Owner Shira Tarrant and her daugher Emily
Silverlake is a hilly older neighborhood of Los Angeles with at least eight decades of resident artists, including Anais Nin. Her small Frank Lloyd Wright home overlooked the reservoir from the east and featured a swimming pool painted mottled green and black so it resembled a forest pond. I never met her, but I did visit her home and met Rupert, her widower, in the seventies, shortly before he married her Japanese translator. He kindly presented me with a copy of a photographic book on Anais, one about the making of a movie biography called Anais Nin Observed.
James Leo Herlihy, who wrote the Academy Award winning novel and screenplay The Midnight Cowboy, also lived and died in Silverlake, and was Anais'confidante the last twenty five years of her life. We met as guests on the David Frost Show in 1971 (he promoting his book The Season of The Witch, while I was appearing on behalf of Living On The Earth), and became close friends. He wrote me the sweetest fan letter ever received. It is dated April 28, 1978.
Lovely Alice Bay,
You are a luminous, life-giving example of utter scrumptuousity. I am thinking of resigning as head of your fan club so I can devote full time to lobbying for you in Washington.
Palm trees and evening sky reflected in the somewhat radical and risque front window at Book Bound
I definitely have good feelings about Silverlake. Last year when I was looking for venues for booksignings, Kim Cooper suggested I try Silverlake's Book Bound. I called last November, said my name and asked about doing an event. Shira Tarrant, the owner of the store, replied, "I can't believe it's you!"
I said, "Why not?"
"Twenty years ago I stole your book from the public library, and now my daughter won't give it back!"
"Fine. I'll send you another one!" I did, too. Emily, her daughter, told me she wept when she opened the package.
Shira explained that the notoriously radical sequel to Living On The Earth, Being of the Sun, was the favorite book at the Quaker school she attended in her teens. Being of the Sun was panned by the Rolling Stone ("worst gift book of the year..."), and ignored by the rest of the establishment media, but I am discovering that it has a sort of cult following even today. Jodi and John at In Harmony Herbs had a copy on their mantel the day I called them about having an event at their store. It's still there.
Kim, Christiane, Mari
Anyway, it was not hard to convince Shira to invite me to speak and sing at her store. Kim Cooper, Mari Kono, Christiane Segovske, my webmeister Steve Gursky, and brilliant producer/attorney and longtime friend Yvonne Chotzen all came to show support, and I met some new friends as well.
After delivering stories about the book and singing some songs, I asked the assembled constituency The Question: What do we need to know to live on the Earth?
Mari suggested that it's about recognizing the non-physical aspects of ourselves, which she identified as Love, and not getting caught up in the particulars of day to day negativity. Kim said her priority was having an inner system of navigation, and we agreed it came from "gut feelings"--that tug from the solar plexus. Didi felt that compassion was the primary needed element in society today. Steve felt a yearning to remember the basic survival skills, and a scorn for the meaningless conspicuous consumption of the 'eighties.
Steve, Didi, Emily, Kellie
Eventually everyone was telling funny stories and laughing, which is the way the best evenings end.