So my darling friend Steve gave me the name of a musician here who could connect me with someone who knew how to play the Keyboard. I bought it for a fair price from a darling young man who brought it here and set it up, but didn't know how to use it either. The musician Steve gave me, a bass player of some Jazz renown, gave me some names and one of them, Herb, whom I shall leave anonymous for the rest of it, called back and said he would come and show me.
So happily I took care of all my Girlie things, late in my Girl day though it may be-- had my hair done by Nada, a longtime pal, and my toes done at the nail salon I like and can walk to, part of my self-assigned quest being to stay in shape by walking a lot, since I haven't yet found the pool that loves me, what with the Y being rented out to a swim class(I already know how, so lessons would be redundant and irritating,) and my longtime hotel having changed its rules the day after they told me I was welcome anytime. (Part of my quest is also getting over wanting to kill people.)
Back at my apartment, quaffed and nailed (the good kind, not what happened to Jesus) I found Herbie on my front stoop. One of the charming things about this complex is it has a front stoop, so description-wise you can sound like you're in Brooklyn, even though the stoop doesn't belong to my unit, but that of a woman who leaves a bicycle on it, so it has the comfortable aura of an upscale slum. Oh well.
So there was Herbie, who had been described to me by the man who recommended him as a "little crazy," which I wasn't to tell him, so I didn't, but he was. Wild-haired and wild-eyed, there was also one other thing that might reasonably have put me off: he knew nothing about Keyboards. I understand he was and is a great jazz musician, but I didn't want a piano lesson, which is what he tried to give me, but not until after I found the button that turned the thing on. I had piano lessons in my long-ago youth, and at one point, in my middle maturity, actually could play a little. But how I write songs is in my head, and all I wanted was the opportunity to set them to a few chords and some interesting rhythms,-- something I imagined I could do if I turned the thing on. That finally happened, though both Herbie and I had no awareness of what exactly did it, not could the moment be recaptured.
Anyway, I gave Herbie a sizable check I couldn't really afford, especially with nothing having been accomplished. But he is old and sweet and I felt bad for him rather than angry, a step up in my evolution which I hope there is still time for. And he drove me to Westwood where he had taught piano at UCLA so he must have been good, and I figured that was around $14 I figured I had saved, after blowing what I paid him.
So there I was in Westwood, looking for some more things I needed at Target now called City, and pulled myself back, and a few things out of my basket, when I understood how overpriced they were. At Target! What us there left to believe in, now that Obama has let us down with such a jolt?
But walking down Westwood Boulevard I stopped in to Victoria's Secret and bought some panties on sale, and then, being in Westwood, I went to see Don, who has long, too unbelievably long, been in the cemetery there. It is a a fabled cemetery, one celebrated in story and pushy-celebrity-seeking. He is a few feet from Pamela Mason, about whom Joe Mankiewicz, whom she had pronounced the best lover she ever had said: "A lovely woman... until you got to know her." Don's grave, on which is engraved "Life is short... make haste to be kind," and he was, is well kept, and one of his neighbors had a big floral offering so I felt good about that.
Then I went to visit a few others of whom I was fond, most especially Billy Wilder, as I had seen Double Indemnity the night before and in this rash of terrible films seen of late in which I couldn't find one true movie, it was an unqualified joy, and the performance he got out of Fred MacMurray was unbelievable. I mean we always expect Edward G. Robinson to be a master... but Fred MacMurray? Anyway, Billy's gravestone reads I'M A WRITER... But then NOBODY'S PERFECT. I told him he was wrong.
Then I said Hi to Jack Lemmon, in... his marker reads, and then there's the sod. Jack came to the audition I gave of the musical I wrote with Phil Springer a lifetime ago, based on my friend Mark Twain's story, The Million Pound Note, and said to his agents who were present: "Get me out of my contract with Columbia; I'm going to do this musical," which would have been nice, but that only happens in the movies. Kermit Bloomgarden, who was our producer, took all the money he had raised for our show and put it "Nowhere to Go but Up," a Mel Brooks musical with an inappropriate title, bombing immediately, and taking us with it. Oh well. I still love Mel, and what would my life have been like if I had had a hit on Broadway in my twenties? What is Life but a chance to evolve that you wouldn't get if it was easy and the way you wanted. Sure.
Rodney Dangerfield's gravestone reads "There goes the neighborhood." Most visited, of course, is Marilyn Monroe, who is in a crypt in the wall, the stone that marks it a different shade from the rest of the marbled wall, which is white-- hers is a kind of faded coffee-beige, covered with lipstick imprints, the outlines of a slew of ambitious and/or reverential mouths, leaving a kiss or a whispered wish.
Afterwards I went to the Thai restaurant I used to love, -- once very cheesy with great food and low prices. They've redecorated, upgraded, especially the prices. It was terrible. Rodney Dangerfield was right, but I don't blame him. It's the fact that you can put egg-rolls in the freezer and pretend they're fresh.
A shame you can't do that with people.