Monday, September 26, 2005

My 15 Minutes of Fam

My 15 Minutes of Fame, Not

Part Two

In my last blog, I explained that I was going to be photographed by V-Life magazine along with movie stars and models at 2:00 Thursday.  My wonderful hair-stylist, the only one who knows how to beat my curls into submission, refused to work Thursday mornings.  I pleaded with him, cajoled, made veiled threats.  Finally he agreed as a special favor to me to come in at 10 AM.  That meant two hours in the chair, and two hours, driving home, putting on make-up, and dressing.  I could do that!
He and I both knew I’d have to throw large wads of money at him for his inconvenience, but it was worth it.  Relieved, I went on with my life until Tuesday morning, when I asked my beautiful actress friend, Katherine Garrett, to drop by and help with the shoot.  
“What are you going to wear?”
“They want a casual picture of me at home, so I thought I’d wear a bright Indian blouse.”
“Oh,” she said.  A long silence followed.  “Who’s doing your hair and make-up?”
“I told her about my adventures with my Beverly Hills hair stylist, adding, “I thought I’d do my own make-up.”
“Oh,” she said again.  Another long silence.
“I was a theater major in college.  I learned how to do make-up,” I protested.
“Um huh,” she said.  Disapprobation hung in the air between us.  
“What would you do?”  I asked finally.
“I’d have a make-up person standing by.”
I don’t have panic attacks.  In fact, I never have panic attacks.  For the next two days, I had to remind myself to breathe.  
It’s not enough to get a make-up person.  You have to find a good make-up person.  I called the photographer.  He called a few people.  No one was available.  Kathleen tried.  In the end, I went to a store in Beverly Hills where they make you up at great expense.  An impossibly thin young woman with raccoon eyes and lipstick carefully painted over her lips and halfway to her nose began to work.  She worked on me with a thinly disguised look of disgust, after I told her I wanted my lipstick on or at least near my lip lines.
When she was finished, she handed me a mirror.
You know why you don’t look like those movie stars and models you see in the magazines?  That’s because they don’t look like those movie stars and models either until someone carefully arranges their hair and applies 30 different layers of powder and paint.  
I stared into the mirror.  I looked great.  Well, at least I looked a lot better.  
The photographer came to the house.  He took a lot of shots.  I changed clothes a dozen times.  Then he went away.
After waiting as long as I could, I emailed the editor, “How did the pictures come out?”  
No response.
Last night I got the word.  They didn’t sell enough advertising.  V-Life cancelled the November issue and with it my 15 minutes of fame.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Glamorous Life of a Writer

The Glamorous Life of a Writer

My 15 Minutes of Fame, Not

Part One

Sometime in August, an editor of V-Life magazine called and said they wanted to do an article about me and how I’d reinvented myself from a TV writer into a best-selling novelist.  She said the article would co-ordinate with the launch of The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell.  
     I suppressed the urge to say, “ME?  You want to do an article about ME!  Whatever for?”  Instead I said, coolly, “I’ll look forward to it.”
V-Life, is a relatively new life-style magazine.  It’s just now being sold on the newsstands, but it goes to everyone who subscribes to Variety which means everyone in Hollywood.  The producers, the directors, the studio heads, the hair dressers, they all get it.  Besides that, it’s gorgeous, filled with movie stars and models.  I figured this was my moment.  
HarperCollins sent them a picture of the provocative cover of my new novel.  Then on August 26, I had lunch with the journalist, Leslie Gornstein, at terrific little French Bakery in Beverly Hills.  Sounds like the glamorous life of the writer?  Wait.
     The following week the creative director called and said he wanted to arrange a photo shoot.  “Of me?  Can’t you just use the book cover?”  I protested.  Apparently, he couldn’t.  
He scheduled the shoot for 2:00 PM the following Thursday.  I was to be dressed and ready for a photo shoot for a magazine that featured movie stars and models.  I called my Beverly Hills hair stylist.  In the rest of the world they’re hairdressers.  Here they’re stylists.  Kevin is handsome, sophisticated, and the only one who has a clue what to do with the mass of thick curls growing around my head.  If you have lots of curls you know that like the little girl in the nursery rhyme, when they look good they look very, very good and when they look bad they look horrid.  Worse, they seem to have their own appearance schedule.  It takes a very special stylist to beat them into cooperation.
Kevin picked up the phone and explained calmly, he didn’t come in until noon on Thursdays.
“I won’t be able to get back home by 2:00, much less have time to put on make-up and get dressed.”  Kevin made sympathetic sounds, but repeated his rule.  He stayed late Thursday night, so he couldn’t possibly work on Thursday mornings.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

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Applause For Some For Some, For Others Not So Much

Applause For Some, For Others Not So Much

Ok, I don’t want this blog to be political, but the Southern Belle has a right to sound off about the South.  Now that the President has finally gotten around to helping all those poor people in New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama, why isn’t he using his bully pulpit to get other states to take evacuees?  Texas can’t take them all.  I know offers have been dribbling in, but the politicians need prodding.  Taking in refugees, finding them housing, and giving them hope is never easy.  

