husband, I could see how good stories lurked even when you got past the beautous point of acting them out in the present as played by Kate Winslet. Then I spent the night in a thin-walled Victorian house where I had to keep Mimi from barking as she had already been busted in one place that didn't accept dogs, and by morning she was quite riled with me, till we walked down to the glorious cove that is at the end of that street, by the Aquarium, and she ran in the sand like the madwoman she probably is at some level, circle circle circle, and it was all quite spunky and joyous. Then a big truck came and emptied out the porta-potties that side that part of the beach, and the full horror of it struck me: there are actually men whose job it is to empty those things. We must none of us complain again ever about what it is we have to do in this struggle to maintain.
On my way there I had swooped down to Half Moon Bay where I used to go on sad Sunday mornings after Don died when I still hoped to find another love. There was a brunch place once where they played jazz and I used to have Eggs Benedict with Happy, my Yorkie, and hope in my pocket, but it's gone now,(the place, Happy is, too, and most of the time hope is) or if(the place) is still there I couldn't find it. So on to Big Sur, where I had several times been happy(not the dog, the feeling), the best of them with Jamie, where we'd sat by the river of the River Inn and let the water cool the rocks and our eyes. I stayed there this time till they found out I had Mimi with me and they'd been overbooked anyway, and were cheats in the bargain, trying to charge me thrice, as Tommy Thompson would have writ, being a bit lofty. But the best part of that stay was my first day with The New York Times and the San Francisco chronicle on the same table at breakfast. We will 'FINISH THE TASK' said the headline in the Times, quoting George Bush's new rewrite of 'Stay the Course.' "Gay Couples to keep Parental Rights,' said the Chronicle. Ah, yes, we are two coasts indeed.
Meanwhile, Sean Penn has written a five day series on being in Iran for the Chronicle, and to my surprise, it's pretty good. I figure I should do the same on being in Big Sur, but of course I can't connect here easily so the information will have to come in piecemeal. I would like to say peacemeal, but what are we going to do? The Chronicle has a cartoonist/humorist , Don Asmussen, with a strip called BAD Reporter, "the Lies Behind the Truth, and the TRUTH behind those LIES that are behind that TRUTH." The first square-- whatever they call these things in cartoons, I wish I could get Jules Feiffer on the phone to give me the word--, says 'BUSH'S 'WAR ON BRUSH' HAS MADE TEXAS A DESTINATION FOR WORLD'S ANGRY SHRUBBERY. Below it, 'For every bit of Brush Bush Clears, Twice as Much Replaces it' says Frightened Local. Then: V.P> Dick Cheney warns: 'Leaving now would make the brush think America is weak.'
Really funny. The last cut: Is Bush's vacation winnable? going on to say where all presidents have been vacationing(Truman, etc.) when wars ended.
I am glad I am here. The desert is no place for a Quaker/Buddhist/Jew, as God tried to show us-- at least a third of us-- the first time.
Ellsberg's suggested website: Particularly Chris Deliso's interview with Sibel Edmonds. He also said to check the current Vanity Fair piece on Sibel Edmonds by David Rose. All shame to us who read no further than how Jennifer Aniston is feeling and coping.
Being in a motel in Big Sur with nothing but my own thoughts, some pomes I'm writing and the silence of Jack as an option, I Elmer Gantryed and turned to the Bible, and wondered how it is that our Prez, as conversant and committed to the Good Book as he claims to be, doesn't take heed to some of the Proverbs, like 'Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall.', and 'The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water:therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.' And then they wrote 'He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.' Whoops.
Let us pray. Or let us be irreverent, which the Good Lord must have intended or He would have made us all Texans.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings has died. I reminded myself almost daily to write him a lettter, telling him how much I thought about him, and that I was pulling for him, but I never did it. I would pass the handsome poster of him near ABC and tell myself again that I had to write, before it was too late. But I guess I always knew it was too late from the moment he was diagnosed and they announced he was going for chemo so the opportunity for surgery had passed. My friend Chuck told me in 1984 whenDon was stricken that his father had been a lung surgeon, and that what fixed it in the 20 and 30s was all that could fix it to this day, or at least that one. That Peter was given radiation is the sign of that same panic that overtakes doctors when they know there is nothing they can do, but won't say so.

