Celebrating a return of my energy, as well as my hairdresser, Dusty, who carries in his scissors as well as his enthusiasms, Eternal Youth, I set forth on foot today to see what had become of my old neighborhood, Beverly Hills. My appointment with him was not until three, so I light breakfasted (fruit and a bagel, scooped) at the Nosh, then had my color done by the adorable Serbian-long-lived-here Nada, whose daughter is married to Christian Bale, but Nada is not impressed, she has a husband she considers even more handsome, Ogie, and they are not bothered by the paparazzi.
One of my few regrets being here is that my Vanity Fairs are all in my New York apartment, and much as I love the creative editor, David Friend, who is a friend indeed, and enjoy the magazine, my one burst of thrift has been refusing to buy a copy when I know it is mouldering in New York. So when I saw one lying inside the glass window of a makeup store, I went inside to see if they wanted to make me a better person, on the outside, anyway, but they were all booked up, so I left, but with the magazine, the issue I most wanted to read, with Marilyn Monroe, of course, on the cover. Moving along the pavement, smoother than those in New York, or certainly the non-existent sidewalks of Bali, I peeked into stores to see who was doing business, and discovered, no, really, right in arguably one of the best blocks, a pawn shop. A pawn shop. Jewels in the window, fur coats hanging luxuriously inside, an antique piano, guitars,-- oh, it was a veritable Depression wonderland.
I asked the young clerk how they were doing, and he said 'Okay,' which I think is about how it is for everybody except Neiman Marcus where the Very Rich are Different from you and Me, as Fitzgerald said to Hemingway, whereupon that muscular wise-ass for whom I have lost all affection after what he did to Clive Owen on HBO, the Last Man Standing reduced to idiocy and imitation, said "Yes they have more money." But I don't think that obtains anymore. The response could be, "Yes, they spend." Especially the friends of Romney but we won't go there because it upsets my beloved friend Evelyn when I wax political.
Anyway, the young man was Thai, so I advised him to go to SILK, the very fine restaurant I discovered behind this little hotel, just across from the Peninsula, as delectable an Asian meal as you can find in these provinces, especially for the price. So I hope I was of some help to him, even though I wasn't sure I was going to buy the little ring for my lonely pinky, the one that Don isn't here to decorate as he always did when I wrote a new book, even though he really didn't have any money. Such a nice man. The one piece of jewelry I still have from him, everything else having been lost or stolen, is on my left hand and I never take it off, as I don't the one earring of my mother's that I didn't lose and so put on a necklace that I only take off when Dusty cuts my hair.
I stopped in or rather out to a little sushi place on Bedford, and did not eavesdrop on the chatting trio at the next table, but did greet them as they were finishing. They work at Saks where business is good they said, because there are sales. Then I walked past empty stores on Santa Monica Blvd, and came to one crated-up, white-painted place that looked like a particularly ugly building in Seminyak where they were trying to look like they were too smart for Bali. This one was Missoni, and peering in through the emptiness, I saw a sign that read it was closed due to a dispute with the landlord. So I guess he raised the rent or wanted them to pay it. Sigh.
Across the street there was a line of at least ten people waiting outside Sprinkles, the cupcake place, so when I saw another cupcake place a few blocks down that was not doing any business at all, I had to cross the street to inquire why. Passers-by opined that Sprinkles was peopled with tourists, as apparently it has been getting a lot of publicity, and it IS Father's Day tomorrow (Don't forget to call Dad if he's still on this side of the Divide.) But right next to the sluggish cupcake place was a newly opened Gelato place, which I had no choice but to try as GUSTO, my beloved gelato place in Bali had just been reviewed on TripAdvisor (look for my review under thegwen), bringing back all sorts of joyful memories, as that was where I had my book party for SCANDAL, and it is the setting for 'Hati-Hati, it's my Hati,' the song I wrote in Bali (Be Careful, it's my Heart) that the beautiful princess Farah recorded my singing. Watch me performing it LIVE on YouTube. (I was advised by the publisher of SCANDAL that I must be like the estimable Larry Block and miss no opportunity to plug my wares, though Larry, almost in person, advised that you have to be subtle. Is this soft enough?)
This gelato store, I found out from a mother in line, was started by her children's tennis coach, who decided he wanted to do something more than coach tennis. There is no question in my mind that gelato makes the world a better place, and eating it makes you a better person, so I was happy to consult with her children about flavors. I myself ended up with chocolate (always), Nutella, and ciliegie it would have been in Italy, but here it was cherry, and the scooper, Jennifer, gave me an extra one on top.
By now I had almost arrived at my hairdresser, thrilled that I was still able to walk, and that a few of the stores of my while-ago youth were still there. I got a great haircut, which is always the story with Dusty, and afterwards went to Whole Foods which will never go out of business, as it is so overpriced. I remember my old friend Ed, who opened the first big Health Food store in this province, Aunt Tillie's, for which I baked Banana Nirvana, and Apple Zucchini Delight, and people waited on line like it was Sprinkles for it to arrive. But those were simpler days, and he was a very kind man, and kept his prices low, and so went out of business.
It isn't easy trying to make the world a better place.