By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
We picnicked on the stony riverbed, high up the canyon, where the road ends. It was a beautiful place, with forest precipices towering above us, not unlike a scene in the lower Alps. Garbo, of course, had her special diet with her in a basket. She and Krishnamurti were put next to each other, but they didn't speak much. I think they were both scared.
Krishnamurti was a slight, sallow little man with a scrubby chin and rather bloodshot eyes, whose face bore only faint traces of the extraordinary beauty he must have had as a boy. He was very quiet and modest, and never talked in ordinary company about philosophy or religion. He seemed fondest of animals and most at ease with children. Gerald complained that he got violently upset about trifles -- like catching a train -- and showed little sign of inward calm. Certainly, he didn't impress me as Prabhavananda did; but he had a kind of simple dignity which was very touching. And -- there was no getting away from it -- he had done what no other man alive today has done: he had refused to become a god.
After lunch, most of our party wandered a little further up the canyon, to a place where the forest rangers had built a high wire fence, right across the riverbed, with notices warning against trespass. (I think this was because a dam was under construction, to control the annual floods of the Los Angeles River.) Somebody said it looked like a barricade around a concentration camp. Anita Loos suggested that we should burrow under it, like escaping refugees. It was a rather sinister joke, and the laughter was a bit forced, as several people began to dig, with their hands or pieces of rock. I remember Bertrand Russell holding forth to Aldous on some philosophical topic and digging as he talked, with the air of a father joining in a game to amuse the children. Only, in this case, he was both parent and child.
Inside a few minutes, there was quite a large, shallow pit. Most of us got into it and wriggled under the wire. It was funny to watch how, having done this, people became grown-ups again and strolled off in twos and threes, talking about the war . . .
I held back to the end of the procession, because I wanted to walk with Garbo. I had drunk a lot of beer at lunch, and knew no shame. I only wished my friends could see me. As we started out, Garbo said: "As long as we're on this side of the fence, let's pretend we're two other people -- quite, quite different." "You know," I announced solemnly, "I really wish you weren't Garbo. I like you. I think we could have been great friends." At this, Garbo let out a mocking, Mata Hari laugh: "But we are friends! You are my dear little brother. All of you are my dear little brothers." "Oh, shut up!" I exclaimed, enormously flattered.
I suppose everybody who meets Garbo dreams of saving her -- either from herself, or from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or from some friend or lover. And she always eludes them by going into an act. This is what has made her a universal figure. She is the woman whose life everyone wants to interfere with.
January 4, 1940
Lectured to an English class at the Beverly Hills High, on expressionist drama. The teachers were rather depressing -- hanging on to Culture by their eyelids. The pupils, in their casual, friendly way, were quite responsive. You could catch their attention for about a quarter of a minute at a time. The girls are powdered and painted, elaborately dolled up. The boys dress like tramps -- in a gaudy, ragbag assortment of sweatshirts, lumberjackets, jeans and cords. There is no discipline whatsoever, in the European sense. The lecturer is merely allowed, by courtesy, to speak a little louder than the class. But -- having seen the beautifully planned classrooms, the wonderfully equipped theater, the swimming baths, the gymnasium and the library -- one can't help wondering; how long will this strange homage to education continue at all? The barbarian students are so much more vital than the culture they are supposed to be acquiring. This place is simply a temple to a dead religion. Study has become a cult, fossilized in ritual. Most of the questions they asked me were basically economic in interest. For example: "Can the theater compete with the movies?" When the bell rang, they stopped me instantly, by clapping.
Through the Huxleys, I had met a lady named Claire Stuart, a teacher of hatha yoga. She was a pupil of the somewhat dubious Theos Bernard, who had just gotten himself mixed up in some kind of sex scandal in New York. There was nothing dubious about Miss Stuart, however. She was eminently respectable, and had many pupils who were being taught, on a merely athletic basis, to improve their health and their figures. Miss Stuart was herself, perhaps, a more complicated human being than these youth-and-beauty-seekers. Denny [Fouts] and I felt sure she was a lot older than she looked and we thought we could detect unhappiness and strain beneath the sleek disguise of her suppleness and charm. She had a really amazing body which she could twist and stretch in every direction with the utmost ease.