Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Time to Split?

This is so frustrating! Here I am, all ready to get going, and the realtor is stalling us because she says she can’t get hold of the guy who owns the property. Gene says maybe the poor man dropped dead, because with an investment like this he couldn’t afford to get old. The east side of the strip, the newer part just beyond the old dime store, was developed by a son of one of the Maples, who’d inherited her part of the family farm and sold it to the air strip at the end of the 60’s. He turned that into some houses in Westhampton Beach, which he flipped fast to put up a whole development around Crescent Pond. I actually remember that. Everyone in town knew it was ridiculous, but I guess Mr. Wilber was feeling so lucky that anything seemed possible to him then. Or maybe he was drinking. Too bad because until that point, he was almost a visionary. Now I didn’t remember this bit, but Gene says Wilber developed this end of the strip around the same time, trying to expand the local shopping to make Crescent Pond more attractive. He took off for Florida about twenty years ago. It must have killed him to miss out on the boom. Most of the stores have been empty for years now. Gene says there was some kind of tax thing that got the Heart Association got the old dime store, so we were hoping Wilber could use the same kind of break.

Well, I’m not giving up so easily! I spent the weekend sending emails to anyone I know who either still has money (and probably stuff to throw out) or is having a hard time (and could use a few dollars from selling stuff off). And I had a long talk with Maggs, who promised to clean out a few closets and ask some friends to do the same. And I started working out a way to put some of the lyrics from the song on the walls. I saw that in a restaurant once, quotations in a nice font on the walls, and it looked so clean and powerful. Jeff loved the idea when I described it. I think he’s proud of me for doing this. He’ll be even prouder once we really get it going. I have to wait til we get into the space to pick a background color – it’s going to depend on what’s orphaned at the Home Depot that week.

Now for something completely different, like Monty Python used to say. I gave Carmen a call today. We used to have her out to the beach house the weekend after Memorial Day, so I was thinking about her this weekend and thought I really should call and see how she was doing. She’s still not working, which is awful; no one is hiring. And there’s not even any temp work. It’s a good thing they extended unemployment. I’m trying to get her to come out here for at least a few days. A change of scenery would do her good. She was telling me that she keeps getting these pathetic emails from Taylor, who just doesn’t get that his father died flat broke. He’s sure if he keeps asking that Carmen or the lawyers are going to pull a rabbit out of a hat – the rabbit being a trust fund. He was always the dimmer of the two. Simon’s a selfish shit, but not entirely stupid. Taylor lives in a fantasy world, and Gary let him. I’m far enough away that I can almost feel sorry for him. Anyway, he can’t afford Paris any more, so he’s talking about moving to Split. Split! Someone told him it’s going to be the Prague of the Teens. He thinks he can start a literary magazine. As if there are magazines anywhere any more besides online. And he first has to learn Croatian, which I can’t imagine comes easy. I lived in Prague for four years and can’t talk about anything more complicated than dinner and driving instructions. Amazing, right? Oh, Gary, what you did to those boys! I’m so glad we never had a child.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hard to Be a Girl

So instead of “Have a Heart II,” which was our first thought, Gene decided we should call the new shop “Hard to be a Girl,” which was so sweet of him! But he says it’s not sweet at all, only good business, because people will see the name and immediately think of me, and that connection is going to pull them in. Gene thinks I’m still famous, which is massively touching.

Still, if there’s anything that would qualify me for one of those reality shows for former-celebrities, it would be that song. It was our only #1 hit. Our only gold record too. “Toto, Too” was also on that album; it made it to #11 which was always frustrating, to come that close to the top ten and never get in. “Drink the Koolaid” never made it past #27. We never really got that. Obviously we thought it was great or we wouldn’t have made it the title song. Timing, I guess.

