Erika & Tiina had a two-bedroom off Hollywood Blvd up a ways on Ivar. I had a sleeping bag on the floor in a corner of Erika’s room, while she & Mark slept in its walk-in closet. Just enough room for a mattress on the floor and a desk lamp in there.
Tiina’s room was the entryway living room. But while I was staying she spent most evenings at her boyfriend’s. In her room there was a coat closet decorated inside with Christmas lights, art, drawings on the wall, and a mattress closed off by a mirrored sliding door. She let me sleep in there when she was away. Her room also had the TV.
Besides that, I don’t think there was even one piece of furniture in the whole apartment. Mostly just empty rooms with white walls and desklamps on the floor, a couple fans, and various stuffed animals scattered around. The kitchen at the end of the hallway did have a table littered with old pizza boxes, and a litter of kittens that’d just been born underneath.
None of this mattered to me though. The fact that I was here with Erika was enough. A routine for me actually started right off. Sleepin’ during the day, and wakin up about nighttime. Then I’d go to Denny’s so I could walk her home when her shift ended at 2AM. I’d go from Ivar to Hollywood to Vine to Sunset in the wee hours. These walks were always eventful.
One time, from across the street, I saw two guys trying to smash a giant cement block through a storefront. The cage was pulled down, but these guys repeatedly picked up this giant block and hurled it into the cage. It’d make a loud crashing noise, but little else. They did this until I strolled out of view. They didn’t even notice me.
I was being regularly propositioned by men from their automobiles on these dark, empty streets. Station wagons, and 4-door sedans would slow way down next to me with the driver’s side window down just a crack, “Hey! Hey Pretty! Are you available? Wanna get in? How much?”
They were best described as “suburban dad” types. Mark told me “Just shout FUCK OFF! as loud as you can and act crazy. These guys are all cowards and they’ll run.”
He was right. They’d speed off, seemingly panicked. Mark gave me a lot of good advice on how to handle myself on the streets there.
Mark was a Mexican rocker dude from East LA. Erika had met him just before I arrived. Tiina knew him already because he sold them acid, more than once.
He was often mistaken for a Cholo or a Suicidal, but he wasn’t part of any gang. He both sold & consumed a lot of drugs. Pot, acid, crack, pills, beer. He’d take whatever people handed him. He had a habit of locking himself in that closet so he could smoke crack. He made it very clear to all of us to never disturb him if he was in there with the door shut.
He certainly seemed dangerous. He had a look and an attitude that projected aggression. But the truth, he was ready to sacrifice his own wellbeing for anyone he really cared about. I don’t think Mark actually put much value on himself at all. There were multiple times when he jumped in to protect both Erika & me in some pretty dangerous situations. I drew a whole comic (bottom of page) of the time he stood up to skinheads and took a knife to the stomach for me. Probably saved my life, actually. Trip to Emergency, for sure.
One of my first nights there however, Mark was drunk and they got into an argument about basically Erika liking me more than him. He started yelling at her. And the second she looked scared I burst out “You better not yell at her! You may beat me but I’ll fight!” or something to that measure. To which he ended up breaking down crying and taking a couple walks around the block. Then when he came back he made it clear to me, to Erika and I both that he’d never do that again.
He told me later he respected I did that, and over the next couple weeks we became friends. It wasn’t unusual for me to get woke by him singing a song on his guitar, “Bob, woah Bob, woooooah Bob, Bob. won’t you wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning and smoke a joint with me Bob.”
It’s on a cassette. He recorded himself over one of my mix tapes.
And then the other time he yelled out his love for me was when he was really drunk and high then he smashed the beer bottle over his head to prove it. Took him three cracks to finally break that glass bottle on his head, but he did it, because that’s the kind of guy he was.
I was drawing through all of this. I drew while I was waiting for Erika at Denny’s. I drew while I was waiting for Erika at the apartment. I even drew at a coffeeshop, waiting for Erika. But I didn’t use a sketchbook. Too expensive, and preppy! Strictly scrap pieces of paper. Like note cards, paper bags, backs of old documents. Throwaway stuff like that.
And I kept it all in a manila folder I found at their apartment. It was blank when I got it, and I never drew on it again once I left. In fact, I think Mark drew a couple of those devils on the back.
The psycho clowns on the other hand, are all me all day long.
Steve was in a band with Mark, but really the only reason Steve was around was so the girls could mooch his pickup truck. Since Tiina’s ride lacked breaks, Steve was the way to get around. But driving anywhere was always a last resort because the freeways in LA are hell. Traffic and traffic jams that went on forever. And once at the tail end of one of these blistering jams, at a dead stop, in the middle of the day, we got rear ended by a drunk driver.
• Diary entry June 25, Friday, 1988, 4:14AM – 4 days ago we’re driving in Steve’s truck on the freeway. I was in the back of the pickup and I saw another truck racing towards and they were going to hit us. They didn’t hit the breaks ’till they were about 100 ft away and they bounced off a VMW at about 40 mph and nailed us. She (the driver) was drunk and no one with us was hurt. Oh! But Erika hurt her jaw and it was a mess.
I still have the white paint mark from Steve’s truck on my leather jacket where I slammed down. The lady stumbled out and she had a guy with her. They were both drunk dumping their beer cans off the side of the road. Then they tried to get away and bystanders had to catch them. But we didn’t get to see all that because Erika and I were in the back of an ambulance headed to Emergency. We both had minor injuries. They checked us for whiplash and taped up our scratches. Then when time came for us to leave, the staff started hassling us for not having insurance, and being unable to pay. I remember they threatened me saying, “If you walk out on this bill it’s going to ruin your credit forever!”
LA liven’ was starting to wear me down.
• This is the comic I drew of Mark getting stabbed after the 45 Grave show. He almost got us all killed, yet also saved us. True Story. Judge for yourselves.