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Vixen of Pong

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“That was painful. But I have always been a questioning person, and my life has always been in a state of flux. It wasn’t that I was comfortable in one life and decided to smash it and move on.”

Is she in flux now?

Shyeah! Yeah. What I figured out is that the only mistake you can make is to think of your relationship to yourself or your work or your partner or your kids as something that becomes something. And then stays there. You have to see all of those relationships as a breathing thing. We’re still parenting, although it’s different when they’re 18.”

Initially, she notes drily, “the nation mourned. I had a lot of people who came up to me and were not as upset as I was—but were definitely upset. I did feel a sense of responsibility, because I knew that people had a certain idea of how I was and who we were. And in that sense …” She cuts herself off. “But on your deathbed, it’s not really going to matter how those people felt.”

She’d rather talk about her kids, anyway. She brightens noticeably whenever they come up, calling them funny, smart, principled. There’s Amurri, her bombshell look-alike of a daughter, an actress who appeared on Californication. There’s Jack Henry, a film student, who is working on a documentary about his generation called The Zeros. And there’s Miles Guthrie, a recent high-school graduate, whom Sarandon is picking up today from his postgraduation trip to Japan.

“I remember going to teachers’ night,” she says. “And it was always, ‘Jack’s a leader,’ and ‘Miles is a leader in his class,’ and ‘Eva’s a leader in her class.’ I thought, No wonder our home is the way it is! There’s not one follower. Nobody that listens. This tumultuous place, where everyone is so passionate.

Lately, they’ve been getting tattoos with their mother. First, Eva got the Latin word “conscientia” printed in an old-fashioned typewriter font. Jack considered getting a classic mom-heart tattoo on his chest, but Sarandon treated him to an image of Ganesh instead. On Sarandon’s spine, her children’s initials scroll down, printed in the New York Times font. And above her wrist, there’s a spiky band formed by the blue letters ANDAND: “A New Dawn A New Day.” That one hurt a lot, she says.

Later that night, I drop by SPiN again. But now it’s packed, with a hip crowd circling the “Dirty Dozen” table—the top twelve players, facing off for a prize of $500.

Sarandon arrives with a friend, a middle-aged publisher. (She’s been working on a children’s book, an anti-violence allegory about a raccoon.) And between shouts of “whoo!” she narrates the lineup:

“Randy! Randy is the all-time, really good Jewish player of this division.”

And: “Twin players. One is left-handed, one right-handed.”

Also: “This guy, his opponent started stripping, down to a Speedo. He got so angry, completely distracted. It was a very good tactic.”

When we’d spoken earlier, Sarandon had a faintly melancholy air, but with the club full up, she’s relaxed and smiling—she seems to know everyone’s name, their day job, their relationship status. Her son Jack, who is D.J.-ing, tells me, “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone she couldn’t get along with.” Jason Segel will be around later, she says; Twitter co-founder Evan Williams has been here; and Demi and Ashton and Jack Kevorkian, who Sarandon worried would die at the table, he was so intent on improving his Ping-Pong game.

I ask her the obvious question: Isn’t her role at SPiN strangely similar to Annie Savoy’s in Bull Durham?

“I like to think of it more as Gunsmoke, with Miss Kitty,” she says.

When Jonathan Bricklin, the subject of all those tabloid rumors, arrives, he pulls Sarandon toward him, squeezes her shoulder and leans down low to kiss her cheek. The two clearly have an intimate friendship: During our earlier interview, he sat at the bar nearby with his laptop and they traded wisecracks. A few days later, as they’re preparing for a film shoot, Sarandon steps close to Bricklin and smiles up at him. He gently taps his tooth: She has salad stuck in her teeth.

They met back in 2007, when a friend took Sarandon to a weekly party called “Naked Ping-Pong” (it involved no nudity) held in Bricklin’s loft. Back then, Bricklin, now 33, was himself recently divorced, having married on a lark in Las Vegas. “She hasn’t seen this place,” he tells me about his ex. “We—she—our relationship ended, not coincidentally, after I became obsessed out of my mind with Ping-Pong.”

In the loft, Sarandon spotted film-editing equipment. Bricklin had been making documentaries, including one about his father, Malcolm Bricklin, who popularized the Yugo. As a financial sideline, he and his partners did “elaborate videos for weird people,” including home movies for Bruce Willis and vacation films for Jann Wenner. Sarandon hired them to edit a project she’d already begun, a personalized documentary for Tim Robbins’s 50th birthday.


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