Editors note: I am beyond thrilled that my friend and former housemate has agreed to write a guest post — the last one — about life at 2777 Francis Avenue. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you T. xoxo P.S. The photos are all of the housemates and close friends/family who hung out at our house. (No, I didn’t live with Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick, but Bibbe and her famous father, Al Hansen, were friends with Warhol and regulars at his Factory.)
I am the “Touch me and you die,” girl. Although in my defense, I must say, Satan and I were never more than passing acquaintances and I was never his concubine! What’s more, it wasn’t so much being woken up early that got my goat, (uh oh, is a reference to a cloven hoofed beast evidence of my association with a similar being?), as it was the loud whispering that Kristi and our Danish housemate were doing as they tried to decide whether or not to wake me up. Honestly, I had never before heard whispering that sounded like it was coming through a megaphone!
When I wasn’t threatening to kill my housemates, I was actually socializing with them at the café, going to art openings, to see bands play, etc. Our circle was tight, but not exclusive. We often ventured outside of our little community, but we could just as easily have stayed in and been equally entertained. We had among us poets, writers, musicians, philosophers, comedians, singers, chefs, critics, whistlers, and champion crossword puzzlers. There was never a shortage of conversation or debate.
Our house was a large, old Craftsman style in a part of town that had once been frequented by the rich and famous. It sat in the shadow of the Bullock’s Wilshire. Now an historical landmark, The Bullock’s Wilshire’s clientele at one time included Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Mae West. However, at the time we lived there, old Hollywood was long gone and the wealthy shopped further west. The neighborhood fell into neglect and disrepair.
It had become an “unsavory” part of town. Now there were bars on the windows, heavy iron screen doors, and double dead bolt locks. Neighbors kept a wary eye on each other. Along the side of our house was a walkway with overgrown bushes that offered perfect cover for the weary traveler, (read: falling down drunk), to rest his tired bones, (read: to toss back another bottle of Night Train). We were used to the sound of bottles clinking or cans being crushed as the “guests” slunk around in their own debris. However, it’s one to thing to know they’re out there when you are inside. It’s another thing to come home and find them there in the dark. As Kristi mentioned in a previous post, it can be pretty frightening.
One night on the fourth of July, everyone in the house had gone out. Kristi, our Danish friend, and I were the first to return for the evening. As we pulled up to our house, we saw a man sitting on the front porch alongside the steps. He appeared to be smoking, but he also wasn’t trying to hide. Our imaginations collectively engaged and we immediately assumed he was the lookout for whoever was inside. No doubt they were big, scary guys, cleaning us out of all our thrift store purchased treasures. Kristi, our driver, turned her little car around and headed back out to the big street that intersected ours. We figured more traffic would increase our chances of finding a cop and we were right.
We spotted one right away and flagged him down. We told him that we lived right down the street and there was a suspicious man sitting on our porch and we didn’t want to go in our house without a man who was carrying a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. OK, I just added that last part. Still, I’m pretty sure we were sufficiently frantic to persuade him to follow us home. On the way there, we saw the guy walking down the street. SCREEECH!
Kristi slammed on her brakes and we pointed him out to the cop. If memory serves, there was another police officer who put him into his car for questioning. Meanwhile, the first cop went home with us and entered the premises first. As he went through each room, we commented on whether we thought anything had been removed. Living room – clear. Dining Room – clear. Kitchen and laundry room – clear.
The downstairs back bedroom belonged to our Danish friend and her boyfriend at the time, who happened to be the son of the red-haired lady of the house. They were, shall we say, “artsy”. By artsy, I mean, not overly concerned with the oppressive nature of housekeeping, making a bed, or folding and putting away clothes.
When the cop walked into this room he probably thought he had found the scene of the crime. There was no sign of the floor underneath the strewn clothes and I think I even saw him walking on tip-toe. The three of us looked at each other, not quite knowing what to say, but when we noticed the cop was also at a loss for words we immediately assured him, “Oh, it always looks like this.”
He noticed, too, that the bars on the window were unhitched and we had to tell him that was not unusual either. We needed a way to get in should anyone ever forget their key. We had a feeling we were losing credibility fast, so we got him out of there and thanked him profusely. He assured us that he would make sure the guy was driven to the far end of town where he would undoubtedly fall off and never be heard from again. OK. I added that last part too.