Saturday, February 28, 2015


Had at once a good and bad experience today, reading a bit of my novel, SILK LADY, which they expected at Warner Books would be a big hit, and wasn’t.  They dropped support of it immediately when it didn’t get the action they thought it would, all except for a couple of TV hostesses who had me on and were sassy.  I was stunned today at how good it was, and don’t imagine I could write anything like that again.  Real instances of sharp experiences were in it, transformed and with changed names, where the mistress of an Asian who owed a private club in D.C. where all the big, overpaid parties I attended actually jumped over a table and seized another woman by the throat.  I think it might have been me. 
      I fictionalized his name as Hiro Takeda, and don’t remember what it really was, but he was a Superstar in D.C.  Nobody was afraid to accept favors then, and everybody, or almost everybody, was ready to have a good time no matter what the cost was, as long as it wasn’t to them.
      The sister of Dear Abby, a darling woman was there, and as I remember, accepted an actual table to be sent to her home from whoever the man was—I will probably remember his name in the middle of the night when I remember a lot of things now, including my husband, Don, a truly adorable man, very much in love with me, the most generous blessing of my life, who could not stay long.  He died in 1984, very young and handsome, wracked with cancer and gone from the scene very quickly, sitting on the edge of the bed as I put on trousers to take him to the hospital, putting on glasses in the midst of his agony, to look at me and say “You look so cute.”
      “Oh, honey,” I said to him.  “With everything you’re going through, that you would stop to admire me.”
      He said: “But it’s true.  You can tell them for me, your friends on ‘the path,’ that you have made it to a whole new level.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Don’t thank me,” said Don.  “You’re the one who did it.  I just gave you the opportunity.”
That’s who he was.  So anyone who thinks I was shortchanged because he wasn’t rich or powerful is really stupid.  I still miss him all these years later, special as he was and would have settled for no one else, including Cary Grant.  Oh, maybe Cary Grant, but only if he had Don’s soul.
I wrote SILK LADY while he was dying, and didn’t stop even when or maybe especially when we found out he had cancer—he was only 45—and think writing the book probably saved me from going completely insane, or at least more crazy than I am.  I am hoping there is really a Heaven, and have had frequent indications of it, and hope there is a library so he can catch up on how much I thought of him.  He really enjoyed my writing and was in love with me even when I when I was fat, which I was in the beginning of our relationship, going on a strict diet that was almost a fast so I could do better, which I thought I might if I met Cary Grant.  I did meet Cary Grant well into my marriage, and he really was Cary Grant, more charming and special even than you might have hoped or even more.  But so was Don.
But it’s strange and interesting, in a sad way, that SILK LADY didn’t happen, as it was really sharp and on the nose of all the bullshit that was happening in D.C. and NYC at that time.  Another novel was written a couple of years later on the same subject by the very successful but shallow writer whose name I can’t remember either.  I am having a hard time with names at this time, except for Cary Grant.  And, of course, Don.

Friday, February 27, 2015


I just received a notification, as I expect the rest of you did, too, that starting March 23rd all sexually explicit content will be removed from our blogs.  I am somewhat heart-as-well-as-genital broken, as I had no idea there was any on them, allowed or otherwise, so realize how far out of it I am besides not knowing Lady Gaga could actually sing.
    That, and the fact that the Academy Awards were boring has made me realize I have lived a VERY long time though perhaps not as long as Brian Williams imagines he has.  Poor Brian.  Wanting so badly to be a big shot, not realizing he already was one.  We shall not see his like again as Shakespeare might have writ if there had been TV in the 17th century, as there might have been if Brian had been allowed to cover it, or at least say he had.
      But I am sad for all those who wish they could have been more, not understanding that they already are the Max. To have come into the world at all while it was still here and do-able as a human being, is a great privilege. To have been able to go to college, much less a great one as I did, while parents who did not necessarily prize you could still afford it, and then to have traveled the world and connected with some of the wonderful people in it before you took your life into your hands just walking to the corner, was some kind of beneficent destiny.
     I spent this morning, privileged as it was with weather where it was still possible to go for a walk, even though people in Beverly Hills seldom get out of their cars except at curbside to a shop or restaurant, taking a baby gift, acquired in a number of stores, to what remains of the postage system.  Poor Benjamin Franklin.  The post office was started by him, along with discovering electricity attaching a key to a kite,  and inventing swim fins, along with all his other achievements, are now mostly forgotten, stolen, or fallen into dis-use.   He believed in re-incarnation.  I can only hope for the sake of his ego that he was wrong, and so can not see what has become of all the facets of his genius, much less his country.  Whether or not the post office will even continue is up for speculation.
        And it is interesting, in its sad-assed way, to see the newspapers trying to make something major out of those who are left as newscasters, while there are still any stories worth reading about that are not depressing.  The destruction of all the art objects in Iran by the Muslims enraged at those who admire something beside and/or before Allah one would imagine would be upsetting even or maybe especially to Allah.
     In spite of all the depressing news, I am going to begin studying the guitar, just in case there is anything worth singing about in anybody's living room, in case there are any living rooms, or anybody living.

