Saturday, May 10, 2014

Something's End, Part 2


If you read Part 2 without reading Part 1 first, well, that is just like cutting in line, now isn’t it? We take cutting in line very seriously around here. Do not test us on this. Go read Part 1. Go! We will still be here when you get back.

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Back when 3400 Montrose was mine, I usually slept on the fourth floor of the building, right there at the northeast corner that overlooked the Kroger store next door.

The room I slept in, it was completely sealed off, with no doors to the hallway or to any other suite. I had to climb down through the ceiling from a utility closet on the fifth floor to reach it.

It stank. Whenever I slept there, I stank, too.

But it was mine and I had somewhere to sleep and I had to sleep somewhere.

I still have the master keys to the whole building. Right here. I keep them with me even after all of these years, just in case. I figure if ever everything else in my life falls through, I still have the keys to the bathrooms for 3400 Montrose, you know? I mean, you never know…

I do not suppose the keys to the bathrooms for 3400 Montrose would do me much good now.

I went back there again today to take more pictures. Those bathrooms are gone, baby. The room on the fourth floor – the one I used to sleep in? – that’s gone, too.

They used to be mine. The bathrooms, the sealed room, the whole building.

3400 Montrose. It was mine… kind of.

Tommy stayed down on the second floor and he was dying in slow motion and I had his master keys. I just had to make sure nothing bad happened at night, and so long as I did, the building was mine. I could stay. I could sleep anyplace I wanted. It was mine.

Have I mentioned it was mine?

“NO TRASH. NO COPS. NO SPRAY PAINT.”

That was the deal. That is what Tommy told me.

So for two years and six months, there was no trash and no cops and no spray paint at 3400 Montrose. I made sure of that. Oh sure, there was prostitution and there were drugs and sometimes – rarely, but sometimes – the whole place reeked of jazz musicians a-go-go.

There were makeshift flophouse rooms and there were defenestrating fags. But by God, there was no trash, no cops, and no spray paint. Not on my watch.


I remember. Now that it is over and done, I mean, I remember every nook and every cranny of those ten floors. Every rat, every crumbling asbestos tile, every oozing black mold bubble pop. Flashlights reflecting off eyeballs looking out from black corners where nothing and no one should have been. Ladders punched up through utility closets that no one else knew about. Splinters. Strange scampering sounds in the walls.

It was all so very cool and I had someplace to sleep.

It was so cool.

Time went by and Tommy died and I met Dana. The building went into foreclosure six times in just two years. Then the City condemned the elevators. Then all the businesses moved away.

One night, I was standing out front when the entire face of the ninth floor fell off and nearly landed right on top of me. And although I am not one to believe in signs, I took that as a sign and I got out while the getting was still good.

I always thought I might go back there someday and have another go at it, but it seems like this might be the end. I doubt they are going to allow me to climb around inside the walls of the 30-story luxury apartment tower that is replacing my 3400.

So there is no reason, I suppose, to drag out this goodbye song for any longer. Really, it’s all been downhill since the line about “defenestrating fags,”  anyway.

I could ramble on and on and I could get all weepy and sentimental or I could just- 


53 comments:

  1. You can't stop without explaining the defenestrating fags. Were they fags in English - that's cigarettes, of course - or in Americanish? The former would've been trash if defenestrated, and as for the latter...

    Well.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. At least three times a year, someone would get thrown through a window on the first floor late at night on club nights. A couple times, people jumped out a second floor window under weird circumstances, too.

      One night a window was broken by - and I'm NOT kidding about this - a fight between a guy in a wedding dress and a dwarf.

      The police did show up that time, but the pair was in the grocery store parking lot next door by that time.

      Delete
    2. A fight between a guy in a wedding dress and a dwarf is not something you can make up. RIP the 3400 Montrose

      Delete
    3. Hey, Brent!

      I think I've mentioned the bearded bride vs. dwarf fight before - if not at this site, then at my old one. It is an image sort of burned into my mind forever. It is everything I love about this neighborhood.

      Delete
    4. I believe you did mention it before. The stuff you can't make up is always best.  My brother said he knew he had become a New Yorker when a guy in a gorilla suit walked past him in the West Village and he didn't notice until much later.

      Delete
    5. It's pretty amazing what you can become sort of oblivious to.

