Lois is dead.
I got a call from Adrienne. I was expecting the call but it was still a blow. It was a big blow. Lois was special to me.
Lois owned a motel in Desert Hot Springs called Miracle Manor. Ill get to the name. It was a modest operation--7 rooms grouped around a garden that overlooked a terrace area and here was the pool, Jacuzzi, BBQ pit, etc—-and beyond this the view—across the valley to Palm springs with Mt. San Jacinto towering up behind. There was an apt for Lois and a room for the housekeeper. The apt featured a beat collection of furniture and fixtures circa 1950--the coffee house look--and there were some Lois paintings banged out during her Franz Kline period and a vast collection of souvenirs and memorabilia gathered during her travels. She was a great traveler. The clientele was a mix. Anyone could pop up at any time. There were the rich and the poor and the old and the young and the sick and the healthy and the good and the bad and the ugly. There were young kids who didn’t have a dime she put up in return for some gardening or home repair. There was the occasional rock or movie star. I met Bette Midler there.
There was a feeling to the Manor. Your perception of time was altered. The past and future dissolved into the present and you were left with the moment at hand—-handed over to Lois. That’s why it was called Miracle Manor. Lois was a guru type. She had a speed dial to a being called Omra who had revealed himself (I think it was a him) to her on a trip to South America. She rang Omra up and they consulted on the best way to straighten you--or your colon--out. I was from Buffalo--not a place where mysticism flourished. In Buffalo the emphasis was more on Italian shoes and football pools. But out we came to hit the pool and baste in the sun and dunk in the hot tub—preceded by a vicious enema followed by a vicious massage--or one of Lois's patented turbo-charged facials—while she carried on a lively rap with Omra in their private chicken talk lingo. There was something about this place that made Los Angeles—the meat grinder--seem a million miles away.
I knew her 20 years. My marriage was in the toilet, a divorce was pending and I was in dire need of therapy--not from a psychiatrist. A friend told me about the Manor. I called up and Lois answered and she said: you’ll be in room 2. The door will be open. Do you need a bathrobe? Why not?
I jumped in the car and hit the San Berdoo East and in 2 hours I was in the room. There was the robe on the bed and I threw on my Speedos and jumped into the hot tub where I introduced myself to a blonde who worked as the personal chef to a movie star. I sat soaking talking to the blonde and drinking in the view and I said to myself: this is the place. I was right.
That night there was a cookout. There was a cookout every night. It was veggie one night and non-veggie the next. On my night it was non-veggie. Lois was a guru type and she threw down her share of vitamins and liver pills and acidophilus pills and yeast tablets and so forth and she shopped strictly organic, but none of it excluded a good steak or vodka martini. Later I got myself in solid by flying out sausage from Scimes on Elmwood Ave in Buffalo.
We ate and I was invited to view a psychic surgery video Why not? Some guy from the Philippines who was a journalist and had written a book on this subject turned up at the Manor and fed Lo the rap and gave her his book. Lois and psychic surgery were like peanut butter and jelly. She read the journalists book and took off for the Philippines. She met a bunch of these people including the top guy and invited him to stick his hand in her stomach and remove some diseased material that had been bothering her. She returned feeling much better with this video. This thing was an eye opener. Here is this woman lying on a table. She is fully clothed with her sweater pulled up over her stomach. Here is the psychic surgeon. He has a burning look and amazing hands. His hands were like sculpture. They were long and muscular with this chiseled tapering effect at the fingertips featuring a blinding manicure. He presses with his fingers into the womans stomach. He does this in a tentative way at first and then a little more insistently. He continues to press his fingers into the woman’s stomach until they actually slice through and enter. His hand is inside the woman’s stomach. Now there is blood. It is all over the place. He probes around inside the woman’s stomach for a little bit. There is no anesthetic. If a guy can stick his hand into your stomach why would you need an anesthetic? The woman is lying there in a state of perfect relaxation with her eyes open and an expression like she is trying to put together a winning combo for her next lotto ticket. The surgeon removes some stringy black gunk from the woman’s stomach. He sticks his hand back into her stomach and removes more stringy black gunk. He removes three or four pieces of stringy black gunk. End of operation. His assistant with a sponge wipes the blood from the woman’s stomach. Is there a scar or wound or gaping hole of any sort left by the entrance into her stomach of the surgeons hand? No. There is nothing. I sat there with my eyeballs wobbling in their sockets. He also did brain tumors.
