I Used to Be Charming Part One

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on March 26, 2022

My current book is I Used to Be Charming, by Eve Babitz. The plan is to have a multi-part dialogue. IUTBC is a collection of magazine pieces. Sometimes the magazine is as much fun as the story. This is especially true for No Onions, a story about Archie, Veronica, and people who don’t to eat onions. The story was in Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing.

All This And The Godfather Too kicks off the book. Eve gets hired to go to Lake Tahoe, and write about the production. There are magic moments. Eve gets booked into a San Francisco hotel, along with a spy gathering. The phrase employed here is “buggers convention.” When you consider the British meaning of “bugger,” you realize that San Francisco is always a buggers convention.

On page 27, Eve is writing a story for some magazine. She types on single-sided pieces of paper, and writes a number at the top of each page. Eve is an alcoholic space kitten, and forgets page 29. The manuscript goes to Europe. Someone spends $34 to call Eve, and find out there is no page 29. This happens on page 28 of IUTBC.

Mr. Coppola made of ton of money on the first Godfather, and goes around San Francisco buying things. He’s got this office building, which is now a boutique hotel. Mr. Coppola also bought City Magazine, which became a financial quagmire. City Magazine shut down in 1976. Eve said it was not saving the magazine, as much as keeping the Titanic afloat.

Cindy Williams appears at a dinner. She had starred in a couple of movies, and was starting to make a name for herself. The dinner was before Laverne & Shirley. It is fun to read something 47 years after publication, when you know what the author did not know.

I read a 1980 Playboy in the mid-eighties. The article was about the 1980 elections. A press secretary was asked about the zero factor … the way Presidents, elected in years ending in zero, seem to die in office. The man said, this was interesting, but we really are not worried about it. The PS is question was James Brady, who was severely wounded in an assassination attempt on President Reagan.

ATATGT is written for something called Coast magazine. You can buy a copy on eBay for $99. It’s a beautiful magazine, with a drawing of Mr. Coppola on the cover. Eve Babitz is above the masthead.

My God, Eve, How Can You Live Here? appears in City Magazine, “Vol. 8 No. 64 Apr. 30- May 13, 1975 “Inside Los Angeles” Edition.” Eve wrote a survival guide to LA, intended for visitors from San Francisco. “Rent A Car: That’s Rule One.” She calls one road the Raymond Chandler Memorial Parkway. Chandler wrote fun books, about an LA that no longer exists.

My Life In A 36DD Bra appeared in the April, 1976 edition of Ms. Magazine. How this got on the cover of a feminist magazine is anyone’s guess. Eve’s mammaries are part of her aesthetic. “When she graduated from Hollywood High in 1961, Babitz wrote to Joseph Heller: ‘Dear Joseph Heller, I am a stacked 18-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. I am also a writer. Eve Babitz.’ … Babitz wrote a Daisy Miller-inspired novel, which Heller sent to his publisher: it was turned down.”

Her booby broadside has a feminine slant. The men who hit on Eve routinely say that they are really leg man, even when drooling over her chest. Despite sporting enormous breasts, Eve rattles on about how she does not like her ass. This type of anti-feminism can be dangerous. Another article in the April Ms. was TRASHING: The Dark Side of Sisterhood. If you substitute “cancel culture” for “TRASHING,” that article could have been written today.

Eve had her ups and downs, before taking the ultimate downer December 17, 2021. Someone managed to snag an interview in 2019.

LA Mag You went from sex, drugs, and rock and roll to what The New York Times described as a political conservative and supposed MAGA hat owner.
What brought this change about, and where do you stand now?
Eve I never talk about politics. … Although I was so happy [when] my friend Linda [Ronstadt] was going out with Jerry Brown. …
LA Mag All of your writings contain what the press calls “unabashed hedonism.” We’re living in an antihedonist moment now: political correctness and Twitter quash humor/sarcasm/sexual jokes. Sobriety’s rampant. If your books debuted now, how do think they’d go over?
Eve I can’t imagine, and luckily I don’t have to! Also if I were writing now, I doubt the books would be the same. After all, my sobriety is rampant, too!
LA Mag What are you currently doing with your time?
Eve I see my friends; go to [AA] meetings. I am gratefully sober.
I read all the time: books, magazines, everything.

Losing Weight Made Me A New Person—A Novelist appeared in the September, 1977 edition of Vogue. Traditionally, September is the most important issue of the year for fashion magazines.

The story is as much about alcoholism recovery as losing weight. Eve was quite a lush in her day.
Of course, when you knock off the sauce, you eat/sleep/exercise/fuck better, and become a healthier person. And, as we learned in the 36DD story, Eve was already a healthy girl. Never mind that the early alcohol recovery did not last. Eventually, Eve became a cocaine aficionado.

“Her friend Paul Ruscha was once quoted saying, “She’d blown her book advance on coke, fucked up her nose. She called me, begged me to come over. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There wasn’t an inch of floor not covered in bloody Kleenex. The cats were running around high.” … She stopped using in May of 1982. “Everyone has their own reasons for stopping an addiction. It’s hard to say what it is, except you know in your bones that if you don’t stop at the moment you decide, you never will.”

It is traditional for drunken writers … redundancy alert … to talk about the many authors who were raging drunks. Eve even coins a verb … Mailered … to describe this. Stormin’ Norman was as famous for his drunken brawling as his prose. His place in the slobberin’ scribe hall of fame is assured.

When people noticed that Eve was losing weight, and not being drunk all the time, they started pestering her to write a novel. She started pasting notes together. “I thought it was a little greedy of her. After all, I was the one who’d gotten the corpse from the guy in the alley at midnight; now she wanted me to dissect it all by herself, and I hadn’t even finished drinking the blood.”

I was reading the chapter about losing weight in the Walmart parking lot. At one point, I looked up from the text, to see a 300 pound women and her equally porcine husband. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. More “Charming” episodes are available. two three four five

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