Burt Bacharach was a gracious host, even though he was a huge liar. It was September and he still had his Christmas decorations up. He claimed that he had his people put them up early, but the accumulated dust on the nativity scene and the withered Christmas tree said otherwise. When he detected my skepticism he offered profuse apologies, and concluded, “Every day is Christmas at the Bacharach’s.” His voice was calm, yet urgent. It was comforting.
I was satisfied with his response. Truth be told, I would have been okay with a straight out denial, after all, this was Burt fucking Bacharach, the premiere songwriter of two decades, maybe even three. [Technically, if you count “Heartlight”, “That’s What Friends Are For” and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”; four decades.]
It was 1973. Angie [Dickinson] was at her day job, the set of NBC’s Police Woman. [The show lasted four seasons.] As expected, aside from the shoddy Christmas display, the Bacharach mansion was lush and every exposed window, you saw beach and ocean. You could easily imagine “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?” composed in this extravagant environment.
“Feng shui is not just about pleasing the eye, it’s equal parts odor and aural.” Burt took a long swig from a snifter of Martini and Rossi and stared off into space.
My first thought was, where’s my drink? I responded. “I had some incredible feng shui at Fong’s Chop Suey the other day.”
Burt pointed at me knowingly, “I love that place. Shame.” He looked down and shook his head. I waited for the shoe to fall, instead, Burt laughed gently, as if to protect his vocal chords, “Pretty funny stuff there.”
Burt swirled the remainder of his vermouth and held it up to the sunlight, “No, hear me out now. If feng shui is truly about harmonizing everyone with your surrounding environment, it has to be more than visual, unless you’re deaf, mute and can’t smell. Check it out.”
He was serious too. If you turned to face east, you smelled fresh avocados and heard tropical birds, if you turned to face north, incense appropriately named pussy with a hint of instrumental Isaac Hayes, if you turned to face west, the good fresh smell of ocean, not that diaper-filled pollution of rotting carcasses of seagulls and waves lapping the shore, and if you turned south, the unpleasant stench of a bathroom after an obese man comes out, accompanied by an ethereal poot. He had slightly lifted his ass from the leather sofa with a strained look on his face.
Burt smiled, and it grew, transforming into a giggle, “Gotcha. That was all me.”