Saturday, September 22, 2007


Thus it was that on the afternoon of Arev(sp?) Yom Kippur,the eve of Yom Kippur, so perhaps it was Arev Arev Yom Kippur, that Sorah Gwen, a renegade Jew, that is, she was not so much rebellious as lazy in her prayers, at least to the Israelite G_d, which is what her cousin Susie used to refer to H_m as, wandering instead into the quieter realms of Quakers and Buddhists, the last of whom were mostly fallen-away Jews, so she could meditate in Silence, which she liked better but was still lazy about, so it was that on the sunlit terrace of the Cipriani in Venice she sat down with friends to have her last self-indulgent meal before beginning her Yom Kippur fast. And as it was her day to try and be very much a lady, she wore a flowing skirt. And as she sat down a wasp did enter into the underfolds of that skirt just as she met what would have been chair but instead met stinger, and stung her thrice on the upper inner right thigh, quite near what Anais Nin would call her sex, but she was not a Jewish writer.
So far had she come that she did not scream or even react except to say in quiet voice to her friend Elisa, "I sat on a bee," which it was not, as it turned out, but a wasp, as they discovered when they retreated to the ladies room and it did fly out from under her skirt and land on the wall, as witnessed by another woman who did change out of her bathing suit. Then came the pool man with ammonia which Elisa did apply and all went back to dine, as though naught had occured of major moment but it stung like hell.
Now all night long, having begun her Yom Kippur fast at sundown like the good Jew she tried to be on occasion, Sorah Gwen did writhe and smart and took of many anti-histamines which she hoped G_d would not consider breaking her fast, and prayed to G-d all through the night to relieve her from her discomfort, but so pained and swollen was she on that tender inner thigh by morning that she didn't give a damn and ate breakfast.
Then three rabbis met on the deck of the Giudecca to discuss the question Sorah Gwen had in her mind, not to mention the tender part of her inner thigh.
Rabbi Gamaliel said: "Why would this woman who thought herself a good person be stung thrice by a Wasp?"
Rabbi Eleazer said: "Was she not eating lunch with Goyem?"
Said Rabbi Herschel, "They were not Wasps, but Wascs, being mainly Catholics and as they were two of them Italians they were certainly not Anglo-Saxons when it is well known that WASP stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, not White Italian Catholics."
"But if a bee stings in the bush, and nobody feels it, is there any harm?" quoth Rabbi Gamaleil.
"You miss the point," said Rabbi Eleazer.
"So did the wasp," said Rabbi Herschel, imagining himself to be a wit.
"But why the tender part of the inner thigh when no one has been there in decades?"
"Perhaps to remind her there is no pleasure that cannot be remembered in pain, especially since it has been so long since it brought any pleasure."
"But why this woman?" said Rabbi Gamaliel. "Had she not been brought out of the railroad station at Santa Lucia with her dog only to be greeted by stinging nettles with gummy glue on them that had to be removed pulling hair by hair all through the night from the little dog, whose Jewish name was Miriam, although she was called Mimi, and never made but a slight whimper of protest because she understood she was being helped? And if the little dog could survive such an ordeal, why does the woman complain at being stung thrice by a wasp?"
"She is not complaining," said Rabbi Herschel. "She is only wondering why it happened? And why was she stung not once but thrice?"
"Three," said the Rabbi,"if you study the Kabbalah not necessarily in the group with Madonna, is the mystical number that means creative imagery."
"There is not much that is creative in a wasp sting," said Rabbi Herschel.
""There is the next day. How it does swell and change colors more mysteriously than the sunset. And that is the hand of the Creator."
"But do you dare to say that Yahweh is underhanded?"
"I say only that there are mysteries too mysterious to question, like why are there mosquitoes when they serve no purpose."
"Perhaps they do to other mosquitoes," said Rabbi Herschel.
"But what does this have to do with Yom Kippur?" Rabbi Eleazer asked.
"Everything," said Rabbi Gamaliel. "For four days Sorah Gwen had the best time of her life at the Cipriani in Venice, where there is a drink called by George Clooney when he was at the Venice Film Festival last year the Buona Notte, vodka and bitters which he invented and she thought tasted terrible, and as a result had for her final breakfast on that perfect day the Gwendollini, which name she made up to get even both with George Clooney and Hemingway who had invented the Bellini, but the Gwendollini she had the ego to think was better, being cranberry juice and prosecco, a fine way to start that last glorious day.
"There is no pleasure without pain. To be a Jew in this world having so much pleasure would be a sin were you not stung three times on the tender inner thigh by a wasp, as not to feel pain as a Jew would be a pain."
All were impressed by his wisdom, except for Sorah Gwen with her big welt on her tender inner thigh, and still wondered 'Why me, G_d?"
And then she remembered the even wiser words of her cousin Sorah Lori, who had explained to her once the basis of the Jewish religion, why, at the end of every prayer and show of faith and abstinence, each celebration of great and terrible days in their history, Jews sat down for a meal. Sorah Lori summed up in very few words the entire history. And it went thusly:
"They hate us. They want to kill us. Let's eat."
Happy New Year. East something. You'll feel better.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I am reliqishing today's report to my petite chien, Mimi, who, in addition to her other virtues, has unexpected gifts of observation.