      We interview people at work who are SO strange, and I have to set it to the back of my mind and remind myself to remember it later on.

      Sometimes it's months or even years before I remember something that was really, really a strange, wonderful situation or person. Everything is stranger than I acknowledge in this world.

      Delete
  2. I had to look up defenestrating. Maybe it's me, but this post is very melancholy. Not in a bad way. Just, well, melancholy.

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    1. I had a tough time with this one. I wish I had written straight through last week. I rewrote it entirely, and still couldn't find a rhythm or cadence for it at all.

      So it is what it is.

      I suppose it's good to get these things down for posterity.

      Delete
  3. By "first floor" you mean what's known as the *ground floor* and by "second floor" you mean the *first floor*, I suppose? Because throwing people out of first floor windows would result in more than a few broken bones, and I don't see your wedding dwarf duo walking away after a second floor fall.

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    1. First floor being ground floor and second floor being the floor above that, yeah. I'm also not 100% certain as to how they managed to break the window that time. It might not have been a human body going through it.

      Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I'm supposed to use the term "dwarf." "Little person" just isn't poetic, though.

      This is why I end up using first drafts of my writing!

      Delete
  4. He pulls up this shorts and steps up onto the soap box...

    "I here by defenestrating Mother's Day, Hallmark moments and political correctness"

    A different sort of Mother's Day blog. Not your boring Hallmark moment

    http://goodstuffsworld.blogspot.com/2014/05/mothers-day-photo-dump.html

    When I wrote the words to the swan song
    The author of the wrong
    And I said what I said and I meant it
    But now I regret it

    Defenestrating Swan Song

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's funny what people will grab onto in a blog.

      Sometimes I think I can predict it, but I rarely can. That is why I really should go back to my old habit of dropping weird references and Easter eggs liberally throughout my blog posts.

      Defenestration will get comments.

      Delete
  5. A hidden room? That's intriguing? I've spent pretty much the entirety of my existence living in the same yard, with no hidden rooms, how mundane is that?

    Also, I think I bought one of those pine tree air fresheners once that smelled like jazz musicians a-go-go.

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  6. It wasn't quite as exotic or mysterious as it sounds. At some point, a business tenant wanted to downsize their space because of money problems and the building management accomplished this by dry-walling up one end of their suite.

    This is dumb as hell, of course, because there's no way to get rent money from a space you've closed in, but these weren't exactly geniuses.

    Thank you for not mentioning "defenestration"!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I read this one first. Now I am going back to read Part 1. And there is nothing, NOTHING you can do about it. So there.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I have all sorts of bad mojo written into the words if read in the wrong order.

      You don't think I'd waste my time writing this crap if there weren't other layers to the vibrations here, do you?

      Delete
  8. What an amazing life. Exciting but sad. Melancholy.

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    1. Thanks. Some would say, "So you were basically an unpaid security guard?"

      And yes, that would be true, too.

      Delete
  9. Ewww, it smelled of jazz musicians? The thing about the smell of jazz musicians, is it's the aromas you don't smell.
    So it only took an entire wall falling on you to convince you to move? You're dedicated.
    Is this the last post here or the penultimate with the final being the directions to the new blog?

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    1. I was very dedicated - especially since I wasn't actually getting paid, and I'm not sure the owner knew I existed.

      Anyway, the death of this blog is taking longer than expected. I am going to set up the new one in the very near future and link it here... unless I decide there's something else I need to say this week, in which case, this page could drag on even longer.

      Delete
  10. They give keys to people just like that? And you passed up the chance to cook meth? Smell of jazz musicians should have overpowered that. No trash, no cops and no spray paint, where do I sign up?

    A fight b/w a guy in wedding dress and dwarf these are the things which makes me build a temple for the guy who thought about having cameras in phones.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't think giving me keys was an example of best business practices, no.

      I STILL don't have a phone with a camera worth a darn. If I took a picture with my camera today (and I do so only rarely) I'd STILL have to explain what you were kind of seeing in the photo.

      I do have an iPad, though, as demonstrated by these great pics I've been taking of the old building. It's been exciting, because up until the past couple months, I've never been able to take pics of the stuff I'm talking about.

