i am so happy. words cannot express the waves of gratitude
and relief i have experienced in the last four days since i first
moved into my new home.
for the past twelve years, since i left new york to spend a
year and a half with my dying father, i have been shunted
around against my will. after my father died my brothers sold
the house my father designed and built on camano island
overlooking the puget sound. i would gladly have stayed
there and that would have been simple except i would have to
pay off my brother and two stepbrothers for their share of my
i didn't have a penny to my name.
due to a series of circumstances and the laws of the universe i
took up with a lady who had a house and a restaurant; the "fish
in'"(a play on words for a restaurant which had been serving
breakfast to the fishermen at 4:00 a.m. since 1923. rockport
was high up in the cascade mountains of washinton state right
at the confluence of the mighty skagit and sauk rivers.
a famous spot not only for the prized game fish the steelhead,
a wily young salmon, but also for the congregation in the
winter months of about 554 american bald eagles. on a typical
rainy, misty day they would be hanging out in the trees along
the river looking all broody and bored.
my brother bobby lived on the sauk prairie on a lot of land in a
small house where he and his wife kathie had birthed six
children; five boys and finally the last child was a girl. so i
was close to my brother and his family. that was good.
dixie and i renovated the fish in' working side by side for
months. and when we weren't busy with the construction and
decorating i made a place of my own, with permission,under
the 'fish' as everyone called it. dixie was a volatile 'empress'
type and even though i not only fit her list of attributes for
the man she was praying for, plus some she learned to
appreciate, she broke up with me seven times.
so, after a couple of years in rockport, i moved to a pig farm in sumas on
the canadian border…. flatlanders, we upriver people called
them down there on the flood plain.
i had put an ad in the paper… to the effect " artist will fix up
your house or old barn in return for a place to stay. here
again, i had to leave because the conditions were intolerable.no need to go into the details, it'll be in the book though.
my agreement with the owner was two hours a day as a handy
man, five days a week would be equivalent to what one might
pay to live on planks with walls covered with a hundred years
of pig shit. i put in some windows upstairs and mowed and
pruned and painted. i had plenty of time for my own work but
i was pissed at the world and extremly depressed.
then at the end of august 2000 i rented a u-haul and dragged
it down to los angeles with my father's old cadillac (1978). it
was an old golden warhorse my father dubbed "xanadu"…
"in zanadu did kubla khan his stately pleasure dome decree…"
from the poem kubla khan by coleridge.
i called an l.a. friend to stay on his couch. even though i had put him up at my house in new york, he refused. so i slept in the car.i put everything in storage the next day and slept in a residential neighborhood by the curb in the grass to get flat. you don't sleep very well sitting up.
the next day in redondo beach i showed my paintings… unframed and leaning against trees and folding chairs… they thought i was crazy, everyone else had these lovely gold frames and each one had it's own easel or stand or pavillion.
a generous artist named bela gave me some advice. "go to venice." she meant venice beach which i had never heard of.
so i went there. i did a few portraits and stayed in the hostel a block away.
i did o.k. on the venice boardwalk until november when the rain and winds make it very uncomfortable. and of course, no tourists.so no money for the hostel… so i wound up sleeping upright in the car again. until i let a young fellow move it from the library to my regular spot in front of the post office vehicle parking lot. (very impersonal and all my friends knew where i could be found.) but he got pulled over for no seat belt going three blocks, and he had a suspended license so they busted the car and gave it a sentence of thirty days…
thirty days' storage would have been over $800 here.
that night i dreamed i was in my father's cadillac flying…
then i was hanging onto a building parapet with the seat belt on clinging to the wall with my fingernails holding the full weight of the car…. i yelled down to some pedestrians. "can anybody cut me out of this car"
like a good amatuer indian i took it as a sign, and didn't go through a struggle to save xanadu. but that left me pushing a dolly with all my paintings and equipment down streets wide and narrow to the boardwalk and then at night to somewhere where i could sleep beside it.
then i managed to get into the 'yes center', a supposed ashram run by a mister a. at first i had high hopes, sharing a small room with three other people; a japanese surfer/student, an english musician of considerable skill and an iranian nanoscientist.
but it turned out to have no traditional activities and was more of a slum and i ended up sitting in the garden every night trying to drink myself to death… i guess.
my best friend mr. h. rescued me one night and i wound up in a sober living house in culver city.
after two years they decided to sell the house and couldn't provide a next place where you could share a house with thirteen people and a room with one other man which is big enough to walk between the beds.
then i lucked out.. i found a nice house which was organized loosely by four sober people. i stayed there for almost a year. i lost that by letting my friend barbara park her car in my spot.
too bad because i was really wailing with the painting and that's where i started my opera journal.
so it was back to a nomad life for a month with my noble destrier the jeep cherokee i bought for $600 by paying $100 a month from my married friends b. and b.a. if i put everything from the back on the roof i could actually sleep flat.
then a good friend mr.s. hooked me up with mr. l. and i had a small private room in a made-over garage at the orchid farm called 'serenity house' lmao… because that's when real hell ensued. the owner decided to move into the garage-house which i shared with two others.
i was put into a small room in the front house to share my room with one other man and the kitchen with about ten men… all slobs when it comes to culinary arts and clean-up.
and finally after a few months of that they put me into a trailer with a total space of 7 feet by 11 feet to share with a new evacuee from the renovation.
they said we could all move back into our rooms in december. great only eight months without a kitchen or cable t.v.. and worst of all. no internet. and we were using a porta potty with a construction crew of sometimes twenty men.
the kitchen was gutted and i was living on peanut butter and graham crackers and desperate to get out of the box with a window. then they made us move everything out that might break so they could move the trailer out of the street.
all this time, for twelve years i have wondered what forces were involved in pushing me around.
i still don't know. but i am happy and have landed in a very nice apartment which is mine alone, with a clean kitchen and a lovely bathroom of my own. i also have a nice bedroom and a very big living room on the ground floor so i can grow herbs for cooking and maybe a few roses. i am so happy.