Monday, February 23, 2015


I keep wanting to e-mail Sandy Burton.  She was my favorite friend— not my closest, as she had barricades between you and what she wanted kept private about herself. But I really loved her, and as I am, to put it mildly, intrusive, I got in, and followed her everywhere she went on her remarkable journey, as she became the first woman bureau chief for Time Magazine, at the time it really was Time Magazine.  Before she left LA for her first bureau chief post, Boston, she interviewed Carlos Castenada, and he took her to his Power Spot in the mountains here, the place in the hills where, he told her, sorcerers go to renew their strength.  As a farewell present, she gave it to me.  I went there and had what could only be described as a mystical experience and so should not be described at all.
     Sandy covered our Academy Awards party for Time at the time of The Pretenders’ bestsellerdom, and I visited her almost every place she was assigned after that, all of them exotic, from Paris to Hong Kong.  In Paris I know she was in love with a married man, high in government I believe.  “The fifth time the croissants are stale because he didn’t come for breakfast," she told me, "you know his saying he’ll leave his wife is a lie.  Oh, but there’s something about that ‘head over heels.’
     She was murdered in Bali by her journalist boyfriend, though he was too old to be thought of with that word.  But he got away with it, probably with money.  It was Bali, after all.  He put on a suit and tie for her memorial in New York where he came, looking for work, as opposed to her incineration in Bali where he came in shorts and a dirty shirt.  He went to the front of the room Time had invited her colleagues to in Manhattan, got up and said “Things were so great between Sandy and I.”  And I thought, Not bad enough he killed her, he doesn’t know grammar.
     Probably he has made a comfortable life for himself with her money, which she likely left him.  When I suffer over whether or not there is an afterlife, I hope with what part of my soul is not into forgiveness that nothing good falls into his lap on this side of the divide at least.
    So it was painful to go through the Awards last night, because they weren’t that good, t still miss her, and probably there is no justice.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


When you are on the Internet, which I suppose you can't live anymore without being, you get news from all over.  I am advised that in Atlanta this summer, there will be Godly play.  I imagine that to be a workshop in which God comes to play with you.  Had I not seen Gone With the Wind so many times, I would consider going, as I have no plans for this summer other than hoping to stay alive, and I think I would really enjoy the company of God, unless it was from the dead side. But of course who knows?
     I had occasion this morning to look up an old friend of mine on the Internet: Gail Kobe.  Gail was an extremely smart, quite attractive actress who became a power in soap television, and came to court me and Don-- so you know how long ago that must have been-- with the hope of bringing us into Proctor and Gamble as... I don't know, writer-performers?  Or maybe she was just lonely and wanted some people she genuinely liked that she knew genuinely liked her to come to Ohio or wherever the hell it was, so she wouldn't be quite so lonely/isolated/whatever it is we become if we live long enough and don't fail completely.  But I do remember and think of her at several stops of hers along the way-- the first shortly after she married and had me to her house, and I said something about being able to see her before their first fight, and she said: "Too late," the next, in a sushi restaurant where she took us as a couple in her attempt to woo us and she got drunk on sake or maybe I did, and it was all just too sad.   After all, she was truly smart, as well as gifted, and it kind of broke my soul that you couldn't be those things in Hollywood and prosper as a spirit, or even in Dayton, Ohio which might have been where she had to go.
     But wherever she is now, and I hope it is somewhere, which I imagine you can imagine this time of year since I caught a glimpse of Rudy Giuliani on TV last night with Ash on his forehead, flASHing, I guess you might say, so we can all think about the miracle of Christ if in fact he really existed, and wonder why it's so hard for those who aspire to Something, even as the world comes apart everywhere but here, the Capital of Emptiness.  I have never known whether you spell that tal or tol.  I know one of them is Washington, which doesn't really seem to be there anymore.
     My beautiful Heidi, daughter of my beloved friend at Bryn Mawr, told me that her dad whose whole life was consecrated to America, had begun to be dispirited towards the end of his time here at what the country was becoming.  So it is, like they say, a Blessing, that he isn't here anymore.  And probably it's good that Gail Kobe isn't here, either, lovely and smart as she was, and genuinely funny, which didn't work all that well for a woman.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


