Manchurian Candidate

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Eloise Klein Healy wins the Algonquin Book Award, West Hollywood Book Fair tomorrow

September 25th, 2010

Tonight we went to a ceremony to honor Eloise Klein Healy.  In conjunction with the upcoming West Hollywood Book Fair the city honored acclaimed lesbian poet, editor and educator Eloise Klein Healey with its annual Algonquin West Hollywood Literary Award.  The award goes to a living Southern California author who has made a notable contribution to literature.  Previous honorees include Mark Salzman, Luis Rodriguez and Aimee Liu.

 It was a wonderful ceremony and the mayor of West Hollywood, John Heilman presented the award.  He is a very cute guy.  We had food from Tender Greens which was very yummy.  I love their food; the salads are to die for. 

 We’re watching Manchurian Candidate which is essentially a movie about the Bush family.  I would say that it makes the Bush family out to be much worse than they really are.  Perhaps some people would say that the Bush family is really a sinister group of people who want to rule the world.  Politics is a strange little nest.  This movie is amazingly well done.  Jonathan Demme co-produced and he’s brilliant. 

 Is there a meaning to life?  Yes, the meaning of life is this.  Find something you really like to do; find someone that enjoys your company and who brings out the best in you.  I don’t know, I’m trying to convince myself that I can still focus on writing and not be swallowed by the press.  I don’t know though.  We only have one life.

 Here’s what I plan to do with the rest of mine:  Keep hanging with my family, write well, and run.  And the publishing company, keep it swinging.  But here’s the thing I’ve decided now that I’m over 40.  I can’t also be an artist and join the circus too. 

 Tomorrow is the West Hollywood Book Fair and a number of Red Hen authors will be reading:  Blasé Bonpane, Jamey Hecht, Rob Roberge,  Terry Wolverton. 

 And we’re going to have a panel on the Devil’s Punchbowl the book we recently published on the living history of California.

 Manchurian Candidate is a movie about a man who is controlled by his mother.  It’s very strange, this is everything I don’t want to do to my son especially.  Sons need to grow to be men by learning to act on their own, never by having their mothers think for them.  This is a movie about the most terrible ways that family can ruin each other’s lives.

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why writers and artists like prizes and reviews

September 24, 2010

Had breakfast today with Don Davis at Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park.  We always eat there.  I like the food there and the way the waiters constantly bring you coffee.  They have a good omelette with lots of veggies, but it has no eggs.  It’s an unusual concept; is it really an omelette if there are no eggs?  I think it’s more like some sort of pancake thing, but it tastes amazing. 

 The kids are having fun in Kathmandu.  They love the food; they’re eating water buffalo which they say is good.  They like walking around the city during the festival, going to internet cafes and they just moved from their hotel room that cost $13/night to a cheaper room that’s $8.  I like to hear that they’re already being so thrifty.

 We’re watching Fisher King one of our favorite movies.  It’s about forgiveness, forgiving ourselves and who we want to become.  It’s about dreaming and getting in and out of that place in our life where it’s too confusing to figure out. 

 I’ve been thinking today about reviews, why we read them.  Some reviews make the whole play, book, art exhibit fall apart.  Because of this one bad review, someone’s life falls apart.  They’ve been working years, maybe decades and this one review makes someone’s life fall apart.

 Okay, what does reviewing do… it marks the territory, it says something significant happened here.  Please, stop, take notice, ask yourself what you are missing, and it also says… if you are confused by what you are experiencing, let me help you with that.  Here walk inside, look, you’re confused, but what this dance performance means… what this work of art is saying, what this book means…

 Prizes are like that too.  They make the world sit up and take notice of this person.  Artists are usually invisible in our culture, but reviews and awards mean you might be somebody for one brief shining movement.

Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What dreams may come, culture wars are easier when you are young, think of Bob Kaufman

September 23, 2010

 Lovely day.  Went to see my friend Mary Lou who loves me whether I am perfect or not.  She’s a joy to hang out with.  She had white wine for me.  And these cool little snacks.

Yesterday in the parking lot of the university I was hit by a car.  It was kind of shocking, you know quite a surprise.  I got out and the kid that hit the back of my car got out and we looked at our cars.  They had scratches.  “I’m feeling good though,” he said, and I agreed.  We high fived and left.  That is a good crash day by any standards. 

 The culture wars in America rage on.  I don’t really pay attention much, but I know about them.  This is a country that respects people who make money.  End of story.  Or people who have power which is almost the same thing. 

 I want to learn to be utterly content with just being a writer, to be utterly generous, to never feel small and petty and always to walk grandly in the world. 

 I’m a writer, that’s enough.  I don’t need things or stuff or money or recognition.  I am okay without all that.  Easier to say when you’re young and you’re pretty sure good things might still happen.  Harder as you get older. 

