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By Julia Phillips
Published by Random House Trade on 2017-02-14
PERFORMING ARTS, ART, BIOGRAPHY and AUTOBIOGRAPHY, HUMOR
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BOOKS BY JULIA PHILLIPS You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again Driving Under the Affluence
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN
HOUSE LIGHTS DIM BEFORE TITLES The Sting had been nominated, two months before, in ten categories, including Cinematography, Editing, Actor, Screenplay, Director, and Best Picture. The Exorcist, which had garnered an equal number of nominations, had been released the same day, two days before Christmas. It had received an enormous amount of initial publicity; even The New York Times carried pictures of people lined up in the cold to get in. Warners had been far too cautious in its release of The Exorcist. It had opened in only twenty-'four theaters. At 90/10 deals, Leo Greenfield kept reminding us. But then, he was the guy who told us, based on the first week's figures, that our picture would gross maybe fifteen mil. We had opened in 220 theaters, with 70/30 deals, and kept widening the release. Warners waited a good six weeks until they went wide. But The Exorcist was only a three-'week picture; the audience lost interest before it was available. The Sting, on the other hand, had staying power. It had hung in, week after week, and it had opened in ten times the number of theaters. Not only was The Sting racking up some very impressive figures, but
vi? JULIA PHILLIPS people had started to notice that it was an excellent movie. It certainly didn't send you out in the street unsure whether to hit a church or a bar, as The Exorcist did. And Warners had a crack at The Sting and turned us down. We'd made damn sure John Calley and Dick Shepherd came to the one screening Universal permitted us before the release of the picture. As they were walking out, I collared Calley, because I knew how much it annoyed him, and asked him how he liked the picture. 'I'm going home to slash my wrists,' he said. Good. Supercilious motherfucker. It would be them or us tonight at the Awards. Michael and Tony had spent weeks aggravating over whether The Sting would win for Best Picture or not. They had practiced speeches, how they would stand up, their walks to the stage. I hadn't dared to contemplate the possibility of winning. I was not a big believer in the power of positive thinking, although I had gone to college with Norman Vincent Peale's daughter. Didn't wanna put a mojo on it; didn't wanna tempt the evil eye. I translated all my anxiety into finding a dress. Joel Schumacher was my fashion consultant. We agreed I was a New York girl, most comfortable in black, and since so many Californians dressed in colors, that I would probably stand out. Where I got the chutzpah to think I might stand out at such a gathering I don't know. We traipsed from store to store and I would try something on and I would say, 'Now if I win? .' .' .' and then see if the dress was comfortable to walk in, and he would pull at a strap and say, 'Now, when you win? .' .' .' We finally settled on a black spaghetti-'strap number by Halston at Giorgio's, a long strand of pearls, and a double feather boa made up of guinea hen and black ostrich feathers. I was still, six months after Kate's birth, a little wide in the hip. Joel was adamant that I should wear beautiful black sandal-'heels but I couldn't find any tall enough. I needed height. I ended up buying a pair of giant platform shoes from Fred Slatten. Black satin with rhinestones. They stayed hidden under the dress and they definitely gave me
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN'vii height. They also filled me with the quiescent fear that I might actually fall off them on global TV. A toss-'up, looks or safety. The hips won out. TRANCAS, CALIFORNIA April 2, 1974 I wake with a shudder at six thirty. The sun creates hot bounce on the sky/sea horizon. It is quite a sight, but I take this view for granted. Without pausing a moment in sincere appreciation, I automatically pop a diet pill. Bad move. Within twenty minutes, I'm dancing around the sandy living room, neatening up. I run along the beach, take a perfunctory dip in the freezing-'cold Pacific, race indoors for a brief hot shower. When I hit the bedroom, Michael is standing on his head, yoga-? style, in the corner of the room. 'I gotta pick up my tuxedo,' Michael says, still upside down. The veins in his temples explode and contract on each syllable. Upstairs, I hear Kate's first baby-'musings for the day. Sonya heats formula in the kitchen. I can smell it. I don't know how Kate can stand that shit. 'Good, that'll give me time to be nervous all by myself. Maybe Sonya could take Kate out for a while.' As in: I. NEED. MY. SPACE? .' .' .'? Within the hour, they're toast. I lay out some coke on a small mirror. Secret stash. Mine. Michael doesn't even know I have it? .' .' .'? that's how it's gotten. I chop it lightly with a razor. It falls apart like butter. This is good coke. Smooth. I do a hit, then another. I roll a joint and smoke it out on the deck. Less than a hundred yards from me, the ocean beats down in heavy waves against the sand. I pace, my heart beating in triple time to the waves. I watch the postal van ease its way toward our mailbox, and I vault over the deck and scramble down the hill to meet it. The mailman has a stack, bills mostly, junk mail addressed to Occupant. Sandwiched between the telephone bill and the latest issue of Time is a
viii? JULIA PHILLIPS small blue envelope. The handwriting addressing Michael and Julia Phillips is familiar. I tear open the envelope as I return to the house, yelling 'Thanks? over my shoulder to the mailman's wishes for our good luck that night. The letter is short and pithy, my favorites: Dear Michael & Julia: In a few days, you will be getting cards and letters and telegrams from everyone, so I wanted to get in what I had to say now. The important thing to remember is that you are nice sweet people. You are about to have a lot of temptation thrown your way, so try not to forget that. Love, John Maybe too pithy. The letter upsets me; just now, Michael and I are nice sweet people to everybody but each other. Marriage? .' .' .'? Here today, gone today. I pop half a Valium and look at my shaking hands. Shut up, I tell them. When they do, I set about the arduous process of blow-'drying my hair, then spicing it up with a curling iron. I swallow another three Valium halves and recurl my hair as a chaser each time until it is time to get dressed. After I'm dressed, I have a little coke as a chaser for all that Val out of my secret stash. I don't offer Michael any. It would provoke a fight. I'm not into fighting with Michael tonight. Universal has been kind enough to provide a limousine for us and Tony and Antoinette Bill, and David Ward and his wife, Chris. When I first met Antoinette Bill, everybody called her Mrs. Tony. Her given name was Antoinette, but she had gone under the name Toni all her life. Tony, who was in actual fact n? Gerard Anthony Bill, was also called Tony. Somehow, Tony stayed and Toni became Mrs. Tony. I, of course, was outraged. 'You sound like his chattel,' I told her at lunch at Ma Maison one day. I had just had my lip and legs painfully waxed by Charlotte at Elizabeth Arden's, which was making me bristle. The fact that Patrick had the restaurant wrapped in polyethylene, something my fa-
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN'ix ther participated in inventing, and that it was a hot day with too little air conditioning, might also have added to my dyspeptic world-'view. 'Isn't there something else I can call you'? She smiled. 'Well, my real name is Antoinette, but I always thought it was pretentious.' 'Maybe when you were ten, but you're a grown-'up married lady now with two kids and a husband named Gerard who likes to be called Tony, not that I blame him. I'm gonna call you Antoinette from now on. Okay'? I still asked permission in certain matters? .' .' .'? She grinned and flushed. 'Why not? What the hell!' She laughed and toasted me with a glass of dry white wine. I started calling her Antoinette; pretty soon some other people started calling her Antoinette; after a while everyone but Tony called her Antoinette. One day she went out and had her checks, credit cards, license, passport''everything identifying her''changed to Antoinette Bill. I felt as good that day as I did the day Michael's mother, Sherry, started getting paid for finding the dresses that Michael's father, Larry, knocked off in his lower-'priced dress line. I was a fucking one-'woman consciousness-'raising session? .' .' .'? Michael and I have to be the first to leave because we're in Trancas, which is as far away from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as you can be and still live in the county of L.A. David and Chris live in Topanga Canyon, so we pick them up on the way into town. There is something very silly about being all duded up at three o'clock in the afternoon, sitting in the back of a stretch limo, but the door will be closed, the Academy has reminded us in numerous missives preceding the event, at six thirty promptly. We have already split up Bill/Phillips Productions and there's bad blood between Tony and us. This isn't to become known until we are. Tony decides to drive himself and meet us there. He doesn't want to be Hollywood and arrive in a limo. If you ? really feel that way, I think, why go at all? Because we're going to win. This concept makes me as nervous as the thought of losing.