      Delete
    2. Explain the photo - that sounds like my artwork. I have to try and label all parts if I ever drew something. I hve a windows phone with same problem. I need a new camera with wireless upload I don't have good pictures with taken with my phone camera.
      your iPad seem to be doing alright. I hate lack of zoom in iPad though.

      I would trust you with my keys but trust me with my keys - hmmm I don't think so.

      Delete
    3. With my iPad, I can zoom in a little if I move my fingers along the screen before taking the picture. It seems to do a lot better with outdoor pictures than indoor, though.

      No complaints, though, because I've finally gotten some good pics of my tarantula.

      Delete
  11. You used my favorite word: defenestration. That earns you so many bonus points.

    Also, I hate jazz people. Not jazz music, but jazz people. You know the kind.

    I get it, I get it, your music is soooo superior to mine, and the fact that I think it sounds like a wet fart being run through a woodchipper just means I don't "get it."

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    1. I used to listen top a lot of progressive rock. Then, about 12 years ago, i joined some prog list serve and it ruined everything for me.

      I was always thinking of that old William Shatner sketch from Saturday Night Live where he is at a Star Trek Convention and tells the crowd to go get a life.

      Delete
  12. "I could ramble on and on and I could get all weepy and sentimental..."

    I would have hung around to read that.

    It's hard to watch crucial elements of our lives disappear, even when they remind us of more difficult times (and certainly if we romanticize those times and forget the difficulty.) At the same time, it's almost never possible to go back to what was. It is the epitome of the human condition, that we pretty much only get to d things once, even if we live long enough to do it a few times.

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    1. Oh yeah, it's incredibly easy to romanticize things once they're gone. At least until I read my old journals.

      I'm as happy now as I've ever been.

      Someday, I'm, sure I'll be romanticizing these days.

      Delete
  13. I was driving around my old hometown one night about fifteen years after having left for the big city lights and an unrewarding career as a factory worker in the Nashville area, when it hit me that the house I had grown up in now belonged to total strangers. My sisters and I had been raised in that house. My parents had died there. And now it belonged to people who didn't even know its secrets. They didn't know about the small patch of wood putty in the floor of my parents closet was actually there to conceal a bullet hole my older sister had created while playing with my dad's rifle. Or that the same bullet hole incident had resulted in a much larger hole in the ceiling of the basement below it, which was subsequently covered with drop down ceiling tiles. Or that the funny looking movable pole that supported all of the house's weight in the middle of the basement was actually there because we used to have a pool table, and the post that pole replaced often blocked cue sticks from their proper angle. Without the pool table, it must seem like the oddest thing imaginable. A moving double pole with industrial strength ball bearings at the ceiling and floor... So I had a few more beers as I drove around the old hometown, and before long I had myself convinced that someone should go knock on the door of my old house, and explain to those strangers all of the secrets they couldn't possibly know about. In the middle of the night. Quite drunk. They didn't seem interested at all in letting me come in and show them around their "new" house. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's a great story.

      I think that's what happens when we die: No one gives a shit about the bullet holes in the floor of the closet, and no one understands what makes our stories different.

      But the upside is that no one is going to remember or care about the stories of the new residents, either.

      Which makes me wonder why i bother spending all of that time cleaning the upstairs bathroom or even going to school.

      Delete
  14. Katy, I tend to believe our universe is comprised of the collective memories of nameless millions before us. We "bother" to collect them for ourselves because the alternative is bleak... lobotomy? Death? Endless reruns of "Leave it to Beaver"? Cleaning the upstairs bathroom is optional, school isn't.

    I don't know what happened, but when I read your story it reminded me of a sad evening in my own life. Not as hardscrabble or horrible as your tale, obviously, and compared to your path in life I guess mine was paved and well lit. But we've all got places that meant something to us as kids that are now forbidden, hence the nostalgia. You don't know lonely until you're standing outside of your old childhood home and realize nothing about it is "yours" anymore.

    Sometimes I envy the military kids who had twenty childhood homes all over the world. Their homesick ache must be diffused enough to make the stab wounds a little less deep, don't you think?

    I climbed those trees... I built that wall... I helped till that garden... Those are my mom's irises in that flower bed, people! Lemme in... Let me show you the loose panel in my basement bedroom closet where I hid dirty magazines from my parents... (hey... did I get those magazines before I left home?)

