Office when I Lived in Venice CA

desk in two lights

This was in 1978-1984.

In one place where I lived before Venice, the only thing I had for a desk was a coffee table, and I liked it so much I kept the floor desk thing going for years and years, sitting cross-legged on a giant pillow. At this version of it in Venice, I wrote a whole lot of papers for classes I was taking at Santa Monica College. Oh, and two books and a screenplay, and a bunch of other stuff. No computer then, of course. I had a small, lightweight portable typewriter.

cabinet side copy

Sitting at the desk, if I looked up and to the right, the side of the file cabinet was there with things stuck to it. Tom Robbins, Bobby Sands, the Tarot Fool card, and what might be a unicorn.

Above the file cabinet: The Lenny Bruce portrait was painted (from a photo) by Dale Hartman who gave me it for a birthday or Christmas present. The colorful painting was by Joy Doyle, a long-ago friend when I lived in Buffalo.

You can’t really tell, but that bottle on top of the cabinet was covered with macrame, an art form I’d only seen hanging on walls but not embracing glass bottles. There was a little metal cat on a stand, whose tail had holes in it from which to suspend earrings. On the right is part of a long panoramic photo of Niagara Falls which dated I think from 1910 or so. Years later I sold it on eBay.above cabinet




The closet changed a lot, depending on how fully I was inhabiting the room, which depended on who else lived in the apartment at the time. There was even a spell when the doors stayed closed with lights on inside, if you catch my drift.  That chair was a rescue – it had a broken leg, so I cut them all off, and made covers of South American textile.

The yellow poster contained numerous sayings by a sage named Vernon Howard, some of which I found very helpful. I kept an ever-changing gallery of magazine photos up there too, and of course, always, schedules from the Fox Venice Theater.closet

closet doors

small mattressSometimes just a small cot was in there, and sometimes a bigger mattress. When the room had to serve as combination bedroom and office, I got 6 rectangular boxes with one open side each, made from composite wood, for the mattress to rest on top of. If you arranged them right, it created a lot of storage space underneath. Some spaces could only be gotten to by removing the mattress, and that was okay too, as a place to keep things that other people didn’t need access to.

big mattress

When I Lived in Venice CA

V-livingroom01The TV was a bold innovation; we had been without one for a lot of years. Was I gonna leave the carton by the cans out back, and advertise a nice juicy steal-able TV?  Hell no! I think I cut the box into pieces and stuck them in a trash bag. It was of course an exercise in futility, because the kids who were in and out of our place all the time announced the TV to the entire neighborhood.

I had moved to LA to study screenwriting, so it seemed appropriate to watch the occasional movie. The electronic device on top was to receive Z-Channel and/or SelecTV.

This acoustic guitar is inexplicable. A friend must have given it to us.  My boyfriend played an electric, and would certainly not have left it in the living room under any circumstances. I had learned a few chords at some point in the past, but it’s no good if you don’t keep your calluses up to date.  The machine under the plastic protective cover was a TTY for my deaf daughter. The coffee table was a crate, with one of my collages on top, under clear plastic.

V-kitchen01&06The kitchen table – the art on the wall was a found painting, and the tablecloth a patchwork creation sewed by me. I wish I still had those solid, honest chairs. And then, another view of the kitchen, at least a couple of years later, with Dale Hartman paintings and a different patchwork tablecloth. The ceramic wind chimes were made by a friend from Joshua Tree.

V-kitchen04&05This architectural feature, which went almost up to the ceiling, enclosed the trash can, brooms and miscellaneous cleaning shit, with space in the top compartment for seldom-used appliances etc. It was always covered with comic strips cut from magazines or the Sunday color comics. The theme was to put up cartoons that reminded us of stuff that happened in the apartment, and our own absurdity. Making fun of other people was second-best. The cool thing to do was find illustrations of what was laughable about yourself.

That refrigerator, I’m pretty sure I bought it from the neighbor two doors down, when the landlord wouldn’t replace the one that died. Many of the grim details have mercifully vanished from consciousness, but all the facts are in Ghost Town: a Venice California life, so if you read it you’ll know more than I do.

Sometimes I was given tickets to advance screenings at movie studios, and American Pop was one of them. Just because the poster hung above the fridge, that doesn’t necessarily mean we went. But we probably did.

V-bathroom“He came in through the bathroom window” – No, not Furkey. (See what I did there? “Turkey” was once a widely-used term of disapprobation. And the cat was covered with…)

Before the burglar bars were installed, a youth tried to come in. My boyfriend was home alone and investigated a noise or just intended to take a leak, I forget which. By yelling and cussing very loud, and making a lunge as if to grab the guy’s leg, he repelled the invader. We found one of the towels out in the back parking area, but I don’t think that’s what Homeboy originally had in mind.

Next one down:   India bedspread curtains. I loved how the light came through them. That window faced the back parking area. When I moved in, it was the only one with burglar bars. Yes, the place was broken into, but not through the unprotected windows. Sons of bitches broke the front door. It’s all there in Ghost Town: a Venice California Life.


A bedroom shared with a musician. I made the patchwork pillow of course. A subversive poster urged NO DRAFT NO WAR NO NUKES. Over on the right, the fabulous hand-drawn map of Venice created by Jeffrey Stanton, who sold copies of it from a vending table on the boardwalk. When I got it home, I realized that the map’s title and legend covered up the part where we lived, authentic OG ghetto-ish Oakwood.


Next: Part of the living room, two different Christmases. Apparently, the bunch-of-branches-in-a-bottle concept was so satisfactory, we did it twice.  Farther down, a later Christmas, with a Dale Hartman painting.Christmas01&03


Time to move out, with stuff waiting in the living room to discover its fate. I had rescued and reupholstered all three of those chairs, but ended up giving them all away because of less space in the new place. Bummer.