The House Next Door #3

I found out Al was dead when his brothers arrived to assess the MacMansion and all of Al’s cars still stored in the garage. The only thing the brothers would tell me about Al’s death was that he’d had a heart attack and that it had been quick. I stood back and considered Al’s girlfriends with the long legs that could easily squeeze a man to death and immediately thought of Nelson Rockefeller. Not only Nelson, that bespectacled politico, but all the many other fine gentlemen who’d expired in the saddle, as it were. I wondered…had Al been happy in his final seconds? It turns out—and we’d all suspected this already, of course—that what Al was doing over at that studio near Pasadena was making porno films. Al’s particular specialty was porn for the Armenian market. I can’t tell you how Armenian porn differs from other kinds of porn but I’m sure sex is completely different there.

With Al’s brothers walking around, pondering how they were going to pay taxes and make the mortgage on the monstrosity until the thing sold, I was finally able to get inside the beasty house and look around. As I did so, the whole sequence of events made perfect sense. Al had been creating the ideal film set on which to shoot porn. Put it this way: A director could lay camera track from the front door, through the “sex-for-twenty” sized kitchen, into the “family” room with the thirty foot bar, out onto the patio, and wind around the Las Vegas resort styled hot tub and pool to settle on a couple engaged in sexual congress on a kidney shaped lounger under the gaze of an Aphrodite knock off. Or maybe it was just a piece of cement.

The House Next Door #2

Note: This is not a plot in one of my novels. At least not yet. This is the true story of the house next door to mine in one corner of the city of LA.


The house next door has never really been lived in. It was built, I’m told by the neighbors who pre-date the monstrosity, by an East Indian for his new wife. It was to be her wedding present—their palace in the Americas. According to these same neighbors, the couple moved in, sometime in 2006 or 2007, and then moved out a week later. Why they left so quickly is unclear but I believe the young bride’s aesthetic sensibility was so challenged by the ghastly manse, that she was unable to cope. No one saw them again.

After their departure, the house changed owners a couple of times but was still empty when I moved in next door in the summer of 2009. During the contract phase of my purchase, I was told the house was owned, but not yet occupied by a mystery man named Al, reported to have been the owner of a film studio somewhere near Pasadena. It turns out Al was an actual person but all I ever saw of him were the two or three, possibly four times he showed up in various expensive, mostly vintage, sports cars to swap them out with other very expensive sports cars which he kept in the behemoth’s 12 car garage (Don’t get any ideas–the garage is hideous too). Al seemed nice enough. Each time he came, he was accompanied by a different gorgeous woman who was five inches taller than he—eight if they were wearing heels. He usually had a crew working on the house and he told me once, while on one of his infrequent visits, that he’d be moving in as soon as the work was completed. He put in a pool out back and statuary (as in something, anything made of cement) in any open spot. To my eye, he was just making the place more grotesque but once I was settled into my own house, despite the proximity to this gargantuan wanna-be Getty Villa, I didn’t really concern myself with the pink cement steps leading to the front door or the sculptures of the twenty-foot tall naked women around the pool, which I’d need my ladder to really appreciate. I went about my little life, writing, trying to get work and taking care of my son. Then all of a sudden, Al died.

The House Next Door #1

I don’t live in a particularly glamorous area of Los Angeles. In fact it’s not glamorous at all. It’s the kind of neighborhood with both a shut-up elementary school surrounded by chain-link fence that attracts graffiti artists, as well as a shopping mall that features stores like Ferragamo and Burberry. I’m pretty sure my neighbors aren’t buying the out-sourced products sold there and I know I’m not. At any rate, in this same middle-of-the-demographic neighborhood, exists a house. It’s a monstrosity of a place–huge and ugly and out of keeping with the one story ranch houses around it; most particularly MY house directly next door, a brown stucco number built in the 1960s with vintage electrical wiring and plumbing from the same era.

My arrival in the ‘hood occurred at the nadir of the housing crisis. If not for the decline in market values, I would never have been able to buy in this or any other neighborhood for that matter…. but that’s another story.

Note: This is not a plot in one of my novels. At least not yet. This is the true story of the house next door to mine in one corner of the city of LA.


The Muffia’s Reading list

From time to time, I’m going to share with you some of the books we Muffs have read or, as I suggested in another post, most of us have read. When you look at the selections, there’s really no theme, even though some statistician might come along and say, “Over time, the Muffia’s reading choices are 21% memoir, 40% authored by women, 63% fiction, 11% historical, 92.5% contain graphic sex, etc.” And yeah, you’re right, this adds up to way more than 100%, which shows you how much I value statistics–often they just don’t add up. I took a course called Statistical Analysis in college and the book we read was, How To Lie with Statistics, so I feel confident making the claim. But this doesn’t alter the fact that the Muffia Book Club reading list is as scattershot as the randomly choosing titles from any metropolitan library. We’re as likely to choose the new Hilary Mantel novel as we are a book about shoe fetishists.