I was friendly with Julia Phillips starting around ’94 or thereabouts. Friendly in a certain sense, I mean. I loved her caustic wit and candor and big blue eyes, but I didn’t much care for Julia discharging me from time to time, depending on whatever shortcoming I’d been accused of (or was admittedly guilty of).
I’ve never written this or even admitted it privately but the first stage of our relationship was about Julia having a certain romantic interest and my not being as receptive as she would’ve preferred. Okay, not receptive at all. That resulted in all kinds of bile and battery acid. I tried to be cool and mellow and easy about it, but rejection is rejection.
We gradually became friendly on a mutually respectful palsy-walsy basis. I gave her a lot of notes about her 1995 novel, Driving Under The Affluence, which was more or less a sequel to You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again (’91). We were reasonably good friends for a couple of years (she was living in a cool Benedict Canyon bungalow at the time), and then we were friendly off and on until…oh, roughly a year before she passed in ’02.
I remember her telling me over the phone one day that she’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and my not knowing what to say or feel…I tried weeping but it didn’t come. I was stunned. I’d never known anyone who’d been handed a death sentence.
Julia passed on January 1, 2002. I attended her memorial on the roof of the Empire West condos (1100 Alta Loma Road) and found out that she’d occasionally “fired” other friends from time to time, so I felt a little better in retrospect.
Julia’s hair was dark and smooth and tomboy-ish when The Sting won the Best Picture Oscar in the spring of ’74. Her hair was silvery and glistening and closely cropped when I knew her.