i wish i’d had a camera in those days. i’d love to be able to show you exactly how strange and wonderful the old insomniac on laurel street was. at first, the rent was an affordable thousand dollars a month. then, abruptly, as we struggled for a health permit to sell the coffee that was our profit margin, the landlord tripled the rent. yes. tripled.
the mayfair theatre was a beautiful building, blueprints dated in 1939. it was huge and pink and had fourteen whole parking spaces. it had been a regular movie theatre, then closed, then was for years was a pussycat theatre, then closed, then re-opened as an art film house. the interior had been somewhat redecorated in the pussycat era — gold and red-velvet flocked walls and everything. it was … unique. we had a live-in janitor named RJ who had a deformed hand and was extremely scizophrenic. he lived in the attic, which he decorated with old pussycat theatre paraphernalia. quite gothic, no?
but i’m getting ahead of myself here. when we moved in there, the guys running it, hector and george, were running art films and losing their asses. they had full time jobs and didn’t have a lot of time to put into running the place. so we all joined in as partners — chris (and by this time, me), ben, judy, george, and hector. three pairs of partners each with their own, completely different agenda. can you see potential problems here? heh. yeah, conflict, we had.
ben and judy wanted to have hippie events that made no damn money at all. hector and george had minimums to pay for the films they ran. we wanted to bring in bands.
oh, and we had some bands. we had the mentors. we had pennywise, the offspring, greenday, and no doubt (not all at once). we tore out the first 20 or 30 rows of theatre seats for a mosh pit. it was a great pit, concrete floors with the remnants of seat attachments protruding. dangerous stuff.
ben and judy withdrew first, frustrated and understandably pissed that their visions met so much resistance from the more money-oriented partners. at that point the films were limited to early showings on friday and saturday so there could be bands. fridays at midnight we did the rocky horror picture show. oh, the memories. the young boys in the lingerie, oh my. we had a full cast, including a motorcycle that we let ride down the aisle, across the front, and back up the aisle, for meatloaf’s scene. i cannot express to you how much fun rocky nights were.
eventually hector and george withdrew too, and i was able to do their taxes in a way that showed a massive cash loss and resulted in nice tax returns, so they left happy men. i used to be a bookkeeper, have i mentioned that? i was a little too good at it.
so at that point it was just chris and i, left in charge of the place. our focus at that time was to have a place where kids could go and have fun, with no drugs, alcohol, or violence. we searched them fairly well, and watched ’em like we were babysitters (in a sense we were) while they were there. more than once i found myself in the girls bathroom pouring something down the drain as a saddened adolescent looked on. remembering my own adolescence, it made me sad too.
i’m starting to worry that my chronology is going to be really screwey on this. it’s something i should have taken my time writing, but i find myself hurrying, wanting to get it all out before the inspiration deserts me.
i will leave you with way gone:
to the black of my brain
i want to see what you’ve got
i’m writing poems and songs
like i can take your best shot
to the hole in the bathroom
where my knees they chitter and chat
come on pain
you can do better than that
your history is wrong
i never gave away time
i put you where you belong
then someone changed your mind
your history … is gone
to the hole in my soul
i’m tired of tripping on you
i’m going to start taking sharp notes
on everything that you do
that takes a whole lot of motion
my eyes keep seeing it flat
come on now
i can do better than that
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