x? JULIA PHILLIPS A limo provided by the studio for the producers and the writer is a truly grandiose gesture, given all previous behavior by Universal. Basically we have been treated as a nasty inconvenience to be just barely tolerated. By Zanuck and Brown. By George Roy Hill. Mostly by those who live in the Black Tower, sometimes referred to locally as the Black Mariah, the reflector-'sunglass mausoleum that houses all the Universal Executives, both living and dead. To them, our youth, so chic at some of the other studios, is an impudence. The day the nominations came out, and both those who had made American Graffiti and The Sting, a ubiquitously young group, had snagged an incredible number of honors for Universal, we received telegrams from the top two execs at Universal: Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg. SINCEREST CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST WISHES FROM ALL OF US AT UNIVERSAL FOR TEN ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS, INCLUDING BEST PICTURE, FOR THE STING. LEW R. WASSERMAN Not warm, but essentially correct. CONGRATULATIONS FOR THE ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION FOR AMERICAN GRAFFITI. THE FILM IN OUR JUDGEMENT IS AN AMERICAN CLASSIC AND DESERVING OF ALL OF ITS ACCOLADES. LET'S HOPE THERE ARE OTHER VENTURES THAT WE CAN SHARE WITH YOU IN THE FUTURE. SID SHEINBERG Not warm, and incorrect in all its essentials. I have this image of Sid's secretary: Well, all young people look alike, don't they? I've always wondered if the message Western Unioned to George Lucas congratulated him on the receipt of so many nominations for The Sting. I wonder if he kept his, too? .' .' .'? And now, here we are: Chris and David and Michael and Julia, flying along the Pacific Coast Highway, compliments of Universal Airlines,
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xi to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I have nibbled another half a Val? ium at the Wards'. I've decided it's okay to carry Valium to the Academy Awards. Most of the people in the Academy are from the Valium-'and-'Alcohol Generation. I'm becoming a tad too relaxed behind it, though. Sleepy might be a better word. Need a little hit, I think, as my head lolls around on my neck. Need a big hit, I amend. You have a big hit. The Sting? .' .' .'? Not that kind of a hit? .' .' .''maybe coffee. If nothing else was around. I'm pissed at myself for leaving my secret stash behind. I focus on getting downtown, like that's going to make the drive quicker. By the time we reach the exit to the Music Center, limousines are backed up onto the ramp. Behind us they stack up quickly. Limos to the left of me, limos to the right. A limo! A limo! My kingdom for a limo! It is a boiling-'hot day and all the air conditioners are blasting. The hot and the cold mingles with the poisonous air; the exhaust makes a greenish brown cloud that hangs over us. I feel I am in line for the funeral of the most popular guy in Hollywood. Who could that be, I wonder? .' .' .'? The limousines, the cloud, the heat, make me think: We are all going to die. A thought I have two, maybe three hundred times a day anyway. I concentrate on Life and it makes me realize I have to pee semi-'badly. At the rate we're moving, I won't get to check my makeup. I know the only part of my face that is glowing with health right now is my shiny forehead. It's ridiculous to worry about how I look. There's a long red carpet; it is the only route to the door. The door that closes promptly at six thirty! There are barricades and cops and fans and photographers. Everywhere. We do not rate a flicker. There is nothing quite like being the only unknown in a bevy of luminaries. Unless it is to be the only name at a gathering of nobodies. If I had to vote for the lesser of two evils, as I do for my president, I'd go with anonymity. But I didn't know that then. We walk along that red carpet, graced by Sally Kellerman in front of us and Paul and Linda McCartney behind us. Nobody reaches out
xii? JULIA PHILLIPS to us. No Army Archerd interview. No hail-'fellow-'well-'met interchange with milling celebs. An all-'time Humbler. A year or two before, I'd have been amazed to be here. Now that I am, I can see that the only way to attend one of these events is as a star. We traverse the gauntlet in that casual way that says: I don't care to be noticed. I feel like a walk-'on in a high-'school play. Of course, Tony and Antoinette are here already. We see Tony chatting up Steve Shagan, who's in competition with David Ward for Best Screenplay, and drinking, from the look around his mouth, his third glass of wine. He looks pretty cool in his tux. He looks like he belongs. Shagan insincerely wishes us luck. That's okay, I forgive him. He's insisted we hire Norman Garey, who acts as our lawyer and is truly our friend. I shift back and forth, no small feat on platforms four inches from the ground in the toe and probably six in the heel. It gives me the illusion that I am taking steps, presumably away, from a situation that makes me uncomfortable. People are chatting, waving, drinking. Mostly they are checking their watches. I have felt the same palpable heat of anticipation on only two other occasions: The Band of Gypsies concert, New Year's Eve, 1968. Probably the last live Jimi Hendrix performance. The Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden in 1969. The tour that ended at Altamont? .' .' .'? People make their way to their seats: Apparently NBC or the Academy, whoever is running the show, expects The Sting and The Exorcist to run neck and neck because nominated personnel for each film fill up the first three rows on opposite sides of the aisle. Gives me pause about Price-'Waterhouse. The very first production number features Liza. She's fabulous. Getting to be a real show stopper. Like Mama, which is what she always calls her famous mother. She's been Tony's friend for a long time, and Michael and I have met her a few times: once or twice, in fact, as a guest at our house at the beach. We introduced her to Redford out there. When she finishes, she winks at us. The ordeal we're
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xiii about to endure for the longest hours of all my hours seems a bit more personal, more friendly. To be perfectly fair, though, I had been partaking from a panoply of mood enhancers, stimulants, and depressants all day. Every once in a while, I would strike upon the perfect chemical combination: for Oscar night it's been a diet pill, a small amount of coke, two joints, six halves of Valium, which makes three, and a glass and a half of wine. So far. I have a warm and comfortable feeling of well-'being. This is greatly enhanced by The Sting picking up some awards. Best Editing. Best Music. Bill Reynolds and Marvin Hamlisch make nice acceptance speeches. They even thank us. Best Screenplay! David Ward, our pal, has won! My heart begins to samba in my chestal cavity. I hope it doesn't embarrass me by exploding. At least not before we win. If we win. I can barely hear David's acceptance speech over my internal din. Booma'lacka Booma'lacka? .' .' .'? One of the TV crew rushing around in front of me slips on some cable and steps on my foot. Hard. Just keeps going, too. Doesn't even apologize. He's with the team telecasting the event to one hundred million people or so, and he has more important things on his mind? .' .' .''he's only behaving the way everybody in The Business does: all is sacrificed on the altar of the show. Hey, whatever's good for the project? .' .' .'? If you're fucking over your partner for the good of the project, that's different from just plain fucking him over. In fact, if you're fucking him over just for the hell of it, but you can make it seem like it's for the good of the project, you're applauded for being 'professional.' This poor son of a bitch is hurting my toes because they're in his way. He has to step on my feet for the good of the show. He does it to me several times during the course of the festivities; I'm finally forced to grab him by his bow tie and browbeat an apology and a promise from him that he won't do that anymore. My mind is starting to wander and my mouth is getting dry and I have to take another nerve-'pee. I know it's okay to get up and walk out because people have been doing it steadily throughout the night.
xiv? JULIA PHILLIPS The reason that we never see this on TV is that the second anybody vacates a seat, one of the staff working on the show, all of whom are dressed in formal attire, sits in the empty seat. I clunk my way to the ladies? room in the Fred Slatten platforms. I promise, Joel, I'll never go against you again. In the fashion department. The bar in the lounge holds Jack Lemmon up. Aloft. As it were. He waves as I pass. He doesn't know me at all. But he waves. Nice guy? .' .' .'? I pee, fix hair, remove shine from forehead, reapply lipstick. Have a hit of coke, which I scrape from the inside of my purse. A little leftover from the last big occasion. Probably New Year's Eve. Swallow half a Valium dry. Check in the mirror. Perfect. I stop at the bar for a glass of water. On the loudspeaker I can hear the nominees for Best Actress being announced. 'We'd better go back in,' Jack says merrily. 'Our time's coming up.' He takes my arm ceremoniously and walks me to the door. When we step through, we are engulfed in darkness. 'Someone's sitting in our seats,' I whisper. 'No problem,' he says vaguely and drops my arm. He ambles to his seat and sits on the NBC stand-'in's lap. It gives me a giggle and the giggle gives me a rush. I edge my way back to my seat in the darkness. It is empty. I study my program. It's just Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Redford's nominated for The Sting, but he doesn't win. Jack Lemmon does, for Save the Tiger, Shagan's picture. Based on our relationship at the bar, I feel personally involved, a tad miffed when he doesn't thank me. Redford doesn't attend and he's assigned Eileen Brennan, a featured player in the picture, to accept on his behalf; I think he should have assigned me, so deep down I'm glad he hasn't won. Even if he is in my movie. I am at the onset of what I think of as my Hollywood Period. Everything about John Huston, presenter of the award for Best Director, is long: the tails of his jacket, his face, his vowels, his speech. He's drunk and hurls invective in a series of unfinished sen-
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xv tences at the audience for a good five minutes. This can be a v-? e? r-'y long time if you're just a category away from knowing if you've won an Oscar or not. Outside of president, or mondomondo rock 'n? roll star, it doesn't get much better for shallow capitalist American youth. 'And they tell the winners, 'Don't take too much time,''? Michael whispers. We laugh and squeeze clammy hands. Finally, Huston reads the nominees for the Best Director. And the winner is? .' .' .'? George Roy Hill. As George walks up the stairs to the stage, he winks at us. I look across the aisle and catch a brief glimpse of Billy Friedkin, nominated as Best Director for The Exorcist. His face seems a twisted portrait. Tentative title: Hatred and Loss. Not his fault. It's a guy thing. During the course of the evening, the atmosphere of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has deteriorated to something fetid, not unlike the air in Tijuana. If you consider that a good portion of the audience is filled with nominees, you can imagine that the losing vibes become more and more profound as the ceremonies wear on. With each passing category, there are more and more''let us call them 'nonwinners'''in the crowd. It's a wonder they can applaud at all, I think. Re: the quintessential Hollywood gathering: incredible glamour'? jewels, furs, limos''accompanied by the stench of loss. David Niven comes out to introduce Elizabeth Taylor, who is presenting the award for Best Picture. Just as she is about to enter from stage right, a streaker cuts in front of her, runs naked across the stage. People shriek and cheer and howl when David Niven says something to the effect that there's a man making much ado about very little. When, somewhat shakily, Liz finally makes her entrance, she receives a standing ovation. As Michael and Tony stand, they button up their tuxedo jackets. 'Just remember Cabaret,' I hiss into Michael's ear as we applaud. It won in all categories last year, but The Godfather won for Best Picture. Al Ruddy kept saying over and over, 'You 'really had us worried there,' and thanked Peter Bart and Bob Evans. Never mentioned
xvi? JULIA PHILLIPS Francis, the fool. Not the greatest public speaker. Not the greatest producer either. Elizabeth Taylor is wearing a pastel sleeveless number. She has lost a considerable amount of weight. She is ample but still beautiful. She reads the nominees in her hushed, quasi-'English voice. 'And the winner is''oh, I'm so happy''The Sting.' I turn instinctively toward Michael and Tony, but they're already out of their seats and on their way to the stage. I toss my purse to Antoinette, per a prearrangement. 'See ya later,' I say, and start to rise. Something is keeping me from getting out of my chair and it is strangling me at the same time. The pearls! They're caught on the arm of the chair. Michael has turned back. I'm ready to propel myself out of the chair and fuck the pearls, but he untangles me instantly. I'm pissed he's had to rescue me. I take a breath and reach out for him. The three of us walk up to the stage holding hands. Liz steps to one side and puts the single award into my outstretched hands. I don't let go of it until it's wrested from me by an Academy official who says it has to be engraved. Her eyes ? really are violet. Tony steps up to the microphone and says something lame about being in the business for twelve years and having made all these friends and all this time in the business? .' .' .''He seems sullen, and his speech has no beginning and no end. His stepping away from the mike is the only signal that he is done, and the audience applauds pallidly. Now it's my turn. I ease my way to the mike. I feel like I'm in a circus, walking on stilts. The lights seem very hot. I'm sweating. I can't see beyond the first three rows. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are sitting next to each other in the first row. I address them. I fix a see-'how-'I'm-'smiling grimace onto the lower half of my face. 'You can't imagine what a trip it is,' I say, 'for a nice Jewish girl from Great Neck to win an Academy Award and meet Elizabeth Taylor all in the same night.'
