the studio-sidelines 3

west washington had a name change during my absence of nearly twenty long years    abbott kinney snuck in   adding its own modern ardour to the venice sideshow       while subtracting more of my rememberance of the past    from its new equation..  

the monied color smell of green and prosperity     now covers those once-crumbling sidewalks   erasing the memory of the old impoverished west washington blvd.   now the newly-named puffs up its chest like a strutting peacock   and wears its namesake’s moniker with pride    the scent of new cash  reeks    lays as pungent  as the grapevines that replaced apple blossoms here in the  northbay   smirking, tossing sideways glances out of the corners of its eyes it     stared at me   a new street, sure of its shifty self and certain that it got away with something     this trendy  abbott kinney  sits   sleek and shiny     wrapped up in all the coffee house modern coolness  that its five blocks could possibly muster up for show,  it sat    entwined in this  new era of 2000 ish  hip,  showing off its pretty face      while the stench of poverty  forced to the backdrop stood still visible around its tarnished edges    in spite of all attempts to glam it  up  with a thin layer of LA’s finest  make-up, west washington/abbott kinney still looked slightly unsure of its own destination……

the studio still stood, to my surprise surviving multiple earth quaking, rattling and rolling       even the crumbling brick wasn’t crumbling anymore     and it stood,  freshly painted with new-ish woodwork looking like a  smaller cartoon version than i’d  remembered and minus the 1940’s ad that once blanketed its tattered sides in all its faded glory…some genius must have decided to  paint over it in   brick color   a cleaner line   erasing more history so that  all that used to be could be wiped clean from another old venice slate

in the 70’s, this building was simply another cheap, vacant  falling down dump     the studios, we called them  our middle one of three  held no art   but that of machineryand tools to create  eventual wooden beauties….also tucked away within the studio walls was a stack of hidden notebooks and two, maybe  three secret journals filled with poetry and writings   some overflowing with the angst of lost love    all scrawled for no others eyes to see and in a much younger hand..

saws roared out their own brand of art  in the front of the studio    a dead harley’s guts lay splayed  on dirty newspaper   its shiny innards   in constant state of surgical repose   while   three long, sturdy wooden tables  held center court  standing   heavy   ready  for the occasional lathing for chuck’s woodworking …  wood turned to beauty on sharp steel cut smooth wall and stair design for wealthy beverly hills   housewives   whose symphony directing husbands stayed unaware of their shameless flirting with the long-haired workers on site..the studio’s walls grinned as  tales of wealth and boredom and unpaid bills   eventually brought the workhouse saws to silence       the work dried up like the smiles on the scorned wive’s faces..

we weren’t the only inhabitants of this broken space     roaches the size of gophers had permanent resident status in a  never-used, ancient broken stove  in the back ‘ living’ area    and when they scurried too close    we threw  nightly  tea parties for them      no white gloves and pretty china cups   only an inevitable  midnite scald, the water’s heat heading them off at the pass from and out of our immediate, stoned out line of vision …

in the corner     stood an old sparklett’s water cooler filled with red mountain vin rose’ which yes    we drank from like thirsty fools     cattle to the trough       a circle of old funky chairs  wrapped their torn arms around a makeshift phone company cable spool coffee table that was covered in dripping candle wax    and there, we laughed and laughed the night away like hyenas    while music blared from the small stereo in the corner, blasting and echoing the tunes of the day  sound richocheted  off the high concrete walls  while volume was set and never controlled..   

when nightime fell, two of us climbed an old rickety ladder  to sleep in upstairs loft ledge on a small mattress       another one of us   slept, ravaged by dream snippets caught between nightmares of a war that had chewed up his innocence and spit  him out        newly returned from uncle sam’s freebee tour of vietnam   we watched him sometimes from above, as he tossed and turned in the  night   his memories of killing fields and tortured deaths strangling  his sleep’s  peace    he remained   the one in the studio with  little to laugh    about..    the  exception was the foolish grin he wore when the venice post office brought word of the final return of a soldier’s duffle bags    unbeknowst to our civil servants,  the multiple pounds of killer weed  shipped back from the mekong delta  had arrived safe and sound     a parting gift and   timely arrival  put that grin on and the happy  back…

for the first six months   the upstairs         evening dancers came      naked feet pounded on the studio ceiling ’til all hours      a modern dance troupe   perfecting their art were our invisible neighbors    heard but never seen   while the wild dykes  fighting at all hours in front of their bar across the street, did their own sort of dance    hidden  in the dark of the night and early morning, they slipped quietly into their private watering hole until last call   brought some out brawling into the streets    usually over the last cutie standing      hoping for love..

we beat a constant path  between art/studio space and 27th avenue   taking shortcuts through the canals and over the bridge to a kind sister’s pad     at the beach  necessary showers and home cooked meals were shared    each day    domino bones slapped ’round tabletops after a family meal   and this, a true and comfy ‘home’  provided respite   from the studio’s constant feel of boy’s club/  

 awhile later     the new upstairs neighbors moved in        music and bass line thump replaced the stomping feet   tim from the old days of ocean park blvd  and richmond’s bookstore moved upstairs      with wife and young      kid…    then eventually, the  stench of  discord and relationship screamin’  added to the din    a heavy unhappiness lay across the studio’s ceiling like a thick new rug    while a torrid sadness quietly  became the new dance steps  unheard    the occasional blare of a  weird jazz horn  yowled into the night  and soon after, only  lonely silence remained…

i heard  tim died  too  another upstairs casualty  one strong hit that took him out of this world with a needle stuck  in the flesh  of his  too-thin arm      he  OD’d       taking his brilliant          musical genius off to another plane       then years later  his son  as a young man in his own   newly discovered and talented rite    took a   late-night      swim in the murky swirling shadows of the mississippi   river   and disappeared        too soon      at the height of his own brief  buckley legend      a sad  hallelujah   

we from the studio survived those days       and eventually gave up the space and  headed back to the avenues for a seventy-five dollar a month pad  at the beach……venice’s ease and magic was slowly losing its shine   friends were moving  to big sur     northern ca  and washington    while  small islands in the pacific beckoned with tales of white sands  turquoise seas and pristine valleys     rumors whispered on the soft lips of wayward tradewinds from fellow travelers     who spoke of a new and still pristine paradise     and many of us listened    knowing a change was in the air…the venice we knew was becoming more and more unrecognizable        and looking over your shoulder on once comfortable streets was the new state of the art…

yes, we paid attention and listened as the death knoll  of impending doom

 tolled  loudly      reminding us  that what was  once feelin’  like home      

was about to reinvent itself     and it increased these forlorn dirge-like tones

and        hallelujah…

we escaped just in time

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About lindalou5150

as exercise or exorcism, i write...for the eyes of others, for my eyes and heart only, for the love and the rage, i write...to release the gamut of emotion...to tell the truth and say what's often thought but not written...
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