Monday, January 26, 2015


Clearly there was nothing to keep me from being happy, in this apartment on a sunny street with trees while all the rest of the planet shivers or cowers, but a doggie.  You who knew Mimi, or Happy, can clearly remember what incredible dogs they were, the terrible loss in Paris where, if you have to go, you might as well go in one of the best hotels, or the shocking and unexpected bereavement in New York, where Mimi had her hair done to look her best for the doctor, and then he killed her.  It was not an easy road, the one of Loss, including a caring, supportive and handsome husband, whipped away young.  But always, or at least usually... there was a dog.
      So having finally settled, I think, in this pleasant apartment on a street that nobody knows is here, so one can be quiet and contained. and there are adorable neighbors sharing the front porch who were ready to put up a wire fence so my new dog would not go through the gaps in the railing, I got one.  Darling she was, with great black eyes that followed me to see if I was going to neglect or abuse her.  And I did neither.   And in the night I stroked her belly to soothe her, and probably myself, as it has been a long time since I was able to really live in the moment, although the moments have been empty enough to dwell in.  But I, strangely, have not been empty enough.  That's a lie. It's my circumstances that have not been empty enough.  But I can't write about them here, or at least not yet.
     Suffice it to say that the little girl, MimiDos I named her, was not Mimi #1.  Of course it would have taken a while to help her become anyone.  But look what happened with my children.  I couldn't take another chance.  Besides which I had the help and support of arguably the planet's best person besides Carleen and Amber, Ellen Feder, who no wonder they made her the head of Share, there's nothing she won't take on.  She of course made me think I should keep this new little dog, and for some moments I did, not counting the minutes I wiped up the doggiepuke on the new rug. But afterwards I understood that it was not the love of an animal that I missed but the love of anything-- it has been a really lonely time.  Beverly Hills, though clearly the most physically comfortable and privileged place on the planet at the present time, is curiously more empty than New York where you can make yourself feel a little better because you know there's one child down the hall who would talk to you if her door were open, or Jeannie in the basement taking care of everything, or Cerene coming to change the sheets and bless you.  Beverly Hills would be a great setting for a murder mystery where no one knew the victim was dead.  
     Ellen drove me back to the pet store where they had all these creatures from the shelter, and it was their decision that I should return MimiDos completely.  And it was the right one.  It was not so much a dog I really loved as the dog I had lost.  Mimi was taken from me while we were still in the throes of our youth.  Or at least one of us thought we were.
    Fortunately I do, I think, love life as much as the life I had lost, though perhaps not so much at the present moment, before it fills with activities and creativity and the things that make life Life.  As for MimiDos, somebody will take her and give her a home, and it will likely be a happy one.
     May the same be the outcome for me.  Wait!  That sounds a little like self-pity.  All I really need is a good bath and a grooming.


So although turned off by the actor Christophe Waltz who won the Academy Award which was apparently given him for over-acting, I went to see Big Eyes, being an admirer of Amy Adams who also managed to disappoint.  But oh, there was San Francisco in the time of Enrico's, where I used to more than hang out, with a man in a beret playing him, and everything except Sue Stanley, my irascible and wonderful friend from Paris, who married him.  I have no idea what happened to her, though of course must assume she is no longer with us, as she was older even when young.
     Sue was in the forefront of performers who wanted to sing my song 'Sex,' written when I was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr, sung in a shaking voice at the behest of Janice Mars to Marlon Brando when he was thin and beautiful and in an apartment in Carnegie Hall.  That was the summer Marlon starred in and directed Arms and the Man at the Falmouth Playhouse, where he was terrible.  He never could do comedy.
      I visited Janice there, and roomed with Maureen Stapleton, as brilliant offstage as she was on, though already drunk as she was kind.  Janice, like everyone, wanted to sing SEX but I was hanging on to it waiting for its great sale to a major star which would have been Lena Horne except when she was rehearsing it to sing at the Waldorf, a friend came in and said "That's a great number.  I heard Rose Hardaway do it last night at the Apollo."  So that ended that, as Lena didn't know she was black.
     Rose Hardaway was a gorgeous black woman who came every night to the Mars Club in Paris where I was singing my songs, and said about SEX, "Chile, that's a great number.  Everybody in this business going to cheat you and lie to you.  But I'm telling you the truth.  I'm stealing your song."  I of course thought she was kidding.
It was a colorful time in every sense of the word.

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.

Friday, January 02, 2015


So I began the New Year with the triumvirate Godfather, two of the best movies ever made (I and II) and one of the great friendships of my life, Mario Puzo.  I met him briefly in Beverly Hills, and gave him a copy of The Pretenders, a bestseller at the same time as his, at nowhere near the same velocity.  He called me from the airport, and said "You can't fool me.  You wrote this for the same reason I wrote The Godfather: you wanted a bestseller.  But the good writing is indisguisable."  
     Naturally he became my best friend.  We went everywhere together- he really liked Don-- and I introduced him to the blonde Southern lover of Sue Cameron, who pretended to be a heterosexual and moved by him, changing her name to Nedra, along with her biography.  He bought her a Cadillac convertible and wrote a novel about her, never facing the truth that she was a lesbian, even when she died, which she did very young and still beautiful, giving him a bigger novel in life than he had in a novel.  He was the ugliest man I ever met, frog-like,with gigantic magnifying eyeglasses and big fat wattles.  But I didn't see that because he touched my soul.  Then he got mad at me for writing too many novels.
      "Another Book!" he shouted on the phone when I asked him if he would give me a quote for my new one.  As famous, successful and popular as he was, he was constipated creatively, and my productivity enraged him.  I should have been more sensitive to what he was going through, but I loved him and loved writing and was, at worst and best, an enthusiast. So the friendship ended.  
     But it was joyful while it was going on, with our taking flights to San Francisco for pasta at Enrico's, and floodlights on the path to our door on Rembert Lane, illuminating the cover of the re-issuing of his old book, probably his best, The Fortunate Pilgrim, for a sit-down dinner I created that was all the dishes in the book, which he wrote about more adoringly and in greater detail than sex.  I really loved him.  So it kind of broke my heart, temporarily, that he turned on me for being prolific.  
    The friendship never recovered.    So I didn't love watching last night as much as I might have, as I think I had wounds on my eyes. The Godfather and Godfather 2 were flawless, past brilliant.  But Godfather 3, which I'd never seen in a theatre, seemed arduous and heavy-handed, but that might just have been my lids.  I had to look up on Google when he actually died, because we were no longer in touch, even distantly.  But by then I had really come to understand loss, as Don had died and my children had grown to major disappoint and it was clear that my own life was not a musical