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xvii Jack and Walter are laughing; so is the rest of the audience. I am enfolded into Liz's very famous cleavage, WHAT! A! RUSH! For somewhere between five and thirty seconds. Michael does a nice wrap-'up boogie about David Ward making it possible and George Roy Hill making it happen. Then he thanks me and Tony for bringing him into this business. We walk quickly into the wings, where Liza and George stand waiting. 'It still sags in the middle,' Michael says to George. Liza kisses us. Liz teeters on very high heels right behind us, those amazing eyes vague somewhere in the middle distance. 'Has anyone seen my glass'? she whispers. No one has. She finds another. Beyond the darkness backstage is the Press Room, which emanates shafts of hot bright light. The group propels itself toward the light, moths toward the flame. Old Liz and old Liza know the bunch to stick with tonight. Most of the pictures in the papers the next day feature Liz and Liza, even though they aren't nominated for anything. Just now, Liza seems buzzed, Liz drunk, and I am getting sad. Wait a second. Is this all there is? I wanna do it over. I feel cheated. Am I wrong to feel cheated? I feel like crying. I wanna go home. Take off my uncomfortable shoes. I wish the pearls had strangled me. I take a morose sip of Liz's drink and it makes my lips curl. E-? e? e-'u-? u-'uw? .' .' .''bourbon. The smell makes me pukey. The flashbulbs flash and the dumb questions commingle in the smoky air. The portion of the evening that we spend at dinner at the Beverly Hilton passes in a blur. Lots of pats on the back and people who ignored us a week before making sure to say howdy and congratulations. Hey, life's a trip? .' .' .'? and then you get there. Several days before, Frank Konigsberg, a heavy-'duty agent in television at ICM, decides he's throwing us a Win Lose or Draw party. Frank has a house high on Miller Drive, where if you turn three hundred degrees your eyes are filled with both the Valley and La
xviii? JULIA PHILLIPS Cienega views. The city at night stretches around you, a land of light; from this high up it looks as if something is ? really going on down there. I wonder if attendance would be so high if we had lost. We get out of the limo and walk toward the house and all Young Hollywood rushes us: Howard Rosenman ('You've given a lot of people hope'), Ron Bernstein ('Jewish girl from Great Neck''you'll go down in the annals of Oscardom'), Don Simpson ('I've got some good blow for you upstairs'), John Ptak ('J.P.'), Andrea Eastman ('Big J!'), Paul Schrader (unintelligible, spoken into armpit), Steven Spielberg, Peter Boyle, Michelle Phillips, Larry Gordon. Kisses, kisses, kisses. Behind them, hundreds of yet-'to-'bes fill the house. Michelle is first out the door. Michelle is always first; it is her special gift. She dances around us jubilantly. Once inside, Michael, Tony, and I quickly separate. Hey, it's the seventies. There's the party downstairs. Hi, howya doin', getcha a drink? Laughter. Bass line. Then there's the party upstairs. Guys. Drugs. Silence. I'm upstairs in a jiff. In all the fuss, I've heard Don's voice the most clearly. Need a hit. Simpson, Schrader, and Schrader's agent sit on the edge of the bed, passing around a gram bottle. In the half-'light of the room, I can see coke lines forming around their mouths and under their cheeks. Why does that hardening always improve a man's looks, I wonder. And hurt mine. They pass the bottle to me; I do two unsatisfying snorts per nostril. The coke is mediocre. Cut burns its way up my nose. I make a face. Generally, I don't like taking other people's drugs. For many reasons, not the least of which is you never know what you're getting. More important: with drugs, it's always better in the power equation if you give rather than receive. Particularly if you're a woman. Particularly with coke. 'I'm going downstairs,' I blurt, and I'm out the door. Antsy, I keep moving through and around people. I feel the incessant pounding of a heavy rock bass line coming from somewhere far away. Probably the next room. It syncopates with the throb of excitement around me.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xix Now I'm being hugged and congratulated by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. Joan wraps herself around me gracefully. In her profound childish whisper, sadly, 'I'm so happy for you.' 'Darling,' John bellows. They are drinking. I remember the first time I had dinner at their house. I'd let John Dunne mix my drinks. By the time the main course was served I was on my knees in the bathroom throwing up into the toilet. Jews shouldn't drink, I thought. Jews were not meant to drink. Drugs, money, sex, and dancing they could be good at, but rarely drinking. You had to learn that from childhood. Since I was in their bathroom anyway, I checked their medicine cabinet. I always like to do that in a new house. Outside of my mother's, it was the most thrilling medicine cabinet I had ever seen. Ritalin, Librium, Miltown, Fioranol, Percodan? .' .' .''every upper, downer, and in-'betweener of interest in the PDR, circa 1973. 'I got your letter this morning,' I say to him as he hugs me warmly. He blushes. 'I've got it in my purse,' I lie. I move off toward the bass line. 'You don't 'really'? He's very pleased. He shouts after me but I'm out of verbal range. I turn, I nod, and I keep going. Michael and Tony and I converge in the front hall of the house. What time is it? I want to know. Three thirty, Michael says. He is the only one wearing a watch. 'Let's hit it!' we say simultaneously. We've been split for months and haven't hung out much; tonight hasn't been a terrifically connecting experience, but here it is. Another case of three-'way mindlink. It has kept us going for longer than we should stay. And here in this stranger's front hall, at a party that this stranger is throwing for our victory, we experience that mindlink again. 'I'll just get my purse,' I say, escaping the moment by running up the stairs. Just one little hit for the road. Something to take away this sad little feeling. The boys haven't moved from the edge of the bed. 'Anything left''
xx? JULIA PHILLIPS 'Sure,' Don says coldly, and hands me a glassine package that must have held an eighth at the beginning of the evening. The gram bottle has been retired, out of stash, probably hours ago. I stick the fingernail of the pinky on my right hand into the bag carefully. It feels grainy. Like sand. I am just a speck of sand under the fingernail of a larger being? .' .' .''This is not my favorite way to do coke. Maybe I just don't like sticking my finger up my nose in front of people. I do a hasty two and two. Kiss them in the general vicinity of their cheeks. Grab my purse. Leave. Michael, Tony, and Antoinette are in the limo already. 'Where did David and Chris go'? I realize suddenly I haven't seen them for hours. 'Chris got pissed off because David was getting too much attention,' Michael says. 'They left hours ago. Harry took them home.' Somewhere during the course of the evening, we've gotten on a first-'name basis with the limo driver, probably after we won. Why should the limo driver be different from anyone else in Hollywood? When we drop the Bills off, we hug and kiss and feel warm toward each other. Michael and I huddle together in the backseat and Harry zooms up the Pacific Coast Highway. It is nearly five ay-'em. Dawn is coming on. We're hitting the beaches of Puerto Vallarta today. This afternoon. 'Should we bother to sleep'? I ask. 'Nah. Let's pack and split.' 'I'm not gonna take anything with me.' Michael knows I mean no drugs. 'Good idea,' he says. We'd had some end-'of-'a-'long-'night-'doing-? coke fights. Nothing heavy, just enough to be scary. Ugly epithets exchanged. Perhaps a crystal piece or two thrown against a wall. A long day, here and there, of silent tears. 'Good idea,' I repeat, trying it out. It doesn't sound too threatening. 'Definitely using this time to clean up,' I say. We'll be staying a week, per a plan we made together in happier times, not so long ago.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xxi I'll pass through my thirtieth birthday in five days, on foreign soil. I just hope I won't be deathly ill by then. I always get sick in Mexico. I sit up. The sun creeps over the edge of the waves. It splashes the sea with an astonishing kaleidoscope of phosphorescent hues; an acid vision on the natch. Flashback to the first time I tried acid: I sat next to a pool for hours, completely enveloped in the changes on the surface of the water. When we get home, we watch the sun come up, then fall asleep in our clothes. I awake with a start to the harsh persistent ringing of a phone. From its peremptory tone, I assume it is my mother. I pick up the phone anyway. Surprise! 'Well, well, how do you do,' my mother-'in-'law, Sherry Phillips, chirps. Instinctively I turn to hand the phone to Michael, but I am alone in the bed. 'Just a second,' I say, covering the mouthpiece. 'Michael,' I holler, 'your parents.' From somewhere down the hall in the living room, I hear him cooing to Kate. He picks up the other extension. Michael's parents tell us how proud they are and how excited they are and how cute we looked. Very supportive, everything one could ask for in parents. But I don't respect them, so their support doesn't count. I take off my clothes and hang them up. I cream my face and wipe off last night's makeup. I scrutinize my face in the mirror. I look a hundred years old. I swallow a diet pill and head out to the garage. I retrieve our one decent suitcase from a pile of stuff that we've shipped from New York City but never unpacked. Peter Boyle, who is renting Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt's house down the block, is walking slowly, deliberately, up our driveway. He looks like someone with a lot on his mind. When he sees me, he shoots me a reluctant smile. Wordlessly he takes the suitcase from me. 'Soooooo, whaddya think'? I ask as he lugs the suitcase down the hall to our bedroom. Sonya is making the bed. She smiles at me, something she does rarely. I guess she's proud. 'I need some coffee,'
