It is the summer of 1997 and I am living in the low rent district of Long Beach, California after a break up with my girlfriend because I was quite ready to get married yet. To say this is a completely different world from Mt. Clemens, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit where I grew up would be an understatement. The housing complex is a small sardine can studio with neighbor’s front doors two or three steps in either direction, a tinderbox of stucco, a starter kit that broadcasted to the whole complex and neighborhood that there was sex going on. When it did happen there was no denying it and everyone knew.
At this moment an eviction notice is stuck to the shaky peeling white painted front door of this domicile. The reason for this ousting resides in the fact that over a month ago I haphazardly neglected an audio tape reel-to-reel splicing assignment for a Film Audio Class. I had written and shot a short film with some crazed friends, war paint, fake blood, a few tripods, cheap lighting equipment and an even cheaper Hi-8 Video Camera that I had spent my Pell Grant money on. When it was time to edit and complete the thing, I became consumed and intensely driven to see it on the screen, whatever screen with some drinks and I barely slept, slaving away in the campus library like an Adobe Premiere fanatic and caffeine addict, as well as writing for the campus newspaper The Daily 49er, not to mention the pseudo distinction of carrying a full load of classes. The premise of the film was this – a bad drug dealing twin taking over his rich, successful TV talk show host twin brother’s life in a dramatic twist like no other. The real down and out taking over the rich and fake or so this was the basic premise and the psychological horror aspect of it if there was one, but in editing it I neglected the film audio class assignment. Financial Aid was soon to follow and today I am evicted.
It is close to 6:00 a.m. and I stare up at the dark ceiling remembering what my Step Father always said, stuck somewhere in my synapses. He said nothing worth getting comes easy and somehow I know this will be even harder than that. I stagger and rapidly check the green Jan Sport backpack that contains everything left to my name. Inside is the VHS copy of the non-acclaimed 23 minute Hi-8 video-film called Unbecoming. Before that it was called IDTV, and about three other titles. There are also two full length screenplays I’ve written, extra clothes, an old Apple laptop computer, a corded pair of electric hair clippers and half a pack of Marlboros. My world is stuffed inside a backpack and I am leaving it all behind for good under the guise that anything is possible and that’s its Hollywood or bust, because I am heading for that magical ether, just over the next horizon and just under The Gods that special place and time where anything can happen, that holy terra for all the great things this world can offer or so I’d like to think.
I click on a Sony Walkman that only plays the radio, 106.7 KROQ and Nothing Else Matters by Metallica erupts on point. I snatch up the pack and swiftly bolt out the door just before the sun, as the door squeaks loudly. There is no need to lock it and no need to look back.
At the manager’s door, not the landlord or owner, but the lady getting free rent for snooping around and sweeping the corridor. The lady who lives at the front of this sardine can apartment building, who wears slippers all day and thinks she owns the place. I leave a note on her door that states: Apartment 4 is empty. Thanks for the extra two days. You are quite the humanitarian. Sorry no rent money yet again. Take care and Godspeed. I’m leaving the country. Jim.