Friday, June 15, 2007


When I first lived in Hollywood, before my move to the infamous Laurel Canyon, consecrated in song and last week's article in The New York Times about the 'Summer of Love,' I stayed at the Park Sunset on that epynonymous(I think it's spelled) boulevard. There was a coffee shop in the front of the hotel/apartment that had in its glass-cased counter Bear Claws, that typical LA pastry with almonds on top, shaped, I would imagine, like some baker's concept of claw, a semi-circle with ridges, glazed. I was a chub, a word that always hurt me as a little girl when it came on the label of a dress size, crazy in love with a wraith, the young and gangly and very beautiful Tony Perkins, whom I didn't know was gay, but considered simply respectful and tasteful, because how could he want a fat girl? His mind was as sharp as his shoulder blades, which were tanned to a creamy coffee brown, and he would tease me with lines from old movies, telling me if I could identify which picture, for example, "Rice pudding... in Egypt you cannot tell if they are flies or raisins" came from, he would take me to dinner. I used that as the springboard for his fictional character, Stephen Ryder, in my first novel Naked in Babylon, which I bowdlerized so Tony would continue to love me, in his fashion, which involved everything but touch, as he was upset that, in the novel at least, his character was a closeted homosexual, which I had faced in writing as I could not in life.
Anyway I was too fat to have the bear claw, because I was twenty and still lived in hope. So this morning when I took Mimi to the groomer and went into the bakery next door, there was a bear claw, so I ate it. Fuck it. Too late to worry about such things. I also remembered being closeted myself when Stanley Kubrick, my best friend of that moment, had me come down from Stanford, and secreted me in the Park Sunset to save him from what was, according to him, the unusable dialogue of Nabokov, and work on the screenplay of Lolita, not permitting me to call any of my friends, because he was sure if they knew I was in town, they would know what I was clandestinely(is it an adjective, too?) involved with. His paranoia knew no bounds. There were bear claws, then, too, that I didn't eat.
I am sad that he left as early as he did, but he could not stand a world he did not control, building his own Vietnam for 'Full Metal Jacket' at his compound in Elstree so he wouldn't have to travel to where there were actually palm trees, building a city for the insufferable 'Eyes Wide Shut'. The rest of us left here are suffering from a world, an administration we cannot control or, sadly, have any impact on, so maybe his genius extended beyond movie-making to timely exits.
My stole caught in the door of my car as I got in to come home, having eaten only of the top of the bear claw, just the slivered almonds and what there was of glaze, so I thought for a moment of Isadora Duncan and remembered having read somewhere of the woman who'd given her the fatal scarf. No other information about her, just that she had gifted her with that scarf. Scott Fitzgerald and wife once sat on a hillside in the south of France once near Isadora, and Zelda got even crazier because he was captivated by her, as we all are who know her legend, and remember the great and fatal last line, "Mes Amies, je vais au le gloire!" just before the end of the scarf caught in the wheel of the sports car she took off in and was strangled on her way to Glory. And I wondered how it was to be the woman who had so gifted her, who did nothing in life but be rich and able to give gifts to the gifted, and if she had suffered all the rest of her (what I imagine to be privileged and long) life because that was the only thing she had done of any real consequence, and that consequence so dark. I wish at such moments that I was de Maupassant(sp?) or Colette and had given myself to short stories instead of this bloody blog.
Mimi has lost fifteen ounces so is weighing in okay for her trip to France at summer's end, but she is hungry a lot of the time as it is hard to explain to her about an ideal of Beauty, or the rules at Air France. We had dinner last night with one of the great people left on the planet from when movies were movies, Gena Rowlands, and Mimi whined the whole time because we were eating some kind of beef she could smell from underneath the table. It was probably for her as it had been for me at twenty, sitting in front of that greasy glass case, filled with longing for an avenue for my talents, a great love and a bear claw.
So much for Proust, and his madeleine.