LADY JOAN RIVERS


My prayers are with you Joan. Since I was a teenager  I watched your show with my Dad who laughed so hard he had

choking attacks. You brought global understanding to the humor of the Jewish faith. Everything you said rang the

Synagogue bells, and blew out the candles of the Menorah. In moments of family tension the conversation turned to you; and everyone would

recite a joke and gather in laughter. Your unique talent to sabotage prejudice with humor, sliced silent moments of awkwardness.

You have me in your prayers to raise up in your bed and shout? Where’s my goddamn shoes?

Love to you Melissa, the daughter any one of us looks up to as the eternal light in her mother’s life.

ROBIN WILLIAMS


I believe the strangling of himself was a dead SCREAM. We don’t leave cancer patients untended.  .or dying soldiers… car accident victims. .lost hikers.. drowning swimmers… fire victims…the murdered or the physically broken. WHY WAS OUR ROBIN LEFT ALONE.? WHY DID THE REHAB CENTER RELEASE HIM?

MALIBU- CANDLES OF THE MOUNTAIN


 

Interaction with strangers in the same house lit my anxiety alarm. The last time roommates occupied the same house was in 1972. I lived in a three-story twelve bedroom mansion in San Rafael, California. There were thirteen of us. Disbro lived in the attic and inhaled laughing gas all day. I was twenty-years old.
This anxiety was visible even at twenty. Sometimes all of us sat down to dinner at one dining room table. The conversations literally wrapped around the room, the halls, and the windows. My voice was restrained; they were too conversational and intellectually humorous for me. I was the youngest.
This brings us back to the Puzzle of Solitude. When there is conversational nuances, improvisations, laughter, dancing, cooking, dressing, showering, slacking, without strain or tension, then it is time to leave out solitude and hook the bait of adventure.
Fragments of my fragmented spirit reincarnated this summer at Chantel’s. There were three full-time roommates that shared the house, Chantel, Speedy, and Nathan and an occasional Nico. There are up to eight visitors occupying the private cottages, and a flexible showing of hungry men and women at dinner time. Added to this is the number of languages spoken, English, Spanish, French, German and Koui’s (Chantel’s dog) welcoming bark.
Interaction on the routine, necessary, and impulsive terms of cohabitation in the morning: preparing coffee in two Turkish pots, buttering bread, stretching, checking email, cuddling Koui, and taking showers. The first morning my mask shed when I walked into the kitchen in my nightie and open robe. What happened in twelve hours to my belt of modesty?  Speedy and I chatted in English, and then he’d  Skype his wife. One morning he introduced us. I looked forward to his Skype discussions; the most fluid and rhythmic language to my ears. The art of conversation has vanished from many factions of our society. The phone and laptop are now our mouths and ears.
Not so with Europeans.
“ Loulou, so you have a gallery of photography?  
    “ We had one; now it’s a vacation rental decorated with photography.”
Nico leaned against the wooden island table to hear the story. You can’t look Nico in the eyes without lusting just a little.
“ How’d you start this gallery? Nico asked while chopping perfectly unmeasured tomatoes, mushrooms, and onion. 
“ I called photographers;  and a few friends pushed my cart to the right door. One time I walked into a gallery on Robertson Blvd and noticed this exhibition of celebrities on the beach in St Tropez. It was incredible!”
Fabian who owns a gallery on Robertson moved in closer as I continued.
“I walked in and asked the Swedish owner if he’d co-exhibit in our gallery in New Mexico. He said yes, we didn’t even sign anything. He kept his end up. So I showed the Edward Quinn’s in Santa Fe. I should have bought the Audrey Hepburn one; when she was eighteen.”
“I know the Quinn photographs.  Bridget Bardot– yes– what was the name of the Gallery?” Fabian revealed enough interest to spark mine.”
“ Christopher Guye.”
He moved closer  so we were face to face.

“I know Christophe! My first gallery was next door!”