A lot of people think that was the Raisin’s only album but not so. We had one more, only no one bought it. The critics were pretty brutal, too. Totally uncalled for. There was some good stuff on that second album. I’ll always remember Chris Stein telling Robbie how much he liked “Greenland Isn’t Green.” That meant the world to Robbie. It made him determined to keep going. We were working on songs for a third album when Robbie died. That’s what we were doing in Amsterdam. People don’t know that. They think he was a has-been, but he wasn’t. They were great songs; Robbie was really inspired by Anne Frank. I have them in my bank vault. I bet I could sell them on eBay or maybe at Christies. But I won’t. So if you’re reading this and get any bright ideas, forget about it.

Wow, that took me completely off the track. “Hard to be a Girl.” That’s where I started. I’m getting a little carried away. Gene is so excited, and its fun to have something to get carried away with. Especially with it being Memorial Day weekend. Summer season opening at the beach and I’m in Arahmpett.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bring Out Your Threads!

So that was pretty fast. They scared her good, her legal team, and she packed up and went back to LA to take up the fight with Ken mano a Manolo (so to speak). All I have to do now is clean up after. People who are used to having maids can be major pigs.

When she started packing all the new stuff she bought in the city last week, Maggs decided she wanted to toss a lot of what she came with. She asked me if I wanted them, but apart from it being kind of odd to take her hand-me-downs, there wasn’t anything I could use. She’s taller than I am, and has a totally different shape. Also totally different taste, which I think I’ve said a dozen or so times even on this blog. Also, face it, I’m not living her kind of life, so what would I do with a backless silver Helmut Lang blouse or a pair of yellow patent leather gladiator sandals? So I was going to turn her down and then I realized, duh, I could bring them over to the thrift store.

Today, I stuffed everything she left into a suitcase and rolled it over, and you cannot believe how excited Gene got. Gene’s the manager over there. We’ve met a bunch of times of course, but we never really had a talk before. It was quiet when I came in, and he’d just made a pot of tea (really brewed in a real teapot, which was so nice for a change), so we started talking. Anyway, he was saying how he held back some of the stuff I brought by a few months ago, and when he adds Magg’s things, he may have enough really upscale “thrift” (I guess that’s what you’d call it, right?) to pull in some of the ladies from further out East. Like women who need to buy some new top label things but are having some, ahem, financial difficulties. And also, a lot of them may have stuff to donate. He has this picture of Have a Heart becoming a kind of secret weapon for the snooty nouveau pauvre. It’s a great idea. We started talking about ways to get the word out, starting with people I know and people I can get to through Maggs. Imagine if all her LA friends shipped us their discards! No one would know, because it’s across the country. And they’d get either a tax write off or, if they’re hurting for funds, Gene would work out a consignment kind of thing. We were talking for a good couple of hours today, and tomorrow I’ve got an appointment with the realtor who handles the street because we were thinking we’d see if we could get the old Baskin Robbins space two doors down and use if for this. I’m totally jazzed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They Still Make Malteds

Did you know they still make malted milk powder? Or whatever it’s called. I was going to meet Maggs at the train (surprise of all times, she took the train back!) and needed to pick up some Splenda for her. I never use artificial sweeteners myself, and she already used up the packets I swiped from Friendly’s. So on the way, I stopped by that old-fashioned-y little grocery store on Sunrise Highway, and there it was. Right by the sugars and flour and cocoa. Not Ovaltine, but the real thing. I stood there looking at it, and my entire childhood flashed before my eyes. Well, I had to buy some, right? And a few pints of ice cream and some chocolate syrup. Smoothies my ass! THIS is why it pays to have a blender! We had 100% authentic malteds for lunch, with spicy curly fries that I had in the freezer against an emergency ☺ Uncle Harry always gave me a pretzel with a malted. There’s something about the salt with the sweet that really works. Maggs had to admit it was even a better binge than killing a couple of bottles of wine. Not that we didn’t do that for dinner. If she doesn’t go home, I’m going to gain a ton. I think she must be bulimic, because I know she doesn’t exercise enough to burn off all the booze and sugar.

