Thursday, October 29, 2015


So I have come back to my very disconnected abode on Reeves Drive, the wrong side of Wilshire in Beverly Hills, hoping to connect with memory before it goes.  I have lost all taste for travel, having maxed out in Brugge, whose cobblestones hurt my feet even through sneakers, and whose citizenry failed to touch my spirit.  I had stopped having close contact with the people there, even as they seemed to have no idea of where they were, either.  The charming little boats that moved through the charming little canals ran out of charm before they reached the charming little docks, and I realized that mostly it was built on tourism that had no charming little reality.  That was enhanced by my having received a call from my bank while on the village tour, so small that there were not that many corners to turn before coming on yet another cathedral, all of them so close to one another that it had to be hard to feel anything even for God, if He/She happened to be there.  More treaties than souls, it seemed to me, but then I was really low energy, exacerbated by my having received the call from my bank telling me someone had raided my account without even knowing me, which felt not unlike being raped by a dildo, I think, having happily never having been raped by a dildo.  Just truly impersonal, I believe I mean to say.  The edge of the insult softened by a genuinely handsome, kind and genteel gentleman (I tried to make that genteelman but the computer corrected me) leaving the tour to come after me as I had dropped out to take the call to ask if I had taken out the great amount, which I hadn’t, and if my bank hadn’t been so assiduous, I would have been close to wiped out.  I think I loved him, the handsome man who came after me to inquire if I was all right, as I dreamed about him that night and am sorry I don’t have a contact for him even though he lived in Cornwall or someplace like that where I have never been but would have liked to go visit in spite of being maxed out on travel and not a woman who likes to break up marriages though I am curious to know if I still could.  Nor do i want to go to India, one of whose prettiest citizens, if citizens they actually consider themselves, was a member of the just graduated group from Columbia I picked up in Brugge who invited me to come visit..
     I understand from this really how sort of elderly I have become, because once I would have been on the next plane.
     It is already clear that the Gwen who was is the Gwen who is No More, as I don’t want to do anything anymore but write the memoir, a word I dislike as it sounds pretentious and throw-up nauseous,  But I have found the right title for it, after a long struggle.  Also I have begun to feel sad at having lost Don all those years ago, as details of his death have visioned up in my memory that I had previously managed to suppress and displace, covering with adventure and visits to Gore Vidal and the like, when my primary interest was living my life, instead of remembering it.
     I guess this is intensified by my having had a really wondrous lunch with Robert yesterday, filled with charm and anecdotes about his playing tennis with the son of my once greatest and closest friend Suzanne Turman, who also went too soon.  Robert is gigantic— tall, muscular, with a great head of still dark hair, and enormous everything. It again made me miss Don, and realize how handsome he must have been, and how lucky I was to have him, what an interesting duo we must have been, the ambitious, productive and prolific writer, and the fine looking, caring and gently funny fellow from the Bronx, who managed to survive and surmount his history, and would have probably become King of the Village if he had had more ruthless and self-serving bones, with the matching postures.  Interesting that I had managed to emerge seemingly unscathed from all these early wounds until now.  Maybe that is why I have been allowed to live this long.
   Well, off to lunch with my doctor who I really love, as he is surprisingly funny on the q.t., having gone to a funeral a couple of weeks ago that he told me about and said he had to go up onstage after the service and look in the coffin to make sure they had been talking about the right person. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015


