Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Hills of Beverly

So besides Mimi getting obedience training("That's a smart dog you've got there," said Howard,who has settled down the dogs of Sylvester Stallone and Gloria Vanderbilt, to name drop but a few) I have started a new novel and gotten new eyes. That is to say I had Lasik surgery, which, except for some hairy moments that felt like'A Clockwork Orange' without their playing Beethoven, seems to have gone well. So I can sit here in the kitchen where I work, and, without my glasses, see to shining sea, except that it is obscured by low-lying smog, these people in this most beautiful part of America if you like weather,continuing to foul their own nest, in addition to electing Arnold. To give you some idea of what it is like in Beverly Hills, the opthamologist who performed the surgery has his office in a building where as you waited for an elevator a TV above the elevator doors had running along the bottom of its screen news of Disney's merger with Pixar, besides stock quotations.
To begin on the unraveling of the mystery which cornerstones the novel, I must have some input from a real detective as to how they would proceed,so I tried the LAPD who said I would have to audition, send an outline of the plot and see if anyone would be interested. But it is too good a plot to give to the LAPD, all of whom doubtless have screenplays or series in their sock drawer waiting only for the right arrest to negotiate a deal with a producer/director/actor/murderer. So instead, I called the Beverly Hills police, and connected with Detective Tad Nelson("Is that his screen name?" my darling friend Lisa asked) who said he would be delighted to meet with me but needed the okay of his lieutenant. I left a very long voicemail on the Lieutenant's line, explaining the difference between a "book,' as Tad told him it was, and a "novel," which is FICTION I said several times very clearly, knowing how the lines are blurred in the minds of the public even after Lasik surgery, confused even further by the beloathed James Frey, and assured the Lieutentant. I would reveal nothing of Beverly Hills police secrets, or, in fact, reality, that the crime doesn't even take place in Beverly Hills. So I am waiting to hear from him, and, while waiting, went for a check with my eye doctor and rode in the elevator with policeman Ross Sharp(his screen name?) who said that Tad was a great guy. We called him then on the cop's cell, had a very pleasant chat, and i am still waiting.
Meanwhile various buddies in Paris are helping me with my research there, as one of my characters was born in Paris. Walter Wells, my most esteemed and lovely editor friend who recently headed the Herald Tribune has done me the service of fictionally hiring her and telling me what her job would be but has cautioned me against making her too nubile lest she be cut off at the pass by an incredibly competetive bitch who works there in reallife. Oh, I do love it when my favorite pals are not only helpful but funny, which is why, no doubt, they are my favorite pals.
So Mimi can Sit, Stay, Come, Back off(that's not one of his regular commands but i have incorporated it into our lives together.) And I can see! I can see! So I am hopeful that starting tomorrow I will be working full time on my book, so don't worry if you don't hear from me.
The doctor who performed the surgery drove me home in my temporary fuzz last night, as his son goes to Beverly High, which is directly opposite the apartment building where i'm staying. He was picking up his son, so was glad to do it, at no inconvenience, and said to me today "What are the odds on that, that you would be living exactly where I pick up my son?"and suggested I buy a raffle ticket. I'd rather just write a book and go for a jackpot. BUT!!!! Saturday night at midnight is the Chinese Lunar New Year, so turn on all your lights and open all your windows and doors so Luck can find you this year of the Dog,which I am, what are you? And maybe the lights will be out where Karl Rove lives, and it'll end for these jokers,finally.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Million Little Feces

(Author's Note: I am turning over this space, and my usual website,, to Mimi, my Bichon Frise, who has a confession to make.)