The wonderful thing about Beverly Hills, even the wrong side of Wilshire, is that the young people-- and there are a lot of them-- can actually dress themselves wretched.  In a world where almost everybody is suffering, whole nations are being devoured, and nobody can go outside because the weather is so bad, half naked people, their butt cheeks hanging loose from the bottom of their shorts, are, if not quite working the streets here, at least walking them, more than comfortable in the more than sunshine. Even as I sorrow over Brian Williams-- poor baby, he just wanted to be a little bit of a fabulist-- I am reminded of how cruel our courts are when it comes to the truth of our histories, and that juries in the small towns which is what most of them are, at least in their brains, have little or no comprehension of what constitutes Truth.
   I was, after all, the Landmark Libel Case in Fiction, something that will never go away, even though the man who sued me was a self-promoting fraud, a truth that exists in his obituary.  He gave Ski Weekends and Nude Encounters, something I could not have made up even if I was making something up.  And it was my career that suffered and not his.  Oh well.  So I am sorrowing for Brian, so handsome and with such nice ties, that he will undoubtedly never be able to make a comeback, no matter what they are promising his listeners.  All he wanted was to be a little closer to the plane than he said, oh maybe by an hour.  
      I was told by one of the jurors who found for me at my trial, which it really was-- they did not have to be unanimous-- that the jurors were madder at me for going to a nude encounter marathon than they were at Paul Bindrim, not a PhD for many years afterwards till it came to wanting to seem more qualified for the trial, for giving one.  It was, after all, southern California at the beginning of the 70s.  I remember James Mason-- does anyone else remember him? Pamela's husband, though not the real father of Morgan, though he was credited-- saying to me on a TV talk show we were guests on together: "A nude encounter what?" 
    What a time that was, with people exploring, especially once you got up past the hills you could easily negotiate.  Gay Talese was there, exposing everybody even while pretending to support them, keeping up his contacts and seducing them, because that was the kind of era it was.  I would say we were lucky to be a part of it, except that it brought about the early death of my darling husband, a genuinely kind and funny man who thought the only way you could get in trouble with the law was by breaking it.
     I saw Gay again at the press party for Daniel Rose with the publication of his memorable memoir, Making a Living Making a Life, with everybody major  and interesting in New York invited and there.   It amazed me how thick-skinned the important can become.  Or maybe it is just a part of getting older.  One can just sail through being sensitive onto the part of the road where one remembers only some of his manners, and forgets the part where he should be embarrassed about how he behaved.


