Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Daily Weirdness in the Slums of BH

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The ebbs and flow of our building. Maybe it's the transient nature of the neighborhood -- the Slums of Beverly Hills -- where very few people stay here for very long. Maybe it's the physical limitations to living in the actual apartment building. It's over 60 years old and it's rundown. Sure, it's in better shape than the bug bed infested slum next door with all of the weird Persian people talking on cell phones at odd hours, and a husky woman hanging out of her window and chain smoking menthols.

The only reason Nicky stuck around as long this in our apartment was because of the price tag. She originally moved here because of the proximity to where she worked in Beverly Hills. Even when Showcase moved out to WeHo and I officially ended my vagabond status and moved some stuff in, I was always trying to get Nicky to think about some place else. Unfortunately, the timing was never right because we were constantly on the road for work, or I needed to stay put to finish a book, and then she lost her steady gig last year. Sure, there were other neighborhoods in LA where I would have rather lived but those places are more expensive, rivaling NYC, and if I was going to pay NYC rent prices to live in a bungalow in the Hills, then I wanted to live in NYC.

Our two-story boxed building in the Slums of BH has seven units: 2 two bedrooms, 4 one bedrooms, and one studio. We have six parking spots (each spot can fit two vehicles) and the last fucker to rent the apartment gets shit out of luck with a space and has to settle for street parking. During Spaceman's first visit, he said the alley reminded him of The Big Lebowski. With the exception of the artist renting out the only studio, we've been here the longest. Yep, long lasting tenants. No wonder the landlord doesn't like us too much because we probably pay the less than he knows he could get if he fixed it up and found some hipsters or rich kids to rent it out for redonkulous prices.

Two of the front units, both single bedroom units, have been constantly changing, shifting, never static. When we returned from Vegas, I noticed that both front units had brand new tenants moving in their stuff -- both were couples renting out one bedrooms. Gone from the first floor was the sad French lady with thousands of cooking books who smoked Virginia Slims. Also gone from the second floor was the ginger hipster with his Asian girlfriend, who looked like she was 16.

The last time our landlord had a pair of vacant apartments, it took him several months to finally rent them both out -- and this was with the assistance of a rental agent. We suspected he was asking too much above market price, especially because the 60-year old building is in a major demand for an overhaul, especially the plumbing, which is absolute shit. But... maybe he finally lowered his price? Besides, times are tough and both vacancies were snatched up rather quickly.

I haven't seen much of the first couple, a pair of twenty-somethings, save for one of them throwing out trash one night. They looked like post-college kids, but I didn't see anything flashy or extraordinary about them. Nicky and I met the other couple when they moved in - a skinny guy in his late 20s who shacked up with an older woman in her late 30s or early 40s. She had the day job and used the solo car, which left him with a skateboard as his only mode of transportation. I've seen him with it a couple of times in the mornings, as he skated away with a bag and a saxaphone case slung around his shoulder. I haven't heard him practice at all. Maybe he smuggles shit back and forth in his sax box?

The hipster couple above us have been mellow this summer compared to the tempestuous and furious verbal jousts we were used to hearing all Spring. The recent newlyweds who were fighting almost nightly before we left for Vegas. I guess their "moving to LA from the East Coast" honeymoon was over, and the gloves came off. Some of the arguments were vicious screaming matches. Stressed. They were both stressed about trying to follow their dreams and trying to deal with the harsh grimness of reality. Jobs are tough, especially in the entertainment world. The pay is horrible and you hump shitty day jobs while everyone else around you lives the good life. The LA grind is demoralizing for anyone, even for the few successful artisans.

Since we got back, I noticed the couple upstairs have been both working a lot, so that means less time to worry about money and more money coming in. Money is a dream crusher in LA, well, either the pursuit of money drags you down, or not having enough money to survive causes intense emotional pain -- both situations are disastrous for dreamers trying to make a name for themselves in Tinseltown.

The hipster couple upstairs must think that Nicky and I are getting along great, because they never hear us fighting anymore, but that's because we've eliminated a main source of our friction -- living in LA. She finally pulled the trigger on leaving LA, and I finally got my wish -- to live somewhere that isn't Vegas or LA. Yep, that's why we don't argue as much, other than the usual bickering that comes with the territory of any serious relationship in excess of five years.

The guy across the way is still bitter suit guy. He angrily leaves every morning and speeds off in his Beamer, then angrily returns at night only to crank up his TV and watch baseball or Sportscenter. He repeats the process on weekdays and I've never seen him with a female visitor. Either he has zero luck with the ladies or he's a sad homo. Either way, I always saw a dark cloud around him and after spying on him over the last year or so, I've come to conclusion that he follows a sullen routine. No wonder he never says hello. I avoid the pissed off guy as much as possible.

I'm not very friendly with the girl who lives above him. The dark haired in her early 20s and is always wearing the typical restaurant garb -- white collared shirt and black pants. She hasn't been around much so I have to assume she's working lots of shifts at the restaurant. I don't think I've seen her with a guy more than once or twice, so assumed that she liked girls and was having a torrid affair with a female friend who often dropped by her place. They'd get super drunk on wine and scream and laugh a lot. I have a dirty mind, so I assumed they also did lots of lewd things to each other. I dunno how a recent USC grad can earn enough in the food industry to pay rent on a one bedroom in the Slums of BH, pay school loans, and a car payment? Unless... she's dealing phramies on the side. Most likely she's subsidized by her country club parents. I think she'll be moving on soon. 20-somethings have short attention spans. She'll finally move out when finds a boyfriend and she moves in with him, or has enough courage to tell her parents she's a lipstick lesbian and move in with her lover. Otherwise, she'll get frustrated with being a waitress with a meaningless degree in Psychology and eventually get into an awful fight with her parents, then sell her car and move to Bali in protest.

In the meantime, the slumlord who owns the join next door has been renovating different ground floor apartments all summer long, which means there's random workers, all non-English speaking illegals, showing up at 7am and sawing shit and running all sorts of power tools. They greet me every morning, but not really because they are afraid I'll call Immigration and they'll get tossed into a secret ICE facility for three weeks before deported back home to Pakistan, Mexico, and Panama.

Every morning, the alley smells like spoiled milk, cat piss, and turpentine. Ah, I'm gonna miss LA in the summer.... but not really.

The actress/waitress who lives across the alley still sings and that's one of the few things I'll actually miss about living in LA -- my office, especially the open window and hearing the melodious sounds of someone practicing their craft. The hipster girl who lives above us, uses the second bedroom as her practice space and I hear her strumming along on the violin frequently. Those sounds also create a mellow and creative environment when I'm below her pecking away at the keyboard. I'm a sponge and soak up the vibe and energy of people around me -- so if I hear sounds that remind me of noble artistic pursuits, then I welcome those sounds into my ears and I'll let my brain feed off it, which in turn will help fuel my own endeavors.

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