I met Peter for the first time at the Apollo-Soyez shot at Cape Kennedy in the 70s, it must have been, when I was deeply involved with a mystic I had introduced to an astronaut who had a spiritual experience while standing on the moon, and they had fallen in love, both of them married to other people. Peter was full out darling, the bright look that was always on his face enhanced by something like happy surprise when we literally bumped into each other on the way to some private celebration. I remember I was wearing a light green dress, cut sort of low, and had a tan as we still did in those days, not fearing anything except never living fully, or loving and being loved enough. I suppose I had giant jugs, and the bump into was accompanied by some exclamation on his part like 'Whoa, Big Mama," or something like that. I was there with Don and my still lovable children-- we were taking them to Disneyworld after the event-- so though I thought him among the most attractive men I had ever met in my life, the full potential lust of it didn't register. But some years later, Kandy Stroud, a journalist in DC with whom I had become friends, told me that Peter had told her he would not rest until we'd had an affair. It did a lot for my romantic ego. Some years after that, Don died from lung cancer, and among the calls I made was one to Peter telling him he had to stop smoking, volunteering to help him from the distance I was. I called him when there were 'Stop Smoking' days, but he always brushed aside my help, as as we know from Bill and Jeanie from Synanon, people can give up heroin but not nicotine.
Then, some years after that I was walking on 62nd Street and bumped into the ever-lively and troublemaking Joan Rivers, who said she'd just come from a book party across the street, and I should crash, they'd be glad to have me there. So I did, and Adolph Green waltzed me around the room at my entrance, so I was glad to have gone, and then I saw Peter. He was in the midst of one of his divorces, so from my usual reticent and shy place, I told him what Kandy had told me he'd said. But apparently he'd gotten a lot of rest since then, as his immediate response was 'How is Kandy?'
I am so sorry he is gone, especially the way he went. I remember Don's last days, when the oncologist said "It's hard to lose a patient like Don." I'm sure it was hard to lose a patient like Peter. I said to the doctor, about the cancer, a word that sticks in the soul and dries the tongue, "they ought to find a new name for this fucker." And he said "Fucker is good."
The real enemy is still that Fucker, so friends shouldn't get mad at each other about anything that comes from the mind. Heal all wounds, Close all breeches. Write the letter. I wish I still believed in everything I believed in when Apollo-Soyez happened, so death would seem to me just a part of the journey. If it isn't, and he can't know how sorry I am that he is gone-- well, maybe there is still the hope that they have Internet in the sky.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


The lake in Central Park, Mimi's front yard, is covered with a thick coat of light neon green, what Jamie once categorized as "pond scum," though at the time she was referring to the men I dated after Don died. I have decided that this president is pond scum, which is really unfair to pond scum, since it sticks only to the surface of the water and not stubbornly to its own agenda. By now the whole world knows Bush has given them the finger, in the person of John Bolton, at the same time giving the finger to all of us who love this country, but still believe there are others that deserve respect. The New York Times Op ed has takent he high ground, saying we are better off with him out of the White House where he could do more damage.
My friend Jordan says we are foolish to worry about our careers when there's going to be a nuclear war. I don't really believe that, but I do feel a sense of terror that this putz is allowed to torpedo this wonderful country. Then, because the Lord works in mysterious ways, it was revealed that his squeaky clean Supreme Court nominee actually did pro bono work on behalf of Gays. So the whole Republican right wing, which seems to me more a back and thigh, is up in arms and legs about the nomination. They are being reassured even at this moment that Roberts is just as inflexible and bigoted as they are, and will doubtless be compensated by having 'Intelligent Design,' the fundamentalist argument to Darwin, put into the school system or the schools won't get any money. What a world what a world; who would have thought that a dumb little boy like him could bring an end to all the beautiful wickedness, by which I here mean rational discussion, anathema to someone who refuses to listen.
Meanwhile on another front, the Hollywood one, Hal Dresner, my wittiest writer friend-- no arguments, you should hear some of the things he's said without thinking-- read the last blog and responded to the George Hamilton reference by imparting to me the intelligence that when he was working on 'Zorro, the Gay Blade,' he referred to George as Dorian Brown. Then he added that when told that, George smiled as though he understood.
Today's NY Times reported that in 1992 Karl Rove leaked to Novak damaging information about Robert Mosbacher that got Rove fired. The article goes on to tell that Novak walked out of a CNN broadcast, after uttering an obscenity."Bullshit," it was, which they did not report.They also do not report that Novak peed on himself before walking out, which Jon Stewart showed the tape of three times on the Daily Show, saying that was one leak that would surely have consequences. He said, like the mischievous boy he is beneath all his political insightd, "Let's see that again."
So is there hope? Will there be justice? . Stay tuned.