So having been shut out by the Jews-- don't ask: it's a story I don't like to tell, but probably would, as to share pain decreases it except to the person listening, so don't ask-- I went today to All Saint's Episcopal Church where I had a nice experience once or twice, and as I believe God is in Everybody(except Dick Cheney and those Republicans now moving against women,) I am happy to go anywhere in pursuit, or not even pursuit, just the relaxed opening of heart where Uplift might be available. I went to the second sitting, I guess you would call it if you were on a ship which it feels like we all are, even as our country, and the planet, are sinking.
The 11:15 service, the second one, is for the younger people, which of course I have no idea I no longer am, where they play guitars and sing original God songs, which I think all songs probably are, as if there are Gifts, there must be a Giver, so why not? But it was joyful and melodic, and they sing, even during the actual sermon, which is brief and friendly-- I am also a Friend, with a capital 'F', the Quaker part of me from Bryn Mawr years and Winifred Barrett in my youth, and Westwood for the LA years when I walked on Sundays to the Meeting on Hilgard. And then of course there is the Buddhist, nourished and guided by my wonderful teacher and friend with a little 'f' Jack Kornfield. During the songs in All Saints' they project art and thoughts on the screen at the front of the church. One of those today was "I Miss My Pre-Internet Brain," and I could really relate to that, except I think I probably still have that brain. I lost a very dear friend, a computer expert named Pam, a darling woman, because she understood the net to the extent that she took for granted everything I couldn't begin to absorb, and spoke with the speed of one who webbed without a moment's reflection, and I quite simply couldn't keep up, and really didn't want to. So we parted ways over Miscommunication which is what I think they could call it as well as what they call it now.
But there is enough in the world we are actually in at the present time to nourish us if we look at it, and take it in. So there.
All the same, it was a delight to get in the mail a PHOTOPLAY from my youth, sent me by the partner of the teenage heart-throb of my youth,Tab Hunter. I had occasion to see him in New York when they were making a documentary about him. I participated as one who had been in love with Tony Perkins, who I lost to Tab, but who knew? Everybody was in the closet then, as Tony, very smart, and deeply conflicted, was almost more than anybody. The issue of that vanished magazine has the song printed in it I wrote with and forTab, who was temporarily a record star, his great popularity spilling over into something he wanted to do, as all the boys envied Pat Boone. The song is called DON'T LET IT GET AROUND, and it certainly didn't., The issue's cover has the young, happy couple, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner on it. Inside are various gossip columns, besides the features on movies and then movie stars-- Jean Seberg, Burt Lancaster, Jayne Mansfield, the still beautiful Marlon Brando, with the magazine predicting he would get an Oscar for SAYONARA, in which I thought he was terrible, except when he winced at the dead double suicide of Red Buttons and Miiko Taka or whatever her name was, and looked really pained, which I think he was because of the movie..
Two predictions-- Lauren Bacall could never really be in love with Frank Sinatra, because she was too much in love with and dedicated to the memory of Bogart, and Lana Turner's husband #5 would be Johnny Stompanato, except her daughter was going to kill him. I am really pleased to have this copy of the magazine. Too much of my life, the part that should have made for great souvenirs were thrown away by me in moments of carelessness, or anguish, or pique: 1) A letter from Saul Bellow, who had won the Nobel prize, to whom I appealed for support during the anguished lawsuit over TOUCHING, from the "therapist" Bindrim who had conducted the nude encounter I'd gone to. Bellow had used everyone he knew in real life in his novels, but his letter said he would not support me. This, when Doubleday sued me after defending me all the way to the Supreme Court.
2) A letter from Philip Roth, who had all but destroyed my favorite friend with whom he lived for seven years while she supported him, but left the day he got his million for Portnoy, after he had used her mercilessly in that novel, saying "You may not use my name…I suggest you contact Bernard Malamud, chairman of the Freedom to Write committee at P.E.N."
Worst of the papers I should have saved, most painful, a letter scrawled in his own constipated hand, from my once closest friend Stanley Kubrick. Stanley's tinily cramped words ran in ink across the top of the page, apologizing for having not let me into his house in England. When I'd first come to Hollywood, down from Stanford where I was trying for my Master's, Stanley and I had become true buddies. "I've just bought LOLITA," he'd said to me. "And Dwight McDonald is going to give it a rave in Esquire because Nabokov is a literary genius. But he can't write a line of dialogue." I had just given Stanley a draft of my novel, Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah, about wife-swapping in the suburbs. Probably my worst book, but ahead of its time.
"You're the best writer of dialogue in America," he said, and invited me to go into the closet to write the movie of Lolita. So I moved down to L.A. and holed up in the Park Sunset, instructed not to tell anyone I was in town, as Stanley was sure everyone would guess what I was doing.
But we argued over approach. At an early point there was a scene where Lolita disses a kid who "is a creep. She had polio."
I said, "Stanley, you can't have her putting down a kid for having polio. The audience will hate her."
"You don't get it," he said. "Humbert is thinking how exciting it would be to screw a twelve-year-old who had polio."
"Stanley..." I managed. "How do you see this movie?"
"It's a love story," he said.
"Oh," said I. "I thought it was a comedy." He'd stopped speaking to me after that. Then Don came into my life, and we went to the opening of Strangelove. I told him Stanley would be there for the first showing (four P.M.) Don said: "Stop being a writer." As we came down the steps from the mezzanine, we heard 'Click Click, click.' And there Stanley was, clicking away, on a bus driver's counter, saying "We just broke the house record for the Criterion."
He came to our wedding after that, with Kristiana, who complained that the vase she sent us from Steuben (SChtoy bun, she pronounced it, was $29.95. It's now five hundred, which shows how long ago the wedding was.) Stanley took Don aside...Don was producing the first Jets games for TV,-- and told him to keep the camera on the line, instead of following the ball. "The line is where the most exciting action is."
"Stanley," Don said, "if you'll let me run a credit at the end saying 'Directed by Stanley Kubrick,' I'll keep the camera anywhere you say."
When we were living in London, visiting the Gary Smiths, whose house in the country was right next to Stanley's, I went next door to show him my beautiful children. He opened the front door, which actually creaked, as in a horror movie, and two snarling dogs-- can't remember the breed abut they were black and sleek and huge-- leapt snapping at the air.
"Stanley?" I said, into the darkness, not able to see if was he behind that heavy door. "Gwen…?" he said, recognizing my voice. "Yes," I said. "I'd let you in," said he, "but the dogs will go for the children." After that, he wrote me that letter, explaining why it was he had acted as he did, in that tight little hand. I was so wounded I threw it away. Would've brought a fortune at auction.
Something else thrown away, I am afraid-- the check stub from Eugene C. Kelly (Gene, my dancing teacher from Pittsburgh when I was two,) for $100 minus $10 commission to MCA for an 18 month option on my story, Mrs. Midas, that became 'What a Way to Go." Kept, though, the dinner menu for Mr. Cary Grant, from the Q.E something. Amazing the things we throw away in our journey, this struggle to become ourselves. Excessive, the things we keep: the scars. But then, of course, there's the memories.