Friday, February 20, 2015

The neighbor who brought us all together for all the wrong reasons.

West Hollywood, California is a very small and unique city. It is less than 2 square miles, carved in awkward segments. On some streets, one side can be in West Hollywood and the other in Los Angeles or Beverly Hills. It only became a city in 1984. Prior, it was an unincorporated part of the County of  Los Angeles. It's formation was an unlikely coalition between largely Russian Jewish Immigrants and gays. It is one of the more desirable places to live in the LA basin. It is also among the most expensive. The city, small as it is, is cash fluid and the city doesn't face a deficit. Few can say the same, in California, or across the country. It has unprecedented advantages, like the Sunset Strip and Boystown.

When I moved to Southern CA from Washington, DC in the late 90's, it was without question, especially as a gay male, that I'd move to WeHo. In my late 20's and LA as it was then, where else would I want to be?

I found a condo for rent just West of La Cienega, which I was told was preferred. After all, I had a Beverly Hills phone number! I was closer to the bars in Boystown. Like many places in West Hollywood, it was ultimately a converted apartment building with external hallways, in an L shape with a pool below. Thin walls, mediocre construction and wall unit air conditioning, but I had found my place in Paradise.

About 1 year living in LA, one evening I was in my kitchen doing dishes and looking out a window that looked into our walkway and ultimately the courtyard and pool. I heard some screams, then not only heard, but felt strongly though our walls, some incredible pounding force. Before I knew what to think or do, I heard a very obviously ailing Mother, was screaming cries of hope and desperation.

I went outside. Suddenly, this audience of neighbors whom I barely knew some for the last year or so, were all out to see the show.

I went downstairs and while the police came in, the coroner, the Mother in and out the door in such pain, my neighbors laughed about how we really should get together. Experience thereafter showed that few really meant it.  They bitched, largely to one another, about the issues in the association. Some would get you into smaller, more private conversations to bitch to you about the person standing on the other side of you.

My neighbors were finding excitement in the drama. There seemed to be little to no compassion about the fact that a life had been lost. In fact, a few suggested this was a problem that the association needed to crack down upon. Evidently, to some, this man's suicide was an inconvenience to the complex as a whole.

How were they to address Crystal Meth addiction, which was imploding in West Hollywood at the time? This was in the late 90's."Tina", as it is often called, is still  an evil bitch and she hasn't been beaten to death yet. How does a condo association "crack down" on what people do in their residences? Posting a sign in front saying "no drug dealers" would surely be as effective as the one already in place saying "no solicitation." Restaurants hired people who found their way into the building all the time and left menus at our door or at least by the mail boxes just inside the main entrance.

Otherwise, I was hearing excuses from Grandparents carrying for children should be allowed to leave their grandchildren's toys in common areas. People complained about people being too loud at the pool. Others about those who don't clean the grill properly.  People went on and on about their issues, their lives. All while watching this Mother in despair.

I remember an article I read in high school. It was about a woman that was attacked and raped in a courtyard at night. People heard. People listened. People turned their lights down to get a better view. Nobody wanted to be involved.

I know I had met this now deceased neighbor, at least at the mailbox or on the elevator. I remember at least having some simple, pleasant, neighbor dialogue. But, I never knew him. I kind of recall his being really attractive.

I felt for him that night. I really felt for his Mother. She had been calling  and I guess finally called the police. I don't know how long he was dead for, but meth makes people check out, so they can be alive and functioning, just not logically. He had evidently mixed the meth with Xanax and other medication to end it all for himself. This wasn't an accident. How tragic.

My neighbors continued to talk among themselves with the exception of the school teacher,  who was very inquisitive with the police, fire, and otherwise and thrilled to share with the rest of us. I had met her maybe once or twice before this evening. She lived in the condo that had once been the home of Jason Gould. When we first met, she showed it to me. I had a crush on Jason since I was a teenager. Same age as me and I am a huge fan of his Mother. This evening, she ended the evening by asking me if I had a connection for cocaine.

I happen to know the school teacher and a number of others that were there that night still live there. I am long gone, but I sold a condo in the building when I was a Realtor several years ago. I wonder if any of them even remember the evening. I doubt if any could name the person. It was obvious that evening that none really cared about their neighbor. It reaffirmed how life just goes on without you. I imagine, though, it was never the same for that Mother and the young man's family and friends who loved him.

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