xxii? JULIA PHILLIPS I say and point Peter toward the living room. Let's join Michael and Kate and leave Sonya to her chores. Peter hugs Michael. Kate gurgles up at him. 'So, whaddya think'? Michael asks. 'I think that you should prepare yourself for a real education,' Peter says seriously. 'You're about to lose a lot of friends.' 'Why'? 'Because people ? really like you best when you're struggling? .' .' .'? when you're on the way up.' Michael and I are shocked into silence. 'The only thing they like better is if you're on the way down. That's the only way you have to go now.' 'Hey, c'mon,' Michael protests. 'We're nowhere near where we plan to be.' 'I'm just telling you the awful truth.' Peter shrugs. 'But, hey, what the hell do I know? .' .' .' The phone rings sharply. This time, no question, it's my mother. Both my parents are on the phone. They start out very excited. They liked the speeches. They want to know everything about the evening. 'I presume you wore the chicken feathers because you thought they were glamorous,' my mother says sourly. 'What are you going to do for an encore'? my father asks. Is this to be a stereophonic assault? 'Some women were talking about your speech in the elevator this morning,' my mother adds, just for encouragement, 'and decided you must be the daughter of someone in the business? .' .' .' Hey, where's my congrats? Oh, I guess they forgot. And what about the L-? word? It isn't mentioned, although the call is a long one. Not once? .' .' .'? For the next ten days, Michael and I try to reconcile in Puerto Vallarta. I sit in the sun too long and get a rash all over my body, necessitating a house call from a local doctor, who administers a shot of cortisone amidst a torrent of Spanish. I return with an arcane flu, which swells just about every major lymph node in my system, and spend the next six weeks in solemn retreat in my bed.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? xxiii When it passes, I go back to work with a vengeance, ignoring Kate, ignoring Michael. Ignoring, most of all, myself. I do things that are harmful to my health. I drive too fast. I alter my consciousness with whatever is around, usually pot and coke, constantly. I openly tempt losers and bad guys and comedy writers. Over the next couple of months, my relationship with Michael deteriorates beyond redemption and we separate. July 29, 1974. It is just two days before our eighth wedding anniversary. Everything that rises must break up? .' .' .'? Title Up:
RANDOM HOUSE NEW YORK
2017 Random House Trade Paperback Edition Copyright ? 1991 by Ruthless Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Random House and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC, in 1991. ISBN 978-'0-'399-'59090-'0 Printed in the United States of America on acid-'free paper randomhousebooks.com 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3 1 Book design by Elizabeth A. D. Eno
What is truth, said jesting Pilate, and did not stay for an answer. ''Francis Bacon, circa 1600 The truth changes from moment to moment. ''Joel Schumacher, circa 1974 Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of, and me from, guilty people, places, and things? .' .' .'? the truth remains substantially intact.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN
BENEDICT CANYON, CALIFORNIA 1989 She watched herself watching her nails dry and the news washed over her, a litany of chaos, lies, and despair. Am I the only one who notices the swastikas outnumber peace symbols on the Wall tumbling down on my TV? Yeah, guys, fight for the right to buy jeans, she overheard herself add. Long before attending therapy-'school and learning the observing ego, she often out-'of-'bodied Life and viewed it instead. From a safe distance. Whatever the fuck that was. Call it a film in progress. As it were. More precisely: a series of scenes, shots, takes, lines, that just needed an editorial vision to become a movie. An epic, preferably, with her as the Omniscient Voiceover. Kinda gimmicky; but then what movie was without its gimmicks? What life, for that matter? She sprayed more quick-'dry solution, the kind that ? really worked, even if it did mutate the skin on her fingers to reptilian scales, and held her nails up to the light. Perfect. If she could just resist the temptation to change a light bulb, feed the cats, or pick a pimple for an-
4? JULIA PHILLIPS other fifteen minutes, they'd be ding-'less. Until she used her hands. Well, nothing's perfect, she amended casually, and focused on the center of the universe that was her nail. Cogito, ergo sum. First person, present. Third person. Past? Yeah, past. As in: incognito, ergo somebody else? .' .' .'? Since they were now telling her that eighty percent of the earth's frog population had died in the last five years, she wouldn't bother with the future anymore. She suspected she had shot her wad on the future some time ago. She'd pretty much passed on the future for a while now. Oh, she'd work on it from time to time, to keep her chops up, but it always came up BLACK? .' .' .'? She closed her eyes for a nanosecond, then: FADE UP with a POP DISSOLVE: Bright shiny RED scorches through. PULL BACK to reveal a well-'manicured NAIL. Another nail flicks under, then pries, then springs a speck of sand. When it falls to the floor it REVERBERATES with a disproportionately macro sound for something so very micro. PULL BACK some more. WIDER: A WOMAN and A MAN, laughing, creating late summer afternoon drinks in her kitchen. WIDER: They are in bathing suits, both in good shape. On closer inspection, she is old enough to be his mother. She is not his mother. She hands him her concoction: vodka, tomato juice, splash of Rose's Lime, fresh lime, ice, straw. he: And what do we call this? she: (looking up at him; smiling) Sunset at dawn? .' .' .'? FOLLOW her eyes? .' .' .'? He swung himself up onto her kitchen counter and said, 'I think I was an abused child.' 'What a surprise,' she said. 'Not by my mom or anything''maybe by a baby-'sitter or something? .' .' .' He grinned, his bonded teeth glittering phosphorescently
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 5 in the light, looked down at his differently colored socks flopping over his combat boots and shot her a direct hit with his pale blue eyes. Hours later in the car, smoking a joint on the way to a club, he would turn to her suddenly and flash his fluorescent smile: 'I think you were the baby-'sitter.' They had engaged in this sort of repartee for a couple of years and she sparred with him over and over for three reasons: one, he was beautiful; two, he was smart; three, she was bored. Experiencing the sort of ennui Mastroianni did in La Dolce Vita. She was going to be forty-'four in a month. 'The same age as the year I was born in,' she would muse, thinking, I was supposed to be dead and over by now. She was born April 7, 1944. In between. Not a War Baby: forty? onefortytwofortythree; not a Boomer: fortysixfortysevenfortyeight. Dwight Eisenhower was Time's Man of the Year; he was in between, too. Her friends? eyes would glaze with lack of connection to the concept. That was probably because all her friends were so much younger than she was. First in her life friends had been contemporaries, then older, then younger. But she had never had a friend like him and she had always been surrounded by smart, handsome men. He was a great big beautiful boy. He was twenty-'five, but he seemed to her, especially from behind, like nineteen, just out of high school. Head on he was devastating: blond hair kept perpetually white by California sun and tanning salons, a girl's pretty, delicate blue eyes, contrasting with the heavy jaw and the high cheekbones of a brutal man. Altogether a pop-'sexual icon for her tastes at least, and she had seen enough stares from others to know they shared her view. Star quality. No doubt about it. Then there was a pretty good brain and a very fast mouth. Then there was her identity crisis. She had had a big career as a movie producer before women did such things, back in the seventies: meteoric rise, then something bad happened; cataclysmic fall, then something worse happened. She sank into drugs. She had always done
6? JULIA PHILLIPS them but with all the money she made she got to drown in them. No other period in her life had been so exquisite. She had cleaned up and returned, but she just couldn't get it together to make a serious comeback. She ran around, she made deals, she sat at good tables in high-'profile restaurants, she even made a movie, but she knew she wasn't in a cruising gear at all. She wasn't drowning, like she'd been during the last days of freebase and the first weeks of withdrawal, but she wasn't swimming either. Her life was like running on a treadmill or riding on a stationary bike; it was aerobic, it was healthy, but she wasn't going anywhere. She had been in this state for so long it didn't bother her. The free-'floating anxiety, depression, and rage felt comfortable, or at least familiar, like an old bathrobe. It blanketed her and kept the world at bay. She didn't do serious drugs anymore but she didn't feel much either, and when she did she usually got the flu. Then she knew she was real because she felt so sick. Sometimes the flu would make her feel like drugs. 'Why did I think this was fun'? she wondered and then she realized the flu was more like the crash than the high. Not the fun part. But the gestalt of the trip anyway. She had finally reached the age where she was more afraid of getting old than dying. Drugs had made her die from time to time and over and over. Wrinkles and enfeebled walking were scarier than expiration. She remembered the second time she met him. The first time had been at Helena's on a Friday night. She was involved in optioning the Vampire books by Anne Rice ('Star Wars for the nineties,' she would tell the yup studio executives, quoting Jeff Berg, who had a gift for that kind of phrasemaking, and they would smile understandingly and pass) and he was in a vampire movie that Joel Schumacher had just put together at Warner Bros. Joel was a better dress designer than director, but that was show biz. Her older, younger friend Stuart introduced them and he tried to chat with her but she was so pissed that someone besides her was
