Dear Diary: Caterwauling


When I first saw the supermarket tabloid headlines about Farrah Fawcett, I thought, but for only a nanosecond, that it was a terrible joke. Then I remembered that this was how Lee Remick died, plus many since. And that is the tragedy.

My principal recollection of Farrah Fawcett is Spalding Gray’s mention of auditioning with her, in Terrors of Pleasure. Check it out; if nothing else, it will suggest why, if you are reading this, you have no future in front of a camera.

As far as Charlie’s Angels goes, I didn’t watch the show very often — I was already well into my TV withdrawal — but, when I did, I was a staunch Kate Jackson fan. I like smart women who keep their clothes on in public. I also like smart men who keep their clothes on in public. There are statues for that! And private rooms for the lucky few.

I once had an argument with a friend that took the strangest turn. He was rather ecstatically remembering the ecstasies of a particularly well-appointed pole-dancing bar in Atlanta. I didn’t get it: I don’t want to look at anything that I can’t touch. This is, it seems, a minority view. Lots of people really do like window shopping. Pas moi. When confronted by attractive but seriously underdressed young people, I’m distressed on behalf of their parents. “I guess it was easier for her to change her name than for her whole family to change theirs.

Anyway, and I don’t mean this uncharitably, the word “airhead” has always conjured that famous picture of Farrah Fawcett. This isn’t because I ever thought that the actress was dimwitted, but rather because it had to be air up there; anyone with that much hair wouldn’t have been able to hold her head up.

Speaking of smart women, Jenny Diski’s piece about Nina Simone in the current LRB is Ms Diski at her best. It’s amply about the great singer of “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” but it’s also about Jenny Diski — in the way that the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking are all about French Cooking — but also about Julia Child. I must confess to some dismaying S & M fantasies involving Jenny Diski. Smart and fully clothed, she berates me from high table. “Bourgeois swine!” That sort of thing — and richly deserved. But then comes the part that sends me over the moon. “Now, go make me an omelette.” Yes, ma’am! The first thing I do when a new issue of the London Review of Books arrives is to check the table of contents for my favorite byline.

Then I make an omelette. Just in case. If anything happens to Jenny Diski, you can count on some shameless caterwauling from me.