All of us applauded the connection; I think I moved a notch closer to the group.
This is what happens when joining is more exhilarating than not. In the next few weeks: we dined in French and English, watched Soccer, teased and laughed, cooked and drank. There were parties with Jennie, Chantel’s assistant, who has two congregations of friends, all uniquely different and robust. I had walks on the beach alone, and time to write; but the real vacation was interior. I left the old LouLou, who paced, fretted, vacillated and deconstructed behind. She lost the battle to interior florescence.

The thread of interaction followed me outside the compound.  I discovered  Malibu is not all celebrities and rock-stars. There are families that go to the beach, hang out at Vintage Market, and attend community events tied to the ocean, horses, and surfing. The school of surfing for children is worth a visit just to see the little boys and girls riding waves. Malibu has its own Playhouse, a Movie Theater and two upscale outdoor shopping malls. The Getty Villa perched on cliff- side overlooking Pacific Coast Highway has reopened and it is free to the public.

20140712_182639
The vacation sabbatical ended last week; though the effect remains. This adventure was supposed to be all about ocean swimming, window shopping, revisiting former favorite spots; what I really needed was to revisit myself. Do we ever stop emerging? I hope not.

Candles of the mountain are a cactus plant that hopscotch the Santa Monica Mountains. Their 20140723_075644flowers are white and when the sun sets into darkness they light up the mountains like candles. 

 

 

CANDLES OF THE MOUNTAIN


 

ADVENTURES IN MALIBU DINING. 20140725_193214[1]

The fog today has brushed the mountains with a thick white mist almost like a snow mass; yet the temperature is warm. What I found most entertaining in a writers way, was the night Chantel and I visited NOBU; “No One Beats Us.”

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF UNTAMED, UNDRESSED WILDERNESS are the unhurried pocket full of cash residents, or resident visitors, that line up in waxed sports cars and convertibles at the entrance of NOBU. I wonder if they have summer and winter cars as I watch them slouching on the terrace sofas: women in latex tight jeans, bottoms-up mini skirts, and men in tight V-Neck T’s and designer jeans.

“ Oh Chantel this is going to be so fun.”
“ You think so?”

We sat down on the terrace sofas and ordered drinks. As a thirty-year old
this sort of stylish trendy expensive dining was all I cared about and I can’t tell you why because I never got inside the groups that I followed. Thirty years later my sense of belonging is unimportant; it is the observation deck of a group that is
capable of supreme prating, joking, excessive drinking and charismatic behavior.

NOBU

I spotted two men dressed in musicians gear, top hats, and dancing lace up boots swaying towards us.
“ Hello girls, do you mind if we join you.” I didn’t look at Chantel until they swayed a bit more indiscreetly, and realized they were hammered.
“You guys rock n roll musicians.” I asked
“What? How’d you know?”
“The British accent, two bottles of beer in one hand and the hat.
They bent over at the waist in laughter and collapsed on a sofa across from us.
Thirties, with squinted red eyes, and big smiles; they laughed at everything I said.
“ I like that you call us girls; but we really are. Aren’t we Chantel?”.
She smiled and when they asked her what kind of music she liked she said
‘ All kinds.”
What about you?” The less than stupid drunk one asked me.
“ Mick Jagger.”
He spread his arms out wide and then slapped the table.
“The guy is unbelievable. No truly the best man today, still. I can’t believe the guy.”
Common ground in music stroked our conversation, until the stupid drunk one
tipped over one of his beers, while trying to stand. They drifted off to their crowd and I remained fixated to the garden of youth circulating the terrace.

The indoors were crammed with shiny female legs, and beautiful male arms. There was no identification of loners or singles; just one large crowd hip to hip. No one place I’ve been to can beat the sizzling sexuality, liberation of theatrics, and prices. Two pieces of tuna are $8.00 and Sashimi is $25.00.
I left my phone that night  and when I returned the next day at noon there were twenty people waiting to get in. Thinly disguised in hat, ankle length bathing suit wrap, and glasses, I did not look like I belonged and I liked that feeling. It was a star-spangled banner sort of celebration that I really don’t mind being on the outskirts. I am staying in Malibu; but I am not a Malibu moneyed account.

