the scary place, or rich, part 2

Rich lived in an apartment.  He was the first guy I knew who had his own apartment, and by no means was he mature enough.  He lived there with a roommate named Mark, a nice guy with a love for, umm, plants, and an undetermined number of rodents.

If you walked into this place, you wouldn’t believe that people lived there.

The apartment was in the basement of a house; the landlord lived upstairs.  So you had to sort of descend into the place.  When you opened the door, you were in the kitchen.  The kitchen table was completely unusable, it was piled high with stuff – electronic devices, magazines, books, newspapers, dishes, cups, and other assorted stuff – to accidentally brush up against the table as you walked by was likely to cause an avalanche of stuff on the floor.  And to accidentally cause an avalanche of stuff onto the floor would only add to the piles of stuff on the floor – there was a path through it all that led to the refrigerator, which usually contained ketchup and bread, and nothing else.  Rich ate ketchup sandwiches when he ate at home.

The kitchen counters were equally overloaded with stuff, and the kitchen sink was piled high with dishes and glasses.  When they needed a dish, they’d take one from the top of the pile, wash it, use it, and put it back.  I hated to think of what was at the bottom of that sink.

The living room was equally, umm, “cluttered.”  Cigarette ashes and butts were piled high on the coffee table (maybe two inches of the stuff), amidst bottles and cans and cups and books and magazines and VHS tapes and CDs and electronic stuff.  There was sometimes a spot on the couch where you could sit and watch a GG Allin video or some weird computer animation tape or whatever else happened to be playing on the TV (the only thing in the place that was actually clean).

Rich’s room had a bed and various musical gear.  We spent a lot of time in there, jamming and talking about starting a band and playing some shows.  We’d record music for hours; he’d give me tapes of his stuff and I’d add keyboard parts, or I’d give him keyboard stuff and he’d add bass and rhythm.  None of it was particularly good, but for me it was something creative to do.

Here’s how nasty the place was.  One day, while Mark was in the shower, a giant bubble formed in the ceiling in the kitchen.  Not knowing what it was, Rich took a kitchen knife and popped the bubble – and got immersed in water.  A pipe had burst in the ceiling.  Whenever they turned the shower on, the pipe would leak water into the kitchen.

Since Rich and Mark both worked during the day, calling a plumber would mean that the landlord would need to let them in to fix the pipe.  Allowing the landlord to let in a plumber would mean that the landlord would see how filthy the apartment was.  This would certainly lead to an eviction.

So they dragged a 55-gallon garbage can into the kitchen and let it fill up with water.  When the garbage can was full, they’d wait until dark and drag it outside and empty it in the landlord’s garden.

Rather than clean their apartment, they just dragged a trash can into their kitchen.  No kidding.

Despite all this, Rich’s apartment was the best place to hang out – until we moved into our apartment in Lodi.  The Lodi apartment was in the middle of a garden apartment complex, just up the road from Frank’s house.  It was a small, one-bedroom apartment, surrounded by some of the wackiest people I’ve ever met.  But since Sandy cares about where she lives, the place was clean, spacious enough to entertain a few guests, and had a fridge that contained more than just ketchup and bread.

Once we moved to Lodi, Rich told me “I don’t want to hang out at my apartment anymore.”  And started coming over several times a week.  Since Frank lived up the road with his family, he was a frequent guest as well.  The four of us would sit around at night, listening to music and bitching about our jobs.  The only one of us that really seemed to enjoy work was Sandy – she went to school for journalism, and was employed as a writer for a small newspaper in northern NJ.  Frank was fixing Macs for a computer company in Newark.  Rich was working as a Mac operator for a commercial printing company.  I was answering phone calls from cranky rich people who couldn’t get their cellphones to work.

I kept sending out resumes, but I kept getting shut out of interviews because I had no experience.  If I couldn’t get a job because I had no experience, how could I ever get experience?  How could a person ever get any experience at a record label if no record label would hire them?

I was becoming miserable again.  

And then one night it just hit me: Why not start my own damn record label?  I don’t like the crap most labels release anyway, and if I had my own label, I could release only music I liked.  I don’t have the foggiest idea what I’m doing, but even if I crashed it right into the ground, at least I could put some relevant experience on my resume.

The next time we all got together, I mentioned it to Rich and Frank.  They both liked the idea, too.  Frank thought it was great because I’d finally stop bitching about things and actually do something.  Rich thought it was great because we’d all be involved in something creative.  Frank offered to help us out by setting us up with a computer and software.  Rich offered to help us out by taking care of our printing and helping with any studio work we needed (he had experience as a recording studio engineer).

So we had someone to do PR (in the midst of all this, Sandy took a job with a PR company), someone to do A&R and promotion, someone to handle technology, someone to handle printing and artwork.

All we needed was a band.

~ by Al on January 7, 2009.

One Response to “the scary place, or rich, part 2”

  1. […] being piss poor kids in their early 20s, naively trying to navigate through life, him living in the filthiest apartment on Earth and us desperately trying to get out of my mother’s house, to being young executives, […]

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