|ace and i|
i was talking with a friend a few days ago about the old hollywood days. not the era of glamorous starlets and scandals and lunching at the brown derby, although i could talk about that for days, but MY old hollywood days. i am really missing home. especially when the sun is shining here, it reminds me of california.
i used to live at 1432 s crescent heights in west LA with 2 of my best friends jill and dominic. then when dominic moved, ace lafayette still III moved in. ace used to equate the household to the sitcom "three's company". and i guess it kind of was. i had been living with my mom in marina del rey when jill and dominic first moved to 1432. it was a really cool 1930's apt over a double garage at the back of a four-plex. i was so jealous when i saw the place with it's vintage tiling, arched doorways and wood floors. as it turned out, i had to move out of my moms shortly after they moved in, so i was very happy to make it my home too.
the day they had originally gone to view the place, they were shown around by the landlady mrs lieberman. a woman of about 70 with a strawberry blond, slight beehive and a penchant for 2 piece polyester pant suits. she explained to jill and dominic that her son, sherman, didn't live there, but used the 2 garages downstairs from our potential apt as an office. he was a writer and he was working on the new "star wars" script. in fact, george lucas had just been there the day before. although i was intrigued, i don't know why, but something in me was slightly skeptical.
slowly we began to see that life at 1432 was going to be very entertaining. sherman, who was about mid-50s, was an eccentric, amphetamine junkie that was basically friends with every homeless person and junkie within a 10 mile radius. he was up at all hours, painting and re-painting the garage below us and then paint removing and then painting all over again pretty much 24/7. once he decided to paint the path outside our place, which he then decided he didn't like. unbeknownst to me, he had then spread paint stripper very thickly all over the path. as i stepped onto the path, groceries in hand, i slipped and fell over. at first i hadn't realized what was happening until i felt the burning and stinging of the paint stripper all over my body. it was all stuck to my bare skin and without even thinking about it, screaming, i ripped off my top and was running and screaming like a lunatic in circles around the garden. maybe he was more cunning than i gave him credit for.
sherman would take his mom's brand new caddy, load his filthy, really stinky dogs in, and head up to hollywood and beverly hills and go digging through peoples trash. we would sort of laugh about it, but sometimes he would come back with some amazing stuff. cool clothes, pictures, paintings and bric a brac plus a lot of total crap as well. he seemed to have an eye for some stuff though. i had my fair share of pickings.
all his homeless friends somehow had a built-in radar and would arrive to help him unload his findings into the garages. we would come home to a convoy of shopping carts lined up in the alley. then about half an hour into unloading, the rights of ownership and bickering would begin. the amount of fights that broke out that needed police involvement was spectacular. it was pretty much the same scenario every time. we could hear raised voices and then things getting progressively more aggressive and before long sherman would be screaming "mother! MOTHER! call the police! CALL THE POLICE...THIEF!!!"
shortly afterward, jill, ace and i, would hear hushed authoritative tones in the backyard. we'd peer down through the blinds and see the cops, flashlights in hand scoping out the scenario. i can remember once when they shouted up to us " hey, can you guys come out here a minute?" we went out, told them our standard "we know nothing" and then i noticed the the look on the face of one of the cops... pure shock/horror. slightly pale and shaken he asked me, "have you been in his place?" i said, "yeah". he asked again, "No, i mean, have you actually been IN his place?!" the only thing i could think of that was freaking him out a bit was something that i guess had just become totally normal for me to see.
amongst all the other late night, meth-fueled hobbies sherman had, was his love for artistic collage. the walls of his place were wall to wall pages from porn magazines interspersed here and there with pictures from fashion magazines, a sprinkling of the odd bruce springsteen or other musicians, maybe a little plant life thrown in, but mostly, they were serious porn. i think the cops thought they were venturing into some "silence of the lambs" den of depravity.
his mom was used to it. she would go in and out of there and not bat an eye. i think we just didn't see it anymore. i remember once when his mom was away and i needed to pay the rent. i went to her apt. which was in front of us in the four- plex, and he was inside. i can't remember why i needed to walk by the bathroom, but when i did, i noticed that on the back of the toilet tank, was a picture straight out of hustler. a woman naked, legs akimbo, in a frame no less.
it didn't take long for us to realize sherman WAS actually trying to write a book. it was some sort of sci-fi thing. and most of the time, if we engaged in any sort of conversation with him, we would get sucked into the void to play audience to the latest 30 or so pages he had written. needless to say, we tried to time our comings and goings with precision. but, the few times ace or dominic had been cornered and listened to a chapter, they would say it was actually pretty good.
i on the other hand, would just glaze over while he read about "woofers" and whatever the other aliens were called and the insane names everything had and the song he sang which went something like,"i'm all the way up and i'm not coming down, how about you do you want to play around? it's a wonderful day staying inside listening to this strawberry jiiiivvveeeee.... i'm a hedonstic wicky wicky wicky machineeeeee"! it was all so clearly the amped-up ravings of a speed freak.
even though the paint fumes were killing us, the junkies were keeping us awake and our electric fuses were constantly blown because one of his crazy friends we nicknamed "maverick", parked his gigantic camper van in the alley and plugged it into our electrics for weeks on end, i had this soft spot for sherman. he would aggravate the crap out of me, but sometimes, i would look in his eyes and wonder how long he's been messed up. i could see there was a nice person in there, who i think really meant well. he had a warm, goofy smile. sometimes he would say something so poignant with this little sparkle in his eye and it would really touch me.
|sherman and maverick|
one day sherman and one of his friends had one of their disagreements. jill and i came home to hear that sherman had been taken to the hospital after he was struck in the head with a brick. it was easter and i don't know why, but i felt really bad for him, so i don't know what possessed me, but i thought we should go see him in the hospital. we piled into my datsun with a basket of easter eggs and went up to cedars sinai. that day, things got a little more interesting...
part 2 comin' up....