The House Next Door #6

We waited for the first day of shooting. Or maybe it would be night. Well, whenever it happened, we were sure we’d know when the new naughty neighbors started shooting their porn. Living right next door, as I did, I rehearsed my call to the cops:

“Hi, I’d like to report a nuisance?”

“What kind of nuisance, m’am?”

“Well, Officer,” I’d say. “There are about 20 people having unprotected sex in the the back yard next door while filming each other doing it and it’s disturbing the wildlife.”

Actually life getting a little wild in the neighborhood might not be all bad. However, it’s supposed to be a crime now, in LA, to have unprotected sex while shooting a porn film. How they enforce this is anybody’s guess. According to our local paper in the San Fernando Valley, The Daily News, officials have been quoted as saying, “We’d like to say we’re keeping an eye on things but that might give people the wrong idea.” The porn producers are filing a law suit against the city saying the condom law constitutes “prior restraint”—a legal term which basically says the new ordinance is keeping them from doing something in violation of their civil rights. But I would argue, if given the chance, that if a male porn actor puts his condom on after reaching arousal, there’s no restraint at all.

I planned to get up on the roof of my house where I could videotape the outdoor portion of the proceedings. Though I might not get enough footage to make my own porn film, I knew I could eventually cut the footage into a larger work, the plot of which I hadn’t yet worked out. Perhaps it would be about a mild mannered stay at home mom helping to rid her neighborhood of porn—well, first things first.

While I looked forward to the day/night of sexual turmoil that would have Al kicking up his crematory dust, other things were happening at the house next door. Bespectacled 20-somethings started arriving, many of them in succession but usually one at a time—midday in the middle of the week; not exactly high time for sexual hi- jinx. These unlikely porn stars got out of their cars—normal cars, not fancy, or even clean—and went into the house. Then they’d come out an hour or so later, get back in their cars and drive away. Unexplainable behavior indeed. After a couple of weeks, nosy neighbor, Buddy, asked one of them what was going on inside and, over the recycle bins one day, Buddy told us. He glanced at the house then whispered: They were interviewing for jobs.

Ah-ha, we were right! Of course! The brothers must need all kinds of people to work behind the scenes on their video porn—and they did look like a film crew. I mean, if you put them all together. Certainly none of them had the obvious physical characteristics of James Deen, the porn hottie whose parents are both engineers at the Jet Propulsion Lab. I realized I hadn’t seen any women job applicants. Could this mean they were preparing to stream gay geek porn from the house next door?

Porn Makers Protest Condom Law
Porn Makers Protest Condom Law

The House Next Door #5

At first, we couldn’t tell who had bought the house next door. The realtor, stopping by to pick up his sign, told me, “He’s a nice guy. You’ll like him.” When questioned about whether the nice guy had a family, no additional information was forthcoming—only a few vague comments: “I think so,” “I didn’t see the family but he seems like the type…” This wasn’t all that helpful. Besides, some family guys turn out to be real creeps.

One neighbor told me it wasn’t just one guy, but that a set of brothers had bought it—two-three-four of them, he couldn’t say. Nor could he pinpoint who had told him this. A few of us surmised that we’d traded in one set of brothers for another. But just what band of brothers were we getting? Would this new set of bad bro’s also be in the porn business? Perhaps Al’s intent for his palazzo of penetration would live on after all.

Soon we watched the first SUV arrive. A chair was taken out and carried inside. Then we watched the second SUV arrive. The guy who got out looked like the first guy. Ipso facto—brothers. This one took out a table and carried it inside.

And so it went. We never saw a moving van, just random bits of furniture being unloaded at different times. No one had a camera positioned so as to capture the entire operation, but we’d meet in the street while walking our dogs or rolling the bins off and on the curb. We’d try not to stare at the house in undisguised dread while we pooled our information. No one had ever seen a moving van but one neighbor had seen a truck from an office supply store in the driveway with two guys unloading a couch that was clearly made in one of those countries that condoned child labor.