     There is a review in this week’s New Yorker, to which I have after so long away started to subscribe as it is so cheap, and I can feel their desperation—so literate in a world where so few people anymore turn to the actual page—of a Gore Vidal biography.  And I feel how lucky I am to have had in one lifetime a man who loved me like Don, and a friend—as much as he could be one—like Gore Vidal.
         We were living in London as a young couple, going for our first visit to Rome, and it was early enough in our lives so we were still friends with Sue Mengers, who told us to call Gore.  Invited for tea, or more probably it was a drink, to Gore’s rooftop apartment in Rome, apparently we passed the audition, as he said we should go on with him to dinner, and we did.  His companion, and as he was to seem from time to time, clever and funny friend Howard Austen was along, as was one of the Andy Warhol girls, Ultra Violet, I think. 
         The dinner was obviously Italian, and the words, though I can’t remember what all of them actually were, dazzling.  I do remember precisely Gore’s looking at me intensely at one point and asking if I was wearing contacts.  I told him no.
     “It’s just that your eyes are so beautiful I thought you must have something in them.”
    Well, let me tell you, reader, if you are there: there is nothing more dizzying than being hit on by one of the world’s most notorious homosexuals.  As I remember, I was stunned into silence.
     Don, who’d been captivated but less than comfortable for most of the evening, was furious.  “It just shows what a pervert you are,” he said in the taxi back to the hotel,” that you enjoy the company of a pervert like Gore Vidal.”
      And I did, and continued to, whenever I was in the same city he was.  When he came to Los Angeles I would meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he stayed with appropriate panache, squeakily saying “Really?” when I relayed something flattering that had been said about him, and going to visit him at his home in Ravello, when Don had died too early, and I was questing for the upside of being alone.
        “This…” Gore said, arms outspread, standing on the side of the mountain his villa was perched on, overlooking the ocean, “is our view.”
         I was still so overcome at having an actual relationship, such as it was, with Gore Vidal himself, that I didn’t really log how pretentious it sounded.  Even now, all these years later, I prize having had the contact, and sorrow over the deterioration that was to come, the inevitability of decay if you are lucky enough to have a long run.  At the time, though, he was still superior, contemptuous even while appearing the sort-of gracious host.   Howard, though, was patently pissed, not enjoying Gore’s being interested in a woman, though it was
Nothing really Personal.
         I told tales of having gone to the nude encounter marathon, that wet adventure that was to be the center of  most of my career difficulties.  Both Gore and Howard were unenchanted, and understanding now how foolish the whole thing was, I am sorry to have wasted both their attentions, as much of it as I had, on that.  Gore became contemptuous, and when I gave him a novel of mine that I had brought as a gift, dismissive.  I doubt that he ever even bothered to read a work of mine.
         But after Howard died, and he was lonely, I was with him on a number of occasions.  He waited for me at the gate to the path that led down to his villa, and I realized he was actually anxious for my company.  But he became more arch, and less appealing with every visit.  Sort of happily, I had had one phone conversation with Howard before he died that was amicable and even borderline hearty, and that made me happy.  I do like to make friends, especially when they don’t like me.
         Reading now about him in The New Yorker, once my—and everybody’s as I remember—favorite magazine, it is easy to see how far or maybe near we have actually come.  The cartoons are no longer so funny or so well drawn, but the prose is still read over the nose as if it were a transom, and everybody should be standing on tiptoe.
         And Gore, from a distance, seems actually closer than he could get, because I realize how glad he was for my company, even though he less than prized it, how desperately he longed for literary acknowledgement.    “The very rich are different from you and me,” Fitzgerald said to Hemingway, and Ernest replied, “Yes, they have more money.”
         “The very literate are different from you and me,” I say.  “Yes,” I answer back, being fork-tongued, “they pretend to read The New York Review of Books.”