Friday, February 13, 2015


So as everybody on the planet suffers from bad weather, or political anguish, or not being loved, I am having the luxury of being in sunny, cosseting Beverly Hills, albeit the wrong side of the tracks (south of Wilshire) in a simple, but overpriced apartment, with a front porch and all.  And last night I was finally invited out, to the birthday party of an old friend.  I went with joy in my heart, as Ingrid Bergman cried out in "Gaslight," imagining that this was the beginning of my new beginning.
      I would write about it in full detail except there is always the remote possibility somebody reads these things, though I doubt it, and I wouldn't want to offend anybody unless it was face-to-face and it was Ariana Huffington.  Suffice it to say it was the worst evening of my life, and to my surprise I have lived a long time, although I do hope to live a while longer.  Though not, I don't imagine, in Beverly Hills.  I am missing my Daniel and my other Amsterdam friends, and Jeannie in New York, and the Angel Carleen especially.  
      I wrote a fantastic entry to my (hate the word) Blog yesterday, then pressed the wrong button and deleted it, so have no record of my whole adventure in Europe when I was twenty and my mother came because she heard I was sleeping with "schwartzes," (pronouncing the 'w' as a 'v.')  I was, as I may have written without deleting it, the headliner at the Mars Club on the rue Henri-Etienne, waiting for Art Buchwald to come and discover me so my editor friend Gaby at LIFE, still top of the game at the time, could have them do a feature on me and my life, as I hoped it was going to be, could begin.  Instead, I wound up in the south of Spain, with a huge house on the beach and back gates that led out to the sea, and a cauldron where we boiled the lobster so big nobody could afford it but me, and Bill McGivern, the detective writer, brought two bottles of fine wine,--all there was in the south of Spain was fine wine--, saying "It's all right, I just sold a movie to Harry Belafonte." 
      I would say 'Those were the days' except I'm hoping the days might still be to come.
      Anyway when I went home, if it really was that, to New York I got hired by NBC as a comedy writer, in the same small group as Woody Allen who showed up only on the day we got our check and I believe was already a prick.  Then i was fired, went to LA, fell in love with Tony Perkins(I was very  young, and gays didn't out themselves then) wrote a not-quite-hit with teenage sensation (they didn't know about him, either-- he was Tony's lover) Tab Hunter, and, in general, failed, if you didn't count my career singing my material at the Purple Onion which cost me everything I'd earned at NBC(I was paying the band.) Then I wrote my first novel, NAKED IN BABYLON under the aegis of Robert Kirsch, the book reviewer for the LA Times, who wrote a letter to Doubleday saying in "ten years of book reviewing this was the finest first novel I've read" and it still took me five years to get it published.  Life was not easy for a new writer, especially a woman, which I wasn't quite anyway.
   Then I went back to New York and wrote my first musical, book and lyrics, with Phil Springer, a gifted musician, whom I'd met through Yip Harburg, my idol and daddy figure. Kermit Bloomgarden, the great producer of the time, and it was a time when there were usually one or two producers instead of seventeen, was going to put it on-- but at the last minute he took all the money he'd raised for our show and put it into Mel Brooks' 'Nowhere to Go but Up,' which instead went the opposite direction.  So everything that had been pulled together for our show went away, and my career, such as it was, as a songwriter was over.  Or took a VERY long hiatus, which is-- we will see-- only now coming to an end, maybe.
        So I start my Real Life, or at least I hope it is.  I am trying to fill my days with or at least have them brush against people I love-- there are some--I have lunch with Heidi, beautiful and gifted daughter of my best friend at Bryn Mawr which still factors in heavily on my life canvas-- and Ellen, darling and very alive sister of my once closest friend who fired me.  
       I will do all I can to make a life that is real and full, at least of all it has left in it.  But I wonder if I shouldn't just try and live what is left of it instead of trying to make it more than it really is.  After all, this is Beverly hills.