I think she probably will be going home soon. Saturday, we drove out to the beach house, which wasn’t as hard for me as last time I went. It looks closed up and lonely, but still okay. The garden is really green from all the rain. I have to stop thinking about that garden. Okay, so Maggs was really sniffing around the house. It’s more her style than it ever was mine. What I loved was where it was, and no matter what it was a more comfortable place to be than the apartment. Maggs didn’t come flat out and make an offer, but she implied that she’d like to buy it. Only her lawyers have advised her not to even rent a place outside California until the settlement is set in stone. Ken’s getting ready for a fight, and any tiny wedge to turn on her and say she’s not a California resident would be something he’d jump on in a minute. She’s going to have to head back to LA and show her face for a while.

I love Maggs to pieces, I really do. But what makes it hard to have her around is that it makes me feel like a poor relation. I’m getting used to living like I do out here, you know, having a kind of small life. Once she stopped crying and passing out, when she strapped on her stilettos and started planning out her battles, it was all about a life I’m not living any more. Events, and shops, and new hot restaurants, and spas and facials. I was hardly thinking about those things any more. I was getting back to the time before, remembering other ways to be. And I was thinking it was good and, I don’t know, “authentic” maybe? to do what I was doing. But hearing about that other world day in day out, even if I’m not sure I want it, I can’t help but feel like Tiny Tim looking through a toystore window.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I just came on to post this and was kind of freaked because my post from Saturday was still sitting in my account as a draft. I could swear I posted it. It’s not like I was in a rush or was interrupted or anything. I guess I’d better double check after I “post” this one, right?

Well, she didn’t come back in a stretch, but that’s because she didn’t come back. She managed to get into the Model as Muse opening at the Met on Monday night, so she had to shuffle a few appointments and she’ll be coming back on Friday instead.

What’s good about this is that it’s made me realize how much I’ve started liking being on my own away from everything. Hearing Maggs going on about dinner at Waverly Inn, and loading up at Barney’s and all that, you’d think I would have been frustrated or sad, but it seemed so far away from me. I mean, I could use some better groceries, and I do think its ironic that its only now that I moved out of town and can’t afford it anyway that they finally opened a Zadig et Voltaire in NYC. But I can’t say I really miss anything. I’ve been liking the quiet, and not having the pressure of worrying what people are thinking about me, and just the space to remember who I am.

The last couple of days, with Maggs in the city, it’s been good to hear the quiet. Do you know how great it’s been to listen to music again – I mean really listen, not just have it on in the background while doing other things. How sad is that? I’m a musician (at least I was, in a small way) and I’ve hardly really listened to music in years. But now I do. And I’ve been right on top of doing my pilates. And I’m not getting into Architectural Digest any time soon, but my house is mine, not some decorator’s, not Gary’s trophy wife’s. And maybe I don’t have much of a social life, but when I have dinner with Ed and Leonie, it’s so nice. Nice people, nice food, nice conversation. Nice is so underrated. I like nice.

What I’m seeing is that I’m not in exile out here, which is how it felt. I’m in an okay place. Now I need to start building a life here.

Three good things:
-- the sun came out in the middle of the day, even though it wasn’t supposed to
-- I listened to Charlie Parker
-- I’m home

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Splits and stuff

Maggs took off to the city for a few days and after spending yesterday listening to the silence and thinking nothing ever sounded so good, I now have some energy again and can catch up on everything I haven’t done in a couple of weeks, including this blog.

To prove she’s in tune with the rest of the world and is tightening her belt, Maggs took the train in. And instead of staying at the Plaza Athenée, which is where she always stays with Ken, she’s staying at the Hotel Gansevoort, in the Meatpacking. Okay, so her belt is Hermes.