 Bob Kaufman, a very important poet, was born in New Orleans but is best known as one as one of the Beat poets, although perhaps the only African American , non misogynist of the Beats unless you count Gary Snyder.  The only writers of that Beat era that I like are Gary Snyder and Kaufman.  Kaufman eventually became a street person on the streets of North Beach babbling poetry into cars, poetry that would have been better set to music.  He took a Buddhist vow of silence when Kennedy was shot which lasted until the Vietnam War ended in 1973 when he recited the following poem: 

All those ships that never sailed

The ones with their seacocks open

That were scuttled in their stalls…

Today I bring them back

Huge and intransitory

And let them sail


I wonder what he thought near the end.  Living in California is no place to have your writing or art appreciated.  Being a bohemian isn’t appreciated; it’s undervalued; creating any kind of art is undervalued.  Despite the weather, if you’re living a life of quiet desperation, even in California, that’s sad.  So, do it anyway.  Dream, write, paint, live out loud.  Even if no one cares.  Do it.  I do.

Kumari Devi, the living goddess of Kathmandu

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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Report from Nepal

September 22, 2010

Well, the intrepid travelers arrived at 1 am to find that a lot of people wanted a tip for carrying their bags. They got into a cab and seemed surprised to report that their cab driver didn’t speak English.  I should have warned them that is one of the problems of leaving an English speaking country.

 They said the streets were scary with homeless people everywhere and cows!  They’re thinking, look guys, what you have walking around is hamburger.  But Nepal is a Hindu/Buddhist country, so eating the cow is out of the question.  They said there were a billion wild dogs, but that seems hard to believe, could they really have counted that many wild dogs?

 They’re in a hotel where their room has its own toilet and they seemed pretty pleased with that.  They had hash browns for breakfast with this kind of Nepal tea that they loved, they said it’s a milky ginger tea which is sweet and full of flavor. 

 They arrived the day of a holiday for the human goddess of Kathmandu.  She comes out for the city to see and celebrate, but she has never had a scratch on her body.  If she sheds blood, she is unholy, so after she hits her cycle, she loses her throne.  She has to go through hundreds of tests to become the goddess. One of them she has to do as an infant. Behind 7 iron gates there is a statue of the god of sacrifice so the statue is surrounded in a lake of blood and death and at 1 or 2 years old she and many other babies must sit on this statue from dawn to dusk without crying. Nice!  I want to sign up my baby daughter.  The lake of blood has me going.

 Another fun holiday is one where they sacrifice animals and one way of sacrifice is a chosen person or people put on a mask that allows the sprit to enter their body and they bite the neck of a live water buffalo and take turns drinking the blood until it’s dry. Now that sounds like more fun than I can imagine.  I want to put my mouth on a water buffalo and start sucking the blood.  I wonder if they have vampires in Nepal.  They would be best for this job. 

 It sounds exciting; I wish I’d done this trip at 19.  I hope they keep having the time of their lives.

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Class in America, What does it take to be a great writer

September 21, 2010 


We Skyped with Steve in Hong Kong.  He said that he’s taller than many of the people in the Hong Kong airport.  Really?  They said the food on Cathay Pacific was terrible so they bought a hamburger at Burger King in the airport and it was $3.50.  Apparently, at 18, they could drink there, but they didn’t have $15 for a beer so they decided to pass. It’s 10 am Wednesday morning in Kathmandu. 

 Lunch today at Tender Greens in West Hollywood with my friend Gina.  They have the most amazing Nicoise salad that I’ve ever had with the exception of the Getty restaurant.

 It’s strange.  One of the things I think about walking through Los Angeles is that everyone wears jeans and jeans used to be the great equalizer.  But now there are jeans that are over a thousand dollars.  I see people wearing jeans and boots, those used to be cowboy clothes but now they are the expensive clothes.  When I first left the Farm, people used to tell me America was a country with no class.  That isn’t true.  Some people go the right schools, get the right education and therefore get the right jobs. 

 If you are a person without money, you won’t go to the right schools, and you may not get published in all the right places as a result.  I think luck isn’t everything.

 Here’s what it takes to be a great writer:

  1. It would help to have a great family who sent you to the right schools so you could read the right books.
  2. Read a lot
  3. Write a lot
  4. Be very critical of your own work and accept the criticism of others.
  5. Never worry about your own success or lack thereof.  Hold nothing back.  Write your very best stuff every day and enjoy it as much as you can.


I’m not a great writer yet, but I plan to be.

Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Glendon Bar and Kitchen, where beautiful women in LA work, non profit boards

September 20, 2010

I’m at a bar in Westwood blogging.  Trust me on this, in case you’re thinking of coming here, nobody else has a laptop open. However, they are super nice about it.  They brought me a strawberry martini.  It’s good, but when did martinis become so exotic; they used to be all gin and vodka and olives, now they have them with strawberry juice and pomegranate juice and lemon drop martinis.  What’s with that?  I have to take it easy on the martinis tonight. 