James Frey was my lover. For those of you who live in Outer Mongolia, and so have never seen Oprah, and so don'tknow who he is, or Larry King(though he is probably available via CNN Outer Mongolia, there being few real hiding places left in this world) you may have missed the brouhaha over Frey's so-called memoir, which having sold three million copies and rising because of the esteemed Oprah's oohing and aahing over its brutal honesty, was revealed in the past few days to be in large part fabricated. Well, let me start by saying he is a true son-of-a-bitch, which in some parts of the doggy-run we call life, might be construed as a tough-guy compliment. But now that he is allegedly telling some of what was allegedly tell-all, let me tell you about the all about the part that he isn't telling, that they didn't even know about on The Smoking Gun. The tragic crack-addicted blonde who suicided before he could get there in time to save her was in fact, me. And I am neither blonde nor crack-addicted nor dead. I am,in fact, white as the driven snow when you're not snorting it. It was my intention never to reveal the truth, but having sat through Frey's Alito-like, composed fielding of questions last night with the Suspendered One, something rose up in me past Rage, that I will refer to as The Growl.

I will begin,as memoirs of abuse must, with what I suffered in Puppyhood.

Happy dogs are all alike. Every unhappy hound has a much more interesting tail to tell. Though it would doubtless be more saleable to say I came from a deprived beginning, I did, in fact, come from a high-line puppy mill that sold to a pet store on New York's fashionable East Side, where I was purchased by a self-absorbed writer, or at least she seemed self-absorbed to me until I met James Frey. He was sitting on a bench in Central Park donated by Leona Helmsley, pretending to be homeless, and trying to figure out how he could get on Oprah. Though it was early in the morning, he had a half-drunk beer in the hand he wasn't writing with, which was later to appear in his book as absinthe. Seeing that my owner was distracted, as she usually is by Nature, her own and that which is around her, he slipped me what remained of his beer, unloosed my leash, slid me into the zippered front of his jogging suit, and sped away in his Nikes, which were later to be depicted as bare feet.

Then he took me back to his loft in the Meat-Packing district, and packed his own meat. The cur. That was the first time I felt The Growl. Right about then, for the first time facing up to his own bestiality, he called his upper-middle class parents and told them he was committing suicide by slashing his wrists in a warm bath. They called 911 but when the police and the ambulance got there he had been unable to find a razor, so they came upon him in the tub playing filthy games with me. They urged him to go to a shrink, but he kicked them in the balls according to that chapter of his book. What he really did was ask them for a towel, with which he dried me before committing another lewd act. The Growl. By then it was afternoon, so he watched Oprah.

I will not dirty up your day or sully mine own hairy memories since I am still in recovery by telling you what else he did to me in the time before my Rightful(or as she has just come back from The Nation Cruise, Leftful) owner found me, but let me assure you it was not pleasant unless you are a masochist and sick as a dog. Maybe if he had given the sordid details of that to Nan Talese she would have given him a contract right away(He could have called it The Story of 'M') instead of making him go away and come back with a supposed memoir. Although probably it would have gone down better with Judith Regan. Surely he would not have dared tell that Truth to Oprah, since she is allegedly a dog-lover, though God knows, and I do believe in God having read both St. Augustine and Maya Angelou, what that phrase would mean exactly today.

But as for me, I am a Survivor, coming from a breed that survived the French-- Marie Antoinette fashioned her wig after her Bichon's hairdo, so when the French offed with her head they didn't want to be reminded and so started offing with their heads all the Bichons, which were rescued by the Italians who taught us how to dance on our hind legs-- something Frey also made me do during The Act(Growl) but I don't want to think about that anymore. Fortunately I had one of those metal discs implanted between my shoulder blades so my owner was able to find me, and I was rescued while the Queen(Frey was also bi, no longer a sin of course, or even a crime though a passing reference to it did cause a new shade of pale to cross the alleged complexion of Alito) was in the parlor eating bread and honey and Frey was in the counting house counting all his money, and so was not paying attention, except to the bestseller list.