Although I, Mimi, a Bichon Frisee ( that means curly-haired lap dog in Francaise, for those of vous who are not international) arrived at Deauville too late to catch my great love, George Clooney-- (there's still time-I'm a young dog, and so is he,) reports about his new film,Michael Clayton, are OUTstanding. Less radiant is the word about Brad Pitt's The Assassination of Jesse James: a bitch who got there before me said she could hardly wait for the coward Robert Ford to get it over with. And the locals were a bit en colere that Brad and Angie made their exit from the ville so vite (Six hours. One French journalist described him as une etoile filante: (a shooting star.) Matt Damon, there for Bourne (La Vengeance dans la Peau-- sounds meaner in French), was courtois (polite) and accessible, so was liked by all.
The Deauville Film Festival( this is the 33rd) is deliberately known as American, (Festival du Cinema Americaine.). Not as screamy or as pushy as Cannes, the weather far more chill (it is Normandy, the Northern coast of France, facing La Manche( and September) and the people less hysterical than their cousins to the south, lining up respectfully behind the gates to await and ogle, when indeed it would be easy to storm the barricades or even walk around them, the entire staff being open to conversation and wheedling, the festival has an elegant air. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was the center of this year's hommage to Sidney Lumet, the most luminous presence among the older set except for Marlon Brando, whose ghost hung over the proceedings via a brilliant documentary from Turner Broadcasting with Canal 1, a very long but riveting demonstration that Brando dead is still bigger than most people alive.
Ira and Abby is Woody Allen manque,(not quite up to the freckled one), but funnier than the Ben Stiller would-be comedy The Heatbreak Kid, Bonneville offers a still hypnotically gifted Jessica Lange with the always amazing Joan Allen and Kathy Bates in a road saga more literate than Kerouac's without so many words, and Waitress shows up just as dear on this side of the Atlantic. Zoe Cassavetes makes her directorial debut with Broken English with a nice personal assist from mama Gena Rowlands, both in the picture and at a press conference.
Terrible surprise of the festival is Teeth, from director Mitchell Lichtenstein about a sweet young thing with vagina dentatum, every unsure man's imagined nightmare. It shouldn't happen to a dog. Moi-meme, I had to stop watching about the time the third thing got bitten off.
My personal favorite was The Dead Girl, a series of powerful vignettes concerning all the women touching on the finding of an anonymous woman's corpse, featuring some of our most brilliant actresses: Toni Colette, Marcia Gay Harden, Piper Laurie, still in powerful fettle voice-wise; a gallery of your favorites whose names you might not know, but should. My amie du voyage, Suzie, an Apricot poodle, hated it. But then, she loved Teeth, proving once again, chacun a son gout.
But turns out I was right! Dead Girl won! Mimi, LA CRITIQUE!!!!


Had the best day in Paris I ever had, probably because I took it as a day, living in the Moment(French pronunciation,) not expecting or hoping that something was just around the corner, just looking at the corner itself. And of course there are no more beautiful corners in the world than the ones in Paris-- a friend of mine once called it an open-air museum, and that is what it is. My clever daughter-in-law had come here once on an architectural tour so had given me a destination I had never even heard of the two times I lived here(very young and not that old,) the Butte Chaumont, a park in the 19th where I'd never been.
The day began exceedingly fair, not a cloud in the sky, rare for Paris. Mimi and I walked the Champs Elysees, crossed the Avenue Montaigne, where I'd begun as a sprite-in-training, to the Pont de l'Alma. There were still fresh flowers on the Herald-Tribune monument, a gold torch in symbolic imitation of the Statue ofLiberty's. Most people think that a memorial to Diana, since that was the place she went into the tunnel. A Parisian woman put a rose on the pile at the base, and said it was good that people still remember. Someone said in the course of this journey that the whole thing about Diana had gone on too long, but I'd read a wonderful piece in the NYTimes about our need to grieve, and that this at least gave us something good to grieve about.
Then Mimi and I crossed over to the Left Bank, made an attempt to talk reason to Air France which charged $150 for Mimi to come and refused to let me pay round trip at the start, wanting the 150 Euros to take her back, which by the time I leave will probably be about $250. Every day sees another bad hit thanks to George Bush, whom the good George(Clooney) called an imbecile in an interview with the French press. Anyway, it has been worth it to have her here as she is loved by all the French, even those who can't stand each other. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friendship with the family who lived upstairs from me on Rue de la Pompe; they'd invited me to dinner my fist night here, so I could renew my love affair with Gaspard, who is now eleven and was my favorite little boy(he was two) until my gifted son made me a grandma.
Walking along the Quai D'Orsai I stopped at Cafe Fregate across from the Louvre and wrote the following pome.