The next day I am back in the hot tub talking to a woman--an acupuncturist. She had 15 needles sticking out of her head. The subject was psychic surgery. I said I failed to understand not only how this could be done but the fact no scar or wound occurred as a result. She said: “Do you know anything about quantum mechanics”?
I said yes. I was interested in science and had read several popular accounts of this subject.
She said: “All matter is composed of atoms. The atom is the basic building block. What is the structure of the atom? It is composed of a nucleus of protons and neutrons and other particles. Whirling about in orbit outside this nucleus and at a vast distance from it are the electrons. It is the distance between the nucleus and the electrons whirling in orbit about it that is the key to the theory of quantum mechanics. It means that matter--even elements of the most concentrated type and heaviest mass at the high end of the periodic table--is composed largely of empty space. If you can visualize this situation correctly and precisely analyze the pattern of molecular distribution you can enter this space. Do you see what I am getting at”?
I said: “Yes. On the other hand,” I said, “I have never heard of a Filipino winning the Nobel prize for Nuclear Physics”.
I did a painting--after she died. Lois was in the foreground. She wore shades and a big hat. she held the dog--Andre. There was the pool and in the pool floating topless on an inflatable was Vera--the model from Yugoslavia. At poolside in a coma spilling over the sides of a chaise was Jane--a 300 lb lesbian—and next to Jane was Henry, a building contractor, doing a handstand in his jockstrap. There was the table we gathered to eat and next to it a the grill, and on the grill sizzling away a small mountain of sausage from Scimes. That was Miracle Manor.
How old was Lois? That was another mystery. She was very cagey about her age. She was one of those people who seem years younger because of the vitality of their spirit. We found out when she died. She was 76. She had the kind of resume you tend to acquire via sheer longevity. She was a writer, a painter, a singer, an entrepreneur. She was Canadian and lived for a few years in Paris and Morocco where she operated a nightclub with herself as featured vocalist. She married once, to a businessman who owned a car dealership in Los Angeles. She wound up in a house in Malibu and it was here her true calling was revealed: hostess.
The husband had a drinking problem and the marriage failed. There were no children. She moved to Desert Hot Springs and bought the motel.
I got a call from Joe--a regular. He said: “Lois is sick. She has cancer”.
It was the week before Thanksgiving. There was always a big party for Thanksgiving.
I went out to pay a call. She looked bad. She had lost weight and her morale was down. She was trying but it wasn’t there. That was her great quality: her spirit. There was a basket of cards and letters spilling over and scattered here and there. She said: “I’m getting some wonderful letters”.
I said: “You put out a lot of love Lois. Now you’re getting it back. Thats how it works”.
It took a while--3 months. I went out a few times and each time it was worse than the last—for everyone. At some point she was confined to her room. At least she was home.
got a call from Adrienne and went out for the last time. They had her fixed up with a device strapped to her hip and a self-operating implant to squirt morphine when the pain became too bad. The intervals between hits were becoming shorter. Adrienne said: “Lois, Jack is here”.
I sat next to the bed. She was wasted. She was gone. She was skin and bones. She had no color. Her saliva glands had dried up and her lips were split and bleeding. She had jaundice and her eyes were yellow. It was frightening. I took her hand.
I started to cry. I said: “There is another Miracle Manor, Lois. And in this other Miracle Manor we will all be together”.
She died and the Manor was sold--to an architect and his wife. The architect was a 90’s type--the post-modern type. There followed a massive rehab that obliterated every trace of the beat 5o’s coffeehouse cool look. The place was re-designed to within an inch of its life--right down to the covers on the fuse box. It was a good job--in the best possible taste. That was the problem. The prices for the room quadrupled and there was an attitude to go with. It wasnt a Lois attitude.
There was a service--well attended by family and the regulars. Adrienne made a speech. Adrienne was the protégé. She was devoted to Lois. It was a good speech. She said the right things.
I said a few words. I said: “Lois had a gift. She had many gifts. But her greatest gift was her gift for friendship. She lived her life and invited us to come along for the ride. In this respect she was an artist. Her canvas was Miracle Manor--and on it she created a masterpiece.”
Causes jack spiegelman Supports
Animal activist organization: Leave the Fucking Animals Alone!