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    1. My grandmother went to something like 16 different schools because her dad was in the military. She seems to have that nostalgia deeper than anyone I have ever known. It's just for an episode in her life that wasn't around long at all.

      Oh, and it involves seeing walruses and albatross on Guam or Midway (so help me, I forget which one she's nostalgic about at the moment).

      The key, I think, is never being able to go back there in any real sense, like Dorothy trying to figure out how she ever got to Oz.

      Delete
  15. Seems like you did a lot of growing up in the Montrose. I hope you love it as much as I did. I spent my early 20’s in the Montrose, living in a house on Welch, a garage apt on Mt. Vernon, an upstairs apt on Fairview above the SDS, who were Commie Hippie AntiWar Activists, during the Cong War, Another garage apt on Garrett, an apt on Sul Ross, an apt on Harold and a fourplex upstairs apt on Colquitt. I also house sat one of the last old fourplex apts upstairs apts on Hawthorne a few years ago. It was like a homecoming.
    God I miss the Montrose, It turned me from a good mommas boy into a draft dodging college student AKA a doper hippie bartender. I worked on Market Square at five different bars back then in the gool old days, when the braless little hippie chicks ran wild. I believe every word you say Katy. My memories are all good as long as I don’t think about how close I can to being busted numerous times. I love it when I read in your posts about things in the Montrose. Then again I love everything you post.

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    1. Hi, Frank. This building was right there at Montrose and Hawthorne, next to the Kroger they call "Disco Kroger" because, well, it's fabulous.

      They're tearing most of my Montrose down. Dana and I lived in some apartments for a while right off of 59 on Castle Court that they're tearing out. They're tearing out part of Richmont Square on Richmond, which is a huge apartment complex everybody has lived in at one time or another.

      Dana and I also lived in some cool apartments on Hawthorne for a while - just behind Bering UMC Church, on this little strip between Westheimer and Hawthorne. That one is still there, somehow. I've been floating around the northeast end of Montrose ever since.

      Delete
  16. This was a lot for me to read in the condition my brain is in but it was well worth reading (though I had to skip some of the links due to increasing headache). Diane and I went there often. I had no idea that there were drugs, prostitutes, and “defenestrating fags...” though I suspected there were some gays from Mary's across the street, a place I got tricked into going to only once.

    I just tried to write a blog and it took me three hours. Just a fairly simple blog. I can't stand what this TIA did to me. It's not fair!

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    1. Mary's is finally gone forever, you know. It closed about 20 times over the years, but it's really and actually gone this time.

      I am saddened to hear about your TIA. Someone every important to me had a stroke a few weeks back and it's horrible and frustrating when parts of you seem blotted out by something so arbitrary. Keep working at it. There's no way to know what's gone and what comes back...

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I still value the friendship we've had over the years and I'm sorry I let so many things get in the way and take my time that I would have spent writing you. At least I've read most of your blogs and commented on most of them. I do miss chatting with you.

      Delete
    3. I didn't know that Mary's closed for good but I can't say that I'm sorry. That was a dark place... literally and figuratively. I am sad about the rooftop Jazz place though. I MAY still have a picture taken from the rooftop but my mom may have gotten rid of it. She didn't like it because it was eerie but it held a good memory for me. The picture would have been better if the fog hadn't rolled in and distorted the look of the fireworks.

      Delete
    4. I was talking to someone about you earlier. Are you going to / do you need to do physical therapy for the TIA issues? There's stuff that they apparently can do in PT for eyesight issues. I don't know what Medicare covers in that regard, though.

      I've cut my online time down by half in recent weeks. It might not show, but I have. I'll always be around a ridiculous amount, though, and I always look forward to hearing from you!

      Delete
    5. Sorry to hear it Cal. I'm reminded not to take good heath for granted. Hope things work out for you.
      So Mary's finally bit the dust. A couple of time I took a girl there for the first date, and I took my first wife there on a double date.The first time I was there I met one of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen. She was about 18 or 19 and she was covered with all kind of colorful tatoo's . She told me she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was more freaked than she seemed to be. I heard later than she didn't make it but it was third or fourth hand so I hope it wasn't true. I never really hung out there but it was a neat place to take someone who came from a Leave it to Beaver background. I still go to the Alabama Ice House five or six times a year.. It's still pretty much like it's been the last forty years. There are still a lot of good looking girls even if they are wearing bras, a bunch of old timers, full time and weekend bikers, gays,

      Delete
    6. Katy, I'm not going to do physical therapy. I've been injured by PT enough. haha I'll work on it myself. It's just hard for me to read anything of length on certain days.

