Los Angeles, CA
When I lived in Seattle over a decade or so ago, at any given time in a our humongous four story house, we had anywhere from 9 to 13 people there. During my earliest stint, a baker's dozen were among us denizens in the Big Red house a block off of UW fraternity row. Four lived illegally, which meant that they did not pay rent. Of course, the biggest moochers in the house were those fuckers. A guy we had nicknamed Crackhead Stu (for obvious reasons -- he was a legit crackhead and the black sheep of a prominent Chicago family of attorneys) got kicked out of the house for failing to pay rent, so he took up refuge in the basement and moved into a small room that was created as a practice room for former, current, and future musicians -- available to whoever was musically inclined that lived in a house that had a tremendous turnover and was comprised of mostly UW students. Crackhead Stu moved into the practice room and picked up two street kids, a young couple of runaways from Fresno, and charged them a few bucks to sleep on a tiny couch wedged next to a washer and dryer. That's how I cam across them the first time -- when I woke up early to do a load of laundry before work. I had no clean shirts and needed to do a batch. I walked in and saw a girl who barely looked 16-years old, curled up on the couch while a lump inside a sleeping bag slept at the foot of the couch. She said she was Crackhead Stu's friends and that it was OK if I did my laundry. Well fuck me, like I needed permission from a squatter to clean a shirt that I needed for work? Anyway, I felt bad from them. Crackhead Stu kicked them out three days later after they blew through whatever money they had on a bag of couple of bags of Nazi crank. Crackhead Stu promised them it was an awesome investment and that they'd triple their money and be able to afford a place of their own. They were naive and Crackhead Stu transformed into Tweaker Stu for that week he was flying high on their meth.
The Slums of Beverly Hills
The apartment building where I live in the slums of Beverly Hills might be similar in square footage as the Big Red House in Seattle, except it's only two stories and broken into seven individual units. From my understanding, Nicky and I live in one of two of the two-bedroom units. Four are single bedroom, and there's one studio.
A female artist in her late 50s lives in the studio, at least that's Nicky's theory. I'm convinced that it's a true studio and that she lives elsewhere and just goes there to paint. I'm up at odd hours and her car is not always parked there and can be vacant for days at a time. With the exception of us, she's been here the longest. The other five have moved in during the last year.
For the longest time, we could not figure out who lived in one of the upstairs units. I suspected a ginger lived there because I saw him walk in the alley a few times. I didn't know for sure if he lived there or was visiting somewhere else. But then I figured out that he was indeed a resident. On my way back from Jack in the Box one early evening while fetching a Big Assed Iced Tea, I noticed that he has parked his car, a slightly queer version of a Jetta, and slung a laptop bag over his shoulder and started walking toward our building. I slowed down my pace and let him gain lots of distance on me. I wanted to see which apartment he went to, and sure enough, he opened up a door to one of the upstairs apartments. We have six parking spaces for five units, and he got the shit end of the stick. My guess is that our landlord doesn't like gingers and made the kid resort to treacherous street parking which blows in the slums of BH. Anyway, I found out his name because the mailman couldn't fit a small box(from Woot.com, so some lucky fucker won a woot off) into the mail chute, so it was left out underneath the row of mailboxes. His name was so whitebread it was disgusting. He had one of the pretentious WASPy names you'd meet at Connecticut boarding schools, who some Dun Hills, date rape their co-ed classmates with Arcade Fire blasting in the background. Yes, if there's anyone on our watch list -- it's the Ginger.
A 40+ year old woman, who drives a convertible, lives in the apartment below the Ginger. I didn't know much about her. Aside from the artist lady, she's the only other neighbor who says hello to me. She seems polite, but not intrusive, which I dig. She smokes Capris, only because I noticed she sometimes leaves a pack in her car's console. Nicky and I park next to her, so it's hard to not see that distinguishable box. The first thing that I noticed about her when she moved in was that she had a shitload of cookbooks in her kitchen, like five milkcrates stacked on top of each other with cookbooks. Since she kept odd hours, I assumed she was some sort of restaurateur or perhaps a sous chef. One afternoon, I passed by her apartment and she was engrossed in a loud conversation -- but in French. That baffled me even more. I noticed that she spends her nights alone watch cable news programs, in the dark, while chain smoking cigarettes and drinking wine.
The guy who lives in between us, is what we call angry BMW guy. He's a suit, late 20s, and dives a BMW. Nicky is convinced it's leased, and it's this is the exact reason why we joke about living in the slums of BH. Anyway, I have yet to say a word to the guy and we've been neighbors for over six months. Maybe's he's shy or depressed or just a dick. Who knows? I never had a chance to say anything because he blows me off whenever I see him. He wakes up early, out of the apartment by 8am or 8:30am the latest and the returns anywhere from 6:30 to 8pm. He spends his evenings in front of a massive big screen TV, either watching baseball or Sportscenter. I caught him playing video games once. He always orders in food and sits around in shorts and a white beater t-shirt. We presume that's why he's angry all the time -- that he's sitting around at home instead of getting laid.
The 20-something young woman who lives above the angry-BMW guy is a recent college grad (I noticed her student parking sticker right away), and like most recent grads, she's humping a shitty service job somewhere. Whenever I see her, she's wearing black pants, comfortable black shoes, and a pristine white dress shirt. Yep, standard waiter/caterer attire. Sometimes she's gone very early in the mornings. Most of the time, she leaves around 10am and returns in the early afternoon, only to bail again for the dinner rush. She goes out the most out of any of our neighbors and I'll hear her creeping up the stairs at 3am. She's given me the tepid head nod when we've seen each other.
The new neighbors above us are a twenty-something couple. I have yet to meet the guy, but he's seems a bit unfriendly during the one time I walked by him. In his defense, he was in the middle of moving in and obviously pre-occupied. I've said hello to his girlfriend a couple of times. Don't know much about them other than one set of their parents moved them in, and I wonder of they are helping these young kids pay rent while either of them chance the Hollyweird dream? Just in the apartment building next door to us (with the barking dogs), the actress/singer/waitress who is always singing in the shower (and who used to come over with her boyfriend to get shitty with us before she kicked him out) had a roommate who went deep on this season of American Idol. Who knows what their deal is -- all I know is that they got only one car, and may or may not have scratched the SUV in the driveway next door, that is owned by the guy with the loud fucking dog, who knocked on our door on Saturday morning and told me what happened. He looked pissed. I should have said something about the dogs, but then I thought he might he thought that I was the culprit and keyed his car, which I considered before I bought a dog barking zapper which shuts those fucking howling pooches up and reduces them to whining pussies.
I wonder what our neighbors think of us? "OH, THOSE DAM POTHEADS WHO PLAY THAT DAMN MUSIC AT ALL HOURS!"