It’s been mostly good to have her here. Once she got that first round of dramatics out of the way, she got down to business, and it’s been an education, let me tell you! I’ve been through two divorces, but it was nothing like the show Maggs is putting on. With Malcolm, I had a world of pain. He was the first man I’d been able to trust after Robbie died, and he really was great. He had that wild sparkle when he was painting, and we had some times, let me tell you! But otherwise, so sweet and gentle. And then he takes me out to dinner, where I can’t even have a fit because in London you don’t do that, and tells me he needs to leave because his boyfriend has AIDS. I didn’t even know he had a boyfriend. “How naïve can you get?” is what you’re asking yourself. Not that naïve. No one knew it. The boyfriend was a government type, all about secrecy, with a wife and two kids covering for him in the suburbs. Malcolm, who’d had a string of women before me who were all pretty loudly pissed off when we got together, didn’t claim even that day to be bi but that “this person” attracted him so powerfully he “never really thought of him as a man, only about what was inside.” Well, after that comment, when after Q died (I was going to call him “X”, but I started thinking James Bond and couldn’t resist), Malcolm disappeared from the art scene and later wrote this almost heartbreaking apology that ended by saying he was becoming a Buddhist monk…well, THAT time, I WASN’T surprised. But when he told me he was leaving me for a man, I can’t describe what that was like. If I ever need to cry on cue, like trying to get out of a ticket?, that’s what I think of. To this day. So yeah, I had a really rough divorce in terms of pain, but we didn’t have much property to split. The flat was mine anyway, and he was moving in with Q who had lots of money, even after taking care of the wife and kiddies. I never thought about it before, but there was a lady I should have gotten to know; we could have done some crying together. I guess at the time, I didn’t want to go near anything having to do with Q. Too late now, though I keep hearing stories about people tracking each other down on Facebook (me, I’m not on Facebook; I don’t know, I’m just not). Anyway, Mal took off with what he wanted and left me the rest, then gave me some paintings which was all he had to give. He didn’t start taking off until after. And really, his work only started being worth something after he stopped doing it. So that way, it worked out to my advantage. But damn, it hurt. For a couple of years after, every time I met someone who had a good haircut, or was willing to watch a romantic movie without making snide remarks, I thought nuh-uh! I was back here in the States then, and I found myself at a lot of sports bars and boxing matches and monster car rallies for a while.

When Erich and I split, it was almost business-like. It seemed like a good idea when we first got together, but time went on, and it turned out we really wanted different lives. I’m not saying it was an easy split, but it was civilized. So I never had a divorce like the one Maggs is launching into. She is so out for revenge, you would swear you could hear that background music from Jaws. I wouldn’t want to be Ken for all…well, for all the money Ken has! It was bad enough when it started, but she’d calmed down some and was letting her lawyer get to work while she started thinking of what she wanted to do with her life. Then about a week ago, a few of her girlfriends back in Bev Hills “thought it only fair to let you know” that someone had seen Ken and this model-turned-actress) whose name they all seemed to know but who I never heard of) at that spa in the desert. Sharing a mud bath, which in case you don’t know is not only done in the nude but al fresco. Meaning not exactly in secret. And someone else had actually gone over to Ken to say hi while he was hanging around on the boyfriend-courtesy-sofa at this week’s hot LA boutique, drinking a Red Bull and giving a thumbs up every time the MTA sashayed out of the dressing room. So now there’s a “why” behind it, and Maggs is – justifiably if you ask me – out for blood. That’s why she went into the city. She’s lined up some appointments with Tracie Martyn and Dr. Brandt, and drinks/lunches/dinners with people whose meals get mentioned in the gossip columns, so she can keep a high profile. I expect she’s having a little shopping safari, too. I told her to keep an eye on the bottom line, since she really doesn’t know if Ken has the money she thinks he has. Any more, I mean. For all we know, the MTA has money. Or Ken’s running up a tab knowing he’ll never pay it. But Maggs is driven. She’s “saving” on no limo and by cutting the hotel bill in half. The train was a joke; I’m willing to bet she drives back here on Wednesday in a stretch. As for the hotel, maybe it’s half the price of the Athenée, but the Ganesvoort isn’t exactly Motel 6, plus it’s younger and hipper, which is something she probably wants in her toolbelt.

I really wanted to write something today about what I’ve been doing, but all I’ve done is write about Maggs, and I’m exhausted! Guess I’ll have to write about me another day. I’ve got til Wednesday in peace and quiet. Oh, I think the drizzle stopped! I think I’ll take a glass of wine and sit outside for a while. I don’t have to be at Ed and Leonie’s until 7.