We found a place in Santa Monica that was up at 23rd and Cloverfield. There was a guy named Kessler that owned every house on this banged up old dead end street. All the houses were pretty run down so I guess you could call Kessler a Slum Lord.
Our rent back then was $40 a week. That’s cheap as hell even by 1982 prices for apartments.
It was perfect. We lived in a small one bedroom apartment on the second floor. (Over the garage) Kessler was a fat slob that had a shitty van with a dashboard clogged with trash and snakc wrappers.
His house was next door to us where he lived with his wife, and his hot blonde daughter who looked and dressed like Ellie May from the Beverly Hillbillies. (Yea…I wanted her) He also had a son that seemed like a half-wit that lived in a trailer out back. If you looked out our bedroom window you could see the entrance and roof of the trailer. (Did this inbred have to live in the trailer o he wouldn’t diddle his sister?)
Across the hallway from us lived this old guy named Mike Lamia. He was in his forties and smoked tons of weed and delivered pizza’s for a living. He was divorced and had a couple of kids somewhere. We assumed they lived with their mom. He also said he owned a piece of land out in the desert. It sounded like he got ripped off or it didn’t exist because he said he could see his land, but couldn’t get to it. So it was either on the side of a cliff or all in his drug addled mind.
He would get high all day long and watch his little black and white TV and play the bongos. When he found out we were musicians he was always pitching us songs and we were like, yea that’s great but, fuck no.
The best thing we liked about Mike was he would always share his weed with us. The other thing we liked about Mike was the fact that he ALWAYS had pizza in his fridge. He never cared if we came into his house and grabbed some slices, heated them up and ate them. His door was always open and so was ours. It was kind of cool living next door to a burned out old hippie that had endless supplies of pizza and weed.
Frank and I both worked at restaurants so we always got fed there everyday and there was always pizza so we never went grocery shopping. It was a good setup for a couple of young musicians.
Our apartment was over a garage and Kessler let us jam down there as long as we didn’t play too loud or too late. Liam and John would be joining us in a month and we’d have a whole band and hopefully start getting gigs. Sometimes Kessler’s daughter Patty and her friends would stop by and hang out when we were practicing. She seemed like the sweet normal one in the family. She wasn’t around much so I assumed she went to college somewhere.
The only drawback to the apartment was the roaches.
They weren’t rampant but they were small brown ones and were present. Frank and I slept in the same room on just box springs and mattresses. Frank’s bed was against the wall near the window that looked over the trailer, and mine was on the other wall by the window that was broken. There was a cardboard banner advertising a circus instead of a window pane. I didn’t give a shit because it was always warm in California.
I remember hanging some shirts up in the closet (no door) Frank and I shared. Written on the wall were the words: “Sadder… Budweiser.” I thought that was a clever statement about alcohol and regret, so I never forgot it.
There was this other couple that lived down the hall from us. They seemed nice and normal. Too normal for this neighborhood of misfits. But one night we were all partying and the doors were all open. Frank and I are drinking these 16 oz beers called 102. Apparently it took 102 tries to get the formula for the beer right. I’m thinking, what a bunch of fuck ups theses brewers are. But… it was $3 for a six pack! We drank oceans of that shit on our limited budget.
The folks who seemed quiet and normal are fucked up out of their minds. They’re laughing and acting crazy. Even Mike thinks they’re gacked to the nines. I ask the dude what he took and he shows me a bag of mushrooms.
“No thanks. We’re good.”
He points to a light switch on the wall that for some reason someone drew a turnip in marker around it. He goes: “What’s that?”
“It’s a light switch with a turnip drawn around it.”
“No it’s not! That’s my wife.”
“Your wife is right over there.”
(Points to the light switch) “Then it’s my wife’s vagina!”
(Flicks the light switch to the ON position) “And now she’s turned on! Get it? HA HA HA HA!”
“Yea, dude. Whatever.”
For the first time in my life I realize that all drugs are different. You don’t just get high. Every drug makes you feel a different way and think a different way.
Mushrooms made my neighbor nuts. Weed makes Mike introspective. Booze just makes Frank and I arrogant, giggling idiots.
Mike cruises over and he is high as fuck. “Hey guys, what if the color blue isn’t the same to me as it is to you?”
Frank: (Drunk as usual) “Check the crayon box, asshole.” (Bursts out laughing)
I love him.
So we liked where we were crashing. We’d come home drunk. Get high and go to bed listening to Steve Miller’s, Abracadabra album on my boom box.
When you’re drunk and high you don’t care how many roaches are in the room in the dark.
I remember lying on that bed and thinking about my be d at home and how different my life was now.
I was happy to be away from the prison of Wildwood and my father’s idea of what our family’s life should be. Poverty was actually really nice to be with my best mate, Frank.
We’ll get there and have a great time doing it. This is only week two here in L.A.!
We need to earn some money and go out and check out the music scene in this town!
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