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 7 doing a vampire movie that she didn't focus or listen. Besides, she was on the move and for some reason he didn't get to her at all that first time. She remembered more what she was wearing (an old Thea Porter black-'and-'gold jacket with a flared peplum) than what he was (a funny hat). Remembrance of Vogues past. That was summer. She didn't meet him again for almost a year. She'd just finished locking reels on her little New York movie and she and Stuart were having a Friday celebration at Mortons. 'Yo, Jules, it's Stuart? .' .' .'? are you there? .' .' .'? pick up the goddamn phone? .' .' .' He whistled and like a dog she came running. 'I'm here, I'm here? .' .' .' She pressed stop on the answering machine and it squealed off. 'Wanna go to an uptight screening'? Stuart was in his nervous I'm-'a-'baby-'personal-'manager-'working-'for-'a-'fag-'who-'has-'pedicures-? during-'staff-'meetings mode. Very Friday Night. She laughed. 'I didn't think so,' he said. 'Listen, I gotta take this kid I'm trying to sign: Could I bring him to dinner'? 'Ahhhhhh? .' .' .' She had jet lag and she wasn't into meeting another new person. 'He's dying to meet you? .' .' .''you met him once before with me at Helena's? .' .' .'? he's one of the Lost Boys? .' .' .'? Pleeeeze.' 'Is this going to help you out'? 'A lot.' 'Okay, but I'm not drinking again and I'm dieting.' She had been 114 that morning and was freaked about her weight. It took all her self-'control not to fast. After she had given up drugs her body had gone into a six-'month revolt and she had gained fifty pounds. One day she looked hard in the mirror. With the gray streak in her bangs and the chunky body, she looked like her mother. 'No!' she blurted to the mirror image. Through her drug doctor she found the obesity doctor. She was starting to drag a legion of great and famouses, as she called all the doctors lured by her case, behind her. The obesity doctor, Leslie Dornfeld, was an angry, brilliant ex''
8? JULIA PHILLIPS Green Beret who had shed ninety pounds himself. He was one of a team of five doctors at UCLA who'd invented a space food called Optifast that was making them all a fortune. At first he was reluctant to put her on the fast because he was afraid she would feel so deprived she would drift back into drugs. 'I'll drift back into drugs if I continue to weigh a hundred fifty pounds.' He laughed. 'Listen,' she pitched, 'I'll be your model patient. Big losses are as moving as the big wins. I know, I used to be a compulsive gambler.' 'Okay, okay.' He held up his hands in what she called the heaven salesman gesture. Heaven salesmen were the guys who looked at the ceiling and said things like, 'She wants a size seven''wouldn't I give her a size seven if I had a size seven'? A dying breed lost to the Americanization of the Jews. She fretted about what to wear and tore outfit after outfit apart for two hours before dinner, a thorough workout. She settled on a neutral blue Zoran casual suit, which she finished off with a paradoxically flamboyant rhinestone cowboy belt from a ten-'year-'old shopping spree at Nudie's. And a six-'foot-'long white puckered silk scarf. If she could look in the mirror and laugh, she could go out? .' .' .'? 'Fly low and avoid the radar,' the lady d.j. purred''the one she called Husky*''her voice not so husky anymore. Caution to small planes landing on uncharted airstrips. The drive to Mortons was anywhere from ten to twelve minutes from her house, depending on time of day. If it was early enough, she caught just the end of the Import Show. Some things were never going to change, even though, God knows, she and Husky did. But tell me, Husky, does the music sound the same? Hey, just kidding? .' .' .'? 'Free! huhuhuhuhuhu-'Rock!' Grand Master Flash intoned. She turned it up. So now the blow was headed for the lowah clahsses. Inevitable? .' .' .''Finslander*, the smuggler, nicknamed Fins because * Names marked with asterisks are fictitious.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 9 he liked to travel on water, told her: never send a mode of transport without cargo. So when they flew the guns to South America, what came back? 'Free! huhuhuhuhuhuhuh-'Base!' Duh. She stopped for the light at Santa Monica and Canon and watched a slumpshouldered, malnourished black man push the shopping cart that was the sum total of his life across the intersection. He sported dreadlocks, but he had shaved triangles over his ears and in the center of his forehead. He looked like a homeless Klingon? .' .' .'? 'Don't do it, do it, do it, do it? .' .' .' He glanced in her direction, Afro Travis Bickle. Boy, she thought, as she started to turn left onto Santa Monica, away from him, comes the revolution? .' .' .''What am I gonna do when they invade Benedict Canyon armed with Uzis? Hold up a sign that says: don't shoot, i was empathetic? .' .' .' ? She was only seventeen minutes late. She stepped around her scarf out of the car and handed the ancient Mexican dude five bucks. Just have it in front when I come out. With the engine running. Whenever possible. She imagined there were valets all over town who thought of her as 'T'angk you, missy fi? dolla, hab a ni? deener? .' .' .' I have always depended on the strangers whose kindness I purchase? .' .' .'? and as she turned her back on him to head for the restaurant she thought, again, Don't shoot, I was empathetic? .' .' .'? She walked in and smiled broadly at Rick, who didn't need to show her to her table, it was close, with her back to the wall and a full view of the restaurant. What a great venue, she thought, referring to the restaurant, not the clientele? .' .' .''all pinkwhite, tables far enough away from each other so you were never crowded, ceilings high enough so you could breathe. More important, it was the only place in town where you could maintain a diet. The boys were already there and drinking. Stuart was nursing a martini, her favorite; Brooke was drinking a Cuba Libre, a rum and Coke. 'I used to throw up on those when I was fifteen,' she said, gestur-
10? JULIA PHILLIPS ing with her head. Quick flashback: Harlem in the sixties, smiling black bartender, Johnny Harris ordering two 151 rum & Cokes. Come to think of it, Brooke looked like a neon version of Johnny Harris. Lots of bone structure, slitlike pale blue eyes that had the fire of intelligence, and big fat lips. Johnny Harris had been her fucked-'up boyfriend in college. She had known him three high schools ago and he'd found her in their freshman year when he was at Amherst and she was at Mount Holyoke. She still remembered Johnny Harris's kisses, those soft fat lips on her mouth. She remembered them the second she kissed Brooke. She had gotten through dinner without a drink, although she and Brooke split an order of lamb and a hot fudge sundae in a flirtatious effort to be bad. Stuart got tired and didn't want to go to Helena's but he didn't want them to go either. He got up to make a phone call, a habit he'd acquired from the boss he didn't respect, and left her alone with Brooke. 'I'm not ? really into Helena's myself,' she said. 'Me neither? .' .' .' he looked at her expectantly, an eager pupil. 'And I suppose I'm supposed to invite you to follow me and have a joint at my place,' she said. He smiled, his big horselike teeth, pinkwhite in the pinkwhite-? tableclothed candlelit restaurant. 'Of course, you are? .' .' .''what a good idea.' 'I'm outta here,' Stuart announced. Cranky. Movin? fast. She used to move fast. When she was doing blow. Did anyone do blow anymore? Sure, they did. But back in the closet, back in the bathroom, in the backseat of the car on the way home from the AA meeting? .' .' .'? 'Are we outta here'? 'We're gonna go to Helena's,' Brooke said. What a smooth little liar he was. She stood up abruptly and caught her scarf on one of the chair legs. She choked unglamorously and flashed on Isadora Duncan. The scarf was going to look like it had been stepped on. She
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 11 didn't like near-'strangulation. She'd experienced it quite a few times and each incident ran brightly through her mind. Incandescent with psychedelia: There was the time when she'd held her friend Dominique and her brother above a whirlpool in the ocean off Fire Island as grownups rushed to their aid. When she was eight her tonsils swelled up overnight, so she awoke gasping for air. She couldn't swallow and she could barely breathe. It was the middle of a blinding winter blizzard. The doctor walked twenty-'six blocks through the storm and the snow and performed emergency surgery on the kitchen table. Mostly she remembered the ether''the smell''then the many-'colored concentric fish surrounding, and circling into a tiny dot of? .' .' .''what? The Void? The doctor kept the tonsils to show her. They were the size of walnuts. They looked a little like walnuts. Then there was Jeremy*. Breaking through her bedroom door like a gorilla, smacked out of his mind. Powerful hands on her, throat squeezing. Her wheezing out Help! realizing she wasn't breathing, realizing that she wasn't strong enough to inhibit him even a little. Then him jerking back on the waterbed, rolling and shaking. She got him out of the house by talking to him loudly and sternly as if he were a large, dangerous dog. He sat down on her front step and wept. She called Michael, he called the police, and they arrived at the same time. Nobody pressed charges. The cops took him home. They told her, 'Look, he is going to try to get in touch with you or see you. If you don't want this to happen again then don't ever see him or speak to him again.' They were right. He called. He wrote letters. He pressed the button on the call box in her driveway. She spent five grand on a burglar alarm system. Two grand to electrify the gate. He never ? really went away. Friends would tell her, 'I ran into Jeremy at the Imperial Gardens.' Or, 'I think I saw Jeremy at Fred Segal? .' .' .''he looked awful.' Since Jeremy was one of the top five great-'looking men she had met in her life that meant he was still slamming? .' .' .
