Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I, the Jury

So I am in a courthouse for the first time since I covered the Jeffrey Masson- Janet Malcolm libel trial for The Nation Magazine, wherein I had the joy of encountering Gary Bostwick, her defending attorney, a very smart man, and only the second time I have ever been in one.The first was my trial in Santa Monica, when the self-promoting and egregiously lying psychologist, E. Paul Bindrim sued me for libel, claiming he was a character in my novel, which he grew a beard and lengthened his fringe to become, as well as getting a PhD from International University, a mail-order college above the Bruin Theater in Westwood. Everything passes, including Bindrim, and the queasiness when I would drive by the old courthouse, but as I go to eat lunch today, it all rushes back at me, especially the panic for food. I knew how badly it was going for me when, during one break, I put a Milky Way in the freezer so I could have it, frozen, at the next one.
Downtown LA doesn't feature any places you might find in Raymond Chandler, who would be hard put to set a scene in Subway or MacDonald's. The streets are colorless and sad, although one of them has a sunny side. The jury room, where about fifty people are waiting in the pool to see if they are chosen, has burgundy benches and a cheap matted gray rug, some computers to the rear, a snack machine, and a Pepsi one, and a TV set to the front that I have turned down th volume on and set to "The People's Court" so those who are watching can feel pleasantly surreal. Most of them have magazines or that glazed look of inattention that comes from being bored and not having anything particularly interesting they seem to be thinking about. There are several books people have left on the table include a novel by Gore Vidal. He would probably be pleased, though I cannot imagine his ever having served on a jury, as what he mostly does is judge.
This citizen duty is not as vexing as it might usually be since I have absolutely nothing I am passionate about right now, no feeling i am being wrenched away from a true calling. My voices, unlike St. Joan's, have not deceived me: they have simply shut up. Jack, my Jewru, said my muse is on vacation, most likely in Bali. Have opted not to go there as was my plan, because the world seems very Iffy at this moment, we are despised almost everywhere, and-- oh, yes -- I had a loved friend who was killed in Bali, the death is on the book as an unsolved homicide, but I don't think so. And he's still there.
So I thought in terms of where it was I used to go when I still took real holidays, a little place beside the route to Ramatuelle found when that loved friend said to me "Everybody says: 'St. Tropez, c'est finis' but I think you'll like it." So Don and I and the kids when they still listened found Les Bergerettes, a charming, humble little stone hotel by a forest of maritime pine, where she joined us for one magical weekend. We stayed there for something like $100 a day. I contnued to go back for many years, for as long as a month when I could, or my spirits were flagging, climbing the hill every morning, a challenging stretch of the legs, sitting on top by the edge of a vineyard, looking across the ravine to the mountain opposite, and the ancient, walled city of Gassin. I would stay there for an hour, so when I walked down the hill again I would be really centered, clear, and serene. Having decided it would not be wise to Bali, I tried to find my old hotel. It is unchanged, except for the angle from which the pool is photographed, which makes it seem more exotic, and is now, perhaps heated. And the price is now $400 a day. Oh, that. I haven't been away that long. So I won't be going. I will try to remember the glitter on the Gulf of Grimaud, and the poems I wrote there.
I think that God Septembers
In the south of France
God knows He needs a vacation.

But the new question-- can he afford it?
I wish it were Cheney on trial. Oops. They're calling me to the courtroom.