This Writer’s Life: 2777 Francis Avenue, Part I

Posted by on April 16, 2012

I will always love Los Angeles with a soulful, wistful love. It is my spiritual home. (Okay, full disclosure: along with San Francisco, New York, and Barcelona.)
But it is true that for me, there is no other light or energy on earth that feels quite the same way that Los Angeles does. When I am in L.A. I feel as if I am at the center of the universe.
I have never once flown or driven into Los Angeles without feeling a surge of excitement and energy like no other. New York City, of course, is unbelievably thrilling and I would live there in a nanosecond if I could, but for me L.A.’s energy has more of a sense of promise and potential. It’s the feeling, deep down inside, that anything could happen and that there is no other place I should be.
Although I only lived in the city of angels for about a decade, I feel like I lived several lifetimes there. Here’s a small glimpse into just one of those lives. A wonderful home I lived in with a bunch of artists, filmmakers, and writers, including one woman who hung out with Andy Warhol at his factory and one cute boy musician who would soon grace the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

 

2777 Francis Avenue

Peering through a double dead-bolted screen door with thick bars, I caught a glimpse of a woman in a black miniskirt vigorously vacuuming the living room rug. Her long red hair swung behind her as she moved. Dark wayfarer sunglasses rested beneath a fringe of thick red bangs. A cigarette hung from one corner of her mouth. She didn’t hear my knock over the sound of the vacuum.

Every house on the block had thick bars on the windows and doors. Black spray paint littered low brick walls, marking gang territory with illegible sprawling letters and numbers. I knocked again. Finally, the red-haired vacuuming woman noticed me and unlocked the door.

“I’m Kristi. I called about the room for rent.” I was homeless and had seen the small index card tacked next to the bathroom at the Onyx. I wasn’t technically homeless, as on the streets, but I was crashing at a friend’s house for a few weeks until I found a place to rent. My car was crammed with my few meager possessions, including my bed, a black roll-up futon.

Inside, the small living room had an upright piano against one wall. A giant glass fishbowl on top of it held postcards. On the opposite wall, hung an art piece I later found out the red-haired woman’s famous father had made. It was the silhouette of a shapely woman made from spray painted silver cigarette butts.

“I’ll show you around,” said the woman without removing her dark sunglasses. She introduced herself. Her name was Bibbe Hansen. A room near the front door had a futon on the floor and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on three walls.

“This is our nonfiction library.” Bibbe said.

I began to get excited. A nonfiction library? That could only mean that there was also a fiction library. And there was. The room next door was filled with hundreds of books, some ratty paperbacks, others pristine hard covers.

I didn’t need to see the rest of the house before I was writing out a check. I moved in that weekend. It was an easy move. All I had were the few thing from my car, which were a few items less after someone busted the lock and ransacked my Dodge hatchback the week before.

In the two-story house at 2777 Francis Avenue, my large upstairs bedroom engulfed my few belongings. I put my navy blue foot locker in a tiny closet with sharp angles that reminded me of the interior of a dollhouse.  On one wall, I set up my radio, stacking CDs beside it on the floor. I propped a few of my religious-themed red candles with saints and the Virgin Mary on the window sills.

I placed my roll-up futon bed in the middle of the floor. Right near where my head would lie, against the floor on one wall, I lined up all my books — Anais Nin, Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Isak Dineson, Baudelaire, Tom Wolfe, Umberto Eco, Truman Capote, Hermann Hess, Ayn Rand, S.E. Hinton — so they would be the first things my eyes saw upon awakening. Life was good.

 

Stay tuned for Part II

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8 Responses to This Writer’s Life: 2777 Francis Avenue, Part I

  1. cynthia

    Hi Kristi,

    I was your neighbor, just a kid back then. I still have fond memories when I walk by 2777. It still holds some bohemian energy.

  2. Kristi

    Okay, that is so F-in cool I can’t stand it. I never saw that living room without imagining that fishbowl on top of the piano or the silver cigarette woman’s silhouette over the fireplace!

  3. T

    By the way, that fishbowl with postcards you mentioned is currently on tour as part of the ASCO exhibit entitled, Elite of the Obscure. It was in L.A. at LACMA. I believe it is at Williams College, MA right now and will probably make its way down to Mexico City before too long.
    http://wcma.williams.edu/exhibit/asco/

    The catalog is amazing! They were budgeted for 200 pages. It ended up being over 400 AND it won an award! How many little gems we encounter as we stumble through life, no? Well, I stumble, anyway.

  4. Kristi

    Yay! Someone reads my blog! Thanks for stopping by Bill! xoxo

  5. Bill

    I feel the same way about New York City. When I was living there, I just felt at home. But the calling of raising a family in a normal town eventually gets you. But like you, there is a part of me that will always be in the city.

  6. Kristi

    S, your comment made me happy as bohemian is one of my favorite words. Glad you are enjoying it! I forgot how much time and work blogging is. but I’m having fun. It makes it worth it to know even one person is reading (you!) xoxo
    K

  7. Stephanie

    I never tire of hearing of your cool bohemian past.