12? JULIA PHILLIPS ? ? ? 'Hollywood is a funny place,' she said to Brooke as she rolled a perfect joint. 'There are a lot of gorgeous young guys here. Some of them get to be stars and some of them get to be just another beautiful junkie.' She lit the joint and passed it to him. He sucked in the smoke and held it down a long time. 'I wanna be both at the same time,' he exhaled. 'There's that, too, but you won't thank me for it.' They bantered and passed the joint and the time. She went to the kitchen and got some grapes. He laid his head back against her mattress as if he owned it and dropped grapes into his mouth. 'Nectar,' he sighed. 'Pure nectar.' Twenty minutes later, he was gulping down milk, a home remedy for the violent reaction he was having to the trace of pectin in the grapes. 'But if you knew you were allergic to grapes, why did you eat them!' She was yelling at him. She barely knew him, but she already cared enough to yell at him. 'They tasted so good? .' .' .''couldn't help myself? .' .' .' She tried to remember what it was like to be twenty-'five. Was she twenty-'five yet? 'You're the biggest kid I know,' Stuart had said with affectionate reassurance during dinner when the conversation moved into age, as it inevitably did with her these days. When, exactly, had she become middle-'aged? Probably the day she knew that she would never ever again do cocaine. That had been eight years ago and she had only been thirty-'six. When she'd turned thirty-'five someone had sent a telegram that said only halfway home, and she, the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland sucking on her hookah, laughed 'not a chance? behind a cloud of white, cocaine-? laced smoke. Had she given up her youth when she dropped the big? C? For the first three years she dreamed about freebase every night. Whatever short part of it that she slept. Much less dreamed. The shimmering white dust igniting and liquefying into amber, circling
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 13 down the stem of the pipe to be collected and rewashed into another higher substance later? .' .' .'? the smoke? .' .' .'? the taste? .' .' .'? the high? .' .' .'? She would wake up sweaty, with her ears ringing, her heart and head and groin pounding with fear and excitement. Gradually the dreams diminished. First the high was gone, then the taste and smell. Finally the dreams themselves. Sometime in the middle of her fourth cokeless year, she woke up one morning knowing she'd never do it again. She felt angry and stopped eating. Then she got very, very sad. Finally she descended into the kind of deep grief most people experienced with the death of a lover or a friend or a child. She went in on a wholesale buy of a hundred Lemon Quaaludes and immediately abused herself with her share. She hadn't done any serious drugs for three and a half years and all of a sudden, without any conscious moment of choice, she'd fallen off the wagon. Hard. Two or three quacks and a martini or two. She either got blitzed and then depressed or sick and then depressed. It was in such a state that she and Richard Baskin went to see The Big Chill and she became suicidal. She never knew if the movie itself got her so extreme or if it was more because Larry Kasdan, who was an ambitious babe when she was a young Hope of Hollywood, was now a Major Film Maker. At any rate, she started to do the long sleeps of depression that she recognized from the period in college just after Michael broke up with her. And to drive very sloppily, which in L.A. increased your chances for death at least a hundred-'fold. Finally she went to see Ron Siegel, who had become pretty famous for curing her of freebase. 'I think this could be biochemical,' she told him disconsolately, thinking of her mother's alphabetized medicine cabinet. 'I agree,' he said in his nasally professorial way. 'All the drugs are about you medicating your own depression.' 'At least when I did coke I got to be manic sometimes,' she said wistfully. 'Maybe I need to be thinking about another route.' She sighed, some part of her giving up.
14? JULIA PHILLIPS 'Look, Julia, there's a guy named Ozzie Janiger I'd like you to see? .' .' .' 'Ah, another great and famous? .' .' .' She recognized his name from Timmy Leary's book Flashbacks. 'He's the one who gave Cary Grant acid so he could be straight? .' .' .'? He's a true pioneer and a major force in the area of antidepressants.' 'I ain't doin? Lithium,' she said. '? 'Member Reice Jones, Mr. Langley Porter? .' .' .' 'Yeah, he diagnosed you as suicidal? .' .' .' 'Well, it would've been a self-'fulfilling prophecy if I'd let him take care of me: first, take me off the coke that's making me manic, then treat me for mania and get me down as I'm sinking into depression? .' .' .' Ron Siegel stayed dispassionate and intellectual with her, which was how he'd first gotten her attention. 'Ozzie Janiger was one of the first guys in the thirties into antidepressants. You think this is biochemical. Go see the man who pioneered this shit.' With her half-? hearted assenting wave, he called Janiger and made an appointment. The guy was over on La Cienega and San Vicente. 'I'm telling you,' Ron said, as she got up to wend her way to the next great and famous, 'give up smoking and start running. You'll get higher than you ever did on drugs.' She saw Janiger right away, who put her on Norpramin 25 and 0.5 mil. Xanax. She loved that Xanax was the same spelled forward or backward. Made you feel it had you covered either way. 'Together they make a pretty good pill,' he said. He looked like Ed Begley and smelled stale but he had a pretty good riff. 'This sort of depression isn't rare among Jews from New York,' he started. Well, okay, if he wanted to simplify, but she was pretty sure her mother would be rolling violently in her grave over that one. Deep down neither one of her parents ? really qualified as what people thought of as New York Jews, but strictly speaking, that's what they were, and she was prepared to go along with that assumption if it was going to prevent her from killing herself.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 15 'First, there's the biochemical predilection,' he continued. Ooh, predilection, that was good. He was grabbing her the way Siegel had. Intellectually. 'Then, there's the psychology reinforcing it.' He almost couldn't spit out the end of a pretty good sentence he was so short of breath. She lit a cigarette, probably subconsciously hostile, and hoped he didn't die of emphysema before he stopped her suicidal cravings, let alone this wonderful meeting they were having. Or were they taking this meeting? He had mentioned the Gubers as people that he knew in her business. Whatever the fuck that was? .' .' .'? 'I just want to get you into the Up Elevator and out of the Basement.' Bravo! It was the use of the word basement that got her. This recent acquaintance understood her surroundings. 'Have you had thoughts of suicide'? 'Doesn't everyone'? 'Yes, but some are more serious than others. Jews like passive suicide. Goyim blow their brains out. Jews like to drive into trees.' 'Jews like to plant trees? .' .' .' 'That's so that they're there for them to drive into when they want to die before their time.' 'Well, if they die''even by killing themselves''isn't that their time'? 'No, suicide is an aberration? .' .' .' 'I'll try the pills. I like that Xanax is spelled the same backwards and forwards.' She didn't want to have the suicide/fate discussion right now. For weeks she'd been feeling as if someone or something was fucking with her norepinephrine levels. She was exhausted from the effort to stay alive when she wasn't motivated. Like an involuntary reflex, Kate's face flipped onto the vid-'screen she carried at all times in her head. It used to be a movie screen, but that was in the seventies. It was the don't-'kill-'yourself-'it'll-'fuck-'her-'up-'for-'life picture. It was always what 'saved? her so she could survive and move to the next level of? .' .' .''what? Consciousness? Understanding? Pain? Or was it with consciousness came understanding which led to pain? ? Really made you want to keep on going.