Friday, October 09, 2015


So after a lifetime of feeling mostly disconnected, I finally got a sense of being a privileged New Yorker, with the rare and wonderful treats this city has to offer,  not counting my personal wave from the Pope.
    On the 8th of this very month, as I strolled on Broadway on my way to visit Nadya of Bali, my girlfriend (a word that actually applies, since we both have the spirit of teenagers) I saw that Steely Dan was to appear that very night, at the Beacon theatre, next to her hotel.  
     Understand that loving music though I do, and having had wonderful relationships with gifted and generous musicians throughout my life, including Rosemary Clooney at her peak and Leonard Bernstein at his Tanglewood teaching handsomest, I have not been to a rock concert since my husband was alive, and I was really young.  I mean, really young, with my husband's then good friend Alan Sachs a TV executive, married to the darling young Vicky, the daughter of Faye Wray, once carried off by King Kong.  It was a glorious night, as we stood in the aisles of whatever California theatre it was when they had rock concerts wherever they were-- I'd rather be unsure than inaccurate-- and cheered and, as we still did then, swayed.   Everyone was so joyful, and Vicky and Alan were going to be in love forever, and Don and I were without fears.
     Vicky became a psychotherapist, long divorced from Alan who I lost complete track of, Don is long gone, dead, a word I still have trouble writing, very young.  But Steely Dan is still (and for the last time, they are saying at the Beacon where he's doing a number of nights) past cool and a balm to the ears and (I do believe) the soul. I felt I had not missed all the years I haven't listened to enough music having been personally betrayed by Frank Loesser, a dark privilege, lifted by Yip Harburg, a radiant one, coming within inches of having Frank Sinatra record one of my songs, then deciding to record no more, and my generally not liking what has happened to alleged music in recent years.
    Ah, but Steely Dan!  A theatre filled with people on their feet, lifting arms, moving in ways I will not attempt to describe, except to say how alive they were, many of them in their eighties.  One woman there with either her very young lover or a grandson.  It made me really happy, and thinking I ought to go back to writing songs.  Music stays music, no matter what is happening on Broadway.
     Then yesterday my darling retrieved friend Acacia, having resuscitated herself at AOL, invited me to-- what would you call it? a gathering? A promotional interview as part of a promotional series they are doing online to further undermine print? Whatever it was, I was really THERE, as it featured, live, Dan Rather, the subject of the film, as he fell from glory, having told TRUTH, the name of the film, Robert Redford, playing him, and Cate Blanchett who can play anything, and probably will before she is done, or as my mother would be the first to correct me, "finished," since "done" Mom would say, is "cooked," something I suspect Cate Blanchett will never be.  It was so Present, so dazzling, that I was unable to ask questions, even though I had one that burns in me still, and that is WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?  By that I don't mean simply or complicatedly this strange, corrupted, confused time, where the probably least horrible of the Bushes still looks to maybe have a weak and distant shot at what appeared to be almost a throne, passed on to the idiot-- I was there for that, having sat out the-after-earthquake in San Francisco with Ann Richards, just before they destroyed her in Texas- but what's going to happen to this used-to-be-great country?
     Well, the good news anyway is that the movie is probably going to be wonderful. Robert Redford, who takes time to collect himself before answering a question, then is as thoughtful and smart as he is talented and still powerfully handsome, although smaller, I have to say, surprised, than I would have imagined, Cate Blanchett as wryly witty as she is gifted, and even more beautiful, and Dan Rather, thoughtful and all these years later amazingly not pissed, which I am for him, -- as he always was, selflessly informative.  It was a true charge.  Beyond uplifting.  Fine also were the moderator, a journalist,  and the writer of the movie whose names I can't remember as I have gotten to the place in life when names elude me.  And probably I'm jealous I didn't write it.

Dame Maggie Smith too ill to meet the Duchess of Cambridge › Showbiz & TV › Celebrity News

Daily Express
Mar 12, 2015 - Dame Maggie Smith, one of the biggest stars of the show, had to pull out from the meet and greet with the 33-year-old royal due to illness.

Dame Maggie Smith too ill to meet the Duchess of Cambridge › Showbiz & TV › Celebrity News

Daily Express
Mar 12, 2015 - Dame Maggie Smith, one of the biggest stars of the show, had to pull out from the meet and greet with the 33-year-old royal due to illness.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


So I went last night to my generous and gifted friend Nick Corley's musical he directed, for young people, which I no longer am.  It was in the what I have to call loft of what is clearly a church, except where we were was simple, comfortable, and made me really happy to be there, especially when I heard the first song-- something that made me believe again in stage musicals.  It was a"young people's musical," about Marco Polo, and I was excited and optimistic, as I rarely am about anything these days.  This is a world where Donald Trump has a significant role, so I am not that unhappy at the prospect of leaving it.  
      Nor am I sad not to be mentioned in today's big piece in The New York Times about contemporary writers who are going to update Shakespeare plays.  Shakespeare was my major, and good friend at Bryn Mawr, and I had what I believe was a fling with him.  When I go into Central Park, as I do whenever I am in New York, something I suspect I will do less and less as the world gets crazier and scarier, I spend time with his statue, around which he probably hovers as his ego was doubtless as big as his talent, and that, I don't think, really completely dies.  Even when it comes in an overrated package as it does with Erica Jong.  Or the other woman writer whose name I will not mention for fear of starting a race war, a woman who was once a close friend, when I didn't know any better.
      There was a magnificent piece on TV last night where Barack Obama spent time talking with prisoners in jail and the wonderful Cory Booker I think his name is, unsure because before last night I wasn't paying enough, if any, attention.  I now like Obama better than I have in a very long time if ever, as I can see his intelligence, which I almost always did, but more clearly his suffering, which I didn't.  Also I could see his pain at not having had a father except for a period of a month when he was ten.  It is a miracle that he is not more shattered.  I am visibly shattered myself having HAD a father, since he was so disappointing, and, when it could do him the most good, became a Republican.
     Anyway, back to the church where Nick held his tryout presentation-- it was on 86th Street, my old neighborhood, West End Avenue.  I went to P.S.9 on 82nd Street, and apparently came no further uptown, as I didn't even know this church was there.  P.S.9 was the great school of its time, and when I was accepted into the Hunter school for gifted children I think we were, at the end of 6th grade, I made the decision to stay where I was, with the wonderful Mrs. Schatteles, a true educator.  I hope there is a Heaven so she gets to read this, or her relatives, who contacted me when I put her in one of my novels are, so they know my esteem was not frail or passing.  Everything I became or wanted to become was because of my education.  It is still the thing that matters most, I believe, and am sorrier at the loosening of my memory grips than the falling of my tits.
     When I lived in that neighborhood, we were in an apartment on West End Avenue, where my mother would lean out of the window to throw up when she got drunk because she was sure my father was cheating.  I am stunned at remembering all this, especially as I didn't put it in what were many closely observed personal moments in my novels, that are very much come to an end now, I'm sure.  Not that it matters that much, but I do want to clear my brain as well as my desk, for what I hope will be a Last Hoorah or Last Alas.
    And what I write, if I do, as I want to, is a memoir, though I hate the word.  It seems to me pretentious, and ugly, something that sticks in the throat.  So I have found a better categorization for it, and that is Thymsies, I think it's spelled, the Greek word for Themes. Everything we are linguistically, I believe, is probably from the Greek.  
    That isn't the title, though.  I'm saving that, it's so good, I don;t want to take the chance of anyone's stealing it.   Talk to you later.