 I want to start tomorrow training for a marathon.  I’ve really been slacking a lot in the running department and I need to get back with it.  Run 15 miles on the weekends, see if I can dump some pounds.  I’m meeting my friend MC at this bar; she’s a lawyer who lives near here.  She’s funny, smart and cool and she’s also a writer.  I often wonder why so many lawyers are closet writers.  Very few writers are closet lawyers.  Why would they be?  If you’re a lawyer, you should be proud of your profession.  If you’re a writer, not so much, you might be living in your car.  There’s a woman in a cap with ear muffs and she’s got on a plaid shirt; very unusual look for Los Angeles.  She’s probably a writer.  My friend Ron Koertge and I were talking about writers and suicide the other day.  The two subjects go together very naturally.

 If you’re a writer and you moved to Southern California, we concluded, there aren’t even any proper places to commit suicide so you’re demoted to garages or inside your car using the exhaust.  Neither are really cool.  An elegant suicide involves an attic or a basement.  Honestly an attic or basement really helps a writer’s life anyway because you have hiding places, secret places, but if you live in Los Angeles, you don’t have those little places.  It’s all open and white; golden sunlight pours in, depression really feels foolish.  What is there to be depressed about? 

 Go to the Glendon Bar!  Have a strawberry martini, go for a swim in the pool, walk by the ocean, the women who work at this bar are naturally hot.  Unfortunately, some of the martinis are very expensive.  Avoid them.  Others are only $5.00.  You might want to go for those. 

 I’ve been thinking a lot today about board building and non profits after our board meeting yesterday.  Board building isn’t easy.  You want maybe 15 people on your board who will work together to build your organization, but to make all this work, all these people have to have a secure role, something they know is theirs.  Why do people join boards?  They believe in the cause, they want to work with some of the other board members, and they want to feel valued.  The question of course is who should do the valuing? The meeting? The thanking?  The answer is of course, the founders and/or executive director of the organization.  It’s complicated.  The non profit dance is just that, a dance, maybe a tango, possibly a waltz.

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 9:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Nepal Monkeys

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 8:59 am  Comments (1)  

Off to Kathmandu

September 19th, 2010


I am very happy to be home in Los Angeles, and I don’t leave again for ten days when we’ll go up for Napa for a couple days to visit our friends Joe and Peggy and Oct 7th I’ll be going to NY for a few days.  I like being home, I really do, and besides the trip to NY and the two to Milwaukee this October, I really want to stay home for a while.  I used to want to travel more; airports made me feel like I was part of something happening in the universe.  I could feel the buzz. 

 I like being home.  We have plans to fix the house up and do some gardening.  What I really want to do is get back to running 30-40 miles a week.  All this other stuff has gotten in the way, but hopefully I can get back on track now with the running and getting enough sleep.  I like writing, sleeping and running but all three are very elusive with my whole life of scrambled crazy stuff.

Judy, who runs the Central Coast conference, says that she cries at movies and commercials.  I really like that; it makes me smile to think of people relaxed enough to cry at any time especially at movies.  Judy is very gracious and relaxed; she says that she’s a grandmother.  I like the idea of grandparents very much. 

 I had wanted to give my kids’ grandparents, but that didn’t completely work out.  My ex-husband’s mother saw the kids a couple times a year, she lives fifteen minutes away from us, she loves them very much.  She came to Steve’s going away party.  One time I told this story of the scarce grandparents and the no cookies, and someone at a writing conference felt so badly that they sent some cookies for my kids.  Why do I tell these stories?  It’s not like my kids are dying of starvation.  The cookies were fabulous.

 At the conference omeone was reading a page of their story.  There is a stallion, a woman who gets captured and ends up on the stallion with the man.  She feels hope flare.  Wind roars.  She is twisting in his grasp hearing her captor’s triumphant laugh.  They jump over a fence into another dimension.

 I’m a little unclear, but I think this is a bodice ripper/science fiction book.  I never read romantic books; Jane Austen isn’t for me, but the movies are worth seeing if you’re sleepy and drinking sake, but stallions, women, wind, fence jumping, capturing women, triumph all of that tells me the cover should have one of those guys with no shirt.  Guys really look better with their clothes on. 

 That’s a funny thing.  Women without their clothes often look delightful and attract applause and happiness, but men without their clothes on get arrested.  We’re not scary naked, but men are.  Men naked make you want to run; something bad could happen.  Women naked make you want to run, but in their direction, something good could happen. Something wonderful.

 Sushi tonight.  Steve wants sushi before he goes to Nepal.  Board meeting and then sushi and off to the airport.  We’ve got a wild, wild life.

 The drive up and down the coast is wonderful; I love the clouds and the ocean touching the sky and the feeling of being at the edge of the world which is why I moved to California in the first place.  I like the California coast, all dreams and wet air. 

 My kids say they want to come back to Southern California after they migrate for a while.  Steve is going the furthest of any of the kids.  Nepal is a heck of a long ways from here.  Jared once moved to Arizona for a while, Nicholas lives in Portland and Amy moved to Santa Barbara.  And then there’s the 4th child, off to Kathmandu.  Midnight flight.  To Hong Kong and then Kathmandu.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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