From:      Karen Lester

To:        [email protected]

Subject:   Re: blast from the past


Bill! Wow!

It’s sort of a shock to hear from you after all these years. How many times have you been in California since ’73? Hundreds? Thousands? And not so much as a postcard. Say goodbye to Hollywood, indeed!

I know you hated living in L.A., and it sure seemed like you’d forgotten all about your pals at the Executive Room — even though, irony of ironies, you sing about us almost every night of your life.

Still, I was really happy to get your e-mail, if only to assuage my guilt over how things ended between us.  I’ve always felt bad about that. I didn’t mean to call you a creepy little garden gnome, but I was stoned (like the businessmen?), and let’s face it, you weren’t exactly a perfect gentleman, jamming my hand down your pants like that. After all we’d been through, we should have ended things on a higher note — like the one you hit at the chorus of the studio version of “Innocent Man.”

Anyway, you asked what the old Wilshire crew is up to these days, so I’ll fill you in.

John, as you imply in your song — cruelly, he’s always felt — never did become a movie star. Casting agents thought he was too short, and that he had an “old face.” He had some small parts in some indie films, and one time he was in a commercial for Taco Bell. But he had a problem with heroin — Captain Jack took him to his special island — and then he had a problem with VD, and then he became a Scientologist.

He left the Church after ten years, after they’d robbed him of his youth, his money, and his street cred. He’s married now — again — and living in I think San Pedro. He had two kids from his previous marriage — twins — who are doing well, even though they sometimes get mistaken for the Menendez brothers when they hang out in Beverly Hills.

I haven’t seen him for years, but he friended me on Facebook a few months ago, so I told him I’d heard from you and that you sent your regards. I won’t relay his exact response, as he had some not very kind things to say about you, your ex-wife, and your daughter. He did mention that he hoped the tabloid reports of you quitting the sauce were true, as you “could be a pretty decent guy when the microphone smelled like something other than beer, wine, or hard liquor.”

Also, although I know he digs your stuff, especially Songs From the Attic, he does not list you among his favorite artists on his “info” page (but you’re first on mine, even though, let’s face it, everything kind of went downhill after Glass Houses).

Paul, as you probably know, is a pretty successful screenwriter — his forays into real estate and novelwriting ended about the same time your six-month stint at the Executive did, and he’s always been amused that you chose to affix those labels to him — who has been nominated for as Oscar several times, and won a Golden Globe. He’s not on Facebook, but I run into him at fundraisers every once in awhile.

I called him up and told him about your out-of-the-blue note. He said he barely remembered you, but he knows the song, of course, and he thought it was so weird that you characterized him as being too busy for marriage; the reason he didn’t have a wife was not because he didn’t have time, as you suggest, but because he’s gay. “It’s West Hollywood,” he said. “Why else would I spend all night talking to a sailor?”

Not that David was a sailor, as I’m sure you know. Not in the conventional, McHale’s Navy sense. He was in the JAG corps, and after completing his civil service, started his own firm, specializing in wills and estates. There’s a lot of money in that sort of work, especially in Los Angeles, let me tell you. He probably has more net worth than most of the fly-by-night movie stars in this town.  He drives a Bentley! If you had only used David as your attorney instead of Elizabeth’s sleazy brother! But at least you won *some* money from the lawsuit.

Ramon was relieved of his manager duties in 1973, not long after you left and took our best customers with you. He kept opening up new restaurants and clubs, but never had the success he enjoyed with you tickling the ivories. Which is probably why he drove up the PHC and jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1977. Not that you should feel bad about that. Even if he did quote “Tomorrow is Today,” off Cold Spring Harbor, in his suicide note. I mean, the guy was majorly screwed up. Paul thinks he has multiple personality disorder.

As for me, your politics-practicing waitress? Well, I work for the state government in the Department of Education. That was after serving on the city council for many years. I’m married — my husband is a vice president at Universal — and we have two lovely children, Michael and Jennifer. We live up in Coldwater Canyon, next door to Carrie Fisher. But you probably know all that, if you’ve Googled me.

What you’re after — I’m assuming, now that you’re once again divorced and needy — is what I’m doing emotionally, if I ever got over our time together that summer. I did fall for you pretty hard, I admit, even though I knew you liked Elizabeth more than you liked me. I always thought she was a bitch. All the girls did. She was the kind of woman that other women dislike — trouble, in other words. Oh, she’s got a way, alright!

Ah, what might have been, had you picked me instead!  But you never had much use for my “Peter Pan advice.”

But I’m very happy with Tom, who, in addition to his tremendous business success, is also a former semi-professional hockey player and underwear model, and a well-known poet (although his poetry tends to be ponderous T.S. Eliot/Ezra Pound-type stuff, and not nearly as fun as your lyrics for “We Didn’t Start the Fire”; sometimes I do have to work hard to keep up with his clever conversation!). We live a happy, private life, although the sex tape we made with that Brazilian model did leak on the Internet a few years ago, starting a “scandal” that forced me to leave electoral politics…but you probably read about that, too.

Likewise, I’m sure you’re better off with the path you chose: your three failed marriages (Katie Lee? She’s Alexa’s age!), your lifelong battles with alcoholism and depression, your legal troubles with your string of rapacious managers and record company executives, and your authorship of “Tell Her About It.”

But it’s really, really great to hear from you! I hope your boating endeavor goes well (I found out about it from your Wikipedia page). We have boats here, too, you know — Catalina is a nicer port than anything on Long Island — so if you’re ever in town, give me a shout. Maybe we can go have a drink. No, wait, scratch that, you don’t drink anymore. A coffee, then. There are some hip places in Echo Park you might like.

Best to you, Bill.



P.S. I totally remember that gin-and-tonic-happy old man. He was gross. If I had a nickel for every time he pinched my ass…

P.P.S. I’ve attached a photo of you from that summer that David took (there I am in the back, all the way to the right).