Stravinsky slipped rose petals down my top

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Vera Stravinsky is the most naturally aristocratic person on earth. From the time I was able to see, during the time children see adults and find them all phony and creepy, Vera always remained outside that circle of judgment, because Vera was Vera and her brilliant innocence is something that is so charming and so sexy and so purely about life that you have to have been there, you have to have heard her laugh, you have to have seen her roomful of flowers and her purple satin capes made in Rome lined with iridescent taffeta to know that it is possible, that Anything is Possible and that a woman spun out into the finest silk makes the strongest rope. I waited until I got around her to eat caviar, otherwise, I knew I’d never get the point.

Stravinsky himself was Stravinsky.

He was tiny and happy and brilliant and drank. He used to slip glasses of scotch to me underneath the coffee table when my mother wasn’t looking when I was 13. At my 16th birthday party, I wore white (very low necked white, of course) and he slipped rose petals down my top when my mother wasn’t looking.

The city of Los Angeles being what it is, the L.A. Philharmonic never played anything past Brahms except once when they let Stravinsky conduct one of his own pieces and my father took me. I think I was about 3. We sat in the rafters and my mother was not there and my father said, “See that tiny man way down there?”

“Uh-huh.”

“That’s Stravinsky.”

Since everyone in the whole place seemed to be dependent on that tiny man for their focal point, I got the idea that Stravinsky was bigger than most things even if he was tiny.

For Christmas one year my sister and I gave him an ant farm but alas, he told us, all the ants died. He collected insects in glass cases, beautiful ones.

They had Picassos all over the house.

(…)

How is it, one might wonder, that I did not become an accomplished musician and became instead a beach-going blonde?

Eve Babitz, Eve’s Hollywood, 1974.

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