About a week after the first SUV arrived, a few of us watched as a high-speed cable installer arrived. One particularly vigilant neighbor—let’s call him Buddy—reported, during one of our klatches over the recycle bins, that he’d had a conversation with the installer who informed him that the cable system being installed was not designed for residential use, but instead was meant for businesses. According to Buddy, when questioned further, the installer could neither confirm nor deny the specific nature of the business or businesses that might require this new cable system, which only left us to speculate further about what the brothers were up to.

In short order, we decided that the new owner-brothers whose names no one had bothered to find out, both of whom drove nice, new luxury-brand SUVs, were planning to live-stream porn from our quiet neighborhood with their brand new big bad bandwidth.

The House Next Door #4

It was immediately clear that the brothers intended to sell Al’s masterpiece as soon as possible so it was no surprise when they put it on the market. But who was going to buy such a behemoth of a house? It had taken years to sell the first time around, after the Indian builder and his unappreciative newlywed wife moved out—and that was before the housing bubble burst, before all of Al’s “beautification” projects, which had only succeeded in reducing its value to an ordinary family. Indeed, the house was completely unsuitable for normal people. There should have been six bedrooms in a structure with the square footage of the monstrosity—estimated at over 8000 square feet. Instead, there were only three. Two of these bedrooms were quite small as contrasted with the master bedroom, which took up half the second floor. And half of that master suite was made up of the oddest collection of closets I have ever seen. I opened a door to what I thought would be an ordinary closet, only to find an empty space with a door at the far side, which opened to another closet space and, once inside that second closet, there was another door to a third. What type of sex act was supposed to go on there, I wondered? It couldn’t be good but something had been planned; the possibilities for laying more endless camera track remained. No, the house was simply not what most people wanted.

I thought that perhaps the exception would be a wealthy one-child couple with a closet fetish. The couple would have no end of fun in the closets while their son had all his friends over to play Lazer tag in the converted garage.

Needless to say, the neighbors were concerned. The desirability of the monstrous house next door was in question. And with an asking price of $4 million in an area where most homes were in the $500,000 range, you’d need to be nuts to plunk down the kind of money required to make it your own. No, the only person or persons we could think might buy the place would be—just like the house’s dead owner had been prior to his death in flagrante—from the porn industry. Between the dramatic possibilities of capturing carnal engagement in every room, and the house’s proximity to Chatsworth—the adult film industry mecca—it seemed ideal.

So it was with great curiosity we watched the new neighbors move in.

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 in my corner of the city of LA.

Resolutions 2013


So, I was thinking about how to introduce my son to the idea of resolutions. Not introduce, really. He’s way ahead of me there; but more, how to go about making resolutions that will stick.

“It’s like you think of ways to be a better person and then tell yourself you’re going to do them.” That’s what I was going to say. And then I thought about all the times I was going to become a better person and didn’t. Generally, I’m pretty disciplined about things—working out, what I eat, how much sleep I get—yeah, it’s boring, I know. But a lot of things are harder to change, like telling myself that this is the year I will confidently walk up to attractive, age-appropriate men and say, “Hi, I’m Anna. You look like you might be kind of nice, so if you’re not attached, gay, diseased, looking for someone rich or 20 years younger, then give me a call!” That was my resolution this year and so far, I haven’t done it. If that makes me a bad person, well, it makes me a bad person. Okay, sure, it’s only January 2 but still… Maybe, so I won’t have to actually say it out loud, I could have cards printed up—like the kind deaf people used to hand out on the subway.

Changing who you are is hard. My son even tells me this and how much life experience does he have? Sheesh, he’s only 16. Then again, he plays tennis and he’s tried to fix things about his game. He’s really good but he often has trouble in those tight matches or when he knows deep down—even when he’s trying not to think about it—that winning means a college scholarship and losing means, well, losing. It’s hard to just stop being nervous because you want to stop being nervous.

So what do you do on your quest to be a better person—more confident, skinnier, nicer? Well, if there’s really something you want to fix, the best thing is probably to find out how others fixed these things by reading books like, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey or “It’s Not How Good You Are, but How Good You Want to Be,” by Paul Arden. Next, build a little team around you—friends and family and maybe co-workers—to whom you entrust your mission to change. Get them to remind you how important it is to you so when you feel like slipping, they can help you up. As for my resolution, I’m going to put a graphic designer on my team—someone who can design those little cards I’ll be handing out to men.