Je trouve my groove
En face du Louvre
Trying not to move into rage
At seeing George Bush
With his moosh like a tush
On the Herald-Tribune front page.

They were just out of it
When we stopped for a bit
At the Pont de l'Alma ce matin
Where Diana's face
Still haunts the place
Where the end of her life began.

The absence of news
Liberated my Muse
And Paris became its own pome
Where the sky looks much higher
And souls aspire
To make this work of art into home.

The air is so frais
On this rare, sunlit day
That you think you could live here forever
With a heart full of love
And that sky high above
And a head full of things that are clever.

But the unvarnished truth
Is that even with yourh
And a truly original flair
Though the place won't erase you
Neither will it embrace you
It's a city that just doesn't care.

Actually when I first returned to live here in '97 I met a woman who'd been Art Buchwals's secretary. She was still beautiful, Dietrich-ish, and when I told her how much I loved(or wanted to be loved by) Paris, she said the city was "indifferent." I suppose it's easy to be indifferent when you're that beautiful. Used to praise.
Anyway, I loved the park in the 19th, took Mimi home for her first ride on the Metro which was almost her last. There was a pit bullwithout a leash, against the law but that doesn't bother Parisians, and Mimi had the same innocence I guess I used to have, and greeted him with a friendly bark. Fortunately he was as indifferent as Paris, so ignored her, lying fat and panting under the seat of his owner, a few chairs away from a baby in terrified Mother's arms. Ah, Paree! Toujours an avanteur.
Had dinner with a French mother and daughter I knew from Bali, and the next day lunched with a lovely Frenchwoman, Dominique, and her son Dorian, whom Robert, my son, calls "the little boy who killed Happy." If you remember the story, Happy and I on a visit here in '97 had lunch at Pere La Chaise, at the tomb of Oscar Wilde, and that night ate at a small restaurant where a chubby little boy, just over one year old, ran up and down the sidewalk and played with Happy. A beautiful woman came and put a glass of champagne in front of me and said, in French I could understand, "this is because you were so kind to my son Dorian." "Dorian?" I repeated. "After Dorian Gray," she said.
Being then in the deepest trough of my mysticism, I could not think it a coincidence, made friends with her and invited them to come to my hotel the next evening for a drink. Dorian was in his full puppyhood, and Happy, quite old, seeing the presence of a younger dog, went fully into his macho, and became Happy of the Jungle, fiercely running around the room, holding his toy bone in his mouth, his youth and vigor restored.
Right after that, we all left the hotel. They went their way, and Happy suddenly fell to the sidewalk, legs outstretched, rigid. I called the vet and he said it was a heart attack, and I would have to put Happy down. We sat a restaurant, Happy in my lap as I sobbed, and gave him a strand of fettucini Alain Delon. I took him back to the hotel, called Robert in LA, and we wept over it together. Then I told Happy I didn't want to have to put him to sleep. I turned off the light and patted him, comforting him, asking him please to help me. When I turned on the light at four in the morning, he was dead.
I took him to Vanves in the back velvet bag I had used to smuggle him into the Literary Guild party, and cremated him, afterwards sprinkling his ashes on all the greats of Pere La-Chaise. The poem about it exists, if any of you want to read it. Gregory Peck liked the poem so much he was kind enough to record it for me.
Dorian,.a beautiful boy, now eleven, still has Happy's toy bone on his wall, his mother told me. And, oh yes, he has a CD that his mama, gave me. I do hope it's wonderful. And that he will become a great vedette. That's star.
It would be only right. Happy was sooooooooooooooo talented.