Monday, October 05, 2015


I have had to turn my Vanity Fair cover down, so I don't have to see who's on it.  Much as I love some people who work on and guide that fine magazine, I cannot bear to see what's on the cover, it offends me so.  Even to write the name of the person on it catches in my craw.  The emptiness of the eyes, the total nothingness of the persona, makes me sad for what's happened to the world, that someone like that could actually capture what is left of the world's attention.  Even to write his name catches in my spiritual craw, it is so repellent.  
    I am reminded of the death of a great and tragic woman singer not that long ago when he actually volunteered comments to the press even though he didn't know her, because he imagined he mattered. It is like watching the marathon of Homeland, a program that actually seemed smart and well cast till you looked at those people over and over and over again and longed for Claire Danes when she was young, being Juliet, and would stop holding her eyes so wide open, and Mandy Patinkin when he was singing. What has the world come to that along with maniacs who shoot people for not even particularly insane reasons,--just to shoot-- we have the talentless, pointless, and mindless making their way into and onto one of the few great publications that seems to be surviving? It was hard to deal with the fact that the great Mike Nichols' farewell from almost everybody that mattered had to be in a publication with a boob on the cover.
      Is it just that I've gotten old?  The most brilliant woman I knew at the inarguably great woman's college I went to, just saw Hamilton and didn't like it, so I am afraid to go.  Not that I have to worry, as I can't get a ticket.  But I saw In the Heights, the writer-composer's last highly lauded show, and thought it over-rated.  So I am afraid that even when I might be able to go, I might be disappointed.  The second smartest woman I know heard from her smartest friends that it wasn't that good, so I am no longer engaged in a struggle to see it, especially as I was offended at the very rich woman who controlled ticket sales making it hard even for those who had stood on long lines and had money, so apparently arrogant that she didn't even bother to list it. 
      When I arrived here, it was the end of summer, and my air conditioner broke.  I was full of fear.  My building is one of the last of the Greaties,  New York being taken over by all these too tall, unlovely, excessive things that Bloomberg let start to happen, probably because he has a hand in the cost of their construction.  The building where Marlon Brando lived when he was beautiful, as it was, has been obscured by cheesy, overbuilt things that you cannot even say have a facade, because that would have the double meaning that they were pretentious, which they don't even bother to be.  I was worried, because of how incredibly expensive I guessed the air conditioner would be to replace.
     Then, overnight, the weather changed! It grew cold and rainy, and air conditioners were over for the year-- outre! And I thought: could it be that God loves me?  First the Pope comes and everybody is nice, with the exception of course of Putin, and then the weather changes!  
     So even if I can't get a ticket to the hot show, I am comfortable in my own skin.  Sadly of course when I look out my terrace window-- I am calling it a terrace though what it really is is a little metal balcony that anyone in their right mind would be afraid to step onto-- what I see are girders and ladders and ropes and metal constructs and everything that dangles and obscures.  But on one of the buildings that is mirrored, I can see a reflection of the sky.
And from one of the girders in the near distance hangs a head that looks like Mickey Mouse's.  Or maybe that's just someone committing suicide.