Saturday, June 26, 2004

So get this – the landlord has moved into our building. Up from Orange County where the man probably had a nice house in Irvine, just to dwell in our one-bedroom housing complex in Santa Monica. Why?

Because that’s the only way he could kick out one of the residents. The woman who was in that apartment was a schoolteacher, had two grown kids, nearing retirement, and had lived in the unit for over twenty years. So she probably paid nothing in rent.

I saw the landlord, Avi, moving in his boxes and stuff, so I tried to get the scoop directly from him. But with this guy, you gotta read between the lines. He acts like he’s really interested in my life. Avi would ask, in his Israeli accent (he sounds like Jackie Mason), "So, Michael, how’s your career? Will you be selling your writing soon?" Putz. Doesn’t give two shits about me. When I told him about my family stuff--my mom’s stroke, my dad dying-- he didn’t offer condolences or ask any further questions. "You see?" he said. "Life is hard." Thanks for the heads up, ya condescending schmuck. It's obvious he only wants me to hit it big so I’ll move out and he can charge twice or three times what he gets from me.

See, I got in on this place cheap – like under $400. It’s gone up since then, but not a hell of a lot. I moved in before Santa Monica revoked rent control. Under the grandfather clause, they can’t raise my rent more than 3% a year, which is why I’ve stayed here so long.

Avi once offered me a couple of thousand dollars to move out. Yeah, right. That wouldn’t make up more than a few months’ difference in rent if I found a similar crib in this ‘hood.

I asked Avi what happened to the nice lady who lived here. Then he looked as squirrelly as our furry rodent neighbors. "She went to Europe," he said.

"What, for good? She just left, forever?" No answer. "Avi," I said, "how long ‘til you exile me across the pond?"

He kinda smiled, and then just went to his catchphrase."So, Michael, how’s your career going? Will you be selling your writing soon?"

I told him now I just sell drugs out of my apartment; that’s how I pay the rent. "Hey, if you need the hook-up, just come down to Unit 6. Special resident discount on crack and speedballs."

I love being a wiseass. I was back from a long run, tired and sweaty, and couldn’t get into this now.

The other night I was running down 14th Street, between San Vicente Blvd. and Montana – a really nice area. And then I stopped. I was in the middle of the street – no cars – and when I stopped making footsteps or gasping for breath... it was dead silent! Silence! In Los Angeles! I gotta move here! Everyone I know is taking advantage of the low interest rates, buying condos and houses; maybe I should, too.

Sure, but these houses probably go for at least a million, probably more like two or three. Damn.

Someday, I’m gonna have enough money to do it. Hey, I can dream. Yeah, maybe someday soon. Then, the only problem would be that I’d hate to move out and give Avi the satisfaction...


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