Tuesday, January 13, 2015


So after and including a lifetime of not being taken seriously by Academe, I have made it into what I have to assume, --perhaps mistakenly, but who's going to call me on it?-- an academic journal, but in Spanish.  I am attaching the article for those of you who are bi-lingual, or bi-anything, hoping that the content, which I think I understand, but how long has it been since I was that fluent? -is not too unflattering to me, and/or is at least fair.
     In my youth, which to my surprise is considerable time ago, after the really supportive educational part (Bryn Mawr) and the glory of Paris where I sang my songs in the Mars Club-- which led Gene Kelly to ask the agent Elliott Kastner: "Is she a white woman?"-- I went for my Master's degree in Creative Writing at Stanford (under Wallace Stegner who they did not tell me till after I had paid my unrefundable tuition was on sabbatical,) where I shared classroom experience and a lot else with Ken Kesey, who was soon to author One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. 
     Kesey and I shared adventures, my first joint, which he introduced me to, --not unlike Gene Kelly showing me how to dance,-- and a grim vigil on the hillside outside San Quentin protesting and hoping to avert the execution of Caryl Chessman, a rapist who had used his imprisonment to become an educated and (it seemed) sensitive soul.  Marlon Brando, still thin, irresistible and the biggest star in the world was there, ("Do you mind if I take a leak?" he asked the reporters who followed him alongside the water, as he announced that if he failed to save Chessman he and his attorney had succeeded in getting an agreement for him to star in a movie about the rapist's life.  He failed to save him-- they executed Chessman at eight the next morning-- and he never made the movie. Intentions were all in the days when movie stars were movie stars.(George Clooney still the Divine Exception.)
    Then Kesey and I drove down the coast behind a truck delivering ice cream, its back doors coming apart, a scene I used in Kingdom Come, a tender love story that everybody wanted to make into a movie and several people stole.  Also we had many laughs, a little bit of tenderness, Stanley Kubrick wanting to make part of what we were doing into a scene in Lolita, and, eventually, a lawsuit.  It was a colorful period, and I am only sad, still, that Kesey fucked himself up so badly, as he was clever and original. When last I saw him it was in a church on Manhattan's Central Park West, where he was supposed to be giving a talk, introduced to the crowd by an obviously worshipful very young man.  When Kesey stepped forward, he was obviously out of his mind, wearing a crumpled top hat, and an idiotic expression.  A powerful argument for not abusing your gifts.  I left without speaking to him, as besides everything else I was there with my mother, who seemed as dazzled as she was when she crashed her parties.  All I had intended was an elaborate Hello, though I imagine my inner Romantic had imagined an affectionate reunion, forgiveness, and reconciliation, the controversy being far far behind us, and both of us having achieved some success, though his of a much more notorious nature than mine.  
      I still miss who he was when I first knew him, as I miss most of the gifted people I met who lost themselves along the way, (Stanley at the head of the brigade) and treasure the ones who kept it together. The greatest part of living long enough to look back is you really DO see your point of view changing as the world does, though in the case of today Paris I can only feel relief that I lived there when I did, and all you had to deal with was the truth that they didn't like Americans, Jews, or often each other.
     Here's the article.  Any of you who are truly fluent in Spanish are invited to call me and tell exactly what it says.  I think I know but it has been a young lifetime since I lived with back wooden doors that led out to the sea in Fuengirola, and Bill McGivern, a mystery writer, generous and funny soul brought several bottles of wine to my dinner party saying "It's all right, I just sold a movie to Harry Belafonte."  I don't think we prized those days as much as we might have had we had any idea what the world would turn into, and what perils would be involved in being adventurous.  Do I sound old?  Maybe it's because I am.  How lucky that I got to be where I was when I was.
     Here's the article.  http://www.jotdown.es/2014/12/a-donde-se-fueron-los-sesenta-perry-lane/