16? JULIA PHILLIPS But in fact, the Xanax and Norpramin worked. She gained weight and got constipated, but she also fell asleep around two in the morning and slept till eight, occasionally without interruption. She even dreamed from time to time. Benign, floaty dreams. Everybody told her how glad they were that she was back, that the danger was over, that she wasn't dead. Hell, she'd survived a half an ounce of freebase a day and two homicidal boyfriends. Not to mention the tender care of her mother. What chance did a suicidal depression have with her? The pills made her tired all the time. And foggy. The cloud over her head drifted inside it. When she looked into her eyes in the mirror, one of her favorite lifetime pastimes, they looked muddy and uninteresting, and she'd turn away. Was this what 'better? was? Her favorite drug buddy, Mara*, who gave up freebase with her, said one day, 'Maybe you should exercise. You know, they've been doing a lot of studies? .' .' .''when you do aerobics or pump iron your body releases natural drugs called endorphins. They're supposed to bliss you out and cheer you up.' Well, she was all for that. She called the personal trainer Mara's trashy fashion friends all favored, Rebecca Eastman, a handsome six-'foot person from a farm in Iowa whose claim to fame was that she had gotten Lily Tomlin into shape for the one-'woman show that was now wowing them on Broadway. Rebecca's star was rising with Lily's. Maybe she was good with comeback types. Rebecca showed up one hot August afternoon with a perfect blond, blue-'eyed specimen named Glen three paces behind her. Glen had the wild look in his eyes that was usually sported only by stuntmen and acid casualties. Could he be experiencing an endorphin rush? Maybe there was something to this exercise shit. If she could have his hips, she would take the shoulders, even though she thought them too broad for a woman. Rebecca was hard-'edged and empathetic at the same time. She came equipped with a detailed questionnaire and a tape measure. Rebecca was impressed with her credits, some of her favorite movies, Rebecca said. Mine, too, she thought, but she was more impressed at
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 17 the moment with her measurements. When it got to hips 38", she thought, I am doing this just in time. 'Any drugs'? Rebecca asked. She felt like saying, 'Define your terms,' but instead she said, a bit apologetically it seemed to her, 'I do have the occasional drink or joint.' 'I said drugs,' Rebecca said meaningfully. 'Well, just these mood elevators and relaxers? .' .' .''I ? really hate them? .' .' .'? oh, and birth control pills? .' .' .'? out of habit, I guess.' Rebecca stood up, a towering, athletic figure backlit flatteringly by the festering sun. 'Good,' she said briskly. 'It is good when you're starting out this program to set some goals. We want those hips down three or four inches, we want you on the Pill for a reason, and we want you off those damn elevators.' Exit Ozzie Janiger, enter Rebecca Eastman. It might be a good idea to get off the elevator and onto a treadmill. It might seem like forward motion. As she got into the workouts more, she started to feel better. She stopped the pills, but there were some days when she felt all she did was work out. Then what did she do? Close all the doors and look in the mirror? That was something that she noticed about Brooke. He spent more time looking in the mirror than anyone else she had ever known except herself. She had looked at herself a great deal when she was young, then through herself when she was deep into drugs. Now, even with her improving face and body she still tended to focus on the deterioration: the frown mark between her eyebrows, the coke lines etched on the sides of her mouth, the sagging breasts, the loose belly. Susan Rice, a screenwriter/friend, had once said to her when they were carefree and in their twenties in New York, 'I used to think that you looked in the mirror all the time because you were vain; now I realize that it's just to check to see that you're still there.' A little of both. Which was why she understood his impulse to check himself at every possible opportunity. Like all beauties, he could also look weird, more
18? JULIA PHILLIPS like a creature than a person. Probably most of the time he was trying to figure out why he had such a dynamic effect on people. That first night, after he'd recovered from his allergic attack, smoked another joint, and then drunk some coffee for the drive home, she caught him checking himself out unabashedly in her mirror in the bathroom. 'Look at all these products!' he exclaimed happily. It was true; one hairdresser after another had left more mousse and gel than any straight person she knew had a reason to use. There were the Tenax from her Jose Period, the Kamikaze products from her Peter Nagai period, Aveda Spray Gel, compliments of Daley, and always plenty of Paul Mitchell and Sebastian from Victor. He threw one after another into his hair and pulled it this way and that. In the unforgiving fluorescent light, she noticed for the first time that he had mascara on. She handed him an Andrea Eye-? Q and wrapped her arms around him from behind, peeping her face out and tucking it under his armpit. 'Whaddaya think of the couple'? Reilly O'Reilly* had used that line on her more than a decade before and she had used it over and over since then, always to great effect. 'Dunno.' Then he considered them seriously. 'Very androgynous, very confusing, very eighties.' He was turning around as he said this, and then they were holding each other very tightly, kissing hard, tongues all over each other's faces and mouths. She could feel his heat and his hard-'on against her and her pussy was dripping. What a nice surprise? .' .' .'? For a moment, she thought they might fuck right there on the floor in the bathroom. Something she hadn't done in a long time. But he pushed her away. When he did, she found herself face to face with the dozen or so toothbrushes she still kept in a glass on the counter behind him. Tombstones, Michael Brandon, a movie actor in search of a hit TV series, had called them. Some time ago? .' .' .'? 'Ah, c'mon? .' .' .' she heard herself protesting. Wait a second, was she the guy here'
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 19 'No, I think I'm being very adult,' he said, and she could tell from his face that he was cold sober and meaning it. 'In that case, it's late? .' .' .' 'Yeah, I should hit the road? .' .' .' 'Should we exchange phone numbers'? Her voice sounded small and frail and she hated it. They moved out of the bathroom, and the second they hit the larger space of her oversize bedroom, everything seemed light and cheerful and possible. He pulled her to him and they had a good succulent kiss. This time she broke it and they found a pad and each wrote down their phone numbers. She noticed that when he wrote his name it looked like an autograph. Probably something he had been practicing for years. She started to walk him to the door, and as they passed one of the many mirrors he stopped her and held her there next to him. 'Whaddaya think of the couple'? he drawled. Was he taunting her or did he ? really want to know? 'Dunno yet.' 'Well, we'll see, won't we'? They had reached the space between her room and her office, an addition she'd originally built for drugs. The Oscar stood discreetly in the corner facing the wall, in protest, she was fond of telling people, against the state of movies. He bent down and picked it up. Everybody did. It was so tarnished and dusty he had to rub at it with his jacket to see the credits. She watched his lips move as he read the plaque on the base: ACADEMY AWARD TO 'THE STING? BEST PICTURE OF 1973 A UNIVERSAL''BILL/PHILLIPS'? GEORGE ROY HILL FILM PRODUCTION ZANUCK/BROWN PRESENTATION PRODUCTION, UNIVERSAL TONY BILL, MICHAEL AND JULIA PHILLIPS PRODUCERS
20? JULIA PHILLIPS He replaced it tenderly, and she turned it so it faced the wall again. So many names, so many relationships, so many breakups. She was still the only woman to win for Best Picture. Every year, when Who's Who sent their little bio for updating she'd cross out 'first? and type in 'only,' so she guessed it still counted to her at some level. Out here, that little statue that she had taken to treating so cavalierly ages ago, a lifetime ago, was still what it was all about. Oh, the too-'much, too-'soonness of it all? .' .' .'? She used to take Polaroids of people holding it. For their amusement or hers? She thought of doing it now, then changed her mind. Was she withholding because he didn't want to fuck her? Nah, because it didn't matter to her enough. Nothing did, least of all sex. He started toward the office door. She let him open it and look for a moment. Quite a treasure trove: stained-'glass windows, awards, a bulletin board of the fifties, sixties, seventies, furniture that still bore the burn marks of fires set by propane torches that she kept lit all day, she smoked so much freebase. His eyes seemed to be on fire. She knew he wanted to go into that room and stay there for a while. Like the instinct to fondle the Oscar, it was something that everyone wanted to do. 'Next time.' She smiled and opened the other door, the one that led outside. 'When will that be, I wonder? .' .' .' She heard the uncertainty in her voice, felt like she was eighteen. She would never voluntarily be a teenager again. 'When it's right, it'll happen.' And he smiled his killer smile, flew down the steps, and started up his car. Peeled out of her driveway, negotiating the hairpin turn without a hitch or a scratch. Escaped, and left her on the landing. Thinking about it all. Thinking. The one excitement left. The others''sex drugs money travel clothes jewels art success''living on the edge''had all disappointed her. She was probably lucky they hadn't killed her. So here she was, disappointed but alive, with thinking as the one pastime that was still fun without too much downside. Unless you
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN 21 counted depression, rage, and anxiety as the downside. If they came only in spurts, like happiness did, you could deal. If you were determined. She was nothing if not determined. To do what? Well . . . to think. Cogito, ergo sum, baby . . . Hey, it is what it is. Incogito, ergo sumbody else. It was what it was. I think, therefore . . . I yam what I yam . . . 163 OCEAN AVENUE, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 1948 'I hate this Brooklyn,' I tell my mother, and, from the trembling of her lower lip, I can see she agrees. 'I want to go back to my cute little house in the Village,' I add and start to cry. My mother's eyes well up, but she brushes her tears away. My mother is a beautiful cryer. We are in our new kitchen. It is August in New York at its hot damp worst, and we have just moved from the Village, where my mother and father have enjoyed a glamorous existence, to this Brooklyn place. True, the apartment is big and airy and on the top floor and everyone has his own bedroom, but the neighbors don't seem like my parents? friends in the city. My mother turns away from me to get busy at the sink. Like she loves to wash dishes. I hug her from behind and feel her stiffen. She doesn't like it. She disengages herself from my grip and blows her nose loudly into a towel. She reaches into the corner of the lowest shelf of a nearby cabinet and pulls out her extra large medicine bottle with the orange rectangular pills. She unscrews the top and takes one. She swallows it dry. Lonely, lonely. I run around my room in a desperate attempt to
22? JULIA PHILLIPS fill it with my presence, but I get tired in the damp heat. I wait for night to fall. Some relief from the heat. I hate this heat. I hate this room. I hate this Brooklyn? .' .' . My mother was an immigrant. She came to this country when she was seven, all the way from Russia. With her very old father and his young bride, my mother's mother. My grandfather was a wheat speculator, a wealthy Jewish middle classnik, stuck in the middle of the Russian Revolution. He got his family out one by one. My mother and he and my grandmother were the last. She left Russia when she was four. Long journey. They wandered around the Balkans for two years and ended up in Greece. My mother's father paid for this wandering with huge quantities of precious jewels. From Greece they went to Italy''I don't know how''and landed in Naples. Her father bribed the Secretary of the U.S. Consul and their application for immigration to the United States rose from the bottom of the pile to the top. They boarded a Greek ship and thirty days later they disembarked in New York. My mother and her mother both had malaria, but they got in the country anyway. Her father set about getting them cured. He kept saying, I know this disease, I know this disease, but none of the American doctors listened. Finally he scurried my mother in to see one of them while she was having a fit and she was cured. My mother's mother, a frail, beautiful woman to my mother's recollection, didn't fare so well and died. In her little-'girl arms. My mother's father remarried and my mother didn't like her stepmother. They moved to Monticello because my grandfather had tuberculosis. It was the best weather they could afford with the little money they had left. My mother was regaled in her youth with stories of past wealth and memories of drifting through the Balkans with the family jewels sewn inside the head of her doll. There were no Jews in Monticello except in the summer. My mother, being a native, hated Jews.
