Thursday, July 04, 2013


  So having understood, reluctantly, that for this new alleged society-- I'm not so sure it any longer is one, or will ever be again--to be in touch it is not enough to think of, to love, or even to call, I actually went online and looked at some names in Linked-In, which for some reason seemed less offensive to me than Facebook.  Twas there I came upon 'John Strasberg,' who, I assumed was the brother of my loved friend Susan, gone from us too early and too long.  
    So I introduced myself, and sent him an e-note, asking him to contact me.  This morning I got an e-mail saying he had clicked on my name and address and nothing happened.  
     Clicked.  When did the world become so passive and electronic that all you needed to do was click?  Not even lift a finger to signal somebody's name?
     I am remembering Susie, how energetic and enterprising she was, wondering what she would think of what she left behind.  Susan, daughter of Lee, the formidable and dominating head of the Actor's Studio in New York, which gave us the incredible Marlon Brando in his still fit and beautiful Stanley Kowalski prime, and Paula, the dowdy but apparently spellbinding mother figure who devoured and spit up Marilyn Monroe in her later, increasingly troubled days, the one Arthur Miller might have pointed to as submarining his already doomed marriage.  What could they have been to Susie, as parents?
     I saw her first, when, at the age of fourteen, she made her theatrical debut as the heroine in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway.  I have to admit to being a dissenter in the rave column, as I found her voice to be shrill and irritating, and, bad girl that I was and have probably remained in some hidden corner, said I wasn't really sorry when the Nazis came. But later on, when we became friends, I grew to love her, and just as you no longer really see the face of the one you love, didn't hear her anymore, except for what she said, which was usually pretty bright, and often illuminated.
     We were both friends of Pattie McLaine, the psychic, who, at that point in her (and my) career, was fairly amazing, telling me, for instance, when I had told her nothing, said I was in the middle of writing a book about the Afterlife that would turn my head around (it did, but only for a while: it was Kingdom Come, a lovely little novel that brought me unexpected friends(Diane Brown, who came to me in a bookstore and told me I had been given The Truth, because I had the words to make it available, which really blew me away until the sales were disappointing-- I was still of This Earth.) 
      Susie did a few plays and a couple of movies which also never happened.  But she had some of the great backstage stories of all time.  She had done Time Remembered on Broadway, and Paula, being apparently the Overseer-Manipulator of all time, wanted her to have the right sexual break-in, so arranged for her first consort to be her co-star Richard Burton.  (I remember seeing them nuzzling in a dark corner of Janice Mars Baq Room, the cabaret funded by Janice's friends, who included Marlon and Maureen Stapleton and Tennessee Williams, who were also often in attendance haring Janice sing in her baleful basso.) 
     When they were in the play, along with Helen Hayes, by then the Grand Old LAdy of the theatre.  Burton would make love to Susie on the chaise next to the ventilator in her dressing room every night before the performance.  One night Susie caught Miss Hayes crouched next to the ventilator in her dressing room, apparently awaiting the sounds of that night's aural performance.
    Susie came to visit me with one of her beaus in Paris when I was living there one time, and Pattie came to see me in Weinheim, the little village in the Bergstrasse, in Germany, where I was engaged in a struggle to overcome all my fears at once: loneliness, the computer, and the German language,  I lost track of Susie towards her end, which came very young, as I remember.  From time to time, I still check in with Pattie, who, you will not be stunned to hear, has not grown more grounded with the years.  
    But then. who says the ground is the right place to be?  I am reading The Afterlife of Billy Fingers,  by Annie Kagan, the sister of Billy Cohen.  He was the inspired and funny and, apparently, doomed heroin-addict friend I had when I went to Synanon in the early 70s and played 'The Game,' a funny/serious/sometimes effective attack therapy used by Chuckj Diedrich when he started the whole thing.  Annie found me through the Internet, so I guess it can really be a good thing if it doesn't swallow you.  Billy, back on drugs many years after I lost touch with him and Jeannie, his very darling, tough, foul-mouthed wife who also came to a painful end, got hit by a car which is where the book begins as his life ends, and he speaks to his sister who adored him, from the Beyond.  She swears every word of the book is true, and there is an interesting intro by a doctor about the "world in-between," noted by philosophers from what some would label Time Immemorial, but I would re-name Time Memorial. Because if it's at all true, we have nothing to be afraid of, except wasting the Time over which we have some control.
    Well anyway, Happy 4th of July.  Nice that Freedom is ringing somewhere.  GO CAIRO!