05 June 2008

Dispatches from South Lucas & 7th.

Day One: Get down, lay down.

Sunday June 1st: Atlanta to L.A.

Today was full of surprises. Not one of them was good.

I arrived at The Commodore (my home for the next three months) on S. Lucas Avenue in Los Angeles, California to glorious weather. The building is eleven stories high and contains many more tales than that. I am just another number.

The lemon yellow sun hung in a cloudless sky, casting a long shadow on the entrance of the building. I walked past a rough looking character smoking a cigarette. I was invisible to him. Above the buzzer was a sign that read “Affordable housing available”. I looked back at the guy, who was now looking back at me.

After a quick phone call, Dennis the landlord came to greet me. He was at once cheerful and welcoming. He informed me of a few minor boring details and took me on a tour. First stop was the laundry room. After pointing out the change machine and various vending machines he told me that I didn’t have to worry about my clothes, “The camera’s are on 24 hours a day, it’s very secure” he said. That was ok, I thought. Next stop was the elevators. “Your key card-,” oh yeah, I was given a key card, “must be swiped before you push your floor, you cannot go to any other floor than your own, it’s very secure” he said again. Now I wondered, is it a really safe building, or a really shitty area? Or is it both?

The building looks pretty good, I have to admit. My initial fears were quickly quashed. We stood outside my room as Dennis fiddled with the keys. There was barely enough time for me to anticipate what lay beyond the door. Before I knew it, he swung the door open. I didn’t take a step. I was expecting some gaudy furniture in a small room. I got the small room part right, but there was not a single piece of furniture. For weeks before hand, I thought the apartment was furnished. “I am paying 800 bucks a month to squat?!” I thought to myself.

“So, the rooms aren’t furnished?” I asked. “Oh…oh, no.” Dennis suddenly realized what I was getting at. “Sorry.”

After the initial disappointment wore off, things didn’t seem so bad. The room was more than clean. Fresh paint, new carpet and linoleum and a decent sized bathroom with a kitchenette seemed to make everything a little better.

I walked around the new neighborhood and tried to wrap my head around where I was living for the next three months. I couldn’t, so I bought groceries instead.

The first thing I bought, I am altogether sad and excited to say, was a box of Cocoa Pebbles. In my short sightedness, and still reeling from the furniture debacle, I forgot plastic utensils. Too far (and too lazy) to turn back, I continued home.

I stood over the sink, thinking about the shit sleep ahead of me, while eating Cocoa Pebbles with my hands. That was dinner my first night in L.A.

The dinner and sleeping conditions joined forces and brought me the worst nightmares I have had in years. Cockroaches and money worries. Jesus H. Christ. Scary shit, right? Half awake I saw critters scurrying about. Half asleep I wondered how the fuck I was going to pay my bills. Someone should make a movie about that shit. Hey wait a minute…