This is a true story, I swear by Cerberus. The movingly picaresque saga of my predecessor, a Yorkie named Happy, appeared in a limited edition called Happy at the Bel-Air. Happy himself, without ever having gone to rehab, actually appeared on Oprah, and the volume would have sold in the millions and he would have been immortal, except Oprah didn't show the book. The bitch.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Appointment in Samarra

So being geared up, nearly, to become absorbed in my shallowest, least profound work, a friend having advised me that he was tired of my not being a hit, as I had to admit I was, too, I left the chill of New York winter to return to Hollywood, as it will always be known no matter how many interestingly provincial names they try to give various parts(Beverly Hills, Westwood, and for the arch set, San Marino.) My plan: a program of swimming each morning at dawn as I had done in Bali, then to absorb myself in a day's work well done no matter how commercially shoddy the outcome. But as with the ancient story and John O'Hara, aft ganging aglee, I was felled with a terrible cold I might never have caught in NY, the pool is unheated, and I am, for the first time in recent memory, creatively paralyzed.
My wheezing is exacerbated by the realization that one cannot go on forever beginning. Ah but the aforesaid was writ yesterday, before the miracle inhalant that costs about $20 a pop so I have no choice but to get my breath and innocence back.
Said medication was bought at my home away from home the Beverly Glen Pharmacy, atop the center near the place I once had my abode, next to the Delicatessen where, this being star-studded even when stars fade or are dark, Mort Sahl was lunching with Bobby Blake. Mort is an old pal, and we have the same birthday. All the same I did not go inside to say hello as I was saddened to note that Blake looks better than Mort does, proof that being a murderer sits easier on the spirit in this town than having a career go awry.
I am staying at the apartment of a friend just across from Beverly Hills High School,so all yesterday I could hear band practice, a lot of drums, and last night they had a soccer game. Waiting at the curb in the darkness was a little van, not a third the size of the ones that sell coffee and burritos to constrcution workers on the constantly being redone mansions in Bel-Air in the early mornings. Mimi and I,on our peregrinations, went over to explore, and inside was a little man named Abbi, who said he was from New York and before that Persia, emphasizing that that had never been Iraq. His mere presence in his van was something of a charming miracle, as I am surprised that the current crop at the high school play that kind of night game as they are in large part of Iranian descent, the fall of the Shah having resulted in a real estate boom to Beverly Hills, as his entire entourage seemed to have relocated in the flats. The graffitti on the outside wall of the gym still reads 'Beverly Hills Normans,' the team's moniker,though I doubt those were the original invaders of Persia. But the rather tall and well-built boys all came to the truck afterwards to buy ice cream-- they don't care about low calorie, Abbi says. Abbi also works the temple on Friday nights, where they like what he has in the truck because it is kosher, which he defines as 'no pork in the Good Humours'. Abbie owns two high rises in Westwood but as he has no children and is divorced he enjoys the company, so has the truck.
I am still sort of waiting for my mental ship to come in, as I had been well so long i'd forgotten how debilitating it is to be sick. But I am ever more conscious of time. Rona Jaffe died, more or less a contemporary. She had the first big hit of the New York women of whom I was never really one but my mother wanted me to be. My mother, whom those of you who knew her or knew her story, was a party crasher, had a sense of cosmic mischief, and was somewhat light-fingered. She went to the Harwyn, I think it was,in the days when people still danced, and retrieved a charm bracelet with a flat round disc that had fallen to the dance floor off the wrist of Rona Jaffe's mother. She had it inscribed 'Ladies-in-Waiting', my novel that was coming out at the time, and gave it to me as a publication gift, imagining it had the properties of some kind of naughty magic amulet, that would give the book the success of 'The Best of Everything,' and make her a bigger mother than Rona's. Many years later when I moved back to New York the first time in my quest for camaraderie I met and became part of a group organized by Karen Sperling of bright(we still were) career women who continued to believe there was the hope of connecting with a man, and among them was Rona. Some of these women had altars in their apartments, but the more industrious among us met regularly in smart little boites in untapped locales, a sort of early, Hamisch version of Sex and the City. Coming back in a cab from one of those forays with Rona, whom I now considered a pal,I told her the story about my mother, who, like hers, had died. Two days later it appeared in The New York Observer. I never spoke to her again and was pleased to see,on a later occasion, that her hair was thinning. But I am sorry she died.
Bob Gottlieb, who is usually described as the best editor around though I think it was Bob Gutwillig said, in her obituary, that her best book was 'Mr.Right is Dead.' Well, maybe now she'll find him.