      I've cut my online time down significantly as well since the TIA. I've been sleeping a lot also. I always look forward to hearing from you as well.

      Delete
    7. Thanks Frank. My late wife used to go to Mary's with a gay male friend to smoke weed. haha Marys seemed to switch from laid back to very rough depending upon which group was there. Maybe there was a war between the two segments... or too many wars?

      Delete
    8. Nothing wrong with plenty of time spent sleeping.

      I missed out on sleep for the first couple decades of life. I wish I had realized how great it was earlier!

      Delete
  17. lesbians. bi's transexuals,,straight's, inbetweens, blacks, whites, hispanics, oriental, usetobe and wannabe hippies, usetobe yuppies, con's, ex con, cheats, marks, pros, semipros, sluts, jocks, punks, drop outs musicians, fans, tourists, ex Montresees, college pukes, Naked College Coed's. I wish, and "one one little Heb from the Heart of Texas" (Kinky's been there), a pretty good cross sections of Houston. It's the best place still in Montrose, except for Anderson Fair (unless it closed while I was gone).
    Speaking of Hippie Chicks, it's occured to me that it's a good thing Facebook wasn't around when I was living in the Montrose. Otherwise anyone who's mother is in their sixties, might see their braless little hippie chick mother on someone's webpage. Frank

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    1. Montrose is changing fairly rapidly. I mean, I've been there a while now, so some change has to be expected. But they are basically clear-cutting the old structures for three-story townhomes. Whole blocks in my neighborhood are getting the ax for them.

      And there's a Walmart on Yale, between the Heights and Montrose! A Walmart!

      Delete
  18. lesbians. bi's transexuals,,straight's, inbetweens, blacks, whites, hispanics, oriental, usetobe and wannabe hippies, usetobe yuppies, con's, ex con, cheats, marks, pros, semipros, sluts, jocks, punks, drop outs musicians, fans, tourists, ex Montresees, college pukes, Naked College Coed's. I wish, and "one one little Heb from the Heart of Texas" (Kinky's been there), a pretty good cross sections of Houston. It's the best place still in Montrose, except for Anderson Fair (unless it closed while I was gone).
    Speaking of Hippie Chicks, it's occured to me that it's a good thing Facebook wasn't around when I was living in the Montrose. Otherwise anyone who's mother is in their sixties, might see their braless little hippie chick mother on someone's webpage. Frank

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sorry about the double or triple duplicate post. My laptop either sends it via the scenic route or it stops by the NSA to visit some of my other posts. Notice the times of the same post. The second one hit some two hours later.

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    1. Do you think NSA could give me the passwords to my old Yahoo accounts? Because I can't get into them anymore, and I had a lot of important material saved on email.

      If I'm going to spied on, I might as well make it work for me.

      Delete
  20. I have to say this: the best writers are the ones with the hardest pasts or should I say 'more challenging' experiences. I couldn't even imagine and I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. (And yes, I read part 1 too)….. But, I have to say aside from your grueling and interesting experience, your writing is just amazing. Your descriptions just captures your reader, well, it certainly captured me. Buildings may crumble down (even proverbial ones) but it's important to know when to exit - to gracefully take a bow and to start anew. I hope you do direct me to your new blog! Your material is extremely raw and honest. It's what I love about your writing.

    Keep a girl notified!!!!

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    1. Hi, Deb, and thank you!

      I expect that i will posting the location of my new blog this weekend.

      It will be almost exactly like this one, but with a new name and address.

      Delete
    2. Awesome! Cheers to your new blog! :)

      Delete
  21. I don't know if you're still viewing the comments on this blog, but you've got some rich history behind you. Your writing is truly unique, and I look forward to reading more of it on your new blog.

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    1. So long as I'm getting the email notifications, i'll be reading comments.

      I'm hoping to do some new things with my writing at the new place, but then again, I'm always hoping for that...

      Delete

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