The next evening outing I stopped at Geoffrey’s Restaurant; in my southwest dirty 2002 Discovery. The valet was directing traffic as if he was a pilot commanding a landing of private jets.
“ You are very good with those signals.”
He nodded. No time to talk. images

I tried to walk in without looking at the floor; as if I’d been there before.
The bar was half full; and the dining room tables were all taken.  The backdrop was cinematic; a glorious china-blue sea, with seagulls and surfers marked through floor to ceiling spotless glass. There was so much reflection and light;  the groomed and jeweled diners looked like actors on a movie set. That makes me a little uncomfortable; to be so transparent. I noticed a spot on my shoe, a tiny one that turned brownish the more I stared.

The bartendress breezed over,’ Hi. May I start you with some sparkling water’ one I’d never heard of.
“ A wine list please and the appetizer menu.” She gleamed at that.

My journal was my partner; so I scribbled away casually and felt inducted into Geoffrey’s.   I ordered the crab cakes appetizer,  wafer size but so delicious I would order them again.  As soon as the gloaming hour arrived it was time to leave. I had not mastered the swerving mountain roads  to Chantel’s in the dark.

” Check please.”  I said.

What a sensational feeling to sign the slip and know there is more than enough in my bank account.

” Your card didn’t go through.”

” Try it again please. There should be no problem.”

” Sorry. The card is — not accepted.”

Not enough cash to pay a thirty-five dollar bill was more than humiliating;  so I pulled an Allen Smiley.

” I’ve never heard of such a thing. Wells Fargo will hear about this!” I called Wells Fargo and followed all the instructions and then waited. By this time the owner, thirties and as pretty as the Blue Boy, appeared.

I signaled him to wait a moment just as Wells Fargo disconnected me.

Then I pitched up my voice melodramatically  to the owner and talked up my frustration. As I am explaining that I am visiting and that all my ready cash was spent in one day in Malibu and I was so sorry;  I went swimming in his almost Paul Newman eyes.

” It’s no problem. It’s okay.  I”ll run the hand written receipt tomorrow.” He said with suave charming lips and teeth.

Then he left. I turned to the Bartendress and asked if this ever happens at Geoffrey’s. She smiled and said, ‘ No, but it used to happen in a bar I worked at.’

I left in a roundabout reminder  that I should stop galloping around without cash; especially on a vacation.

The next day I walked into Wells Fargo at Trancas Canyon.  Three employees welcomed me: coffee, water, how can we help, all in sync.   After I explained the story to  a college age man behind a walnut desk, he  called someone at Wells Fargo and then I learned the trick to traveling.

” If you go out of state you need to let us know so we won’t block your account.”

” For thirty-five dollars? Don’t tell me you do that when Cher leaves town.”  She didn’t laugh.

” The block is removed. Is there anything else we can do?’

” I hope not.”

The suntanned jolly man at the desk began a conversation:  where do you live, how long you’re in Malibu, have you been to Trancas Beach and then he asked why I didn’t have a savings account.  I leaned in real close and whispered, I don’t have that much money.

‘” I see we just sent you a platinum credit card.”

” I never received a platinum credit card.” He leaned back in his leather executive chair that really didn’t suit  him at all and said,  ” You probably thought it was an advertisement and threw it away.”

” Do you know what the limit is?” I asked.

He tapped on his computer and I watched in anticipation.

” Three thousand dollars.”

” Really?”

” Yes. Now let’s talk about you opening up a savings account. You have to have one.'”

I wanted to stand up and hug him. Instead I asked him if he surfed.

” Yea, but I’m not that good really.”

”  It doesn’t always matter that you’re good; some things  are just about doing it.”

To be continued.