Monday, February 09, 2015


Still undoubtedly one of the greatest characters in my life was Orson Welles.  The never-disputed Genius, was a man I would have adored meeting, one of the three souls I went off into my alleged maturity hoping to encounter, and "Save," I remember saying as I sailed into what was to be my life.  I announced to everyone I knew when I went to Paris to live after college, that the move was with "the hope of saving Marlon Brando, Judy Garland or Orson Welles."  As it turned out I did meet and get a chance to almost get up to some mischief with Marlon; Judy I was sent for by MCA as a young writer to save her with material, but when I got to Vegas she had a nervous breakdown, leaving me to learn to gamble, so anxious about what I was supposed to do at the crap tables I made 40 straight passes, and took my money off every time except for a dollar.  I was shooting for an hour--people came from all over the Strip, and I made only $40; Orson Welles I passed going the other way on a bridge over the Seine: he was talking to himself, so I moved on.
    But those were the 3 great loves of my late adolescence. I have made up my mind to catch up with Welles now, when it is much too late to do any good, even as a writer.  I used to see him eating at Ma Maison, by which time I was no longer that interested. He was often with John Cassavetes, the great director, and even greater human being.  But Welles ate without seeming to taste, and as he was already morbidly obese and weight was one of the dark spectres in my life, I avoided even looking at him, much less hoping to say Hello, one of the things Ma Maison was best for, having as it did an unlisted phone number, so anybody who could actually get a reservation there was made truly welcome, and could pretty much sidle up to any celebrity present, which many there were,-- celebrities that is, --simply by definition of being able to get a table.
    But now I am interested in Welles again, as there is nothing that absorbs me, the winter has been so dispiriting.  So I will make an attempt to become rapt with or in his biography, in the hope my mind is still there, in spite of how low I am, and, I am afraid, how un-smart I have become.
     I have had little in the way of inspiration, and almost no connection with anyone or anything that lifts me, with the exception of Rex Reed's taking me to Sweeney Todd to see my once almost great friend Emma Thompson who was at the Bel-Air for a long swatch of time when I was hanging out there. She loved Happy, and I really liked her.  Kenneth Branagh, who came to visit her, was a true jerk, clearly not good enough for her-- he said something proprietary about Shakespeare that I think he imagined was witty, which you don't do to a Shakespeare major, which I never was more than in his presence, I was so disappointed that this was Emma's partner, and Will's champion.  I feel it's okay to call Shakespeare by his first name, since he was the focus of my intense study, as un-intense as it may have been.
      I hope that it is Winter, and this weather, and the gray that are bringing me this low, and isn't really where I am spiritually, my soul dragging lower than my ass.  The Angel Carleen says that there is something going on world-wide that is sapping everybody.


Having made it through the surprising business of discovering it was not a dog I wanted, but my dog, I have settled into the semi-uncomfortable but somewhat reassuring knowledge that it is not facility on the computer I lack but a consistent connection.  Of course at the Apple store whose business it is to know everything they didn't have a clue, which made me even more uncertain.  But now I am seated at my own desk, and get that the decision is mine whether or not to pursue electronic facility, and or God.  
      I had an open invitation from the Almighty for this weekend, via the Quaker Center up the Coast, eight hours up the coast from all estimates, in the cab of a red truck driven by a spiritual furniture maker from the La Jolla area where I was once so aloft and alone, my house not a home on the side of a cliff looking down on a beach far below, where once or twice I was actually able to connect with someone to speak to.  Having discovered to my surprise that I am actually and inarguably older, the prospect of all that time in the cab of a truck, albeit red, began to intimidate me, which unaccustomed feeling combined with a realistic appraisal of my bones, so I opted out.
        Now I am, of course, sorry.  Back at the desk in my quiet but still somehow alien apartment, I am reaching into the sky that might have been on the inside of my head had I let it be on the outside of my body, and gone to the retreat in N. California.  Never regret, I think I remember somebody telling me, or many people telling me.  But not knowing what would have happened had I pursued what seemed the difficult path, I can't come to a firm conclusion.  The Road Not Taken I remember to be one of those great bestsellers from the time when everybody wanted to penetrate the Invisible, but this is more the lift not accepted, and the back not taken into account, along with the age.  Age.  The very word is an insult. I remember that being a line from my play that they did at Bryn Mawr about the women upstairs from Plato's Symposium.  How bold I was, and occasionally intellectual, carrying high the flag of Mind, because I was proud of where I had gone to school, for good reason.
     Now that I am settled... my luggage, at least... my alternative post the Champagne French Bakery on the corner where I can plug in to the outside world when my own fails to connect, I can begin to address whether or not I want to or mean to write a (hate the word) memoir.  If I am going to, I know I must do it while I can still remember.  Saw an comedian I once admired come into this shop this morning, and although I remembered that I liked him, I couldn't think of his name.  But that was okay, as he has lost what used to be his visible spark.  Or maybe he just doesn't like croissants.