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 23 My father's family was one-'half German and one-'half Russian. My grandfather was a Menshevik in the Russian Revolution. My grandmother was beautiful. When he was jailed by the Bolsheviks in 1916 she flirted with a guard and kicked a damaging piece of evidence around the floor, and under a chair, where it remained hidden until two days later when he was released. They fled St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) and walked''walked''to Warsaw. Check it out in the atlas. It's a lot of fucking miles. My grandfather and grandmother came to New York City along with all the other Russian Jewish emigres. My grandfather (now Elias Miller''renamed, no doubt, at Ellis Island) was one of the founders of the Jewish Daily Forward. His socialism was satisfied by most of the New Deal. My mother grew up the youngest'? by seventeen years'? of seven siblings. When her eldest brother died at the age of eighty-'five she was in her mid-'thirties. My mother was estranged from her family, the offspring of four different wives. She did not tend her stepmother when she was dying. She was a very brilliant anti-'Semitic Jew. I don't imagine she ever had a childhood. She made sure I didn't either. Perhaps that was how we developed the habits of introspection''just thinking''early on. My father was born on the exact birthday of his older brother. His older brother told him he was adopted, a birthday present from his parents. He, the older brother, was the only real Miller son. (One of my brother's children was also born on this particular day''August 12, an exceptionally hard-'luck number, for those who play with alternative mythologies.) My father was very smart. He went to Walden and Columbia and graduated at the age of nineteen. He went on in metallurgy. He was a gifted composer and mathematician, but the family was broke. The Depression. He worked on the Manhattan Project nevertheless. He was very, very handsome and not very good at making money. My mother went to New York University on a scholarship. Her family (the older brothers and sisters), who were quite well off, would
24? JULIA PHILLIPS not pay for her tuition as punishment for her not helping her stepmother through death. When Samson (her eldest brother) died she was invited to the funeral, but refused to go on the grounds that she was always invited to the funerals, but never the weddings. I remember her sobbing into the kitchen sink in our large hot apartment in Brooklyn, and saying over and over, 'Always the funerals, never the weddings.' My father tried to hold her vibrating shoulders, but she pushed him away. My mother and father ran with a pretty fast, eclectic crowd (Judy Holliday, Adolph Green and Betty Comden, Henry and Phoebe Ephron, I. I. Rabi and Salvador Dali to name a few) in the thirties and forties in New York City. My mother stole my father from her best friend. My father came to visit the friend and my mother was there. They talked and talked. The friend went to sleep. My mother and father stayed up all night and talked and talked and fell in love. My mother tried to get jobs in the Depression. She wanted to write, but she didn't get the jobs she applied for at The New Yorker or The New York Herald or The New Republic. She ghostwrote some radio plays for a while. Three years into their marriage I was born. My mother stopped ghostwriting horse operas. She was very fond of telling me that at that time one made a choice between career and motherhood. I became her tragedy. And her creative act. My mother had a borderline peasant face in that it was broad. Broad brow, broad cheeks, broad jaw (which was exceptionally square and defined) but her black, deep-'set eyes and her wide smile cut against the broadness. She had gorgeous legs. She was probably a knockout for ten minutes somewhere between twenty-'one and twenty-'five. She had a peasant's chubby hands and the high-'tone comic timing of an aristocrat. My father, on the other hand, possessed a low brand of humor and the looks of an aristocrat. Handsome and elegant''elegant hands, elegant gestures, elegant piercing blue-'gray eyes. My mother and father lived in New York on West 9th just off Fifth
YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN? 25 Avenue. In a fourth-'floor walkup. My father was a metallurgist. He filled out P-? R? O-'T instead of J-? E? W and got a job running a plantation in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Heavies went down there between them. The marriage was lucky to survive that year. They got very involved with the workers on the plantation. They understood why the workers were communists. My father told me stories about the handsome young foreman, a Catholic, who was also the head of the local Communist Party. 'The people, they need a leader,' he told my father, 'or they will all go to hell.' My father and this man had a close bond, as this man almost saved my father's life. My father was caught in a sugar-'threshing machine literally by the seat of his pants and the foreman struggled to stop the machine, when my father's pants ripped and dropped him from the jaws of death. It was cheap fiber that saved his life, but my father always gave points for effort, and this foreman and he got tight from then on. They occasionally got drunk together and did guy things without my mother. My mother was very unhappy in this village. She hated the earthquakes and the rain and the machismo. About a year into this experience my father filled out P-'R-'O-'T instead of J-'E-'W again and landed a job in Research and Development at Standard Packaging. They returned to NYC and settled in the Village village. Two weeks after they returned, the town they had lived in, the plantation, and all the workers disappeared during a quake into a ten-'foot-'wide crack in the earth. Everybody died. 'The people, they need a leader or they will all go to hell.' My father didn't fight in World War II. Instead: He worked on The Bomb. I got to know duck-'and-'cover was a crock of shit when I was eight. Two things I am born with: mobility and insomnia. The ability to move fast and the inability to sleep. The two are linked, I think, be-
26? JULIA PHILLIPS cause people who don't sleep much don't REM much, so they are doomed to dream during their waking hours. The joyful fantasies and the frightful nightmares live in the real world with you; they tend to make you accelerate. Or maybe it is just that my mother transmitted her unhappiness and fear of death to me prenatally. In the placental fluids. I can't sleep because I know I am going to die, and I move real fast on the off-'chance that I can outrun the big D. At least the gravitational pull of my mother's despair. I am born in motion. I know this from baby pictures of me running, me skipping, me dancing, me struggling out of my mother's arms. I am a head-'banger. A classic symptom of retardation say a number of my legion of doctors. I have a theory about this: I am nearly three and extremely motor-'advanced. But I'm not saying a word. No mama, dada, no cat, no dawg''schtum. I seem to understand what is said to me, but I make no attempt to communicate verbally. Except to cry loudly when my parents play me a Woody Guthrie record. Years later, my mother tells me that I must have been a very sensitive child, and was crying because I heard his physical suffering in the music. I think it is that I hated his voice. I start to invent some fairly sophisticated physical entertainment for myself. One rainy afternoon, in a miasma of boredom, I stand up on a rocking chair, just to see what it feels like. I get some pretty powerful back and forth going''I remember the exhilaration of having attained enough speed to create a feeling of air whooshing against my cheeks. Then I crash. The back of my head hits the glass edge of a breakfront''blood is gushing everywhere''then I pitch forward and land head first on the floor, chomping down hard on my front lip with my baby teeth. My lip can't be repaired and still has a funny bump. My head is sewn back together with forty-'nine stitches. And three weeks later I am talking. Not baby talk, but colloquially, idiomatically, and in full sentences. It is as if the bang on the head moves all my neuroceptors two steps up and to the left.