On the positive side, kudos to all those selfless volunteers, the nurses, doctors, policemen, firemen, and all the volunteers who stayed.  And hats off to those amazing men from the Coast Guard who hung from helicopters and scooped people from rooftops.  Last but not least, applause for the Gumbo Krewe, who went to New York after 9/11 to serve food to the first responders.  By Wednesday they had their pots boiling in their hometown of Norco, about ten miles west of the New Orleans Airport.  With donations from Whole Foods they served plates of red beans and rice and bowls of chicken gumbo to the relief workers and anyone else who needed to something to eat.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

My First Blog

My First Blog

I had expected to start this blog writing about silly things like how to attract men, and why they make so many movies for boys and almost none for us.  I was gearing myself up, listing ideas, and then the hurricane hit my home town, or at least the home town of my heart and all other thoughts flew out of my head.

I’ve live through hurricanes.  You tape the windows, stock up on candles and flashlight batteries, buy bottled water, lots of food and, of course plenty of wine and don’t forget the gin and vermouth for martinis.  Then you fill the bathtubs with fresh water, put on a pot of spaghetti, and hunker down.  But we knew this was different when the governor ordered New Orleans evacuated.  Evacuated?  Had New Orleans ever been evacuated before?  The roads out of the city are causeways.

As the hours passed, I watched one of the most wonderful cities in the U.S. turn into something that looked like a disaster in the third world.  Rotting bodies littered the streets.  The Times-Picayune reported one hundred people died at the Chalmette Slip after being pulled off their rooftops while they waited for buses and ferries.  One hundred people died waiting for help?  In America?

You all saw the pictures, but for me it was personal.  I had family and friends down there.  Sunday, before the hurricane hit, I figured most of the people I knew would be packing.  I didn’t want to waste their time talking to me on the phone so I emailed.  And waited.  Rosemary James was the first to write back.  She and her husband Joe DeSalvo own Faulkner House Books on Pirates Alley in the French Quarter.  William Faulkner lived in that very building when he wrote his first novel.  It’s not only a bookstore but the cultural heart of the city.  They hold readings and parties and every year host Words and Music “a Literary Feast in New Orleans.”  And believe me it is a feast in every sense.  Rosemary wrote that they were safe in Charleston, but they were afraid they’d lost the bookstore.  On Tuesday, I finally heard from my brother and his wife.  They were safe in North Mississippi, but feared they’d lost everything.  My nephew emailed he and his wife were safe in Baton Rouge.  I tracked another couple down at the Houston Marriot.  They’d packed up their dogs and their cars and headed out.  Their home has a big picture window looking into their gorgeous yard with giant oaks.  They have no idea whether it survived.  Friends on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain lost their house to a fallen tree.  On Wednesday I was able to write Rosemary the good news that Faulkner Books was probably intact.  An indomitable French friend, who’d stayed in her apartment through storm and flood, reached Fort Worth on Tuesday with the news, that the upper French Quarter hadn’t flooded.  But there are still others out there whose fate is uncertain.

I heard some government official, from the endless chain of talking heads I’ve been watching all week, explain that shoring up the levees would have cost fifteen billion dollars.  (I’m rather loose with numbers so the actual figure may be off.)  He said it didn’t seem worthwhile (I believe he said cost effective) to spend all that money to prepare for a disaster that had never happened in the history of the United States.  Now of course the cost will be much higher in taxpayer money, not to mention the lives lost, homes and careers destroyed.  Is there a lesson here?

I think about global warming.  Scientists throughout the world want us to conserve , to switch to solar and wind power before we reach the tipping point.  There are others who say, it’s not cost effective or worth the unpleasantness of downsizing.  The ocean warming, the hurricanes, droughts could all be caused by natural climate shifts.  hey may be right, but do we want to take the chance?