What The World Needs Now

Midnight Special Books faces into a busy mall created out of one of the original old streets of Santa Monica. On this particular Saturday, orange-clad hip-hop dancers performed between two topiary dinosaurs, a clown dispensed balloons, two soul singers busked, and women in the crowd showed a preference for zebra-striped platform boots.

Bookstore employees were apologetic about the meager turn-out for the reading, citing the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA as the reason. I appreciated the intimacy of the group and engaged my constituents in an informal discussion. What do we need to live on the earth? Mark, a computer consultant, had found ecstacy by remembering his connection to the spiritual realms. Louis, a holistic healer, said that a positive attitude was imperative for health and survival. David, who is from New Mexico, said that each of us needed to localize our economy--to be able to produce everything needed for survival from our immediate surroundings, and that LA residents are imperiled by their inability to do this. I said that I see people yearning for the physical and emotional closeness of our tribal days as hunter/gatherers, lost as we isolated ourselves first by houses with separate rooms and cradles in the early days of agriculture, and later by the nuclear family grouping created by moving into towns. Often when sex becomes one's only outlet for physical affection and emotional release, it assumes the skewed proportions of an addiction. We need more hugs. The hippies knew that.

Mark, David, Shana and Louis at Midnight Special Books

After the booksigning, I drove to Venice for the soiree in my honor hosted by economist John Stein (who helped found the Green Party), Stephanie Williams (who does marketing for Architectural Digest), and my lifelong friend Susan Heldfond, who counts among the abstruse credits on her resume Head Choreographer for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The twenty guests were similarly gifted--an opera singer who gave up a law practice to devote himself to his art, a Chinese scholar who creates mosaics, the architect who created the thirteen-faceted room inwhich we all sat, a film composer, an actor/chef from Russia, several artists, teachers, writers.

My beautiful friends since birth, artist/actress/dancer Susan Heldfond and artist/teacher/dancer Benida Solow.

Robbie Long, the cartoonist/songwriter I met earlier this month over a lost dog showed up and turned out to be a longtime friend of Susan's. I was thrilled to see my favorite hiking companion, ceramic artist Leslie Doolin, who first introduced me to the crop circle phenomenon (she's even slept in the middle of one). She brought Patricia Murray, the photographer/designer of the crop circle calendars, to the party. Patricia had received Living On The Earth as a gift when she turned twelve and it had been her favorite book. Imagine her surprise to find her name, address and phone number on page 223 of the revised edition!

Actor Leonid (didn't get his last name!), economist John Stein, opera singer Ray Hornblower,
media maven Stephanie Williams, film composer Ron Grant and teacher Patricia Lange

Two ceramic artists meet: Vreni Merriam and Leslie Doolin

Architect Richard Aldriedge and artist Andrea Wittenberg

Two of the guests suggested that I create a workshop for others who want to live out their creative dreams as I am living out mine. I realized that I had, myself, received a valuable transmission of this sort from Julia Cameron's books, and these books are duly noted in the appendices of Living On The Earth. I brought my copy of The Artist's Way to Julia's lecture on Maui, and she signed it, "May your notes (morning journal pages) lead to your notes (the original music you've always wanted to play professionally)." If only she could see me now.

I loved playing my songs for this group. They showered me with love. When I took a break, they networked like crazy, all so happy to meet one another. Susan fed us sumptuously from an Armenian deli. Reluctantly, the celebrants departed John's beautiful home in the wee hours, I, at least, in a state of exhaltation.


So pleased after getting Julia Cameron to sign her book for me, Maui, 1997